The leaders of five of the world's fast-rising powers agreed Thursday to move toward creating a new development bank that would improve access to capital for poor nations.
Accusing current international institutions of failing to lift up poor countries, the BRICS group _ Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa _ asked their finance ministers to investigate setting up a development bank like the World Bank or Asian Development Bank that they would back. The also agreed to boost business and trade in their own local currencies.
"Institutions of global political and economic governance created more than six decades ago have not kept pace with the changing world," India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told the gathering. "Developing countries need access to capital."
The five countries represent 45 percent of the world's population, a quarter of its land mass and a quarter of its economy at $13.5 trillion. World Bank President Robert Zoellick, underscoring the importance of the emerging world's biggest economies with his own trip to India, welcomed the idea of a new development bank.
"We will be looking forward to working with it to see how we can leverage one another's strength," he said while traveling in the eastern state of Orissa, according to the Press Trust of India. "It will complement the type of work we do."
South Africa's President Jacob Zuma said the bank could "help us create good jobs." The countries will again look at the proposal at their next summit in South Africa next year.
Experts have questioned whether the bloc represents no more than just promising markets and financial opportunities. They have no common security platform and vast differences in foreign policy.
But the leaders insisted on the grouping's importance in shifting the global dialogue on international politics and finance.
Within the bloc "we have a place where we feel Africa is treated with respect," Zuma said. "There's no feeling that people are looking down upon the continent."
Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff said in an opinion piece in the Times of India that it had changed "the axis of international politics."
Their arguments for more inclusive finance policies might be making an impact. President Barack Obama's nominee for the next World Bank president, American physician Jim Yong Kim, said the bank needs to be "more inclusive" and receptive to hearing poor countries' ideas for solving their own problems.
The five nations suggested in their closing statement that they might back Kim's competition from Nigeria and Colombia, and said the new leader "must commit to transform the bank into a multilateral institution that truly reflects the vision of all its members."
Concerning the International Monetary Fund, which is largely involved in bailing countries out of crisis, they voiced concern about slow reforms and called on the fund to make its surveillance framework "more integrated and even-handed."
To bolster business, they agreed to do deals in their local currencies _ a move that would help insulate from U.S. dollar fluctuations while helping to lift trade between them from last year's $230 billion to $500 billion by 2015.
Easing visa restrictions is also a priority, Singh said, as is helping one another develop renewable energies and security food, water and energy supplies.
"Each of our countries is grappling with how to pursue 'green' growth without compromising on current needs," Singh said. "At the core of this complex issue is the use of fossil energy and the impact that it has on the environment."
They also hit out at rich nations for distorting trade and jeopardizing food security through agricultural subsidies, with a statement from the five trade ministers Wednesday saying they "emphasized the need to resist protectionist tendencies."
The summit came as the Indian capital remained under a heavy security umbrella since a Tibetan exile lit himself on fire at an anti-China protest Monday. He died from his burns Wednesday.
Chinese President Hu Jintao's hotel was under virtual lock down, while Tibetan neighborhoods were sealed, with police allowing people out only for medical or court appointments.
Hundreds of police manned barricades along roads throughout the city, some carrying blankets soaked in water to quickly smother the flames of any protesters who try to set themselves alight.
Delhi police spokesman Rajan Bhagat said authorities had detained many Tibetan protesters in recent days, but would release most of them without charge in a few hours.