The alleged demise of the BRICS is viewed in Brazil with the same caution diplomats and foreign policy experts greeted the group’s emergence in the global scene a decade ago. At best, the BRICS were seen by Brazilian diplomats and scholars as a useful mechanism to project Brazil internationally in a rapidly changing global landscape. However, as the economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa lost speed and altitude over the past two years, the difficulties of articulating their conflicting interests in some sort of common vision became more evident
President Dilma Rousseff’s decision to forgo this year’s New Delhi summit of IBSA, a subset of the BRICS formed ten years ago by its three democracies, is a good indication of the loss of interest for this sort of arrangement. Clearly, the role and relevance of the group will depend not only on the economic performance of its members countries in the years ahead, but also on the United States and Europe’s growth and the paths China and Russia follow in dealing with growing internal tensions that could lead to years of instability and disharmony. Syria is an obvious case in point.
Opinions regarding the BRICS’ relevance for Brazil span the spectrum. They range from the dismissive posture of the traditional establishment, which views the grouping as a largely inconsequential forum of countries with little in common, to those who have warmed to the notion of the BRICS as a useful informal arrangement that helps Brazil pursue its international interests in a rapidly changing world.
Paulo Sotero is the director of the Brazil Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
Franics Korenegay was a Public Policy Scholar for the Africa Program at the Wilson Center from June-September 2012
Last year, South Africa hosted the 5th summit of the India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) Trilateral Dialogue Forum. In 2013 it is India’s turn. This will mark the 10th anniversary of the Brasilia Declaration that led to the trilateral build up toward the summits of heads-of-state of the three countries that have occurred over the last several years. Meanwhile, all three countries have become members of BRICS, the symbolic vanguard among emerging powers leading the non-Western ‘Rest’ through a transition of relative rise amid Western relative decline.
BRICS has garnered considerably more attention than IBSA and is taken much more seriously as a revisionist actor given the great power status of Russia and China compared to the ‘middle power’ profiles of India, Brazil and South Africa. Russia may be something of a ‘has been’ as the former superpower competitor of the US when it was the Soviet Union. But it remains at least a regionalized great power nonetheless. China on the other hand has effectively emerged.
Given perceptions of Sino-Russia as strategic competitors of ‘lone superpower’ America, BRICS carries a weight that middle power IBSA will never carry. And, it has been gaining momentum to a point where former Indian envoy Rajiv Bhatia, director-general of the Indian Council on World Affairs was moved recently to question what he interprets as IBSA’s relevance.
Pretoria: Brazil, India and South Africa on Tuesday agreed to push for UN reform, but their summit talks here focused more on trade and worry about the global financial crisis than on diplomatic unity.
“We continue to collaborate closely in areas such as the G20, BRICS, WTO and G77 plus China regarding economic and financial issues,” said Zuma at the end of the summit attended by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.
“We also agreed on the need for the reform of the United Nations, including the UN Security Council, to make it more representative and effective,” he added.
Patrick McGroarty – Wall Street Journal, 10/18/2011
Brazil, India and South Africa should negotiate as a block at the Group of 20 meeting of leading nations in Paris next month, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Tuesday.
“We should coordinate our positions in the run-up to the G-20 summit in France to make sure the priorities of the developing economies are adequately reflected,” Mr. Singh said at the outset of meetings here with South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma and Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff. Mr. Singh also urged European leaders to act decisively to calm financial markets uncertainty that he said is hurting developing countries.
“We hope that effective and early steps will be taken by Europe and other advanced economies to calm the capital and financial markets and prevent the global economy from slipping into a double-dip recession,” Mr. Singh said.
As one of the world’s emerging economic powerhouses, Brazil is vigourously pursuing one of the key economic objectives on the U.N.’s development agenda: South-South Cooperation.
The Brazilian Cooperation Agency is currently participating in scores of economic projects, mostly in the agricultural sector, in over 80 developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean.
The projects range from livestock and fisheries to horticulture and food production.
Due to the current trends of political and economic restructuring, South-South cooperation is expected to play an increasingly important role in the post-recession world. India, Brazil, and South Africa (IBSA) established a dialogue forum to increase multilateral collaboration on a number of issues, especially those relating to development.
Based on a half-day conference on IBSA, the Brazil Institute’s new Special Report, “Emerging Powers: India, Brazil and South Africa (IBSA) and the Future of South-South Cooperation,” reveals two key themes: current accomplishments in enhancing global governance, economic relations, and foreign policy strategies; and the potential to improve regional security in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The conference panelists questioned whether IBSA could offer permanent solutions to multilateral security efforts given the diversity both within the countries and within the regions.