The 7th BRICS Summit summit got under way in Ufa on Thursday as leaders were formally welcomed for the plenary session.
The group represents more than a fifth of the global economy.
The leaders- Presidents Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin, Jacob Zuma, Dilma Rousseff and Prime Minister Narendra Modi- used the Summit to reiterate their backing for the newly launched New Development Bank and the $100 BRICS Monetary Fund.
There are no plans for new members yet, said officials.
The new financial instruments being launched by the bloc coincides with a growing perception that the US is losing its decades-old grip on global economic institutions.
All the five BRICS countries have also signed up for the China-led $100 billion Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
Chinese President Xi Jinping is meeting his BRICS counterparts after China’s notable political success in registering more than 50 countries as founding members, some of them frontline US allies.
X also used a speech at the summit on Wednesday to reiterate the BRICS push for greater regional leadership to bolster growth, battle Islamic extremists, remedy climate change and address other global issues.
“International economic rules need updating,” said Xi while reiterating calls for IMF voting reforms to give emerging economies greater say in its affairs.
“BRICS proves different development models can work together,” the Chinese President noted while urging his counterparts to “leverage complementary strengths”.
On Tuesday in Moscow, central bank governors from the five countries signed an operating agreement on a $100 billion pool of foreign-exchange reserves to help each other weather financial squeezes.
BRICS exports to the rest of the world increased from $1.9 trillion in 2009 to $4.2 trillion in 2013.
BRICS leaders on Thursday also referred to the migrant crisis in Europe, with ongoing reports of harrowing journeys of asylum seekers from Asia and Africa.
“Brazil is committed to providing support and shelter to migrants,” said Rousseff in Ufa.
The issue of migrant refugees crossing into Europe from North Africa came to the fore and became a significant bone of contention between EU leaders following the deaths of 1,800 men, women and children who had drowned as they made the perilous trek across the Mediterranean in often overcrowded and unsafe vehicles.
Chinese President Xi Jinping also echoed Rousseff, saying “the BRICS must enhance coordination in migrant issues”.
The BRICS Summit comes at a difficult time, with major economies running at different speeds, China’s stock market crash, Greece casting a new shadow over Europe and stagnant growth in Brazil and Russia.
BRICS Finance Minister on Tuesday “agreed that Greece, in any case needs to work on structural measures to bring its commitments in line with the capabilities of the economy”.
“We were in favor of early stabilization of the situation and the achievement of agreement between Greece and its creditors,” Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said after meeting the five counterparts in Moscow yesterday.
The slowdown in global growth that has also affected BRICS economies, was noted by the five leaders on Thursday in Russia. The bloc, however, claimed BRICS is still leading global growth.
“BRICS is the beacon for developing countries. The New Development Bank launched by the BRICS must consider financing clean energy projects in BRICS and other developing nations” proposed Indian Prime Minister Modi.
Despite the woes of her government back home in Brasilia, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff pushed the agenda at the BRICS leaders hangout in Ufa.
On Thursday, she said BRICS ties have moved beyond state initiatives.
“BRICS Bank is an important contribution to global financial architecture. The New Development Bank must be swift quick and effective from the beginning of 2016. The BRICS needs for infrastructure and sustainable development are part and parcel of the BRICS bank’s agenda” she said.
The new BRICS Bank will fund infrastructure projects in member countries and will begin announcing investment projects in the first quarter of 2016.
The Ufa Summit programme also includes outreach meetings between the BRICS leaders and members of the SCO and the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union.
Russian President Putin met separately with trade union leaders from the BRICS countries earlier on Thursday. The leaders also interacted with BRICS business leaders before the Summit.
A raft of documents is expected to be adopted at the Summit, followed by the signing of the Ufa communique.
The BRICS leaders will also hold discussions with leaders of the Russia-China-led security bloc Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) on Thursday.