Expansion of BRICS a historical, global turning point

Correspondent

The BRICS summit held in South Africa was an overwhelming success with the key highlight being the expansion of the bloc through the invitation of new countries to join the bloc from 2024.

It also had a number of commitments that will have a huge impact on the global economy and geopolitics, with benefits for Third World countries such as Zimbabwe.

The summit held recently, therefore, reverberated across the world with new directions and symbolism, perhaps – for many people seen in the direction of de-dollarisation as an expanded bloc of countries including large oil economies sound the death knell for use of American money as the world’s reserve currency. 

One of the leaders of the bloc, President Xi, said: “This membership expansion is historic.”

“The expansion is also a new starting point for BRICS co-operation. It will bring new vigour to the BRICS co-operation mechanism and further strengthen the force for world peace and development.” 

During his address to the bloc, President Xi put forth a number of ideas and philosophies that underscore this historic development.

He said: “BRICS is an important force in shaping the international landscape. We choose our development paths independently, jointly defend our right to development, and march in tandem toward modernisation. This represents the direction of the advancement of human society, and will profoundly impact the development process of the world.

“Our track record shows that we have consistently acted on the BRICS spirit of openness, inclusiveness and win-win co-operation, and taken BRICS co-operation to new heights in support of our five countries’ development. We have upheld fairness and justice in international affairs, stood up for what is right on major international and regional issues, and enhanced the voice and influence of emerging markets and developing countries. 

“BRICS countries invariably advocate and practice independent foreign policies. We always address major international issues based on their merits, making fair remarks and taking fair actions. We do not barter away principles, succumb to external pressure or act as vassals of others. 

“We BRICS countries share extensive consensus and common goals. No matter how the international situation changes, our commitment to co-operation since the very beginning and our common aspiration will not change.”

This underscores a fundamentally different approach to international relations and governance architecture. 

The ideas such as right to development, openness, inclusiveness and win-win co-operation, practice of independent foreign policies and extensive consensus and common goals; have been alien to the current system dominated by a few countries in the West.

It is a huge turning point that developing countries, among them – and being led by – China, are offering new ideas.

Practical cooperation, solutions

President Xi offered a number of initiatives and directions that China and BRICS will lead. He underscored that BRICS will deepen business and financial cooperation to boost economic growth and foster development. 

He stated that development “is an inalienable right of all countries, not a privilege reserved for a few”.

The world economic recovery remains shaky, with less than 3 percent of growth for the year as estimated by so and BRICS countries should be fellow companions on the journey of development and revitalisation, and oppose decoupling and supply chains disruption as well as economic coercion. 

“We should focus on practical co-operation, particularly in such fields as digital economy, green development, and supply chain, and bolster economic, trade and financial exchanges,”

He made the following key proposals: “China will set up a China-BRICS Science and Innovation Incubation Park for the New Era to support the deployment of innovation results. Under the BRICS Remote Sensing Satellite Constellation mechanism, we will explore the establishment of a BRICS Global Remote Sensing Satellite Data and Application Cooperation Platform to provide data support for agriculture, ecological conservation and disaster reduction in various countries.

China will also work with all parties to jointly establish a BRICS Framework on Industrial Cooperation for Sustainable Development as a platform of industrial coordination and project cooperation in implementing the United Nations (U.N.) 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

During the summit, China also pledged US$10 billion special fund towards global development. 

What is also outstanding in BRICS, which reflects China’s philosophy, is that the bloc is anchored on peaceful development, and that it is not seeking military dominance, an anachronism still held by the US as it pursues an ever-tenuous unilateralism and hegemony.

Solidarity, progress

Addressing world leaders, host President Cyril Ramaphosa highlighted a number of things that make this year’s summit historical, and how the bloc will shape the future of the world through embracing new philosophies and practices.

Ramaphosa said: “BRICS stands for solidarity and for progress. BRICS stands for inclusivity and a more just equitable world order. 

BRICS stands for sustainable development. We are an inclusive formation of developing and emerging economies that are working together to benefit from our rich histories, cultures and systems to advance common prosperity.

“We do so because we know that poverty, inequality and underdevelopment are the biggest challenges facing humankind,” he said.

It was also crucial that the summit ran under the theme, “BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Mutually Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development and Inclusive Multilateralism”.

That Africa is major player in BRICS – thanks also to the inclusion of Egypt and Ethiopia – means that the continent can benefit more through inclusion and diffusion effect.

The fulfilment of the historical mission and movement, underscored by the successful summit, is reflected in the progress of the bloc itself.

The term “BRIC” was coined in 2001 by then-Goldman Sachs economist Jim O’Neill to describe the emerging global economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China, explained the authoritative magazine, Newsweek this past week. Five years later, the vision became reality when the foreign ministers of the four nations met on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly and launched a series of high-level meetings that led to the first BRIC summit in 2009.

The following year, South Africa joined the group.

The block is fulfilling its historical mission, with indication of an even faster pace.

South African Ambassador at large to the BRICS Anil Sookal bloc told the magazine: “When BRICS came together as a formation, it basically sought to address some of the key challenges that we have in terms of the global geopolitical, geo-financial economic architecture,” Sooklal said, “and to try and create a more inclusive global community that seeks to address the continued marginalisation of countries of the Global South in a very changed global environment.”

“I think the attractiveness of BRICS is that it articulates the challenges that countries from the Global South continue to face in a very unequal world,” he added, “a world that vastly changed over the last almost 80 years since the founding of the UN system.”

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