EurAsEC fate to get sealed in December
|MOSCOW, 9 November (BelTA) – The future fate of the Eurasian Economic Community that unites Belarus, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan will be decided at a meeting of the heads of state in December 2012, Mr Mikhail Yevdokimov, Director of the First Department of the CIS States of the Russian Foreign Ministry, told media on 9 November. |
BelTA has learned that the decision to gradually reform the EurAsEC was made in late 2011 because the EurAsEC parallels many functions of the Customs Union of Belarus, Russia, and Kazakhstan. The workforce of the EurAsEC Secretariat has been reduced from 97 to 22 people, said Mikhail Yevdokimov.
In his words, forms of interaction of the Customs Union with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are being discussed. "Belarus has made an interesting proposal on partnership and we are going to discuss it," said the diplomat.
Friday, November 09, 2012
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Brussels officials besieged by the Eurosceptic press may be relieved to discover that for the first time they have a natural ally: Russian 'Eurocrats'. While currently more of a club than an aspiring federal government, there are already not far from a thousand Moscow-based 'Eurocrats' beavering away at what some suggest could be the next regional powerhouse: the Eurasian Economic Commission.
The commission is growing at an "impressive" speed, according to Michael Pulch, head of division for Russia at the European External Action Service, the European Union's diplomatic arm. "They have a new building and there are already 800 people working on Eurasia issues," he told a seminar organised by the EU-Russia Centre, a think-tank. Intrigued, the Russian newspapers have begun to run stories on their no doubt over-the-top salaries and holiday entitlements. Responsibility for trade, agriculture and related phytosanitary rules for the three members of the would-be EU of the east – Russia, Belorussia and Kazakhstan – has already been handed to these Eurasian bureaucrats, taking Brussels somewhat by surprise. "We have a mandate to negotiate with Russia, not the Eurasian commission," Pulch told the seminar, held at the Brussels Press Club. Russian Eurocrats will soon be devising policy in the field of competition, energy and investment, he predicted.
While officially supportive of all regional integration processes around the world, the EU is clearly wary of this supranational upstart. Europe fears it may in reality be nothing more than a facade for the renaissance of the Russian empire. After all, around 85 per cent of staff at the Moscow headquarters are Russian. And Russia represents 90 per cent of the bloc's gross domestic product. Given the economic insignificance of the other two members, the Eurasian community was something of a "horse-rabbit stew", EU-Russia Centre adviser Marco Franco told the seminar. A horse-rabbit stew has a hint of rabbit, but tastes overwhelmingly of horse, Franco explained. In his former role as EU ambassador to Russia, Franco asked his bosses for instructions on how to handle the Eurasian commission. He was told, he revealed, "to leave it well alone".
"This is the only case of the EU being suspicious of economic integration," said Olga Shumylo-Tapiola, senior fellow at Carnagie Europe, another think-tank. "The west is very negative," she said. The Eurasian commission might reflect Russia's desire to be treated as an equal by the EU, she suggested, though Russian officials deny this theory. The alleged benefits of the existing customs union between the three states were not convincing, the seminar heard. Kazakhstan was the "clear loser", while Belorussia was probably in search of much needed political legitimacy and, even more importantly, cash. Even for Russia, the economic justification is not obvious – studies claim the Eurasian customs union has until today resulted in economic contraction, not growth. Russian public opinion was against subsidising new members, said Shumylo-Tapiola.
Is the fledgling Eurasian community a political alliance rather than an economic one? There were suggestions members might be coming together out of shared fear of China. Alternatively, it could be a Russian plan to counter the EU's eastern partnership programme, a policy considered by Moscow to be "an incursion into the Russian zone of influence". Either way, the proof of the pudding was likely to be Ukraine, panellists agreed. Would Ukraine be asked, or obliged, to join the Eurasian community? "All approaches must be voluntary," said Pulch. There have until now be no signs of coercion by Moscow, Shumylo-Tapiola said. A similar question mark hangs over Moldova's future.
The EU suspects that the nascent Eurasian community is a reborn Soviet empire in disguise. Until these suspicions are allayed, calls for a wider Eurasian alliance running from the Atlantic to Vladivostok are likely to remain 'Putin's dream', as the seminar was entitled. If they care to pop over, Eurasian commission officials are however likely to get a warm welcome in Brussels from their supranational counterparts. When talks on agriculture or energy get bogged down by geo-political grandstanding, they can always compare pension plans.
