IBSA Dialogue Forum: A New Initiative of Developing Countries

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IBSA Summits
S. N. Summit Place Host Country Time
First
Second
Third
Fourth
Fifth
Sixth Brasilia
Tshwane
New Delhi
Brasilia
Pretoria
India Brazil
South
India
Brazil
South Africa New Delhi September 2006 October 17, 2007 October 15, 2008 April 15,2010 October 18, 2011 June 2013 proposed

India, Brazil and South Africa or IBSA is a new forum of three leading developing countries of the globe. These three countries represent the three continents of the world—Asia, Latin America and Africa respecti¬vely. Also, these three members are the leading regional economic and political powers in their respective regions. IBSA is declared to be a trilateral developmental initiative between India, Brazil and South Africa to promote South-South Co¬operation and exchange. The idea of IBSA emerged during the discussions between the Heads of Government of the IBSA countries—India, Brazil and South Africa at the G-8 meeting that took place in Evian in 2003. As a follow up measure, the Foreign Ministers of the respective countries met in Brasilia on June 6, 2003. At this meeting the Foreign Ministers of three countries—Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma from South Africa, Celso Amorim from Brazil and Yashwant Sinha from India, signed and adopted the Brasilia Declaration and form¬alized the launching of the IBSA Dialogue Forum.
Besides establishing IBSA, the Brasilia Declaration, 2003 also raises the following points—
(a) The reform of the UN parti-cularly expansion of the Security Council in both permanent and non¬permanent categories.
(b) To promote social equity and inclusion for fighting hunger and poverty in three countries.
(c) Trilateral cooperation among three member countries for pro¬moting their social and economic development.
(d) Reversal of trade distorting practices and protectionist policies by improving the rules of multilateral trading system.
(e) Commitment to pursue policies to make the processes of globalization to be inclusive, inte¬grative, humane and equitable.
PD/August/2013/266
These points help to understand the nature and activities of this newly formed group of three leading deve-loping countries.
Objectives of IBSA
On the basis of Brasilia Declara¬tion and other pronouncements of its leaders the main objectives of the IBSA Dialogue Forum could be summarized as follows :
1. To promote South-South dia-logue, cooperation and common positions on issues of inter¬national importance;
2. To promote trade and invest¬ment opportunities between the three regions of which they are part, international poverty alleviation and social develop¬ment;
3. To promote the trilateral exchange of information, inter¬national best practices, techno¬logies and skills, as well as to* complement each other’s compe¬titive strengths into collective synergies; and
4. To promote cooperation in a broad range of areas, namely agriculture, climate change, culture, defence, education, energy, health, information society, science and technology, social development, trade and investment, tourism and trans¬port.
Administrative Arrangements
These objectives of IBSA are realized through the consultation and collective action at three levels :
Senior Officials (Focal Point) level, Foreign Ministerial level (Trilateral Joint Commission) and Heads of State / Government level (IBSA Summit). IBSA has also evolved mechanisms to facilitate interaction amongst editors, academics and other members of civil society.
The meetings of the Trilateral Joint Commission, attended by the Foreign Ministers of three countries are held on annual basis. It supervises the implementation of the decisions and Programmes of IBSA. So far, its Six Ministerial Meetings have been held—First, at New Delhi on March 4-5, 2004; Second, at Cape town on March 10-11, 2005; Third, at Rio De Janeiro on March 30, 2006; Fourth, at New Delhi on July 17, 2007; Fifth, at Somerset West (S. Africa) on May 11, 2008; and Sixth, at Brasilia on August 31, 2009-September 1, 2009.
IBSA Summit is the highest decision making body and its meet¬ings are held each year. So far five IBSA Summits have been held. The Fifth IBSA Summit was held in South Africa in Oct. 2011 in Pretoria.
Fourth Summit: Brasilia
Declaration
The Fourth Summit of IBSA was held at Brasilia on April 15, 2010. It was held along with BRIC Summit at the same place. The Brasilia Declara¬tion issued at the end of the Summit* highlights the following points :
1. It called for reforms to the security council of UN and other international financial institu-
tions like World Bank and IMF to address the representation of developing countries.
2. In the interest of poor people of South, the declaration resolved to achieve the goal of inclusive socio-economic development under globalization.
