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Transcript of Special Briefing by Secretary (ER) on upcoming visit of Prime Minister to Brazil (November 07, 2019)

November 08, 2019

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:Friends Namaskar, good afternoon and welcome to this special briefing on Prime Minister's visit to Brazil to attend the 11th BRICS summit. To take us through the visit and the elements of the program I have with me Secretary (Economic Relations) Shri T S Tirumurti. I also have Addnl. Secretary (MER) Multilateral Economic Relations, Shri Suresh Reddy. We will start off with the initial remarks by Secretary (ER) and then we will take questions from all of you. Sir, over to you.

Secretary (ER), Shri T S Tirumurti:Thank you very much. Distinguished members of the media and my dear friends I would like to welcome you all to a briefing on the upcoming visit to Brazil by the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi.

Prime Minister will be in Brasilia on 13th - 14th November 2019 to attend the 11th BRICS summit. The theme of the BRICS summit this year is "Economic Growth for an Innovative Future.” For our Prime Minister this will be the sixth time that he will be participating at the BRICS summit. His first BRICS summit was at Fortaleza in Brazil in 2014. As you're aware besides summits, BRICS leaders also meet informally on the margins of G20 summits. Prime Minister will be accompanied by an official delegation. A large business delegation from India is also expected to be present during the visit especially to attend the BRICS Business Forum where the business community of all five countries are represented. Let me just take you through the program.

Prime Minister will arrive in Brasilia on the morning of 13th November 2019. He will have bilateral through the day. He will then attend the closing ceremony of the BRICS Business Forum in the evening along with other BRICS leaders. Later in the evening there will be a welcome ceremony and a photo opportunity which will be followed by the Welcome Dinner being hosted by his Excellency President Bolsonaro.

On the morning of 14th November, after the photo-op, the BRICS leaders will attend a BRICS restricted session which will be a closed session. It is expected that the discussions during this session will focus on challenges and opportunities for the exercise of national sovereignty in the contemporary world. This will be followed by the BRICS Plenary Session where the leaders will discuss the intra BRICS cooperation for the economic development of BRICS societies. Thereafter the meeting of BRICS leaders with BRICS Business Council will take place. During this dialogue the Chairman of the Brazilian BRICS Business Council will submit his report. There will also be another report submitted by the president of the new Development Bank. Immediately thereafter a BRICS MoU between Trade and Investment Promotion agencies will be signed. On the conclusion of the summit leaders will issue a joint declaration.

Friends, to give you a background. BRICS brings together five major emerging economies comprising 42 percent of the world's population, having 23 percent of the global GDP and around 17 percent of the share and world trade. Last year we commemorated the 10th anniversary of BRICS in Johannesburg. BRICS cooperation has two pillars including consultations on issues of mutual interest through meeting of leaders and ministers as well as cooperation through meeting of senior officials in a number of areas including trade, finance, health, education, science and technology, agriculture, communications IT etc.

The Sherpa mechanism is of course an important mechanism at senior officials level to take stock and give direction. Other BRICS exchanges can be broadly characterized as parliamentary exchanges, ministerial meetings, working groups and senior officials meeting. It also includes people-to-people exchanges including participation of youth and many other similar exercises.

Through a network of high-level and working group meetings BRICS agenda has expanded considerably to include issues of mutual concern. In the run-up to the summit several ministerial meetings in different sectors have already taken place. As far as 2019 is concerned, there have been some significant developments in BRICS in the area of counter-terrorism. Over the last years India has taken the lead to galvanize BRICS.

We have also worked closely with in BRICS to not only take a strong stand against terrorism but also work to bring about focused consultations on specific aspects related to terrorism. This year the joint working group on counter-terrorism has decided to constitute five sub working groups on counterterrorism in the following areas. Terrorist financing, use of Internet for terrorist purposes, countering radicalization, issue of foreign terrorist fighters and capacity-building.

It is expected that India will chair the subgroup on use of internet for terrorist purposes. In this context during the meetings of the National Security Advisors of BRICS last month, NSA has put forward a proposal to host a BRICS workshop on digital forensics in India. Brazil has also made terrorism as one of its priorities for its presidency. They held the first BRICS seminar on Strategies for Countering Terrorism.

Further, as you are aware on the question of multilateralism, Prime Minister has articulated his vision for reformed multilateralism and has underlined the importance of strengthening and reforming the multilateral system itself. He has specifically underlined that when we call for multilateralism, we should not call to reinforce the status-quo of multilateralism but seek to reform multilateralism itself since this is what BRICS had originally set out to do.

The vision of Prime Minister has found mentioned for the first time in the BRICS Foreign ministers joint statement in Rio and has found resonance among the leaders. Several people to people initiative started by India and 2016 during our presidency has been continued over the years including the BRICS Film Festival, BRICS Young Scientist Forum, intensified engagement with BRICS youth etc. BRICS academic forum has had important discussions which have also fed into the BRICS process. India will also host the first BRICS Film Technology Symposium in March 2020. As regard some of the important deliverables during the summit this year, as mentioned to you earlier a MoU between trade and investment promotion agencies of BRICS will be signed. The BRICS leaders will also agree to establish the Women Business Alliance.

