How Bright Can BRICS Shine?
2011/04/15

BEIJING, April 14 (Xinhua) -- The third summit of BRICS, which groups Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, is being held in the southern Chinese city of Sanya Thursday, focusing on the international situation, global economic and financial affairs, development issues and internal cooperation.

In order to better estimate how bright BRICS can really shine in the world arena, Xinhua conducted interviews with scholars from China, Brazil, France, South Africa, Argentina and Russia.

They talked about BRICS' significance, identity and possible future enlargement.

SIGNIFICANCE OF BRICS

Mariano Turzi, professor at Torcuato De Tella University in Buenos Aires, said close cooperation and dialogue among the BRICS nations would deepen South-South cooperation, change the game rules of international finance and trade, and give developing countries more rights to speak.

BRICS' rise would be difficult to reverse in 10 to 15 years, and it would restructure the global pattern of economy, trade and diplomacy, he said.

Elizabeth Sidiropoulos, director of the South African Institute of International Affairs, said the BRICS mechanism was the natural product of the sustainable rise of emerging economies, and the continuous expansion of trade and economic cooperation between them, adding BRICS was a bloc struggling for the interests of developing countries.

Ma Jiali, executive deputy director of the Center for Strategic Studies of the China Reform Forum, said BRICS members at the summit would consult with each other on major international issues, seek common stances on international financial issues, climate change and sustainable development, and may express their common voices on some urgent problems ahead of the world community.

He said the summit would improve international circumstances for emerging economies, to some extent create a more healthy and beneficial international atmosphere, and display a fresh picture of emerging economies.

Humberto Siuves, an economist with the Brazilian Economic Institute of the Getulio Vargas Foundation, said the BRICS mechanism had provided a platform for BRICS members to express their views, coordinate their stances and take joint action in forming the new international political and economic order.

Pier Carlo Padoan, chief economist of the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), said the BRICS mechanism was an important innovation. He expressed the hope the mechanism could boost collaboration between developing and developed countries and promote their joint efforts in achieving development.

IDENTITY OF BRICS

Turzi said BRICS currently neither had a permanent secretariat nor served as a formal international organization. It was necessary for the bloc to set up a secretariat, making it act as a real "executive committee" for all developing countries, the scholar said.

Sidiropoulos said the rotating system adopted by BRICS featured a free and feasible decision-making procedure, allowing members to reach consensus on specific issues and providing an outlet for their demands.

But if BRICS was aimed at addressing global issues, a concrete executive body for coordinated actions was needed, she said.

Ma said, though the grouping had yet to serve as a formal international organization, it was highly promising.

Looking at the development path of many international multilateral organizations and mechanisms, it usually took time for a fledgling organization to take shape, Ma said.

Vladimir Portyakov, deputy director of the Far East Institute at the Russian Academy of Sciences, said the annual BRICS summit had already lent institutionalized characteristics to the bloc.

On top of that, BRICS held meetings among foreign, agricultural and financial ministers and promoted communications among experts and entrepreneurs. These efforts had greatly enriched inter-BRICS cooperation, he said.

Marcos Sintra, an expert with the Institute of Applied Economic Research, said the BRICS mechanism was still in its infancy, entailing strengthened dialogue and communications among member countries.

Sintra said, when it came to cooperation areas, priority should be given to economy over politics to extend and deepen cooperation progressively.

ENLARGEMENT OF BRICS

Sidiropoulos said South Africa's membership broadened the representativeness of the BRICS mechanism and presaged the emergence of a novel pattern of global governance.

But for the time being, it was unadvisable to expand the framework, because the accession criteria had not been standardized, and also because imprudent aggrandizement was a ready recipe for unsound coordination and cooperation, she said.

Turzi said BRICS was not trying to change the trend of globalization or the distribution of power or to confront their developed peers, adding it was designed to be a coordination platform for emerging economies and a bridge between developing and developed countries.

Although more emerging countries were seeking BRICS membership, further expansion should be "slow and cautious," Turzi said.

Any newcomer should be strong enough in both political and economic terms and be endorsed by all the existing members, the scholar said.

Siuves said the five-member framework should not be expanded further.

The first reason was BRICS, now covering Eurasia, South America and Africa, had gained adequate representativeness, the economist said.

The second was that, as a mechanism still in its infancy, a larger membership was likely to hold up the consensus-building process, Siuves said.

Another factor was that, as every international organization needed a stable nucleus, BRICS should consider further enlargement after its nucleus fully matured, the economist said.

Andrey Ostrovsky, deputy director of the Far East Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said aggrandizement was helpful to boosting the economic weight and political influence of the BRICS bloc.

From a long-term perspective, however, it was more important to consolidate its foundation of internal economic cooperation, Ostrovsky said. The group should carry out more regional and sub-regional cooperation programs and forge ahead toward a more institutionalized future with concrete achievements, he said.

Ma said a number of rapidly growing emerging economies had shown profound interest in joining the BRICS framework.

The current members had explicitly stressed the mechanism was open and welcomed those with considerable economic strength, population size, regional representativeness and international influence when the time was ripe, he said.

However, a hasty enlargement was likely to impede its decision-making ability, Ma said, adding the priority now was to strengthen the cohesion of the current five members.

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