Durban: India, unfortunately, has not performed to expectations in the fields of trade and other commercial ties with member nations of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).
This was revealed by Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma while addressing the fifth BRICS Summit here on Tuesday. Sharma said that out of the proposed 500 billion USD trade expected between the BRICS nations by 2015, the countries had already crossed the 319 billion USD mark.
However, he said that he was not fully satisfied with India’s 100 billion USD trade with the other BRICS nations, and considered it to be an underperformance. “We are satisfied to some extent. But, it (India’s trade with BRIC nations) is very below the potential. Same goes for the investments, the two-way investments, because there are unexploited opportunities, which are beckoning our business leaders and our institution builders,” said Sharma.
The BRICS group proclaimed an altruistic-sounding ‘partnership for development, integration and industrialisation’ with Africa in the fifth Summit. Sharma insisted that India’s engagement with Africa is distinct and ‘very special’, for their shared past experiences.
He said that the Indian leaders had considered the Pan-African e-network project, linking multi-speciality hospitals and key universities of Africa with the super-speciality hospitals and educational institutes in the country, to bridge the digital divide between the developed and under-developed nations.
He also informed the delegates in the conference about India’s assistance to Africa in the field of education. “We have decided to establish 70 institutes and institutions in Africa. They are in the process of being established-institutions of IT excellence, universities, diamond trading, cutting and polishing institutes, India-Africa Institute of Foreign Trade, an institution on agriculture and beyond,” Sharma added.
The BRICS countries have invited African states to take part in discussions at the summit under the theme ‘BRICS and Africa - Partnerships for Integration and Industrialisation’ to explore the potential for the development of cooperation between them. The summit is expected to give the go-ahead for a joint foreign exchange reserves pool as well as an infrastructure bank.
The initiative is being hatched partly out of frustration with international financial institutions that they judge to primarily reflect the interests of industrialised countries.