Read more: http://www.publicserviceeurope.com/article/2658/eu-wary-of-new-soviet-empire-in-disguise#ixzz2AnZ6iqSa
Thursday, August 16, 2012
"The Accidental Ecowas & AU Citizen":
When the African Integration Revolution is Televised (4), & why Duodu's article must be revised
By E.K.Bensah Jr
It is no accident I have spent the better part of four weeks focussing specifically on another dimension of what I call the "African integration revolution". Last year, I wrote three articles on another aspect that touched on the so-called rise of Africa. This recent series has, by way of backdrop, the non-visibility of ten years of the African Union; with a special focus on one article by veteran Ghanaian journalist Cameron Duodo – who writes for "New African" magazine – and what I consider to be a fairly-biased article that does not do adequate justice to the progress of the flawed African Union. This article is the culmination of three weeks of necessary Duodo-biting—necessary because as a prolific writer on African affairs and Ghana, Duodu could have written a far better piece than he did.
Considering the magazine for which he is writing, it beggars belief the article even passed the Editor's table into the marketplace of ideas. In my view, if this kind of writing can pass muster into the debate on African integration, then we're in trouble. The first port of call on African integration, in my view, is on education: educating Africans and non-Africans about the challenges impinging upon Africa's integration is as important as understanding and appreciating the history. This means that there is a responsibility on all Africa-loving integrationists to make the effort to report regularly, clearly and accurately. The minute we start infusing Afro-pessimistic ideas of Africa's long history to integration into any debate, we begin to change the narrative for our progeny who must come to understand that, yes, there are challenges, but we have come a long way, and must work harder to achieve continental unity.
Today's piece is to buttress that point by juxtaposing it against an article by a less-known author who wrote a short but, in my view, balanced piece on how far the AU has come. Before we get to that piece, it is important to remind ourselves that Duodu's piece is by no means a bad piece, but a piece that merits serious revision by those reading through the filter of what one might call "African Zeitgeist".
Where Africans fear to tread
I concluded my last piece on the visa regime of Africa. Duodu touched on the important fact that Africans continue to grapple with the challenge and hassle of obtaining visas to travel to other African countries. The most glaring example of this is travelling to Addis from Ghana, where one has to obtain a visa! I have made this point in other forums of the importance of visas to Africa's diplomatic capital being scrapped for, at best, "strategic countries", and, at worst, all countries with representations to the African Union.
How is it that Dr.Nkrumah's statue was unveiled at the new Chinese-sponsored AU building, but the nationals of that great visionary have to endure the frustration of passing by an embassy to travel to Addis? It beggars belief! Why can Ghanaians travel to Kenya (a country with which we have less strategic ties) without a visa, but have to swallow hard to make one's way to the Ethiopian Embassy? If this is not an indictment of African policy-makers, I'm not quite sure what is. This is the kind of moral indignation that Duodu did well to capture, but failed to touch on how far African policy-makers have come on ensuring it becomes a thing of the past. Discussions on the Continental Free Trade Area in the UN Economic Commission for Africa's flagship piece "Assessing Regional Integration for Africa V" point to how Africa is addressing some of these challenges, and I daresay the venerable Duodu might have had access to news that a report like this would be launched simultaneously at the AU Summit. A piece on how this publication seeks to respond to those challenges might have been useful for the reader.
Still on the visa regime, ECOWAS is perhaps the only regional economic community (REC) that offers visa-free travel to its community citizens. While it is true that a discussion about the AU can be had without specific reference to the regional economic communities per se, in my view, there cannot be any reference at all. This is the reason why ECOWAS could have been propped up as an example of how Africa has managed to respond to the challenge of travel. This could have been contrasted against our Central African countries which continue to demand visas to travel throughout the sub-region!
Duodu's conclusion that therefore "the AU's change of name could not but be cosmetic" is unfortunate. The claim that "in imitation of the European union, the AU has created the Pan-African parliament" is equally so, especially because it is not referenced against the Abuja Treaty of 1991, which had stipulated that the establishment of the parliament is consistent with one of the six stages towards the realization of the African Economic Community(AEC) by 2034. Truth be told, the Pan-African parliament was supposed to be established as the sixth stage of the AEC, but was established back in 2004—way ahead of the 2034 date. Few people will know this fact unless specialist writers on Africa tell them!
To cut a long story short, it might have been a better idea for Duodu to include how NEPAD became integrated into AU structures in 2010 to become the technical body of the AU—better known as the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency (NPCA). Why anyone might care about this is because this integration demonstrates that the AU itself was sensitised to civil society concerns of the neo-liberal nature of what-was-NEPAD to have done something about bringing it back home to the AU—where it ought to originally have belonged.
A different take on 10 years of the AU
Tjiurimo HENGARI is the Head of the South African Foreign Policy and African Drivers Programme at the South African Institute of International Affairs, based at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. His piece on the website entitled "Ten Years of a contrasted Union: The African Union at the Crossroads or Business as Usual" is perhaps what one might call a vindication of the African Union. Truth be told, it's perhaps a more objective piece about the progress of the AU, and comes highly recommended.
