BRICS: History, objectives and an overview of the global alliance

BRICS is an acronym that represents an alliance of five major emerging economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Jim O’Neill, an economist at Goldman Sachs, coined the phrase in 2001 to emphasize the combined potential of these countries in the global economy. 

BRICS is an informal alliance that strives to foster collaboration and communication among its member nations rather than a formal organization or alliance with a legally binding contract. Here’s an overview of the history, objectives and key aspects of the BRICS alliance:

History of BRICS

O’Neill published a research paper titled “Building Better Global Economic BRICs,” which laid the foundation of BRICS. Due to their quick economic growth, massive populations and vast resources, O’Neill saw Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa as 21st-century economic powerhouses.

  • The first formal BRIC summit took place in 2009, leading to the establishment of a platform for regular dialogue.
  • South Africa joined the group in 2011, expanding it to the BRICS and adding diversity.
  • BRICS holds annual summits to discuss various issues, including trade, finance, development, energy and technology.
  • BRICS has established mechanisms such as the New Development Bank (NDB) and the Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) for economic development and financial stability.
  • BRICS represents a significant portion of the world’s population, landmass and economic output.
  • It advocates for a more equitable international order and greater representation of emerging economies in global governance.
  • Challenges and differing priorities exist among member countries, but BRICS remains an important forum for cooperation and pursuing common interests.

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Objectives of BRICS

Cooperation, development, and influence in world affairs are at the heart of the BRICS goals. The following are a few of the main BRICS goals:

  • Economic cooperation: encouraging trade, cooperation and growth among members, as well as improving BRICS economies’ access to markets.
  • Development financing: Creating institutions such as the CRA and the NDB to finance infrastructure and development projects in member nations.
  • Political coordination: Strengthening political discourse and coordination on international issues, such as modifying institutions of global governance to take into account the shifting global economic landscape and to provide rising economies with a stronger voice and representation.
  • Social and cultural exchanges: Promoting interpersonal relationships and mutual respect for one another’s cultures while also boosting social and cultural exchanges between member nations.
  • Technology and innovation: Strengthening international collaboration in the fields of science, technology and innovation to promote knowledge exchange, capacity building and technological advancements among member nations.
  • Sustainable development: Promoting environmentally friendly and sustainable development methods while working together to achieve sustainable development goals.
  • Peace and security: Promoting peace, stability and security locally and internationally while addressing shared security issues and risks, such as terrorism.
  • South–South cooperation: Strengthening cooperation and collaboration among developing countries, sharing best practices, and supporting initiatives that contribute to the overall development of the Global South.

Key aspects of BRICS

The key aspects of BRICS encompass various dimensions that characterize the cooperation and influence of the group.

Economic powerhouses

The BRICS countries account for a considerable share of the global population, landmass and gross domestic product. They are significant rising economies with enormous potential for economic expansion.

Cooperation and dialogue

The BRICS group provides a forum for ongoing communication and collaboration among its members. It offers a platform for decision-makers to have conversations, share ideas and collaborate on projects.

Economic cooperation

The BRICS initiative seeks to increase trade and economic cooperation among its member nations. Initiatives, such as the BRICS Business Council, are used to attract investment, lower trade barriers and develop economic ties.

Development finance

The BRICS have formed financial institutions, including the CRA and the NDB. These organizations fund infrastructure projects, finance international development and maintain the financial systems of their member nations.

Political influence

The BRICS countries aim to have a political impact on the world arena. Member nations work together on global concerns, push for reform in institutions of global governance, and work to ensure that rising economies are more represented.

Global governance reform

The BRICS countries support a system of global governance that is more inclusive and egalitarian. It aims to improve global financial institutions and advance a multipolar world order that more accurately represents the objectives and ambitions of developing nations.

Closure of Goldman Sachs’ BRICS investment fund

The Goldman Sachs BRICS Fund was an investment fund launched by Goldman Sachs in 2006. It was designed to provide investors with exposure to the economies of the BRICS countries by investing in companies listed in these markets.

The fund aimed to capitalize on the rapid economic growth and development potential of the BRICS nations, which were identified as emerging economic powerhouses. It allowed investors to diversify their portfolios and participate in the growth of these economies.

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However, in 2015, Goldman Sachs decided to discontinue its BRIC fund due to an assessment that it would not experience significant asset growth in the foreseeable future. The economic challenges faced by the BRICS countries after the global financial crisis, such as Brazil’s economic slump, Russia’s struggles with low oil prices and sanctions, and China’s slowing growth, have led to a reassessment of the investment prospects in these markets. Despite the fading allure of the BRICS era, Goldman Sachs emphasizes that it remains committed to exploring opportunities in these emerging markets.

Unified digital currency initiative by BRICS nations

The upcoming BRICS Summit 2023 is poised to be a significant event in the field of international finance. There is anticipation surrounding the unveiling of a gold-backed digital currency, which could have a profound impact on the global payments landscape. The aim of the BRICS nations in introducing this alternative currency is to enhance their financial independence and reduce reliance on existing monetary systems, particularly the US Dollar.

If a unified digital currency is established among the BRICS nations, it could have far-reaching consequences for the global economy. Not only could it diminish the dominance of the US Dollar and euro in international trade and finance, but it could also provide emerging economies with an alternative avenue for conducting transactions.

Furthermore, the introduction of this new currency has the potential to strengthen economic ties within the BRICS bloc, fostering investment and growth. This, in turn, could promote increased trade and cooperation, offering potential benefits for the global economy as a whole.