BRICS "Big Five" find it hard to run as a herd

Wed Mar 27, 2013 2:47pm EDT
 
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By Pascal Fletcher

DURBAN, South Africa (Reuters) - At a summit in South Africa on Wednesday, Vladimir Putin likened the BRICS nations - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - to Africa's "Big Five" game beasts of trophy hunting lore - the lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros.

The Russian president's comparison captures the dilemma of these muscular emerging global powers, which together present a formidable potential economic and political counterweight to the developed West, but individually could hardly be more different.

The question is whether the BRICS five can run as a herd or hunt as a pack on the global stage, transforming their diverse but collective strength into real institutions and coordinating structures to project their voice in the world.

At a two-day summit in Durban, South Africa, the leaders of countries that make up more than 40 percent of the world's population and a fifth of global GDP seemed to have little concrete to show from their mostly closed-door deliberations.

After mooting plans for a BRICS development bank at a summit in New Delhi a year ago, the leaders in Durban were only able to announce the start of formal talks on the constitution of the bank, a lumbering pace even for a group as diverse as the BRICS.

"We have decided to enter formal negotiations to establish a BRICS-led new development Bank based on our own considerable infrastructure needs, which amount to around $4.5 trillion over the next five years," the host, South African President Jacob Zuma, told the summit.

He added the bank aimed to cooperate in the future with other emerging markets and developing countries, but revealed little about the structure of a world institution pitched as a potential complement, if not rival, to the IMF and World Bank.

A separate statement from the five heads of state blandly hailed the development bank plan as "feasible and viable".   Continued...

 
(L-R) Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Chinese President Xi Jinping, South African President Jacob Zuma, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and Russian President Vladimir Putin pose for a family photograph during the fifth BRICS Summit in Durban, March 27, 2013. REUTERS/Rogan Ward