BRICS and Mortar

PARIS – Last week, the leaders of five of the world’s fastest-growing economies – Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (the BRICS) – convened in New Delhi to reaffirm their common positions and assert their political autonomy from the West. But how effective are their declarations of solidarity? Have these countries coalesced solely to counterbalance the West? If so, will it work?

Answering these questions requires considering the group’s origins, about which two facts stand out. First, globalization enabled rapid economic growth for all of its members, which now account for more than 30% of global output. Second, the United States’ military campaign in Iraq highlighted the dangers – and the limits – of American hegemony.

In 2003, at the World Trade Organization summit in Cancún, Mexico, four of these dynamic emerging giants came together for the first time, under Brazil’s political leadership, to challenge US-European control of the institution. And they succeeded.

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