BRIC MEETING IN NEW YORK

21.09.06
NEW YORK. (RIA Novosti political commentator Dmitry Kosyrev)

The Russo-Chinese-Indian triangle was born in the Millennium Plaza, a hotel that is barely three-minutes’ walk from the UN headquarters on the East River, in 2002. It happened three years after Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov, who later became prime minister, suggested creating a strategic triangle of Moscow, New Delhi and Beijing.
This week the triangle became a square with an appropriate acronym, BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China). The Brazilian foreign minister met with his colleagues from the triangle in the basement negotiating room of the UN headquarters.
The meeting in that modest room was not a ceremonial occasion. According to a participant, the parties mostly discussed practical economic issues.
The four countries are intensifying mutual trade. Russo-Chinese trade is expected to grow to a record $34 billion this year, and Russo-Brazilian trade may reach $15 billion. Trade between India and China is developing at a record-fast pace, and India and Brazil are looking for new areas of cooperation.
The BRIC countries play a special role on the global scene. The acronym was coined by Morgan Stanley, one of the world's largest investment banks, three years ago in a report that proved that China would become the world’s economic leader and India its runner-up by the middle of the 21st century, while Brazil and Russia would also surge towards global economic leadership.
Since then, the forecast has started materializing on the global political and economic scene. The world has become aware of BRIC’s special future and is taking this factor into account.
No wonder the first meeting of BRIC foreign ministers made breaking news. The four ministers’ discussions of mutual trade and relations with other powers had a strategic goal of preventing possible disputes and rivalry among themselves.
If Brazil, Russia, India and China are the recognized candidates for global leadership, cooperation and rivalry are inevitable between them. The simplest way to prevent Morgan Stanley’s forecast from materializing is to pit the four claimants against each other.
The situation is complicated by difficult Chinese-Indian relations. Every single meeting of the three countries balanced on failure during the preparation stage. But the meetings proper invariably showed that there is a growing list of subjects for discussion and not enough time to cover them all.
The tripartite meetings were held despite a great number of diplomatic problems, and the three leaders met for their first summit in St. Petersburg in summer 2006, on the sidelines of the G8 summit. Speaking on behalf Russia as the organizer of both summits, President Vladimir Putin suggested holding more tripartite meetings and extending the format to include Brazil, especially in view of India’s special relations with that country.
(India also maintains close relations with South Africa, the economic leader of the continent.)
The trilateral and quadrilateral meetings of the world leaders of tomorrow are complicated by considerable problems, which is why they mostly agree that they should meet more often. Formally speaking, they are searching for a common agenda, and have made considerable progress towards this goal. Their association is not an international organization cemented by mutual commitments, treaties or charters. It is a consultation mechanism for interaction between top state officials that is gradually becoming a regular aspect of their work.
But in accordance with the laws of international diplomatic geometry such mechanisms usually become complemented with official papers prepared for them and informal agreements. It would be useless to peer into the future now, but the BRIC countries were bound to start speaking about their future in the world that has become aware of their existence and aspirations. -0-