Leaders of the BRICS group (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), the end of their 14th summit hosted by China, have emphasized their commitment to strengthening economic and security cooperation among members, within the context of a new era in global development. With high hopes and the current world developments, the BRICS is still debating its expansion to include new members following strong suggestion from China.
The leaders underscored their adherence to sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries, advocated a world without nuclear weapons and called on developed countries to exercise “responsible economic policies, while managing policy spillovers.”
The group continues advocating for a “comprehensive reform of the UN, including its Security Council,” in order to increase the representation of the developing countries so that it can adequately respond to global challenges. It also calls for preserving and reinforcing the arms control system.
“Unbalanced recovery” after the pandemic is ” aggravating inequality across the world,” the global growth momentum has weakened, and the economic prospects have declined, the declaration says.
“We urge major developed countries to adopt responsible economic policies, while managing policy spillovers, to avoid severe impacts on developing countries,” BRICS leaders said, urging “multilateral financial institutions and international organizations to play a constructive role in building global consensus on economic policies and preventing systemic risks of economic disruption and financial fragmentation.”
The five leaders underscored that the G20 “shall remain intact and respond to current global challenges.” The leaders outlined basic areas of further cooperation with international organizations.
The June summit via a video link, offered an impetus to cooperation in three summarized main areas – politics, security, economy and finance, cultural and humanitarian ties. There are various issues incorporated into the Beijing Declaration adopted by the participants. The text of the declaration is published on the Kremlin website, and official websites of the group members.
BRICS countries have maintained contacts at international organizations, including the United Nations and the World Trade Organization, coordinating their views on key international issues, and “the situation in the world has remained tense, while the group of five countries has been the true keeper of a multilateral system.”
BRICS expansion has been the most debatable question during the past few years, and got heated up after Russia and China called for a new global order to end unipolarism. Monitoring mainstream news and information reports indicated that Russia has been teaming up with China and India (and that could be interpreted as BRICS platform initiative) and a few other external countries in the process of establishing a new global economic system. It aims at breaking the unipolar system, and defeat American hegemony around the world.
Ahead of the summit, China’s State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi chaired a videoconference dialogue between foreign ministers of BRICS countries and their counterparts from emerging economies and developing countries. This was the first BRICS Plus dialogue at the level of foreign ministers. Participants in the dialogue came from BRICS countries as well as invited countries such as Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Egypt, Indonesia, Nigeria, Senegal, United Arab Emirates and Thailand.
According to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, the dialogue is of importance to further expand cooperation between the BRICS countries and other emerging economies and developing countries. As a BRICS Plus participant country, Argentina has on several occasions expressed its interest in joining this mechanism. The Argentine president, Alberto Fernández, considered that BRICS represents for Argentina “an excellent alternative for cooperation in the face of a world order that has been working for the benefit of a few.”
Early June, Russian State Duma (the lower house of parliament) Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin wrote on Telegram that the United States and its allies are destroying economic ties by their sanctions policy, but at the same time creating new points of growth in other countries. “The move by Washington and its allies to cut the existing economic ties has created new points of growth in the world,” he pointed out. According to the parliament speaker, Western sanctions are leading to the establishment of another group of eight nations – China, India, Russia, Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico, Iran and Turkey – that is 24.4% ahead of the old group of developed countries in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and purchasing power parity.
“The United States, with its own hands, has created conditions for countries willing to build an equal dialogue and mutually beneficial relations to actually establish a new G-8 group with Russia,” Volodin noted. If the establishment of another new Group of Eight nations – China, India, Russia, Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico, Iran and Turkey – and compared to BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, it follows that BRICS will have to be absorbed by the new Group of Eight organization, and thus pushing out South Africa.
In an interview discussion, Ms. Valeriia Gorbacheva, GR-Director at Russia’s National Committee on BRICS Research, explained that Russia does not need to create new unions or new G-8, there are already established structures such as SCO, BRICS, ASEAN, EAEU and CIS. “In the face of growing geopolitical instability, BRICS and those countries mentioned above that sympathize with the group may play a decisive role in changing the course of world history. Considering the geopolitical situation, BRICS takes on special importance for Russia. No BRICS country has supported the West’s illegal unilateral restrictive measures against Russia,” she told Modern Diplomacy.
