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Malaysia Airlines aircraft MH17 crashed in Ukraine

In a tragic and shocking incident, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17/MAS17), a commercial aircraft on its scheduled flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, crashed in east Ukraine.

It is suspected to have been shot down with a BUK surface-to-air missile. The aircraft crashed near Hrabove (area under military control of Donbass People’s Militia) in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine about 40 km (25 miles) from the Ukraine–Russia border.All 283 passengers and 15 crew on board the Boeing 777-200ER airliner died.

The aircraft crashed in the conflict zone of the ongoing Donbass rebellion, in the area controlled by pro-Russian rebel groups. A BUK missile smashed the plane at an altitude of 10,000 m (33,000 ft).

The BUK missile system is a class of self-propelled, medium-range surface-to-air missile systems developed by the Soviet Union and its successor state, the Russian Federation, and designed to counter cruise missiles, smart bombs, fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft, and UAVs.

BRICS to establish $100 billion development bank and contingency reserve fund

BRICS group of nations inked a pact to set up a new $100 billion development bank and emergency reserve fund. The agreement to create the bank was signed during the 6th BRICS Summit being held in Fortaleza, Brazil. BRICS group includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

To begin with, the bank will start operating with $50 billion in initial capital with the five BRICS contributing $10 billion each.

According to the pact, the capital of the bank will be divided equally among the five participating nations and the headquarters of the same will be in Shanghai, China. The chairmanship of the bank will be rotational and its first President will come from India for the first 6 years. The Bank will also have a regional office in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The governing body of the bank will be formed by BRICS Finance ministers or central banks’ governors to manage the CRA. The BRICS CRA will not be open to outsiders. Initially, the bank will focus on infrastructure projects in the BRICS countries.

Capital contribution from BRICS nations

  • China: $41 billion
  • Brazil, Russia and India: $18 billion each
  • South Africa: $5 billion

Future benefits of BRICS Development Bank:  
The creation of the $100 billion development bank will help the developing countries to:

  • Effectively deal with short term liquidity pressures
  • Encourage further BRICS cooperation
  • Complement existing international arrangements
  • Consolidate the global financial safety net

Fortaleza Declaration from 6th BRICS Summit

The 6th BRICS Summit that was held in Fortaleza, Brazil concluded recently. The theme of the Summit was Inclusive Growth: Sustainable Solutions.

The participating nations Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa jointly issued the Fortaleza Declaration.

Fortaleza Declaration key points:

  • Next BRICS Summit in 2015 will be held in the city of Ufa in Russia.
  • South Africa to host the 4th meeting of BRICS Competition Authorities in 2015 to improve competition policy and enforcement.
  • BRICS Information Sharing and Exchange Platform will be set up to facilitate trade and investment cooperation.
  • Proposal to establish the BRICS Network University underscoring the strategic significance of education for sustainable development and inclusive economic growth.
  • Agreement for setting up the New Development Bank (NDB) with $100 billion corpus which will distribute the funds equally among all the BRICS nations for mobilizing resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS.
  • Pact for the setting up of the BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) with an initial size of $100 billion to tackle short-term liquidity demands.
  • MoU on cooperation among BRICS Export Credit and Guarantees Agencies that will build a conducive atmosphere for increasing trade opportunities among BRICS countries.
  • Efforts will be made by National Institutes of Statistics and the Ministries of Health and Education of BRICS countries towards the development of joint methodologies for social indicators to be incorporated in the BRICS Joint Statistical Publication.
  • The BRICS pledged to contribute to the G20 goal of lifting our collective GDP by more than 2% over the coming 5 years.
  • Exploration of new approaches of cooperation in insurance and reinsurance market among BRICS countries will be done to realize the potential and pool capacities.
  • Cooperative approach on issues pertaining to tax administrations will be continued and cooperation in the international forums targeting tax base erosion and information exchange for tax purposes will be improved.
  • BRICS urged the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to find ways to implement the 14th General Review of Quotas without further delay so as to ensure enhanced representation of Emerging and developing countries.
  • The work on the next shareholding review at the World Bank will be initiated as soon as possible in order to meet the agreed deadline of October 2015.
  • BRICS Economic Cooperation Strategy and a Framework of BRICS Closer Economic Partnership which lay down steps to encourage intra-BRICS economic, trade and investment cooperation.
  • By the end of 2014 a post-Bali work program will be established for concluding the Doha Round, based on the progress already made and in keeping with the mandate achieved in the Doha Development Agenda, Public Stock-Holding for Food Security Purposes and implementation of the Agreement on Trade Facilitation.
  • Reaffirmation of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s (UNCTAD) mandate as the focal point in the UN system dedicated to consider the interrelated issues of trade, investment, finance and technology from a development perspective
  • BRICS called for a comprehensive reform of United Nations in line with the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document so as to make it more representative, effective and efficient.
  • To encourage the convening, at the earliest possible date, of the Conference on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction.
  • BRICS called for an inclusive and consensus-based multilateral consultations on a draft International Code of Conduct on Outer Space Activities
  • The proposal for the setting up an Anti-Drug Working Group presented.
  • Commitment of BRICS to the implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy has been reiterated.
  • BRICS also reiterated their commitment to the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity and its Protocols, with special focus to the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and the Aichi Targets.
  • Domestic and foreign bribery will be fought against, and international cooperation, including law enforcement cooperation, will be bolstered in accordance with multilaterally established principles and norms, especially the UN Convention Against Corruption.
  • South Africa has been congratulated and praised for the full implementation of the eThekwini Action Plan

PM Modi meets Chinese President Xi Jinping; presses for resolution of boundary dispute

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Brazil during the BRICS Summit. Mr. Modi pressed for a solution to the boundary issue, saying if the two sides could resolve the vexed issue in an amicable manner; it would set an example for the world on peaceful dispute resolution.

In a major development, China invited India to attend a summit of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in November 2014. APEC is a forum for 21 nations that envisages promoting free trade and economic cooperation throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

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