The BRICS grouping of emerging powers have reached a deal to establish a development bank that would rival Western-backed institutions.
“It’s done,” South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said after meeting with his counterparts from Brazil, Russia, India and China.
Economic data shows that the grouping of Brazil, China, India, Russia and South Africa now account for 25 percent of global GDP and 40 percent of the world’s population.
China has become the informal leader of the group. With a GDP of $8.25 trillion in 2012, the IMF
Brazil: With a GDP of $2.425 trillion in 2012, Brazil is the world’s seventh largest economy. It holds only a modest place in world trade activity, however, and experienced sluggish growth of one percent last year.
Russia: Ranking ninth on the list of the world’s biggest economies, Russia accumulated a GDP of $1.953 trillion in 2012, boosted mainly by its gas exports, making it the world’s eighth largest exporter.
India: Despite its population of 1.24 billion, India remains a smaller player among the world’s economies, falling into a 10th place with a GDP worth 1.946 trillion.
South Africa: Smallest of the BRICS economies is South Africa. Placing 41st world exporters, the country has a GDP of $390 billion and a population of 50.5 million.
“We made very good progress, the leaders will announce the details,” he added, just hours before the opening of a BRICS summit in the South African port city of Durban on Tuesday.
But Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said that the group’s ministers were unable to agree on some of the details of the project.
“A decision on the location of the bank and funding still needs to be made,” he told reporters in Durban, adding that
further steps would be required before the BRICS development bank could be created.
Together the BRICS account for 25 percent of global GDP and 40 percent of the world’s population.
But members say institutions such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the UN Security Council are not changing fast enough to reflect their new-found clout.
Disputes remain over what the new bank will do, with all sides trying to mould the institution to their own foreign or domestic policy goals, and with each looking for assurances of an equitable return on their initial investment of about $10bn.
China and Brazil also signed an agreement at Tuesday’s meeting to do billions of dollars of trade in their local currencies, as the BRICS nations work to lessen their dependence on the US dollar and euro.
Finance ministers Lou Jiwei of China and Guido Mantega of Brazil signed the deal, amid the continuing euro crisis and little signs of growth in the West.
Xi Jinping, who has underscored the growing importance of the group by making Durban his first summit as China’s president, had earlier expressed hopes for “positive headway” in establishing the bank.
South African President Jacob Zuma has lauded the summit as a means of addressing his country’s chronic economic problems, including high unemployment.
“BRICS provides an opportunity for South Africa to promote its competitiveness,” Zuma said in a speech on the eve of the summit.
“It is an opportunity to move further in our drive to promote economic growth and confront the challenge of poverty, inequality and unemployment that afflicts our country.”
In a keynote speech in Tanzania on Monday, Xi pledged Beijing’s “sincere friendship” with the continent, and a relationship that respects Africa’s “dignity and independence”.
If initiatives such as the bank succeed it would send a loud message to the US and European nations that the current global balance of power is unworkable.