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BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa

What does BRICS do?

With respect to BRICS coordination in international fora and organisms, it focuses on economic and financial governance, as well as on political governance.

In the former, the BRICS agenda gives priority to coordination within the G-20, including the IMF reform. In the latter, BRICS advocates the reform of the United Nations and its Security Council, with a view to enhancing its representativeness, and favors the democratization of international governance. In parallel, BRICS members are deepening their dialogue on the main issues of the international agenda.

Five years after the first Summit, held in 2009, intra-BRICS activities already encompass around 30 areas, such as Agriculture, Science and Technology, Culture, Outer Space, Think Tanks, Internet Governance and Security, Social Security, Intellectual Property, Health, Tourism, among others.

One of the most promising areas of BRICS is economic-financial cooperation. Two instruments of special relevance were signed in the VI BRICS Summit (Fortaleza, July 2014): the agreements for the establishment of the New Development Bank (NDB), which will fund infrastructure and sustainable development projects in emerging markets and developing countries, and the Contingency Reserve Arrangement (CRA), designed to provide mutual support among the BRICS in order to forestall short-term balance of payments pressures. The initial subscribed capital of the NDB was US$ 50 billion, and its initial authorized capital, US$ 100 billion. The resources allocated to the CRA will amount to US$ 100 billion.

The political coordination among BRICS members is carried out and will continue to be carried out without confrontation with other countries. BRICS is open to cooperation and constructive engagement with other countries, as well as with international and regional organizations in dealing with current international issues.

The BRICS History

The coordination between Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) began informally in 2006, with a meeting at the margin of the opening session of the UN General Assembly. In 2007, Brazil organized the meeting at the margin of the General Assembly. At that time, it was realized that the interest in deepening the dialogue required a specific BRIC Foreign Ministers meeting (at the time, still without South Africa).

The first formal BRIC Foreign Ministers Summit was held on May 18, 2008 in Yekaterinburg, Russia. Since then, the acronym, created a few years earlier by the financial market, was not limited to identifying four emerging economies:  BRICs was now a new political-diplomatic entity.

Since 2009, the BRICs Heads of State and Government have met annually. Over the past seven years, seven Summit meetings have taken place, attended by all leaders of the mechanism:

  • First Summit: Yekaterinburg, Russia, June 2009;

  • Second Summit: Brasília, Brazil, April 2010;

  • Third Summit: Sanya, China, April 2011;

  • Fourth Summit: New Delhi, India, March 2012;

  • Fifth Summit: Durban, South Africa, March 2013; and,

  • Sixth Summit: Fortaleza, Brazil, July 2014.

  • Seventh Summit: Ufa, Russia, July 2015.

The First Summit inaugurated cooperation at the level of Heads of State and Government of the BRIC (South Africa was still not a member). Held brics2009against the backdrop of the 2008 financial crisis, the meeting focused on economic and financial issues, with emphasis on the reform of international financial institutions and the role of the G-20 in the recovery of the world economy, besides discussion of political issues such as the need for reform of the United Nations. In addition to the Declaration, the First Summit issued a follow-up document titled "Prospects for the Dialogue between Brazil, Russia, India and China".

brics2010The Second Summit, held in Brazil, deepened the political coordination among the BRIC members and was characterized by the significant expansion, throughout 2010, of intra-BRIC cooperation initiatives – a meeting of the Heads of Statistical Institutes and the publication of two papers with joint statistics of the member countries; a meeting of Ministers of Agriculture; of Presidents of Development Banks meeting; a Think Tank Seminar; a meeting of Cooperatives; a Business Forum; and the Second meeting of National Security Advisors. In addition to the Brasília Declaration, the document"Follow-up Document on Cooperation between Brazil, Russia, India and China" was issued.

brics2011

With the admission of South Africa, the Third Summit consolidated the composition of what became the BRICS. Given South Africa’s economic relevance in the African continent, its constructive political engagement on the international scenario, and its geographic representativeness, the new member provided an important contribution to the mechanism. Besides deepening the previously established sectorial cooperation, the Sanya Summit launched new initiatives in areas such as health and science and technology. A meeting of Ministers of Trade was held in association with the Summit, with a view to discussing the course of the Doha Round. In the Declaration, the partners reaffirmed the need to reform the United Nations, for the first time making reference to the necessity of enlarging the composition of the Security Council. In addition to economic and financial issues, the document mentions issues such as: condemnation of terrorism; incentive for the use of renewable energies and the peaceful use of nuclear energy; importance of the Millennium Development Goals and the eradication of hunger and poverty. Annexed to the Declaration, an Action Plan was approved in the Summit outlining guidelines aimed at deepening existing cooperation and exploring new areas. In addition to other ministerial meetings, the Action Plan institutionalized the Foreign Ministers meetings at the margins of the General Debate of the UN General Assembly.

brics2012

Beyond the traditional Summit events, which consolidated and deepened the two pillars of BRICS – coordination in multilateral forums, and intra-group cooperation the Fourth Summit laid the foundations of a third pillar: financial cooperation with third countries through the establishment of the BRICS Bank, an institution led by the five countries aimed at financing infrastructure and sustainable development projects in the BRICS and other emerging economies and developing countries. The Fourth Summit Declaration established a working group to study the feasibility of this initiative. Additionally, following through previous understandings, two agreements were signed between the BRICS Development Banks, in order to facilitate credit approval in local currencies.

brics2013

The Fifth Summit was held under the theme "BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Development, Integration and Industrialization". The Durban meeting concluded the first round of BRICS Summits, each country having hosted a meeting of Heads of State or Government. The main results of the Summit were: kick-starting the negotiations of the Contingence Reserve Arrangement, with an initial ammount of US$ 100 billion (paragraph 10 of the Declaration); adoption of the "BRICS Development Bank"  viability and feasibility report, and the decision to proceed with understandings to launch the new institution (paragraph 9 of the Declaration); signing of two agreements between the BRICS Development Banks (paragraph 12 of the Declaration); establishment of the BRICS Business Council; and establishment of the BRICS Think Tanks Council. Following the closure of the Summit, BRICS representatives met with African leaders in a Retreat under the theme "Unlocking Africa’s Potential: BRICS and Africa Cooperation on Infrastructure".

brics2014The Sixth Summit was held in Fortaleza, Brazil, in July 2014, with the theme "Inclusive Growth: Sustainable Solutions." The Fortaleza Summit ushered in the second cycle of high-level meetings of the BRICS. Prior to the Summit, meetings of the Think Tanks Council and Academic Forum were held in Rio de Janeiro, in March, initiating the series of meetings related to the Summit. The Fortaleza Summit resulted in the signing of the constitutive agreements for the New Development Bank (paragraphs 11 and 12 of the Fortaleza Declaration) and the Contingency Reserve Arrangement (paragraph 13 of the Fortaleza Declaration). Among the other achievements of the meeting, one may cite the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the export credit insurance agencies of the BRICS and of an agreement on innovation between the national development banks of the five countries.

The Seventh BRICS Summit was held in Ufa, Russia, in July 2015. The Ufa Summit was marked by the ratification of constituting agreements of the New Development Bank and the Contingent Reserve Arrangement. The first meetings of the Bank's Council of Governors and Board of Directors were also held. Understandings among the central banks of the BRICS during the Summit made ​​the Contingent Reserve Arrangement fully operational.

brics2015

In Ufa, the BRICS ratified the "Strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership", with the purpose to strengthen, diversify and enhance trade and investment among the five countries.  In addition, agreements on cultural cooperation and cooperation among the BRICS Development Banks and the New Development Bank were signed.

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