BRICS revisited


In 2001, Jim O’Neill created the acronym and concept of BRICs, predicting the growing economic importance of Brazil, Russia, India and China. How have these countries, including the later added “S” for South Africa developed in both economic as well as geopolitical terms? Does the concept entail a coherent entity? What is the view of the BRICS countries on the world and each other? Is the concept of BRICS in 2019 still relevant to understand today’s world? In this Clingendael Spectator special, eight authors revisit the BRICS in six analyses, eighteen years after the introduction of the much discussed concept.

Is the concept of the BRIC(S) still relevant to understand today’s world?
“The World Needs Better Economic BRICs”, was the very first paper written about the concept in 2001 by Jim O’Neill. Was the creator of the acronym wrong about Brazil and Russia? What about the expectations for the economic performance of China and India? And who turned the small s- for plural- into a large S to include South Africa?

Brazil under Bolsonaro: domestic politics and international re-positioning
Although Jair Bolsonaro took office only in January 2019, the implications for major shifts in the international position of Brazil are already emerging. Brazil’s role as emerging middle power from the Global South are in jeopardy and this may have significant consequences for Brazil as erstwhile prominent member of BRICS, writes Kees Koonings.

Is BRICS a useful framework for Russia’s global agenda?
Russia has always actively promoted BRICS-cooperation in an effort to constitute an anti-Western coalition to counter a hegemonic United States and to stimulate the creation of a new multi-polar world order, with Moscow as one of the leading centres of power. According to Tony van der Togt however, Russia’s current economic status as well as China’s ideas about the future world order raise important questions regarding Russia’s regional and global ambitions, including in the BRICS-framework.

Rise of China requires a balancing act for India
India is facing a major shift in power dynamics with the rise of China that adds impetus to its pursuit of constructive relations with the US and America’s Asian allies. According to Harsh V. Pant, India stands to benefit from being more assertive.

China on a collision course with the West
The legitimacy of the Communist Party of China (CPC) depends on its ability to create prosperity. In order to do so, it is crucial for Beijing  to dominate 21st century technologies. Its battle with the United States has only just begun, warns Henk Schulte Nordholt.

The ‘New Ordinary’ of ‘Winners’: South Africa as part of BRICS
Jan Bart Gewald , Frans Kamsteeg and Harry Wels present in the final contribution a rather grim picture of South Africa as an emerging stagnant political economy that seems to conform smoothly to the conspiracy of authoritarians. ‘South Africa's BRICS partnership seems now stronger than ever, as the “Rainbow Nation” shares the “my country first” credo supported by the politics of authoritarian leadership.’

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Since 1947 the Clingendael Spectator is the Dutch magazine for international relations. It is free of charge and accessible for all those interested in world politics. The Clingendael Spectator is an independent publication of the Netherlands Institute for International Relations ‘Clingendael’. Follow all Clingendael activities here. Stay updated on the Dutch language Spectator items via TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn, or subscribe to the Spectator Newsletter.

ISSN 2405-8319