Future of the BRICS

Speculation is rife about the BRICS’ future and their sustainability and many western observers are already writing its obituary. The latest news about Brazil’s economy contracting by 3.8 per cent and the impending impeachment of its President Dilma Rousseff is another dark spot in the state of affairs of the BRICS.

When the four Emerging countries — Brazil, Russia, India and China  — met in 2006 at the margin of the UN General Assembly, a lot of western countries displayed skepticism about such a grouping because of the distance between the members and the lack of commonality. Yet the group has been meeting since 2009 with South Africa joining in 2011 and BRICS seemingly is going strong. It poses a direct challenge to the G 7 — the dominant industrialized countries’ group comprising of US, Canada, Japan, Germany, Italy, France and UK.

BRICS has strength in terms of size, population and resources and its combined GDP is $16 trillion.  Yet four out of the five members are facing grave economic problems mainly due to the sharp fall in commodity prices which have affected three members very badly.

China, the star performer in terms of economic growth in the world, has slowed down which seems natural because it is not possible for any country to have double digit growth for 30 years. China is still growing at 6.7 per cent and its retail and international trade are now picking up. Russia has temporarily got a setback due to the fall in oil prices as oil remains its main export accounting for 68 percent of its total exports.  Russia is the only developed country among the BRICS and will surely recover in the future from its economic problems. Its huge oil and mineral deposits and $ 379 billion in foreign exchange and gold reserves plus the advances it has made in science and technology over the last hundred years remain its main assets. Russia will always be among the world’s greatest technological and military powers.

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Amit Singh

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