It wasn’t long ago when Western leaders dismissed BRICS as of little consequence. It’s a different story now. The alliance of the 6 founding countries, Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa has now eclipsed the G 7 nations in terms of collective GDP.
Then 23 nations applied to join at the BRICS August summit in Johannesburg. Six of them were accepted, and the others are likely to be allowed to join over time. Another similar number of nations are considering following suit.
The now named BRICS+ is looking like a game changer that will bring a new order to the world.
Western government have are scared of losing their dominant position. How they will react isn’t clear yet. They will. And how they react is going to shape the nature of international relations in the period ahead. They will either adapt to the new reality or try to top it and add to global tensions.
So what is BRICs? It’s about taking steps to make a transition towards more cooperation between nations, diversifying supply chains to ensure not nation goes without, moving towards de-dollarisation to create a level playing field, building the digital economy and a fairer sharing of technologies, and to help small and medium sized businesses of with today’s pressures.
The means to achieve these goals is to do it from the bottom up. This is helping the most vulnerable first, then working to help the less vulnerable.
Doing this will set up an alternative to the cold war era IMF, World Bank system, which has favoured the west at the expense of the rest of the world. The existence of BRICS is intended to encourage this system to change.
Speaking at the August summit, Cyril Ramaphosa, President off the host nation South Africa, pointed out that achieving the goals requires pushing against the growing weaponization of the global financial system and the escalating shift of resources to producing weapons of war.
China’s leader Xi Jinping called for a stepping up of cooperation to ensure nations help each other to progress together. He shared the summit’s view that attempts to force nations into the geopolitical ambitions of one through decoupling and economic coercion must be end.
The BRICS nations have made it clear that they understand that changed must be paced and come through in stages, to avoid a shock to thew global economy. This would be in no one’s interests. Setting up trade deals in local currencies to avoid the cost imposed on nations and peoples by currency intermediaries would be the first step. The next is to establish a digital currency. A common currency may be possible in the long-term.
All of this should take place within the context of developing organisational flexibility, including enabling unilateral, bilateral, and multilateral arrangements.