3. The Declaration laid emphasis on the comprehensive process of women empowerment and wel-comed the formation of Human Rights Council for the better enforcement of human rights.
4. It demanded the early conclu¬sion of Doha Round of trade negotiations with focus on the development, as provided under the original mandate of these negotiations.
5. While welcoming ongoing finan¬cial recovery, the declara-tion demanded that the concerns of developing countries should be reflected in this recovery.
6. It called for early conclusion of climate change negotiations based on the principle of ‘com¬mon but differentiated respon¬sibilities’.
7. The leaders condemned terro¬rism in all its form and called for early conclusion of compre¬hensive UN Convention on terrorism. They demanded a comprehensive, impartial and verifiable process of nuclear disarmament.
8. IBSA resolved to deepen the process of South-South Coo¬peration as a development partnership based on equality and respect for sovereignty of nation.
Fifth IBSA Summit October 18, 2011 (Tshwane Declara-tion)
The Fifth IBSA Summit was held in Pretoria South Africa. The President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, The Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh, and the newly elected President of Brazil Dilma Rouseff participated in this Summit. The leaders noted that the IBSA brings together the people of three continents—Africa, Asia and South America as a purely South-South grouping of three large pluralistic, multi-racial and multi-cultural societies. They are committed to inclusive sustainable development of their people. They underlined the importance of principles of IBSA- participatory democracy, respect for human rights, and the rule of law. The three leaders signed a 102 point joint declaration. The Declaration delibe-rates on contemporary global issues such as ongoing financial crisis, reform of IMF, early completion to Doha trade negotiations, climate change and sustainable development, disarmament and nuclear security, South-South Cooperation, terrorism and transnational organized crimes, food and energy security, health and gender equality.
The leaders also discussed certain regional issues like conditions in Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, Arab- Israeli peace process, NEPAD deve¬lopment process in Africa, working of IBSA Fund Facility for Poverty Alleviation, sectoral cooperation and people to people contacts among three member countries and IBSA Satellite Project sponsored by India. The Sixth IBSA Summit is likely to be held in India in June 2013.
Areas of Cooperation
IBSA has identified sixteen areas for trilateral cooperation.
These areas are : agriculture; climate change and environment; culture; defence; education; energy; health; human settlement; develop¬ment; information society; public administration; science and techno¬logy; social development; tourism; transport; and trade and investment.
Sixteen Working Groups have been set up to study and plan joint programmes for cooperation. As per the expertise of the member coun¬tries, they are designated the lead countries in respective areas. For example, in energy sector, Brazil is designated the lead country in biofuels and ethanol, South Africa in coal liquification and India in solar and wind energy. Similarly, in the field of Science and technology,
S. Africa is a country in TB and biotechnology, India in nano-techno- logy and HIV/AIDS and Brazil in oceanography and malaria. India has also been designated as the lead country in the area of education.
The formal shape to the process of cooperation is given by signing a number of MoUs between the member countries. Some of the examples of such formal agreements are : Tripartite Agreement on Tourism; MoU on Trade Facilitation for Standards, Technical Regulation and Conformity Assessment; MoU on Environment; MoU on Human Settlement Development; Five Year Action Plans for Maritime Transport and Civil Aviation; and MoU on Women’s Development and Gender Equity Programmes.
Besides, IBSA has also facilitated the involvements of Track II actors like academics, editors, business leaders and other civil society groups in the process of mutual cooperation. During the Second Summit, the Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh wished that IBSA should emerge as a ‘People’s Movement’.
Role and Activities of IBSA
If we analyze the entire spectrum of activities of IBSA, we can identify three category of roles which it is destined to play.
(1) Articulation and Repres-entation of Views of Developing Countries—IBSA is primarily an association of developing countries. It has the potential to represent their voice on various global issues which affect their vital interests. Such a role was needed for long time since the weakening of other forums developing countries such as NAM and G-77. This happened in the face of emerging international order in the era of globalization and rising tendencies of regional economic cooperation. In this scenario, IBSA as a compact group of three advanced developing countries representing all the three continents of the South, is better poised to perform this role.
