World Bulletin/News Desk
The BRICS, the group of fast-growing emerging markets, meets for the first time on African soil in the South African city of Durban. At their fifth summit, they are to discuss the setup of a development bank to overhaul the global financial system.
BRICS emerging powers sought a deal on setting up a development bank that would rival Western-backed institutions, trying to iron out significant differences ahead of a leaders' summit in Durban.
The grouping of Brazil, Russia, India, China and hosts South Africa are racing to elaborate on proposals for an infrastructure-focused lender that would challenge seven decades of dominance by the World Bank.
The umbrella theme for the two-day summit is called “BRICS and Africa - Partnership for integration and Industrialization."
Economic data shows that the grouping of Brazil, China, India, Russia and South Africa now account for 25 percent of global GDP and 40 percent of the world's population.
The major outcome of this year’s summit is expected to be the announcement of the formation of the BRICS Development Bank (BDB). Originally proposed as an institution at last year’s New Delhi summit, the organization’s “strategic goal is to transform the aging international financial architecture,” Mikhail Margelov, President Putin’s envoy to Africa was quoted by Bloomberg.
If the leaders succeed it would be the first time since the inaugural BRICS summit four years ago that the group matches rhetorical demands for a more equitable global order with concrete steps.
That would send a loud message to the US and European nations that the current global balance of power is unworkable.
Diplomats say it could start with $10bn seed money from each country, but the exact role of the bank is up for debate, according to Al Jazeera.
China, Brazil sign deal to trade in own currencies
Meanwhile, BRICS members China and Brazil agreed on Tuesday to trade in their own currencies the equivalent of up to $30 billion per year, moving to take almost half of their trade exchanges out of the U.S. dollar zone.
The agreement, due to last three years and signed hours before the start of a BRICS summit in Durban, South Africa, marked a step by the two largest economies of the emerging powers group to make real changes to global trade flows long dominated by the United States and Europe.
"Our interest is not to establish new relations with China, but to expand relations to be used in the case of turbulence in financial markets," Brazilian Central Bank Governor Alexandre Tombini told reporters after the signing.
Trade between the two countries totalled around $75 billion in 2012. Brazilian officials have said they hope to have the trade and currency deal operating in the second half of 2013.
At the summit, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa are widely expected to endorse plans to create a joint foreign exchange reserves pool. They are also due to discuss trade and investment relations with Africa.
Greece has already received two bailouts totalling 240 billion euros but fellow euro zone member Ireland said last week that it would have to negotiate a third programme.
The Ukraine crisis has tested the loyalties of Bulgaria, a Balkan country with historical ties to Moscow and heavily dependent on Russian energy supplies.
Syria expels three United Nations aid workers hindering aid development in the country
Russia has overcome a "psychological barrier" and is ready to deepen its economic ties with China, Deputy Prime MinisterArkady Dvorkovich said
With Chancellor Angela Merkel's right-left coalition plus the opposition Greens, it was the biggest majority for any euro zone rescue package so far in the 631-seat chamber.
The agreement commits Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi to cooperate with the United States in customs issues, ease red tape at borders, reduce customs wait times and harmonize trade standards.
Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has unnerved China with his re-examination of certain projects that Chinahas invested in, including a $1.5 billion "port city" project in Colombo.
EU energy chief Maros Sefcovic invited Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Demchyshyn for talks
Gazprom and Ukrainian state energy firm Naftogaz have accused each other of not sticking to agreements on gas supplies.
The new canal, that will allow two-way traffic of larger ships, is supposed to increase revenues by 2023 to $13 billion.
A day after euro zone finance ministers agreed to a four-month extension of a financial rescue, Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis gave a frank assessment of Greece's financial position.
The agreement is the culmination of talks that began in September after the government decided its own solutions to its fiscal crisis were failing to convince investors.
Energy union highlights bloc's attempt to seek independency from its main gas supplier - Russia.
Merkel's right-left coalition is set to prevail, despite vocal pockets of resistance on the right and left.
Republicans passed the bill to increase pressure on Obama to approve the pipeline, a move the president said would bypass a State Department process that will determine whether the project is in the U.S. national interest.
Turkish PM Davutoglu expresses Turkey's readiness to help in supplying energy to Central Europe.