The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cancun troika in US meet

New Delhi, Sept. 22: Buoyed by their recent success at Cancun, India, Brazil and South Africa are meeting in New York on Wednesday to draw up a strategy to keep the fight alive on trade and economic issues and to ensure their new-found alliance holds together.

The meeting of the foreign ministers of the three countries is scheduled to take place on September 24 on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. It is likely to be followed by another meeting of the troika at the level of government heads either on the same day or in the next few days.

If all goes well, then India plans to hold the first summit of the troika in Delhi in March next year.

India, Brazil and South Africa — with help from Malaysia, the chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement, and China, the Asian giant — managed to thwart pressure from the western lobby by effectively blocking the Singapore agenda at the recent WTO talks in Cancun.

But there is a serious worry on whether the coalition of the three will hold.

When foreign minister Yashwant Sinha meets his counterparts Celso Amorim from Brazil and Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma of South Africa day after tomorrow, the question that is likely to be uppermost in his mind would be on how to take the movement forward — not only between the three but also of the developing world as a whole.

The concern over holding the coalition of the trio together stems from the vulnerability of Brazil to pressure from the West, particularly the US. Brazil’s physical closeness to the US brings it directly under Washington’s sphere of influence — the Latin America, considered as the American administration’s backyard. Its trade volume with the US is also huge, more than what Washington has with Mexico and China.

The Brazilian leadership has so far put up a stout resistance to Washington’s proposal to have a Free Trade Agreement for the Americas. But observers believe that despite the present political leadership’s commitment, the Brazilian resistance under severe and concerted US pressure may whittle in the coming days.

South Africa, the other country in the troika, is also heavily dependent on the US for trade and technology. Though India’s bilateral trade with the US is not huge, at least in comparison to Brazil and South Africa, it is also keen to increase the volume. At the same time, trade between India, Brazil and South Africa at the bilateral level is hardly significant.

A crucial meeting of the WTO ambassadors will be held by December 15 this year in Geneva. There are indications that the American-led western lobby will push hard to break the resistance of the developing world in getting freer market access in the coming days. While determined to resist the onslaught, attempts will be made to put in place a transparent international trading system to enable the developing countries to maximise their development through gains from enhanced exports of goods and services of their competitive advantage.

The coming together of India, Brazil and South Africa started in the middle of this year when the troika met for the first time in Brasila in June. The meeting between the three foreign ministers also resulted in the Brasila Declaration that spelt out the future goals of the three countries and also that of the developing world.

The basic aim of the troika, officials point out, is to ensure that the three countries continue to champion the causes of the developing world and take the lead in negotiation between them and the developed nations. At the same time, attempts are also being made by India, Brazil and South Africa to strengthen co-operation among themselves not only in trade and economic areas but also on issues in the political field.

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