Argentina, ready for next role
India has proposed that BRICS group be expanded to include Argentina which is a leading economy in the Latin American region now. Presently BRICS have five members – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. With Argentina, the grouping will have six members. The issue is expected to come up for discussion at the coming BRICS summit in Brazil in the middle of July this year.
Indian sources say that Brazil and South Africa are in favour of this expansion and Russia and China have to agree. India is interested in improving its bilateral relations with Argentina and the Government believes that Argentina will be a good addition in making BRICS stronger and more effective. There is a possibility that the new Indian Prime Minister, who will take over after the new Government is formed later this month, will visit Argentina after attending the Brazil summit.
According to Indian sources, the bilateral trade with Argentina in 2013 increased 30 per cent over the $1.84 billion of 2012 with a favourable balance for Argentina because of soya oil exports. Apparently when China cooled its purchases of soy oil exports, India moved in. India supplies mainly chemicals and auto parts to Argentina. The last visit of an Indian Prime Minister dates back to 1995 when late P.V. Narasimha Rao arrived in Buenos Aires. However President Cristina Fernandes traveled to India in 2009 opening a chapter of intense bilateral ties. There are reports that one of Argentina’s 2015 hopefuls and governor of Buenos Aires province Daniel Sciloi and his wife Karina are planning to visit India next September.
India will like to focus on the economic issues at the Brazil Summit of BRICS countries in July this year and the core issue will be the revamping of the international financial system in favour of the emerging economies. The developments in Ukraine have forced Russia to campaign in a big way for the alternative to the IMF and the World Bank and China is also in sync with this view
But the Indian position as of now is cautious. India does not want to take steps in a hurry. In the last Durban summit the Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh while giving his approval to the proposal for the BRICS Development Bank talked of adequate preparations to make the scheme foolproof. Indian officials are assessing the situation and they will take the final decision on the road map after the installation of the new Government in May /June this year. Since there is possibility of the change in the composition of the Indian government after the general elections, the external affairs ministry officials will take the final call on the BRICS issues in June/July after getting proper signals from the new government.
India will collaborate with the four other BRICS partners in science and technology to generate new knowledge and develop innovative products, services and processes critical to its and the BRICS countries economies. The areas which have been identified include climate change and mitigation of natural disasters, water resources and pollution treatment, geospatial technology and its applications, alternative and renewable energy and astronomy to share experiences. India will play a major role to stimulate joint investment in the development of high technologies, create common technology platforms and set up applied research and innovation laboratories. Indian position is that people centred and public good driven science, technology and innovation supporting equitable growth and sustainable development, shall form the basis of cooperation within the framework of BRICS.
Indian officials are studying the proposal relating to currency pool mooted by Russian officials. Further, a high level committee of officials including the Reserve Bank of India is advising the government on the proposal for BRICS creating its own wireless money transfer mode to avoid any attempt by the Western agencies to stop payments due to sanctions or political reasons. Indian officials are also assessing the possibility of creating a non dollar trading and stock exchange that could give a boost to the financial system of the emerging economies including the BRICS countries.
Indian teams are making ready the position papers on each issue by early June for the consideration of the new Government. The policy guidelines will only be finalized after getting instructions from the new leadership. Whoever forms the Government at the centre in India, BRICS will be a priority grouping and the Indian officials will make all efforts to ensure that India plays an important role in steering the process of vigorous cooperation amongst the BRICS countries.
For India, the most important issue is close collaboration among the member countries in tapping the indigenous resources of each for the benefit of others so that the technological cooperation can help in lessening the dependence on the western economies in these specified areas. A major breakthrough has been the recent meeting of the science and technology ministers in South Africa where a decision was taken to promote partnerships with other countries of the developing world.
That way BRICS group is not limiting its cooperation to its members, it is open to assist other developing countries who need these high technologies. This will help them in bringing down their imports of technology from the western Countries India wants BRICS summit to give a lead in this direction. IPA