IBSA nations push for closer cooperation

19 October 2011

The India, Brazil and South Africa (IBSA) grouping have agreed to greater coordination between the three countries on climate change, economic cooperation, sustainable development and the UN Security Council.

South African President Jacob Zuma, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff met in Pretoria on Tuesday to reflect on IBSA’s eight years of existence and to find common positions on a range of global issues.

The three leaders brushed off criticism of IBSA’s relevance following South Africa’s accession to the BRICS group of countries, which includes emerging heavyweights Russia and India, and focused instead on the strides that IBSA has made over the last eight years.

“We are brought together by the belief that countries can prosper and create a better life for their people when democracy and development work together,” Zuma told the media after their talks.

‘On track’ for $25-billion in trilateral trade

The leaders pointed out that all three countries were still growing despite the global economic turmoil, and were on track to meeting their goal of $25-billion in trilateral trade by 2015.

Zuma said intra-IBSA trade had grown significantly since 2005, with estimates of combined trade standing at $7-billion in 2005.

“The target for 2010 was $16.1-billion, and all indications point to us significantly surpassing that amount in 2011.

“Although South Africa makes up only 8.2 percent of the combined GDP, we contributed 25 percent of IBSA trade in 2010, and in 2009 we contributed the largest share, 38 percent,” he said.

The three leaders recommitted to exploring gaps in trade between their countries, with business delegations from the three sides meeting to discuss this.

IBSA anti-poverty fund

The leaders were playing it safe when it came to the debt crisis engulfing some European countries and threatening to destabilise the euro zone. India’s Singh hoped that effective and early steps would be taken by Europe to calm the markets and prevent a double-dip recession.

Brazil’s Rousseff reflected on the India, Brazil and South Africa Facility for Poverty and Hunger Alleviation (IBSA Fund), which earned IBSA a 2010 UN Millennium Development Goal award for their efforts in fighting poverty and hunger.

Each IBSA country contributes US$1-million annually to this fund, which is managed by the UNDP Special Unit for South-South Cooperation.

Funded projects focus on the sharing of best practices and proven experiences, and include initiatives as diverse as improving agricultural techniques in remote villages, reducing urban violence in slums, and delivering safe drinking water, in countries such as Haiti, Guinea Bissau, Cape Verde, Burundi, Palestine, Cambodia and Lao PDR.

As non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), the leaders also discussed the political situation in Syria as well as the reforms on the UN.

The three nations have recently taken coordinated actions on Syria, as they all abstained in the recent UNSC vote to slap sanctions on Syria.

Pushing the agenda of the South

The bloc said it would use their seat at the assembly to make a lasting impact on the need to for transformation of global governance.

“We … reflected on the imbalance of the world we live in, as the institutions of global governance are to this day still skewed in favour of the developed North,” said Zuma, adding that they would continue working to ensure the transformation of the global governance system.

The leaders also discussed the UN Climate Change Conference taking place in Durban from 28 November to 9 December, and the G20 summit scheduled for November in the southern French city of Cannes.

Singh said they would coordinate their positions in all these summits to make sure the priorities of the developing economies and countries were reflected adequately.

The next IBSA summit will be held in India in 2013.

Source: BuaNews