The Brics are trying to bind themselves with mortar. The fourth annual gathering of the world's fastest-growing economic powers – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – will be held at the Taj Palace Hotel in New Delhi today. Two proposals will be under discussion: a joint development bank and greater stock market co-operation.
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Officials claim that the new bank will allow the countries to pool resources for infrastructure improvements. And an equity index derivative, shared by the stock exchanges of the five Brics nations, is expected to be launched on Friday to facilitate cross-border stock-market investment.
Some analysts say the proposals reflect a growing economic ambition from the block's members. "If they can pool their resources and co-ordinate their aid strategies, then they will be far more powerful," Seeram Chaulia, an analyst at Jindal School of International Affairs outside Delhi told the Associated Press. "By floating a bank, they are strategising and clearly playing for the long run.".
The Brics are showing increasing signs of operating as a unit on the international diplomatic scene. National leaders of the four countries met in advance of the G20 meeting in Cannes last November, where they collectively pushed for an increase in the resources of the International Monetary Fund.
Yesterday the South African trade minister, Rob Davies, said that the group also agreed that they will not be bound by sanctions on Iran imposed without the authority of the United Nations Security Council. China and India are two of the biggest buyers of Iranian oil.
But despite the attempts at co-operation there are still gaps in the Brics wall. Brazil has criticised China for holding down its exchange rate, which it says has unfairly advantaged the Chinese export sector. And while India supported a recent UN resolution demanding the departure of the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, China and Russia vetoed it. Sudhir Vyas, an Indian foreign ministry official, also sounded a sceptical note this week over how rapidly a new development bank can be established. "We don't set up a bank every ordinary day," he said.
The acronym Bric was first used in 2001 by Goldman Sachs economist Jim O'Neill in a report on fast-growing nations. South Africa was not an original member of the group, but Bric foreign ministers invited the country to attend in 2010, turning Bric into Brics. Together the states account for 43 per cent of the world's population and 40 per cent of global GDP.
Trade between the Brics amounted to $230bn (£144bn) in 2011 and grew by 28 per cent last year.