The uniqueness of IBSA lies in the fact that it is small and compact in functioning as well as global in approach while representing the views of developing countries. The added advantage of the members of IBSA is that they are also the mem¬bers of Outreach G-5 under rich nations’ club G-8 and G-20 groups. As such, they are in regular interac¬tion with the leading countries of North. Under this role, IBSA represents the collective voice of South on different global issues at various international forums. IBSA has successfully articulated the voice of the South on various global issues such as global governance, realization of Millennium Development Goals, climate change, sustainable develop¬ment, biodiversity, human rights, UN reforms, Doha Development Round, Disarmament and nonproliferation, peaceful uses of nuclear energy, terrorism and food and energy security etc. Accordingly, it calls for making the structures of global governance more democratic and representative of developing coun¬tries; increasing Official Development Assistance by developed countries to 0-7 per cent of their GDP; UN reform and expansion of Security Council to reflect the contemporary realities; management of climate change crisis on the basis of the principle of com¬mon but differentiated res-ponsibi- lities and respective capabilities and transfer of financial resources and technology by the developed coun¬tries due to their historical responsi¬bility in global warming; emphasis on development objectives of Doha trade round and eliminating the protec¬tionist measures in multilateral trade; and devising a comprehensive, universal, non-discriminatory and verifiable system of non-proliferation and disarmament. Thus, IBSA has provided a new forum for articulat¬ing and expressing the views of developing countries.
(2) Trilateral Cooperation among member States—The second set of its role is the IBSA Sectoral Cooperation Programme, which involves the identification of various areas of their mutual interest and devising mechanisms to share their expertise under various programmes of deve-lopment and cooperation. IBSA members have identified 16 areas of mutual cooperation and benefit. The trilateral cooperation has the potential to work as a model as well as a window of opportunity for other developing countries to enlarge the scope and reach of the South-South Cooperation.
(3) South-South Cooperation— IBSA has been billed as the potential forum of South-South Cooperation by many observers. After the failure of Cancun Conference of the WTO in 2003, the countries of the South felt the necessity to strengthen their co¬operation and to adopt a coordinated approach towards the trade, invest¬ment and economic diplomacy. This is one of the major objectives of this association. IBSA’s role in South- South Cooperation is to enlarge the scope of its activities for the benefit and development of poor countries of the South. It effectively involves other regional groups of developing countries in the process of such cooperation. The IBSA Facility Fund for Alleviation of Poverty and Hunger, created in 2003, has initiated, with cooperation of host countries, a number of development Projects in poor countries like Burundi, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Laos and Palestine. This is likely to bring other developing countries within the ambit of South-South Cooperation. Again, the IBSA has proposed a Trilateral Trade Agreement between MERCOSUR, SACU and India. MERCOSUR (Mercado Comun del Sur or the Common Market of the South) created in 1991 by Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay under the Treaty of Asuncion. MERCOSUR is home of 250 million people and accounts for three-quarter of eco¬nomic activities of the continent of South America. Similarly, SACU or South African Custom Union consists of Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland, which is most economically active area in Africa. This trade agreement would not only expand intra-South trade but would widen the horizons of South- South Cooperation. IBSA has also extended its continued support to NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa’s Development) programme of African Union.
The nature of issues raised and the discussion in various Summits of IBSA prove beyond doubt that the South-South Cooperation has emer¬ged as the major focus of its activities.
Changing Nature of South- South Cooperation—However, the present nature and dynamics of IBSA’s role in South-South Coopera¬tion displays some distinct tendencies not visible in the earlier phase of South-South Cooperation in 1960s and 1970s. The following distinctions are more pronounced:
1. The first phase of South-South Cooperation in 1960s and 1970s was more inspired and moti¬vated by an ideology of anti¬colonialism. In the present phase, no such ideological inspiration is visible. On the contrary, it appears that the ideology of neo¬liberalism, riding high on the process of globalization, has taken hold of the entire world including the member states of IBSA. Therefore, the present phase of such cooperation can be pursued only on the basis of the interest aggregation of the developing countries in the face of emerging global conditions.
2. Unlike the earlier phase, the present initiative of South-South Cooperation is spearheaded by only three advanced countries of South, which are well integrated with the prevailing global eco¬nomic order based on globaliza¬tion and free economy. As per the requirement of globalized economy, these countries have also changed their domestic economic policies. Earlier, the initiative of such cooperation was taken as a collective endeavour of all developing countries.
