THE fifth summit of Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries, the first in Africa, which ended in Durban yesterday gave further momentum to efforts by key representatives of emerging markets and the developing world to create a new global order.
Editors Memo with Dumisani Muleya
Brics, an acronym coined by British economist and retiring chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management Jim O’Neill, wants to ensure a new trajectory in global economic development, while contributing to peace and security.
In the process, it seeks to contribute towards establishing a more equitable and fair world.
Its emergence has now come to symbolise a gradual shift in global economic power away from the developed G7 economies to emerging markets, hence needless hostility by some Western administrations and interested parties.
Attempts at achieving this have been underway for some time, with the Emerging and Growth-Leading Economies (Eagles), which include Brics members and other economies like South Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan, Mexico, Indonesia, Thailand, Turkey, Egypt and Nigeria, among others, being another such initiative.
The eThekwini Declaration, named after the alternate name for Durban, set the future agenda for the bloc by launching a Brics business council; five think tanks; multilateral infrastructure financing agreements; and a development bank as part of its bid to promote global growth, sustain macro-economic stability and investments.
This came at a time when the world is facing multiple challenges on which Brics got a useful and timely opportunity to consult and co-ordinate.
Brics has also been urging faster movement on reform of institutions of global political and economic governance, while encouraging different forms of engagement to encourage global peace and security.
While it is important to analyse and critique the Brics initiative, there is need to support such initiatives to reform and redefine the global political, security and economic order to ensure progress.
Even if Brics controls 21% of the world’s US$70 trillion economy and 43% of its seven billion population, it won’t be easy to ensure change in a unipolar world controlled by a domineering United States, the only superpower.
Besides a deeply entrenched prevailing order and resistance to reform, Brics does not as yet have the critical mass to secure sustainable change.
Therefore Brics countries must not unnecessarily come across as hostile rivals to Western institutions, but progressive counterweights in the balance of power.
Besides, Brics also has its own internal dynamics, including serious flaws, and hence needs to shelve its differences over strategic objectives to establish more common interests.
Its member states have different social systems and follow different ideologies. Its member states are some of the most unequal societies on earth and instead of capitalising from each other’s advantages they might multiply and reproduce their defects.
The good thing though is they largely have shared interests and hold comparable views on how to address the pressing issues obstructing global development. Given their huge potential they can bring measurable changes across the world.
There is an urgent need to establish a peaceful international system and promote democracy and equality in international relations, as opposed to the current Cold War approach. The only trouble though is besides India, Brazil and South Africa, the two biggest Brics member states, China and Russia, are authoritarian.
Many countries around the world want a fairer and more equitable global economic and financial order to replace the one dominated by major developed economies, especially the US due to its control over global institutions, including the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.
So Brics’ strategic objective to help shape a more democratic, fairer, multipolar world, and ensure the United Nations plays the central role in world affairs is useful. China and Russia are permanent UN Security Council members.
And if India, Brazil and South Africa succeed in getting permanent security council seats, it will further bolster Brics’ position and influence while helping in the creation of a new global order.