Norms and Values
BRICS: Together Against Inequality
Valdai Club Conference Hall, Tsvetnoy boulevard 16/1, Moscow, Russia
List of speakers

On December 19, 2023, the Valdai Club hosted an expert discussion dedicated to Russia’s chairmanship of the BRICS in 2024, together with the presentation of a new Valdai Club report titled  “Global Inequality: Will the BRICS Countries Succeed in ‘Steering’ the Global Economy?”The moderator was Oleg Barabanov, programme director of the Club.

Co-author of the report Maria Apanovich, associate professor at the department of regional management and national policy at the Odintsovo branch of MGIMO University, briefly presented the main theses of the work. She pointed out that socio-economic inequality is caused by four groups of factors. This is inequality in the incomes earned in the white and shadow economies, inequality in access to social benefits, inequality in the territorial distribution of benefits, and gender inequality. Based on World Bank data in recent years, the authors of the report compared the indicators of a number of countries - both current BRICS members and potential ones. First of all, they looked at the dynamics of development of human potential and human capital. “We were interested in how BRICS- or BRICS+ helps countries and how, thanks to this type of cooperation, it is possible to level out the socio-economic problems that currently exist in these countries,” Apanovich emphasized. According to her, closer cooperation within the commonwealth should allow countries to better use their strengths. This should be helped by the bilateral agreements on specific areas of cooperation.

Report co-author Nirmala Dorasamy, Professor at the Department of Public Management and Economics at the Durban University of Technology in South Africa, noted that the BRICS and BRICS+ countries have sufficient potential to ensure global influence, but even between these countries there is a noticeably large degree of inequality in human development index terms. Solving this problem would give the association more influence and sustainability. “Only then we will be able to speak from some unified point of view,” she believes. This requires a more structured, formal approach and consolidation of positions, despite differences. We are now moving towards a new world characterized by economic non-linearity, and we need to understand how to develop in it and how to mitigate the negative impact that humans have on the planet and the negative impact that inequality has on people, she concluded.

Sherif Ged, Chairman of the Egyptian Association of Alumni of Soviet Universities, spoke about his view of BRICS in Egypt, which will join the organisation on January 1, 2024. He noted that Egypt is actively developing relations in various fields with many BRICS countries, and primarily with Moscow. Russia is perceived in Egypt as a long-standing and reliable partner, ready for fair and equal interaction, for which Western countries are often not ready. Egyptians remember many projects in various fields - from construction to culture and art - carried out jointly with Russia or with its assistance, and are confident that membership in BRICS will contribute to the development of the Egyptian economy, Ged said.

Manoochehr Moradi, senior expert at the Iranian Institute of Political and International Studies and Iranian Ambassador to Ukraine (2018–2022), believes that BRICS plays an important role in solving many global problems and the expansion of the group is in the interests of the Global South. The BRICS countries have gained significant global weight and their GDP has exceeded that of the G7, he emphasized. He called reducing the importance of the dollar in the world an important issue, since the dollar in the hands of the United States is turning into a destructive instrument for the economies of other countries. Moradi understands the course towards Iran's accession to BRICS as the course towards development and an innovative approach chosen by the country.