Written by Lindy Mtongana
President Lula da Silva, President Thabo Mbeki and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
Leaders of the emerging trading block IBSA (India-Brazil-South Africa) on Wednesday called for the reshaping of the international order.
The successful completion of the World Trade Organisation’s Doha round of trade talks, reform of the United Nations and several other international issues dominated discussions between President Thabo Mbeki who hosted his Brazilian counterpart, Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in Pretoria.
“We are indeed of one mind that we can’t sustain a situation where we get invited to join in the dessert and miss the main meal,” Mbeki said in reference to developing countries being invited by developed countries for talks in various forums.
This comes on the heels of a remark by Lula da Silva who blamed the world’s rich countries of keeping the “banquet” of world trade benefits to themselves.
The three leaders said the Doha round should work towards an outcome that was “fair and acceptable” to all, and they stressed the development dimension of the talks.
“Those who are most needy in the world are the ones that should be the winners, not the most privileged countries in the world,” Lula da Silva said at a press conference following the meeting.
The three leaders called for the removal of “long standing distortions and restrictions” in international agricultural trade, which included subsidies and trade barriers. This should not come at the cost of the developed world’s demand for greater industrial access.
“What they are proposing, that we should grant concessions on the industrial side, is much more than they want to grant on the agricultural side,” Lula da Silva said.
“This has emerged as an important issue facing the international community, in which each of our countries has an important stake. We committed ourselves to working towards securing a balanced and successful outcome to the talks,” Singh said.
Lula da Silva, who was the most vocal of the three leaders during their interaction with the media, also took a swipe at the slow pace of the reform of the UN, especially the Security Council.
“The UN Security Council such as it is today does not represent the newly established geo-politics of the world… the world demands and needs a changed UN,” he said.
Although it was left to the Brazilian, it was clear that all three countries were looking for a permanent seat on the enlarged UN Security Council.
“They expressed their full support for a genuine reform and expansion of the Security Council, in permanent and non permanent categories of membership with greater representation for developing countries in both,” the declaration after Wednesday’s meeting stated.
They also called for a “greater voice” for developing countries in the Bretton Woods institutions that regulate the international monetary system.