Equal Cooperation: BRICS in the Year of the Pandemic
List of speakers

On November 11, the Valdai Club hosted an online discussion, titled “Russia's BRICS Chairmanship in the Year of the COVID-19 Pandemic”, which was joined by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov. The discussion was held on the eve of the 12th BRICS Summit, scheduled for November 17.
In his opening remarks, moderator Timofei Bordachev, Programme Director of the Valdai Club, pointed to the innovative nature of the BRICS as an organisation predicated on the equality of the participating countries. Opening the discussion, Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation Sergey Ryabkov described the role and place of the BRICS in the world in the context of the current international situation. In an era of large-scale changes, the principles of international law remain the only reliable foundation for order and security. Against this backdrop, the BRICS – a system with no leaders or followers – is ready to cooperate and looks attractive to many countries, he stressed.

Sergey Ryabkov on role and place of BRICS in the global affairs

Xu Sitao, Chief Economist and Partner at Deloitte (China), provided a view on BRICS activities from China. Outlining the global trends generated by COVID-19, he analysed the prospects and possible areas of activity of the New Development Bank, created by the BRICS countries. 

Philani Mthembu, Executive Director at the Institute for Global Dialogue, South Africa, in turn, noted the success of BRICS in combating the pandemic and expressed hope for continued cooperation within the BRICS to counter possible subsequent pandemics, as well as in the development of resilience in general and strengthening regional supply chains. According to him, institutions such as the New Development Bank are especially important when going beyond, to the level of BRICS+.

Indian expert Akshay Mathur, Director of the Observer Research Foundation, Mumbai, and Head of the ORF Geoeconomics Studies Programme, noted that the BRICS format as a whole suits its initial tasks, but now it is time to go back, to reconsider the direction of development and turn BRICS into a driving new force for globalisation. 

In conclusion, Victoria Panova, Managing Director of the National Committee for BRICS Research and Academic Supervisor of the BRICS Russia Organising Committee Expert Council, summed up the results of the year-long Russian presidency, stressing that in this difficult year of the pandemic, BRICS stands favourably against the background of many other formal and informal structures. She paid special attention to cooperation at the level of the expert community.