The IBRICS - Innovation BRICS Network, will be launched which will include networking of research institutes like science parks, incubators, accelerators etc. The leaders will also be looking at launching the BRICS Institute of Future Network. The concept of which has been agreed to by the telecom ministers in August this year. Greater focus will be given in the area of tuberculosis research. Apart from participating in the BRICS summit, Prime Minister will have a bilateral meeting with President Bolsonaro. This is Prime Minister's second visit to Brazil and his first visit after the new administration led by the president Bolsonaro assumed office on 1st January 2019. Prime Minister met Brazilian president in Osaka earlier this year on the margins of the G20 summit. This concludes my remarks and I'll be happy to take questions.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:Thank you sir. Any questions?

Question: Sir, as you said that BRICS provides opportunity for leaders to talk, officials to talk and also, you know, Sherpas also talk. So are you going to talk with Chinese officials or even Chinese President Xi Jinping in this summit?

Question: Thank You Mr. Kumar. I wanted to know more about the BRICS Women's alliance, how does it play out, when does it come into effect and what are the objectives of this alliance, thank you.

Question: Can you give me an update on the BRICS Bank, you know how much functional is it now, how much of lending it has done, thank you.

Secretary (ER), Shri T S Tirumurti: You mean the new Development Bank? Just to react, at this point of time we are fixing bilaterals with the other leaders and we don't have the timings yet, but as and when we fix bilaterals with the leaders we'll be in a position to communicate it to you. This is your answer to the Chinese president's request.

As far as BRICS Women's Alliance is concerned, this had been a matter which has been discussed where the distinct perspectives which women business and women entrepreneurs have on issues relating to the business community, how can they be reflected in the BRICS process. As you all know we have a very-very robust BRICS Business Forum therefore they felt that maybe it's time to enlarge this and look at other aspects also and one important aspect straight away is the Women’s Business Alliance and therefore I think how and what shape this will take, has been largely discussed and concluded and while we will be announcing the launch of the BRICS Business Alliance but however the actual operationalization, so to say, will take place during the Russian presidency of BRICS which will be coming in 2020.

And as far as the new Development Bank is concerned, you are aware that the bank has probably now lent more than $12 billion and they cover a diverse set of fields and they have been lending it to the five countries. By all accounts it has gone off extremely well, in fact we had also proposed, the Prime Minister had also proposed that they should be looking at clean energy and that is also an area of great interest where the Bank has focused on and particularly on clean and renewable energy. So therefore I think as far as our assessment of the banks working go, I think it's done very well and right now they are probably already looking at options on whether they would like to expand the membership of the bank.

Question: See, within the larger framework of multilateralism what is the exact relevance of BRICS, like we are not joining the RCEP?

Question: There are speculations that during his visit to Brazil Prime Minister Modi will sign several agreements pertaining to investments.

Secretary (ER), Shri T S Tirumurti: I think, let me say that quite emphatically that the BRICS has made significant contributions in its ten years, plus one now, and I don't think there can be too many questions about the relevance of BRICS. As I mentioned before BRICS brings together five major economies and in the tenth anniversary commemoration last year in Johannesburg, the leaders expressed their satisfaction that BRICS has indeed made a very important contribution to the international discourse.

And if you look at it the New Development Bank and also the Contingency Reserve Arrangement are actually, you can call it the flagship outcome of BRICS. Further I think the BRICS which started off primarily with an economic pillar, has now actually diversified considerably, they have gone into the political and social, political and security issues, they have gone into socio-economic issues, they have also gone into people-to-people type of engagements and the agenda of BRICS now covers a range of sectors. I mean it includes ICT, it includes education, it includes labor and employment, it includes agriculture, trade and investment, Science and Technology. So I think, you know, that when you look at the range of area which BRICS is dealing with, it certainly has increased exponentially and the BRICS countries are engaging in a very serious and a focused manner.

And the other one is that the role of BRICS has also been very important in the context of being a pressure group on the question of reform of multilateralism and also on the question of reform of global governance institutions. I think it has been an important factor and let us also not forget that many of the issues which BRICS take takes up are issues which are very-very relevant to the developing countries and therefore that is another role which BRICS has taken on itself. In fact BRICS sees itself as a bridge between the developing countries and the developed world. And we also have regular meetings at the highest levels not just at the leadership level, we have BRICS meetings at the foreign ministers level and now we have BRICS meetings at the level of National Security Advisors.

So therefore I would tend to think that when you look at where we were 10 years ago and where we are now, and the and the role which BRICS has continued to play, I think there is no question of its relevance. That's the answer which I would like to give to your question.

And on the question of, I mean as you say, to a speculation, so I don't want to answer speculation, but as of now we are not looking at any, you know, specific signing of any MoU on investment. We are looking at the MoU which will be signed in the BRICS context.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:Thank you sir, Suresh.

Question: Is there any community event?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:No, there is no community event.

Question: ………… if currency swap between the BRICS countries and is BRICS open to use of Rupay card, I mean have you suggested them?

Secretary (ER), Shri T S Tirumurti: No, at this point of time we are not looking at this Rupay card in the BRICS countries.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:This concludes the special briefing. Thank you all for joining.



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