BRICS Bloc: An Overview

South Africa welcomed leaders from the BRICS countries in this year’s 10th BRICS Summit, which took place from 25th-27th July at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg.

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By Kupakwashe Kambasha

BRICS – short for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – is a coalition of countries that has played a part in global economic progress for the past decade.

Formed in 2006, four countries initially made up the BRIC’s bloc. These included Brazil, Russia, India and China. South Africa later joined in 2011 to complete the full acronym, BRICS.

With the strengthening relations over the past years, BRICS has grown into an economic stronghold. Strong trade relations have cemented alongside these countries large contributions to the world economy.

According to Statistics South Africa 2018, the economic influence of the BRICS bloc on the world stage carries significant impact.

The five countries had a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of US$16,8 trillion in 2016, comprising 22% of global economic activity. The fast-rising economies of the five countries has categorised them into the emerging economies cluster.

Emerging economies entail countries that are engaging more into the space of trade and moving away from aid, said Professor Liewellyn Leonard, former Vice Dean of UJ’s College of Business and Economics.

One of BRICS most notable achievements was the establishment of the New Development Bank (NDB), which provided $3.4 billion in funding to the member countries of the BRICS bloc in 2017.

What this means for South Africa is that, funding from the NDB impacts on the economic state of affairs in the country. It could fund projects that would ultimately create jobs and tackle the unemployment crisis currently plaguing the country.

Apart from economic intertwinement amongst the BRICS countries, there are performance indicators which acknowledge and rank the standard  of such emerging economies educational institutions.

The criteria used by such indicators include research quality, teaching levels and the learning environment, knowledge transfer through quality research and output, lastly the overall international outlook which involves international reputation.

The rankings, released in May 2018, saw some of South Africa’s universities ranked in the top 100. The institutions were the University of Cape Town (9), University of Witwatersrand (12), Stellenbosch (38), University of KwaZulu-Natal (41) and University of Pretoria (66), as well as the University of Johannesburg (92).

On the other hand, the first BRIC Summit, held in 2009 by Russia,  marked the era of new socio-economic and political relationships amongst countries which were not performing economically well on the global stage.

South Africa welcomed leaders from the BRICS countries in this year’s 10th BRICS Summit, which took place from 25th-27th July at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg.

As the recent summit occurred in a volatile current state of the universal economic affairs where China and the United States are at loggerheads over trade tariffs, major issues including intra-trade within BRICS spearheaded some of the conversations amongst the leaders from these emerging economies.

Nonetheless, the impact of the declarations made during the Summit are yet to be felt. Above all, what matters is how the policies from the BRICS discussion will influence the ordinary citizen.

Reporting by Kupakwashe Kambasha; Editing by Gaby Ndongo and Magnificent Mndebele

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