Regional & International Cooperation

BRICS : Partnership for Peace and Prosperity

BRICS is an acronym that refers to five emerging economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, which all seem to be at a similar stage of development. The BRICS group demonstrates how geographically distant countries which face different social and economic challenges can become partners and convergence diplomatically in a way that changes the axis of international politics. BRICS’ aim is to take this cooperation forward on the basis of openness, solidarity, mutual understanding and trust, and seeks to promote peace, security and development in a multi-polar, inter-dependent and increasingly complex globalising world. The BRICS group aims to remain engaged with the world community as the issues at BRICS summits address the challenges affecting people’s well-being and in ensuring stability in a responsible and constructive manner.

Driven by their strong economic performance, two UN Security Council members and three vibrant democracies came together, to offer an alternative to the Western model of global governance. The economic rise of BRICS countries, particularly that of China and India, has made the world take notice of the group. BRICS members contend that their geo-economic rise is not reflected in geopolitics, as global governance is still dominated by the West. Hence, BRICS countries favour a reform of the UN Security Council and Bretton Wood institutions (World Bank and International Monetary Fund) to reflect the true potential of rising economies. These institutions, the countries contend, have become outdated and need to focus on an inclusive approach. Their reform process has been too slow, a sign of reluctance on the part of developed countries to deal with emerging economies on an equal footing.

Brazil will host the 11th BRICS summit as its chair on November 13-14 in the city of Brasilia. The leaders of the BRICS countries will meet in Itamaraty Palace. This will be the second such summit to occur in the Brazilian capital; the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India and China met there in 2010 before South Africa was included in the group officially in 2011, during a summit in the city of Sanya, China. The upcoming BRICS summit in Brazil offers a vital opportunity to assess the journey BRICS has taken in its first decade. The major themes are the better governance of the global economy and sustainable development or green economy issues. During the summit meetings, the leaders discuss collective measures to boost cooperation among themselves and take steps to jointly respond to common challenges. BRICS is considered as a serious transnational group that can play a key role in reforming the world management system and can contribute towards maintaining economic growth, peace and security. The main theme of the 11th BRICS Summit in Brasilia is “Economic Growth for an Innovative Future”.

The leaders of the top five emerging economies are expected to discuss collective measures to boost cooperation amongst themselves and take steps to jointly respond to common challenges. BRICS has established its own bank, The New Development Bank (NDB) with initial authorised capital of $100 billion. In 2017-2019, NDB’s operational strategy, the development of sustainable infrastructure, is central to its philosophy. BRICS has also established the BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) to respond to any short term balance of payment crisis among the member economies. Unlike the World Bank and IMF (The International Monetary Fund), the NDB does not attach strings to the financial assistance it provides to countries which need it. All the members have an equal share and there is no veto power. The bank is not averse to working with other international organisations, which shows that it is not trying to rival the likes of the World Bank or IMF but intends to work together with them. All it wants is to reshape the norms on which global financial governance is based. It is an alternative to the Atlantic system of global financial architecture.

The five countries hope to double the volume of intra-BRICS trade to $500bn by 2020. The world needs better economic structures, and BRICS has become a symbol of the shift in global economic power away from the developed economies toward the developing world. It is expected that the economic potential of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa is such that they could become among the five most dominant economies by the year 2050. South Africa aside, they are the largest economies outside the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). Although BRICS is still a young group, the size, power and growing global influence of its members have made it more attractive. Although coordinating policy at the level of BRICS will not be easy, given that the political interests of the BRICS members clash at various levels, this group could be a channel for resolving many pressing global political and economic concerns. One of the biggest obstacles standing in the way of BRICS development and growth is environmental degradation. Another significant cause of concern for BRICS is that a substantial number of poor people live in these countries, so along with economic growth, anti-poverty programmes are also needed, because poverty prevents rapid growth.

The global order is in flux, as Western liberal free-market ideas are now being challenged amid a rising tide of nationalism and protectionism. In such uncertain times, a vacuum could develop in the global order, where BRICS would become a critical venue for addressing international concerns. New ideas that reflect demands for equality and a just global order need a new lease on life. In the new global order, ideas from the global south should find a reasonable forum for expression, and BRICS would serve that purpose. The BRICS group tries to work closely to ensure regional peace and stability and create favourable conditions for regional development. BRICS countries try to promote cooperation and bring more benefits to the people. BRICS does not include any Western countries , so within the BRICS framework, discussions about the problems and prospects that commonly face the developing world can take place without Western influence or interference. The views discussed during the BRICS summits are more non-West than anti-West. BRICS summits determine the areas of future cooperation and try to develop a joint position on political and economic issues and concerns, to coordinate accordingly their positions in order to prepare themselves for further discussions. The BRICS countries have great prospects for cooperation in various fields, including education, natural resources, technology, and agriculture, and can draft plans for work in spheres.

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