Set against the backdrop of the-then upcoming AU summit, Hengari writes: "it is fitting to debate and reflect how this organization has fared a decade on, both in light of its promise of new principles, new thinking, including new approaches to African challenges and governance. These principles and approaches seek to capture on a wide continuum, the nexus between democracy, good governance on the one hand, and on the other Africa's economic development and integration in the global economy." He touches on governance; and the need to create "the institutional infrastructure and processes …necessary for a more efficient African Union";
While acknowledging that the AU is flawed, he writes that "the AU is still a work in progress and the past decade of its existence did not mask contradictions between what the AU ambitiously purports to be on the one hand, and the structural and institutional impasse in which it finds itself when it comes to achieving Africa's developmental aims on the other. A continental institution is a sum of its composite parts." We can add to that that any institution is only as efficient as the members help it be. Remember how no less than the Un General Assembly last week criticised the UN Security Council for the permafrost on Syria? If a world body –replete with decades of experience and efficiency— can experience problems, why must we expect the world for the AU, which is only 10 years old?
Going forward, the author recommends three areas for attention: the first is how "in line with its theme the summit should put explicit emphasis on the translation of modest democratic governance into concrete developmental deliverables in African countries; second, "more attention should be placed than what has been otherwise the case thus far on the strengthening of regional economic communities as essential anchors in matters of peace, security and development". Finally, "0the summit should provide clear guidelines and principles around leadership of the Commission."
Simply put: "a continental institution is a sum of its composite parts". It behoves all to remember this as we all go forward in our desire to see a more prosperous and assertive Africa that can do justice to the calls for it to "arise". Africa is at the cusp of historic change. The road towards economic emancipation is long, but it is achievable. As for the African integration revolution, it's only just started—and the RECs are going to play a more central role in that revolution.
In 2009, in his capacity as a "Do More Talk Less Ambassador" of the 42nd Generation—an NGO that promotes and discusses Pan-Africanism--Emmanuel gave a series of lectures on the role of ECOWAS and the AU in facilitating a Pan-African identity. Emmanuel owns "Critiquing Regionalism" (http://www.critiquing-regionalism.org). Established in 2004 as an initiative to respond to the dearth of knowledge on global regional integration initiatives worldwide, this non-profit blog features regional integration initiatives on MERCOSUR/EU/Africa/Asia and many others. You can reach him on firstname.lastname@example.org / Mobile: 0268.687.653.
Friday, June 15, 2012
EU support to regional integration: between cuts and 'unfailing' commitment
Posted: 14:13 PM UTC
by KATHLEEN VAN HOVE on JUNE 15, 2012
Despite being hit by the current economic and financial crisis, Europe remains a strong advocate and keen supporter of deep regional integration, at home and abroad. In Africa, the arguments for fostering integration are manifold; from building larger markets that can attract Foreign Direct Investments, achieving economies of scale, enhancing competitiveness, to fundamental security considerations. Today there are a host of ambitious integration arrangements among African states, many of them overlapping in space and scope. However the track record is quite disappointing for a variety of reasons. What could the EU do to improve this trend?
For decades, the EU has used a combination of instruments to support regional integration in other regions of the world. The instruments in the toolbox ranged from political dialogue, to trade agreements and considerable envelopes of development support at regional level. In Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific this was translated into the negotiation of Economic Partnership Agreements(EPAs) between the EU and various sub-regions. The EU argued that negotiating and concluding these comprehensive free trade agreements with sub-regions would foster their integration processes, build regional markets to attract more investment. Many opponents have argued the EPAs will do exactly the opposite and further complicate regional integration, such as in West Africa for example where the EU has concluded interim EPAs with individual countries who stood to loose market access, namely Ivory Coast and Ghana. This was also up for discussion at the Potsdam Spring Dialogue that I attended for ECDPM last month, although the debate focussed more on the appropriateness of the European structuralist model of deeper integration for Africa versus a lighter version of regional integration that would be more adapted to realities on the continent.
Beyond the trade instruments, the European Commission has been a frontrunner in supporting the regional economic communities by providing sizeable regional indicative programmes funded through the European Development Fund. For many years, these programmes financed both the activities of the economic communities as well as the functioning of their institutions. However, in the recentTrade & Development Communication (a guiding policy document on the future of its trade policy) the EU announces its plans to take a more strategic approach to supporting regional integration. The European Commission intends to do this by addressing regional integration in political dialogue with developing countries and regions and by putting a greater focus on "those regions that show political will and have the capacity to deliver". It remains rather silent on how it intends to do so.
