Georgy Toloraya, Executive Director of the National Committee on BRICS Studies, Director of Russia’s Asian Strategy Center at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Economics.
Roman Chukov, Chair of the Board of the Russian Center for Promotion of International Initiatives, Research Fellow at Russia’s Asian Strategy Center at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Economics, Russian Y20 Sherpa.
The work of the BRICS is now taking a brand-new meaning. It is turning into an association of the international relations reformers. They now have a wider window of opportunities particularly because the US role in the global governance is likely to decrease to some extent if its activity is restrained by its own pragmatic interests.
July 7 the BRICS leaders had an informal meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hamburg. It looks like the Group of Twenty will become the main platform for clash of interests: both G7 countries and BRICS members promote their own interests there and other states make boards between them. At the same time, G20 is now a reliable mechanism of improving the efficiency of the global financial system that, backed by G20 and other international institutions, contributes to sustainable, comprehensive, balanced and inclusive growth of all states. The role of the BRICS members in G20 is significant: they are big member-states coordinating their stances on many aspects of G20’s work and new economic institutions of the five BRICS nations can be integrated into the work of the Group of Twenty.
The format of G20 contributes to consolidation of BRICS as its members present a united front there. Nevertheless, coordination of the BRICS members in G20 can and should be strengthened and they should aspire to exercise collective influence on the global governance. The number of references to G20 in BRICS’ documents demonstrates the growing interest in G20’s format and influence over its final decisions. Among the most significant achievements of the Group of Twenty it is necessary to mention the increasing role of the BRICS nations in discussing such crucial to fastest-growing economies issues as reforming international monetary and financial architecture, improving principles of joint regulation and supervision of national financial institutions and regulators, developing the system of global financial regulation.
BRICS at different levels discusses a multilayer architecture of new mechanisms of coordinating economic policies. At the same time a “project-based” approach is now prevailing and focus is being made on resolving some particular problems and elaborating specific fields of work. And G20’s format is based on the processes control. So, it would be wrong to compare these two formats, but it would rather be useful to ensure the highest possible synergy and strengthen BRICS’ agenda on the margins of G20.
However, discussion of the Syrian conflict at G20 Summit in 2013 under Russian presidency gave rise to its gradual politicization, that was taken up again in Antalya and Hangzhou at the meetings over combating global terrorism. The first meeting of foreign ministers of the Group of Twenty took place in 2017. BRICS also made focus on regional and global security at the latest Summit in Goa in 2016. Security is mentioned in the outcome document as often as economic issues.
Using its energy of G20 presidency in 2016 China can play a positive role in developing BRICS in 2017. Such a sequence of presidencies is likely to have positive influence on the efficiency of two associations’ cooperation since China is still a member of the “Troika”. Generally, China can become a mediator in activating the process of implementation of the latest political commitments taken on by BRICS in order to maintain a long-term growth due to innovations, structural reforms and preserving financial stability of the emerging markets. In the short run, macroeconomic policies of G20 should maintain aggregate demand and encourage investment at the same time preserving financial stability. In the medium and long run, it will be necessary to speed up structural reforms of G20 to achieve stated goals of encouraging sustainable and balanced growth.
To sum up, it seems that the BRICS nations should not forget the G20 platform and hold consultations not only on the sidelines of the summits but also as part of the preparations for them at all expert meetings. This will help, in particular, understand the existing differences and coordinate stances in order for the BRICS members not to demonstrate disunity at the G20 level but to hold themselves out as powerful states able to promote their own agenda as well as their shared vision of the future world order.
Photo: © REUTERS/Ludovic Marin