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BRIC foreign ministers to meet for the first time

business Updated: Mar 25, 2008 00:26 IST
Amit Baruah

It is a case of governments following the private sector. The idea of BRIC, or the rising economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China, was first espoused by investment bankers Goldman Sachs in 2003, but has now been embraced by all the four governments.

The first-ever meeting of BRIC foreign ministers will take place in Russia on May 17 in Russia. Russia, India and China recently decided that Brazil would be invited to their annual meeting of foreign ministers, albeit on the third day of their session.

According to World Bank projections in 2006, BRIC economies would be over half as large as the G7 by 2025 and would actually overtake the G7 by 2045.

These four economies, which account for more than 40 per cent of the world’s population, constitute almost a third of global land mass.

In a 2007 report, Goldman Sachs, however, revised their earlier estimates and suggested that China would surpass the US economy as early as 2027 and the combined BRICs nations could overtake the G7 by 2032.

Following the much talked about Goldman Sachs report of 2003, there has been much speculation about Brazil being invited by Russia, India and China (RIC), which have been meeting in a trilateral format for some time, to turn the threesome into a foursome.

Highly-placed sources told the Hindustan Times that the decision to invite Brazil was taken at the 2007 meeting of IRC foreign ministers held in Harbin, China, but was given concrete shape recently at a meeting of senior officials in Moscow.

According to the sources, IRC foreign ministers would meet in their usual trilateral format on May 15-16 and Brazil would come in on the third day – or May 17. The agenda for the meeting is expected to be economic.

In October 2007, the IRC foreign ministers agreed that “globalisation has brought about closer interrelation and interdependence among all nations, and that multilateralism and collective action should be promoted in addressing urgent issues and meeting new challenges and threats”.

“Drawing lines on the ground of ideologies and values is inconsistent with the trends of the times and does not help solve various global issues facing the international community,” the foreign ministers had then said.

The joint statement issued after the Harbin meeting suggests that the meeting among the foreign ministers of IRC have largely involved the three countries feeling their way forward, with none of them interested in antagonising the US in any way.

Given that RIC has countries with major territorial issues, it is also possible that the BRIC, with a largely economic agenda, could make faster progress.