South Africa: BRICS summit closes with slow progress on development bank

28th Mar 2013

The BRICS summit of emerging economies has agreed to create a development bank to counter-balance Western-dominated institutions. However the group failed to outline any firm details about the bank.

After working for nearly a year on the development bank project, finance ministers from Brazil, China, India, Russia and South Africa announced Wednesday that they will now enter into “formal negotiations” to set up its structures.

“We are satisfied that the establishment of a New Development Bank is feasible and viable. We have agreed to establish the New Development Bank,” according to a statement from the five nations read by South African President Jacob Zuma.

The remarks hinted at little progress beyond an agreement reached in New Delhi a year ago. The BRICS had hoped to formally launch the $50 billion (39-million-euro) infrastructure fund, meant to rival Western-dominated institutions such as the World Bank, by the end of the two-day summit. However, negotiators were unable to flush out hard details.

It is unclear how much money each of the countries will put into the bank, with Zuma only saying the BRICS had agreed that “the initial capital contribution should be substantial and sufficient for the bank to be effective.”

The BRICS nations said they will also explore the option of creating a $100 billion financial safety net contingent reserve arrangement, to ease potential liquidity crises.

Several bilateral deals were also inked, including one between China and Brazil to create a percentage of their trade in local currencies rather than in the US dollar.

China’s President Xi Jinping, who made the trip to the summit as part of his first trip in his new role as head of state, admitted the BRICS countries had a lot of work ahead of them.

“The potential of BRICS development is infinite,” he said, adding “the real potential of BRICS cooperation is yet to be realized.”

Together the BRICS economies account for 25 percent of global output and 40 percent of the world’s population.

hc/mkg (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)


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