On June 29, the Valdai Club hosted an expert discussion, titled “BRICS and the Political Economy of the New World Order.” The discussion moderator, Timofei Bordachev, Programme Director of the Valdai Club, noted that the BRICS group arose in fundamentally different conditions from those which the world finds itself in now.
Initially, it was intended to “edit” the international order without changing it radically. However, now that the traditional organizers of this order are failing, the world has high hopes for the BRICS. This means that one of the challenges that BRICS may face is the gap between expectations and opportunities.
Pavel Knyazev, Ambassador-at-Large of the Russian Foreign Ministry and Sous-Sherpa of Russia to the BRICS, pointed to the crisis of the Western-centric neoliberal model of globalisation and the need to form a new world order that reflects the real needs of the so-called world majority, primarily the Global South and East. Against this background, the interest of the countries of the Global South in the activities of the BRICS continues to grow. The Ambassador emphasised that, although BRICS is a relatively young association, it has already developed a multifaceted architecture of interaction, dialogue and cooperation, it demonstrates readiness to work on the basis of consensus and has created many mechanisms for interaction both in the economic and social, cultural and expert spheres. He also added that the abuse of the special position of the dollar in world trade has given rise to a trend towards the de-dollarisation of trade relations, and in this regard, proposals are being made to create a common currency for the BRICS.
Feng Shaolei, Dean and Professor of the School of International and Regional Studies at East China Normal University, outlined a number of factors that contribute to the transformation of the world order. These are increasing inflation in the West, the aggravation of the political and ideological struggle in the United States, and the situation in Ukraine. At the same time, in his opinion, the situation in the countries of the Global South is more stable. They are continuing to build up their economic potential. Many of them prefer not to take sides in the confrontation and seek the role of mediators. This approach promotes the interest of the BRICS group, which stands for the ideas of inclusiveness and development, rather than the re-division of the world; for independence against hegemony. In this regard, the key priority of the group’s upcoming summit will be to prevent a new cold war or an even more terrible war and chaos.
Victoria Panova, HSE Vice-Rector for International Relations, stressed that it is especially important now not to lose the advantages that BRICS has. Despite the difficult environment, the group continues to be attractive and is seen as a source of positive alternatives, she said. This means that the BRICS members face a difficult task to maintain both the efficiency of the group and its inclusiveness. “We have no right to refuse cooperation to all those countries that believe in BRICS,” Panova said. She added that this cooperation is by no means limited to the economy – the dialogue extends to all matters and is comprehensive.
Nivedita Das Kundu, a Senior Fellow at York University and Academic Director of Liaison College, is convinced that BRICS is reshaping the world order, ensuring the transition of leadership from the Global West to the Global South and insisting on greater representativeness in global leadership. The BRICS countries are in favour of continuing the reform of multilateral institutions, particularly the UN, the World Bank and the IMF, in an effort to make the world more inclusive. “One of the strengths of the BRICS is to help less wealthy countries without imposing a political agenda and without manipulating local economies,” she said.
Philani Mthembu, Executive Director at the Institute for Global Dialogue, South Africa, mentioned the upcoming BRICS summit in Johannesburg – the first offline summit since the pandemic, and the most important in the past few years. According to him, the summit will focus on African countries and, in particular, on South Africa as a host country. He noted that the BRICS countries could play a big role on the African continent not only in trade, but also as a source of investment. Mthembu stressed that the differences between the BRICS countries only strengthens the group. “It is because of these differences that cooperation will continue because we live in an increasingly complex world order,” he said.