In line with this logic, the European Commission has decided to considerably cut its development support to various African regions in the context of the mid-term review of the European Development Fund, while simultaneously reaffirming its 'unfailing' commitment to supporting crucial regional integration projects. For example, the funds for East and Southern African region were halved, the ones for West Africa cut by a third. The main argument used by the European Commission to justify these cuts is the lack of capacity of the African regional economic communities to spend the funds in an effective way.
The next months will show how exactly the EU's new approach to supporting regional integrationwill take shape. Various scenarios are floating around, but little has leaked from the EC corridors so far. One of the concepts could be to increase support to national envelopes to implement 'cross-border' and regional projects. Another idea could be to provide regional support to other regional institutions which are more effective in managing such funds. Some argue that the RECs were never the adequate institutions to be charged with the responsibility of managing EU development funds and are now being unduly blamed for not delivering. At the Potsdam Conference I mentioned before a call was launched to find innovative ways of 'outsourcing' to other development partners in the region, who have the capacity on the ground to work on regional programmes, based on concrete needs and bankable projects.
Surely, if the EC is changing its approach to supporting regional integration, the question begs of whether EU member states will step in to provide the funds that were cut or whether the African regional economic communities will find alternative ways of financing themselves and their programmes. ECDPM is planning more analytical work on innovative ways of financing for regional integration in the near future.
This blog post features the authors personal views and does not represent the view of ECDPM.
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Nobody is saying Mercosur itself will be killed off. But with its biggest members at each other's commercial throats, whether the institution survives is of not much more than academic interest. The common market as original proposed has long been dead in the water ), then you know something is not quite right in the Mercosur 'hood.
enjoy the article below:
"I don't know what Argentina will do. I believe Brazil will have to reconsider Mercosur." That's what the head of Brazil's pork exporters' association told Reuters after Brazil imposed non-tariff barriers on several perishable products including wheat flour and wine.
While the rules apply to products from anywhere they will hit Argentina hardest. They come as Buenos Aires is pulling every string it can to reverse its trade deficit, including forcing importers to become exporters too and raising barriers against Brazilian goods. It is all making Mercosur, the supposed common market, look like a nonsense.
As the 1991 Treaty of Asunción puts it, the primary objective of Mercosur is to establish "the free movement of goods, services and factors of production" between its member countries: Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.
As former Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso put it last week, "Mercosur got stalled at the start and did not advance much." Its founders, he said, were thinking of something along the lines of the European Union and didn't get beyond setting up a common external tariff.
Even within its boundaries, though, Mercosur has not done much for trade. As the FT reported a year ago:
In the past decade, trade within Mercosur has grown less than among [Latin American] countries outside it, or even between individual Mercosur members and other Latin American countries.
Things have only got worse since then. This from the FT this month:
The tit-for-tat measures have reduced trade. In April this year, Argentine imports from Brazil fell 23.2 per cent compared to a year earlier, while Argentina's exports to Brazil have also fallen 9.7 per cent.
Even so, Mercosur still has ambitions beyond its original four-member grouping. Venezuela was accepted as a member in 2006, though Paraguay has refused to ratify its accession ever since. Chile, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru are all "associate" members. But the most recent talks on enlargement, at the end of last year, predictably got nowhere.
Even less likely to be realised is the long-held ambition of a free trade agreement with the European Union. Desultory talks have been dragging on for years. It has always been hard to imagine anyone in Brussels taking the proposal seriously. Argentina's renationalisation of YPF, the oil company hitherto controlled by Repsol of Spain, was surely the last nail in that idea's coffin. It seems almost as far-fetched today as the idea of a single Mercosur currency.
Nobody is saying Mercosur itself will be killed off. But with its biggest members at each other's commercial throats, whether the institution survives is of not much more than academic interest. The common market as original proposed has long been dead in the water.
Thursday, April 12, 2012
Thursday, April 05, 2012
Thursday, March 29, 2012
Five emerging economic powerhouses - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - are meeting in Delhi for the BRICS summit to discuss a range of issues, including increased financial integration of the member countries, energy security and the ongoing crisis in Syria.
(Photo: Reuters)(From L-R) Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Chinese President Hu Jintao and South African President Jacob Zuma join their hands together during a group photo for the BRICS Summit in New Delhi March 29, 2012.
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Here is the document the BRICS members released to explain their agenda.
1. We, the leaders of the Federative Republic of Brazil, theRussian Federation, the Republic of India, the People's Republic of China and the Republic of South Africa, met in New Delhi, India, on 29 March 2012 at the Fourth BRICS Summit. Our discussions, under the overarching theme,"BRICS Partnership for Global Stability, Security and Prosperity", were conducted in an atmosphere of cordiality and warmth and inspired by a shared desire to further strengthen our partnership for common development and take our cooperation forward on the basis of openness, solidarity, mutual understanding and trust.
