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BRICS 2017: Cementing relations

BRICS 2017: Cementing relations

By Akshat Vachher

The BRICS nations have taken long strides to move towards the path of development and be categorised as developed nations. However, despite growth, the BRICS nations have had a minimal role in the management of the key global institutions.

With an aim to soften the influence of the powerful and developed ‘West’ on global affairs and issues, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa forged a partnership in the form of BRICS.

BRICS: For a brighter future

The ninth edition of the summit took place at Xiamen, China. The central agenda was ‘Stronger Partnership for a brighter future’. This idea is important because the BRICS’ nations constitute over 40% of the world’s population, 25% of world GDP and a quarter of the total landmass.

With a slowdown in the economies of Russia, South Africa and Brazil, and disputes between India and China (especially the one in Doklam), the idea of a forum becomes more significant. The development and impact of BRICS’ nations will shape the way the world will be in future.

BRICS is an important platform to cooperate on issues such as terrorism and climate change, apart from improving trade and business ties. This time, leaders from Egypt, Guinea, Mexico, Tajikistan and Thailand also attended the summit as guests, since the summit aims to expand and grow.

The joint fight against terror

A major outcome of the 2017 summit is the cooperation against terrorism. The leaders of the five emerging economies called for reforms in the UN. They also denounced North Korea for its latest nuclear assessment. A joint declaration, calling for unity against terrorism, was passed. Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad, the Islamic State group and Al-Qaeda were identified as terror groups operating in Pakistan.

This is being seen as a diplomatic victory for Delhi after the Doklam standoff. Moreover, China had earlier refused to support India on international platforms on terror issues. It has repeatedly blocked India’s attempts for Masood Azhar, the founder of Jaish-e-Mohammad, to be identified as a terrorist by the UN’s Security Council.

However, China’s latest affirmation cannot be taken for granted as it is known to change its stance. Another reason for China’s stance, apart from hosting BRICS, could be international pressure. Pakistan’s failure to control terrorism which has also impacted the Chinese people.

Strengthening economic and technological cooperation

The countries also pledged opposition to protectionism, which has been growing in the West and will affect emerging economies, especially Chinese exports. The leaders have decided to foster a more just and equitable international order. This is especially important because of Trump’s policies which cater to American businesses by reducing imports and increasing exports.

China has pledged to set aside $76 million for economic and technological cooperation amongst the five countries. It has also pledged an additional $4 million in support of BRICS Development Bank.

Does China have ulterior motives?

Despite setting aside an amount, China seems to be catering to its regional interests than BRICS. This is evident from the fact that China had pledged a whopping $120 billion for its ‘One Belt, One Road’ project that aims to develop China’s connections with Europe and Africa. International observers feel that BRICS’ influence seems to be waning out because of political woes between India and China and the receding economies of Brazil, Russia and South Africa.

China, being the economic and military powerhouse, is expected to contribute a lot more than its current share. Further, India and China need to move beyond their border disputes as the regional conflicts can hamper future BRICS initiatives. The members also need to increase trade and business amongst themselves to improve ties and foster progress. To increase its influence, members of BRICS need to cater to each other’s interests rather than competing with each other to exert regional influence.

Featured Image Source: Visual Hunt

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