In mid-August, a global summit of influential countries made headlines around the world, but it was not NATO or the G7.
This was the summit of the alliance called “BRICS”.
It is named after origin country Which established the group in 2009: Brazil, Russia, India and China. South Africa was added to the group in 2010.
The recent summit put the bloc in the spotlight by announcing six new members that will join the BRICS grouping on January 1: Argentina, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Ethiopia, Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Currently, the countries comprising the G7, including the United States, represent 10% of the world’s population and about 42% of GDP.
By some guessesThe BRICS countries currently represent about 40% of the world’s population and about a quarter of its GDP.
Once the largest oil-producing countries join the grouping next year, its collective economic strength is expected to grow even further.
Reactions from Western observers have been mixed, with some downplaying the possibility of any economic or political rivalry with the group.
For example, former US national security adviser John Bolton told CNBC that this is not a matter of particular concern.
“I don’t think they pose a serious challenge at this point because the group’s largest economy, China, is now heading into a potentially real crisis,” Bolton said.
Underscoring the potential for political infighting, Russian President Vladimir Putin attended the summit virtually as the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant against him for alleged war crimes in Ukraine.
South Africa, as a signatory to the ICC treaty, would have been obliged to arrest Putin if he were to land on its territory.
But others see BRICS as a fast-growing superpower of nations, and the recent summit as a major demonstration of China’s influence.
Earlier this year, China mediated de-escalation of tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran by helping them reopen diplomatic channels.
In Africa, China has made significant progress by building infrastructure and expanding its influence across the continent – achievements that Chinese President Xi Jinping highlighted at the summit.
“Over the past decade, China has provided a large amount of development assistance to Africa and helped build more than 6,000 kilometers of railways, more than 6,000 kilometers of highways and more than 80 large power facilities on the continent,” Xi said.
China alone has overtaken the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank as the world’s largest lender, lending hundreds of billions of dollars worldwide.
One of the central appeals of the BRICS group is its “New Development Bank”, which aims to be an alternative lending option to the IMF and World Bank.
Critics claim that the United States has too much power within the IMF and World Bank, which often impose lending requirements and penalties that are too harsh for the poorest countries.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, “The pandemic has once again underlined how outdated, dysfunctional and unjust the global financial architecture is. It has failed in its basic function as a global safety net. “
But the “New Development Bank” has come under criticism for similar problems with transparency and strict lending requirements.
and according to associated PressAt least a dozen countries indebted to China are now devoting more than a third of their government revenues to repaying rising foreign debt.
Due to double in size next year, BRICS has the potential to grow massively in influence over the next several years.
But it still faces an uphill battle to end the economic and political dominance of the G7 countries on the global stage.