Nov 25, 2007 (071125)
(Reposted from sources cited below)
With a combined population of 1.3 billion people, the alliance of
"middle powers" India, Brazil, and South Africa (IBSA) could have
substantial potential for influence on the world stage. At the
second IBSA summit, held in South Africa in October, leaders signed
pledges to accelerate cooperation and to double trilateral trade to
$15 billion by 2010.
They also issued a joint statement taking common positions on world
trade negotiations, climate change, and other issues. But most
observers note that the collaboration is only at the beginning, and
that the relationships of each country with the Global North are
still much stronger than their trilateral ties.
This AfricaFocus Bulletin includes an article from the South North
Development Monitor on the IBSA summit's stance on world trade
negotiation, and excerpts from commentary and background articles
from InterPress Service and from FRIDE, a think tank in Madrid.
The leaders of India, Brazil and South Africa, at a summit meeting
at Tshwane (South Africa), have reaffirmed their commitment to
carry out the Doha Round of trade negotiations at the WTO towards
an outcome that is "fair and acceptable to all".
This commitment came in a joint declaration by the Prime Minister
of India, Dr Manmohan Singh, the President of Brazil, Luiz Inacio
Lula da Silva, and the President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki,
following the 2nd Summit of the India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA)
Dialogue Forum held in Tshwane, South Africa on 17 October.
In their summit declaration, the three leaders noted that the WTO
Doha Round of trade negotiations is entering a critical stage, and
that these negotiations are now in a genuine multilateral process,
with draft modalities texts for agriculture and industrial goods
that provide a good basis for negotiations.
[The joint declaration comes just as the chair of the agriculture
negotiations at the WTO has been conducting consultations among
some 36 representative delegations since last week on various
issues under the export competition, domestic support and market
[While the Chair, Ambassador Crawford Falconer of New Zealand, has
cited a reasonable degree of progress on export competition issues
discussed last week, such appears not to be the case with domestic
support and market access issues being discussed this week.
[A report in the "WTO Reporter" cited Falconer as saying on 17
October that there has been little new that has emerged from the
discussions this week. Not a lot has emerged in discussions on the
treatment of sensitive products and subsidies for cotton. The media
report also cited Falconer as saying that there was nothing more to
say on the issue of trade-distorting farm support, and that a
decision on the support figures would have to be made at the
[At a meeting of the General Council on 9 October, four developing
country groupings - the ACP Group, the African Group, the NAMA-11
and the Small and Vulnerable Economies Group - stressed that the
modalities for NAMA have to respect development principles
including lower percentage reductions of tariffs for developing
countries as well as flexibilities that suit the diverse needs of
[While not formally rejecting the draft modalities paper of the
Chair of the NAMA negotiations, the proposal by the groups (the
ACP, African, NAMA-11 and the SVEs) however has major points of
divergence from the Chair's modalities - such as in the areas of
the tariff reduction formula, the flexibilities to be given to
developing countries affected by the formula cuts and special
treatment to be given to categories of developing countries - the
SVEs, Para 6 countries and Recently Acceded Members.]
In their joint declaration, the three leaders reiterated the
importance of the development dimension of the Round and welcomed
the strengthened engagement, solidarity, and cooperation among
developing countries in that process.
They underlined that agriculture remains the key to the conclusion
of the Round.
To truly deliver on the development benefits of the Round, they
called for the "removal of long-standing distortions and
restrictions in international agricultural trade, such as subsidies
and trade barriers that affect the agricultural exports of and
domestic production in developing countries."
The three leaders also asserted that developed countries must agree
to substantial and effective cuts in the latter's trade distorting
support, with new disciplines that prevent box shifting and commit
to real and new trade flows in agriculture.
They underscored that meaningful and operable special and
differential treatment, which includes development instruments of
Special Products and the Special Safeguard Mechanism are vital to
address the concerns of developing countries with subsistence and
The leaders emphasized that any progress towards achieving the
above goals is "a development imperative and should not be linked
with meeting the disproportionate demands by developed countries in
the NAMA and services negotiations."
They asserted that developing countries have been constructive and
willing to negotiate in all areas, and urged others to act with the
The leaders recalled their commitment to making a contribution to
market opening in the Doha Round in agriculture, NAMA, and services
that will create new trade flows.
They said that they are also committed to ensure that the process
of the negotiations is not held hostage to "who goes first", and
reaffirmed their conviction that all members must "move together"
to arrive at a balanced and fair outcome of the negotiations.
The three heads of government stated that through constant
dialogue, reciprocal flexibility, non-dogmatic approach and good
faith efforts, full modalities in the agriculture and industrial
goods negotiations could be achieved before the year-end, together
with equivalent results in other areas. They also reaffirmed their
commitment to achieving such a positive outcome within this
The leaders underscored the importance of incorporating the
development dimension in international discussions concerning
intellectual property, and reaffirmed that intellectual property
"is not an end in itself, but one of the instruments to encourage
innovation for technological, industrial and economic and social
They also recalled that it is fundamental to preserve policy spaces
necessary for ensuring access to knowledge, promoting public goals
in the fields of health and culture, and a sustainable environment.
In this context, the three leaders welcomed the adoption of 45
recommendations of concrete actions regarding the "Development
Agenda" by this year's WIPO General Assembly, as well as the
establishment of the WIPO Permanent Committee on Development and
They reaffirmed the need to reach a solution for the problem raised
by the granting of intellectual property rights on biological
resources and/or associated traditional knowledge, without due
compliance with relevant provisions of the Convention on Biological
Diversity, such as the granting of erroneous patents or the
registration of undue trademarks.
