BRICS began as a Wall Street report. Today it’s a world shaper. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh landed on Tuesday on the Chinese island of Hainan for the third BRICS summit to see what “contribution” the five-nation grouping can make in “sustaining” the global economic recovery. BRICS – the capital S will be formally added this week as South Africa joins the original lineup of Brazil, Russia, India and China – has proven more constructive than was originally expected.
The five governments have been able to work coherently within the Group of Twenty, the UN Security Council and specialized multilateral bodies dealing with topics like climate change. “Our experience of working with each other in these forums has been positive and holds promise,” said Singh in a pre-summit statement.
Its origins as a Goldman Sachs report and the geographical spread of its members had made BRICS a subject of derision. However, the ability of its members to actually coordinate policy, the real measure of multilateral strength, have helped it win credibility.
“This has gone much beyond the original report,” said a source, noting its agenda included restructuring the global financial architecture. “This sort of stuff Goldman Sachs never thought of.”
And politics is following the economics. The original BRIC members came together recent on something as political as the Security Council vote on Libya. Thus South Africa may end the “trillion dollar club” label that BRIC once carried, but it brings in a needed African representation.
An effusive Commerce Minister Anand Sharma said BRICS was a “new fulcrum of global stability.” In time, he said with confidence, BRICS would overtake the Group of Eight in global clout. Indian officials, who have shaken off their initial skepticism about such a strange beast, now speak of BRICS “consolidating” a role in the world. “This is functioning very well so far,” said Manvir Sngh, the Foreign Ministry’s Secretary (Economic Relations) in New Delhi on Monday