BRICS demand global monetary shake-up, greater influence

04/14/2011 14:35


The BRICS group of emerging-market powers kept up the pressure on Thursday for a revamped global monetary system that relies less on the dollar and for a louder voice in international financial institutions.

The leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa also called for stronger regulation of commodity derivatives to dampen excessive volatility in food and energy prices, which they said posed new risks for the recovery of the world economy.

Meeting on the southern Chinese island of Hainan, they said the recent financial crisis had exposed the inadequacies of the current monetary order, which has the dollar as its linchpin.

What was needed, they said in a statement, was "a broad-based international reserve currency system providing stability and certainty" -- thinly veiled criticism of what the BRICS see as Washington's neglect of its global monetary responsibilities.

The BRICS are worried that America's large trade and budget deficits will eventually debase the dollar. They also begrudge the financial and political privileges that come with being the leading reserve currency.

"The world economy is undergoing profound and complex changes," Chinese President Hu Jintao said. "The era demands that the BRICS countries strengthen dialogue and cooperation."

In another dig at the dollar, the development banks of the five BRICS nations agreed to establish mutual credit lines denominated in their local currencies, not the U.S. currency.

The head of China Development Bank (CDB), Chen Yuan, said he was prepared to lend up to 10 billion yuan (936 million pounds) to fellow BRICS, and his Russian counterpart said he was looking to borrow the yuan equivalent of at least $500 million (306 million pounds) via CDB.

"We think this will undoubtedly broaden the opportunities for Russian companies to diversify their loans," Vladimir Dmitriev, the chairman of VEB, Russia's state development bank, told reporters.


The call by the BRICS for a new monetary order are not new.

But, coming hours before a meeting in Washington of finance ministers from the Group of Seven industrial nations, the traditional power brokers of the world economy, Thursday's communiqué showed the growing confidence of emerging markets.

Burdened by heavy debt, the United States, the euro zone and Japan are struggling to shake off the lingering effects of the 2008 global financial crisis. Rich countries will grow 2.4 percent this year and 2.6 percent in 2012, the International Monetary fund forecast this week.

By contrast, less well-off countries have emerged relatively unscathed. The IMF is forecasting that emerging and developing countries will grow 6.5 percent both this year and next.

"The quality and the durability of the global economic recovery process depends to a great measure on how the BRICS economies perform," Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said.


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