The recent XIV virtual summit of the BRICS, hosted and chaired by China, has fostered a revitalisation of the group. It is occurring within the framework of a complex and uncertain transition and reconfiguration of the international system.
The recent BRICS gathering was held in the context of the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, shortly after the G7 and NATO summits in June. It was held after the conflict in Ukraine had prompted the West to impose economic sanctions on Russia, causing a boomerang effect which resulted in a global economic slowdown and an increase in inflation in most countries, in the framework of a possible global economic recession. Within this context, the BRICS are seen as an alternative to the G7 countries, grouping together five of the most dynamic emerging economies, which are positioning themselves as a decisive factor in the global governance architecture and as a voice of the ‘Global South’ that advocates an economic and political alternative to the West. According to the World Bank, by 2019 the five members of the BRICS represented 42% of the planet’s population, 24% of world GDP and more than 16% of global growth. Although these figures should be reviewed in light of the current global economic situation, it cannot be ignored that these nations abound in strategic natural resources, enjoy the greatest biodiversity on the planet and have contributed in recent years to 50% of the Gross Product of the planet.
Since its creation in 2009, the bloc has significantly increased trade and investment among its members (particularly during 2021), with China, which became the second largest economy in the world, as its main player. It has gained ground as a recognised institution and has given rise to the creation of the New Development Bank (NDB) to support its members, while helping to stabilise bilateral relations between some of them, such as India and China, which are working to address ongoing border disputes. Additionally, according to Brazilian analyst Oliver Stuenkel
, “despite different political systems, economic characteristics, and geopolitical rivalries, the BRICS members share a profound scepticism of the US international liberal order and the perceived danger that unipolarity represents to their interests.”