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G-20 deal sets up BRICS to backstop eurocrisis

Power shifts are on display at the G-20 in Mexico as emerging markets pledge funds to the International Monetary Fund in order to avert a European meltdown and its global impact.

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The BRICS countries especially, whose growth has exceeded that of the developed world and today represent 18 percent of global economic output, have demanded more of a say.

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A reform was passed in 2010 at the IMF to reflect the changing economic map, which included, among other things, giving emerging nations more voting power by more than 6 percent. The reform also called for greater representation of emerging markets on the IMF's executive board, replacing two seats currently filled by European countries with representatives from the developing world.

The BRICS are seeking to make their pledges to the IMF contingent on reforms being implemented. "These new contributions are being made in anticipation that all the reforms agreed upon in 2010 will be fully implemented in a timely manner, including a comprehensive reform of voting power and reform of quota shares," the BRICS said in a statement.

Pledging funds could send a signal that these countries deserve more clout – not just for their economic viability but because of their new willingness to cooperate, says Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the Council of the Americas, a consultancy based in New York. “For emerging markets, which have traditionally been recipient countries and are now becoming donor nations to the first world, this is an opportunity,” he says. “In addition to turning history on its head, this actually gives these countries ... the opportunity to make a statement financially that they have the resources, that they have the political will, and [that] they have the vision to support the global public good.”

For example, he adds, “If you are promoting the idea that the international system is important for Mexico, not just for what Mexico can get out of it but what it can give to it, it changes the dynamic quite dramatically.”

IMF managing director Ms. Lagarde welcomed the pledges saying in a statement: "These resources are being made available for crisis prevention and resolution and to meet the potential financing needs of all IMF members.” She said pledges reached $456 billion, and could grow.

The US has not pledged additional money as it, like many countries, faces domestic opposition that more money for the IMF means essentially a bailout for Europe.

The 2010 IMF reforms have been delayed for a host of reasons, but includes an underlying resistance to change – what Mr. Agarwal sees reflected in Barroso's comments. “Traditionally, when power structures change, it had been done through wars,” he says. Now it's through negotiations. “And the existing powers don't want to give up the power they have.”

It will be a long time, he says, until the playing field levels out. The reforms passed in 2010 were only minor, for starters, and they are still not implemented. “The muscle [of emerging markets] is enough to prevent unfavorable agreements or actions that hurt them but it is not enough power to push things onto a plane that would be helpful for them.”

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