On September 8, an online presentation of a new Valdai Discussion Club report, titled “Anti-Crisis Impulses of BRICS-Plus: From BRICS Countries to Regional Partners” took place. In his opening remarks, the moderator of the discussion and a co-author of the report, Yaroslav Lissovolik, Programme Director of the Valdai Discussion Club, emphasised the unprecedented situation in which the world economy currently finds itself due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the importance of regional factors in this context. The BRICS-Plus concept, developed by the Valdai Discussion Club in 2017, provides for cooperation not only between the BRICS countries, but also between the regional structures in which they are members. This, as Lissovolik believes, makes it very relevant now.
Pavel Chernyshev, Head of the Section of Multilateral Financial Cooperation at the Department of International Financial Relations of the Russian Ministry of Finance, noted that the Ministry is looking at the expansion of BRICS primarily from a practical point of view. According to him, there are two areas of cooperation which it considers most promising: the coordination of the interaction of regional financial mechanisms and in the use of development banks.
Artem Kalabukhov, First Secretary of the BRICS Section at the Department of Foreign Policy Planning of the Russian Foreign Ministry, described the state of affairs in the BRICS proper. He noted that in the current situation, the association can serve as a unique example of partnership and mutual support, and gave specific examples of interaction and mutual assistance. Speaking about BRICS-Plus, he called this format a model of inclusive, multi-level integration that can serve as a basis for global governance in the post-pandemic world.
A view from Argentina on the prospects for cooperation with BRICS was presented by Francisco de Santibañes, Director General at the Argentine Council for International Relations (CARI). He considers the coordination of countering crises at the interregional level to be one of the key aspects of BRICS activities. The lack of such coordination at the moment, in his opinion, is especially harmful to poorer countries. Separately, the Argentinean scholar emphasised the importance of cooperation between the BRICS-Plus countries in the field of digitalisation.
Ekaterina Arapova, Director of the Sanctions Policy Expertise Centre at the Institute of International Studies of MGIMO University and a co-author of the report, spoke about three possible models of cooperation within the BRICS-Plus, which imply the BRICS mechanisms maintained by other countries: coordination at the level of regional stabilisation mechanisms and reserve funds; consolidation of financial resources at the level of regional development banks; and synchronization of agendas at the level of the five main regional blocks. Turning to specifics, she pointed to the importance of expanding membership in the BRICS New Development Bank and the possibility of turning BRICS-Plus into an international platform for the development of e-commerce and digital governance.
Cyril Prinsloo, a researcher on economic diplomacy at the South African Institute of International Affairs, raised the issue of developing countries’ access to resources and of the creeping “nationalisation” of production chains as part of the coronavirus crisis. In this aspect, regional integration blocs and mechanisms of cooperation between them are of particular importance. He also paid special attention to the development of a multilateral approach and interregional cooperation.