M A I N   N E W S

BRICS ready for landmark accord
* To facilitate easier access to each others’ markets
* India says no proposal to replace yuan with dollar
Ashok Tuteja writes from Sanya in China

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday called upon BRICS nations to coordinate their position on some key areas such as sustainable development, balanced growth, energy & food security and reform of international financial institutions which would be to their own advantage.

“The traditional sources of economic growth are still under stress, even as fresh uncertainties have emerged as a result of recent developments in different parts of the world,” he said in an obvious reference to the unrest in several parts of the Arab world.

The PM arrived this evening at the Chinese sea resort here for the third BRICS (Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa) summit to be held on Thursday.

Manmohan Singh is scheduled to hold bilateral talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev tomorrow.

Briefing reporters on board the PM’s special aircraft, National Security Adviser Shivshanker Menon said the BRICS countries were all set to sign the first-of-its-kind agreement to facilitate easier access to each others’ markets. Under the accord, to be signed among their EXIM banks, BRICS countries would be able to extend credit to each other in their respective home currencies. “We are making a beginning,” said Menon.

Asked if the BRICS countries proposed to make Chinese yuan an alternative currency to the American dollar for trade amongst them, Menon said there was no such proposal on the table. In any case, such decisions could only be taken at the international financial level.

Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, who is also part of the PM’s delegation, said the BRICS summit this time was of special significance since all the five members of the grouping were currently members of the UN Security Council.

“The BRICS countries will focus on the global economy and the changes that have taken place in the global financial architecture,” said Sharma, who will represent India at the BRICS trade ministers’ meeting tomorrow.

Asked if the grouping could be further expanded, he said he was not aware of any such proposal at this stage. He denied that India was taken by surprise when China extended an invite to South Africa to formally join the grouping at Sanya. Sharma said Manmohan Singh had personally welcomed the inclusion of South Africa into the grouping. “India has rather pro-actively supported South Africa’s case,” he added.





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