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BRICS Stresses Cooperating To Strengthen ‘Global Public Health,’ Development, and Research vs Pandemic

April 29, 2020 (EIRNS)—In an April 28 videoconference, the foreign ministers of the BRICS nations—Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa—agreed on the need to strengthen their cooperation in combatting the coronavirus pandemic, stressing, as China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi put it, that development must be “the centerpiece of the global macro-economic agenda.”

Support for the World Health Organization (WHO), multilateralism, and opposition to wars and sanctions, were top agenda topics. But Foreign Minister and State Councillor Wang Yi’s remarks set the tone. He emphasized that as representatives of emerging countries with global influence, “the BRICS must act in the interest of the wellbeing of humankind.... We must make the right call and do the right thing.” Global governance is especially important at this time, he said, given that the coronavirus knows no borders; but, he underscored, the virus won’t change the “theme of our times which remains peace and development ... it will still less deter humankind from its firm pursuit of civilization and progress.”

Therefore, “we should continue to work for making development the centerpiece of the global macro-policy agenda ... [and] enhance coordination on macroeconomic policies.” He warned that “due to weaknesses and inadequacies exposed during the current crisis, we also need to enhance global public health governance, make it a higher priority on the international agenda, and work together to build a community of health for all.” China’s own experience in dealing with COVID-19, he stressed, “has made us fully empathetic with other peoples’ suffering from similar difficulties.” China’s readiness to help “is inspired by humanitarianism; it has no ideological agenda, and is still less driven by selfish geopolitical interests.”

Wang recommended making full use of the BRICS New Development Bank and the Contingent Reserve Arrangement to provide “sturdy financial support to our economies.” The group decided to set up a special $15 billion loan mechanism to help member countries rebuild their economies damaged by the coronavirus.

Separately, according to the Deccan Herald, India is in talks with the other BRICS members to set up a Vaccine Research and Development Center, given that COVID-19 has brought “cooperation in the healthcare sector to the top of the agenda.” During the videoconference, there was discussion of expanding coordination among members’ health agencies. “They also agreed to ensure availability of innovative medical products through the promotion of research and development and access to affordable, quality, effective and safe drugs, vaccines, diagnostics and other medical products and technologies.”

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