In this regard, they recalled the presentation in the WTO of the
proposal co-sponsored, among others, by the three IBSA countries to
amend the TRIPS Agreement by introducing a mandatory requirement
for the disclosure of origin, prior informed consent, and also fair
and equitable benefit sharing of biological resources and/or
associated traditional knowledge used in inventions for which
applications for intellectual property rights are filed.
The leaders also welcomed the ongoing discussion in the
Inter-Governmental Working Group (IGWG) on Intellectual Property
and Public Health of the World Health Organization. They stated the
important role of WHO in the discussion of the impacts of
intellectual property protection on public health and on access to
Apart from their joint position on the current trade negotiations
at the WTO, the three leaders also laid out their views on the
issue of climate change.
They called for the international community to work together on
climate change under the United Nations Framework Convention on
Climate Change "in accordance with the principle of common but
differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities."
They urged all developed countries to take more ambitious and
quantifiable GHG emission reduction targets in the post-2012 period
under the Kyoto Protocol. Moreover, they stressed the imperative of
addressing unsustainable patterns of production and consumption.
This would also spur the Carbon market and significantly enhance
the Clean Development Mechanism's contribution to sustainable
development, financial flows and transfer of clean technologies to
developing countries, they said, and urged that significant
progress is needed in Bali in December 2007.
Possibilities And Pitfalls in Trade Between India, Brazil And South
Enthusiasm tempered with notes of caution has characterised the
IBSA (India, Brazil and South Africa) Business Forum, held in
Johannesburg in the run up to the latest heads of state summit of
the three countries.
Roughly two hundred delegates were in attendance at the forum
Tuesday, many eager about the prospects for increasing trilateral
trade. At the same time, they were acutely aware of barriers that
still hinder progress.
"The current level of trade amongst the three countries is very
low, dismally low, and business is worried about those levels of
trade amongst the three countries," Jerry Vilakazi, chief executive
officer of Business Unity South Africa (BUSA), told IPS, adding
that only two percent of the combined foreign trade of the three
states was conducted with each other. BUSA speaks for South African
business on matters that concern it nationally and internationally.
Vilakazi said that more needs to be done to help business people in
the IBSA nations recognise opportunities for trade and investment.
"We need to understand: What are the trade opportunities that we
have not leveraged within the three countries?"
To achieve this understanding, Vilakazi believes business people
should meet each other more often between the heads of state
summits, and hold special sessions dedicated to exploring trade
Sceptics claims that IBSA trilateral trade is unlikely ever to
reach heights that would challenge existing trade links with the
industrialised North, because all three states essentially have
emerging economies that produce similar exports.
However, this point of view was rejected by Habil Khorakiwala,
president of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and
Industry, who argued that there is in fact "a great degree of
He also identified four areas where, in his view, there is
considerable scope for synergy between the three countries:
agriculture and food processing, pharmaceuticals, transport and
... He noted, however, that trilateral trade is being seriously
impeded by the inadequate transport links between India, Brazil and
South Africa. It is notoriously difficult to book a flight between
India and South Africa, and equally difficult to find a seat on the
daily flights between South Africa and Brazil.
While the airline companies are eager to take advantage of the
rising demand for travel between the IBSA countries, governments
have been slow to negotiate and approve routes and landing rights.
South African Trade and Industry Minister Mandisi Mpahlwa made a
commitment to the forum to address this issue. ...
Mpahlwa said that South-South trade was growing rapidly. He
acknowledged, however, that there are still far more barriers to
trade between countries of the South than there are for their
Northern counterparts. ...
India, Brazil, South Africa (IBSA) – New inter-regional
multilateralism in the South?
India, Brazil, and South Africa play significant roles in their
respective regions and have increasing international influence. In
September 2003 the three governments formalised this relationship,
creating the IBSA Dialogue Forum. This document analyses the
global and trilateral potential of South-South dialogue, comparing
and contrasting these countries, and evaluating the forum’s
While the G77 and the NAM are characterised by large numbers of
developing countries, created in the seventies, the IBSA alliance
currently comprehends only three (large) middle powers that to a
large extent exert regional and global influence. This new type of
"Southern multilateralism" does not propose a radical change in the
world order, rather it seeks to take advantage of existing
international rules to promote a more just, representative and
equitable distribution of power in the international system.
IBSA Dialogue Forum
In January 2003, Thabo Mbeki, South African President, advanced the
idea of an alliance with Brazil and India to increase these
emerging powers' impact at the global level, and to enhance
trilateral cooperation between them. Following several informal
meetings by the heads of government during the June 2003 G-8
summit in Evian,5 the Foreign Ministers of India, Brazil, and
South Africa formalised the "IBSA Dialogue Forum" in the Brasilia
Declaration. Since then, these three states have held annual
meetings and signed several agreements on sector specific and
global cooperation. ...
India, Brazil, and South Africa have sought to encourage trilateral
trade through the proliferation of contacts and bilateral or
trilateral agreements. In recent years, official visits among
these three powers have incorporated vast business delegations.
Another important step in this direction is the IBSA Business
Council, launched in March 2005 in South Africa during informal
meetings of the three foreign ministers. The first IBSA summit in
Brasilia included many academic and business seminars with the
objective of encouraging trilateral economic relations.
Despite various obstacles, such as distance, language, transport
costs, and lack of direct flight routes, trilateral commerce has
grown more than twofold in the 2003-2006 period, going from US$
1.98 billion to US$ 4.31 billion. This increase in trade volume is
especially substantial due to Brazil-India bilateral relations,
since the figure for India- South Africa trade remained relatively
Energy sector trilateral cooperation has significant long-term
potential, especially in the development of renewable energy.
India, Brazil, and South Africa share optimal conditions for
developing solar energy, although only India has experience in this
field. At present the most important energy resource for the IBSA
alliance is ethanol, in which Brazil is already a global leader.
India and South Africa also produce and consume this type of
biofuel, albeit in smaller quantities. ...
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