Brics experts back development bank

Friday, March 15, 2013

Pretoria – Experts from the Brics group of countries have recommended the group to create their own development bank and rating agency for educational establishments, says Executive director of Russia’s National Committee for Brics studies, Georgy Toloraya.

The Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit will be held in Durban on 26 and 27 March.

Earlier this month, the South African government appointed the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) to serve as an incubator for the South Africa Brics Think Tank for an initial period of one year.

Officials from the five countries met in Durban over a weekend earlier this month for a workshop aimed at mapping a long-term strategy for a mooted consortium of Brics think tanks.

The group’s experts held three days of sessions in the run-up to the summit to agree to establish a council of think tanks and “support the idea of a Brics bank.”

Toloraya said at the first phase such a financial institution would serve as a center of analysis.

“We use World Bank and International Monetary Fund statistics and analytical reports all the time, as we have no such instruments of our own. A future Brics Investment Bank is seen as a mechanism that would help realize where money should go, agree development strategies and coordinate investment,” Toloraya said.

The experts also speculated the Brics countries might conclude preferential trade agreements.

“It will not be a free trade zone yet, but a first step towards it. Settlements in national currencies are not ruled out,” Toloraya said

The recommendation for creating a rating agency for educational establishments has similar reasons behind it.

“None of our universities is high on the Western rating lists. In the meantime, the Silicon Valley in the United States is crowded with Russians,” Toloraya said, adding that western university ratings relied on publications in western magazines and on western awards.

“Such an agency would be rather easy to set up. When we know how we rate ourselves, possibly, students will decide to go to study in Russia or elsewhere, and not in the United States,” he said.

Toloraya sees Brics as an “intellectual project for formulating new rules of global co-existence.”

An association of countries located in four continents is "an alliance of civilizations which will never develop into a military bloc," he said.

“Brics is an elite project, an attempt by rising powers to safeguard their interests together,” Toloraya said. Specifically, he pointed out that the group was devoid of an anti-western bias.

“Brics is a civilized attempt at coming to terms as to what a future world order should be. It is not accidental that the group’s participants are advocates of non-interference in internal affairs and of the rule of international law,” he said. -