Beyond the Summits and meetings of Foreign Ministers, dialogue within BRICS encompasses several instances, including Ministers and senior government officials, businessmen and academics.
Finance and Central Banks
The BRICS Finance Ministers met for the first time in November 2008 in São Paulo, in response to the global economic and financial crisis, following a recommendation made by Brazil at the Yekaterinburg meeting of Foreign Ministers.
A month before the meeting of São Paulo, the collapse of Lehman Brothers had triggered the crisis, which led to the convening of the first of a series of meetings of the G-20 Heads of State and Government. In that context, the BRICS countries would deepen their cooperation on the international economic agenda.
Since then, the Finance Ministers of BRICS meet regularly at the margins of the G- 20 meetings and of the biannual IMF and World Bank meetings, as well as at the margins of BRICS Summits, together with the Governors of Central Banks.
The Trade Ministers of the BRICS traditionally meet on the eve of the Summits. They also meet at the margins of WTO Ministerial meetings.
The Contact Group for Economic and Trade Issues (CGETI), which reports to the Ministers of Trade, is responsible for proposing institutional framework and concrete measures to expand cooperation on economic and trade issues amongst the BRICS.
Business Forum and Council
Since 2010, on Brazil´s initiative, the BRICS Business Forum meets on the eve of the Summits, aiming at expanding and diversifying trade and mutual investments, including through the identification of new business opportunities. It is the Brazilian intention to include in the Forum the areas of small and medium enterprises and tourism.
In 2013, the BRICS Business Council was established, with a view to making recommendations on issues of trade and investment, among others related to the business environment. The Council consists of five CEOs of companies of each country. The Brazilian representatives are Vale, Weg, Gerdau, Banco do Brasil and Marcopolo (head of the Brazilian chapter). Members of the Council shall submit their recommendations to the leaders at the BRICS Summit.
Cooperation between BRICS National Development Banks began in 2010, during the Second Summit (Brasilia, 2010). Since then, the Presidents of the National Bank for Economic and Social Development (BNDES), the Vnesheconombank, the Export-Import Bank of India, the China Development Bank Corporation and the Development Bank of Southern Africa have met in parallel with the BRICS Summits. Such meetings are called the BRICS Financial Forum. So far, the BRICS Development Banks have signed eight agreements on financial cooperation.
Academic Forum and Think Tanks Council
Since 2010, the Academic Forum of the BRICS meets annually, prior to the Summits, with the participation of a large number of distinguished professors from the five countries. It constitutes an important instance of civil society participation in the BRICS process. The meetings have provided original brainstorming from the member countries on the challenges and opportunities that they face.
The BRICS Think Tanks Council, established in 2013, consists of the following institutions: Institute of Applied Economic Research (Brazil); National Committee for BRICS Research (Russia); Observer Research Foundation (India) ; China Center for Contemporary World Studies (China) ; and Human Sciences Research Council (South Africa) . The Council is responsible for sharing and disseminating information; research, policy analysis and prospective studies; and capacity-building. Recommendations of both the Forum and the Council shall be addressed to the leaders. Both the Academic Forum and the Think Tanks Council met in Rio de Janeiro in March 2014.
The BRICS Health Ministers meet regularly since 2011, including at the margins of meetings of the World Health Organization (WHO). Besides coordination on issues on the WHO agenda, the group is considering the possibility of establishing a Technological Cooperation Network. One of the goals of this initiative would be to promote the transfer of, and access to, technologies that would allow increased availability and lower prices of medicines in developing countries. Three ministerial communiqués (Beijing, New Delhi and Cape Town) mention the intention to establish the network. The BRICS Framework for the Collaboration in Strategic Health Projects was adopted in 2013.
Science and Technology
After several annual meetings of senior officials held since 2011, the BRICS Ministers of Science and Technology met for the first time in February 2014, in Kleinmond. In the next ministerial meeting, during the Brazilian pro tempore Chairmanship, a memorandum of understanding in the area is expected to be signed, aiming to establish a strategic framework for cooperation on science and technology. The memorandum will foster the promotion of partnerships with other stakeholders in the developing world, based on the experiences and complementarities of the BRICS. The areas of oceanographic and polar research, including the Antarctic continent, are particularly promising.
The BRICS High Representatives Responsible for Security have been meeting since 2009. The latest meeting (Cape Town, December 2013) allowed the exchange of views on cybersecurity, counterterrorism, transportation security, and regional crises. A Working Group on Cybersecurity was established; among other objectives, it will assess developments in the field of cybersecurity in international fora and coordinate a BRICS approach in those instances.
The BRICS Ministers of Agriculture and Agrarian Development met for the first time in 2010, in Moscow. The following year, in Chengdu, the Action Plan 2012-2016 was approved, providing guidance to the cooperation among the five countries in the agricultural field. A Working Group of Agricultural Experts was also established, tasked with preparatory meetings prior to the Ministerial gatherings.
Since 2010, the BRICS Joint Statistical Publication is launched annually, on the occasion of the BRICS Summit. Experts from the member countries meet regularly with a view to preparing this document. The 2014 edition of the Joint Statistical Publication was prepared by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) and was launched during the VI Summit.