After three days of high-level summit deliberations, the BRICS group of countries of the world’s five leading emerging nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), have laid out the strategic road map that will tackle challenging development and infrastructure projects, and will seek close economic cooperation under the plan termed "the Strategy of Economic Partnership" that will run till 2020.
The Strategy of Economic Partnership identifies priority areas of BRICS cooperation - in such sectors as power, manufacturing, mining, agribusiness, and innovative technologies and many others, according the summit documents. It is aimed at expanding multilateral business cooperation with the goal of stepping up social and economic development, and increasing the competitiveness of BRICS countries in the global economy.
A range of other documents besides this one were signed in the presence of the leaders, including a memorandum on mutual understanding between foreign policy agencies of the BRICS countries to create a joint website — a virtual secretariat of the group.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, who is Russia’s Sherpa at BRICS, told the summit that "BRICS is coming of age, and this maturity process is getting deeper and more oriented at practical results and, consequently, at coordination," and pointed out that the Strategy of Economic Partnership was one of the summit’s finest achievements, in addition to the creation of the BRICS New Development Bank.
President Vladimir Putin expects that the New Development Bank will implement its first projects in 2016. "The new bank with a capital of $100 billion will carry out large-scale development projects in the countries of our association. We expect the first of them to be launched already next year," Putin said at an enlarged meeting of the BRICS leaders. Companies from BRICS member states "are ready to establish joint ventures, build up mutual investment and commodity flows," the Russian president said.
The Ufa Declaration points to industrial development as the key source of growth for the group: "We recognize that industrial development is a fundamental source of growth for the BRICS countries, which possess ample natural resources and significant labor, intellectual and technical capacities. Increasing production and export of high value-added goods will help BRICS countries enhance their national economies, contribute to their participation in global value chains and improve their competitiveness," the declaration said.
"In this connection, we reaffirm the unique mandate of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) to promote and accelerate inclusive and sustainable industrial development," the declaration said.
"We are convinced about the importance of economic growth based on the balanced development of all economic sectors and on the development and introduction of advanced technologies and innovations, the mobilization of resources from financial institutions and the encouragement of private investment," it said.
"In this context, we note the potential to boost collaboration in developing technology and innovation in the potential sectors of BRICS economies, such as mining and metal industry, pharmaceuticals, information technology, chemicals and petrochemicals, both in the area of exploration and extraction of natural resources and in their processing, transformation and use, including through the promotion of a favourable investment climate and the implementation of mutually beneficial joint projects," the document said.
"We stress the importance of intensifying cooperation of industrial production capabilities, establishing industrial parks and clusters, technology parks and engineering centers with a view to developing and introducing cutting-edge technologies, providing training for engineering and technical personnel and managers," it said.
"We highlight that encouraging investment in priority areas such as infrastructure, logistics and renewable sources of energy is a strategic goal for the sustainable growth of our economies. We reiterate our interest in joining efforts in order to face the challenge of competitiveness," the declaration said.
"In this regard, the BRICS countries agree to collaborate for the promotion of investment opportunities in railways, roadways, seaports and airports among our countries," it said.
"We acknowledge the potential for expanding the use of our national currencies in transactions between the BRICS countries," the document reads. "We ask the relevant authorities of the BRICS countries to continue discussion on the feasibility of a wider use of national currencies in mutual trade."
BRICS countries have confirmed their adherence to developing international standards in the tax sphere.
"The BRICS countries reaffirm their commitment to participate in the development of international standards of international taxation and cooperation for countering the erosion of tax base and profit shifting, as well as to strengthen mechanisms for ensuring tax transparency and to exchange information for taxation purposes," the declaration says.
"We remain deeply concerned about the negative impact of tax evasion, harmful practices, and aggressive tax planning which cause erosion of tax base. Profits should be taxed where the economic activities driving the profits are performed and value is created."
The final summit declaration seeks to strengthen multilateral approaches to global affairs. "We affirmed the need for comprehensive, transparent and efficient multilateral approaches to addressing global challenges, and in this regard underscored the central role of the United Nations in the ongoing efforts to find common solutions to such challenges," the BRICS leaders said in the declaration.
"We expressed our intention to contribute to safeguarding a fair and equitable international order based on the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and to fully avail ourselves of the potential of the Organization as a forum for an open and honest debate as well as coordination of global politics in order to prevent war and conflicts and promote progress and development of humankind."
"We recall the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document and reaffirm the need for a comprehensive reform of the United Nations, including its Security Council with a view to making it more representative and efficient so that it could better respond to global challenges. China and Russia reiterate the importance they attach to the status and role of Brazil, India and South Africa in international affairs and support their aspiration to play a greater role in the UN," the declaration reads.
In April, Russia took over BRICS chairmanship, and the 7th BRICS summit was held in July 2015. Leaders of Russia, Brazil, India, China and South Africa (BRICS countries collectively represent about 26% of the world’s geographic area and are home to 42% of the world’s population) made the summit’s key topic "BRICS Partnership — a Powerful Factor in Global Development"; the summit ended in Ufa, the capital of Russia's Volga republic of Bashkiria.
*Kester Kenn Klomegah is an independent researcher and writer on African affairs in the EurAsian region and former Soviet republics.
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