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'BRICS Plus' can boost multilateralism

By Jorge E. Malena | China Daily | Updated: 2022-06-21 06:46


BRICS member states reflect the growing influence of emerging economies worldwide, which is complemented by the decline in the weight of developed countries in the global economy. The contribution of advanced economies to global GDP (measured in terms of purchasing power parity) fell from 64 percent in 1990 to 40 percent in 2019, a situation which worsened after the COVID-19 pandemic broke out.

On the other hand, emerging economies make up three-fifths of the world economy, although their per capita income is still much below that of rich countries. This means that over the last three decades, China, India, Russia, Brazil and South Africa and other emerging and developing economies have gradually increased their political, financial and economic influence throughout the world.

Some of them have even become major aid donors to developing countries, and core investors in both emerging and developed economies. China is already one of the world's leading investors.

The BRICS members have established the Shanghai-based New Development Bank, and China has played a leading role in establishing the Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. China, for its part, has increased its contribution to global development through the Belt and Road Initiative, so there is hope that investments by BRICS members can transform the world economy, and make it more equitable.

Also, BRICS stands out for its criticism of the conditionalities of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank linked to "good governance", as well as the austerity measures that mostly affect the poorest countries. This constitutes one of the substrates of BRICS' global legitimacy.

In addition, the BRICS members promote free trade and multilateral dialogue, which the developed North began to abandon in recent years. Paradoxically, the BRICS members, China in particular, are leading supporters of free trade and multilateralism, and oppose protectionism and unilateralism while upholding the World Trade Organization and the United Nations as the linchpins of the global trade and security systems.

South-South cooperation is based on the aspiration to be equitable in terms of negotiating the conditions of development assistance. BRICS has shown signs of taking this aspiration beyond the discursive, as proven by the actions of the NDB, which has not adopted discriminatory or punitive conditionalities as part of its loan policy, and instead has used innovative means such as credit in local currency and quick approval when it comes to issuing loans.

As for my country Argentina, it has participated in two BRICS Summits: those held in Brasilia (2014) and Johannesburg (2018). Between July 14 and 17, 2014, the 6th BRICS Summit was held in Fortaleza, Brazil. The host country Brazil specially invited then Argentine president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner to attend the summit. And former Argentine president Mauricio Macri attended the 10th BRICS Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, in July 2018 as a guest.

In this context, it is worth mentioning that the People's Republic of China has invited incumbent Argentine President Alberto Fernández to participate in the "High-Level Dialogue on Global Development", which will take place via video link on Friday.

The importance of this move must be realized, because it comes a few weeks after Argentina's participation in the "BRICS Political Parties Forum", where Argentine Ambassador to China Sabino Vaca Narvaja read a message from President Fernández, which said: "The BRICS are for my country an excellent alternative for cooperation in the face of a world order that has been working for the benefit of a few".

Likewise, on May 19 this year, during a video meeting with his peers from BRICS member states, Argentine Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero said: "For Argentina it is important to move towards greater coordination with the BRICS countries. That is why we value this call and make ourselves available to continue building bridges between Argentina and the BRICS."

China's initiative to create "BRICS Plus", according to Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, "will represent a new platform for South-South cooperation by holding dialogues with other major developing countries to establish a broader partnership".

In this context, "BRICS Plus" will help Argentina to become an integral part of the global value chains, address the global inflation problem, and improve the international financial architecture, all of which would result in emerging economies becoming agents of sustainable global economic recovery.

The author is the director of the Asian Affairs Committee, Argentine Council for International Relations, as well as the postgraduate program on China Studies in the Global Era, Argentine Catholic University.

The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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