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Tuesday, May 7, 2013


The rise of Brazil, Russia, India, China and more recently South Africa (BRICS) has created a different world order, much more complex and dynamic. It seems that the wealthy of the world’s economy over the next decades depends on what will happen in these countries in the near future, which in turn will foster global political and socio-economic changes in the international arena. Is the next head of WTO the beginning of this change?

Jim O’Neil, coined the acronym “the BRICs” or “the BRIC countries” to describe four large developing countries – Brazil, Russia, India and China – in the report Building Better Global Economic BRICs. The acronym has been more recently changed to add South Africa as well. The fact that the BRICS concept was created by an investment bank and not by a demographer (such as the concept of Third World by Alfred Sauvy) seems to reveals how much economic globalization may shape new geopolitical representations. The recent choice of the new Director General of WTO may be the first effective sign.

The economic realm of BRICS is a reality, despite the difficult times of the world’s economy. Besides that, it is clear that BRICS are also engaged in developing a coalition of diplomatic forces among them at the international scenario. The first time that BRICS have joined forces together, they have scuttled the Western countries’ proposal at the WTO Cancun Round – at the time Russia was not a WTO member. No one can deny that the four BRICS – Brasil, India, South Africa and China – joined forces during the WTO negotiations of the Doha Round – again Russia was not yet a WTO member. There is no disagreement among mainstream scholars of the main task of BRICS countries inside the G-20. We can not close our eyes neither to the efforts of Brazil and India to seek a permanent seat on UN Security Council, alongside with Russia and China’s permanent seat. Last but not least, Russia’s new status as WTO member has clearly improved BRICS’ alliance at the global trade level.

The balance of trade growth is shifting, irreversibly to the emerging world. It is no longer dominated by developed countries leading the trade discussions. It is not longer as it used to be, East-West, trans-Atlantic, or even trans-Pacific. It is much more north-south and south-south, a clear split between developed countries and the emerging ones, including the BRICS. The recently opened negotiations between the United States and the European Union in order to have a more unified front show that the developed world has already felt that it has been challenged by the BRICS. Whether one likes or not, BRICS countries are part of the global geopolitical scenario. The BRICS must be taken seriously because their political position in the global system is only going to continue to grow in the coming years and next decades. The election of the candidate supported by BRICS countries as the new head of the WTO is a clear reflect of what is happening at the world’s trade today.

Ligia Maura Costa. Partner at Ligia Maura Costa, Advocacia, full professor at FGV-EAESP. Author of the book: BRIC. Doing Business in BRIC Countries. Legal Aspects. (2012). v. 1, São Paulo: Quartier Latin.