| NEW DELHI, March 28
NEW DELHI, March 28 The BRICS group of emerging
world powerhouses - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South
Africa - is expected to launch plans this week for a joint
development bank and measures to bring their stock exchanges
Officials say the initiatives will take time as they need to
sort out details. But they herald a new level of ambition for a
bloc that brings together about half the world's people. The
Middle East and energy security will also be discussed,
The BRIC acronym was coined in 2001 by Goldman Sachs
economist Jim O'Neill, who was searching for a catchy way to
encapsulate the broader shift in global economic growth towards
emerging markets. South Africa joined the grouping in 2010 so
that it became BRICS.
The countries held their first summit in 2009 and have been
criticised since as nothing more than an empty acronym as they
struggle to find common cause from four different continents
with radically different economies, systems of government and
The most relevant announcement from this week's meeting in
India of the countries' leaders is likely to be plans for a
joint development bank in the mold of the World Bank.
The initiative would allow the countries to pool resources
for infrastructure improvements, and could also be used in the
longer term as a vehicle for lending during global financial
crises such as the one in Europe, officials say.
Brazilian Trade Minister Fernando Pimentel told reporters in
Brasilia last week that the countries would sign a deal at the
summit to study the creation of the bank.
Sudhir Vyas, a senior Indian foreign ministry official, told
reporters on Monday that the BRICS would have to determine how
the bank would be structured and capitalised. Such an ambitious
project would take time, he said.
"We don't set up a bank every ordinary day," he said.
FIVE NATION STOCK INDEX
A benchmark equity index derivative shared by the stock
exchanges of the five BRICS nations will be launched on Friday,
the exchanges involved said earlier this month. They would be
cross-listed, so can be bought in local currencies.
The leaders are also expected to sign agreements allowing
their individual development banks to extend credit to other
members in local currency, a step towards replacing the dollar
as the main unit of trade between them.
A senior Indian government source said the Middle East and
energy security will be high on the agenda, including Iran. The
Russian ambassador in New Delhi said this week that a discussion
on Syria would be among his country's top priorities.
While the plenary session on Thursday is likely to focus on
common ground, bilateral meetings could touch on more sensitive
The exchange rate of China's currency has sparked protests
from countries, including Brazilian manufacturers, for being
undervalued. Most member countries also face a slowdown in their
"For different reasons, each of the (countries) has got some
serious policy issues to deal with here that will determine
whether they continue down the path we got everybody so excited
about," O'Neill said.
Despite the problems, the growth outlook is still better
than in most of the developed world, meaning the BRICS' clout
will likely keep growing. O'Neill predicts the bloc's total GDP
will be larger than the United States within three years and
China's economy alone will overtake the United States by 2027.