Amorim & Coelho - BRICS - Final[1]

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    International Studies Association Annual Convention, 2012

    San Diego, April 4th

    (This is a draft, please do not cite without consent)

    Useful Tool or Shallow Acronym ? Foreign Policy Coordination Amongst BRICS


    Wellington Amorim Carlos Frederico Coelho

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    1. Introduction and Structure

    The purpose of this work is to analyse if the BRICS group share some foreign

    policy coordination. Since first mentioned, in 2001,1 the group has evolved from a

    economic concept to a political one, with regular summits, even enlarging itself with the

    addition of South Africa. Many have been the works showing the economic and political

    assimetries among its participants and in a certain degree a substantial lack of

    cohesiviness2; thereby, even the groups raison dtre could arguably be invalidated.

    Nonetheless, as already mentioned, the BRICS concept has been reinforced over time, due

    specially to the participants rapid economic adaptation and/or recovery after the world

    financial crisis which erupted in 2008.

    The work is divided in four parts, the first dealing with a brief historical

    overview, the second showing the respective countries economic indicators. The third part

    analyses the basic tenets of each foreign policy and how they can reinforce or fragilize the

    groups strength as an alliance. The fourth part shows how the five countries have

    positioned themselves internationally through analysis conducted in their voting patterns of

    the United Nations and a conclusion is drawn.

    2. Brief historical overview

    The BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) concept was created in 2001.3

    The original main objective of such an acronym was two-fold: encompassing big emerging

    markets, in terms of investment opportunity, and stressing the need to enlarge the global

    economic governance most important forum, the G-7. In fact, ONeill stated that a

    revamped G-5 (with USA, Canada, Japan, UK and an Euroland representative) should turn

    into G-9, with the inclusion of Brazil, Russia, India and China.4 Nowhere in the original

    1 ONEILL (2001) 2 For example, ARMIJO (2007) and COOPER (2010) 3 ONEILL (2001) 4 Idem, p. S-10

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    paper there is a suggestion of BRIC countries forming a sole bloc or, even more, a

    politically-based one..

    In 2003, a new work5 again emphasized the importance of BRIC countries in

    the world growth prospects and once more only economic issues were analysed.

    3 years passed, and in September 2006 the BRIC Foreign Ministers, who were

    attending UN General Assembly opening, met together on the sidelines and the same

    happened again in 2007.. The four countries were riding high in the trade boom the world

    was experiencing since 2003, and an idea of an alternative forum to the G-7 seemed fit.

    In 2008, a full-scale diplomatic meeting, again with the Foreign Ministers,

    was set in Yekaterinburg (Russia). In fact, Russia had already hosted two meetings of the

    RIC (Russia, India, China) group in Vladivostok (2005) and St. Petersburg (2006). The

    inclusion of Brazil strenghtened the group and Vladimir Putins policy of promoting

    multilateral arrangements to challenge the United States concept of a unipolar world.,

    showing that the four contries aspired to convert their economic might into political


    A year later (June 16th), in the midst of a great world financial crisis, the first

    BRIC summit was held, again in Yekaterinburg, with the presence of the four Heads of

    State. The most important issues highlighted in the Summit Declaration were:7

    a) Importance of G-20 as a global governance instrument

    b) Reform of international financial institutions, giving a greater voice to

    emerging countries

    c) Strong need for a more diversified international monetary system

    d) Stable international investment environment and trading system

    e) Support for comprehensive and balanced results of the Doha round

    f) Cooperation in the energy field

    g) Importance of the status of India and Brazil in international affais, and

    support of their aspirations to play a greater role in the United Nations"

    h) Importance of global food security

    5 WILSON & PURUSHOTHAMAN (2003) 6 RADYUIN (2008) 7 BRIC (2009)

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    In 2010 (April 16th), at Brasilia, a new Summit was held. Basic issues

    discussed were the world economic situation, reform of financial institutions, Iranian

    nuclear policy, development and enlargemente of BRIC as an international body, etc. The

    Summit Declaration emphasized:8

    a) The need for transformations in global governance in all relevant areas

    (emphasis ours)

    b) The importance of G-20 as the premier forum for international economic

    coordination and cooperation of all its member states.

    c) Importance of the status of India and Brazil in international affais, and

    support of their aspirations to play a greater role in the United Nations"

    d) Support to the increase in capital of the World Bank, under the principle of

    fair-burdening share

    e) Need of a reformed and more stable world financial architecture and

    regulatory system

    f) Need of changing the legitimacy deficits in IMF and World Bank

    g) Economic cooperation within the BRIC members, with studies aimed to

    analyse feasibilities of monetary cooperation, including local currency trade settlement


    h) Need for a comprehensive and balanced outcome of the Doha Round of

    multilateral trade talks

    i) Cooperation in energy, food security and climate issues

    In August 2010 South Africa asked to join the group, and was formally

    included in 12/24/2011. Since then, the group is called BRICS (S stands for South Africa).

    One of the reasons for fast-tracking the inclusion was that South Africa was already a

    member of IBSA (with India and Brazil), since 2003.

    A year later (14/4), at Sanya (China), the third Summit most important issues

    were the following, according to the Closing Declaration:9

    a) The need for a comprehensive reform of the UN, including its Security

    Council (...) China and Russia reiterate the importance they attach to the status of India,

    8 BRIC (2010) 9 BRICS (2011)

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    Brazil and South Africa in international affairs, and understand and support their aspiration

    to play a greater role in the UN.

    b) The importance of G-20 as the premier forum for international economic

    coordination and cooperation of all its member states.

    c) Calling for a quick achievement of the targets for the reform of the

    International Monetary Fund

    d) Support for the reform and improvement of the international monetary

    system, with a broad-based international reserve currency system providing stability and

    certainty (...) (including) the the role of the SDR in the existing international monetary


    e) Need of a broad monitoring and coordination involving energy and food


    f) Support for a successful, comprehensive and balanced conclusion of the

    Doha Development Round

    g) Cooperation between members in science, technology and innovation,

    including the peaceful use of space

    h) An Action Plan, which will serve as the foundation for future

    cooperation among the BRICS members10


    In 2012, the Summit will take place in New Dheli (India) and one of the most

    important issues to be discussed would be the creation of a BRICS development bank.11

    3. Looking for Similarities: What do Economical, Social and Political Indicators say?

    Brazil, Russia, India and China were considered by Goldman Sachs as

    emerging economies that were in the path to robust growing all the way through 2020, the

    original concept of the term BRIC. Since, then, as explicited with the inclusion of South

    Africa, the term has gained a political facet as well. Firstly grouped as alike countries from

    outside (Goldman Sachs), the BRICS have evolved into a grouping from of their own.

    10 Action Plan details can be found in PHAN (2011) 11 LEO (2012)

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    Henceforth, it is important to analyze how these countries differ (or not) in political and

    economical indicators, as well as other selected indicators, so that determination can be

    made on what brings them together and what sets them apart. We begin our analysis on the

    political indicators.

    Table: Political Indicators12

    Country Democracy13 Autocracy14 Polity Score15 Durable16 Freedom Status17

    Political Rights18

    Civil Liberties19

    Brazil 8 0 8 25 Free 2 2 China 0 7 -7 61 Not Free 7 6 India 9 0 9 60 Free 2 3 Russia 5 1 4 10 Not Free 6 5 South Africa

    9 0 9 16 Free 2 2

    It is possible note two separate grouping in regards to the political indicators

    presenteda bove. Whereas Brazil, India and South Africa have performed well and are

    considered functioning electoral democracies (albeit South Africa and Brazil are reasonable

    young democracies), Russia and China have not. Across the board, Russia and China