According to her explanation, on the contrary, sanctions from the collective West are pushing the BRICS countries to deepen cooperation. Thus, Russia’s foreign trade turnover with BRICS partners shows tangible growth. At the end of 2021, trade increased by 40% and reached a record US$164 billion. In the first quarter of 2022, there is also a significant increase – 38% compared to the first quarter of 2021.
Gorbacheva pointed to the mechanisms created within the BRICS that can help overcome the economic isolation declared by Western countries against Russia the backdrop of the Ukrainian crisis. First of all, these are the BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement and the New Development Bank. The NBD is independent of Western-centric international institutions and operates with significant financial resources. The portfolio of investment projects approved by the NBD reached US$30 billion in 2022. It already approved 80 projects and loans worth more than US$9 billion to all BRICS countries to mitigate the economic consequences caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In order to reduce dependence on the American banking system and regulators, the BRICS countries are increasing the volume of mutual settlements in national currencies, she said, and added that Russia is interested in the development of an alternative SWIFT system for BRICS and BRICS+ countries. “There is the danger that the inclusion of new players could undermine the positions of the BRICS countries themselves within the group. First of all, we are talking about South Africa, which has the least economic weight within BRICS. If expansion does occur, it would rather be about the quasi-membership of major second-tier countries on each continent pursuing, if not openly “anti-Western” policies, but an alternative, Gorbacheva further told Modern Diplomacy.
She, however, concluded that “the most likely scenario is the consolidation of the BRICS+ format as a platform for “integration of integrations” in compliance with the principle of equitable geographical representation and invitation of member countries of large regional integration associations.”
Lucio Blanco Pitlo III, a Research Fellow at the Asia-Pacific Pathways to Progress Foundation, argued that the already established BRICS may have better chances of enticing new members. The new members could be Argentina, Egypt, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, and Thailand that participated in recent consultations.
Dr. Pankaj Kumar Jha, Professor at O. P. Jindal Global University in Sonipat, Haryana, explains in an emailed discussion that China and India border conflict will continue influencing BRICS. However, India and China are cooperating to develop alternate financial structures, cohesive guidelines within Asia and the global south on many issues such as trade, investment and developing an understanding so that dominance of the of west could be reduced to a minimum in global financial architecture, he argued and added, “the foundation of cooperation in BRICS brings potential resources and critical development requirements under one umbrella.”
Questions about the future of BRICS are bound to be there especially when a new world order is being discussed. Drawing inspiration from Quad plus, BRICS countries are also discussing BRICS plus format. The formation of new grouping G-8 is primarily a fusion of BRICS and VISTA (Vietnam, Indonesia, South Africa, Turkey, Argentina). The formation is primarily to connect BRICS to middle income and middle power countries, according his explanation.
Dr. Pankaj Kumar Jha concluded his argument: “This geopolitical configuration is in exploratory phases, undoubtedly meant to bring a new axis of Russia-China but inclusion of Mexico , Indonesia and Turkey has its own strategic baggage. How much successful this grouping would be is still a matter a conjecture. From geopolitical point of view, much would depend on how sanctions on Russia shapes up and the post-coronavirus recovery of China.”
As the world is facing massive challenges, it also requires international collaboration and cooperative solutions, importantly not to grossly endanger the economic prospects of poor and underdeveloped countries.
Quite recently, Alexander Shchetinin, Director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Latin American department, also said some Latin American nations are seeking closer ties with BRICS. He expressed confidence that Russia’s cooperation with countries that show interest in BRICS will continue. “In what format, we will coordinate first of all with our partners in this group, and with those countries that want to be closer to BRICS, including with regard to Latin America,” he told TASS on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.
