A. A. ARKHANGELSKAYA
Candidate of Historical Sciences
BRICS - a group of five fast-growing countries: Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa. The abbreviation BRIC was first proposed by analysts of Goldman Sachs Bank in November 2001 in an analytical note of this organization. According to the bank's experts, by 2050 the total volume of the economies of these countries will exceed the total volume of the economies of the "Big Seven" states - the richest countries in the world1. In April 2011, South Africa joined the BRIC and the association was transformed into BRICS.
Today, BRICS unites 3 billion people (43% of the world's population) on an area of 39.7 million square kilometers (more than a quarter of the earth's land surface), producing almost $13 trillion of gross domestic product (GDP) per year (21% of world production). Each of the five BRICS countries located on three continents has a significant influence both in their region and in the world, and together they have large reserves of natural resources that are important for the global economy.
It should be noted that Goldman Sachs analysts did not expect the BRIC countries to coordinate their economic policies. Moreover, they were not supposed to form an economic bloc. Over time, however, there have been signs that the four BRIC countries are seeking to form a political "club" and thus transform their growing economic power into greater geopolitical influence. The first meeting of the four states was held in 2008 in Yekaterinburg, the second in 2009, and the third in 2010 in Brasilia.
SOUTH AFRICA IS A BRICS MEMBER
The Republic of South Africa is one of the leading countries on the continent. On November 12, 2010, at the G20 summit in Seoul, South Africa expressed its desire to join the BRIC. Even earlier, President Jacob Zuma paid official visits to all 4 BRIC member countries, voicing this proposal.
On December 24, 2010, South Africa's Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, announced that she had received a telephone notification from Yang Jiechi, the Chinese Foreign Minister (China was then chair of the BRIC), in which he invited South Africa to join the organization in consultation with other member countries. Chinese President Hu Jintao has sent an invitation to South African President Zuma to participate in the unification summit in Sanya (in the island Chinese province of Hainan) in April 2011.
"Interaction between the BRICS countries is open and non-discriminatory. This is a very important part of the overall South-South and North-South cooperation, " Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said at a press conference in Beijing on March 7, 2011, during the 4th session of the National People's Congress.2
Thus, the BRIC has become an association that independently integrates new states. It is possible that in the near future the BRICS will be further expanded at the expense of countries claiming to get into the "club" - Indonesia, Turkey, Australia, Nigeria and Mexico.
"South Africa believes that BRICS can play a crucial role in strengthening the influence of developing countries in the changing global political, economic and financial architecture," the South African Foreign Minister said. - It is designed to become more fair and balanced. BRICS brings together the most rapidly developing countries on the planet against the backdrop of economic decline in America and Europe. " 3
The new economic policy of South Africa is based on the experience of those countries that have managed to maintain GDP growth above 7% per year for two decades-Brazil, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia, South Korea, etc. "As a result of the new economic policy of South Africa, 5 million new jobs should be created in the country, and unemployment will be reduced from the current 25% to 15% by 2020," said Ebrahim Patel, Minister of Economic Development of South Africa.4
According to J. R. R. Tolkien: Zuma, the country can adequately represent the entire African continent in the" club " 5. However, compared to other BRICS countries, South Africa has significantly lower economic indicators.
South Africa's GDP is only a quarter of Russia's, which was the lowest in the BRIC. Even more on-
The gap between South Africa and China, which ranks second (after the United States) in the world, looks very clear. (Some Russian economists view Russia's presence in this group of developing countries as rather artificial, primarily because Russia does not have a surplus of labor.)
Much criticism has been levelled at South Africa's economic lag behind other BRICS members. Indeed, the country remains in the rearguard of the participating States in many respects. However, it should be understood that South Africa is an influential political and economic force on the continent, which has recently attracted increasing attention from the international community. In addition, South Africa has access to the markets of many African countries and, more importantly, to their raw materials.
According to Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich, South Africa's accession to the BRIC will contribute to deepening relations between the new structure - BRICS - with the African Union (AU) and other organizations, such as the Non-Aligned Movement, in which South Africa has great authority.6
The African continent is becoming particularly important due to the aggravation of economic problems around the world. Africa is becoming an area of strategic interest for new centers of power.
Thus, the interaction of the BRICS countries, both separately and as an association, with the countries of the African continent is becoming an important factor in international development. So, in the last decade, there has been a surge in economic activity in Africa in China, India and Brazil. It should be noted that the Republic of South Africa is the world's largest exporter of certain types of mineral raw materials and has significant scientific and technical potential. The inclusion of this country in the "club" confirms the importance of the African component in the modern system of international relations.
South Africa's entry into BRICS will allow it to increase its international status and strengthen its position as a representative of the African continent. It is also important to see a possible increase in the inflow of foreign investment into the country's economy.
