In Brazil, will BRIC summit unify or reinforce their rifts?
While the BRICs are four emerging economic powerhouses (Brazil, Russia, India, China), post-financial crisis differences are creating problems, says some analysts. Will today's summit mend those rifts or widen them?
Mexico City and Sao Paulo, Brazil
As the leaders of the so-called BRIC countries – Brazil, Russia, India and China – meet in Brazil’s capital today, they will try to present a united front. After all, the thinking goes, each emerging economy is better of banding together than going it alone.Skip to next paragraph
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In many ways, this is more than just a convenient acronym coined by a Goldman Sachs economist in 2001 for key developing nations. Each nation is a champion of a multi-polar world, a bloc that serves as an alternative to the G7. They oppose protectionism and want to sell more of their own goods. They also want to bolster trade between themselves.
But in many ways their similarities are outweighed by what sets them apart.
Their differences range from such basics as geography, to their styles of governance and the economies they run. And the members of BRIC have changed in the wake of the financial crisis. Some say that Russia doesn’t even belong in the club anymore. And so the outcome of their meeting in Brasilia today could, instead of giving them more prominence on the global stage, reinforce their rifts.
“I’d say the differences outweigh the commonalities. Even basic political structures, two non-democratic regimes and two democratic regimes. In economics, you have two raw material importers in China and India and two raw material exporters, Russia and Brazil,” says Oliver Stuenkel, a visiting professor at the University of Sao Paulo. “That limits the opportunity to get into detail. These differences limit everything.”
But Paulo Ferracioli, of the recently created BRIC Centre for Study and Research in Brazil, says he sees room for gains during this second BRIC summit (the first was last year in Yekaterinburg, Russia).
Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and Chinese leader Hu Jintao, each share a desire for more influence than they have so far been able to wield, says Mr. Ferracioli.
“These are four countries that in the international arena all think they have a more important role to play than they have been given in the global governance system,” he says. “They want more power. It’s as simple as that. They feel they are big economies, much bigger than many European countries, for example, that are in G7.”