Written by  //  November 3, 2023  //  Geopolitics, Global economy, Multilateralism  //  Comments Off on BRICS

How BRICS Became a Club That Others Want to Join
By Tom Hancock and Michael Cohen
(Bloomberg) The BRICS group of emerging market nations — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — has gone from a slogan dreamed up at an investment bank two decades ago to a real-world club that controls a multilateral lender. Now it’s undergoing an enlargement that would pair some of the planet’s largest energy producers with some of the biggest consumers among developing countries, potentially enhancing the group’s economic clout in a US-dominated world. … In August, invitations were extended to Saudi Arabia, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Argentina, Ethiopia and Egypt to join in 2024.
… The biggest achievements of the group have been financial. The countries agreed to pool $100 billion of foreign currency reserves, which they can lend to each other during emergencies. That liquidity facility became operational in 2016. They founded the New Development Bank — a World Bank-inspired institution that has approved almost $33 billion of loans — mainly for water, transport and other infrastructure projects — since it began operations in 2015. (South Africa borrowed $1 billion in 2020 to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.)

31 August
BRICS’ Silence on Taliban: The World Must Not Abandon Afghanistan & Its Women
While BRICS has priority issues, it’s undeniable the RIC nations abandoned the Afghan issue in their deliberations.
C Uday Bhaskar
(The Quint) Afghan women were dealt yet another body blow by the Taliban regime which declared that women were not observing the hijab regulations inside parks in the prescribed manner and hence, would be forbidden from entering such recreation spots. … Ironically, this draconian restriction was announced on a day – traditionally celebrated in the USA as ‘Women’s Equality Day’ – to commemorate the granting of voting rights to women in 1920.
Afghanistan Isn’t Brought Up in BRICS
In keeping with this erasure of the Afghan woman from the larger global consciousness, it was both intriguing and disappointing that there was no reference at all to Afghanistan in the recently concluded BRICS summit in South Africa.
The 94-paragraph document comprising 9276 words touched upon various issues and some of the troubled conflict-ridden regions of the world – but Afghanistan was missing.
It merits recall that at the BRICS 2021 summit chaired by India, Afghanistan received empathetic notice from the five-member group (Brazil, Russia, China, and South Africa being the other four), and at that time, the leaders sought an “inclusive intra-Afghan dialogue so as to ensure stability, civil peace, law, and order.”

26 August
BRICS, Modi and Multilateralism: How China Under Xi Is Strengthening Its Ranks
The Chinese conduct shows it has no interest in multilateralism as it shows scant respect for global institutions.
Vivek Katju
(The Quint) Through its fine words, China may wish to project that it is an emerging country whose interests coincide with other emerging economies and the countries of the Global South. However, such a mask cannot really obscure present international realities and China’s own aggressive approaches. … The fact is that under President Xi Jinping, China has long given up Deng Xiaoping’s advice of remaining low key and focusing on comprehensive development, including in the military and strategic spheres.

25 August
How Russia is fighting for allies among the Brics countries using ‘memory diplomacy’
Jose Caballero, Senior Economist, IMD World Competitiveness Center, International Institute for Management Development (IMD)
(The Conversation) In the 2010s, the expansion of Russia’s influence in Africa was the result of economic “opportunism”, but during the Ukraine war, it has become more strategic. There is evidence that in some African countries the influence of Russia continues to intensify. South Africa, for instance, seems to be moving away from the west and steering towards China’s and Russia’s orbit.
Two interrelated factors can help us understand Russia’s attractiveness to the global south, and reluctance to fully support Ukraine. First, Russia frames itself as an “anti-colonial” agent, particularly in Africa. Such a strategy is based on “memory diplomacy”, aimed at increasing its influence overseas by taking advantage of shared positive memories.
Memory diplomacy, for instance, invokes Russia’s contribution to the victory against fascism during the second world war. In addition, it points out that Russia has never colonised an African country and that it did not participate in the slave trade. On the contrary, the argument goes, Russia, as the centre of the Soviet Union, supported different anti-colonial struggles in the region during the cold war, for example, in Angola and Mozambique.
Another factor in understanding Russia’s appeal to the global south is the “legacy” of Moscow’s solidarity with various countries in the past.
In 1927, the Communist International, an international organisation supportive of world communism that was led by the Soviet Union, sponsored the League Against Imperialism. The league aimed to eliminate colonial rule in the world. It brought together leading anti-colonial activists from around the world and prominent people such as Albert Einstein and Mahatma Gandhi.
Ultimately, the league became an inspiration for many of the leaders of the global south’s decolonisation struggles. In this sense, it has left a long-term legacy in the countries where Moscow’s support had an effect on their anti-colonial struggles.

