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The XI BRICS Summit: New Approaches to Political Reality

Iuliia Vashchenko  Ph.D. en Ciencias Políticas, La Paz, Bolivia
Iuliia Vashchenko,
PhD in Political Science,
La Paz, Bolivia

On November 13-14, the XI BRICS Block Summit (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) was held in Brasilia, uniting the fastest growing “alternative” economies of the world. What new recipes for world stability were proposed by the heads of state of the association? What topics of the international agenda were discussed on the other side of the Equator?

It does not take a couple of months for the Western media not to criticize the format of the “club of interests”, however, the BRICS Summit in the Brazilian capital was held against the background of the expressed views on a serious crisis in the Atlantic and European structures – “brain death” of NATO, “Brexit” and others. As this summit meeting demonstrated, today the BRICS format has not only not exhausted itself, but also continues its active work, in which all its participants are interested, striving for a certain alternative and support not only in the political sphere, but also in the financial and economic sphere.

In order to understand the meaning of the block, it is worth, first of all, turning to economic indicators. For example, in 2019, the BRICS bypassed the G7 countries in terms of GDP in terms of purchasing power by 12%. In addition, according to the estimates of a number of economic experts, next year the BRICS will have plus $ 50 trillion in comparison with the countries of the Seven.

The member countries of the association are actively reducing the share of settlements in dollars. In turn, in Russia over 5 years, the share of the American currency in foreign trade calculations decreased from 92% to 50%, and the ruble rose from 3% to 14%. As macroeconomic analysts emphasize, such a potential reduction in the share of the dollar is still very significant.

At the Summit in Brasilia, one of the important topics was the creation of a single cryptocurrency. The BRICS countries have conceived not only to create their own virtual currency, but also an independent payment system. By the way, the idea of ​​its creation is not new and initially acquired particular relevance for Russia after the introduction of sanctions pressure from Western countries in 2014. As “The Economic Times” reported earlier, Russia, India and China are discussing the possibility of creating an alternative to the international payment mechanism SWIFT in order to facilitate trade with states under the White House sanctions. Thus, the creation of their cryptocurrency will allow the member countries of the block to get away from third-party means of calculation, which in some cases may be disadvantageous for some ideological or financial reasons.

At the BRICS Summit in 2014, Russia initiated the creation of the “New Development Bank” (NDB) for members of the association, which was to conduct operations not in dollars but in national currencies. The situation in this direction is not progressing as fast as previously thought. At the NDB, a third of operations are still carried out in dollars, while only China has fully created an alternative settlement system. At this year’s Summit, it was decided that China would synchronize its platform with the Russian one. Then, India will develop the system with the help of Russia and after completion of the tests; it integrates with the Russian platform under the control of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation. The topic of avoiding the dollar is constantly discussed at the meetings of the BRICS bloc. At this Summit, state leaders again agreed to increase the volume of payments, which will be made not in dollars but in national currencies.

Another topic of discussion “on the sidelines” of the Summit was the limitation of armaments after the termination of the INF Treaty (the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty). Block leaders expressed concern on this issue. The Russian President Vladimir Putin noted that the Chinese leadership does not yet consider it necessary to participate in trilateral arms talks, so now it is too hasty to hold talks in the format “Russia – USA – China.”

At the BRICS Summit, the participating countries jointly reaffirmed the principle of sovereignty and committed themselves not to interfere in each other’s internal affairs, which was especially relevant for China in light of the situation with Hong Kong. In addition, state leaders condemned the US trade protectionism, which is widely believed to be holding back economic development.

On November 14, the BRICS leaders signed the Final Declaration, through which they reaffirmed their commitment to the fight against corruption, a joint intention to continue to cooperate in monitoring compliance with anti-corruption laws and in the return of criminal assets, including on civil and administrative procedures. This document noted that the parties “continue to intend to take measures to ensure honesty and integrity in the public sector and to promote standards of honesty and integrity in private companies, as well as to strengthen global commitments to create a culture of intolerance towards corruption”.

It is worth recalling that this time Russia is preparing to “take the baton” from Brazil. Next year, the BRICS presidency will be transferred to the Russian side. During his speech, the President of Russia invited the BRICS member countries to St. Petersburg, where the next Block Summit will take place. In the framework of the BRICS summits, it is always emphasized that this association is not a closed club, but based on mutual respect, “a platform for cooperation and building new bridges”.

In 2015, the well-known “Forbes” magazine was published under the heading “Death of the BRICS”, after which the American business magazine “Barron’s” issued an “explanation” entitled “Why did the BRICS die?” Experts from the British press “Finanacial Times” again repeated in 2016 – “The BRICS are dead”. On the eve of the XI Summit in Brasilia, “Euronews” cited the assessment of the authoritative American rating agency “S&P Global”, which considers the block “meaningless”.

Based on the development of the association, even a geopolitical trend could be drawn that American and European experts will write hundreds more articles on the “death” of the BRICS. However, as the Summit in the Brazilian capital once again proved, the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa for many years will be able and will find points of cooperation, which in due time will turn into points of support for the future of multipolar world.

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