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BRICS members seek to benefit from global dislocations caused by war, Covid

A new era for BRICS nations?

Amid the geopolitical shift especially after the US thrashed sanctions against Russia after its invasion into Ukraine, the BRICS (Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa) forum, which until now has not made any significant mark on the global map, could gain fresh momentum as the members seek greater economic integration in the post Covid phase.

Beijing based state owned news organisation Global Times said that with the conflict in Ukraine as a backdrop along the uncertain economic situation at an international level, mounting inflation in Western countries, and rising global prices of basic commodities that threaten the development of various emerging countries, “the voice of the BRICS as a mechanism for cooperation is more important than ever.”

Issues related to setting up an alternative international payment mechanism to SWIFT and a new global reserve currency have been discussed at the summit, according to reports.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, speaking at the BRICS Business Forum said that the emerging economies would be the engine of global growth and the BRICS forum was set up to drive this. “Today as the world focuses on post Covid recovery, the role and contribution of the BRICS countries will be crucial,” he said. BRICS nations, home to 42 per cent of the global population, account for 25.7 per cent of world GDP.

Wang Wenbin, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson at the regular press briefing said that fostering high-quality BRICS partnership is particularly important for advancing global development in the new era.

“BRICS countries will continue to deepen cooperation in economic integration, do their utmost to reduce the impact of poverty and food and energy crisis on people’s livelihood, and promote sustainable and inclusive development,” he said.

Russia is already looking to aggressively integrate its trade and economy with the other members of this block. Russian President Vladimir Putin virtually addressing the BRICS Business Forum – his first international appearance on an international forum since his country’s invasion into Ukraine, said that on Wednesday that despite the ‘politically motivated sanctions,” thrashed against his country, its total trade with Brazil, India, China and South Africa rose 38 per cent in the first three months of the year to $45 billion.

“Russian oil supplies to China and India are growing noticeably," Putin added.

He also said that Moscow and New Delhi are already in talks for the launch of Indian retail store chains in Russia.

“Contacts between Russian business circles and the business community of the BRICS countries are being activated. For example, negotiations are underway to open Indian retail chain stores in Russia, to increase the share of Chinese cars, equipment and machinery in our market. Russia’s presence in [BRICS] countries is also expanding,” Putin said.

Notably, the BRICS nations have more or less taken the same stand on Russia even as the US increased pressure to condemn Moscow.

Many analysts have attempted to downplay the importance of the BRICS forum.

BBC in a report said that unlike the in-person QUAD summit that was held in Tokyo last month, the BRICS meet is a virtual one.

“The last two were held during the Covid pandemic, but it's not clear why the leaders chose to skip face-to-face meetings this year,” the report said. “It's in stark contrast to the Quad – which groups India with Australia, Japan and the US – whose leaders met in person in Japan last month amid the global media glare,” it added.

Aravind Yelery, senior research fellow at the Peking University and visiting faculty at Fudan University in Shanghai told India Narrative that China is “extremely keen to see BRICS’ success.”

“Now with the rapid geopolitical shifts which have impacted the global supply chain, China feels the need to strike a chord with India,” Yelery said.

Also read: BRICS countries will play a crucial role in driving global growth in the post-Covid phase: PM Modi

Common interests outweigh differences: Wang Yi tells India's envoy to Beijing