From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Not much.
Mains level : Paper 2- BRICS- challenges and areas of cooperation.
India has invited the Brazilian President to be a guest of honour for Republic Day 2020. It is also a good opportunity for focusing on intra-BRICS partnership and trade.
Future of the BRICS
- To move towards multi-polarity: This was set up as a move towards greater multi-polarity; hence the spread across three continents and both hemispheres.
- Infirmities in the group: The BRICS combination accounts for about one-third of global output, but a glance at the GDP t and growth rates will show the infirmities of the group.
- Differences in GDP: In terms of GDP, China occupies the second position; India the fifth; Brazil the ninth; Russia the 11th; and South Africa the 35th.
- Differences in growth rate: In terms of growth rates, China grew at 6%; India at 4.5%, Russia 1.7%, Brazil 1.2% and South Africa 0.1%.
- Both politically and economically, Brazil and South Africa have been the laggards in recent years. But there are certain similarities as well.
- Similarities in the group: Each country has different economic and political leverage and its own burden of domestic and external issues.
- Decision-making structure: They all share the benefits of autonomous decision making.
- Non-affiliation: The members of the group have non-affiliation with any binding alliances.
- Informal structure: The group’s informal structure is an advantage for coordination among the most influential non-Western countries.
- Challenges to the survival of the group: The BRICS group can survive only if its members maximise their congruencies to the extent possible. Following are the challenges to the existence of the group-
- The growing intensity of Sino-Russian ties.
- The pro-American leanings in Brazil.
- The socio-economic difficulties of South Africa after nine years under the controversial Jacob Zuma.
- India’s many difficulties with China, including its abstention from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.
Achievement of the grouping
- New Development Bank: The main achievement of BRICS is the New Development Bank, with each country contributing equally to its equity.
- The bank has so far financed over 40 projects at a cost of $12 billion.
- The BRICS countries are also developing a joint payments mechanism to reduce foreign trade settlements in U.S. dollars.
- BASICS: An offshoot of the group, dealing with climate change, is BASIC (BRICS without Russia).
- BASICS met at the Spain conference last month and reiterated its support to the Paris Agreement.
- India’s lead role: India is taking the lead role in-
- Digital health, Digital forensics
- Film technology.
- Traditional medicine.
- Sustainable water management,
- Internships and fellowships.
- Visa waiver for Indians: Brazil declared the decision to waive visa requirements for Indian citizens.
- Potential for investments: There is potential for Brazilian investments in the sectors of space and defence, agricultural equipment, animal husbandry, post-harvest technologies, and bio-fuels.
- Low two-way trade: The total two-way trade is at a paltry $8 billion, and the prospect of closer economic ties, however desirable, would require considerable optimism.
Both India and Brazil need to further deepen the ties and increase cooperation in various areas of cooperation. BRICS, despite the various challenges, need to focus on congruencies between them and work towards greater cooperation.