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Speech by President of the Republic, Dilma Rousseff, during the working session of the 5th BRICS Summit - Durban, South Africa

I would like, first, to greet and thank President Jacob Zuma, the government, and the people of South Africa for their generous hospitality and for organizing this 5th BRICS Summit. It is very important for this meeting to take place in the African continent. We, Brazilians, have… the Brazilian government and the Brazilian people are aware of the importance that the African continent had in the formation of our nation.

I also want to greet my fellow Heads of State present here: President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin; the Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh, and the President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping, whom I specially greet as the new Chinese leadership participating in their first international summit as the head. Welcome President Xi Jinping.

In Durban, we are attending the 5th BRICS Forum. It is a cycle of meetings that have unified us and have been held in each of the member countries. Therefore, we are able to take stock of what we have achieved so far, our accomplishments, and plan our future.

We have a solid heritage of achievements. BRICS were created out of the need to come together to confront the serious crisis that started in 2007-2008. Today, even the most skeptical acknowledge the contribution that the BRICS group has made, whether in debating the most pressing issues of international economy, or by putting on the agenda the importance of social inclusion and the preservation and conservation of the environment, as we defined at the Rio+20 Climate Conference.

In our diversity, the BRICS countries are united by the ability to address global challenges, as countries with large populations, facing significant challenges ahead. This coalition of similarities also encompasses a broad diversity and differences that allow our economies to be complementary. And after these five years of intense cooperation, we are an institution that represents nearly half of the world’s population, a quarter of the global GDP, with $4.5 trillion in international reserves.

We have enough strength to meet the responsibilities that weigh on us, the responsibility to address the deficiencies that our populations have been condemned to in the past centuries. At the same time, we aim to advance in the direction of development and growth, often surpassing the dynamism of more advanced economies.

Today, we have the honor of having the G-20 presidency held by one of the BRICS member countries, the Russian Federation, which certainly has all the conditions to bring the agenda of growth, employment, and infrastructure to the meeting of the 20 countries that make up the G-20, for this forum of economic cooperation.

Although the scenario of 2013 is somewhat more promising than that of 2012, it is evident that many developed countries and their problems continue to compromise, mainly, the well-being of their populations, showing significant unemployment rates, especially among the youth.

BRICS countries work together, in favor of inclusive growth, a growth that ensures the well-being of their populations, making people and members of our countries the center of development. Therefore, I am confident that the Russian presidency of the G-20 will once again drive the fundamental agenda of overcoming the economic crisis.

We also advocate for multilateral institutions of economic and political governance, such as the National Security Council and the International Monetary Fund, for example. In these forums, it is important to reflect the specific weight of BRICS countries and developing countries in general, so that representation and governance become more democratic.

At this summit, we deepen several issues. Among them, cooperation highlights a step forward with concrete initiatives such as two important initiatives: the BRICS Bank and the Contingent Reserve Arrangement. Moreover, the emphasis on logistical, energy, and communication infrastructure given by the BRICS agenda clearly demonstrates our commitment to cooperative development of our countries and the expansion of international economic activity.

We are building mechanisms that will help us face the challenges posed to our economies. These challenges – emphasized once again – consist, in essence, of economic growth, social inclusion, and environmental protection.

Undoubtedly, we cannot allow the problems of advanced countries to create obstacles for the economic growth of countries like ours. Our path is to find new solutions that ensure a more robust growth of emerging countries, to guarantee the creation of quality jobs, using science, technology, and innovation, and at the same time, increasing the well-being of our citizens, who are still far from the well-being of advanced economies. By doing so, we are also making a significant contribution to the recovery of the international economy, due to the dynamism of our countries and economies.

Today, we must keep in mind that if advanced economies contract, we must make every effort to expand our own economies, our own markets. If investment is lacking in advanced economies, if there are no investment opportunities, we will increase our own investments; and if there is a shortage of financing, we will create long-term funding sources. We must rely heavily on our domestic markets, explore our affinities, and acknowledge the importance of the external market and non-protectionist policies in any form they may take.

Since last year, the Brazilian economy has been recovering after a period of slowdown in 2011 and 2012. I want to tell you that this was not spontaneous growth, but the result of a series of fiscal, tax, and monetary stimulus measures, the result of a determination of the political will of the Brazilian government, which looked at the international situation and the domestic situation, and set out to prevent the harmful effects of global slowdown from affecting the Brazilian economy in a more abrupt and critical manner. For this, we rely on a strong and consolidated domestic market. It is also the result of the lowest unemployment rate in Brazilian history, due to the government’s social actions and a major infrastructure program with emphasis on transportation, energy, and communication.

One common thread among all BRICS is the awareness of the importance of infrastructure investment for our countries. Whether economic, logistical – as I mentioned – or social infrastructure. Investment in infrastructure, beyond being a lever for social inclusion, is an excellent tool for our competitiveness, reducing costs, expanding productive capacity, eliminating bottlenecks, and therefore, an important counter-cyclical mechanism to stimulate economies.

That is why we have established the BRICS Development Bank to facilitate the necessary financing for these investments of hundreds of billions of dollars, making it one of the long-term funding sources. A bank designed for our needs.

Moreover, given the more turbulent condition of the financial system, we must strengthen ties and create mechanisms of mutual support and sustainability. This is also the purpose of the Contingent Reserve Arrangement between the Central Banks of BRICS that we are also establishing. It is a stability mechanism that, in times of difficulty, can create reciprocal credit lines between our countries, improve liquidity, help prevent crises, and strengthen the stability of the international financial market.

The lessons we draw from these BRICS meetings, and this meeting in particular, are that we must have optimism and dynamism, always reaffirm confidence, and maintain an attitude against the pessimism and inertia that often affects other regions of the world. Let us respond to this international crisis with vigor, maintaining the determination to continue creating jobs and fighting poverty in our countries.

In conclusion, I would like to reiterate that for Brazil, it is particularly gratifying to participate in the BRICS Summit here in Africa, a Summit that includes Africa as well, because the BRICS Bank, for example, aims not only for intra-BRICS action but also for action with developing countries.

Participating in this BRICS Summit here in Africa, and about Africa, is of special importance to us, Brazilians and Latin Americans. The Americas and Africa were, millions of years ago, one continent that was separated by the actions of nature, and what nature separated, human action, the action of men and women from the BRICS, the action of men and women from Africa and Latin America can unite.

Challenging skeptics, Africa is now a region undergoing political and economic transformation, building its stability, a continent richer each day in possibilities and achievements. According to international data, of the 10 countries with the highest projected growth until 2015, seven are African, which is great news for the world and for reducing inequalities between global regions.

We are united – BRICS, Latin America, and Africa – in a great common project of increasing proximity and shared objectives, a partnership among equals built on mutual respect, aimed at the development and well-being of our peoples, a partnership that has abandoned and continues to abandon hidden agendas, whose characteristic – and we know this very well – was to use economic aid as a political instrument.

I am certain that the 21st century will be the affirmation of the developing world. We will reduce the economic and social distance that still separates us from the most advanced countries. We, BRICS, Africa, and South America, will be decisive players in this new historical scenario of a culture of peace, solidarity, social justice, and fraternal cooperation. I am very pleased to think that we can do it together.

Thank you very much.

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