Sheng Shiliyang, Chief Researcher with the Center for Global Challenges Studies, Xinhua News Agency
In today’s world the relative strength of the West is declining, the emerging economies are rising and the world’s economic map is visibly changing. Goldman Sachs estimates,that by 2050 the combined size of the BRIC economies will exceed that of the G7 countries. PricewaterhouseCoopers is even more optimistic: the company says that the combined GDP of the “New G7” group of countries, consisting of the BRICs, Mexico, Indonesia and Turkey might catch up with the G7 economies by 2019. In terms of economic development, Russia is more advanced than the other three BRIC countries. Russia is the only member of the group which is considered an economically developed country.Although in 2009 Russia’s GDP was less than one third of China’s, Russia’s per capita GDP topped $8000 and was more than double China’s. According to Goldman Sachs’ calculations, Russia is the only BRIC country whose [per capita] income may reach European levels by 2050. Western economists forecast that by 2050 Russian GDP will exceed that of Germany, to become the 6th biggest in the world.
However, while Russia is strong in the fields of resources and technology, in terms of population it is a weak country.Russia is the only country in the world which is fully self sufficient in natural resources. The potential value of Russia’s natural resources is $300 trillion, the total value of Russia’s proven natural resources is $30 trillion or 21% of the world’s total, while China’s is only $5 trillion. Russia has leading positions in from 12 to 17 of the 50 key technologies which have the strongest impact on global development. Russia’s level of education is close to that of Western countries with two thirds of university-age young people having access to higher education. Only one fifth of China’s young people have such an opportunity. The car ownership rate in Russia is 14 times higher than in China, computer ownership is 3 times higher. But Russia can hardly compete with other BRIC members in terms of labor costs and supply. Russia is in the enviable position of its future development relying on its’ intellectual capital, technological potential and natural resources.Russia is a first class military, diplomatic and cultural power. It has a comparatively significant influence on international relations, especially in the CIS area and in developing countries. Russia has friendly and strong ties with China, India and Brazil. Russia’s nuclear arsenal is second only to America’s. Russian culture has a strong influence on that of its neighbors. The three other BRIC countries can hardly compare with Russia in this areas.Since Russia’s society and industry are those of a developed country, and although Russia is a BRIC member, it is more developed than the other BRIC countries. So, there is every reason for Russia to play a coordinating and leading role among the BRICs.Russia promoted and hosted the first meeting of BRIC foreign ministers and the first BRIC summit. That fact highlights the great attention Russia pays to the development of the BRIC grouping and the contribution Russia makes to it.
Expanding economic cooperation with China, India and Brazil will help Russia speed up its’ economic revival. The BRIC grouping also improves Russia’s international standing.Outside the BRIC framework there is the “group of 11 emerging countries”, which includes Bangladesh, Vietnam, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Turkey and the Philippines. Most of these countries also have good relations with Russia. Russia’s ability to influence the situation across the former Soviet Union has increased since the Russian-Georgian war, but CIS countries have also become more suspicious, and one effect of the war was the deterioration of relations with the major Western countries. With the help of the BRICs Russia has the opportunity to expand its international influence, increase its presence areas across the expanse of Asia, Africa and Latin America, and to extend the use of the Russian model of international cooperation.
One of the many informal international structures in the contemporary world, the G7 does not include Russia. Although the G8 includes Russia, it is treated somewhat differently from the other members. Within the G20 Russia joined the large group of developing countries. The BRIC group is the only structure where, unhindered by Western lectures, Russia as the country with the strongest potential can play the leading role.The BRIC group is the one of the few international groups not to include any Western countries. Under the BRIC framework, developing countries can discuss their own problems calmly without the West’s dominating influence. They can determine the areas of and the future for cooperation, develop a joint position on the new global political and economic “rules of the game” to suit their own interests and coordinate their positions in order to better prepare for G20 discussions.There is great potential for the four countries to cooperate on issues such as: natural resources, agriculture, technology, education, as well as in other fields, and their government departments can draw up cooperation plans.
As the financial crisis fades and the situation in the economies of the US and other Western countries improves, their pressure on China and other developing economies could increase. In the post crisis era, the BRIC policy of giving developing economies greater say and greater influence on policymaking could become an important subject for the summit to focus on.The BRIC group is an informal international organization including Russia and China. The two countries share common positions and have similar interests in international politics end the global economy. Their cooperation during the summit could make their political relations which are already very good, even better.The idea of the BRIC group originated in the developed countries, other countries had used this model to form unofficial international structures, and to date the leaders of the four countries have created a high level discussion platform. In the short term this platform for political dialogue cannot influence the global political and economic agenda, nor can it resolve any important problems. Our expectations should not be too high.There is a long way to go yet, but as the proverb has it, the thousand mile journey starts with a single step. The fact that in only a few years the BRIC group managed to develop as much as they have, is a valuable achievement.