The recent ASEAN Summit and East Asia Summits stressed the region's centrality and unity while also revealing its principal challenge: managing strategic contestation between the U.S. and China. The outcomes of both summits are reflective of ASEAN's diplomatic and strategic dilemmas in Southeast Asia and the Indo-Pacific.
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The New Delhi Leaders' Declaration breaks new ground key areas like climate finance, digital public infrastructure, trade, and multilateral reform. While the declaration is backed by unanimous consensus and outlines ambitious and wide-ranging goals, the actual extent of its implementation can only be assessed in the medium term.
The announcement of the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) has the potential to make India an Asian hub in global supply chains. India’s renewed emphasis on trade agreements and export-oriented foreign direct investment presents a significant opportunity for the country to promote industrialisation across South Asia and make the region less vulnerable to Chinese enticements.
The admission of the African Union to the G20 marks the multilateral's first ever expansion. The G20 will now speak for 80% of the world's population. For Africa, this means an opportunity to mainstream its concerns and priorities in global decision-making. Lastly, as the inclusion of AU in G20 took place during India’s presidency, New Delhi can enjoy the fruits of its creative diplomacy as Voice of the Global South.
India’s leadership of the G20 has managed to maintain a balanced stance on the Russia-Ukraine conflict in the grouping while also highlighting the need for greater accommodation of emerging powers within the multilateral framework. This experience positions India on the path to becoming a more equitable global rule-maker, fostering collaborations between the Global South and the G20.
India’s presidency of the G20 has put a premium on its role as “the voice of the Global South”, even as it serves as the bridge between the Global South and the Global North. The upcoming Delhi Summit’s success will depend on India’s ability to balance diverse interests while broadening the areas of convergence and narrowing those of disagreement within the grouping.
Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe's visit to India last month laid the foundation for a new era of cooperation in key areas like energy, connectivity, trade and tourism. By working together on trade facilitation, central bank cooperation, and IMF capacity-building, market-led regionalism can be the pragmatic way forward for India and Sri Lanka to achieve prosperity.
The decision to invite six countries — Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE — to join BRICS as full members has opened the grouping to a new geopolitical era. India can now play a seminal but challenging role in this evolved dynamic, given its growing cooperation with the West on the one hand and its active pursuit of the interests of the Global South on the other.
The BRICS Summit in Johannesburg has drawn international attention to the grouping’s past record of achievements and failures, its strained internal dynamics, and new challenges. As BRICS heads into its 18th year, its success and way forward will depend on the members’ ability to tackle the principal challenge of retaining its internal solidarity while balancing expansion and its impact and influence in the world.
The 15th BRICS summit is set to take place on August 22-24 in Johannesburg. Against a backdrop of escalating global tensions, the summit's agenda encompasses crucial topics including greater representation of the Global South, reform of MDBs, and geopolitical flashpoints like the Ukraine crisis. The summit's outcomes will extend beyond the grouping and redefine the landscape of international cooperation among emerging economies.