On the 8th and 9th of July 2015, leaders of the BRICS member states will meet in the Russian city of Ufa for the 7th BRICS Summit.
BRICS is an association of countries with some of the fastest economic growth in the world, and includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. They are characterised by making significant contributions to global economic development, and have served as inspiration for developing countries around the world. However, BRICS countries are currently encountering difficulties with economic development – such as China’s slowdown on economic growth; the depreciation of the Russian Rouble; high inflation rates in India; social instability on the rise in Brazil; as well as labour issues in South Africa. Nevertheless, these problems can ultimately be seen as a travail in the economic development process, and can be expected with such rapid levels of growth. In order to survive this struggle, these countries need to cooperate in mutual development in order to jointly create a better future.
BRICS are defined in terms of being developing nations, and under these circumstances where it can be difficult to move either forward or backwards, development on all levels is key in removing these constraints.
Economic development is the first step, and BRICS countries must regard this as a top priority. They need to sustain a steady growth rate, accelerate the pace of reform and strengthen the ability to innovate. Reform and innovation should be utilised as the main drivers of development in order to resolve outdated ideologies, systems and mechanisms, and to increase the level of economic development. As long as these two factors remain crucial pillars within development, the growth of BRICS countries will definitely stand out in the global economic arena.
In addition, cooperation should be the unwavering ideology under which BRICS countries continue to move forward together. Although the BRICS countries are at similar stages of development, they have a wide range of opportunities that they can take advantage of. China has a broad market, strong innovative ability and a relatively strong economic foundation. Russia is rich in natural resources while India, South Africa and Brazil also have unique advantages. As long as an appropriate cooperation methodology is adopted, they will be able to achieve the result of 1+1 being greater than 2.
Accordingly, mutual political trust will need to be strengthened in order to bridge the gap between BRICS countries and reinforce cooperation in various areas such as the economy, culture, finances, communications and trade.
The next step will be to bolster this level of cooperation amongst BRICS countries in order to improve the relationships between personnel, trade, economic investment and the exchange of information to a level whereby they can develop ideas that they can eventually convert into action. By developing a new cooperation regime, efficiency can be facilitated and their dependence on western countries can be reduced. Focus areas must be determined to maximize these cooperative benefits. For example, this has already been demonstrated in the establishment of the BRICS Development Bank in 2014, which is a result of BRICS cooperation in the financial sector. To create additional opportunities in economic collaboration, this strategy should be aimed at developing infrastructure in the energy, transport and communication sectors.
Lastly, BRICS countries should engage openly with each other and intensify cooperation, but this cannot be done if the parties are narrow-minded and ring-fence themselves from developed economies when opportunities arise. In addition, cooperation with the rest of the world will be beneficial to member states so long as it does not harm the mutual interests of BRICS.
Regardless of development or cooperation issues, the BRICS countries should always aim for a win-win outcome. This is a philosophy that China adheres to and is advocating for. Being the world’s second biggest economy (although some analysts have confirmed China as the world’s largest economy), and having its economic development placed at the centre of the world stage, China is key as a powerhouse to drive the BRICS countries towards success. Despite China’s economic growth having slowed down, it remains within the bounds of the rules of economic development. The Chinese economy still shows signs of new opportunities, business innovation, quality economic development, social harmony, as well as improved living standards. In future, China will be able to pass on its successful experience to other BRICS countries, strengthen its influence, and promote the development of all BRICS members.
The future of economic development in BRICS countries is looking extremely bright, and the current difficulties faced by these countries should not deter hope. The world economy post the economic meltdown now faces a reshuffle. As America, Japan, Europe and other developed economies remain in their state of recovery and are showing signs of lag, it is likewise inevitable that the developing BRICS countries may also experience a certain degree of struggle. However, as long as they are resolute in their aims for cooperation and joint economic development under a win-win strategy, and that each country takes advantage of its potential to drive economic development, they can succeed in turning these goals into reality.