A slow but steady shift in the global balance of power toward the China-led BRICS club of emerging nations was confirmed in 2011,but it will take some time before its members can speak with one voice,experts say.
The BRICS — Brazil,Russia,India,China and South Africa — now account for roughly 18 per cent of the world’s GDP,40 per cent of its population,15 per cent of global trade and hold 40 per cent of global currency reserves.
With a combined GDP totalling nearly $14 trillion,their economies have accounted for 30 percent of global economic growth since Goldman Sachs coined the BRIC acronym in 2001.
Intra-BRICS trade,which stood at 230 billion dollars in 2010,now amounts to eight percent of global trade.
The London-based Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) said in a report last month that Brazil has supplanted Britain as the sixth largest economy behind the United States,China,Japan,Germany and France.
And before the end of the decade,Russia and India are expected to move into fourth and fifth place respectively ahead of Brazil,according to CEBR and the International Monetary Fund.
Rubens Barbosa,a former Brazilian ambassador to the United States and Britain,believes that BRICS did reasonably well in 2011.
“I think that individually BRICS member countries fared well considering the economic crisis and compared with developed countries in Europe and USA and Japan,” he said.
Barbosa thinks Brazil,which will host the 2014 soccer World Cup and the 2016 summer Olympics,has benefited enormously from membership.
Brazil,he noted,is now perceived as being “on an equal footing with the other three (China,India and Russia).”
With 50 million people and an economy worth only around $500 billion,South Africa,Africa’s leading economy which joined BRICS only last year,is the junior partner,dwarfed by its more powerful and more populous partners.
But with foreign investors increasingly looking to mineral-rich Africa as the next frontier,South Africa has positioning itself as both the gateway to one of the world’s fastest-growing regions and the voice of its one billion people.
While critics see BRICS as riven by rivalry and conflicting interests,the club has shown resilience and thrived on the complementarity of its members.
China and India get access to the huge mineral,energy and farm resources of Russia,Brazil and South Africa to meet the needs of their people and fast-growing economies.