The 9th BRICS Summit will be held in Xiamen, Fujian province in September 2017 under China’s Chairmanship. With the theme of BRICS: Stronger Partnership for a Brighter Future, the summit will review the cooperation in the past decade and draw a more open and closer blueprint for future development. How should we assess the BRICS cooperation in the past ten years? How can the BRICS deepen cooperation amid the changed world development pattern and economic trend? Si Xiang Ze, part of the People’s Daily, had an exclusive interview with Chen Wenling, Chief Economist of China Center for International Economic Exchanges (CCIEE), discussing the brighter future of the BRICS.
BRICS represent the rising of the emerging markets and developing countries
Si Xiang Ze: In 2006, the foreign ministers of China, Brazil, Russia and India held the very first meeting on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly, which drew the prelude for BRIC cooperation and it has made remarkable progress ever since. In 2010, South African joined the BRIC and hence the BRIC officially enlarged to include 5 countries and the acronym changed into BRICS. Together, they account for 26.46% of world’s land areas, 42.58% of world’s population, and has contributed more than 50% of the world economic growth during the past ten years. Represented by the BRICS, the rising of the emerging markets and developing countries has become an important force for the world economic growth and play a more important in global economic development and governance. How do you see this trend?
Chen Wenling: Yes, you are right. The rising of the emerging markets and developing countries, represented by the BRICS, have brought new vigor to world economic development and become of the biggest variables of the contemporary international political and economic relations.
The BRICS countries have already become a vital engine and stabilizer of global economic growth and maintained a rare strength and momentum of development, when the world economy and trade was in the doldrums, or when the isolationism, protectionism and globalization were in the critical crossroad. From 2006 to 2016, the BRICS’s share of the world’s real GDP increased from 14.5% to 21%. If calculated according to Purchasing Power Parity (PPP), the BRICS’ share of world GDP increased from 22.8% to 31.4%. In terms of trade, the BRICS’ share of global trade increased from 11.8% to 16.4%, with an average annual increase of 28%, ten percent higher than the world’s average. The total foreign reserve of the BRICS increased from 1.6397 trillion to 4.0519 trillion US dollar, in other words, the BRICS’ share of the world’s foreign reserve increased from 30.7% to 36.9%. If calculated according to PPP, the BRICS has contributed 51.3% of the world’s economic growth, and even reached 80% between 2008 and 2009.
With creative thinking, the BRICS initiated the non-alignment development partnership. The BRICS cooperation mechanism was established according to the principles of openness, inclusiveness, equality, cooperation, win-win and mutual understanding. The mechanism started from scratch and at first, it was small, theoretical, loose and temporary, but later it became a big, pragmatic, closer and normalized mechanism. Gradually, the cooperation has shown the convergence effect, economies of scale and demonstration effect, it is no longer unilateral or bilateral and is beyond the expectation of both the international community and the BRICS themselves. During the past 10 years, the BRICS countries have established more than 60 cooperation mechanisms, including the normalized mechanism for meeting among the BRICS leaders, the BRICS Leaders’ Summit, and meeting for high representatives for security issues, foreign ministers, financial ministers, governors of central banks, ministers of economic and trade, and ministers of statistics. Furthermore, they signed a series of cooperation agreements, such as “BRICS Trade and Investment Cooperation Framework”, “BRICS Trade and Investment Facilitation Plan”, “Strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership”, “Framework for BRICS E-commerce Cooperation”, “The BRICS Interbank Cooperation Mechanism and Framework Agreement on Financial Cooperation”, “The Memorandum of Cooperation on Cooperation in Science, Technology and Innovation”. Last but not least, the BRICS also created the New Development Bank with an emergency reserve of 100 billion US dollar and implemented the bilateral currency swap mechanism.
The BRICS cooperation has become the most efficient, ordered and effective normalized mechanism
Si Xiang Ze: How do you assess the BRICS cooperation during the past ten years and China’s role in this process?
Chen Wenling: The BRICS cooperation during the past decade was full of twists and turns, all the BRICS countries faced both common challenges and problems of their own, and misunderstandings also occurred, nonetheless, the cooperation is generally moving in a stable and positive direction. At the BRICS Summit in Goa, held in October 2016, President Xi Jinping pointed out that we should strengthen coordination in macroeconomic policy to push the connection of economic and trade market, infrastructure, and promote the exchanges of culture and education, stand at the forefront of international cooperation and play a leading role in the international stage.
