Dimitris Rapidis

Can the BRICs break it?

The acronym first appeared in 2001 and it is referring to the four biggest emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China. In 2010 South Africa joined the group representing the potential of Africa in world economy and commodities. What are the prospects of these five emerging giants in a world dominated and shaped by the developed economies with strong and seamless boundaries? Let’s put facts down.

All five are distinguished by their large and fast-growing economies with significant influence on regional and global affairs. They encompass over 25% of the world’s land coverage and the 40% of the world’s population, combining a GDP of $18.5 trillions approximately. In almost every scale they are the largest entity on global stage surpassing the leverage of US, Europe and Japan in global econonomy overall. By 2050 it is expected that BRICs would become amongst the four (i.e. with South Africa having lower pace) most dominant economies. But are they capable of bringing fundamental transformations?

The world economy is built and led by the foundations of capitalism and so the BRICs have learnt to shape their leverage. It is within these system that they have achieved to grow and be considered as major players. The question is whether they can substitute the US and the so-called Western World in the global scene in terms of political and geopolitical influence. Russia and China are permanent members of the UN Security Council having built a long-held alliance and common policy guidelines in issues of mutual concern, as for instance in their decision to block any military intervention of the US in Syria to bring ceasefire. Brazil and India are not including in permanent membership status and this dwindles their voice in the international scene. Whatever the effect of the UN Security Council in global affairs is, it is still the most prominent organ and monitoring body in international politics and diplomacy.

Proposition 1: A reform is needed after years of discussion in order to build a Security Council based on the current geopolitical and economic evolutions and conditions and get Brazil and India into where they belong according to their actual leverage. The preliminary process has to change and all UN member-states to vote for the new permanent members of the Security Council.

Proposition 2. As previous experience has shown, the unique case of the European Monetary Union brings evidence on the side-effects of adopting a single currency. Different levels of convergence and asymmetric deficiencies of each economy will be merged soon or later in case BRICs decide to adopt a single currency and establish a similar monetary union. In the contrary, a political union could be formed and all currencies of the five members to be attached to a certain single exchange rate in order to achieve a double-faceted target: first, to boost tigher economic and commercial relations; second, to strengthen exporting policy and augment the commercial influence of their producing and investing goods abroad.

Proposition 3. Brazil is considered as the most democratic state amongst the other ones if we take into account the quality of the political debate, media independence, comparatively controlled level of state corruption, freedom of speech, and the deliberate character of the electoral process. India is one step further, but Russia, China and South Africa have a long way to go. All three need to widen and deepen democratic freedoms so as to unleash entrepreneurial spirit of youth and boost start-up businesses. Without democratic prerequisites I definitely believe that either their economies will slow down or wealth will be gathered around a certain nomenclature that would one day be reversed by growing public sentiments of suppression.

The BRICs have a great potential and chance to dominate the global system of balance and play a critical role in the post-american world. Inside the capitalist system of economic governance, but with spirited and more encompassing politics dealing with social welfareness.

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