23-24 August
Brics summit: Is a new bloc emerging to rival US leadership?
(BBC) The announced expansion of the five-nation Brics club of emerging economies was described as “historic” by Chinese President Xi Jinping, but it is still not clear how far the countries’ common interests stretch.
The growth of Brics “will… further strengthen the force for world peace and development” the president said while addressing the leaders gathered at a conference centre in South Africa’s commercial hub, Johannesburg.
The Brics countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – are often seen as a counterweight to the Western-led world.
The six new countries – Argentina, Egypt, Iran, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – are set to join in January.
China was the state pushing hardest for group expansion as a way to counter Western dominance.
Steve Tsang, director of London’s Soas China Institute, says though the Brics members do not have much in common on the surface, President Xi was trying to show his fellow bloc members that they all want a similar future: none of them want to live in a Western dominated world.
Iran and Saudi Arabia are among 6 nations set to join China and Russia in the BRICS economic bloc
(AP) — Iran and Saudi Arabia were among six countries invited Thursday to join the BRICS bloc of developing economies in a move that showed signs of strengthening a China-Russia coalition as tensions with the West spiral higher.
The United Arab Emirates, Argentina, Egypt and Ethiopia were also set to enter BRICS from Jan. 1, 2024, joining current members Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa to make an 11-nation bloc.
The announcement came after two days of talks at a summit in Johannesburg involving Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chinese President Xi Jinping and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. Russian President Vladimir Putin participated in the discussions virtually after his travel to the summit was complicated by an International Criminal Court arrest warrant issued against him over the war in Ukraine.

Brics nations agree to expand developing world bloc
(Times of India) Leaders of the Brics bloc of leading developing countries have agreed mechanisms for considering new members, South Africa said on Wednesday, paving the way for dozens of interested nations to join the group which has pledged to champion the ‘Global South’. Agreement on expansion could help lend global clout to Brics – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – at a time when geopolitical polarisation is spurring efforts by Beijing and Moscow to forge it into a viable counterweight to the West.
Xi, Putin and other leaders locked in discussions over an expansion of the BRICS economic bloc
(AP) — The leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa held closed-door discussions Wednesday on the possible expansion of their BRICS economic bloc, a move they’ve framed as a way to amplify the voice of developing nations, but which also serves the geopolitical interests of Beijing and Moscow.
A decision on whether to accept new members had been expected late Wednesday, the second day of a three-day BRICS summit in Johannesburg. But officials said that was looking unlikely and a declaration might be made on Thursday.

21-22 August
China’s awkward power play at the BRICS summit
Ishaan Tharoor
(WaPo) This week’s annual summit, held in Johannesburg, may be another talk shop, but unlike many of its predecessors, it brims with intrigue and interesting storylines. The war in Ukraine will shadow the proceedings. … Civil-society groups, including South Africa’s branch of Amnesty International, are expected to protest outside the summit venue, calling for an end to the Russian invasion of Ukraine as well as the Kremlin’s crackdown on antiwar dissent at home.
Chinese officials are keen on expanding the bloc to a possibly far more unwieldy acronym, with countries like Indonesia, Nigeria, Argentina and Saudi Arabia all knocking on the door. Leaders from more than 60 countries are expected to be in attendance at the summit.
Will anything come out of the BRICS summit?
(GZEROmedia) Potential BRICS expansion will be the most important issue. Although approximately 40 countries have formally applied for or expressed interest in membership, according to some media reports, BRICS members do not agree on how to move forward — a critical requirement for any final decisions. China is the most vocal proponent of expansion, viewing the BRICS as another prominent organization where it can increase its influence, support the growth of parallel international institutions, and counter the US. Russia is also on record as favoring expansion, as it seeks to promote alternatives to Western structures.
Brazil and South Africa are both concerned about diluting their own influence in the organization, while India’s primary concern remains China’s growing influence. Current messaging suggests that summit discussions will focus on establishing membership criteria, allowing reticent BRICS members to slow the expansion process down without being viewed as roadblocks
While Russia and China have pushed for expansions, believing it will help counter US-dominated institutions, the other three states, US allies, don’t want to undercut relations with Washington. They prefer to cast BRICS as broadly focused on emphasizing Global South interests, and not as a counterweight to US influence. Still, South Africa and Brazil support expansion to some degree: Brazil’s President Lula da Silva says that he backs the addition of the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, and Indonesia, though it will likely be a long time before the member states reach a consensus on future bloc eligibility.
De-dollarization of the global economy also looms large over the summit. Beijing in particular has accused Washington of “weaponizing” the US dollar after imposing crippling sanctions on Russia, while the other BRICS states are also keen to see the greenback lose some of its dominance and to do more trade in local currencies. (However, the BRICS’s chief financial institution says it has no immediate plans to create its own currency.)

