Sergey Taraso: BRICS – the new frontier
I would like to offer in a brief form some information on recent important events on the international agenda, about which little has been written so far in the local and regional press, but which could have essential impact upon world politics and global economy. The matter concerns the both summits of BRICS and Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in the Russian city of Ufa.
As it is well known, BRICS is the acronym for an association of five major emerging national economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. The BRICS members are all developing or newly industrialised countries, distinguished by their large economies and significant influence on regional and global affairs. The five BRICS countries represent almost three billion people, or approximately 40 per cent of the world population. It is estimated that the combined GDP of BRICS would reach US$50 trillion by 2020.
BRICS is at once the result and the motive force of dynamic changes occurring in the world, and the emergence of a new polycentric system of international relations, which, among other things, is characterised by a growing influence of the new centres of power and influence and the consolidating of relations between them, which have been conducted on the basis of reciprocal respect, non-interference in internal affairs, equality, and mutual benefit (win-win).
The key documents that were last week approved by the BRICS leaders - the Ufa Declaration, the plan of action and the Economic Partnership Strategy - contain concrete agreements on the development of our association and the consolidation of its international status, and provide for comprehensive measures to deepen our coordination in foreign policy and expand trade, investment and technology exchange.
The Five have opened the door to the practical operation of BRICS financial institutions - the New Development Bank and Contingent Reserve Arrangement, with a total capacity of US$200 billion. The participating nations decided to lend in their own local currencies to the bank, starting April 2016.
Among the items on the agenda were adoption of the Economic Partnership Strategy and a start of multilateral dialogue on issues of mining, power engineering, information and communications technologies and migration. Extra impetus was given to cooperation in education, science, health care, cultural and social policies and in issues regarding civil society. The Five have already kick-started parliamentary, youth, and trade union BRICS dimensions. To make the group's activity more transparent and open, it was decided to launch special website - the BRICS virtual secretariat.
It should be noticed that the BRICS held a joint meeting with the SCO, which held a summit of its own in the same period.
The SCO summit participants summed up the results of their work in 2014-2015, examined current work priorities, set the main directions for further cooperation, and exchanged views on current international and regional issues.
ACHIEVING MAJOR GOALS
The major goals have been achieved. First of all, for the first time in the 15 years of the SCO, the decision was made to increase the number of members. Documents were signed to begin the accession of India and Pakistan. A resolution was made to upgrade the status of Belarus to an observer. Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, and Nepal have become dialogue partners. Several more states have expressed willingness to join as observers and dialogue partners. The geography is rather impressive - from South and Southeast Asia to the Middle East.
The heads of BRICS and SCO together with the leaders of the Eurasian Economic Union's member countries, who were also invited to Ufa, representing several different continents - Eurasia, South America and Africa - came to Russia. Each of these countries has its own development road, economic growth model, and rich history and culture. It is this diversity and coming together of different traditions that gives them strength and tremendous potential. Our interaction is not directed against anyone; conversely, it serves the cause of international stability and creation of prerequisites for sustainable and balanced growth.
Russia views strengthening of ties with them as its foreign policy priority. We see in this association an embodiment of key features of dynamic changes occurring in the world, the emergence of a new polycentric system of international relations, and think it important to further close ranks working together to counterterrorism, the drug menace, dissemination of weapons of mass destruction, to achieve conflict settlement, consolidate the international law system and resist unilateral sanctions.