Time for BRICS to expand membership, say New Development Bank governors

It is time for the BRICS group of countries to expand its membership, Subhash Chandra Garg, finance secretary of India, said at the opening of the 4th annual meeting of the New Development Bank (NDB) in Cape Town on Monday.

This, said Garg, is because it is time for the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) group of countries to focus on playing a greater role in the world's development. 

South Africa is hosting New Development Bank's annual meeting for the first time.

The bank, which is headquartered in China, was launched four years ago to finance infrastructure projects. The five BRICS nations are its shareholders and the five finance ministers of the BRICS countries act as governors.  

"The NDB was set up without capital from developed countries," said Garg. "Our five BRICS economies are the growth engines of the world and the time has come where the NDB should not just be set up for the BRICS members, but for the world."

Brazil's deputy minister of foreign trade and international affairs in the ministry of economy, Marcos Troyjo, echoed these sentiments, saying he was also looking forward to the expansion of the BRICS membership. Brazil was stabilising its economy with a view to long-term growth, he added.

Working together

Cooperation was crucial for the sake of development, the bank's governors emphasised, with the bank's president KV Kamath calling for a "holistic approach" to enhance the impact of investments.

In his opening message, Russia's Deputy Minister of Finance Sergei Storchak said there was a threat to "the cornerstone of multilateralism in the world". According to Storchak, the principle of multilateralism - where multiple countries pursue a common goal - and its accompanying way of negotiating are facing the possibility of being "ruined".

SA's Finance Minister Tito Mboweni had earlier emphasised the importance of "interconnectedness" between Southern African countries. 

For his part, China's Minister of Finance, Kun Liu - who praised the NDB as a significant achievement of BRICS - said a "win-win" approach should be pursued. "China has performed well economically in 2018 and the Chinese government will continue to support the NDB," he said.

Signing on the dotted line

After Mboweni's address, two loan agreements by the NDB - which had been in the works for some time already - were officially signed. The first is a two-step loan of up to $300m by the bank to the Development Bank of Southern Africa for greenhouse gas emission reduction and energy sector development.

The second is a loan to power utility Eskom for renewable energy integration and transmission augmentation in the amount of $180m. This project will integrate a total of 670 MW of renewable energy into the Eskom’s grid, NDB and the power utility said in a joint statement.  

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