BRICS Summit: Has a Bridge Been Built?
Alissa Wang, Chair, Summit Studies, BRICS Research Group
September 5, 2016
On 4 September 2016, the BRICS met ahead of the G20 summit in Hangzhou. China, as the host of the back-to-back 2016 G20 and 2017 BRICS summits, was expected to play the role of a bridge builder between the two groups. In the media note released shortly after the BRICS meeting to report the results, the BRICS largely lived up to expectations, particularly in the issue area of development.
First and foremost, the BRICS leaders "appreciated the emphasis by the Chinese Presidency on the development agenda." As UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had stated in an earlier press briefing, China's focus on development for the G20 summit was widely appreciated. BRICS leaders also reiterated their commitment to implement the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Furthermore, the development agenda was supported alongside the UN's plans to tackle climate change such as through the Paris Agreement. This came shortly after China ratified the agreement, along with the United States, just prior to the summit.
Most impressive was the statement's treatment of the BRICS New Development Bank (NDB). The leaders "welcomed the progress in the functioning of the NDB" and expressed satisfaction at the NDB's "approval of first set of loans to member countries in renewable and green energy sectors as well as the successful issuance of the Bank's first bond, a green bond denominated in RMB." This support is symbolically very important as it places the NDB as a key player in promoting development and green finance, thus introducing the BRICS as a key partner in the G20's and UN's sustainable development agenda. The NDB's linking of development with green growth, green finance and renewable energy again reinforces the development and climate change synergetic connection.
Beyond the issue of development, the BRICS offered support to a variety of G20 agenda items. The BRICS backed the G20 Initiative on Supporting Industrialization in Africa and Least Developed Countries, which was on the top of the list of Xi's priorities for the Hangzhou Summit. The BRICS leaders also pushed further on reforming the International Monetary Fund (IMFs) and "urged the G20 member countries in collaboration with the IMF to step up efforts to increase the institution's quota resources and review the distribution of quotas and votes to ensure fair reflection of emerging and developing economies." A hard target was set for the completion of the 15th General Review of Quotas by the IMF's 2017 annual meeting. The BRICS also supported the Chinese priority of the early ratification and entry into force of the World Trade Organization's Trade Facilitation Agreement, which the Wang Shouwen, China's deputy minister of commerce, made clear was a G20 priority at his press briefing a day prior to the summit.
Overall, from the BRICS side of the shore, the foundation for a bridge of BRICS-G20 cooperation has been built. It is now up to China's leadership in the G20 working sessions later today to reciprocate this cooperative and supportive thrust from the side of the G20.
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Alissa Wang is the chair of summit studies for the BRICS Research Group, and a research assistant at the G7 and G8 Research Group, the G20 Research Group, and the Global Health Diplomacy Program, based at the Munk School of Global Affairs in Trinity College at the University of Toronto. She is pursuing an undergraduate degree with a specialist in international relations, a major in global health and a minor in political science. She is an editor for the reports produced by the G20 Research Group summit studies team, an analyst for the G7 Research Group summit studies team, and works on compliance research. Alissa is interested in Chinese history and politics as well as China's role in global governance. She was a member of the field team at the G7 Elmau Summit in Germany in 2015, the G7 Ise Shima Summit in Japan in 2016 and the G20 Hangzhou Summit in China in 2016.
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