At BRICS Meeting before G20 Opening, Putin Lays Out Major Policies

September 5, 2016

A meeting of the BRICS heads of state Sunday, just prior to the official opening of the G-20 meeting, was a demonstration of the continuity of the policy of economic development, especially from Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin, of the series of meetings over the past week: the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) in Vladivostock, Russia (Sept. 1-2), followed by the Business-20 (B-20) in Hangzhou, China (Sept. 3-4), and the G20 meeting that opened on Sunday.  The BRICS session seized a major role in setting the stage for the next two days.

Xi, host of the G20, opened the meeting calling  on BRICS members to promote the reform of the governance structure of te IMF and World Bank and to “implement the first batch of projects" that BRICS had defined.

Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi, who will host the 8th Summit meeting of BRICS in Gao, India in mid-October stressed that the bloc has the "shared responsibility to shape the international agenda in a manner that helps developing nations achieve their objectives."

Putin's pointed policy speech was immediately posted in English on the Kremlin website. He started with reference to last year's BRICS summit in Ufa, Russia, stressing that in addition to launching the "new large-scale joint projects" in technology, industrial cooperation, energy, and agribusiness, BRICS will expand into "science, education, culture, on issues of social policy, healthcare and sport."

On Syria and Middle East/North Africa crises, Putin put the blame squarely on the West's instigation of chaos. "Civil wars instigated from abroad, the disintegration of government structures in Iraq, Libya (which President Zuma spoke about with concern) and Yemen, have turned this region into a place of chaos and a foothold for international terrorism which troubles all of us, causing an uncontrollable wave of migration....

"The most dangerous situation is in Syria," Putin said. "This is why we responded to the request of the legitimate, let me stress, the legitimate government (emphasis added) of that country for assistance in the fight against terrorist groups.

"The Russian Aerospace Forces have dealt a heavy blow to the terrorists and their infrastructure, and have preserved Syrian statehood, which I think is absolutely vital."

"Together with other partners we managed to enforce a ceasefire in some regions of Syria and to launch inter-Syrian talks," Putin stated, and said that now other countries of the world must take initiatives on the global economic situation.

On the economy, Putin again took a swipe at Obama, citing the TPP and TTIP as two "private organizations" that are trying to usurp the negotiated terms of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The global economy "has still not overcome the effects of 2008-2009 financial crisis," Putin asserted. "According to forecasts, growth is unlikely to reach the pre-crisis level before 2019 .... Among the limiting factors is the volatility on foreign exchange and commodity markets, the lack of coordination of monetary policies, and the high debt levels in developed economies."

As an alternative, Putin cited President Xi's planning of the G20 this year, and called on the BRICS nations "to strengthen our countries positions in the global financial system.

"I would like to congratulate our Chinese partners on the Special Drawing Right basket being expanded to include the Chinese yuan from October 1, 2016," Putin added.

"The BRICS states have already increased their total share in the IMF capital to 14.89 percent, [which is] very close to the blocking threshold of 15 percent. And they certainly need to continue in this direction, advancing the reform of the IMF.

"We need to make the BRICS Pool contingent of foreign exchange reserves and the New Development Bank fully operational .... to adopt the bank's strategy, to provide loans in local currencies, and to begin financing specific projects."

Putin was especially harsh about the West's efforts to create "various private associations, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), [that] are gaining momentum; [and] seek to replace the WTO rather than complement it." They are doing this because the WTO has stalled out.

Citing the next step, Putin concluded by congratulating Prime Minister Modi on the upcoming BRICS meeting in India—looking forward to advancing the BRICS agenda.