According to the diplomat, the issue of any additional BRICS formats is the subject for a discussion, primarily within the group. BRICS is an informal group of countries, which includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The purpose of the association is the development of comprehensive cooperation between the member countries. It is non-bloc in nature and is not directed against third parties. It has no permanent headquarters.
“More broadly, this week’s summit aims to usher in a new era for global development that is more inclusive, sustainable and fair,” South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said in his weekly address to the South African people, the text of which was published on the presidential administration’s website, “Through the reform of the multilateral system, including the United Nations, and by refocusing the attention and resources of the global community on the sustainable development agenda, the BRICS group can support a sustained and equitable global recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.”
For South Africa, Ramaphosa said, the BRICS summit is a valuable platform to strengthen ties with partner countries in support of South Africa’s economic growth and job creation. “More than that, the summit is our opportunity to contribute to a better world, in which all countries have a better chance to recover from this pandemic and to flourish,” he stressed.
The South African president pointed out that the BRICS countries initially identified strengthening economic and financial ties as one of the key areas of their cooperation. “The countries have adopted the Strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership to increase access to each other’s markets, promote mutual trade and investment and create a business-friendly environment for investors in all BRICS countries,” Ramaphosa pointed out, “An important part of this strategy, particularly for South Africa, is to diversify trade.”
Historically, the first meeting of the group began in St Petersburg in 2005. It was called RIC, which stood for Russia, India and China. Then, Brazil and subsequently South Africa joined later in February 2011, which is why now it is referred to as BRICS. The BRICS member countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) collectively represent about 26% of the world’s geographic area and are home to 2.88 billion people, about 42% of the world’s population.
Another Sri Lanka?: Pakistan’s Economic Crisis
Pakistan’s Finance Minister, Miftah Ismail warned of “bad days” ahead as he highlighted the looming economic crisis that the nation finds itself in. Addressing a ceremony at the Pakistan Stock Exchange, the Finance Minister blamed the economic policies taken by the erstwhile Tehreek-e-Insaf government for the dire economic state of the country.
A Nation in Crisis
Pakistan’s foreign-exchange reserves have shrunk by more than half in the past year, to just over $9 billion, or about six weeks’ worth of imports. In 2022, the Pakistani rupee has lost about 30 percent of its value against the US dollar. Furthermore, a rise in inflation and unemployment coupled with political instability has only made matters worse. The three major global rating agencies, Moody’s, Fitch, and S&P Global have downgraded Pakistan’s long-term rating from stable to negative, citing the country’s deteriorating economic position.
The current Pakistani government has blamed former Prime Minister Imran Khan for much of its economic woes. These accusations are not entirely unfounded. While he promised to rid Pakistan of its economic troubles, Mr. Khan failed to deliver. His regime saw an increased rate of inflation and widespread economic mismanagement. By March 2022, the country’s total external debt and liabilities reached $128 billion. Unemployment also surged with Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) reporting 31% of the youth to be unemployed. The sudden dissolution of his government added fat to the fire, leading to political instability amid grave economic troubles. However, with a tenure of less than five years, blaming Imran Khan for all of Pakistan’s economic troubles seems far-fetched. Undoubtedly, the economy suffered under the Khan administration but this crisis stems from a much larger flawed system.
Economic Fault Lines
There are various structural flaws that can be located in the Pakistani economy that have time and again led to its unmaking.
The Khan administration is not solely responsible for the ongoing debt crisis. The IMF has provided loans to Pakistan on twenty-two occasions since 1958, imposing 13 Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAP). The focus of these programmes has been to stabilise the economy while sacrificing growth in the short term. However, Pakistan’s growth rate has consistently remained the lowest in South Asia since the introduction of the first SAP in 1988. The sustainability and feasibility of these IMF bailouts have also been brought into question considering the frequent visits Pakistan makes to the IMF requesting for bailouts. For instance, the last bailout Pakistan requested was in May 2019, just three years before the current crisis. Furthermore, the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) created a debt of $64 billion for Islamabad which was originally valued at $47 billion in 2014. The excessive borrowing to resolve short term issues has majorly contributed to Pakistan’s economic troubles.
