BRICS provides new voices in transformative world
Published: Jun 23, 2022 05:04 PM
Illustration: Chen Xia/GT

Illustration: Chen Xia/GT

In the last decade the BRICS grouping of major emerging economies - Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa - has become one of the most fundamental forces in the international geo-economic landscape. Since its first formal summit in 2009, through continued diplomatic activity, economic cooperation and strategic dialogue, the group has consolidated shared views on the role of emerging economies in the global system, especially regarding the reform of global governance and multilateral institutions.

On Thursday, a new edition of the BRICS Summit will take place, where Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro will meet virtually to discuss the current global situation.

In the present troubled international scenario, with the conflict in Ukraine as a backdrop along the uncertain economic situation at a global level, mounting inflation in Western countries, and rising global prices of basic commodities that threaten the development of various emerging countries, the voice of the BRICS as a mechanism for cooperation is more important than ever. 

Undoubtedly the economic and geopolitical implications of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, financial mechanisms to deal with the sanctions imposed by the US, European Union, as well as common measures to stabilize the economic global situation will be central items on the summit's agenda. None of the BRICS nations have joined the Western countries in the economic sanctions against Russia, making it clear that the solution to the conflict must go through a negotiated process and not through sanctions. Not only have the BRICS countries refrained from emulating financial sanctions, but also most developing nations decided to stay out of these coercive measures that generate greater turbulence in the international economic system.

The summit is also expected to give increasing importance to multilateral economic cooperation in fields such as green development, the digital economy and infrastructure investments, as well as enhancing capacity production and supply chains. An important novelty in the framework of BRICS cooperation is the recent process of expanding the membership of its New Development Bank (NDB), which opens the doors to other emerging countries to access to funds for sustainable infrastructure construction as well as other cooperation initiatives. In early 2021, the NDB's leaders held talks with Bangladesh, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Uruguay, and Egypt for their incorporation to the NDB. Negotiations were successful with each of these four countries, and in late 2021 they became the first cohort of non-founding members to join the NDB. 

It is possible to envision that in the future many other countries of the Global South may join this promising international financial institution. Within the BRICS structure, the NDB can play a fundamental role by providing funds to emerging countries in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America for interconnectivity projects for deeper regional integration to enhance cross-border capital flows and investment within developing nations. This is particularly important, for example, for Latin American countries, where financing for infrastructure projects that strengthen regional integration is urgently needed. A greater economic and physical integration between BRICS and emerging countries will bring immense opportunities in terms of food security, sustainable development and technological cooperation.

The complex international situation requires today more than ever the coordination of emerging countries with the aim of stabilizing the global economy and working to restart a growth path that allows developing nations to overcome the dramatic effects of the pandemic. The BRICS, representing the largest emerging economies today, have managed in recent decades to establish important mechanisms for dialogue and cooperation to provide new voices in a world in transformation. 

There is clear evidence that the present context is characterized by enormous possibilities and opportunities that are typical of times of crisis and paradigm shifts. Creativity and use of windows of opportunity can potentially give rise to new scenarios for emerging countries in the global system. It is up to developing nations themselves to be proactive and establish a common strategy that takes advantage of the transforming trends that are appearing in the new international geopolitical and economic architecture. Having reached a considerable degree of institutionalization as well as establishing new multilateral organizations such as the NDB, the BRICS may become in the coming years the platform for developing countries to have greater weight in decisions about the destinies of humanity.

The author holds a PhD degree in International Politics from Fudan University. He served as parliamentary Advisor to the National Chamber of Deputies of the Argentine Republic and Research Coordinator at the China-Brazil Business Council. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn