This undated photo shows the national flags of the BRICS member countries – (from left) Brazil, India, Russia, China and South Africa. (PHOTO / AFP)
NEW DELHI – India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is attending the annual summit of the five-nation grouping BRICS in virtual format following an invitation by Chinese President Xi Jinping, according to India’s federal ministry of external affairs.
China is hosting the virtual summit from Wednesday to Friday in its capacity as its chair of BRICS this year under the theme of "Foster High-quality BRICS Partnership, Usher in a New Era for Global Development."
Also attending are Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The BRICS has become a platform for discussing and deliberating on issues of common concern for all developing countries, the Indian federal ministry said in a statement, adding that the grouping has regularly called for reform of the multilateral system to make it more representative and inclusive.
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The heads of state will discuss “intra-BRICS cooperation in areas such as counter-terrorism, trade, health, traditional medicine, environment,” combating the pandemic and reform of multilateral institutions among others, it said.
We will endeavor to translate the BRICS spirit of openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation into concrete actions.
Sun Weidong, China’s Ambassador to India
The discussions are also likely on issues like reform of the multilateral system, combating the COVID-19 pandemic and global economic recovery, amongst others.
The meeting carries special significance for India, which was the host last year. PM Modi and President Xi met in Mahabalipuram in October 2019.
India will discuss disrupted global food security and supply systems following the Ukraine crisis, a senior official familiar with the matter said.
BRICS is also planning to bring more reforms to the multilateral system to allow participation of more nations, the official said.
“Sixteen years after its creation, BRICS has become an important platform for win-win cooperation among China, India, Russia, Brazil and South Africa, and a significant force for the evolution of international order, the improvement of global governance and the promotion of common development," stated China’s Ambassador to India Sun Weidong in an article published in an Indian English daily earlier.
“We will endeavor to translate the BRICS spirit of openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation into concrete actions,” Sun said.
BRICS, comprising five major emerging economies of the world represents 41 per cent of the global population and contribute 24 per cent to the global GDP. They contribute 16 per cent of the global trade. Brazil, Russia, India and China formed the bloc in 2009, and South Africa joined in 2010.
Foreign ministers of the five countries met in a virtual format on May 19 where India’s foreign minister S Jaishankar, said, “We must not only seek socio-economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, but also create resilient and reliable supply chains.”
“India’s approach during the summit will remain guarded. From the Chinese side the approach will also remain guarded because we know the dynamics of relationship between the two countries,” said Sanjay Rao Ayde, head of the political science department of St. Stephen's College in New Delhi.
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With regard to the Ukraine crisis both India and China are on the same bench. In international politics the whole idea is to explore the possibilities of cooperation and cordial relationships wherever it is possible without undermining territorial integrity and border issues, said Prof Ayde.
India’s total trade with the BRICS countries stood at US$110 billion in 2019-20 and rose to US$113.3 billion in 2020-21, according to the federal ministry of commerce and Industry. India’s trade figures among the BRICS members are heavily driven by its trade with China.
Trade between India and China hit an all-time high of more than US$125 billion in 2021, according to data from China's General Administration of Customs.
In 2021, total trade between China and the BRICS countries reached US$490.42 billion, compared to US$241.7 billion in 2016.
The writer is a freelance journalist for China Daily.