BRICS: The opponent awe of the West
By Isidoros Karderinis
Brazil, Russia, India and China originally formed the bloc in 2009 after a series of meetings and understandings. The first BRIC Summit was held in Yekaterinburg, Russia on June 16 of the same year, where the heads of states in question agreed to strengthen dialogue and cooperation between them.
The following year, in Brasilia, Brazil in April 2010, the second Summit was held, where the leaders of these countries emphasized the necessity of a multidimensional global intergovernmental system.
Then, at their third meeting in New York in September 2010, the BRICs agreed on the entry of South Africa. South Africa managed to join after a strong effort as a result of its active foreign policy, this coalition of states changing it from “BRIC” to “BRICS”.
At the Fourth Summit in March 2012 in New Delhi, India, a first announcement was made of the establishment of a New Development Bank (NDB), which was formalized at their Fifth Summit in Durban, South Africa in 2013, with the clear intention of independence of BRICS by the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the US and the European Union. The agreement for its establishment, after resolving disputes over organizational issues, was finally reached in 2014, during the sixth BRICS meeting in Fortaleza, Brazil.
The BRICS countries comprise 40% of the world’s population, which amounts to over 3.1 billion people. BRICS co-exists countries with different degrees of development and different strategies.
Brazil is the largest country in South America, both in population (about 213 million) and in area, since it occupies 1/3 of South America by itself. It is also the fourth richest country in the Americas in terms of GDP. However, it does not have the appropriate infrastructure (inadequate road and rail network, inadequate port infrastructure, etc.) and in combination with extreme economic inequality (1 in 4 citizens lives in absolute poverty) do not allow it to emerge as a economic superpower. According to the World Competitiveness Index of the World Economic Forum, Brazil ranked 108th among 137 economies in 2017 in terms of the general quality of its infrastructure. Corruption scandals are also present in the country. Brazil deals with regional issues.
Russia, which is the world’s largest transcontinental country of global influence and a large economy, also possesses the largest nuclear arsenal on the planet and enormous military power, which it has used in Syria and now in Ukraine. Russia provides the best standard of living for its residents, compared to the rest of the BRICS countries, with 3.5% of GDP spent on education and 3.1% on public health. The number of residents living below the poverty line amounts to just 0.2% of its population. The Russian economy suffers, however, from the critical problem of corruption-which exists in all countries to a greater or lesser degree-as well as from the significant lack of banking infrastructure, due to insufficiently developed financial markets, difficulty in obtaining loans and limited investment options.
India is an emerging world power with an ever-growing economy. It is currently the fifth largest economy in the world based on its GDP, while its territory is home to the second largest population in the world, after that of China, reaching close to 1.4 billion people. The country’s GDP growth has been among the highest in the world over the past decade, achieving an annual growth of between 6-7%. However, India has one of the lowest per capita incomes in the world, while facing huge social problems at home due to poverty. India has the lowest percentages of GDP spent on education and health among the BRICS, at 2.7% and 1.2% respectively. India is regionally oriented.
China, which is home to 1.4 billion people, is expanding rapidly with economic penetration in Asia, Latin America, Africa and other regions of the world. It is the economic giant of the East with an annual growth rate of 6.6%, thus threatening the economic primacy of the USA. China has been the world’s leading exporter since 2014. At the same time, China, although it is the second largest economy in the world, remains a middle-income country as its per capita income is still only about a quarter of that of countries with high income and about 375 million Chinese live below the poverty line of $5.50 a day. Finally, corruption appears at particularly high rates.
South Africa, due to its geographical position at the southern tip of the continent, which gives it access to two oceans, is a hub country. South Africa is China’s largest trading partner in Africa. At the same time, hundreds of Chinese companies, both state-owned and private, are currently active in the country. South Africa’s economy is the second largest on the African continent behind Nigeria’s. It has natural wealth in gold, silver and coal but also one of the highest rates of inequality in the world. The richest 10% of the population owns about 71% of the net wealth, while the bottom 60% owns 7% of the net wealth. It is a country with particular political weight in Africa as the only African member state of the G20 group, which, however, needs a reform effort for its further economic development.
