Against the backdrop of waning integration impulses in the developed world, the largest developing economies are forging ahead with new initiatives directed at revitalizing regional integration. China in particular appears to exhibit activism in building new development institutions (Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank–AIIB), mega-regional projects (‘One Belt One Road’) as well as new economic alliances across the globe. Nonetheless, in the past several years even as the activism of BRICS countries in building economic alliances across the globe has increased, the development of the BRICS formation itself lacked vigour.
Indeed, despite the creation of the New Development Bank and some of the initiatives to boost economic ties between BRICS members, there is a sense that the BRICS is starting to encounter limitations to further integration. Perhaps BRICS as merely a forum of discussion among its members may be the right format after all, but given the size and potential of each of the BRICS members, one cannot help but hope for more synergy in interaction between the leading developing economies of the world.
One of the ways to overcome the limitations in BRICS development as well as the lingering contradictions may be to shift the focus from trade liberalization or large-scale integration amongst its core members towards building a wider framework of integration/cooperation in the developing world that fills the voids of integration and opens new gateways for cooperation among BRICS and their partners across continents.
That kind of framework may be realized through China’s initiative to create a BRICS+ circle that according to China’s foreign minister Wang Yi will represent a new platform for the South-South cooperation via holding dialogues with other major developing countries or groups of developing countries to establish a more extensive partnership. ‘We will widen the circle of friends of the BRICS and turn it into the most inﬂuential platform for South-South cooperation in the world,’ declared Wang Yi.
The new BRICS+ initiative is coming not just at the right time as the BRICS is seeking to find new gateways to development, but it would also perhaps be one of the first truly global undertakings of the developing world in shaping a new, more balanced economic order. This in turn is made possible due to the unique nature of the BRICS, which is represented by one or several major powers in virtually every continent of the developing world.
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Valdai Paper #69
By Yaroslav Lissovolik
Programme Director of the Foundation for Development and Support of the Valdai Discussion Club, Chief Economist of the Eurasian Development Bank
Copyright © Valdai Club. All rights reserved.
The report was originally posted here.