BRICS – For those who don’t know what it is
May 27, 2013 Leave a comment
BRICS, originally “BRIC” before the inclusion of South Africa in 2010, is the title of an association of emerging national economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. With the possible exception of Russia, the BRICS members are all developing or newly industrialised countries, but they are distinguished by their large, fast-growing economies and significant influence on regional and global affairs. As of 2013, the five BRICS countries represent almost 3 billion people, with a combined nominal GDP of US$14.8 trillion, and an estimated US$4 trillion in combined foreign reserves. Presently, South Africa holds the chair of the BRICS group.
In 2012, Hu Jintao, who at the time was President of China, described the BRICS countries as defenders and promoters of developing countries and a force for world peace. However, some analysts have highlighted potential divisions and weaknesses in the grouping, such as India and China’s disagreements over territorial issues, slowing economic growth rates, and disputes between the members over UN Security Council reform. India’s foreign policy in regards to BRICS is also heavily criticized by analysts in USINPAC.
The foreign ministers of the initial four BRIC states (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) met in New York City in September 2006, beginning a series of high-level meetings. A full-scale diplomatic meeting was held in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on May 16, 2008.
First BRIC summit
The BRIC grouping’s first formal summit commenced in Yekaterinburg on June 16, 2009, with Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Dmitry Medvedev, Manmohan Singh, and Hu Jintao, the respective leaders of Brazil, Russia, India and China, all attending. The summit’s focus was on means of improving the global economic situation and reforming financial institutions, and discussed how the four countries could better co-operate in the future. There was further discussion of ways that developing countries, such as the BRIC members, could become more involved in global affairs.
In the aftermath of the Yekaterinburg summit, the BRIC nations announced the need for a new global reserve currency, which would have to be ‘diversified, stable and predictable’. Although the statement that was released did not directly criticise the perceived ‘dominance’ of the US dollar – something that Russia had criticised in the past – it did spark a fall in the value of the dollar against other major currencies.
Entry of South Africa
In 2010, South Africa began efforts to join the BRIC grouping, and the process for its formal admission began in August of that year. South Africa officially became a member nation on December 24, 2010, after being formally invited by the BRIC countries to join the group. The group was renamed BRICS – with the “S” standing for South Africa – to reflect the group’s expanded membership. In April 2011, the President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, attended the 2011 BRICS summit in Sanya, China, as a full member.
The BRICS Forum, an independent international organisation encouraging commercial, political and cultural cooperation between the BRICS nations, was formed in 2011. In June 2012, the BRICS nations pledged $75 billion to boost the lending power of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). However, this loan was conditional on IMF voting reforms. In late March 2013, during the fifth BRICS summit in Durban, South Africa, the member countries agreed to create a global financial institution which would rival the western-dominated IMF.
The grouping has held annual summits since 2009, with member countries taking turns to host. Prior to South Africa’s admission, two BRIC summits were held, in 2009 and 2010. The first five-member BRICS summit was held in 2011. The most recent BRICS summit took place in Durban, South Africa, in March 2013.