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Manmohan Singh highlights 10 issues at BRICS Summit

Last updated on: March 29, 2012 13:42 IST

Manmohan Singh highlights 10 issues at BRICS Summit

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Our responses to these challenges may be different, but there is much common interest that binds us together, said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the Plenary Session of the fourth BRICS Summit in New Delhi.

Here is the text of his speech:

Let me once again welcome all of you to New Delhi. India is privileged to host the fourth BRICS Summit and assume the Chairmanship of the group.

The global situation facing us today presents a mixed picture. On the one hand, emerging market economies are growing at a healthy pace and increasing their share in global trade and output.

On the other hand, many obstacles have to be overcome if we are to sustain rapid growth in the years ahead. We are all affected by the global economic slowdown, the volatility in food and energy prices, the challenge of reconciling growth with environmental objectives, the political uncertainty in West Asia and the rise of terrorism and extremism.

Our responses to these challenges may be different, but there is much common interest that binds us together.

I would like to share some thoughts on 10 specific issues that I believe concern us all.

First, each of our countries has a unique demographic profile that presents its own challenges. In India, for example, we need to create eight to 10 million jobs every year over the next decade to absorb the expected growth in the labour force.

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Image: BRICS Summit got under way in New Delhi on Thursday.
Photographs: Courtesy, Ministry of External Affairs

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We are working on ambitious programmes of skill upgradation and education and creation of an environment conducive to an expansion of productive job opportunities. We would like to learn from the experiences of other BRICS countries on how they are dealing with these problems.

Second, the conceptual analysis that produced the positive BRICS narrative was based on a model of catch-up growth in which supply side constraints were not adequately addressed.

Today, it is clear that constraints such as the availability of energy and food for countries that account for more than 40 per cent of the world population can impede the entire story.

Water is another critical area of scarcity which needs much greater attention than it has received thus far. We have much to learn from each other in how to handle these problems, and there is also room to cooperate internationally.

Third, we are united in our desire to promote sustained and balanced global economic growth. As members of the G-20, we must together ensure that appropriate solutions are found to help Europe help itself and to ensure policy coordination that can revive global growth.

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Image: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Photographs: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters
Tags: BRICS , G-20 , Europe

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We should also cooperate closely to breathe life into the Doha Round, looking for innovative solutions to overcome barriers that have stalled progress.

Fourth, as large and diverse economies, we should make a special effort to find ways to exploit intra-BRICS complementarities. We should promote greater interaction amongst our business communities. Issues such as easier business visas must be prioritised.

As large trading countries, BRICS have a strong interest in removing barriers to trade and investment flows and avoiding protectionist measures.

Fifth, to revive global demand and growth, developing countries need access to capital, particularly for infrastructure development.

We must address the important issue of expanding the capital base of the World Bank and other Multilateral Development Banks to enable these institutions to perform their appropriate role in financing infrastructure development.

We have agreed to examine in greater detail a proposal to set up a BRICS-led South-South Development Bank, funded and managed by the BRICS and other developing countries.

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Image: Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff.
Photographs: Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters

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Sixth, BRICS countries must also work together to address deficiencies in global governance. Institutions of global political and economic governance created more than six decades ago have not kept pace with the changing world.

While some progress has been made in international financial institutions, there is lack of movement on the political side. BRICS should speak with one voice on important issues such as the reform of the UN Security Council.

Seventh, each of our countries is grappling with how to pursue 'green' growth without compromising on current needs. At the core of this complex issue is the use of fossil energy and the impact that it has on the environment.

We must reduce energy intensity of GDP by promoting energy efficiency and developing clean energy sources. This calls for greater investments in research and development, sharing of best practices, and encouraging transfer of technology.

A dialogue between energy producers and consumers would also help in ensuring stability in energy markets.

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Image: Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev.
Photographs: Misha Japaridze/Pool/Reuters

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Manmohan Singh highlights 10 issues at BRICS Summit

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Eighth, as our countries experience significant increases in per capita income, we will also face issues related to income inequality within our countries. Inevitably, we will handle the problem differently, but it may be useful for us to share experiences in this area.

Ninth, urbanisation presents common challenges for all our countries. We should encourage sharing of experience in areas such as urban water supply and sanitation, waste management, storm water drainage, urban planning, urban transport and energy efficient buildings.

Finally, the continued prosperity of BRICS is linked closely also to the geopolitical environment.

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Image: China's President Hu Jintao with his wife.
Photographs: Eugene Hoshiko/Pool/Reuters
Tags: BRICS

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In our restricted session, we discussed the ongoing turmoil in West Asia and agreed to work together for a peaceful resolution of the crisis. We must avoid political disruptions that create volatilities in global energy markets and affect trade flows.

All of us understand the threat that terrorism poses to our societies. We must therefore enhance cooperation against terrorism and other developing threats such as piracy, particularly emanating from Somalia.

We have also agreed on the need to restore stability in Afghanistan, and the importance of sustained international commitment to its future.

Excellencies, we have drawn up an ambitious Action Plan that will be adopted today along with the BRICS Delhi Declaration.

I hope that we will be able to collaborate and cooperate with each other to shape global developments and bring tangible benefits to our peoples.

India reaffirms its full commitment to work with BRICS in this endeavour.

Thank you.


Image: South Africa's President Jacob Zuma.
Photographs: Nic Bothma/Pool/Reuters

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