Opinion

Time for meaningful business ties at Brics

Onkar S Kanwar | Updated on January 16, 2018 Published on October 13, 2016

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Last year at Ufa, Russia, while addressing the Brics Summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had outlined a 10-point agenda for the future of the bloc. These initiatives were aimed at fortifying the evolving relationship amongst the member states and offering new institutional platforms for scientists, researchers, sportspersons, artists, technocrats and businesses to come together and work collaboratively. As we look back, we are gladdened by the results.

This also explains the heightened expectations all of us have from the Brics Summit meeting in Goa that is scheduled just a few days from now on October 15-16, 2016.

While the discussions at Goa will cover an entire gamut of global and regional issues, for businesses it will be the economic content of the declaration that will offer us guidance on the direction that we need to collectively pursue. Already, at the Brics Business Council, we have identified a few areas that merit attention. Let me highlight some of these.

First, the Business Council is discussing the subject of Brics Rating Agency. The members feel the Brics business community should have a home-grown institution that matches in quality and credit appraisal with the best in the world while aligning its rating methodology to account for the emerging market business realities and hence providing a more thorough and complete credit rating analysis of companies.

This will facilitate cross–border investors to take a more informed decision and is most important for infrastructure financing. We feel that institutions such as NDB, ADB, World Bank and AIIB should also be engaged for a discussion on this subject.

Building blocks

The second area is from the perspective of infra-financing and relates to setting up of a Brics Infrastructure Project Development Facility. Such an organisation can provide assistance on the entire gamut of project development expertise including project identification, pre-feasibility, post-feasibility, preparation of DPR and environment and social impact assessment. Through such a platform, projects can be converted from conceptualisation stage to the bankability stage. In countries where such an institution exists, NDB can help enhance such structures and where there are none, NDB can help set up an independent unit.

The third area relates to a Brics-wide analytical and research institution that can support the market intelligence requirements of small, medium and large companies from our respective countries. Given our stage of development, there is a need for a solid research base with extensive data on emerging economies that can serve as an important reference point for businesses from our countries.

The fourth: while more information and insights will create more business opportunities, we can give further impetus to this by promoting trade in local currencies. Our governments and development banks must discuss and advice how we can expand the scope and scale of pricing in local currency for intra-Brics deals and transactions and what is the necessary infrastructure that needs to be developed to support such payments.

Boosting trade, farming

Fifth, Brics Business Council is also discussing a Brics Standardisation Research Platform, which could serve as a base to exchange information and best practices on institutional and policy mechanisms on various regulations and standards across Brics countries. Such a platform will help in better harmonisation of trade policies across BRICS countries and also enable removal of trade barriers.

Sixth, there is a need to enhance Brics co-operation in agri-business, as agricultural development is a key priority of our economies. There is a huge scope of co-operation by way of sharing best practices related to agriculture production, productivity, environment protection and food security and contributing towards research activities in these areas. BRICS nations can work together to manage and disseminate knowledge on sustainable approaches to agricultural mechanisation.

This could include live demonstration of innovative farm machinery/ equipments with institutional mechanism with the agriculture universities.

Seventh, Brics countries can enhance co-operation in energy and green economy. There is a need to develop a common understanding of a green economy and drive towards a common view in promoting tis area. Also, the countries should accelerate the development as well as transfer of energy efficient and eco-friendly technologies and equipment.

The writer is chairman of BRICS Business Council

Published on October 13, 2016

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