Its time to build BRICS better

Source: This post is based on the article “Its time to build BRICS better” published in The Hindu on 1st September 2021.

Relevance: To study the importance of BRICS.

Synopsis: Although BRICS grouping succeeded up to a point, it now confronts multiple challenges.

Context:

The 13th BRICS summit is set to be held under India’s chairmanship on 9th September. This meeting will be held in digital and virtual format.

What is BRICS?
  • It is the acronym coined for an association of five major emerging national economies that have similar economic development. The five countries are Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
  • The acronym was first used in 2001 by economist Jim O’Neill. Originally, the first four were grouped as “BRIC”. In 2010, South Africa was officially admitted as a BRIC nation. Thus, making the current acronym BRICS.
Structure of BRICS
  • The Chairmanship of the forum is rotated annually among the members, in accordance with the acronym BRICS.
  • Currently, India is holding the chairmanship of the BRICS. India was the chair in 2012 and 2016 too.
What is the Importance of BRICS?

The BRICS nations collectively represent,

  • 42% of the world’s population
  • 30% of the land area
  • 24% of global GDP
  • 16% of international trade
Working of the BRICS

The grouping has gone through a reasonably productive journey:

  • It attempts to serve as a bridge between the Global North and Global South.
  • It developed a common perspective on a wide range of global and regional issues.
  • Furthermore, the BRICS established the New Development Bank with the objective of financing infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging economies and developing countries.
  • It created a financial stability net in the form of Contingency Reserve Arrangement.
  • It is about to set up a Vaccine Research and Development Virtual Center.
Read more: BRICS Environment Ministers adopt the New Delhi Statement on Environment
What are the immediate goals of the BRICS Group?

As India holds the current chair, it outlined four priorities:

  1. Reform of multilateral institutions: BRICS was founded on the desire to end the domination of the western world over institutions of global governance (IMF, World Bank, UN) and strengthen multilateralism.
  1. Combat Terrorism: Terrorism is an international phenomenon impacting all parts of the world. Recent developments in Afghanistan stress the need to bridge the gap between rhetoric and action.
    • In this context, BRICS is attempting to shape its counter-terrorism strategy by crafting the BRICS Counter-Terrorism Action Plan. It contains specific measures to fight radicalisation, terrorist financing and misuse of the Internet by terrorist groups.
  1. Promoting technological and digital solutions for the Sustainable Development Goals: This will help to improve governance and will also prove beneficial in the current situations e.g. Global pandemic response.
  2. Expanding people-to-people cooperation: This will improve gradually once all the travel restrictions are eased.
What are the challenges facing BRICS?
  1. Relations with other countries: There are differences within BRICS and with other countries like:
    • There is a rift between India and China. This is because of various reasons like Chinese aggression in Eastern Ladakh.
    • China and Russia have strained relations with the west. On the other hand, the other BRICS member has a liberal approach with the west. This is also impacting the functioning.
    • Internal challenges of Brazil and South Africa.
    • BRICS countries have not done enough to assist the Global South to win optimal support for their agenda.
  2. Trade: Though BRICS seeks to deepen trade ties, Chinese domination of trade creates apprehensions in the minds of other countries that the Chinese economy may threaten their economies.
  3. Maintaining Internal Balance: Current pandemic exposed the over-dependence of value chains on China and their vulnerability. Thus, there is a need to deepen intra-BRICS cooperation in areas like agriculture, trade etc. But at the same time, the BRICS have to ensure there is no critical dependency on anyone partner country.
  4. China policies: China’s economic rise has created a serious imbalance within BRICS. Also, its aggressive policy, especially against India, puts BRICS solidarity under exceptional strain.

It is necessary for leaders, officials and academics of this grouping to undertake serious soul-searching and find a way out of the present predicament.

What should be done?

BRICS should narrow down its goals and focus on areas of immediate concern. Tangible deliverables will help in strengthening the group and its global perception.

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