Cablegate: Ibsa: Second Heads of State Summit

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1. (U) Summary: The Heads of State of India, Brazil and
South Africa met in Johannesburg on October 17 for the 2nd
Annual India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) Summit. The leaders
issued a declaration covering economic, political,
environmental and other issues. Although the Summit produced
few concrete agreements, it constituted high-level political
endorsement of future trilateral cooperation. Next year's
Summit will be held in New Delhi. End Summary


2. (U) Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Brazilian
President Luis "Lula" Da Silva, and South African President
Thabo Mbeki met for the 2nd Annual India-Brazil-South Africa
(IBSA) Summit in Johannesburg on October 17. The focus of
the meeting was trade, although other issues such as reform
of global institutions and the environment were also
discussed. The Summit was preceded by a two-day Business
Council Forum where representatives of the three countries'
major business associations discussed intra-IBSA trade
relations. Parallel working groups were also held for
specific sectors, including energy, mining, pharmaceuticals,
infrastructure, financial services, and information

IBSA Summit Declaration and Agreements

3. (U) The three Heads of State issued a Summit Declaration
on October 18 that covered a broad range of economic,
political, environmental and other issues (text faxed to
AF/S). Highlights of the Declaration included:

International Trade: According to the Heads of State, the
Doha Round has entered a "critical stage." The three leaders
said that draft modalities texts for agriculture and
industrial goods provide "a good basis for negotiations," and
they called for the removal of distortions and restrictions
in international agricultural trade, stressing that
agriculture is the key to the conclusion of the Round. They
emphasized, however, that progress on agriculture is a
"development imperative" and must not be linked to the
"disproportionate demands by developed countries in the NAMA
and services negotiations." They also reaffirmed their
commitment to negotiating a SACU/MERCOSUR/India free trade

Global Institutions: The three leaders reaffirmed their
support for multilateralism and the UN system, though they
stressed the need to "comprehensively reform" the UN to
reflect "contemporary realities." They said that the UN
Security Council should be expanded through the inclusion of
more permanent and non-permanent members from developing
countries. Similarly, they endorsed reform of the Bretton
Woods institutions.

Nuclear Weapons: The leaders called for phased negotiations
leading to the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. They
also pledged to cooperate in the peaceful uses of nuclear
energy under appropriate IAEA safeguards.

Terrorism: The three leaders called terrorism "one of the
most serious threats to international peace and security."
They stressed that "there can be no justification,
whatsoever, for acts of terrorism," and called for the early
adoption of a Comprehensive Convention Against International

The Environment: The leaders warned of the menace of global
warming and called on developed countries to aim at "more
Qwarming and called on developed countries to aim at "more
ambitious and quantifiable" greenhouse gas emission reduction
targets after 2012. "Significant progress is needed in Bali
in December 2007," they said. They emphasized that climate
change has a "disproportionately high impact on developing
countries" because of these countries' limited means to adapt
to its effects.

IPR: The three stressed that IPR is a tool for economic and
social development, not an end in itself. They endorsed the

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role of the World Health Organisation in discussions about
the impact of IPR on public health policies.

Regional Politics: The Heads of State endorsed the New
Partnership for African Development (NEPAD); called for peace
and restraint in Sudan, including full implementation of the
Comprehensive Peace Agreement and support for the UN-AU
Hybrid Force; noted progress towards a negotiated political
solution in Zimbabwe; reaffirmed the need for long-term
support for political and economic reconstruction in
Afghanistan; and urged dialogue between Israel, Palestine,
and their neighbors.

Intra-IBSA Business Relations: The Heads of State called for
increased trade, investment and tourism within IBSA, and set
an intra-IBSA trade target of $15 billion by 2010. They
endorsed joint projects to develop alternative sources of
energy. Without offering any details, they called for
greater defense cooperation. They also called for joint
programs in health, agriculture, and scientific research.

4. (U) MOUs and Agreements for Cooperation were signed in
the following areas: Wind Resources, Health and Medicines,
Culture, Social Issues, Public Administration, Higher
Education and Customs and Tax Administration Cooperation.