3. IBSA’s present approach to South-South Cooperation is a ‘Top-Down Approach’, in which the fruits and processes of such cooperation would gradually
percolate gown to the other countries of the South. It appears more as imposed from above rather than an initiatives of all developing and Least Developed Countries.
Problems and Prospects
IBSA as a new forum of three leading countries of South faces some potential problems, which are dis¬cussed below:
First, the nature of Cooperation between them is bilateral rather than trilateral in nature. Their efforts for deepening South-South Cooperation have been more in the form of declarations and pronouncements. The concrete programmes of action are far and few between.
Second, many times they have displayed diverse interests and per-ceptions on various issues. The trade data reveals that the IBSA members have more trade and business with rich countries than among them¬selves. They have opposite interests as far as trade related issues are concerned. During Doha Round of trade negotiations in July 2008 India and Brazil ended on opposite sides. The safeguards demanded by India and other poor countries to protect their Agriculture were not included in the proposals supported by Brazil and rich countries. Brazil is interested to gain access to the US market for its agricultural products. Again, India is not ready to open its markets for agricultural imports, whereas two other members do not have any such reservation. They also have diverse regional interests. India is the only nuclear power in IBSA and faces the problem of terrorism and other two members may not go along her in this regard.
Third, besides competition in :rade, the Continent of Africa has become a theatre of competition among three countries to promote their interests and area of influence. The competition is acrimonious and tough as China has also a vigorous programme to increase her influence in Africa.
Fourth, however, the biggest challenge before IBSA in deepening the South-South Cooperation is to bring the poor countries of the South within the ambit of such cooperation. At present, IBSA is more integrated with rich countries in global economy rather than with the poor countries of the South. The litmus test for IBSA is to balance the opposite interests of the most poor and the most rich in the globe.
The ongoing phase of South- South Cooperation is conditioned by the number of political, economic, technological and other factors, which provide numerous opportunities for such cooperation. The potential opportunities are given below :
1. The members of IBSA are the large and advanced developing countries, representing the three continents of South and holding a dominating position in their respective regions. These three countries have the total com¬bined population of 1-4 billion and a combined GDP of more than 3-2 trillion dollar. These factors make IBSA as an effective mechanism of South-South Cooperation.
2. IBSA members occupy a middle position between the developed North and the poor South. Their approach on various global issues is compatible with the vital interests of other develop¬ing countries but at the same time they are better poised to effectively articulate and represent the interests of deve¬loping countries at various fora of North-South Dialogue like the UN, G-20 or the G-8 grouping. India, South Africa and Brazil along with Mexico and China are the active members of G-5 Outreach countries, which hold regular interaction with rich countries. We should not forget that the South-South Coopera¬tion is not viewed as a substitute of but as a complementary pro¬cess to the North-South Dialogue.
3. IBSA members have a diversi¬fied and developed economic and technological base. It makes their economies, trade and tech¬nological expertise, not com¬petitive, but complementary to each other. Consequently, the intra-IBSA trade among three countries has increased grad¬ually from $ 3-7 billion in 2004 to $ 10 billion in 2008. They have decided to raise it to $ 10 billion by 2010 and $ 25 billion by the year 2015. There are various facets of their economic and technological complementarities. Brazil has developed expertise in the alternative sources of fuels like ethanol and bio-fuel which may be of immense interest to other two partners. Similarly, India has developed capabilities in the field of solar and wind energy and South Africa has gained expertise in coal liquidification technology. India has shown keen interest in the production of ethanol from sugarcane in Brazil as India is also the second largest producer of sugarcane after Brazil. India has also much to offer in the fields of software technology, peaceful use of nuclear energy, satellite manufacturing and launch technology and expertise in mass education.
4. The process of globalization has widened the gap not only bet¬ween the developed and deve¬loping countries but also among the developing countries itself. However, this also provides an opportunity for developing countries to pool their collective resources and capabilities to protect their interests in the globalised world. They have the greater need to articulate a common stand with respect to major global issues like UN reform, climate change, trade negotiations and so on.
On the basis of above discussion we can conclude that IBSA is not merely a forum of trilateral co¬operation among member countries but also a potential forum for South- South Cooperation. It is also true that the nature of South-South Cooperation has changed over the years. In the globalized era, IBSA has the potential to emerge as a bridge between the rich North and the poor South.

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