2. We met against the backdrop of developments and changes of contemporary global and regional importance - a faltering global recovery made more complex by the situation in the euro zone; concerns of sustainable development and climate change which take on greater relevance as we approach the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) and the Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity being hosted in Brazil and India respectively later this year; the upcoming G20 Summit in Mexico and the recent 8th WTO Ministerial Conference in Geneva; and the developing political scenario in the Middle East and North Africa that we view with increasing concern. Our deliberations today reflected our consensus to remain engaged with the world community as we address these challenges to global well-being and stability in a responsible and constructive manner.
3. BRICS is a platform for dialogue and cooperation amongst countries that represent 43 percent of the world's population, for the promotion of peace, security and development in a multi-polar, inter-dependent and increasingly complex, globalizing world. Coming, as we do, from Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America, the transcontinental dimension of our interaction adds to its value and significance.
4. We envision a future marked by global peace, economic and social progress and enlightened scientific temper. We stand ready to work with others, developed and developing countries together, on the basis of universally recognized norms of international law and multilateral decision making, to deal with the challenges and the opportunities before the world today. Strengthened representation of emerging and developing countries in the institutions of global governance will enhance their effectiveness in achieving this objective.
5. We are concerned over the current global economic situation. While the BRICS recovered relatively quickly from the global crisis, growth prospects worldwide have again got dampened by market instability especially in the euro zone. The build-up of sovereign debt and concerns over medium to long-term fiscal adjustment in advanced countries are creating an uncertain environment for global growth. Further, excessive liquidity from the aggressive policy actions taken by central banks to stabilize their domestic economies have been spilling over into emerging market economies, fostering excessive volatility in capital flows and commodity prices. The immediate priority at hand is to restore market confidence and get global growth back on track. We will work with the international community to ensure international policy coordination to maintain macroeconomic stability conducive to the healthy recovery of the global economy.
6. We believe that it is critical for advanced economies to adopt responsible macroeconomic and financial policies, avoid creating excessive global liquidity and undertake structural reforms to lift growth that create jobs. We draw attention to the risks of large and volatile cross-border capital flows being faced by the emerging economies. We call for further international financial regulatory oversight and reform, strengthening policy coordination and financial regulation and supervision cooperation, and promoting the sound development of global financial markets and banking systems.
7. In this context, we believe that the primary role of the G20 as premier forum for international economic cooperation at this juncture is to facilitate enhanced macroeconomic policy coordination, to enable global economic recovery and secure financial stability, including through an improved international monetary and financial architecture. We approach the next G20 Summit in Mexico with a commitment to work with the Presidency, all members and the international community to achieve positive results, consistent with national policy frameworks, to ensure strong, sustainable and balanced growth.
8. We recognize the importance of the global financial architecture in maintaining the stability and integrity of the global monetary and financial system. We therefore call for a more representative international financial architecture, with an increase in the voice and representation of developing countries and the establishment and improvement of a just international monetary system that can serve the interests of all countries and support the development of emerging and developing economies. Moreover, these economies having experienced broad-based growth are now significant contributors to global recovery.
9. We are however concerned at the slow pace of quota and governance reforms in the IMF. We see an urgent need to implement, as agreed, the 2010 Governance and Quota Reform before the 2012 IMF/World Bank Annual Meeting, as well as the comprehensive review of the quota formula to better reflect economic weights and enhance the voice and representation of emerging market and developing countries by January 2013, followed by the completion of the next general quota review by January 2014. This dynamic process of reform is necessary to ensure the legitimacy and effectiveness of the Fund. We stress that the ongoing effort to increase the lending capacity of the IMF will only be successful if there is confidence that the entire membership of the institution is truly committed to implement the 2010 Reform faithfully. We will work with the international community to ensure that sufficient resources can be mobilized to the IMF in a timely manner as the Fund continues its transition to improve governance and legitimacy. We reiterate our support for measures to protect the voice and representation of the IMF's poorest members.
10. We call upon the IMF to make its surveillance framework more integrated and even-handed, noting that IMF proposals for a new integrated decision on surveillance would be considered before the IMF Spring Meeting.
11. In the current global economic environment, we recognize that there is a pressing need for enhancing the flow of development finance to emerging and developing countries. We therefore call upon the World Bank to give greater priority to mobilizing resources and meeting the needs of development finance while reducing lending costs and adopting innovative lending tools.
