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Print Edition> World
UPDATED: April 1, 2013 NO.14 APRIL 4, 2013
BRICS Assembles in Africa
Emerging economies team up with Africa for greater economic influence
By Ding Ying

PROMOTED PARTNERSHIP: Participants pose at the BRICS Leaders-Africa Dialogue Forum on March 27 in Durban, South Africa (HUANG JINGWEN)

If the economy is the wheel that drives the world forward, then those countries with the most vigorous economies should play a bigger role in drawing up the blueprint of the future.

Leaders of five major emerging economies in the world—Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, known as BRICS—gathered in Durban, South Africa, on March 26-27 for their fifth summit, a widely watched event that Chinese observers said enhanced their partnership in a wide range of fields, most notably financial services. They argued that improving cooperation among developing countries will help usher in a fairer and more balanced world order.

A significant summit

This year's summit was very fruitful, with an outcome that will drive further development of the organization, Chen Xulong, Deputy Director of the Department of Global Strategy at the China Institute of International Studies, said to Beijing Review.

The decision to establish a development bank was certainly the brightest outcome of the summit. It can be regarded as one of the greatest achievements since the formal establishment of the BRICS group in 2009, Chen said. While the leaders believed the creation of the bank was "feasible" and "viable," other details, such as the location and candidate of bank governor, are technical issues that can be resolved through communication and coordination, he added.

As the global financial crisis persists, establishing such a development bank will help stabilize financial markets and satisfy developing countries' capital demands, said Yuan Gangming, an economist with Tsinghua University.

"The development bank is not built on the basis of stronger powers helping weaker ones. It is a mutual assistance pattern among BRICS countries based on their own efforts. Such cooperation will be more equal and effective, and it will help enhance BRICS members' status in the international financial system on the whole," Yuan explained.

Yuan added that China, which possesses adequate foreign exchange reserves, is expected to play a large role in the bank. He believed that if China becomes a major stakeholder, its foreign exchange reserve investment structure will likely be optimized. If the yuan can be included as a form of loan of the bank, it will greatly promote the Chinese currency's internationalization, Yuan said.

Strengthening cooperation with Africa was chosen as the main focus of BRICS. The leaders of BRICS members and some African countries discussed their cooperation at the First BRICS Leaders-Africa Dialogue Forum with the theme Unlocking Africa's Potential: BRICS and Africa Cooperation on Infrastructure following the BRICS Summit in Durban.

Chinese President Xi Jinping pointed out that the forum reflected the political will of both sides to realize equality and inclusiveness and seek common development. Xi promised that the Chinese Government is willing to form a cooperative partnership for transnational and trans-regional infrastructure, and help African nations with project consultation, planning, feasibility research and design.

The Chinese leader reaffirmed China's promise to give zero-tariff treatment to 97 percent of the tariff items of exports to China from the least developed nations that have diplomatic ties with China. China is also planning to help Africa to train 300 managing and technical personnel specializing in infrastructure every year, and encourage Chinese enterprises and financial institutions to participate in infrastructure construction and operation.

"This was the first time that the BRICS summit was held on the African continent, which is very significant to the organization," said Chen, noting that Africa is a land of brisk development. "BRICS can find more common ground in developing relations with Africa," said Chen. He said that in addition to its own economic strengthening, South Africa was absorbed into the organization because it represents over 50 African countries.

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