Durban: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said the foremost challenge before BRICS, which groups Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, was to respond to the persisting weaknesses in the global economy, the financial crisis overhang and the inevitable long term structural changes in the post-2008 world.
Addressing the plenary session of the 5th BRICS Summit here yesterday, Dr. Singh said: "As we look to the future, the progress over the past five years encourages us to set higher ambitions, seek new avenues and set new goals for our cooperation. However, our roadmap for the future should focus on consolidating and deepening our existing cooperation."
Making five suggestions on ways of stepping up cooperation among the five developing countries, Dr Singh: "We should also carefully prioritize existing and new areas, keeping in view our strengths, our resources and the difference we can make, both for our people and the world."
Recognizing that BRICS countries will remain key drivers of global economic growth, Dr. Singh said: "We should further sustain our growth by harnessing the vast opportunities for expanding trade and investment ties between ourselves. Each of us has unique sets of resources and strengths and we should exploit our complementarities for mutual benefit. We should also seek increased cooperation in manufacturing and services sectors. The measures agreed upon today will help us meet these objectives."
The second point that Dr Singh made was that the external focus of their research and development cooperation tended to be on the developed world.
"It would be equally useful, though, to encourage collaboration between institutions in BRICS countries because our experiences and solutions will have relevance for each other, particularly in areas like energy, food security, education, healthcare, sustainable development and IT-enabled public services," he said.
"Third, we should individually and collectively work to make economic development more broad-based and inclusive. This is not only a moral imperative, but a pragmatic approach to make the global economy more sustainable and enhance political and social stability in vulnerable parts of the world," he added.
Dr Singh also felt BRICS countries should work more cohesively in international forums to advance the agenda of sustained global economy recovery and promote a balanced outcome on issues such as trade, sustainable development and climate change, in a manner that protects our shared interests and those of the entire developing world.
"Finally, we should work for a reform of global institutions of political and economic governance that reflects contemporary realities and equips them more effectively to deal with emerging challenges. In particular, reform of the United Nations Security Council and the IMF are urgently needed," he added.
Asserting that our collective efforts in each of these areas would be of great benefit to Africa, Dr. Singh said: " However, BRICS should also directly support the process of development and change now underway in Africa."
" The overarching Summit theme of partnership between BRICS and Africa is, therefore, very apt. The outcomes of this Summit reflect our shared commitment in this regard," he added.