Another major issue with the Pakistani economy is the huge trade deficit that the country incurs. Pakistan’s trade deficit currently stands at $48.66 billion, a record high. This enormous trade deficit has resulted from lack of exports in the face of steadily growing imports. As the industries fail to meet the requirements of the domestic market, Pakistan has to rely on imports for bridging the gap. Similarly, the exports suffer due to low productivity of agriculture and industries. According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Pakistan is ranked 143 out of 185 countries on labour productivity, having its GDP per hour worked at a measly $6.3.
Poor fiscal management and failure of the private sector to adapt to innovations has further shackled the Pakistani economy. All of these issues have contributed to the ensuing political instability.
Another Sri Lanka?
The past few months have witnessed the collapse of Sri Lanka from one of the top performing economies in South Asia to its descent into anarchy. With Pakistan in a similar crisis, it is widely argued that the country might be on its way to follow the island nation into a harrowing economic collapse. With the fate of Sri Lanka at display, it is also feared that escalating political instability might lead to an eventual military rule, as has been the norm in Pakistan.
While the situation is bad and might worsen in the coming days, Pakistan is unlikely to follow the Sri Lankan trajectory. The revival of a 2019 bailout with the IMF on July 13, clearing the way for about $1.2 billion, comes as a relief for Pakistan. This much needed help will allow the country to look for alternative channels to bridge the financing gap. The Pakistani military has also been playing an active role in stabilising the situation, with Army Chief Qamar Bajwa seeking financial help from friendly countries including UAE and Saudi Arabia. The involvement of such external lenders should discourage major creditors like China from requesting immediate repayments, easing the pressure on Islamabad. However, this requires the Pakistani government to keep a check on the steadily increasing imports.
While the present measures are likely to provide respite for now, even in the unlikely scenario of a Sri Lanka-like complete economic collapse, the military would not let the political situation in Pakistan slide into anarchy and is likely to take over by dissolving the government in the worst case.
The Way Ahead
Even though Pakistan might just evade the crisis through IMF involvement and bettering the trade deficit by curbing imports into the country, these are measures that tend to serve short term purposes and are no guarantee against another similar crisis in the coming years. The only sustainable answer would be initiating structural reforms. A self-sufficient economy must be at the heart of a rebuilding project. Increased productivity will facilitate an increase in exports while decreasing the imports on basic commodities like food and medicines. Finding economic stability is also detrimental to which path Pakistan’s politics will take in the future as the shadow of military rule looms large on the dwindling democratic set up which has managed to keep it in the barracks since 2008.
What Is Stopping Economic Development Across The Free World?
Notice the big events of economic booms during the last century and observe the unique role of mobilization of entrepreneurialism on such trajectories. For example, the original Silicon Valley of the USA was not a technology or financial revolution but the mobilization of an entrepreneurial journey, way before the term ‘IT’ became popular, and ‘technology’ conceptualized as worthy enough to trade in billions while staying invisible. The out-of-box thinkers came out of their garages, broke old systems, created new alternates and changed the world forever. Revolution of entrepreneurs, created by entrepreneurs and for entrepreneurs. The rest is history
Today, some 100 other nations are still trying hard with their own version to become the copycats. The existing lukewarm failures around the world on the replications of “silicon valley” of sorts, already speak volumes. Remember, only measured by entrepreneurialism, such goals, unless once Mindset Hypotheses properly understood this entire subject already beyond common narratives on economic growth.
Real economic development always needs methodical advancements of national mobilization of entrepreneurialism, upskilling and uplifting SME sectors to quadruple exportability otherwise, growth and productivity remain stagnant. The big challenges are to bring the entrepreneurial thinking and job creator mindsets blend across the economic development teams on a fast track basis. Their current frame of mind critically needs uplifting so their confidence level stands up to the global quality, demands for speed and execution able to tackle the power of global competitive forces.
