*The alliance of Brazil, Russia, India, China and later South Africa into BRICS was unthinkable over a decade ago and there was cynicism and skepticism on whether it would reach this far.
In this week’s business segment, Amelia Martha Nakitimbo reviews the BRICS2018 summit that was hosted by South Africa.*
BRICS efforts to upset the world order; what has changed in a year
The backdrop of last year’s summit held in China was not ideal for the BRICScountries which are trying to upset the current world economic order. Two of the countries for instance were in deep political crises. In Brazil the political climate, still unstable after the impeachment of former President Dilma Rousseff and then calls for congress to vote on corruption charges against the incumbent Michel Temer.
In South Africa the economy fell into recession, the negative economic performance was after its gross domestic product declined by 0.7%. Then President Jacob Zuma was facing immense pressure to resign over corruption allegations and he did. Jerry and Barbara, that is the other thing that is different this year compared to last year. If you look at the picture on the screen one man was not in the picture last year.
The Presidency of Cyril Ramaphosa is hoped to better the South African economy.
China on the other hand was still surprising especially the western world with indications that it has ability to become a world leader. For instance by pushing the belt-and road project while Russia’s image as a super power and mystery around President Vladmir Putin was reinforced especially by the US election interference allegations and investigations which dominated the media.
But with all this, BRICS countries have in the over 10 years contributed to more than half of the world economic growth according to the IMF.
The future of BRICS; prospectives for the next 10 years
The IMF in 2012 attributed a surge in development financing in BRICS’ focus on mutual benefits without attachment of policy conditionality.
For South Africa which is Africa’s second biggest economy, this aspect is important for development of infrastructure as President Cyril Ramaphosa pointed out.
“One of the most important achievements – and there have been many achievements that we can talk about as the BRICS family – has been, in the first decade of BRICS, was the establishment of the New Development Bank which fills a critical gap in project funding,” he said.
South Africa to rally other African countries
For this particular summit South Africa was charged with the role of rallying other African countries. Remember BRICS believes in multilateralism as opposed to unilateralism and protectionism. This year all SADC members were invited including others like Rwanda where president Xi visited before the BRICSsummit.
India’s fight against terrorism and the fourth industrial revolution
Moving forward, the Indian Prime Minister has urged the team to take advantage of the fourth industrial revolution lamenting that they missed the previous revolutions. Which was highlighted in the theme. Member countries have indeed expressed interested in innovation, artificial intelligence and the like.
Still in Asia, BRICS has helped ease complicated relations between India and China characterized by mistrust due to a border dispute.
India exports to BRICS have reportedly grown by 7.5 percent in the 1st quarter of 2018 over a corresponding period of 2017 in terms of total volumes.
China has clear agenda; trying not to lose to the U.S is part of it
The Chinese have made their agenda so clear and are pushing it so strongly that other countries ARE easily joining in the struggle. One, the belt and road project has been welcomed in Africa. Even President Michel Temer said “Brazil attaches great importance to the initiative;”
Secondly, when there is war, there is need for allies. China not surprisingly therefore used the platform to entice the BRICS countries and others to its side in its trade war with the US.
Brazil hopes the alliance can help to recuperate from their national economic troubles including US trade tariffs.
While for Russia, if a new world leader is emerging from the East, the strategy is to keep close so that you are not taken by surprise I guess.
But all in BRICS wants to further promote global economic growth, peace and stability.
Turkey wants in; more African leaders express interest
And lastly, we might soon see a new letter added to BRICS, a “T”; this is after Turkish president Reccep Tayyip Erdogan expressed interest in joining the group. That would make it BRICST, funny how it almost sound like Brexit. No other African country has shown clear intentions to join although a number of African leaders want partnership with BRICS.