I do not see the so-called BRICS as a group successfully taking initiatives in terms of playing a greater role in global leadership. Individually, though, you can see one of the five countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – taking the lead in a specific situation, for example, when Brazil and Turkey tried to act as intermediaries between the major Western powers and Iran on the issue of nuclear activities.
As far as we know, most of the discussions that do take place between the heads of state of BRICS are in the economic and financial areas. Political issues are not present on the agenda for very well known reasons. Their concern in such meetings is basically linked to “currency dumping”, market protection against unfair competition, protectionism, etc
It seems to me that BRICS nations are not aligned with a set of governance principles and practices that will orient and guide their participation in the world scene with agreed medium and long-term objectives. Eventually, BRICS countries may act in concert on ad hoc issues where their short-term interests are aligned. Currently, they are focused on how to protect their economies from the consequences of the global financial crisis that is affecting most of the OECD economies. Their concern is how to mitigate the consequences of contamination.
If my thinking is correct, the expectations about the role that the BRICS can play as a group are exaggerated. For Brazil, it is quite evident that the BRICS summits are opportunities to advance its trade and finance themes – avoiding protectionism and currency rate distortions – as well as its political agenda – closer alignment in environmental issues and lobbying for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council and increasing international prestige.
It should be borne in mind that the BRICS are a highly heterogeneous group in terms of their political organization, their adherence to democratic values, and their domestic and foreign policy traditions. The role of China in this grouping is especially important. It exerts a disproportionally large influence on the BRICS agenda due to its enormous demographic, economic and political importance … and potential. Thus, we run the risk of a certain decline of the model, if we could call that a model.
My expectations for the New Delhi Summit are very modest.
*Roberto Teixeira da Costa, Member and Representative of the Strategic Committee, CEAL – Conselho de Empresários da América Latina, Brazil