by Imran SALIM
Amid the deepening global financial and economic crisis, the imbalance in international political and economic relations, as a result of the policy of the collective West led by the United States to impose a liberal world order based on special “rules”, the erosion of international law and the weakening of multilateral institutions, it is the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) that seek to establish a truly democratic world order without globalist domination on the principles of equal rights. The five BRICS stand for the removal of artificial barriers to world trade and monetary relations, as well as for the rejection of politically motivated sanctions.
The Russian special operation in Ukraine and the imposition of comprehensive Western sanctions against Moscow have intensified the process of changing the unfair and rule-based Western world order, as a large majority of countries in the global South are not ready to sacrifice their national interests by curtailing profitable trade and economic relations with Russia in favor of Washington’s anti-Russian policies.
Since the first BRIC summit in 2009 (the acronym BRICS appeared later in 2011 after the accession of South Africa) the alliance not only did not collapse, as predicted by many Western political analysts, but also built up its fortunes. In the mid-2000s, prominent Western economist and Nobel laureate Paul Krugman believed that BRICS was just another “soap bubble” like the mortgage bubble of 2008. For his part, eminent American political scientist Joseph Nye also did not believe that the five countries would become a serious political organization of like-minded states because of internal contradictions among its members.
Such pessimism in Western assessments was caused by certain problems in cooperation between the members of the five countries, due to their significant differences in history, geography, culture, religion and civilizational characteristics. In addition, they have different political systems and economic models, and even in the economic sphere there is competition among the individual countries of the alliance, although there is also complementarity. It is encouraging that the negative factors that hinder cooperation within the BRICS format are not insurmountable and structural, but involve instrumental and specific issues. Their overcoming is a matter of compromise, communication and cooperation, and the desire for mutual agreement.
The leadership of the five countries is aware of the fact that in the short term this association will not yet play a significant role, but in the future through the consolidation of joint efforts and closer cooperation there may be real opportunities to challenge the existing pro-Western world economic order. Cooperation on the BRICS platform is an unprecedented collective project to create the conditions for a fairer world order and to resolve the emerging new problems at the global and regional levels that cannot yet be resolved at present.
For its part, the collective West, according to the head of the American Center for Political Forecasting and Analysis (analog of the “Randcorporation”) of B. Zbigniewski, has nothing to offer the rest of the world, it does not have any sane prospects for development. For example, during his recent tour of African countries, U.S. Secretary of State Blinken focused only on the need to “democratize” Africa, leaving aside the problems of poverty, food and development. In the economy, Washington offers only the prescriptions of the IMF, which in the whole history of its existence has never led to the success of any economy in the world. On the contrary, countries that fell into the credit bondage of the fund simply lost their economies and sold off their most attractive assets to creditors.
The global political, economic and energy crisis, Washington’s visibly weakening position in the world, the failure of U.S. and EU attempts to isolate and destroy the Russian economy and destabilize China all this, according to British political consultant Adriel Casonte, called into question the deep-rooted thesis of no alternative to a unipolar world order led by the West. In this regard, many developing countries began to look closely at BRICS, seeing in it, above all, an alternative to the formats previously created by Washington and an opportunity to join the global integration processes. At the same time, the BRICS platform itself is not an antagonist to the collective West, but is aimed at mutually beneficial cooperation, which also meets the interests of most developing countries. Thus, the platform has now become a nexus for dozens of states from the global South, which express their willingness to actively cooperate with the alliance and even to join its ranks. Thirteen states of the global South have already participated in the June BRICS summit.
In May this year, at a meeting of the foreign ministers of the five countries, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi proposed to begin the process of expansion of the BRICS, which, according to Beijing, would lead to the strengthening of the position of the alliance on the world stage. The very idea of such an expansion was originally laid down in the early stages of the formation of the association, so the meeting participants supported the Chinese proposal to work on the guiding principles, standards and procedures of the organization. Iran and Argentina have become the official candidates for accession. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, Algeria and Nigeria also expressed their desire to join the BRICS. In this regard, a new acronym for the BRICS alliance, “plus”, appeared.
The ongoing process of reformatting the BRICS platform raises an urgent question about the prospects of this alliance and how it will develop and function. Many political analysts fear that the expansion of the alliance could lead to a clash of interests, since the candidate countries have different objectives and capabilities. For example, Turkey is interested in BRICS membership because of its desire to become a trade intermediary between India, Russia and the European Union; for Saudi Arabia the possibility of mutually beneficial trade with China and India and coordination with Russia in the framework of OPEC Plus agreements are important, and for Egypt the solution to the food problem is most acute. In addition, ill-conceived expansion at the expense of states with limited sovereignty and without significant economic potential could lead to even greater fragmentation and ineffective coordination of the association.
The BRICS is currently considering various prospects for the strategic development of the alliance; they can be grouped into three areas:
– accession, at this stage, of two or three countries to the five;
– expansion through the accession of various regional organizations while maintaining the current composition of the alliance. The most accessible format seems to be joining efforts and coordinating steps with such structures as the SCO in Eurasia, the African Union and CELAC (the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States). Such an alliance, according to Beijing, would give maximum coverage to the countries of the global South without the need for complex economic integration and harmonization of trade and economic interaction formats on all three continents;
– creating a platform for interaction with regional integration blocs in which the BRICS countries participate. Such a platform could include projects like MERCOSUR, the Southern African Customs Union, the EAEU, the China Free Trade Area and ASEAN. It is important to note that most members of the “Five” form their foreign trade policy precisely in the format of regional integration blocs (Russia – EAEU, Brazil – MERCOSUR, South Africa – Southern African Customs Union). This format of the union’s development could be called “integration of integrations”, and it will help to achieve the necessary depth and harmonization of the priority integration projects of the BRICS countries.
In the context of the upcoming expansion of the five BRICS, it is necessary to understand what contributions the alliance members can make to existing initiatives. One of the most important projects of the alliance is the New Development Bank. It is focused on the financing of infrastructure projects, including sustainable development projects in the global South. As of January this year, the NDB portfolio has got about 80 approved projects totaling more than $29.5 billion. It is noteworthy that, in addition to the 5 countries, Egypt and Bangladesh have been included in the NDB since 2021.
The most important part of the current policy of the association is the “Agenda 2030” initiated by India, the implementation of which will enhance progress in solving the problems of poverty and hunger, health, education, climate change and environmental protection.
Export-import transactions in national currencies now prevail among BRICS members, and this trend of abandoning the dollar in mutual settlements with other developing countries is expanding. The alliance strengthens the integration of payment systems and cards, the creation of its own financial messaging system (analog of SWIFT) and an independent BRICS rating agency. Another step is to create a BRICS agency for mutual insurance of shipowners to give up services of the “international alliance of shipowner insurance clubs” controlled by the West. Issues of reforming the WTO are being worked on at the expert level. Global trade is mired in disputes, the resolution of which is increasingly less dependent on the norms and principles of this organization. In the near future, the BRICS countries may initiate the inclusion of India as a permanent member of the UN Security Council.
Summarizing the above, we can conclude that the further systemic development of BRICS “plus” and its affiliated regional organizations, regional integration blocs and countries create prerequisites for creating a new world order, reducing the sphere of political and economic influence of the United States to the borders of Europe, some Southeast Asian countries, Japan and the rest of the Commonwealth (British) without any hope of political and economic blockade of Russia and China and their being ahead in the competition of economies.