12. We welcome the candidatures from developing world for the position of the President of the World Bank. We reiterate that the Heads of IMF and World Bank be selected through an open and merit-based process. Furthermore, the new World Bank leadership must commit to transform the Bank into a multilateral institution that truly reflects the vision of all its members, including the governance structure that reflects current economic and political reality. Moreover, the nature of the Bank must shift from an institution that essentially mediates North-South cooperation to an institution that promotes equal partnership with all countries as a way to deal with development issues and to overcome an outdated donor- recipient dichotomy.
13. We have considered the possibility of setting up a new Development Bank for mobilizing resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging economies and developing countries, to supplement the existing efforts of multilateral and regional financial institutions for global growth and development. We direct our Finance Ministers to examine the feasibility and viability of such an initiative, set up a joint working group for further study, and report back to us by the next Summit.
14. Brazil, India, China and South Africa look forward to the Russian Presidency of G20 in 2013 and extend their cooperation.
15. Brazil, India, China and South Africa congratulate the Russian Federation on its accession to the WTO. This makes the WTO more representative and strengthens the rule-based multilateral trading system. We commit to working together to safeguard this system and urge other countries to resist all forms of trade protectionism and disguised restrictions on trade.
16. We will continue our efforts for the successful conclusion of the Doha Round, based on the progress made and in keeping with its mandate. Towards this end, we will explore outcomes in specific areas where progress is possible while preserving the centrality of development and within the overall framework of the single undertaking. We do not support plurilateral initiatives that go against the fundamental principles of transparency, inclusiveness and multilateralism. We believe that such initiatives not only distract members from striving for a collective outcome but also fail to address the development deficit inherited from previous negotiating rounds. Once the ratification process is completed, Russia intends to participate in an active and constructive manner for a balanced outcome of the Doha Round that will help strengthen and develop the multilateral trade system.
17. Considering UNCTAD to be the focal point in the UN system for the treatment of trade and development issues, we intend to invest in improving its traditional activities of consensus-building, technical cooperation and research on issues of economic development and trade. We reiterate our willingness to actively contribute to the achievement of a successful UNCTAD XIII, in April 2012.
18. We agree to build upon our synergies and to work together to intensify trade and investment flows among our countries to advance our respective industrial development and employment objectives. We welcome the outcomes of the second Meeting of BRICS Trade Ministers held in New Delhi on 28 March 2012. We support the regular consultations amongst our Trade Ministers and consider taking suitable measures to facilitate further consolidation of our trade and economic ties. We welcome the conclusion of the Master Agreement on Extending Credit Facility in Local Currency under BRICS Interbank Cooperation Mechanism and the Multilateral Letter of Credit Confirmation Facility Agreement between our EXIM/Development Banks. We believe that these Agreements will serve as useful enabling instruments for enhancing intra-BRICS trade in coming years.
19. We recognize the vital importance that stability, peace and security of the Middle East and North Africa holds for all of us, for the international community, and above all for the countries and their citizens themselves whose lives have been affected by the turbulence that has erupted in the region. We wish to see these countries living in peace and regain stability and prosperity as respected members of the global community.
20. We agree that the period of transformation taking place in the Middle East and North Africa should not be used as a pretext to delay resolution of lasting conflicts but rather it should serve as an incentive to settle them, in particular the Arab-Israeli conflict. Resolution of this and other long-standing regional issues would generally improve the situation in the Middle East and North Africa. Thus we confirm our commitment to achieving comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict on the basis of the universally recognized international legal framework including the relevant UN resolutions, the Madrid principles and the Arab Peace Initiative. We encourage the Quartet to intensify its efforts and call for greater involvement of the UN Security Council in search for a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We also underscore the importance of direct negotiations between the parties to reach final settlement. We call upon Palestinians and Israelis to take constructive measures, rebuild mutual trust and create the right conditions for restarting negotiations, while avoiding unilateral steps, in particular settlement activity in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
21. We express our deep concern at the current situation in Syria and call for an immediate end to all violence and violations of human rights in that country. Global interests would best be served by dealing with the crisis through peaceful means that encourage broad national dialogues that reflect the legitimate aspirations of all sections of Syrian society and respect Syrian independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty. Our objective is to facilitate a Syrian-led inclusive political process, and we welcome the joint efforts of the United Nations and the Arab League to this end. We encourage the Syrian government and all sections of Syrian society to demonstrate the political will to initiate such a process, which alone can create a new environment for peace. We welcome the appointment of Mr. Kofi Annan as the Joint Special Envoy on the Syrian crisis and the progress made so far, and support him in continuing to play a constructive role in bringing about the political resolution of the crisis.
