The American Interest

Bumpy BRICS Road

Until a year ago it had seemed that BRICS, the association of five emerging economies—Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa—was morphing from a loose economic alliance into a geopolitical force willing and able to challenge the global order.  Its members’ potential to do so appeared impressive: They account for three billion people (two fifths of the world population), with a combined nominal GDP of $16 trillion and growing.  In July 2014 they agreed to set up a $100 billion development bank, with another $100 billion in a joint currency pool, with the explicit purpose of eventually creating an alternative to the World Bank and the IMF.  Two months earlier presidents Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping had signed a landmark energy deal, followed by a comprehensive Sino-Russian finance and technology agreement last October.

The international association’s seventh summit was held in the Russian city of Ufa (July 8-10), jointly with the 14th summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).  It produced an impressive array of agreements to continue expanding member countries’ cooperation.  Whether they have the means to effect a major change in the global geopolitical balance anytime soon remains to be seen.  Their growth rates have slowed significantly over the past year, with Russia going into recession because of falling oil prices and Western sanctions.  They...

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