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The IBSA initiative

india Updated: Sep 30, 2006 12:36 IST

On June 6, 2003, the Foreign Ministers of India, Brazil and South Africa met in Brasilia and agreed to set up a Dialogue Forum for regular consultations.

The three Foreign Ministers agreed on a Plan of Action for trilateral cooperation in the fields of Transportation, Tourism, Trade & Investment, Infrastructure, Job creation and small, medium and micro-enterprises, Science & Technology, Information Society, E-Governance, Capacity Building, Local Content Development, E-Health, Information Society, Health, Energy, Defence and Education.

The initial purpose of IBSA was to create a loose alliance that could present a cohesive voice at the bargaining sessions anticipated for the Doha Rounds, and which would exert pressure on the rich nations in order to achieve common positions in UN Security Council deliberations.

IBSA has further amplified its presence in an annual dialogue involving the foreign ministers of India, Brazil, and South Africa to discuss the development issues and the possibility of joint approaches in dealing with the Eight Millennium Development Goals, which the IBSA members actively support.

The foreign ministers of India, Brazil, and South Africa attended the first IBSA Dialogue Forum, held in New Delhi on March 4 and 5 of 2004.

Issues addressed included social development, disarmament, infrastructure, health care, sustainable economic development, and poverty alleviation.

The ministers supported the integration of bilateral preferential trade agreements among the three members into one trilateral agreement, stressing the goal of mobilizing multilateral processes in the globalising world that could be seen as sympathetic to the south.

The second IBSA Dialogue Forum, held in Cape Town on March 10 to 11 of 2005, reaffirmed the issues presented in the first dialogue and focused on IBSA's potential influence on the global political and economic scene

Although IBSA's goals are similar to those of organisations like the G20 and G77, it has the potential to act more effectively, as decisions will be debated among three countries, rather than twenty, or even seventy.

During his visit to Brazil earlier this month, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described the first summit of IBSA -- that brought together India, Brazil and South Africa in a trilateral commission -- as "historic" and an "idea without precedent" and said for the three countries there was "value in investing in IBSA" by working together on issues of common concern.

"Brazil is a world leader in the use of ethanol. South Africa has coal gasification technology and a well-developed synthetic fuel industry.

India, on the other hand, has expertise in wind and solar energy. IBSA can be effective in utilising our respective competitive strengths in these alternate energy technologies," Manmohan Singh had said.

He said the three countries should pursue the target of $10 billion in intra-IBSA trade that was set in 2004, soon after the three rising powers of the three continents decided to set up their unique grouping in 2003.

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