BRICS is an interstate group comprising of the Federative Republic of Brazil, the Russian Federation, the Republic of India, the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of South Africa (since December 2010).
The first BRIC meeting took place on September 20, 2006, on the sidelines of the 61st Session of the UN General Assembly in New York. Ministers of Foreign Affairs from Russia, Brazil, China and Indian Defence Minister agreed to enhance diverse cooperation between the four countries.
The Russian city of Yekaterinburg hosted the first full-fledged meeting of the BRICS foreign ministers on May 16, 2008. The parties approved a joint communiqué reflecting their common position on topical matters of global development.
An important step in asserting the association was made on July 9, 2008, when a stand-alone meeting between the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India and China took place on the sidelines of the G8 summit in Toyako, Japan.
Yekaterinburg hosted the first full-scale BRIC summit on June 16, 2009. The concluding Joint Statement formalised the intention of the four countries to promote dialogue and cooperation “in an incremental, proactive, pragmatic, open and transparent way” which “is conducive not only to serving the common interests of emerging market economies and developing countries, but also to building a harmonious world of lasting peace and common prosperity.”
The group changed its abbreviation to BRICS after the Republic of South Africa joined; the first summit with the Republic of South Africa took place on April 14, 2011, in Sanya, China.
Today, the five countries account for almost 33 percent of global GDP (in terms of their national currencies’ purchasing power parity). In 2018, BRICS surpassed the G7 in this respect, with a GDP of $44 trillion. The population of the five BRICS countries is estimated at 3 billion and accounts for 42 percent of the world’s population. Their territory covers 26 percent of the world’s landmass. The five countries are the source of substantial natural resources.
The BRICS states are influential members of important international fora, including the UN, the G20, the World Trade Organisation, the Non-Aligned Movement and the Group of 77, as well as regional associations, such as the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, the Eurasian Economic Union, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation, the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation, the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), the African Union, the Southern African Development Community, the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) and others.
Over the years, BRICS has evolved into a multi-role strategic partnership based on the following key pillars: peace and security; economy and finance; cultural and people-to-people exchanges. Relations between BRICS partners are based on equality and mutual respect as well as the principles of openness, pragmatism, solidarity and are not directed against any state.
BRICS states assume chairmanship for a period of 12 months on a rotation basis. All decisions are made by consensus. Over 100 meetings, including about 20 ministerial meetings are held annually. The five countries are expanding their collaboration between municipal authorities, business, academic and research communities and civil society. The mechanism of National Sherpas and Sous-Sherpas representing the foreign ministries of all five countries coordinates the group’s on-going activities.
Efforts to strengthen global security and stability are a high priority to BRICS. The five BRICS states are united by the common understanding that it is only possible to meet the most arduous challenges the world is facing today by consolidating collective efforts of the international community and by unconditionally respecting the principles and norms of international law and the UN Charter.
The launching of the New Development Bank (NDB), with headquarters in Shanghai, and the BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement with a total volume of $200 billion was an important result of collaboration between the BRICS countries. By the end of 2019 the NDB has approved close to 50 investment projects worth $15,1 billion. In 2018, the New Development Bank opened its Africa Regional Centre (NDB ARC) in Johannesburg (South Africa). A regional office was opened in Brazil in 2019, and there are plans to open a regional office in Russia in 2020.
On November 13-14, 2019, Brasília hosted the 11th BRICS Summit, held under Brazil’s chairship. The forum took place under the theme “Economic Growth for Innovative Future” and reaffirmed the unity or proximity within BRICS on most key global matters, as well as the striving of the partners to strengthen the role of BRICS in global affairs.
The Brasília Declaration, approved by the BRICS leaders, reaffirmed the fundamental principles of the group’s activities, including support for the UN’s central role in international affairs, the purposes and principles of the UN Charter; a commitment to multilateralism, and the formation of a more fair, just, equitable and representative multipolar world order. The five countries resolutely advocated the sovereign equality of states and non-interference in domestic affairs. They unanimously denounced the introduction of coercive measures that are not based on international law and noted that it was critical that all WTO members avoid protectionist and unilateral actions that run counter to the spirit and rules of the WTO.
From January 1, 2020, the Russian Federation assumes BRICS Chairmanship. The theme of the Russian Chairmanship is “BRICS Partnership for Global Stability, Shared Security and Innovative Growth.” The city of St Petersburg will host the 12th BRICS summit in July 2020.