Bright Future of BRICS and China’s Role

14 Countries have already formally applied for joining BRICS, which will make BRICS a group of 27 Nations soon.

BRICS is an intergovernmental organization comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. It encompass about 27% of the world’s land surface and 42% of the global population. Brazil, Russia, India, and China are among the world’s ten largest countries by population, area, and GDP (PPP). All five states are members of the G20, with a combined nominal GDP of US$28 trillion (about 27% of the gross world product), a total GDP (PPP) of around US$57 trillion (33% of global GDP PPP), and an estimated US$4.5 trillion in combined foreign reserves as of 2018.

2024 expansion

In August 2023, at the 15th BRICS Summit, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that six emerging market group countries (Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates) had been invited to join the bloc. Full membership is scheduled to take effect on 1 January 2024.

Countries that have applied for membership

A total of 14 countries have formally applied to join BRICS, listed as follows:

 Algeria, Bahrain,  Bangladesh,  Belarus,  Bolivia,  Cuba,  Honduras,  Kazakhstan,  Kuwait,  Pakistan,  Palestine,  Senegal,  Thailand,  Venezuela, Vietnam,

Potential further expansion

In addition, Afghanistan, Angola, Comoros, DR Congo, Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Libya, Mexico, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Serbia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Uruguay and Zimbabwe have expressed interest in membership of BRICS.

BRICS may Emerged the Second Largest Platform just after the UN

Current BRICS will become 13 members group on 01 January 2024, after joining 7 new members. 14 Countries have already formally applied for joining BRICS, which will make BRICS a group of 27 Nations soon. If consider the potential members I the near future, it will be group of around 50 countries. If the same pace of expansion is maintained, soon it will become second largest platform after the UN. As a matter of fact, the victims of unipolar world, find an outlet to escape from hegemony of Western world. BRICS have a potential to emerge as a largest alliance with largest area, population, resources, etc., it might transform the largest economy soon.

BRICS Significant Initiatives

New Development Bank

The New Development Bank (NDB), formally referred to as the BRICS Development Bank, is a multilateral development bank operated by the five BRICS states. The bank’s primary focus of lending is infrastructure projects with authorized lending of up to $34 billion annually. South Africa hosts the African headquarters of the bank. The bank has a starting capital of $50 billion, with wealth increased to $100 billion over time. Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa initially contributed $10 billion each to bring the total to $50 billion. As of 2020, it had 53 projects under way worth around $15 billion. In 2021, Bangladesh, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay joined the NDB. It is not a replacement of existing global financial institutions, like World Bank, IMF, Asian Development Bank, Islamic Development Bank, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, etc. but, is supporting the existing financial system and an positive additions to it.

BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement

The BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) is a framework for providing protection against global liquidity pressures. This includes currency issues where members’ national currencies are being adversely affected by global financial pressures. Emerging economies that experienced rapid economic liberalization went through increased economic volatility, bringing an uncertain macroeconomic environment. The CRA competes with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Along with the New Development Bank, it is an example of increasing South-South cooperation. It was established in 2015 by the BRICS countries. The legal basis is formed by the Treaty for the Establishment of a BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement, signed in Fortaleza in July 2014. With its inaugural meetings of the BRICS CRA Governing Council and Standing Committee, held on 4 September 2015, in Ankara, Turkey it entered into force upon ratification by all BRICS states, announced at the 7th BRICS summit in July 2015.

BRICS payment system

At the 2015 BRICS summit in Russia, ministers from BRICS nations initiated consultations for a payment system that would be an alternative to the SWIFT system. The stated goal was to move to settlements in national currencies. The Central Bank of Russia highlighted the main benefits as backup and redundancy in case there were disruptions to the SWIFT system. China also launched its own alternative to SWIFT: the Cross-Border Interbank Payment System, which enables financial institutions worldwide to send and receive information about financial transactions. India also has its alternative Structured Financial Messaging System (SFMS), as do Russia SPFS and Brazil Pix.

Potential common currency

BRICS countries committed to study the feasibility of a new common currency or similar, at the 2023 BRICS summit in South Africa. Fair and easier international trade as well as a major reduction in costs of transactions would be some of the reasons why the countries could forge a currency union. Dependence on US Dollars may be reduced drastically.

BRICS Partnership on New Industrial Revolution innovation Center (BPI):

China being the most important member of the BRICS, having a strong will and huge capacity to contribute in BRICS has established BRICS Partnership on New Industrial Revolution innovation Center (BPI).

17 November 2020, President Xi Jinping announced that China will set up an innovation center for BRICS partnership on new industrial revolution in Xiamen City of Fujian province with a clear focus on policy coordination, personnel training and project development.

On 8 December 2020, the 2020 BRICS Forum on Partnership on New Industrial Revolution was successfully held in Xiamen, during which the BRICS Innovation Center was formally launched.

BRICS representatives and relevant international organizations gathered in Xiamen to witness the official launch of the innovation base for the BRICS Partnership on New Industrial Revolution.

It has become an important platform for the BRICS members to promote partnerships and to leverage each other’s strengths to develop and prosper against the background of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. However, it is open to non-BRICS members too.

Major Significance

1. A major initiative aimed at leading results-oriented BRICS cooperation, which was proposed by President Xi Jinping after taking into consideration of the overall interests and future development needs of all stakeholders.

2. An innate requirement and important platform for delivering closer BRICS cooperation and strengthening PartNIR.

3. A key driver for materializing PartNIR and a brand new platform for deepening BRICS cooperation.

Development Goals:

The BRICS Innovation Base adheres to the BRICS spirit of openness, inclusiveness, and win-win cooperation. It focuses on the implementation of the BRICS Partnership on New Industrial Revolution, and the innovation and cooperation in the industrial field. It also considers trade and investment, cultural exchanges, and other fields as a whole. Besides, the base systematically carries out international exchange and cooperation activities, enhances the impetus to BRICS cooperation and the ability to jointly meet the challenges of the new industrial revolution, and promotes the common realization of technological progress, economic prosperity, and social development.

The BRICS Forum on Partnership on New Industrial Revolution 2023 held in Xiamen, Fujian province on Nov16, 2023.

Better communication and policy coordination among BRICS countries have been called to deepen partnerships in areas such as smart manufacturing, new material and artificial intelligence.

Zhang Yunming, vice-minister of industry and information technology, said more efforts can be made to seize the opportunity of the new industrial revolution and jointly promote the industrialization process of the BRICS countries. He called for a greater push to strengthen policy communication and dialogue among governments, industries and academia on intelligent manufacturing, new materials and artificial intelligence; to carry out cooperation and training projects in cultivating new tech human resources; and to jointly promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization processes. He made the remarks at the BRICS Forum on Partnership on New Industrial Revolution 2023 in Xiamen, Fujian province on Thursday.

According to him, more efforts are needed to strengthen cooperation in digital infrastructure construction, bridge the “digital divide”, promote the digital transformation of the manufacturing industry and better benefit the development achievements of BRICS countries. “We also need to adhere to the concept of sustainable development and seek green industrial development in BRICS countries,” Zhang added.

BPI is well established, equipped, and supported by the Government of China, is functional very well and delivering its initial objectives appropriately.

Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan
Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan
Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Sinologist (ex-Diplomat), Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization), National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Islamabad, Pakistan.