Indian PM Modi seeks world backing for new norms on terrorism

06/28/2019

New Delhi/Osaka, June 28: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday sought global backing for an international conference on globalisation that will aim to promote a focused fight against violent non-state actors.

At RIC, the three leaders spoke on the international situation, especially on the challenges on the economic side as well as on the side of peace and stability. Given the lack of stability in the current situation, they resolved to strengthen the international system led by UN and uphold the international order to promote a multi-polar world with democracy in international relations. The three leaders also took note of the challenges in the global trading regime and the protectionist tendencies that pose a challenge to WTO.

The RIC leaders felt that in an era of economic change, it is important to maintain trend of a global free trading system that is rules based.

At the BRICS summit, Modi wanted oil and gas to be constantly available at low prices.

He earlier met the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman who had announced investments up to $ 100 billion during his visit to India in February. The Prime Minister spoke about tensions in the Gulf affecting supplies and prices and in this respect, appreciated Saudi Arabia’s role in keeping a balance in the global oil market. The Crown Prince described the relationship with India as strong and said he had worked to keep prices sustainable and supplies regular. 

The meeting with President of Korea Moon Jae-in focused entirely on bilateral relations, with Modi pointing out that access to the Korean services sector is equally important for India. They also asked officials to synergise India’s Look East Policy and South Korea’s Southern Policy.

BRICS took several steps to improve internal synergy in order to mitigate the side-effects of unilateral rule-making and lack of reform in global financial institutions.

“One-sided decision and rivalry are dominating over rules based multilateral international trade systems. The synergy between BRICS countries can lead, to some extent, to the resolution of the side effects of unilateral decisions,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at a meeting attended by Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Valdimir Putin, Brazilian President Jairbolsonaro and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Rule-making on the flow of data was a major topic for discussion in the brief time available for the five leaders on the margins of the G-20 summit in Osaka. Their unanimous opinion was to discuss all issue related to global rulemaking on the flow of data only at the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

“It is a new form of wealth. It is a form of trade. Rule making should involve all countries. When trade and services were being discussed, WTO gave latitude to developing countries. We expect similar latitude in this case also,” Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said after the BRICS meet.

The flow of data has emerged as a major bone of contention in Indo-US relations after New Delhi began work on a policy that could insist on localisation of data. In other words personal data collected by companies such as Facebook, Google, etc. will not flow out to their home bases. Corporates buy this data to finesse the marketing of their products. 

Responding to frequent urgings from America to ensure free flow of data, Gokhale said India would like to understand from the US and Japan what it exactly meant. “Data is is part of national wealth. Its flow is also important in a globalised world. We will talk to US and Japan to understand this issue and synergise it to our domestic requirements. Coming to WTO to negotiate will be the focal point in the years ahead,” he observed.

The other major issue was to handle a balance of payment emergency among member countries. BRICS conducted a trial run in July last year where Brazil was the party in trouble and South Africa was the coordinator on behalf of the BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA). The transfer was approved three weeks after the request was made. The leaders approved a complex test of runs to ensure its operational readiness in case of an emergency bail-out call.

The New Development Bank which caters exclusively to BRICS members will now be allowed to include new members as well as set up regional offices on India and Russia. NDB is headquartered in Shanghai and already has offices in Brazil and South Africa. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his intervention, wanted NDB to focus only on physical and social infrastructure. NDB claims to have approved loans for 26 projects with a total value of $ 6,538 billion. NDB also has upcoming bonds programmes in local currencies in South Africa and Russia to mobilise more money.

The BRICS joint statement dwelt at length on checking corruption, including illicit money and financial flows and the need to improve measures to protect whistle-blowers. It said recovering the ill-gotten wealth stashed in foreign jurisdictions is a global challenge and gave full support to international efforts in combating illicit financial flows, including cooperation within the Financial Actions Task Force (FATF) and the World Customs Organisation.

In line with India’ stance that multilateralism needs to be retained and reformed, the BRICS leaders wanted an urgent resolution of the impasse in appointing members to the WTO Appellate Body. US opposition to filling vacancies in the Appellate Body is becoming a major impediment to WTO’s functioning. With more members retiring, the vacancies will be close to the minimum quorum.

BRICS wanted the review of share (quotas) of individual countries in the IMF to be completed by this year end. Interestingly despite developing alternate contingency reserve arrangement, BRICS countries said the IMF was at the center of the Global Financial Safety Net. Agencies

India will seek to gather support for the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism, a proposed policy that has been a subject of debate for over two decades. The deadlock has been over whether armed forces and self-determination movements come within this ambit.

Meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Modi called terrorism as a global challenge and sought Chinese and Russian leaders for a global international conference. At an earlier meeting with BRICS leaders, the prime minister said terror was the biggest threat to all of the humanity.

“It not only takes the lives of innocent people, but it has a huge adverse effect on the economic progress and social stability. We have to stop all the means of support and help available to terrorism and racism,” he said.

The RIC meeting made observations on maintaining free trade, sorting out international disputes by dialogue and reforming the WTO and the World Bank. They entrusted their Foreign Ministers to come up with specific proposals in this regard at their next trilateral which will also be held on the margins of a multilateral meeting, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said after the meetings.

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