Brazil’s interim President Michel Temer’s major policy shift has posed a test to the capability of BRICS as the new government has relegated cooperation with the five-nation bloc to “secondary place”, Chinese state media said on Monday.
Outlining China’s thinking towards the political crisis leading to the ouster of President Dilma Roussef, who was suspended from office pending her impeachment trial, a Xinhua news agency’s commentary quoted analysts as saying that Brazil’s interim government is likely to put its cooperation with other BRICS countries – Russia, India, China and South Africa – in a secondary place.
Whether the BRICS countries stand united and whether their cooperation mechanism functions smoothly will be crucial for the development of the bloc, the commentary said.
Brazil always valued its cooperative relations with other BRICS countries after the birth of the bloc in 2009. However, the political developments since the suspension of Rousseff are resulting in readjustment of its foreign policies.
Interim Foreign Minister Jose Serra outlined new priorities in foreign policies, saying Brazil would instead put emphasis on bilateral ties with Argentina and Mexico and, meanwhile, make it a priority to restore the “traditional partnerships” with the US, Europe and Japan, it said.
On cooperation with other BRICS countries, Serra said Brazil will seize opportunities brought about by this mechanism with an eye to enhancing trade and investment cooperation among its members.
A subtle difference was noticed from the terms frequently used by Rousseff such as “strategic cooperation” and “diplomatic priorities”, the commentary said.
Amid the volatile political situation in Brazil, the fate of Rousseff remains to be seen before the last two rounds of vote at the Senate.
Zhou Zhiwei, Executive Director of the Brazil Research Centre, a unit of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that no matter what the final result is, the fermenting political crisis could lead to a “backtrack” in the foreign policy of Brazil and affect its dedication to the BRICS mechanism in the short term.
The term BRIC, coined by Goldman Sachs Chief Economist Jim O’Neill in 2001, refers to the grouping of the four fast-growing emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China.
In 2006, Goldman set up the BRIC Fund, which generated fairly good returns for its investors in the first few years.
However, with sharp declines in prices of commodities since 2013, BRICS experienced a slowdown in economic growth.
Brazil and Russia even registered negative economic growths.