It seems that the inclusion of South Africa was also a political decision aimed at strengthening the power and status of the organization. The new member has the most developed economy in Africa, but is ranked 31st in the list of all countries in the world. The country is also behind a number of other Asian and Latin American developing countries. But Africa is important in geopolitical terms, and this provides BRICS with opportunities to expand political influence and economic cooperation on three continents.
To keep pace with other BRICS members, South Africa will have to take serious measures to significantly accelerate its economic development.
Of course, cooperation with South Africa is an important factor in strengthening Russia's political and economic positions in the region and may lead to further activation of Russia's foreign policy in Africa. Thus, during the meeting, J. R. R. Tolkien During the BRICS summit, Zuma and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev discussed topical issues of bilateral economic relations, strengthening the legal framework of relations, as well as joint work on implementing the agreements reached during the official visit of the South African President to Moscow in August 2010.
The BRICS countries are united by their strong commitment to the principles of state sovereignty, loyalty to the concept of a polycentric world in which there should be no dominant power, and respect for the authority and powers of the UN. Although the differences between these states are significant. I must say that analysts assess the specific significance of the BRICS group in the context of current geopolitical trends in different ways.
The leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, who participated in the BRICS summit held in Sanya, China, on April 14-15, 2011, adopted a Declaration following the talks, which provides an assessment of the main aspects of interaction between these countries.7 An agreement on financial cooperation within the BRICS interbank mechanism was also signed.
An important event of the meeting was the adoption of the long-term Action Plan8.
It focuses on the development of economic ties, on cooperation within the G20 ,as well as on more active involvement of civil society representatives in cooperation.
The discussion of the situation in international finance was very significant, which is connected, in particular, with the participation of all five countries in the work of the G20. The Summit called for a review of the distribution of votes in the governing bodies of international financial institutions - the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
BRICS AND THE DOLLAR
Most analysts are skeptical about the intention of the BRICS countries to abandon the use of the dollar - we are talking about an agreement on the use of national currencies of the members of the "club"in trade between them9. There are several reasons to doubt the effectiveness of this solution.
First of all. All participating countries have significant assets in US dollars. China alone holds more than $1.1 trillion in U.S. Treasury bonds. That is, in the current state of affairs, the weakening or collapse of the dollar seems unprofitable for the BRICS.
Secondly. In China, which plays an important role in the alliance, all financial transactions, including those with the yuan, are strictly regulated. This cannot but affect the volume of future mutual settlements in national currencies.
Third. There are significant differences in exchange rate setting policies. The currencies of the BRICS countries cannot determine their own ratio, since China, for example, has a strict system of currency administration. In turn, the financial markets of Brazil, India and Russia are not yet considered sufficiently developed, and their currencies are quite liquid, and they are often subject to external control. From this point of view, the South African rand is a freely convertible currency. However, despite all the difficulties listed above, the statement of intent has an important political significance.
BRICS In the UN Security Council
The second important outcome of the BRICS summit was the development of a unified position on the Libyan problem. It should be recalled that resolution 1973 was adopted by the UN Security Council due to the fact that Russia and China did not exercise the veto power that they have as permanent members of the Security Council. (South Africa, a non - permanent member of the Council, voted in favor of the resolution, explaining that it represents not so much its own as the common position of the African countries the continent and the AU that delegated it to the Security Council.)
In the Declaration, the BRICS leaders expressed their opposition to the military operation going beyond the mandate. The text of the document emphasizes the need to resolve the Libyan problem by peaceful means - through dialogue, in which the UN and regional organizations should play an appropriate role. This means, in particular, that the formation of the BRICS political component has entered a new stage.
In 2011, all BRICS countries were represented in the UN Security Council: Russia and China are permanent members (Brazil until the end of 2011, India and South Africa - including 2012).
India, South Africa and Brazil are in favor of reforming the UN structure, in particular, expanding the composition of permanent members of the Security Council; all three countries are applying for permanent membership. However, there are certain difficulties regarding representation in the Council. Thus, it is believed that China opposes the strengthening of India, which is its potential security opponent, and objects to granting it the position of a permanent member of the UN Security Council. The text of the Declaration on this issue shows significant differences, and there are no promises of support on the issue of membership: "China and Russia confirm the importance they attach to the status of India, Brazil and South Africa in international affairs, and understand and support their desire to play a greater role in the UN."10
RESULTS OF THE APRIL SUMMIT
An important outcome of the Sanya summit is the strengthening of China's role in BRICS. Some experts consider the formation of the BRICS organization itself a kind of "cover" for China, which at the governmental and corporate levels has signed more than 300 bilateral agreements on economic cooperation with other participating countries: from the construction of new hydroelectric power plants in Brazil and the acquisition of a license from the Brazilian company Embraer11 to build a new model of Legacy 600/650 business class aircraft to investment in the mining industry of South Africa 12.
The results of the summit show that there are common political and economic interests of the BRICS member states, which is a driving force for strengthening their interaction. However, we should not forget about the contradictions between them. For example, in the field of trade, there is competition between China, on the one hand, and India and Brazil, on the other, primarily on the African continent. Russia is not satisfied with the structure of bilateral trade turnover with China. The territorial problem between India and China remains unresolved.
