the counter-G7 of Brics-

the counter-G7 of Brics-
the counter-G7 of Brics-
from Federico Rampini

At the last summit of the emerging powers, the great maneuvers of Beijing dominate. Who now court Africa. How was born the club of the world other than us and why now it is strengthened

Xi Jinping
denunciation: the economic sanctions launched by the West are equivalent to “militarizing the global economy”, as well as being a boomerang that turns against those who apply them. The Beijing media relaunched for the occasion the idea of ​​a world monetary order “freed” from the dollar, with alternative payment systems to the Swift (which is based in Belgium and effectively controlled by the United States).

Where did the Chinese president say these things? At an economic summit of the BRICS, an acronym that stands for Brazil Russia India China South Africa. BRICS is a club of powers that like to call themselves emerging, even though China has already emerged to all intents and purposes being the second largest economy in the world. In parallel with the BRICS economic forum, another China-sponsored conference was held in Addis Ababa on peace in the Horn of Africa, where Xi launched his own aid plan for that area of ​​the continent destabilized by the Ethiopian civil war. The West often appears marginal in these great maneuvers which see Beijing weaving its web towards the Southern hemisphere.

The geography of the BRICS looks like mirror and alternative to that of the G7, clubs from the old rich countries. Does the acronym Brics therefore represent, at least potentially, the control room to dismantle American-centric globalization and gradually replace it with an alternative international order, whose rules will be decided in Beijing, Moscow, Delhi, Brasilia and Pretoria? The history of the BRICS is now over twenty years old, singular and deserves to be remembered. This club, which Chinese executives surround with loving attention, did not invent them but an American economist, then an employee of Wall Street’s Goldman Sachs.

The decisive background was December 2001, when China effectively became part of “our world”. It is admitted to the World Trade Organization or WTO, the place where in principle since 1995 the rules of globalization have been negotiated and decided. As a member of the WTO, new markets have opened up to China since the end of 2001. Since then, a spectacular story of export-driven take-off accelerates. THEthe Chinese miracle it is produced on unprecedented dimensions.
After China, it is India’s turn; even “the sleeping elephant” awakens to growth with a therapy of liberalizations (albeit corrected by robust doses of protectionism, even more than in China).

The geography of development widens, so Goldman Sachs economist Jim O’Neill invents the acronym of the Brics, adding Brazil Russia and finally South Africa to Cindia. At the beginning his banal intention: O’Neill with the Brics wants to offer investors a simple and suggestive label to indicate the new markets in which to invest in order to exploit the opportunities of globalization. It’s a financial marketing gimmick, quite simply.

Ironically, that initials of the Brics born in the research office of Goldman Sachs ends up materializing in a geopolitical reality: the leaders of those five countries like it so much, that they appropriate it, and they meet periodically in special summits from which the West excluded.

In the following twenty years it was born in emerging countries a middle class of over a billion people, an immense market. At the same time, however, the involution of the authoritarian regime brutally belies the optimistic prophecies of Clinton and Bill Gates, which O’Neill himself believed, about the inevitable transition to democracy that should have accompanied capitalism.

In the following twenty years, the common aspiration to overcome a “unipolar world” emerged several times in the declarations of the heads of state and government of the BRICS. How real is their convergence? In some cases the harmony was remarkable. An example: in 2011 the BRIC adopted a common position, abstaining, on the UN resolution in which America and its Franco-British allies gave the green light to military intervention in Libya. Here is a point really common to the BRICS: because they are marked by a colonial or neocolonial past (India, Brazil), or because they are nostalgic for an era in which they could compete for world leadership with the United States (Russia), or finally because they have imperial ambitions anti-Western (China), all of them have an aversion to the role of the United States. An earlier case, the fiasco of the Copenhagen Environment Summit (December 2009) had shown that Cindia’s couple alone can exercise formidable veto power against any American + Europe ambition to dictate the international agenda.

The status of the Brics was strengthened thanks to the 2008-2009 recession. It was called a “global recession”; out of mental laziness, or because we persist in considering the West as the navel of the world. In reality that crisis was essentially of the West + Japan. China did not go into recession, not even for a couple of quarters. India ditto. Brazil suffered from it only very briefly, and then came out of it at full speed, finding fast development rates thanks to the driving force of Chinese demand for its raw materials and foodstuffs. More than ever, after that crisis, global economic geography began to resemble the subtitle of an essay by historian Niall Ferguson: “The West and the Rest”.

American economist Dani Rodrik has theorized that the BRICS espouse the “Bretton Woods model globalization, rather than the more recent and extreme version”. What do you mean? The international conference preparing the architecture of international economics for the postwar era was held at Bretton Woods in 1944, under the political leadership of Franklin Roosevelt and the theoretical leadership of John Maynard Keynes. The International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the GATT which was the ancestor of the WTO were created there. It was an important step in restoring the freedom of trade, promoting international trade that would have pulled many post-war economic “miracles”, from the Italian to the German and Japanese ones. But it was a partial globalization: currencies were not free to float in disorder, capital movements were subject to restrictions, borders opened gradually. Rodrik notes that the BRICS have a selective approach to globalization, reminiscent of the orderly world of Bretton Woods. China practices protectionism long before Donald Trump tried to give it back; for years it has resisted Western pressures on the monetary front, and continues to keep the renminbi in a limbo of incomplete convertibility. India has maintained certain restrictions on capital movements, as well as a gradual opening of borders to trade. Brazil applies de facto quotas of “national labor tax base” on foreign companies that want to invest in key sectors such as oil and mines. All these governments act pragmatically: no declarations of ideological war against the West, but a rational calculation of the national interest. Russia and China also share the role of state capitalismespecially in strategic sectors.

The political and even value differences between the Indian and Brazilian democracies and the authoritarian political system that governs China are evident. As well as the strategic rivalry between India and China that leads New Delhi to accept American advances for military cooperation. The government of Narendra Modi in the current summit has sent a reassurance to the Americans: the Indian delegation will prevent the signing of a BRICS communiqué that could sound critical of Washington. So the BRICS are not ready to become a global governance directorate. But in the meantime it is consolidating itself as the club of the world “other than us”, and none of its members adheres to the sanctions against Putin for the aggression against Ukraine.

June 23, 2022 (change June 23, 2022 | 9:07 pm)


The article is in Italian

Tags: counterG7 Brics Corriereit

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