• BRICS is an acronym for the grouping of the world’s leading emerging economies, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.

  • In 2001, the British Economist Jim O’Neill coined the term BRIC to describe the four emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, and China.

  • The grouping was formalized during the first meeting of BRIC Foreign Ministers in 2006.

  • South Africa was invited to join BRIC in December 2010, after which the group adopted the acronym BRICS.

  • The BRICS brings together five of the largest developing countries of the world, representing 41% of the global population, 24% of the global GDP and 16 % of the global trade.

  • The chairmanship of the forum is rotated annually among the members, in accordance with the acronym B-R-I-C-S.

BRICS Expansion:

  • BRICS marked its 15th summit hosted by South Africa, by expanding its membership from five to eleven countries, reflecting a concerted effort to enhance its global standing.

  • Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Ethiopia, and Argentina joined the BRICS fold.

  • Full membership will take effect on January 1, 2024.

BRICS' role as a platform for economic cooperation

Economic compulsion:

  • It is important to note that BRICS emerged out of an economic compulsion. 

  • It does not provide military or security support to various countries, is not involved in the policing of nations, and does not provide peacekeepers. 

  • Compare this to, say, NATO: European Allies and Canada have invested an extra $350 billion since 2014, with eight consecutive years of increased defence spending. 

  • The GDP of BRICS is now 36% of the global GDP and the population of its members will be 47% of the world population by 2050. 

  • Therefore, it is important to look at the long-term opportunities that this group presents. 

  • More members could be inducted, which means that BRICS could pose a serious challenge to the dominance of the G7 comprising Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the U.K., and the U.S.

Presence of India and China:

  • Two members of BRICS are China and India, which together contain one-third of the world’s population. 

  • The two countries are the fastest-growing economies and are expected to be among the top three economies of the world by 2030. 

  • Both countries understand that globally, bilateral ties have seen a transformation following the formation of economic blocs such as the European Union or ASEAN, as such blocs accelerate trade and investment. 

  • While India and China have bilateral challenges at the political and diplomatic levels since their stand-off at Doklam in 2017, trade between the two countries has continued to grow significantly.

Polarisation between the U.S. and other parts of the world:

  • There has been some polarisation between the U.S. and other parts of the world. 

  • This was especially becoming evident during the Trump administration. 

  • Many countries have issues with the U.S.’s stance against China: the U.S. seems keen to impose tariffs and create other barriers to restrict China’s expansion in trade and investment. 

  • China has made strides in certain areas like communication infrastructure and electric mobility, too, which the U.S. would like to contain. This is expected to get worse. 

  • Therefore, countries want to be part of a grouping that involves China too. 

  • In the BRICS grouping, China is not a dominant player; democratic countries such as India, South Africa and Brazil provide the counterweight.

Search for an alternative:

  • Similarly, the way refugees are being treated in Europe do not give a positive perspective of a world that is getting increasingly globalised.

  • Countries such as the U.S. have flouted World Trade Organization rules and have not penalised for the same. 

  • This means that countries have to look for other arrangements.

  • The search for an alternative such as the Non-Aligned Movement to tackle Cold War challenges has given hope of a new order; thus, many countries are applying for membership to BRICS group. 

  • Six new members were inducted in the last meet.

  • As BRICS grows, there will be many trade business and investment protocols created, much like what we see in different free trade arrangements or economic blocs.

Freedom from the U.S. dollar:

  • The U.S. dollar has been the dominant global currency all this time. 

  • With digital platforms making inroads into many countries, digital currency is clearly the future.

  • Both India and China have made great progress in this field; they are far ahead of the U.S. and Europe. 

  • Both India and China are pushing for more trade, investment, and business in their currencies.

  • Through BRICS, they can push their own currencies as alternative currencies to the dollar.

  • India and China’s interests in the long run converge; their short-term challenges will not deter this convergence. Freedom from the U.S. dollar is a big reason for convergence.

Role of Africa:

  • The continent that promises economic growth this century is Africa. 

  • The way France has intervened in Niger or the manner in which migrants have been treated in Europe provide Africans with a negative image about Europe. 

  • The fact is that while Europe talks about connectivity, a Strait of Gibraltar crossing is still not in place, partly due to geopolitics and partly due to other concerns. 

  • Visa restrictions have pushed Africans to travel to China and see its development more closely than to Europe or the U.S. This makes them believe in China’s potential. 

  • African countries continue to talk about the freedom they need in choosing partners for investment or trade. 

  • India proposed full membership for the African Union at the G20 summit in New Delhi. It is trying to push its own reach within Africa.



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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: BRICS UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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