Taking BRICS+ to the next level – what are the new horizons for the Global South?

Despite the fact that the BRICS+ initiative was first proposed in 2017, there is still hardly any concrete framework or overarching concept advanced by any of the BRICS countries. Some of the scholars have noted both the possibilities as well as the challenges of implementing such a format,2 as well as the leading role of China in the bloc in realizing its key initiatives.3 Another strand of research has focused on the relationship between BRICS and G20 in the context of the evolving transformation of global governance.4 Still, other theoretical studies have evaluated the prospects of expanded BRICS cooperation via the expansion of the operations of the New Development Bank.5 Overall, however, the theme of BRICS+ remains heavily under-researched and in need of more perspectives coming from all of the members of BRICS / BRICS+.

In practical terms, the implementation of the BRICS+ framework has taken the form of BRICS+ summits (in 2017 (China), 2018 (South Africa), and 2022 (China)) that involve the invitation of a number of developing economies outside of the BRICS core. Brazil, Russia, and India opted not to conduct BRICS+ summits altogether. Despite the lack of clarity and detail on the exact modalities of BRICS+, there are some clues that may be gleaned from the statements of officials from BRICS countries. In fact, it could be the case that the BRICS+ space is intentionally left blank to leave open the scope for multiple formats to be pursued in the coming years.

Overall, the BRICS+ initiative presents multiple dimensions and possible formats. One of these involves a regional approach, which entails bringing together regional organizations / regional integration blocks where BRICS countries are members. Another approach is to establish a pool of heavyweights among developing economies, which could potentially be part of BRICS+ and the BRICS core. Alternatively, the expansion of the ranks of members of the New Development Bank, which can also be considered as part of a financial track of BRICS+, presents yet another possible avenue. These various formats of the BRICS+ initiative have the potential to impact global governance, particularly considering that in the coming years, BRICS countries are set to lead some of the key global fora. From 2023 to 2025, three BRICS countries are to chair the G20, which opens up the possibility of advancing common BRICS initiatives on the global stage.

For the BRICS+ initiative to achieve significant progress, it is imperative to reinforce the pragmatic aspect of the platform. This can be accomplished by concluding breakthrough economic agreements based on the Global South platforms. To that end, the following key measures could be implemented:

– The signing of key trade and investment agreements between developing economies or their regional blocks at the BRICS / BRICS+ summits.

– Using the BRICS / BRICS+ platforms for dispute settlement and resolution. This can include trade and investment disputes (which should involve the creation of relevant arbitration bodies and procedures) as well as international conflicts. The BRICS platform could play a particularly important role in resolving conflicts in the Global South, i.e. between developing countries. Importantly, analytical work on the creation of a BRICS+ arbitrage is already underway and is actively being advanced.

– A platform for regional integration arrangements where BRICS countries are members. Such a platform needs to involve the principle of rotation in conducting the main events and initiatives, with the BRICS+ summits used as a platform to present the main achievements and results of such initiatives.

– The formation of a platform of investment cooperation among the regional development institutions in which BRICS countries are members. The BRICS New Development Bank can play a coordinating role in working with the relevant banks and funds. The New Development Bank could participate in the BRICS / BRICS+ summits with the announcement of some of the key agreements, including on financing of green and sustainable development in the developing world.

– Creation of a platform for cooperation among the sovereign wealth funds of BRICS+ countries. One of the key areas of cooperation could be the coordinated initiatives directed at developing and deepening local financial markets.

– The possibility for the New Development Bank to participate in the G20 summits alongside the main MDBs such as the Asian Development Bank or the African Development Bank.

– More active involvement of the BRICS CRA in the BRICS / BRICS+ summits: the presentation of an annual report on the macroeconomic trends in BRICS / BRICS+; presentation on the state of the world economy; quantitative assessments on the potential effects of de-dollarization.

– Regular discussions in the BRICS+ summits on the transformation of the global monetary system, including a review of the progress of moving towards the creation of new regional and global reserve currencies.

– Presentation of the 3-5 main technological breakthroughs of the Global South at the annual BRICS+ summits.

It is through the building of a sizable pragmatic agenda at the BRICS+ summits that there could be a critical impetus delivered to the South-South economic cooperation. In this respect, it is important that the aforementioned initiatives contain algorithms for scaling these achievements and agreements across the rest of the Global South / BRICS+ platform.

Yaroslav Lissovolik
Yaroslav Lissovolik
Founder, BRICS+ Analytics contact: yl[at]brics-plus-analytics.org