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South Africa: & India & Brazil

AfricaFocus Bulletin
Nov 25, 2007 (071125)
(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor's Note

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.

For additional background news and analysis on IBSA, see the website Bilaterals,org and the FRIDE website,, and specifically the FRIDE website section on IBSA at

++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++++++++

India-Brazil-South Africa call for balanced outcome in Doha talks

Geneva, 18 Oct 2007: By Kanaga Raja

Published in South North Development Monitor (SUNS) #6347 dated 19 October 2007

This article is reproduced by AfricaFocus Bulletin with the permission of the South North Development Monitor (SUNS, It was previously reproduced by the TWN Info Service (

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 access pillars.

[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 political level.

[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 different countries.

[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 low-income farmers.

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 same disposition.

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 framework.

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 development."

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 Intellectual Property.

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 medicines.

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 Africa

Inter Press Service (Johannesburg)

17 October 2007

By Paulo Jorge, Johannesburg

[Excerpts: full text available at]

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 opportunities.

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 complementarity".

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 energy.

... 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?

Sarah-Lea John de Sousa

Fundacion para las Relaciones Internacionales y el Dialogo Exterior

[Excerpts only. For full text go to

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 progress.

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 stable. ...

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. ...

AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication providing reposted commentary and analysis on African issues, with a particular focus on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus Bulletin is edited by William Minter.

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