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Opening Statement by the Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh at the Plenary Session of the IBSA Summit

April 15, 2010

Excellency, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva,
Excellency President Jacob Zuma,
Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and gentlemen,

I am delighted to be in Brasilia for the Fourth Summit meeting of IBSA. I express my deep appreciation to His Excellency President Lula da Silva, and to the Government and the people of Brazil for the excellent arrangements made for hosting this Summit.

We deeply value the contribution made by President Lula in imparting vigour and dynamism to IBSA. I also take this opportunity to welcome President Jacob Zuma to his first IBSA Summit. I am confident that IBSA will immensely benefit from his guidance and leadership.

President Lula, President Zuma and I have just completed a very useful exchange of views on several global issues of mutual concern and the future direction to our trilateral cooperation.

The IBSA Forum provides a framework of cooperation among three major democracies from three different continents. We are all developing economies with shared values and similar aspirations. There is a lot that we can do together to benefit each other, and the world.

We have made a conscious effort to ensure that our interaction goes beyond just the Government level. The IBSA framework is unique because of its focus on people to people contacts. Strengthening of dialogue among civil society and the promotion of sporting links and tourism is an important dimension of IBSA activities. The dialogue over the past three days in the Parliamentarian, Business, Womens, Editors', Small Business, Local Government and Academic Fora is a clear testimony of our commitment to building bonds of friendship and understanding among our people.

At the inter-governmental level, we cooperate on a wide range of issues. Our Foreign and Trade Ministers meet regularly. The sixteen Working Groups in different sectors provide a framework for our cooperation. There has been considerable progress in the areas of science and technology and energy cooperation. We have expanded our cooperation to ocean research, space science, and the Antarctica. The three countries have participated in a joint naval exercise, IBSAMAR. The second exercise will take place in South Africa later this year.

Under the IBSA Trust Fund, we are committed to assisting other developing countries through development projects. This is a novel concept of South-South Cooperation.

We have decided to expedite negotiations on India-SACU-Mercosur trade arrangement. This trilateral arrangement will bring together a rapidly growing market and enable us to benefit from our respective strengths and complementarities.

We are increasingly consulting each other on international issues. IBSA can contribute to the shaping of the global agenda and highlighting the issues of concern to developing countries. We are united in our objective to ensure a fair and equitable international order.

The critical phase of the global economic crisis is behind us, but the process of recovery is still fragile and uneven. We have to ensure that we do not repeat the mistakes of the past. Global economic recovery, to be sustainable, must be anchored in the real economy. The financial sector and international capital flows should contribute to economic growth rather than encourage speculation and volatility in the international system. Our focus should be on greater investments in infrastructure, human capital, education and inclusive growth. We must create new sources of growth.

Food security is an important goal for all of us. I am pleased to note that we would be adopting documents on a social development strategy and future agriculture cooperation within the IBSA framework.

IBSA should coordinate its positions in the G-20. We should continue to pursue the early conclusion of the Doha round of trade negotiations because a fair and rule based multilateral trading system is in our interest. IBSA countries have been in the forefront of demands for greater market access to the developed markets. We must speak out against protectionist policies which are only short-sighted and self-defeating in the long run.

The systems of global governance have not kept pace with the changing realities of the world. There is an urgent need for reform of the United Nations, including the Security Council, by making it more democratic and representative. The commencement of text-based negotiations in the United Nations in April is a positive development, and has been possible due to the efforts of the G-4 and South Africa.

Our three countries have closely consulted each other on climate change issues. The Copenhagen Accord was made possible due to the efforts of the BASIC countries. The Copenhagen Conference has decided by consensus to continue multilateral negotiations on two parallel tracks – the Bali Action Plan and the Kyoto Protocol. We look forward to the Cancun Conference to advance our goals under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Terrorism continues to pose a serious challenge to our developmental goals. It is a scourge that needs to be fought through collective international effort. We should make all efforts for the early finalisation of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism in the United Nations.

The collaborative activities within the IBSA framework hold immense promise for our people. The Joint Declaration and Agreements that we will be signing today will strengthen the enabling institutional framework for cooperation.

The IBSA Forum supplements the excellent bilateral relations we have with each other. The significance of IBSA however transcends our bilateral ties. It symbolises the desire of three great countries to overcome physical distances and pool their material and intellectual resources for a common cause. IBSA is a strong moral force in today’s unsettled world.

India looks forward to working closely with Brazil and South Africa to take our cooperation to even greater heights.

Thank you.

April 15, 2010

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