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BRICS building a fairer world


Group set to make a bigger impact by having a greater role in global governance.

Amid the profound changes transforming the global geopolitical landscape, uncertainties brought by the COVID-19 pandemic have hindered the global economic recovery, and geopolitical conflicts and sanctions have made the world even more divided. Against such a backdrop, the BRICS mechanism, an important cooperation platform for emerging markets and developing countries, has been upholding the BRICS spirit of openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation.

The establishment of the BRICS cooperation mechanism adds more diversified voices to the global governance system. Since the turn of the century, the trend of "the rise of the East and decline of the West" has been underway, with emerging markets and developing countries making a constant push to catch up with the developed countries. In 2021, the BRICS countries secured a combined GDP of more than 25 percent of the global total. The average economic growth rate of BRICS members stood at 7.6 percent, higher than the global average of 5.5 percent.

BRICS countries have become the main engines of global economic growth, contributing over 40 percent of global growth on average from 2009 to 2019 in the wake of the global financial crisis. World Bank data show that BRICS countries contributed around 50 percent of global growth in 2019 using purchasing power parity weights. In May 2022, the World Economic Situation and Prospects as of mid-2022 released by the United Nations showed that the US economy experienced two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth in the first half of 2022. It is predicted that the US will register further reduced growth in 2022. Growth forecasts for the European Union and Japan, too, have been revised downward.

BRICS countries, in contrast, have varying growth prospects. India and China have maintained strong growth momentum, with the former expected to grow by 6 percent and the latter to expand by 5.2 percent in 2023, higher than the 3.1 percent global growth estimate in 2023. BRICS countries will thus remain the main engines of global economic growth.

BRICS cooperation has promoted inclusiveness of global governance rules, helping to establish a new international economic order that's more fair and just. Against the G20's short-term goal of coping with the impact of the global financial crisis, BRICS countries have put forward the long-term, sustainable goal of accelerating the building of a fair, just, equitable and democratic global governance system. BRICS countries pay high attention to ensuring the right to development for countries, addressing the development deficit, and forging an equal, balanced and inclusive global development partnership at a faster pace. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, BRICS countries have bolstered pragmatic cooperation in such areas as economic recovery, pandemic response, vaccine research and development, food security, education, personnel training and green development, so as to explore and formulate new rules for global governance in investment, finance, security and cooperation.

At the 14th BRICS Summit held in June 2022, the BRICS leaders unanimously agreed on the need to advance the BRICS membership expansion process, putting forth the guiding principles, standards and procedures for the membership expansion. Since then, Iran and Argentina have applied to join the BRICS family.

BRICS cooperation supports the building of an open world economy, practices true multilateralism, and is dedicated to increasing the decision-making capability and say of developing countries in global governance. The fact that so many developing countries are applying to join the group is testimony to their recognition of the BRICS cooperation mechanism. It will accelerate the transformation of the global governance system--from the US-led unipolar system toward a more equitable and just multipolar system.

The BRICS cooperation mechanism is growing in maturity. However, the fast-changing global situation is posing a number of challenges to its further development. In the future, BRICS cooperation has to strike a balance in the following three areas.

To start with, the BRICS cooperation mechanism should better coordinate the different economic performances and cooperation preferences of its members to increase their solidarity.

Looking ahead, the BRICS members should double their efforts to seek common ground while shelving differences. BRICS countries could tap into their highly complementary economic structures to offset the adverse impact of different stages of economic development. They should upgrade their cooperation from the "raw material-finished goods "complementary trade relations toward a closer and more stable supply chain network, and eventually forge multi-tier, all-round close cooperation among the member countries' businesses, industries and societies, thus advancing institutional improvements with deeper economic cooperation.

Second, a balance should be struck between the flexibility and institutional building of BRICS cooperation.

The BRICS cooperation mechanism is constantly improving, forming a well-organized architecture of institutions including the BRICS Summit, ministerial meetings and the BRICS Business Council, among other things. They do not emphasize inflexible rules, nor do they set quantitative objectives. However, given the APEC experience of development over the last three decades, we can see that setting specific, quantitative goals, such as the "Bogor Goals"--APEC's foundational goals of free and open trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific by 2010 for industrialized economies and by 2020 for developing economies, is not contradictory to flexible, gradual cooperation mechanisms. BRICS cooperation could consider introducing more specific result-oriented targets--such as the inflation rate, green development, infrastructure construction and education--to assist the evaluation of the cooperative process and increase the effectiveness of BRICS cooperation, preventing BRICS from becoming a talking shop.

Last, a balance should be struck between the universality of the BRICS cooperation agenda and the effectiveness of governance.

The BRICS agenda covers intra-BRICS cooperation in a variety of areas including the economy, trade, international finance, agricultural science and technology, political security, public health, sustainable development and education. It also covers policy coordination and unification among BRICS member countries in global governance institutions such as the G20. The governance objects of BRICS cooperation are universal. For instance, the BRICS Vaccine R&D Center-China Center launched in Beijing in May 2021 will promote joint vaccine R&D and production among the BRICS countries.

The author is an assistant research fellow with the Institute of World Economics and Politics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

Contact the editor at editor@chinawatch.cn