22. The situation concerning Iran cannot be allowed to escalate into conflict, the disastrous consequences of which will be in no one's interest. Iran has a crucial role to play for the peaceful development and prosperity of a region of high political and economic relevance, and we look to it to play its part as a responsible member of the global community. We are concerned about the situation that is emerging around Iran's nuclear issue. We recognize Iran's right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy consistent with its international obligations, and support resolution of the issues involved through political and diplomatic means and dialogue between the parties concerned, including between the IAEA and Iran and in accordance with the provisions of the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions.
23. Afghanistan needs time, development assistance and cooperation, preferential access to world markets, foreign investment and a clear end-state strategy to attain lasting peace and stability. We support the global community's commitment to Afghanistan, enunciated at the Bonn International Conference in December 2011, to remain engaged over the transformation decade from 2015-2024. We affirm our commitment to support Afghanistan's emergence as a peaceful, stable and democratic state, free of terrorism and extremism, and underscore the need for more effective regional and international cooperation for the stabilization of Afghanistan, including by combating terrorism.
24. We extend support to the efforts aimed at combating illicit traffic in opiates originating in Afghanistan within the framework of the Paris Pact.
25. We reiterate that there can be no justification, whatsoever, for any act of terrorism in any form or manifestation. We reaffirm our determination to strengthen cooperation in countering this menace and believe that the United Nations has a central role in coordinating international action against terrorism, within the framework of the UN Charter and in accordance with principles and norms of international law. We emphasize the need for an early finalization of the draft of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism in the UN General Assembly and its adoption by all Member States to provide a comprehensive legal framework to address this global scourge.
26. We express our strong commitment to multilateral diplomacy with the United Nations playing a central role in dealing with global challenges and threats. In this regard, we reaffirm the need for a comprehensive reform of the UN, including its Security Council, with a view to making it more effective, efficient and representative so that it can deal with today's global challenges more successfully. China and Russia reiterate the importance they attach to the status of Brazil, India and South Africa in international affairs and support their aspiration to play a greater role in the UN.
27. We recall our close coordination in the Security Council during the year 2011, and underscore our commitment to work together in the UN to continue our cooperation and strengthen multilateral approaches on issues pertaining to global peace and security in the years to come.
28. Accelerating growth and sustainable development, along with food, and energy security, are amongst the most important challenges facing the world today, and central to addressing economic development, eradicating poverty, combating hunger and malnutrition in many developing countries. Creating jobs needed to improve people's living standards worldwide is critical. Sustainable development is also a key element of our agenda for global recovery and investment for future growth. We owe this responsibility to our future generations.
29. We congratulate South Africa on the successful hosting of the 17th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the 7th Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP17/CMP7) in December 2011. We welcome the significant outcomes of the Conference and are ready to work with the international community to implement its decisions in accordance with the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.
30. We are fully committed to playing our part in the global fight against climate change and will contribute to the global effort in dealing with climate change issues through sustainable and inclusive growth and not by capping development. We emphasize that developed country Parties to the UNFCCC shall provide enhanced financial, technology and capacity building support for the preparation and implementation of nationally appropriate mitigation actions of developing countries.
31. We believe that the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) is a unique opportunity for the international community to renew its high-level political commitment to supporting the overarching sustainable development framework encompassing inclusive economic growth and development, social progress and environment protection in accordance with the principles and provisions of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, including the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, Agenda 21 and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation.
32. We consider that sustainable development should be the main paradigm in environmental issues, as well as for economic and social strategies. We acknowledge the relevance and focus of the main themes for the Conference namely, Green Economy in the context of Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication (GESDPE) as well as Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development (IFSD).
33. China, Russia, India and South Africa look forward to working with Brazil as the host of this important Conference in June, for a successful and practical outcome. Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa also pledge their support to working with India as it hosts the 11th meeting of the Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in October 2012 and look forward to a positive outcome. We will continue our efforts for the implementation of the Convention and its Protocols, with special attention to the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization, Biodiversity Strategic Plan 2011-2020 and the Resource Mobilization Strategy.
34. We affirm that the concept of a 'green economy', still to be defined at Rio+20, must be understood in the larger framework of sustainable development and poverty eradication and is a means to achieve these fundamental and overriding priorities, not an end in itself. National authorities must be given the flexibility and policy space to make their own choices out of a broad menu of options and define their paths towards sustainable development based on the country's stage of development, national strategies, circumstances and priorities. We resist the introduction of trade and investment barriers in any form on the grounds of developing green economy.
35. The Millennium Development Goals remain a fundamental milestone in the development agenda. To enable developing countries to obtain maximal results in attaining their Millennium Development Goals by the agreed time-line of 2015, we must ensure that growth in these countries is not affected. Any slowdown would have serious consequences for the world economy. Attainment of the MDGs is fundamental to ensuring inclusive, equitable and sustainable global growth and would require continued focus on these goals even beyond 2015, entailing enhanced financing support.
