Exploring BRICS as a platform for developing nations in the Global South


The 15th BRICS Summit, hosted by South Africa, has brought together the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa to discuss the potential of this coalition as a platform for developing nations in the Global South. President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, President Xi Jinping of China, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India are among the attendees. Notably, Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is participating for the first time, and there is anticipation that Bangladesh will become a member of BRICS.

South Africa, renowned for its historic figure Nelson Mandela and a wealth of natural and cultural treasures, serves as the backdrop for this significant summit. It’s worth noting that South Africa was the pioneer among African nations to establish a Belt and Road cooperation agreement with China, solidifying its role as China’s top trading partner on the continent for over a decade and a recipient of substantial Chinese investment.

The gathering includes leaders from developing countries, representing nearly half of the world’s population, with China, India, and Russia seeking to strengthen their collaborative alliance as a counterbalance to Western influence. This is particularly relevant as the BRICS grouping summit seeks to enhance its role in global affairs, potentially leading to a more assertive economic and political stance against the West.

Addressing concerns about potential polarization and geopolitical alignments, President Ramaphosa emphasized South Africa’s commitment to principled foreign policy rather than aligning exclusively with global powers. While striving for balance, South Africa aims to avoid contributing to a world divided into competing factions.

The summit agenda features discussions on reducing the US dollar’s dominance in international trade transactions, a topic of interest to nations like Russia facing economic sanctions. Additionally, China aims to expand its influence by building coalitions of developing countries to challenge the US on the global stage, asserting that the traditional global governance system has faltered.

However, India, a pivotal member, remains cautious about the coalition’s potential shift towards an overtly anti-Western stance, given Russia and China’s distinct agendas. Experts suggest that India, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership, is committed to preserving the geo-economic essence of BRICS and avoiding a pronounced geopolitical orientation.

With over 40 countries expressing interest in joining BRICS, the platform’s expansion is a topic of discussion. Nations like Iran and Venezuela, both grappling with sanctions and isolation, are eyeing membership. Moreover, African countries such as Ethiopia and Nigeria are drawn to BRICS due to its commitment to UN reforms, aiming to amplify Africa’s global influence.

The establishment of a common BRICS currency is another key focus of the summit. While some view it as a potential challenger to the US dollar, economists, including Lord Jim O’Neill, who coined the term BRICS, emphasize the challenges of coordinating such a currency among vastly different economies. Prominent figures like Brazil’s President Lula da Silva and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov have endorsed the idea, suggesting it could bolster economic autonomy and stability for member nations.

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to South Africa is seen as pivotal, strengthening China’s ties with the continent and bolstering China-Africa cooperation amid shifting global dynamics. China’s substantial investments in South African projects, ranging from infrastructure to job creation initiatives, underline its commitment to the region.

In conclusion, the 15th BRICS Summit hosted by South Africa reflects the coalition’s aspiration to serve as a platform for developing nations in the Global South. As leaders convene to deliberate on economic cooperation, geopolitical alignment, and potential currency reforms, the future trajectory of BRICS will undoubtedly impact global affairs and shape the balance of power on the international stage.

What Bangladesh can expect from BRICS?

As Bangladesh participates in the 15th BRICS Summit and eyes potential membership, the nation can anticipate several opportunities and benefits from engaging with this coalition of developing nations. While not a current member, attending the summit signifies Bangladesh’s interest in deepening ties with BRICS and exploring how it can leverage this platform to advance its own economic and strategic interests.

Economic partnerships

BRICS consists of some of the world’s largest economies, including China and India. For Bangladesh, engaging with these economic powerhouses could open doors to enhanced trade and investment opportunities. With Bangladesh’s growing textile and garment industry and its strategic location, stronger ties with BRICS could lead to increased exports and foreign direct investment, contributing to economic growth and job creation.

Infrastructure development

BRICS countries have demonstrated a keen interest in infrastructure development projects, and Bangladesh could benefit from their expertise and financial resources. Enhanced infrastructure, such as improved transportation networks and energy facilities, could bolster Bangladesh’s economic competitiveness and attract more investment.

Diversification of partnerships

While Bangladesh has established relationships with traditional partners, such as Western countries, expanding its diplomatic and economic ties with BRICS nations could provide a counterbalance and reduce reliance on a few key partners. This diversification can enhance Bangladesh’s negotiating power on the global stage.

Access to development funds

BRICS has shown interest in supporting infrastructure and development projects in member and partner countries. Bangladesh could access funds for projects that align with the coalition’s goals, leading to advancements in areas such as energy, technology, and education.

Technology and innovation

BRICS nations are increasingly investing in technology and innovation. Bangladesh could collaborate on research and development initiatives, gain access to technological expertise, and benefit from knowledge-sharing in sectors like agriculture, healthcare, and information technology.

Human capital development

BRICS nations often prioritize human capital development, including education and skills training. Bangladesh could seek cooperation in these areas to enhance its workforce’s capabilities and competitiveness in the global market.

Geopolitical influence

As a member or close partner of BRICS, Bangladesh could have a stronger voice in global affairs. The coalition’s collective clout could potentially enable Bangladesh to address regional and international issues more effectively and advocate for its interests on a larger platform.

Energy and resources

Cooperation with BRICS nations, particularly Russia, could offer access to energy resources and technologies, contributing to Bangladesh’s energy security and sustainability.

It’s important to note that while there are potential benefits, joining BRICS also involves considerations. Bangladesh would need to align its interests and policies with those of the coalition’s existing members. Additionally, the nation would need to contribute meaningfully to the coalition’s objectives, which often involve promoting economic growth, development, and cooperation.

Bangladesh’s engagement with BRICS holds promise for economic growth, infrastructure development, and enhanced geopolitical influence. As the country navigates its relationship with this coalition, careful strategic planning and alignment of priorities will be crucial to maximizing the benefits and opportunities that BRICS can offer.


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