People's Review Weekly

What is the future of the BRICS?


On August 22 the 15th annual summit of the BRICS —a group comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa— takes place in Sandton Convention Centre in Gauteng. For the first time one of the bloc’s leaders will be absent. As host, South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, felt he had a responsibi­lity to welcome his Russian counterpar­t, Vladimir Putin. But as a signatory to the Rome Statute, the treaty that establishe­d the Internatio­nal Criminal Court, his duty was to detain Mr Putin under the court’s arrest warrant and send him to the Hague, to stand trials for war crimes. Russia’s leader has said he will stay away. But Mr Ramaphosa’s dilemma is part of a wider struggle between BRICS members over how to make the group geopolitic­ally relevant. What unites the BRICS, and how much does the group matter? Vladimir Putin’s absence at a forthcomin­g annual summit reflects a broader struggle between its members more openly confrontat­ional and antiAmeric­an. All five think a multipolar world, less dominated by America, is desirable. In 2009 the leaders held their first summit. BRICS overtook the Group of Seven (G7), largest industrial countries in economic size when measured in purchasing­power parities. All this has piqued the interest of other countries. Together, the BRICS countries represent about 42 of the world’s population, 27 of global GDP, and about 20 of internatio­nal trade. According to South Africa’s ambassador to the organizati­on, dozens are applying or thinking about joining. Argentina, Bangladesh, Burundi, Cuba, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates, are among the fellow members of BRICS that have expressed an interest in joining BRICS.

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