The city of Johannesburg will host the 15th meeting of heads of state of BRICS (China, Russia, India, Brazil and South Africa). From August 22 to 24, national leaders will debate the future of the group amid a marked deterioration of US influence and the advance of de-dollarization throughout the world.
The BRICS leaders’ summit, the first to be held in person since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, is expected to be attended by the president of China, Xi Jinping; the president of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva; Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has decided to participate in the BRICS summit by video. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will be present at the meeting in Johannesburg.
In addition, according to the foreign ministry of the organizing country, more than 60 leaders from Africa and the Global South were invited as well as senior diplomatic officials, such as the Secretary General of the United Nations (UN), Antonio Guterres, the president of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki, the president of the BRICS New Development Bank, former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, and many others.
The meeting takes place at a time when countries such as Russia and China are promoting a new order based on global multilateralism distinct from the economic, military, and political hegemony dictated by Washington.
“The Johannesburg summit is significant and important for three purposes,” former Colombian president Ernesto Samper (1994-1998) told Sputnik in an exclusive interview. “First, to contribute to peace in the world; second, to lay out one of the economic bases for a new globalization; and third, to begin building a proposal different from multilateralism, which really takes countries into account not because of their economic conditions, but because of their political identity.”
“The Movement of Non-Aligned Countries and other strategic alliances, such as the BRICS alliance, which are outside of bipolarity or bipolarization, seem to me very important for world peace and for beginning to build an alternative to the process against the phenomenon of deglobalization that is taking place,” added the former South American president.
Samper warned that, due to the current polarization caused by the hostility of the US against countries like China and Russia, which it perceives as enemies, it is more necessary than ever to work for greater global cooperation.
This appeal by the non-aligned countries, historically harmed by the imperialist policies established by the US and the nations that make up the G7—the United Kingdom, Canada, Italy, Germany, France, Japan, and the US—has been well received around the world, especially in the Global South, which includes countries from Africa, Asia, and Latin America that have historically been victimized by the imperialist, colonialist, and rapacious practices of Western powers.
An example of this international support is the fact that more than 20 countries have publicly expressed their desire to join BRICS, including Argentina, Venezuela, Bolivia, Egypt, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Turkey.
If we take into account that the last country to join was South Africa, in 2010, this renewed interest in belonging to the trade bloc, which in its current configuration represents more than 31.5% of the global gross domestic product and 42% of the world’s population, explains why the United States has tried to sabotage the meeting in every possible way, planting numerous reports in the Western press circulating falsehoods about alleged frictions between member countries.
“The measures that we have seen so far have been economic sanctions, so they could apply more and more effective sanctions to try to block Russia,” Aníbal García, analyst at the Latin American Strategic Center for Geopolitics (CELAG), told Sputnik. “They could explore the path of diplomatic pressure with South Africa or India.”
Samper declared that if the United States “does not understand” the message that the great appeal of BRICS represents as an alternative option “to the hegemonic policy that [Washington] has been developing and that has been very unfavorable,” then “[the US] will simply pay with political costs and isolation from the world.”
Summit agenda and future agendas
Sensitive global issues are expected to be discussed during the summit: geopolitics, security, finance, and the economy.
Analysts agree that issues such as the addition of new members, the creation of a common currency for trade, and plans for the revitalized BRICS New Development Bank will undoubtedly be on the table.
“Introducing BRICS’s own (possibly digital) currency for intra-BRICS trade transactions is the most important strategic goal for its members,” says Alexey Gromov, a doctor of geography, head of the Russia’s Department of Energy and the Institute of Energy and Finance, and an expert on the BRICS’s trading bloc.
BRICS is designed to promote the economic growth and prosperity of the member countries, said Gromov, and the quickest way to achieve this is to increase trade and economic ties. However, in an environment where all business operations are conducted using Western financial infrastructure, Gromov explained, such ties are vulnerable to outside influences, as the experience of Western sanctions against Russia has already shown.
Therefore, in his opinion, BRICS should grant priority to the development of countries independently from Western trade instruments, promoting trade and energy centers, an exchange or electronic trading platform, a BRICS arbitration court to resolve trade disputes, and the aforementioned currency for commercial transactions.
Regarding the expansion of its number of members, although Gromov acknowledged that the interest of so many countries in joining BRICS demonstrates the success of the association, he qualified this triumphalism by ensuring that it is a process that must be carried out responsibly, so as not to reduce the effectiveness of the bloc.
“The most important thing is not to admit as many countries as possible, but to ensure the sustainability of the association and the unity of the member countries on the key issues on the BRICS agenda,” Gromov said.
Regarding the BRICS New Development Bank, created in 2015 and led since April by former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Samper told Sputnik that the organization can fulfill an important task by promoting large infrastructure projects.
For Latin America, he explained, “initiatives focused on the connectivity of the regions are necessary, either with the creation of trains or establishing high-speed fiber optic networks, and also those linked to the environment, such as the recovery of the basin of the Río de la Plata and the Amazon River Basin.”
“It is likely that within the framework of the BRICS, there is the possibility of establishing new value chains, new transport routes… that are complementary to the (new) Silk Road of China, which to a large extent is the outline of new supply chains,” Aníbal García told Sputnik.
Regarding the New Development Bank, the CELAG analyst said, “it is important. It creates an alternative for financing social and infrastructure projects for member countries.”
Speaking on the issue of food security, García reiterated that Russia is a relevant actor in the global food market and China has invested a great amount in agriculture given the needs provide its large population with food. Meanwhile, Brazil is also a regional power in the agricultural sector, so BRICS can have greater participation and relevance for global food security. In addition, the role that fertilizers have in agriculture adds to Russia’s key position, said García.
“In addition, there are agreements, such as the China–Brazil Agricultural Sciences Industrial Park to build a seed reserve,” said García. “For its part, India established the BRICS Agricultural Research Platform in 2017, with which they intend to promote corresponding development. The theme is extra strategic for BRICS, considering that they include 40% of the world’s population.”
“I believe that the BRICS is in a position to assume today what we could call the new issues on the world agenda, which have to do with food sovereignty, climate change, artificial intelligence, and the construction of citizenship, to mention only some of the most important,” Samper told Sputnik.
(Sputnik) by Rodrigo Duarte
Translation: Orinoco Tribune.
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