Sizing up BRICS’ structure and accomplishments
According to the World Bank, BRICS countries account for approximately 30% of the Earth's territory and 42% of the world’s population
MOSCOW, June 23. /TASS/. The 14th summit of the BRICS group scheduled for June 23, 2022, is underway. The organization is an informal international association of five rapidly developing countries - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The summit will be held by video link under China’s presidency. The quintet will focus on the promotion of global development, world economic problems, as well as ways of strengthening the role of the developing countries.
Creation and goals
The acronym BRICS is derived from the names of the association’s member countries in English. Before the accession of South Africa in 2011 the group was known as BRIC.
The first BRIC summit was in Yekaterinburg in June 2009. The association’s mission was then defined as the development of a consistent, active, pragmatic and open dialogue and cooperation among countries. Later, more principles of joint activity, such as non-bloc status and neutrality towards third parties were agreed upon.
BRICS does not have a secretariat or charter. The rotating presidency is held by the summit’s host country, which is responsible for coordinating all current activities (in recent years the member-states took turns as BRICS chairs according to the sequence of letters in the acronym).
Summits, ministerial meetings
Since the Yekaterinburg meeting, the bloc’s summits have been organized annually in one of the member countries (the last one, chaired by India, was held by videoconference on September 9, 2021). Since 2013, the presiding country, as a rule, has invited other states, close to it geographically and geopolitically, to participate in the event. Also, the BRICS leaders meet at international forums. In addition to summits, negotiations are held regularly at the level of foreign ministers, ministers of finance, health, education, science and agriculture, and secretaries of security councils. At the latest meeting of the quintet’s foreign ministers on May 19, 2022, China came up with the idea of launching a process of BRICS expansion, with the aim of increasing its membership and influence in the world.
Since 2015, BRICS has been holding civil, parliamentary and youth forums, as well as media summits. In all, more than 20 communication platforms operate within the BRICS framework. The agendas of these meetings cover areas such as energy efficiency, climate change, food security, poverty alleviation, sustainable development, and the activities of international financial institutions.
Business, economic and financial activities
To date, the association has established several business and financial institutions, such as the Alliance of Exchanges (2011), Business Council and the Council of Expert Centers (2013). In July 2014, the BRICS New Development Bank (NDB; headquartered in Shanghai) was founded. Its share capital stands at $100 billion. The NDB’s task is to finance infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS states and developing countries. Since the beginning of its operations, the NDB has approved 78 projects for a total of $29.3 billion (on March 4, 2022, the NDB suspended new transactions in Russia "in light of the growing uncertainty and restrictions").
Since 2015, the summits have consistently approved a key five-year document in the field of economic cooperation - the Strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership. The latest one was approved in November 2020.
Currently, work is underway to transition BRICS countries to mutual settlements in national currencies and create a Bond Fund in national currencies. Russian President Vladimir Putin, speaking at the BRICS business forum on June 22, 2022, said that efforts were in progress on creating an international reserve currency based on a basket of currencies of the association’s member-countries. Some experts believe that such a currency may protect the BRICS countries from sanction risks associated with settlements in dollars and euros.
Other cooperation tracks
The BRICS Science Technology Innovation (STI) Steering Committee has been functioning since 2013. In September 2017, the BRICS Network University (established in 2015) began to operate. It incorporates about 60 universities of the association’s member-countries (including 12 in Russia, such as Moscow State University, St. Petersburg State University, and the Urals Federal University).
BRICS countries have been holding film festivals since September 2016, and festivals of theater schools since 2017. In August 2020, at Russia’s initiative the first meeting of sports ministers took place. A memorandum of cooperation among the sports ministries was approved. The document envisages the BRICS Games in the presiding country, exchanges of athletes and coaches, cooperation in sports, including mass sports, and sports recreation and leisure.
In 2020, against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic, Russia suggested considering the creation of an early warning system as a countermeasure against mass infections and biological threats. According to Russia’s Health Ministry 9,500 students from India, 450 from China, 270 from South Africa, and 240 from Brazil are studying at Russia’s medical organizations at the moment.
The BRICS Counter-Terrorism Strategy was approved at the 12th Summit on November 17, 2020.
In August 2021, the heads of the BRICS space agencies signed an agreement to exchange Earth remote sensing data.
According to the World Bank, BRICS countries account for approximately 30% of the Earth's territory and 42% of the world’s population. In 2020 (later data not published), the total GDP of BRICS countries amounted to 25% of the global one ($21 trillion), and their share in world trade was close to 20% ($6.7 trillion).