The BRICS are, therefore, the opposing camp of the West, whether this is expressed politically, by the US-Anglo-Saxon countries-European Union alliance, or militarily, with NATO, or economically, with the international economic organizations of American origin, such as the IMF, the World Bank or the World Trade Organization. The bloc’s strategic direction is close cooperation to effectively and successfully counter the US-dominated international financial architecture.
After fifteen years, during which many questioned the viability of the scheme, the existing global balances lead to the enlargement of the bloc. Many countries have expressed their desire to become members of BRICS, such as Argentina, Egypt, Venezuela, Mexico, Iran, Vietnam, Bangladesh and others.
In closing, I would like to emphasize that the agenda of the BRICS, which have succeeded in consolidating their position on the global political and economic scene, leads to the reduction of the dominance of the USA and the Western world in general and to the establishment of a new multipolar reality.
Isidoros Karderinis was born in Athens in 1967. He is a novelist, poet and columnist. He studied economics and completed postgraduate studies in tourism economics. His articles have been published in newspapers, magazines and websites around the world. His poems have been translated into English, French and Spanish and published in poetic anthologies, literary magazines and literary newspaper columns. He has published eight books of poetry and three novels in Greece. His books have been translated and published in the United States, Great Britain, Italy and Spain.
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An excellent background paper; thank you.
Maybe this is the regional economic grouping Australia should be joining.
Added to BRICS and the countries that want to join BRICS countries is nternational North South Transport Corridor (INSTC)
INSTC is a 7,200km multimodal, cross-border freight network that links Russia to Central Asia, Iran and India, involving sea, rail and road links. It was initiated by India, Russia and Iran in 2000, with an agreement signed in 2002, but was never used to its full potential until now.
Belt and Road initiative (BRI)
In 2013, the Chinese Government launched the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a massive global infrastructure-building initiative, to increase trade by connecting cities within and across continents. The initiative is redefining globalisation, urbanisation, regionalism, and development.
Added to these is a global situation of de- dolarisation.
While Albanese has hitched Australia’s wagon to the US and AUKUS many countries are looking to the East and not the West. Australian politician should ne looking to where the future is and not where they thought it was.
BRICS is the way of the future.
It’s stated aims of mutual development and prosperity, non-interference in internal matters etc., exclude the dog-eat-dog approach to trade that is a feature of free market ideology and a cause of much global instability.
Just announced that Dan Andrews is about to go to China to talk trade.
If I remember correctly Victoria had an agreement with China that Morrison overthrew ?
Andrews suggested that other premiers will be doing the same, that Albo approves, so the thought struck me that maybe this is Albo’s way to avoid US intervention.
Or maybe I’m giving him more credit than he deserves.
Careful what you wish for.
Many of the ‘old blocs’ including BRICS (which from it’s start was moribund – as is the New Development Bank) are now in this blindingly rapid-change world, redundant.
Without question the most pressing issue is to find a way to get together to post-haste take universal action on climate change (decarbonisation). One of the most tricky obstacles is partisan politics, hegemonies aspiring or extant, and technological and financial exchange workability. And there’s no time to beat around the bush. And in my view it would be a great error to cast aside the skills and experience of ANY of the Great Powers, but rather to find a way they can work with one another for (at least) this single purpose.
It is my view that Xi will rein in Putin to form a bloc (for the purpose), and leverage Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as a ‘vehicle’ (and per se AJOgrady’s INSTC), but those alone are not enough. The West (EU, Britain and USA) need a way to fully participate from within their own realms, but also securitise the situation with China and Russia, and BRI.
It is my view that AUKUS along with the QUAD and ASEAN provides the vehicle for the West. In it, Oz provides a pivotal role from both its position in East Asia, and a foil against any ‘heavy hand’ of Britain or USA. There are many reasons why both Britain and America should heed our advice. And it’s way beyond time for us to drop the cringe and step up.
I’m hoping that these vehicles will provide for a rapid detente and mechanisms for promptly undertaking the massive industrial processes necessary to address decarbonisation, as for that we are all totally interdependent, otherwise it’s down the slippery-slide to planetary ruination.