17 August
BRICS nations to meet in South Africa seeking to blunt Western dominance
China, India, Brazil, S.Africa heads to meet, Putin absent
Expansion to include Global South nations high on agenda
Some 40 countries interested in joining
BRICS seek to woo African nations with aid, trade
(Reuters) – BRICS leaders meet in South Africa next week to discuss how to turn a loose club of nations accounting for a quarter of the global economy into a geopolitical force that can challenge the West’s dominance in world affairs.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who faces an international arrest warrant over alleged war crimes in Ukraine, will not join leaders from Brazil, India, China and South Africa amid rifts over whether to expand the bloc to include dozens of “Global South” nations queuing up to join.
Spread over the globe and with economies that operate in vastly different ways, the main thing uniting the BRICS is scepticism about a world order they see as serving the interests of the United States and its rich-country allies who promote international norms they enforce but don’t always respect.

31 July
The BRICS are better off disbanding than expanding
By Hugo Dixon
(Reuters Breakingviews) – The BRICS are an acronym searching for a geopolitical role. When Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa get together for their annual summit in Johannesburg next month, a top issue for discussion will be whether to expand the club. Emerging economies might be better off if it disbands.
It’s more than two decades since Jim O’Neill, a former chief economist at Goldman Sachs, invented the term to combine four large emerging economies with huge potential. (South Africa wasn’t on his list.)
All four countries initially performed well. In the first decade, China’s economy grew by 176%, India’s by 110%, Russia’s by 60%, Brazil’s by 47% and South Africa’s by 41%. They formed a club which held its first summit in 2008. O’Neill likes to tease the BRICS that their economic performance subsequently went downhill – particularly after the much smaller South Africa joined in 2011.
Since then, Russia, Brazil and South Africa have all struggled economically. In the decade to 2022 their total output grew by just 13%, 7% and 12%, respectively. China and India continued to power ahead, albeit at a slower rate. The result is that the group is now seriously lopsided. China’s output of $19 trillion this year will be 50 times South Africa’s.
Undeterred, the BRICS are now talking about adding new letters. The summit’s South African hosts say 22 countries have asked to join – and another 20 are interested. While no official list has been published, countries that have shown interest in the past range from Saudi Arabia, Argentina and Egypt to Iran, Cuba, and Kazakhstan.
But the Global South won’t get much from a club whose leading members are China, which is throwing its weight around in its region, and Russia, a near-pariah state. India and other emerging economies would do better to form their own non-aligned bloc.
Despite their annual gatherings, the BRICS haven’t achieved anything notable together. They created a multilateral lender, the New Development Bank, in 2015. But it has approved only $33 billion of projects in its entire history. The World Bank, by contrast, committed $104 billion in its 2022 fiscal year alone.
The fault line between India and China, which fought a small war in the Himalayas in 2020, is one reason the BRICS club has done so little. India sees the People’s Republic as its most dangerous threat.
Developing nations have other options for joining forces. During the Cold War, India helped create the Non-Aligned Movement, which brought together countries that didn’t want to be part of either the U.S. or Soviet Union sphere of influence. Today’s large non-aligned nations could create a similar group.
They would, of course, first need to agree what they would stand for. Top of the list would be to stress their neutral status.
This is not just a matter of pride. Developing countries can benefit from playing one superpower off against the other. Both the United States and China have shown they are willing to offer so-called swing states inducements – from weapons to infrastructure and help in building green economies – to stop them falling into the other’s camp.
*See Comment of 2 August

24-26 July
BRICS Invites 69 Leaders to August Summit — Western Countries Omitted
The BRICS economic bloc has invited 69 leaders to its upcoming summit, including all African heads of state and the political heads of major Global South bodies. More than 40 countries have expressed interest to join the BRICS group, with 22 nations already having submitted official applications. “We’ve never had such a large outreach,” said South Africa’s diplomat in charge of BRICS relations.
South Africa is hosting this year’s summit, which is scheduled to take place in Johannesburg from Aug. 22 to 24. The BRICS economic bloc comprises Brazil, Russia, China, India, and South Africa.
22 June
BRICS vs. the West
Before the heads of the world’s most “advanced” economies meet this weekend in Germany for the annual G7 summit, the leaders of the top five “emerging” ones — Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, aka BRICS — are holding their own (virtual) summit in Beijing on Thursday.
BRICS became a thing 21 years ago, when a Goldman Sachs economist coined the term — initially with a small “s” — to predict the emerging market economies that would lead global growth in the future (this came true for China, not so much for the rest). Now they’ve established a formal presence, set up their own development bank, and claim to represent the entire Global South.

Comments are closed.