IBSA slams rich countries for financial crisis, pitch for reforms (Roundup)

October 15th, 2008 - 10:00 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 15 (IANS) Blaming rich countries for the global financial crisis, India, Brazil and South Africa (IBSA) Wednesday vigorously backed reforms of the UN and international financial institutions even as they agreed to expand their cooperation in areas ranging from nuclear energy and climate change to trade and terrorism. The IBSA, which brings together the three economic powerhouses from Asia, Africa and Latin America, agreed to scale up their trilateral trade to $25 billion by 2015 and signed seven pacts in diverse areas, including environment, commerce, maritime projects, tourism, gender equality and human settlements.

In yet another significant step that underlined growing IBSA solidarity, Brazil and South Africa supported civil nuclear cooperation within international safeguards and agreed to sell uranium to India.

The three major economies of the developing world also asked their finance ministers and governors of central banks to convene a meeting soon to establish a coordination mechanism to address issues relating to the financial crisis that has also begun to impact the developing world.

“Our voice on how to manage this crisis in a way that does not jeopardize our development priorities needs to be heard in international councils,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said at the launch of the third day-long IBSA summit.

“We need more than ever before a renewed effort to reform the institutions of international governance, whether it is the United Nations or the G-8,” the prime minister stressed said.

Hailing IBSA as “an effective model of South-South cooperation,” Manmohan Singh also underlined the need for greater cooperation among the three countries for the satisfactory conclusion of the Doha round of negotiations in a manner that “promotes development and inclusive growth.”

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was unsparing in his indictment of wealthier developed nations and asked why developing countries should become “victims of the global financial crisis generated by the rich countries”.

Silva, known for his fiery rhetoric, stressed that it was unfair that poorer nations had “to pay for the irresponsibility of speculators who have transformed the world into a gigantic casino”.

“We did not participate in the casino. Why should we suffer?” the Brazilian president said.

Calling for a collective IBSA response to the crisis, Silva stressed that he had warned of the current US meltdown triggered by sub-prime mortgage mess-up a year ago, but nobody listened to him.

“Our countries should participate more directly in international coordination to confront the financial crisis,” he said.

South African President Kgalema Motlanthe was equally unstinting in his critique, saying the “ill-conceived decisions of a few have brought the international financial system to the brink of collapse”.

“As the developing world, we must accept that one-size-fits-all solutions prescribed to us by the developed world must be approached with a great deal of caution,” Motlanthe said.

“The pillars of stability… potentially lie in the south,” said Motlanthe.

The leaders of IBSA welcomed the “consensus decision of the IAEA Board of Governors to approve the India-specific safeguards agreement and the decision by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to adjust its guidelines to enable full civilian nuclear cooperation between India and the international community,” said the Delhi Declaration adopted the end of the third IBSA summit.

Pushing for international civilian nuclear cooperation under appropriate International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards, the three countries underlined the importance of non-polluting nuclear energy to combat climate change.

“We have no objections to selling uranium to India,” South African President Kgalema Motlanthe told reporters when asked whether his country will sell uranium to India after the September 6 NSG waiver allowed New Delhi to resume atomic trade after 34 years.

“We discussed the role of clean energy in dealing with our energy needs. I thanked the presidents of Brazil and South Africa for their support in opening up civil nuclear cooperation for India,” Manmohan Singh said at the end of the day-long summit.

Both South Africa and Brazil have huge reserves of uranium and are planning a major expansion of their civilian nuclear power plants.

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