Among the positive trends, we can note the efforts of the five countries to coordinate their actions in order to increase the club's influence on global security issues. For example, in the adopted Declaration, the leaders of the BRICS member states call for "creating a more equal and just world", which "should be characterized by harmony, cooperation and development based on scientific achievements".
Among the many other initiatives put forward at the BRICS summit, Russia's proposal to form a mutual assistance mechanism should also be noted.-
in case of emergency situations in the member countries: This proposal was prompted by the tragic events in Japan.
The world press did not write much about the last BRICS summit, the Russian press - almost nothing, a lot - Chinese and South African (the latter, rather, because of the importance of the country's inclusion in this international forum). Some attribute this to the event's focus on strengthening China's global role.
The very strengthening of the BRICS is of concern to the United States and its allies, which is reflected in the nature of publications devoted to the last summit.
The influential American magazine Time devoted an article to the BRICS summit, in which its author, Michael Schuman, described the" emerging "giants as follows:" Naturally, there is a touch of hypocrisy in these positions... Thanks to free capital flows, all BRICS countries have become rich and created jobs for their populations. ..they want to enjoy the benefits of free markets, but discard what they don't like. These countries will be willing to regulate, control and restrain market activity in accordance with the immediate needs of their understanding. " 13
Japanese "Diplomat" published an article "BRICS - is this a real bloc?", which focuses on the complexity of Russian-Chinese relations. It claims that "the tension and divergence of interests between China and Russia at the next meeting of this group has grown to enormous proportions. Will there ever be unanimity in the BRICS ranks?" And further - "... so far, the prospect of BRICS becoming a cohesive bloc is still in the air " 14.
The American newspaper "International Herald Tribune" vented its dissatisfaction with the BRICS, claiming that the interests of "developing countries" are better defended by their representatives in the G20 than in the BRICS. In turn, the French "Monde" described the forum neutrally in the article "Why the West does not notice BRICS?" 15.
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The relevance and importance of BRICS is recognized not only by business and government structures, but also by civil society, in particular, by the scientific community both in Russia and abroad. For example, in mid - June in Uppsala (Sweden), the author of these lines participated in the conference - BRICS/IBSA-Africa Relations: Turning Threats to Opportunity. In May 2011, several events dedicated to this issue were held in Moscow. Among them - the conference "BRICS countries in search of models of innovative development in a multipolar world", organized by the Peoples ' Friendship University of Russia; at the XII All-Russian International Conference of Africanists at the Institute of African Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the section "African Policy of the BRICS countries" was held; at the fifth international scientific and practical seminar "All Europe: Russia-EU", held in At the Moscow State University of International Relations, the main issue was discussing the prospects for cooperation in the Eurobrix format.
1 Dreaming with BRICs: The Path to 2050 - http://www.goldman-sachs.com/ideas/brics/brics-dream.html
2 Chinese Foreign Minister: BRICS countries are committed to open cooperation. 07.03.11 - http://www.vesti.ru/doc.html?d-434229
3 Minister Nkoana-Mashabane on SA full membership of BRICS - http://www.dfa.gov.za/docs/2010/brics1224.html
4 Statement by the Department of Economic Development, on the Framework of the New Growth Path. 23.10.2010 - http://www.polity.org.za
5 Zuma, ministers jet off to Davos. 25.01.11 -http://www.buanews.gov.za/rss/11/11012 513451002
6 Moscow: South Africa will help BRICS relations with other organizations - www.vz.ru/news/2011/3/31
7 Declaration adopted at the end of the BRICS Summit - http://news.kremlin.ru/ref_ notes/907
9 BRICS countries are giving up dollars. What should investors expect? 25.04.2011 - www.portal-yuga.ru
10 Declaration adopted at the end of the BRICS Summit...
11 Embraer (Empresa Brasileira de Aeronotica) is a Brazilian aircraft manufacturer, one of the world leaders in the regional passenger aircraft market.
12 Bricks of the Future: towards the results of the BRICS Summit in China. 24.04.2011 - http://news-key.ru/news/129963
Schuman Michael. 13 Do the BRICS believe in free markets? // Time. April 14, 2011 http://curiouscapitalist.blogs.time.com/2011/04/14/do-the-brics-believe-in-free-markets/
Weitz Richard. 14 Is BRICS a Real Bloc? // The Diplomat. 22.04.2011 - http://tb.e-diplomat.com/2011/04/22/is-brics-a-real-bloc/
15 Currencies and Trade Exchange-Rate Tensions on the Rise // International Herald Tribune. 21.04. 2011 - http://query.nytimes.com/search/sitesearch?query=BRICS&srchst =cse; Raffarin Jean-Pierre. Attention a l'autre gouvernance mondiale // Le Monde. 22 avril 2011 - http://www.lemonde.fr/cgi-bin
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