There is an ongoing controversy whether the BRICS expansion by including Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as full members of BRICS is a challenge to the West or not. In simple terms, the answer is yes, even as the US will spare no effort to exploit differences amongst the BRICS members and despite organizations like I2U2 (India, Israel, United States, United Arab Emirates) and Quad of which India is a member.
The expanded BRICS is expected to contribute 50 percent of the global GDP by 2030.
No doubt BRICS has no military agenda but its growing economic clout alone is enough to raise concerns in the West. The original 5-member BRICS is slated to account for 32.1 percent of the global GDP by end 2023, while the G7 share has already fallen to 30 percent according to the IMF. The expanded BRICS is expected to contribute 50 percent of the global GDP by 2030. Logically, any amount of American sabotage will unlikely break up the organization.
BRICS is not about just trading in local currencies among members and with partners signaling decline of the petrodollars. Warren Buffet predicts that the dollar will remain the world’s reserve currency until 2065 or more but a prediction for next 42 years plus could have many surprises around the corner. After all, expansion of BRICS in the manner it happened was considered impossible and the combined decision to use local currencies also came as a surprise.
Also, BRICS is looking at broader horizons like cooperation in increased air services between city pairs (both passenger travel and cargo), developing common trade strategy, development of airport infrastructure projects, tourism and the like. In fact, expansion the expanded BRICS is giving a “ ”political” message that magnifies the ripple effect of the changing global dynamics.
The US-NATO war on Russia using Ukraine as proxy is ruining European economies. The US aims for European industries to move to the US mainland but it will still be many years before the West can become self-sustaining in industrial production. This is the reason why the US, the UK and EU officials are rushing to Beijing; to streamline financial dealings with China but are unable to evoke favourable responses.
Taking a cue from the West Asia, Africa has awakened to realize how the West has been exploiting them and plundering their mineral wealth.
In West Asia, the US has lost influence over oil production, Saudi Arabia and Iran have established diplomatic relations, Syria has been welcomed back into the Arab fold, among other deals with China, Saudi Arabia is to have the first nuclear reactor and China is proposing the entry of Turkiye into BRICS, which would be a coup of sorts since Turkiye is a NATO member.
There is also concern in the West that more African countries would join BRICS because of the Russian and Chinese influence. Taking a cue from the West Asia, Africa has awakened to realize how the West has been exploiting them and plundering their mineral wealth. The military coups in Niger and Gabon are perhaps just the first indications of the waning western clout in Africa.
BRICS expansion is seen by the West, including France, as the increase in Russian and Chinese influence in the Global South. And, with such increased influence, France is not clear how Africans in future will react to France’s continued stay in French colonies in Africa. The effect of this is loss of guaranteed supply of minerals including Gold.
Niger has given marching orders to the French but France refuses to withdraw its contingent. Thousands of Niger nationals are protesting around the French mission. The West now wants ECOWAS to take military action against Niger. Possibly, France also wants to support the ECOWAS military but Algeria has declined use of its airspace to France.
Those who think that the West will remain unaffected by the BRICS expansion should heed the warning by the French President Emanuel Macron who has cautioned the US and Europe by saying that the world order is changing after the BRICS expansion. He said the latest BRICS expansion runs the risk of weakening the West and Europe in particular and turning the tides in their favour. Macron further said that the global financial situation is getting tougher as BRICS countries become more complex to trade with. Referring to BRICS using local currencies for trade settlement, he added that “our (west predominant) international order is being challenged.”
The important issue is that BRICS is not an anti-Western front by design, as perceived. At the same time, it is a reality and the West needs to get “aligned” with it rather than continuing its confrontationist stance.
Already there is discussion in western media that if Saudi Arabia and the UAE make local currencies the only way to procure oil and gas, it will realign the financial world, upending Western dominance and tilting global power from the West to the East. BRICS has realized that pushing and promoting local currencies is the only way to accelerate prosperity. It is even being said that BRICS next move could decide whether the US and the West will have to settle oil trade in local currencies – so much for Warren Buffet’s prediction of the dollar remaining the reserve currency till 2065 and beyond.
It is amusing to read thoughts like BRICS expansion is no triumph for China, citing reasons like many BRICS member states have friends in the US and the West. India is already using the Chinese Yuan to import crude oil from Russia, which will continue till the INR becomes strong enough. Brazil has also decided to trade in the Yuan with BRICS members and other trade partners.
The important issue is that BRICS is not an anti-Western front by design, as perceived. At the same time, it is a reality and the West needs to get “aligned” with it rather than continuing its confrontationist stance. This would entail the US getting off the high horse; no doubt a difficult proposition but realization must dawn in that in the present era, use of military force can’t be the solution to every problem. Besides, it cannot militarily fight the expanded BRICS which is destined to expand more. In the context of direct war, of which the West appears gung-ho with some voices that the US is ready for a nuclear war with Russia, many western analysts believe that the US is unlikely to come out the winner in such a conflict.
According to Yashar Bukan, professor of global politics and political philosophy at the University of Toronto, “The United States has not been able to contain China’s rise, and it likely will not be able to stop the second largest economy from reaching its centenary goals. China is present all over the world in terms of human capital, investments and manufactured goods. World public opinion about China is changing.”
The western media has been expressing happiness over prospects of Italy likely pulling out of China’s BRI, leaving China’s BRI without any G7 participation. But the fact is that 155 countries are part of China’s BRI involving about 75 percent of the global population. Moreover, these include 52 countries of Africa. China’s debt-trap policy is well known but ultimately it is the individual country that joins up whether because of corrupt governments or whatever.
Finally, the expansion of BRICS is good for the world in terms of the beginning for leveling western hegemony. It is indeed shaking up the world order and the divisions will likely continue to widen depending on the confrontationist policy of the West.