Words from the Heads of State

5. (U) At a joint press conference on October 17, Mbeki,
Singh, and Da Silva hailed the Summit as a step forward in
South-South cooperation. Their remarks suggested an
awareness, however, that IBSA is still a work in progress,
with relatively few concrete achievements to date. According
to Lula: "So what happened here (at the Summit)? I'll give
you my opinion. First of all, the political convergence that
exists between India, Brazil and South Africa. Secondly, the
ideological profile between President Mbeki, Prime Minister
Singh and President Lula is quite similar. Thirdly, (the)
seriousness of our Cabinet ministers and our staff. Fourth,
we trust in each other."

6. (U) Also stressing the harmony of outlook within IBSA,
Prime Minister Singh told the media, "We are three large
functioning countries with respect for human rights, the rule
of law, there are many similarities between our three
countries. Our cooperation seeks to take advantage of these
complementarities to bring about a people centered approach
to development....It (IBSA) is a relationship to explore
mutual benefits, the potential of co-operation between our
three countries, using our strength to help the countries of
the South as a whole gain their rightful place in the
community of nations."

7. (U) For his part, President Mbeki said, "We are all very
pleased it (the Summit) has focused on achieving results and
in understanding the work IBSA must do to produce practical
results that we require to respond to all of the challenges
that all our countries face. As part of the focus on these
practical issues and as an expression thereof, there will be
a signing of a number of agreements further to consolidate
this co-operation." However, Mbeki had almost nothing to say
about the agreements for the rest of the press conference.

(All quotes are taken from the South African Department of
Foreign Affairs' website, and have been corrected for obvious
mistranslations and mistransliterations.)

What Did It Mean?

8. (SBU) Post contacts agreed that any meeting of the Heads
of State of India, Brazil and South Africa is important.
They admitted, though, that little of substance seems to have
transpired at the Summit. One analyst at the South African
Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) thought it most
important that the countries agreed to negotiate a Doha Round
deal on the basis of draft texts circulating in Geneva.
Beyond that, he told EconOffs, the economic content of the
Summit was marginal. He scoffed at the idea that a
SACU/MERCOSUR/India free trade agreement could be completed
in the near future, noting, "SACU and MERCOSUR have been

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negotiating for nine years, without success. Now they want
to include India?" He said that IBSA had been created to
push for reform of global institutions such as the UN and
IMF. This remained IBSA's key objective, the analyst said,
but the IBSA partners are "looking for other things to do as

9. (SBU) A contact at South Africa's Department of Trade and
Industry echoed the SAIIA analyst, telling EconOff that
"nothing of any great importance" happened in Johannesburg.
Some sectors, such as agriculture, were dropped from the IBSA
schedule for lack of interest. A planned interactive session
with the Trade Ministers was also canceled at the last minute
when one Trade Minister was unable to arrive in South Africa
in time for the meeting. South African press reports
dismissed the various MOUs and Agreements as insignificant.

10. (SBU) The Executive Director of the Institute for Global
Dialogue told PolOff October 25 that the most intriguing
aspect of IBSA is not trade, but rather the initiative's
proposal to enhance South-South cooperation. He said that
Brazil, India and South Africa are grappling with many of the
same challenges, such as poverty, economic development, and
social equity. The three countries are beginning to learn
from each other in these key areas, with the prospect of
sharing this knowledge with other developing countries.


11. (SBU) The lack of significant concrete agreements in
Johannesburg did not mean the Summit was unimportant. On the
contrary, the Summit was a high-level political endorsement
of plans for future trilateral co-operation, which means that
IBSA, though still in its infancy and unsure of its identity,
is probably here to stay. For South Africa, IBSA reinforces
its status as a Southern leader and permits it to hitch its
wagon to the stars of two countries with much greater weight
in global affairs. While post is skeptical that IBSA will
revolutionize trilateral trade, IBSA could play a key role in
South Africa's long-term push to reform global institutions.

© Scoop Media

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