Neither across the world, during the entire last decade, did academia build neither the long awaited Fourth Industrial Revolution nor did the bureaucracies digitized, mobilized and uplifted SME economies. Where is the entrepreneurial mix in all such equations? What have the economic development teams really learned recently? When will they get ready to advance their thinking and blend their efforts alongside the entrepreneurial engines and right mindsets?
When 100 plus nations, talking about digitization, are still trying to figure out mobilization of large sectors of their SME economies, with little or no progress, lingering questions arise. Necessitated now, are some newly mandated activities at every stage of any economic development in progress. Identify and rearrange right mindsets, for right challenges. What worked, last many decades, today, with no results, now ready for thrown out of windows? How long unlimited printing of currencies last, how high will inflation go and how long the recessions last?
The post-pandemic technologically advanced world, Best option is to balance mindsets and cause change, adjust to global age demands on productivity and performance, otherwise accept a diaper change, surrender to face frailty of life and limits of minds. It is not the absence of expertise that is a problem, it is the mindsets unable to recognize such expertise, in the first place.
The invisible switch: There is no political power unless there is a parallel economic power; after all, there cannot be any economic power without entrepreneurial job-creator-mindset power. Economies without digitization are as if without electricity, economic development without upskilled frontline teams as if without a bulb. Study the solutions via Mindset Hypothesis
The 4B factor: Four Billion on the march; billion displaced due to pandemic, billion replaced due to technology, billion misplaced in wrong jobs now a billion on starvation-watch. The 4B Factor, this digitally connected mass of people making this now the biggest force of global opinion in the history of time.
Global opinion v/s national public opinion: Observe, how fast the world changed, how the ocean of global opinion is now drowning ponds of national opinion. Notice, nations are already so intoxicated, in joy over the popularity of their own national opinion, while having just an opposite global opinion on the world stage. Study the global tidal waves.
Study the Agrarian Age to Industrial Age, later to Computer Age, measure how most talented ‘cow-hands’ were suddenly replaced by steam power and hydraulics and later floors filled with clerks replaced by a single computer. Study “How did we arrive here so suddenly” Excerpted Source: Naseem Javed, Sunrise, Day One, Year 2000. Published, IABC Communications World, Dec. 1995, Volume 12 Issue 11, Article, ‘Chronology Charts’
Over centuries, despite, available like an open book, the government failed to create armies of entrepreneurs but was always successful in creating real armies and real combat soldiers. Simply because, soldiers trained by sleeping in the forests while digging trenches in the rain, but not trained by running around in classrooms with water pistols or drawing pictures of tanks.
Entrepreneurialism is neither academia born nor academic centric. Let the professors teaching entrepreneurialism break the furniture in protest, their contributions, as theories are excellent only when free, but not for heavy cost and creating student debts. Today business education is more a liability and no longer a real asset. The world changed, minds opened, old-systems closing, new worlds arising with new definitions erupting to manage the future better.
Go build an airline, place aeronautical engineers, and frequent flyers in the cockpits but leave qualified trained pilots in the airport lobbies. Now glued to the radio to find about a crash understand the similarity to current pending financial crashes, nation by nation. As a test, best check out what percentage of entrepreneurial job creator mindsets are in the mix with job seeker mindsets of any local, national economic ministry anywhere in the free world.
Save economies and grab the solutions: They can rapidly upgrade and acquire Mastery on National Mobilization of Entrepreneurialism,learn its pragmatism and common sense deployments within months, acquire digitization, mobilization and most importantly to articulate on such advanced new thinking across the national agenda. Learn fast, fail fast, raise fast and shine. Study how Expothon is tabling such ideas globally.
Today, a shipload of some 7000 economic development officers, representingalmostthe total of top teams spread across free economies of the world should now take a luxury cruise, relax, relearn, unlearn, as their current mathematics is causing serious maladjustments on creating grassroots prosperity for some 100 nations. How fast can this force of 7000 people on a luxury cruise be upskilled on National Mobilization of SME Entrepreneurialism?
