The paradox of BRICS, its new pathway

Source– The post is based on the article “The paradox of BRICS, its new pathway” published in “The Hindu” on 24th May 2023.

Syllabus: GS2- Regional and global groupings

News- The article explains the journey of BRICS since its inception and current events related to the grouping.

What led to the formation of BRICS?

Jim O’Neil’s gave the concept of BRIC, a grouping of four emerging economies (Brazil, Russia, India, and China).

Two of its components joined hands with South Africa to form IBSA in 2003. China was keen to join it and managed to enlist South Africa’s support. But Brazil and India were not ready. They maintained that the forum was open to democracies only.

China played a trump card, and decided to bring South Africa into BRIC, thus turning it into BRICS. Soon, the new club overshadowed IBSA. IBSA has been unable to hold its summit since 2011. But BRICS has held 14 summits in the past 13 years.

What is the progress of BRICS so far?

BRICS focused its attention on both geopolitical and economic dimensions. It has articulated a common view on key global and regional issues. It has also projected a non-western view.

It has strengthened the multipolarity and limited the dominating influence of the West.

On the economic front, it launched new initiatives.

These are the New Development Bank; the Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA), a financial mechanism to protect against global liquidity pressures; and a comprehensive programme to expand trade and investment cooperation.

What are the challenges before BRICS?

China and Russia did not fully back other members’ bid to secure membership of the UN Security Council. So, they were disappointed.

In century’s second decade of the century, there was a dramatic economic rise of China and its military assertiveness increased. This disturbed the group’s inner balance.

The post-Ukraine consolidation of Russia-China cooperation, economic issues in South Africa that accelerates dependence on China, and Brazil’s rightist policies have generated new tensions.

Beijing’s push for a common currency for intra-BRICS trade is also symptomatic of the group’s inner troubles.

Why are so many countries willing to join BRICS?

19 countries are eager to join BRICS.  China is pushing the expansion as a strategic device to extend its global influence.

The demand to join BRICS stems from ‘fear of missing out’ on the membership of a club that has some visibility.

Many realise that the doors of other groupings are closed to them. The clamour reflects prevailing anti-western sentiments and desire to create a forum of the Global South.

What are options available before BRICS for entry of new members?

The next BRICS summit will be hosted by South Africa on August 23-24. It could take decisions on expansion and its criteria.

Three options are available: (1) A mega expansion that raises the membership from five to 21, thus surpassing the G-20.

(2) Limited admission of 10 new members, two each supported by an existing member.

(3) Admission of only five new members, one each supported by an existing member.

If the third option wins consensus, Argentina, Egypt, Indonesia, UAE and Bangladesh are the most likely states to be the new members.

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