The BRICS 2018 summit was entitled – “BRICS in Africa: Collaborating for Inclusive Growth and Shared Prosperity in the 4th Industrial Revolution”. It was a recognition that for the BRICS nations, the world was on the cusp of a revolution in science, technology and industry. New technologies, business models and industries were rapidly emerging.
However, there were significant obstacles in the way of these developments, namely deep-seated structural problems, geopolitical conflicts and the escalation of protectionism and unilateralism, directly affecting the external development of emerging markets and developing countries. It was therefore a necessity for the BRICS nations to work together to unlock their true economic potential, in the areas of trade, investment, economic, financial, and connectivity cooperation.
There was also a need to safeguard the rule-based multilateral trading regime, promote trade and investment liberalization and facilitation and reject protectionism outright. It sought to drive innovation-driven development and strengthen coordination on macroeconomic policies. There was a further need to enhance the competitiveness of not only BRICS countries but also other emerging markets and developing countries.
In addition, there was a desire to safeguard global peace and security, to stay true to multilateralism, to the UN Charter, abide by international law and basic norms governing international relations and to settle disputes through dialogue and differences through consultation. Furthermore, to give the BRICS alliance a voice on the international stage and to jointly work for a new type of international relations.
BRICS was also focused on building a network of closer partnerships. The fledgling BRICS+ format at that time was adopted at the Xiamen Summit to strengthen the unity and coordination among BRICS members and to broaden the BRICS “circle of friends” in a joint pursuit of shared development and prosperity for all emerging markets and developing countries. BRICS+ was aimed at boosting cooperation and development of emerging markets as well as developing countries.
BRICS recognised the need for significant changes during the 2010s and the further development of the multipolar world via cooperation in trade, investment, finance and cooperation. During this decade, the BRICS nations have sought to establish and enhance global economic governance, to counter protectionism which is mutually destructive to all nations concerned. The BRICS alliance seeks to establish an open and inclusive world, to advance trade and true liberalisation. In so doing, it aims to rebalance economic globalisation to make it fit for purpose in the 21st century, reflecting the reality of the post-colonial world in which emerging economies continue to develop rapidly.
Crucially, and perhaps one of the biggest challenges that the world faces going forward, is the integration of nations and their people and overcoming the divide and conquer tactics that are characteristic of the western hegemonic order. In simple terms this will involve promoting cultural and so-called people to people exchanges. Friendships between people are, after all, the key to dynamic relations between nations.
Five years ago we stated that the BRICS alliance would seek to become an umbrella to oversee the development of emerging and third world nation’s economies. This will also become a mechanism to drive multinational BRI initiatives. Nations will integrate and eventually become full members as we have already seen with recent announcements that Iran, Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt are preparing to apply for membership.