The difficult questions: How quickly options when infused with technology lead to mobilizations to discover new paths. Which economic leadership of free nations can display such transformation or even articulate on such critical topics? Which national or global institution is bold enough to face and debate such challenges? Which economic team is ready to test, explore, or try on such forbidden topics? Nevertheless, the world changing fast and will not stop for anyone.
Observing the change, it will not be the sudden arrival of missed Fourth Industrial Revolution; but the surprised arrival of the First Industrial Revolution of the Mind. Study deeply how the mind is opening up and responding to creative entrepreneurial issues, the old concept already dead, now replaced with new thinking. Leaving behind the woman entrepreneurs is another tragedy for any nation. What are some new solutions?
Just like today, we no longer tolerate square wheels or rotary dials, or chasing a form stamped 10 times, across a 10-floor building without a lift. The post pandemic economic recovery in smoke and mirror war games, will no longer tolerate the inefficiencies and bureaucracies. Of course, today, the ability to face the truth now considered extraordinary strength. Change can be beautiful, once minds opened.
Refusing to face the truth; this is where all the hostility and hate breeds, and where without diversity and tolerance, wars and fakery declared the common games, this is when humankind left as secondary, common good declared waste, societies destroyed, so who needs economic development, anyway? A new wave of grassroots economic development will emerge as the top-level economic development almost already destroyed. Hear the sounds of distant firings. It will be the five billion connected alpha dreamers, who will develop and change the world. The rest is easy
The first Africa-Caribbean Trade and Investment Forum Comes On 1-3 September at Barbados
With the new dawn gradually unfolding, African financial institutions such as the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) are making tremendous efforts and offering support for African leaders in consolidating Africa’s economy within the framework of the African Union Agenda 2063. They have consistently been pushing to transform agriculture as the safest approach to reduce imports and insure food security, improve industrialization and the raise the efficiency of human resource capital in Africa.
The Government of the Republic of Barbados will be hosting the first ever edition of the AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum (ACTIF) which is being convened by African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) and Government of Barbados in collaboration with African Union Commission (AUC), African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat, Africa Business Council, the Caribbean Community Secretariat, and Caribbean Export Development Agency.
The African and Caribbean ties are deep rooted and based on shared history, culture, and sense of a common identity and destiny that was forged by the slave trade creating large centres of African Diaspora in the Caribbean and elsewhere. While Africa and the Caribbean have renewed their engagement, with a Heads of State and Government Summit of the Caribbean Community and Africa, held on 7 September 2021, the relationship needs to be institutionalized through deepening of trade and investment ties between the two regions.
The holding of the inaugural Africa-Caribbean Trade and Investment Forum is, therefore, a key strategic deliverable towards the institutionalisation of the reborn relationship between Africa and the Caribbean. This Forum will further consolidate the political agreement reached by Heads of State and Government of the Caribbean Community and which aims to strengthen collaboration, unity and to foster increased trade, investment and people-to-people engagement between the two regions.
It is in this context that the inaugural Africa Caribbean Trade and Investment Forum (ACTIF), has been organized to hold during 1-3 September at Bridgetown, Barbados. The Forum dubbed: AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum 2022, will hold under the theme “One People, One Destiny. Uniting and Reimagining Our Future” vividly reflecting the common cultural aspirations.
The main goal of the AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum is to provide a platform for the development of strategic partnerships between the business communities in Africa and the CARICOM Region with the objective of fostering bilateral cooperation and engagement in trade, investment, technology transfer, innovation, tourism, culture and other services. The Forum will also be used as a vehicle to actively promote trade and investment opportunities among people of Africa and the Caribbean, as well as the wider diaspora which will contribute to the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) and to the Caribbean trade development agenda.
Africa leaders and its people highly appreciate the readiness of external countries, who in practical terms, engage in infrastructure development, agriculture and industry especially at the dawn of the rapid geopolitical changes possibly leading to creating a new global economic order. Noting the significance, a number of countries are simultaneously trying to understand barriers in the region and are steadily exploring ways to leverage unto the newly created AfCFTA which provides a unique and valuable platform for businesses to access an integrated African market of over 1.3 billion people in Africa.
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