The BRICS FORUM: The Evolving Role of the BRICS in a changing world


28th April 2015






Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) are leading emerging economies and political powers at the regional and international level. The acronym was originally created in 2001 by Jim O'Neil  to highlight the exceptional role of important emerging economies and only included Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC). The characteristics generally adopted to distinguish the countries' group:

1.       The outstanding size of their economies,

2.        Strong growth rates, leading to increasing significance in world economy

3.        The demand for a stronger political voice in international governance structures, which corresponds to their economic status

South Africa has Joined the group since the third  summit of 2011 in China. South Africa complies the least with these characteristics due to the size of its economy. However, South Africa is Africa’s leading economy and  a leading political actor in the continent. its membership of the G20, its relative political stability and its standing as a middle income country ; all factors that contributed to its joining the BRICS

BRICS are a heterogeneous group with  countries involved in other coalitions. Beside the differentiation made above for South Africa, China is an exceptional member at the other end in terms of most aspects of economic cooperation and Russia stands out as a former superpower.

The BRICS share of the global Economy in terms of GDP grew from 11% in 1990 to 25% in 2011. Analysts predicts that the BRICS will overtake US in terms of GDP this year and the G7 by 2030.

 Each BRICS country has a distinctive economic characteristic, despite the fact that all the BRICS  countries enjoyed a high growth rate during most of the last decade and growth that makes the group a powerful force in the global economy.  Russia is a commodity-driven economy, China is a powerhouse of exports, India is a domestic demand-driven economy, Brazil has much developed economic structure and South Africa represents the fast-growing region of Africa.


BRICS  and International Development - South - South Cooperation (SSC)

BRICS are striving to capitalise on their economic leverage for more political influence. BRICS growing impact on low Income Countries (LICs)  through trade, foreign direct investment and development financing is significant. Therefore, this is challenging traditional western donors such as the EU, US and Japan. These relations instil  the vision of South-South-Cooperation (SSC), which is based on solidarity, shared experiences and self-reliance of the South. The development cooperation is focusing on trade, investment and  economic growth as the main vehicles of advancement that can be achieved via regional integration and neighbours' bilateral cooperation. The cooperation also insists on the principles of non-interference and national sovereignty. It doesn't focus on issues related to governance and social standard which are crucial for LICs countries' sustainable development. 

BRICS New Development Bank (NDB)

In their last summit in July 2014, BRICS leaders have approved creating the BRICS  New Development Bank which would fund long-term investment in infrastructure and more sustainable development. The estimated unmet needs in the emerging and developing countries, the field of infrastructure and more environmentally sustainable forms of development are  around US$1 trillion annually. There is a clear case for such institution to be a complement to the existing finance institution in the public and private sector to support the future growth of the developing and emerging economies. The BRICS News Development Bank is also placed  in the context of South-South cooperation and the needs of  financial architecture that responds to some of the  existing gaps in the financial architecture of Southern countries. Questions are still raising  on the scope of lending, the capital level , geographical coverage and the way the NDP would cooperate with other development finance institutions, both public and private.

BRICS as new stakeholder in 21st century Global Agenda

It is clear that the high growth rate, economic potential and demographic development are putting the BRICS increasingly in a leading position in setting the global agenda and having a greater say in the global governance. Since their first summit, the BRICS countries have called for a more multi-polar world order based on cooperation, coordinated action and collective decision-making of all states. Hence, they started to form a strategic alliance to reform for the 21st century the institutions of global governance such as the world Bank, International Monetary Fund and the United Nations Security Council that have remained unchanged from the world of 1945. The BRICS as a group are expected to step up their role and extend to pressing peace and security challenges, from terrorism, piracy and nuclear non-proliferation to regional security in North Africa and the Middle East. The level of coordination amongst the BRICS countries in setting the global agenda is still to examined in the coming years.  The round table is an expert consultation on dimensions of the evolving role of the BRICS in different angles. 


 Dr. Virander Paul, Deputy High Commissioner of India in London

Dr Jan Knoerich, Professor of China Economy, King's College

His Excellency Mr. Thembinkosi Obed Mlaba, High Commissioner of South Africa in London

Alexandre Parola, Deputy Head of Mission, Brazil Embassy in London

Mr Alexander Kramarenko, Deputy Ambassador of Russia in London



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