BRICS success needs positive attitude from India

By Zhang Jianping Source:Global Times Published: 2017/8/31 20:48:39

Illustration: Luo Xuan/GT

As the 2017 BRICS Summit draws closer, many are wondering how China, which holds the BRICS presidency in 2017, can contribute its wisdom to global governance amid the slow global economic recovery. As early as in March this year, Foreign Minister Wang Yi mentioned several points regarding BRICS cooperation, including exploring modalities for "BRICS Plus" to widen the circle of members.

The "BRICS Plus" could become a new model that turns the BRICS bloc into the most influential platform for south-south cooperation in the world. It's also a way for the BRICS mechanism to develop closer interaction with the Belt and Road (B&R) initiative.

Many wonder who will be accepted by the BRICS bloc as new members, or whether expansion of the BRICS might break the balance within the club. Some Indian analysts worry that China might invite pro-Beijing countries like Pakistan to join the bloc in an effort to weaken the influence of New Delhi.

I personally believe that the world's major emerging economies are the most favored among potential candidates. Developing countries in the G20 and non-G20 developing countries with large regional influence are likely to be the most-preferred hot spots to join the circle of friends. Additionally, developing countries with regional characteristics and development potential are also possible candidates. The "BRICS Plus" model has nothing to do with efforts to form cliques within the BRICS. It aims to create a circle of friends including cooperative partners and observer states for BRICS countries to enhance the bloc's representation of developing nations.

The BRICS nations - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - are all developing countries, sharing roughly the same position within the global division of labor. Their relationship is sometimes competitive, and some differences inevitably emerge amid their interaction. But as more emerging economies are involved in the mechanism, member countries will get more chances to further their comprehensive cooperation. Additionally, an expansion of the current set up will be conducive to easing existing disputes and looking for new opportunities for cooperation.

Infrastructure and manufacturing will remain key areas for cooperation following the expansion of the BRICS. Many developing countries are still in the early stages of industrialization and are in urgent need of investment in infrastructure and manufacturing, providing an opportunity for cooperation between the BRICS and the B&R.

The route of the B&R initiative is mostly across developing countries, many of which have close trade and economic ties with BRICS countries and are thus highly likely to be included into the BRICS circle of friends. On the other hand, all BRICS countries other than India have actively championed the B&R initiative. The expansion of the BRICS will consequently result in an evolution of the grouping to become a bellwether in advancing the B&R initiative.

India's skepticism about the initiative appears to be driven mainly by its opposition to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, as it holds a positive attitude toward developing economic and trade ties with most countries along the B&R route. This is exemplified by the Asia-Africa Growth Corridor, jointly advocated by India and Japan. The inclusion of more countries along the route into the BRICS circle of friends is in accordance with India's national interests so long as a consensus can be reached about the procedures to add new member countries, the requirements for qualified new entrants and the rights bestowed upon them.

This year's BRICS Summit will revolve around topics such as investment, e-commerce and intellectual property protection, all of which will play an active role in India's economic development. Nevertheless, given that the BRICS mechanism is based on the cornerstone of member cooperation, the grouping will only play a bigger part when India moves to make bigger strides in reforming its economy and opening up its market.

The author is a researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation.

Posted in: INSIDER'S EYE

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