BRICS ideal for South-South co­op­er­a­tion

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - Views - The au­thor is a pro­fes­sor at the School of In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies, Jawa­har­lal Nehru Uni­ver­sity in New Delhi.

Re­cent un­cer­tain­ties and rel­a­tive de­cel­er­a­tion of growth in BRICS states may have cast a doubt on the group’s po­ten­tial to trans­form the global gov­er­nance struc­ture. Yet experts agree that it is still the most pow­er­ful lo­co­mo­tive for strength­en­ing South-South co­op­er­a­tion.

Ques­tions have also been raised about whether rapidly grow­ing economies such as China and In­dia and their ex­pand­ing for­eign in­vest­ments, es­pe­cially the Chi­napro­posed Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive, would un­der­mine the pu­ri­tan dic­tum of SouthSouth co­op­er­a­tion that prop­a­gates “de-link­ing” less­de­vel­oped economies from the ex­ploita­tive global North. Even the ex­pand­ing for­eign aid from China and In­dia has been ques­tioned, as many fear it might com­pro­mise demo­cratic and hu­man rights in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries, be­cause the aid comes with no strings at­tached.

Since China and In­dia are also in­vest­ing in ad­vanced in­dus­tri­al­ized coun­tries, will their ac­tions di­lute BRICS’ com­mit­ment to South-South co­op­er­a­tion?

If any­thing, BRICS states are widely rec­og­nized to­day for their in­flect­ing eco­nomic re­forms and re­struc­tur­ing, which have re­sulted in pol­icy in­no­va­tions guid­ing their in­clu­sive de­vel­op­ment and poverty erad­i­ca­tion ini­tia­tives, and pro­vid­ing in­spir­ing ex­am­ples for de­vel­op­ing and less-de­vel­oped coun­tries.

The South-South co­op­er­a­tion par­a­digm evolved in the late 1960s. Rec­og­niz­ing the sub­servient na­ture of their re­la­tions with the ad­vanced economies, many schol­ars sug­gested that less-de­vel­oped coun­tries “de-link” from the North as a way to forge stronger eco­nomic ties among de­vel­op­ing coun­tries.

BRICS to­day presents a suc­cess story of that orig­i­nal par­a­digm. In pur­chas­ing power par­ity terms, BRICS ac­counts for more than 30 per­cent of the global GDP and ac­counts for more than half of global growth, which have given the group power to in­flu­ence global trends and tra­jec­to­ries. Grounded in the South-South co­op­er­a­tion par­a­digm, in­tra-BRICS trade, as per­cent­age of their to­tal for­eign trade, dou­bled from 6 per­cent to 12 per­cent be­tween 2001 and 2015. And BRICS states have taken a com­mon stance at var­i­ous in­ter­na­tional fo­rums on trade, ser­vices, in­vest­ment and e-com­merce, as well as at rule-mak­ing world bod­ies.

The out­look on BRICS states’ fur­ther in­te­gra­tion re­mains promis­ing given the es­tab­lish­ment of the New De­vel­op­ment Bank and the BRICS Contin­gent Re­serve Ar­range­ment, which have al­ready started fi­nanc­ing projects in var­i­ous de­vel­op­ing coun­tries. Sym­bol­iz­ing BRICS macro-pol­icy co­or­di­na­tion, they have en­hanced BRICS’ lead­ing role in SouthSouth co­op­er­a­tion. Be­sides, the NDB and the Asian In­fra­struc­ture In­vest­ment Bank have al­ready prompted the Bret­ton Woods fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions to im­ple­ment re­forms, in order to give de­vel­op­ing coun­tries greater say. And BRICS states’ min­isum­mits on the side­lines of G20 gath­er­ings have of­fered new ways to de­moc­ra­tize the global gov­er­nance struc­ture and process.

In­deed, en­ter­prises based in BRICS states have es­tab­lished a unique cul­ture of in­vest­ment, tech­nol­ogy shar­ing and mar­ket man­age­ment, which is to­tally dif­fer­ent from the pa­tron-client model of the multi­na­tion­als from the in­dus­tri­al­ized North. At the BRICS sem­i­nar on gov­er­nance in Quanzhou, East China’s Fu­jian prov­ince, last week, which I at­tended, China In­ter­na­tional Pub­lish­ing Group signed a se­ries of co­op­er­a­tion agree­ments with var­i­ous pub­lish­ers from the other four BRICS states, and its vice-pres­i­dent Wang Gangyi urged all sides to make con­certed ef­forts to en­gage in sub­stan­tial re­search and ad­vice “to pro­mote BRICS to be­come a new lead­ing plat­form for South-South co­op­er­a­tion”.

BRICS has es­pe­cially ben­e­fited from the eco­nomic buoy­ancy of China and In­dia, as well as the con­tin­ued slug­gish­ness in the economies of the global North. China and In­dia have emerged as ma­jor in­vestors in in­fra­struc­ture con­struc­tion, in­for­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tions tech­nolo­gies and en­ergy. Here, BRICS pro­vides them a with unique fo­rum to co­or­di­nate their per­spec­tives to max­i­mize ben­e­fits.

BRICS rep­re­sents a strong source of em­pow­er­ment and in­spi­ra­tion for most de­vel­op­ing coun­tries. Given this fact, the idea of invit­ing sev­eral de­vel­op­ing coun­tries to the up­com­ing BRICS Sum­mit in Xi­a­men, Fu­jian prov­ince, and forg­ing new part­ner­ships un­der the “BRICS Plus” ar­range­ment holds the prom­ise of mak­ing BRICS a stronger plat­form for South-South co­op­er­a­tion.

CAI MENG / CHINA DAILY

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