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Leaders of Brazil, India, South Africa Discuss Global Challenges


The leaders of three emerging regional powers have been meeting in South Africa to strengthen trade and build a common voice for developing nations on international issues. The meeting between India, Brazil and South Africa is to conclude with agreements on energy, transportation and information technology. VOA's Scott Bobb reports from Johannesburg.

South African President Thabo Mbeki opened the trilateral summit Wednesday saying the leaders would seek to expand cooperation on ways to face their mutual challenges.

India's prime minister, Monmohan Singh, said India, Brazil and South Africa, the group known as IBSA, must move quickly to implement its decisions.

"If the IBSA movement is to catch the imagination of our people we should move from the declarative phase to one of time-bomb action," said Mr. Singh.

A foreign policy expert at the South African Institute of International Affairs, Tom Wheeler, says the purpose of the Forum is to foster ties between developing nations, or the south, which have been missing until now.

"It is not an attempt, I believe, to undermine the relationship with the north, with the developed world, but to complement it and to have common themes, common approaches to global issues," said Wheeler.

India, Brazil and South Africa are economic powers on their respective continents and are seen as emerging voices for the developing world on the global stage.

They advocate greater power for developing nations in the United Nations and all three are campaigning for permanent seats on an expanded Security Council as part of that reform.

Wheeler notes that the meeting is also a result of shared frustration over the perceived dominance by developed nations in various aspects of world affairs.

"It revolves probably as much about economics as political, the question of development, the question of a fairer trading regime for the world, the Doha Round, that sort of issue, but it could also involve issues like nuclear disarmament," added Wheeler.

Some developing nations are unhappy that the nuclear powers are pressing developing nations to abandon their nuclear weapons programs, but have been reluctant to provide peaceful nuclear technology, for programs such as energy, in exchange.

And developing nations believe that the developed nations should be less rigid in their positions on the Doha international trade negotiations.

But experts note that different positions may be emerging among the three governments on the Doha Round, and all three have young industries such as textiles and automobiles which they may want to protect from each other.

Nevertheless, they say each country has particular strengths, such as mining in South Africa, information technology in India or biofuels in Brazil, that would be useful to the others.

Trade between the three has increased markedly since the fist trilateral summit in 2003.

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