Context:

The Foreign Ministers of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) grouping expressed “grave concern” with regard to the global COVID-19 pandemic and the Chinese Foreign Minister expressed solidarity with India over the recent surge in COVID-19 cases.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (India’s Neighbors, Important International Groupings)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is BRICS?
  2. Achievements of BRICS
  3. Highlights of the meeting of BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs

What is BRICS?

  • BRICS is the international grouping of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
  • This was set up as a move towards greater multi­polarity; hence the spread across three continents and both hemispheres.
  • In terms of GDP, China occupies the second position; India the fifth; Brazil the ninth; Russia the 11th; and South Africa the 35th.
  • In terms of growth rates, China grew at 6%; India at 4.5%, Russia 1.7%, Brazil 1.2% and South Africa 0.1%.
  • BRICS does not exist in form of organization, but it is an annual summit between the supreme leaders of five nations.
  • The Chairmanship of the forum is rotated annually among the members, in accordance with the acronym B-R-I-C-S.
  • The BRICS seeks to deepen, broaden and intensify cooperation within the grouping and among the individual countries for more sustainable, equitable and mutually beneficial development.
  • BRICS takes into consideration each member’s growth, development and poverty objectives to ensure relations are built on the respective country’s economic strengths and to avoid competition where possible.
  • BRICS is emerging as a new and promising political-diplomatic entity with diverse objectives, far beyond the original objective of reforming global financial institutions.

Achievements of BRICS

  • The main achievement of BRICS is the New Development Bank, with each country contributing equally to its equity
  • The bank has so far financed over 40 projects at a cost of $12 billion
  • The BRICS countries are also developing a joint payments mechanism to reduce foreign trade settlements in U.S. dollars
  • An offshoot of the group, dealing with climate change, is BASIC (BRICS without Russia), which met at the Spain conference in December 2019 and reiterated its support to the Paris Agreement.
  • The BRICs called for the “the reform of multilateral institutions in order that they reflect the structural changes in the world economy and the increasingly central role that emerging markets now play”.
  • BRICs managed to push for institutional reform which led to International Monetary Fund (IMF) quota reform in 2010. Thus the financial crises had momentarily reduced western legitimacy and briefly let the BRICs countries become “agenda setters” in multilateral institution

Highlights of the meeting of BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs

  • Chinese Foreign Minister said the BRICS grouping was ready to assist the country to fight the pandemic “as long as needed”.
  • The Ministers also agreed on reforming the multilateral system, which was the “first time” that such a consensus was reached.
  • India is the Chair of BRICS for 2021, when the organisation completes its 15th year of existence.
  • A joint statement issued after the meeting called for “equitable” access to vaccines, medicines and technologies as well as equipment to deal with the pandemic.
  • India and South Africa have been demanding the TRIPS waiver for the COVID-19 vaccines. The mention of the term “flexibilities” in the joint statement is being viewed as a normative step forward towards greater vaccine equality and availability in the world.
  • Apart from the support at the WTO, the Foreign Ministers also expressed support for the “comprehensive strengthening and reforming” of the UN Security Council, the General Assembly, the UN Secretariat and the Economic and Social Council.

-Source: The Hindu

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