Looking back the past, the world can clearly see that China is not only a participant of the BRICS cooperation mechanism but also a builder, promoter and protector. In the aspect of protecting the common interests of the emerging markets and developing countries, China never decline to shoulder a responsibility. When facing global challenges and problems, China often takes active actions. Together with the efforts of other four members of the BRICS, the BRICS cooperation has become the most efficient, ordered and effective normalized mechanism and has made remarkable progress.
Strengthening cooperation in consolidating stock and creating increment
Si Xiang Ze: China is the chair of the BRICS summits this year and the 9th BRICS Leaders’ Meeting will be held very soon, in your opinion, how should the BRICS countries strengthen their partnership to bring a better future?
Chen Wenling: the forthcoming 9th BRICS leader’ meeting is not just the continuation of the past ten years’ cooperation but also the beginning of a new journey in the next ten years. Together with other four countries, China, as the chair of the summit will draw experience from the past and make a plan for the future so as to demonstrate the BRICS’ strength of cooperation and its image of fairness and justice. Moreover, the BRICS nations will also display their determination and actions to face the future together and the unique progress they are able to achieve amid the complex and changeable international pattern. As the BRICS cooperation continues to deepen and develop in the next ten years, the exploration and implementation of the “BRICS +”mode, the design and execution of a more practical roadmap, the BRICS nations will surely be able to establish a comprehensive, high level, multi-dimensional and innovative cooperation framework , expand the fields of cooperation continuously and create new paths for the south-south cooperation. Solution comes from ideas, our choices made in the past lead to where we are today, and the choices we make today will determine our future, thus, BRICS cooperation needs to create a brighter and better future based on the existing stock and the creation of increment.
Firstly, we should jointly maintain the achievement of the global governance, adhere to multilateralism and firmly protect the effect and authority of multilateral mechanism. With multilateral and bilateral effort, we should increase the discourse power and influence of the emerging markets and developing countries while carrying forward and improving the existing international rules and consensus. Despite the difference we might have in social system, mentality, culture and traditions as well as national conditions, we should join together and say with one voice in major issues concerning human destiny and global development, so as to ensure that the international order is moving toward a direction which is fairer, more just, reasonable and sustainable. Taking the Paris Accord for example, the BRICS nations cherish the hard-earned achievement in global governance.
Secondly, we should implement the consensus and strategy made by the BRICS nations. Deepening and developing cooperation and partnership should become the new relationship among the emerging markets and developing countries. We should further implement the 2015 Ufa Declaration and 2016 Goa Declaration as well as the Strategy for BRICS Economic Partners. Based on the implementation of United Nations’ new millennium goal, we should accelerate the implementation of the United Nations 2030 agenda for sustainable development. Comparing with the developed countries, BRICS nations shoulder more historical responsibility in eliminating poverty, improving people’s livelihood, unleashing development potential and adjusting economic structure.
Thirdly, we should enhance strategic connectivity among BRICS countries and look for common strategic links and benefits. The building of the belt and road initiative, proposed by China, has signed a cooperation agreement framework with the Eurasian Economic Union, introducing the establishment of the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar economic corridor and the China-South Asia economic corridor. As an open initiative and platform, the belt and road initiative welcomes the participation of Brazil and South Africa to jointly consult and build the “maritime silk road”, “air silk road” and “internet silk road”, and to share the opportunity and outcome of development. China is the world’s factory, Russia is the world’s petrol station, India is the world’s office, Brazil is the world’ raw material base and South Africa is Africa’s gateway and the nation of diamond and gold, all of them will benefit significantly from their cooperation in the next ten years due to their integrated advantage resulting from strategic connection.
Last but not least, we should solve those problems which may be considered as temporary or partial from the perspective of a long historical cycle. It is easy for someone to do just one good thing but it will be very difficult for someone to do good things during his or her entire life, this old saying also applies to the BRICS cooperation. Therefore, the BRICS countries should cherish the hard-earned unity, trust and friendship just like cherish their lives and eyes, and maintain the consensus, common interest and win-win pattern which have already obtained. It will be hard for them to make good friends if the BRICS countries are narrow-minded and too selfish. It has been proved that the BRICS is not just a community of shared future, responsibility and interest but also an important component of the world. Today’s world is complex and unpredictable but if the BRICS countries keep clam, they will have a better a better overall development, they will set a good example for other countries and become very attractive, the circle of friends of the “BRICS +”will be larger and hence the world will be more stable than ever.
In the next ten years, the BRICS will still be the engine driving global economic growth, they are the representative and hope of the emerging markets and developing countries, the positive or even leading force of global governance as well as a good example and pioneer of establishing the new international relationship for development and partnership. The BRICS cooperation mechanism will certainly be more sophisticated and ultimately make outstanding contribution to a better tomorrow for mankind.