36. We attach the highest importance to economic growth that supports development and stability in Africa, as many of these countries have not yet realized their full economic potential. We will take our cooperation forward to support their efforts to accelerate the diversification and modernization of their economies. This will be through infrastructure development, knowledge exchange and support for increased access to technology, enhanced capacity building, and investment in human capital, including within the framework of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).
37. We express our commitment to the alleviation of the humanitarian crisis that still affects millions of people in the Horn of Africa and support international efforts to this end.
38. Excessive volatility in commodity prices, particularly those for food and energy, poses additional risks for the recovery of the world economy. Improved regulation of the derivatives market for commodities is essential to avoid destabilizing impacts on food and energy supplies. We believe that increased energy production capacities and strengthened producer-consumer dialogue are important initiatives that would help in arresting such price volatility.
39. Energy based on fossil fuels will continue to dominate the energy mix for the foreseeable future. We will expand sourcing of clean and renewable energy, and use of energy efficient and alternative technologies, to meet the increasing demand of our economies and our people, and respond to climate concerns as well. In this context, we emphasize that international cooperation in the development of safe nuclear energy for peaceful purposes should proceed under conditions of strict observance of relevant safety standards and requirements concerning design, construction and operation of nuclear power plants. We stress IAEA's essential role in the joint efforts of the international community towards enhancing nuclear safety standards with a view to increasing public confidence in nuclear energy as a clean, affordable, safe and secure source of energy, vital to meeting global energy demands.
40. We have taken note of the substantive efforts made in taking intra-BRICS cooperation forward in a number of sectors so far. We are convinced that there is a storehouse of knowledge, know-how, capacities and best practices available in our countries that we can share and on which we can build meaningful cooperation for the benefit of our peoples. We have endorsed an Action Plan for the coming year with this objective.
41. We appreciate the outcomes of the Second Meeting of BRICS Ministers of Agriculture and Agrarian Development at Chengdu, China in October 2011. We direct our Ministers to take this process forward with particular focus on the potential of cooperation amongst the BRICS to contribute effectively to global food security and nutrition through improved agriculture production and productivity, transparency in markets and reducing excessive volatility in commodity prices, thereby making a difference in the quality of lives of the people particularly in the developing world.
42. Most of BRICS countries face a number of similar public health challenges, including universal access to health services, access to health technologies, including medicines, increasing costs and the growing burden of both communicable and non-communicable diseases. We direct that the BRICS Health Ministers meetings, of which the first was held in Beijing in July 2011, should henceforth be institutionalized in order to address these common challenges in the most cost-effective, equitable and sustainable manner.
43. We have taken note of the meeting of S&T Senior Officials in Dalian, China in September 2011, and, in particular, the growing capacities for research and development and innovation in our countries. We encourage this process both in priority areas of food, pharma, health and energy as well as basic research in the emerging inter-disciplinary fields of nanotechnology, biotechnology, advanced materials science, etc. We encourage flow of knowledge amongst our research institutions through joint projects, workshops and exchanges of young scientists.
44. The challenges of rapid urbanization, faced by all developing societies including our own, are multi-dimensional in nature covering a diversity of inter-linked issues. We direct our respective authorities to coordinate efforts and learn from best practices and technologies available that can make a meaningful difference to our societies. We note with appreciation the first meeting of BRICS Friendship Cities held in Sanya in December 2011 and will take this process forward with an Urbanization and Urban Infrastructure Forum along with the Second BRICS Friendship Cities and Local Governments Cooperation Forum.
45. Given our growing needs for renewable energy resources as well as on energy efficient and environmentally friendly technologies, and our complementary strengths in these areas, we agree to exchange knowledge, know-how, technology and best practices in these areas.
46. It gives us pleasure to release the first ever BRICS Report, coordinated by India, with its special focus on the synergies and complementarities in our economies. We welcome the outcomes of the cooperation among the National Statistical Institutions of BRICS and take note that the updated edition of the BRICS Statistical Publication, released today, serves as a useful reference on BRICS countries.
47. We express our satisfaction at the convening of the III BRICS Business Forum and the II Financial Forum and acknowledge their role in stimulating trade relations among our countries. In this context, we welcome the setting up of BRICS Exchange Alliance, a joint initiative by related BRICS securities exchanges.
48. We encourage expanding the channels of communication, exchanges and people-to-people contact amongst the BRICS, including in the areas of youth, education, culture, tourism and sports.
49. Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa extend their warm appreciation and sincere gratitude to the Government and the people of India for hosting the Fourth BRICS Summit in New Delhi.50. Brazil, Russia, India and China thank South Africa for its offer to host the Fifth BRICS Summit in 2013 and pledge their full support.