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NUMERO 20 - 29/10/2014

BRICS, why not?

More than 40% of the inhabitants of this planet live in the BRICS countries, and one fifth of the world’s wealth is generated from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (O' Neill 2011). If we add that one fourth of the dry land waves the flag of a BRICS country, the picture becomes really significant, both numerically and geographically. The BRICS countries are much more than a mere concept (Chun 2013), they are a tangible reality. What is also important to consider, when talking about the BRICS, is how fast these emerging countries are becoming  main actors, and often real protagonists, in fields such as world economics, geopolitics and global opportunities (Cooper & Farooq 2013). It was the year 2009 when, for the first time, the BRIC countries (which would have added the “S” a few years later) decided to formally regroup under a Summit. Five years have  now passed by from that day of June in Yekaterinburg (Joint Statement of the BRIC Countries’ Leaders, Yekaterinburg, 2009) but what this young “creature” has already achieved is astonishing. In 2010 the second Summit took place in Brasilia (Das 2010), followed by the one in Sanya (China) in April of 2011. And it was in 2011 that South Africa decided to join the group. This moment is the beginning of a new era: the name changes from BRICs into BRICS, but, more relevantly, the international network is complete. Other African countries could have been admitted in the group if the sole criterion would have been the economic dimension (for example Nigeria), but what grounds the BRIC enlargement is the political dimension (Scaffardi 2014), as the democratic South African nation represents at best the whole  African continent (Orrù 2012). Despite the change in the name, the main goal remains unchanged: representing the growing voice of the emerging economies, in contrast with the traditional economic, financial and political institution. The Summits keep on alternating Country after Country (in New Delhi in 2012, Durban in 2013 and, lastly, in Fortaleza), widening the range of discussions and debate. Along with economy and commerce, the Summits' focus move to transport, healthcare, security, food safety, environmental protection, and each Final Declaration is the demonstration of how the five countries want to play as protagonists. The creation of the New Development Bank (2014 in the Fortaleza Summit) also named “the BRICS’ bank”, with an initial capital of 100 billions of dollars, together with a provision fund, the BRICS contingent Reserve Arrangement, provided with an identical plafond that will safeguard the needs of the five subscribing countries, is a clear sign of the group presence and force in the international arena. The BRICS tight relations and common projects are not confined to the monetary and economic level, and the decision-making processes have been differentiated. They involve the “coordination” between heads of State or Government within the Summits themselves; the second operates at inter-ministerial level, regarding aspects more distant from the economic side, creating numerous and permanent groups of discussion (Stuenkel 2013). And it is therefore this “political” action that makes collaboration possible between these five countries on intra-BRICS projects.These are the main reasons why refraining ourselves from studying this system would be an unbridgeable error... (segue)

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