New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh left on a 4-day visit to Durban on Monday to attend the BRICS Summit, expressing the hope that ways to revive global growth and faster movement on reform of institutions of global, political and economic governance will be discussed at the meeting of the emerging economies. Accompanied by a high-power delegation including Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Commerce Minister Anand Sharma, Singh will attend the summit of five nations on March 26 and 27 when discussions will also be held on steps to ensure global macroeconomic stability as well as mechanisms and measures to promote investment in infrastructure and sustainable development.
In his departure statement, the Prime Minister said he looked forward to meeting with the new Chinese President Xi Jinpeng to discuss how India and China can maintain the positive trajectory of relationship and further strengthen "this very important bilateral relationship". The first BRICS Summit on the African soil is expected to declare the launching of a development bank for undertaking infrastructure and development projects.
The idea of the bank, mooted by India in 2012 during its presidency, has been supported by China. However, the Prime Minister's statement made no mention on the BRICS bank.
Finance Ministers of BRICS nations will meet in Durban on Tuesday to give final touches to the bank. In his statement, PM Manmohan said the Durban Summit provides a useful and timely opportunity to consult and coordinate on a broad range of issues with BRICS partners.
"We will discuss ways to revive global growth and ensure macroeconomic stability as well as mechanisms and measures to promote investment in infrastructure and sustainable development. India will also urge faster movement on reform of institutions of global political and economic governance. It is important that BRICS continue to consult closely on developments affecting global peace and security," he said in an obvious reference to higher quota for developing countries in Bretton Woods institutions like World Bank and IMF and the reform of the UN Security Council.
The Prime Minister noted that this would be the first BRICS Summit on African soil and said the 'Partnership for Development, Integration and Industrialisation' between BRICS and Africa will be an important theme of the Durban Summit. Given India's long-standing and close friendship with Africa and the growing economic partnership with the continent including through the India-Africa Forum Summit mechanism, Singh said he looked forward to the dialogue that BRICS leaders would have between themselves and, in a special retreat, with a larger number of distinguished African leaders who would be coming to Durban.
"I will reaffirm our strong and enduring commitment as a steadfast partner for inclusive development in Africa and for advancing our common interests in international forums," he said. Singh said over the last few years, BRICS has emerged as a consequential voice in the international arena.
Close coordination between its members through the means of an annual summit and several area-specific meetings as necessary has strengthened cooperation and improved the effectiveness of the forum. Given the collective economic weight and global standing of BRICS countries, the forum represents a unique mechanism to address regional and global challenges, particularly in so far as the interests of the developing world are concerned.
As the current BRICS chair, the Prime Minister said India received the unstinted support of its partners in successfully implementing the ambitious agenda adopted at the New Delhi Summit in March in 2012. "The Durban Summit gives us an opportunity to make further progress on the initiatives that we launched in Delhi to deepen intra-BRICS cooperation and fulfil our international responsibilities. I look forward to discussions on new ideas in Durban to advance our goals," he said.
On the sidelines of the Summit, Singh will also hold bilateral meetings with other leaders including Russian President Vladimir Putin during which progress in Indo-Russian relations after the successful summit in Delhi in December last will be discussed. "I also look forward to meeting with President Jacob Zuma of South Africa and President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil," he said.