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The Performance of the Osaka BRICS Summit

Alissa Wang and Angela Min Yi Hou, BRICS and G20 Research Groups
June 28, 2019

On 28 June 2019, the BRICS leaders met on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan. At this informal meeting, they made a total of 21 politically binding and future-oriented commitments on several important issue areas on Japan's agenda for the G20 Osaka Summit. The joint statement released after the BRICS leaders' meeting addressed trade, reform of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), corruption, terrorism, climate change, development and digitization, among other topics.

The statement demonstrates the optimistic outlook and strong cooperative spirit of the bloc. It expressed satisfaction with the Japanese G20 presidency, reflecting a fruitful exchange of shared views among BRICS members. This solidarity is especially meaningful at a time of increasing uncertainty in the West, as the protectionist trade policies of the United States and trade tensions between it and China loom over the G20 Osaka Summit.

First, the BRICS committed to "transparent, non-discriminatory, open, free and inclusive international trade," striving to strengthen the role, function and dispute settlement mechanism of the World Trade Organization (WTO) as the central pillar of the multilateral, rules-based trade system. This strong stance in support of openness in the global economy sends a clear signal: the BRICS members are willing to work together and defend the current international order threatened by isolationist sentiments in several other G20 members. Continuing a trend from previous summits, the BRICS reiterated its emphasis on upholding the key principles of global governance, firmly opposing trends of unilateralism, populism and protectionism.

In addition, the BRICS committed to pushing the implementation of the IMF quota and governance reforms, reaffirming the BRICS tradition of strengthening the voice of developing countries in global economic governance. The BRICS also made commitments to cooperate on fighting corruption, terrorist financing and illicit financial flows. This focus reflected Indian prime minister Narendra Modi's priority of fighting terrorism, and coincided with the bloc's shared concern about the use of information and communications technologies by terrorist organizations.

On climate change and environmental governance, the BRICS members committed to the full implementation of the Paris Agreement. They affirmed their commitment to sustainable development and the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, while also agreeing to strengthen BRICS cooperation on renewable resources and advanced sustainable energy technologies.

On development, the BRICS focused on Africa and pledged to continue members' collective support for industrialization and development on the African continent. BRICS leaders endorsed the G20 Africa Partnership, which aligns with the Johannesburg Summit's theme of BRICS-Africa collaboration under the South African presidency. The meeting in Osaka emphasized, in a unified voice, the importance of implementing past summit commitments, particularly in relation to development.

BRICS members committed to cooperate on the digital front. They acknowledged the digital transformation of industrialization and highlighted strengthened innovation and internet-driven poverty alleviation as key drivers of development.

In conclusion, this informal meeting sends a strong collective message that will resonate at the G20's two-day meeting. BRICS leaders reiterated the urgency of reforming the status quo of global trade, and reached consensus on several main themes of the Osaka summit's agenda. United by the need to reaffirm the foundational centrality of multilateralism, the annual tradition of a BRICS gathering on the sidelines of G20 summits has a proven potential to spur the success of the G20 itself.

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Alissa Wang
Alissa Wang is the chair of summit studies for the BRICS Research Group, and a research assistant at the G7 and G8 Research Group, the G20 Research Group, and the Global Health Diplomacy Program, based at the Munk School of Global Affairs in Trinity College at the University of Toronto. She is pursuing an undergraduate degree with a specialist in international relations, a major in global health and a minor in political science. She is an editor for the reports produced by the G20 Research Group summit studies team, an analyst for the G7 Research Group summit studies team, and works on compliance research. Alissa is interested in Chinese history and politics as well as China's role in global governance. She was a member of the field team at the G7 Elmau Summit in Germany in 2015, the G7 Ise Shima Summit in Japan and G20 Hangzhou Summit in China in 2016, the G20 Hamburg Summit in Germany in 2017 and the G7 Charlevoix Summit in Canada in 2018.
Angela Min Yi Hou
Angela Min Yi Hou is the editor of the BRICS Research Group, incoming co-chair of summit studies with the G7 Research Group and a compliance director with the G20 Research Group. She is starting graduate studies at the Geneva Institute of International and Development Studies. She was a member of the field teams at the G20 summit in Hamburg in Germany in 2017, the G7 summit in Charlevoix in Canada in 2018, and the (upcoming) BRICS summit in Johannesburg in South Africa in 2018.

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