What are the main goals of the BRICS? How would we know if it had succeeded?

The aim of this essay is to analyse the goals of the BRICS through foreign policy analysis and evaluate if these goals have been succeeded.

Cooper & Flemes (2015) stated that globalisation has resulted in widening and speeding up of the global interconnectedness which is evident from the development of BRICS acronym (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) as an important player in the global geopolitical landscape. Globalisation has spurred the social transaction boundaries beyond national level and thus state behaviour in terms of action and effect has become the important norm of foreign policy.

The features of the BRICS are that it is accounted for more than 40% of the world’s population and a quarter of the world land. Moreover, it constitutes one-third of the global economy and Consequently, BRICS as a group of emerging economies has changed the international relation context at political, economic and cultural level (Ribeiro & Dwyer, 2015, p.104-106).

Alden & Aran (2014, p.01) mentioned that ‘Foreign policy analysis’ (FPA) allows evaluating the relationship between primary states and different actors. In addition, foreign policy analysis allows the in-depth scrutiny of the international actors, structure of decision, motivation, and foreign policy choices.

BRICS goals are based on the joint priorities to address the economic problem and increase collaboration. The three joint goals of the BRICS are; 1) addressing the economic and financial problems such as reforms at IMF and the creation of the BRICS inter-bank mechanism; 2) Prepare for significant role in international market through competitiveness, institutional and political reforms as well as facilitating the ease of business; and, 3) built a democratic international system which is based on the multilateral diplomacy and rule of law (Chibba, 2011; Stuenkel, 2015, p.148-149).

According to Mintz & DeRouen (2010, p.18), the literature on international relations and foreign policy has highlighted that the starting point is to determine the level of analysis for state behaviourism. The four levels of analysis are system level, organisational level, state level and individual level. The system level involves examining the behaviour through the analysing international system.

The characteristic of the international system is the causes which affect the state behaviour. Besides, state level analysis allows observing the foreign policy of the states in relation to the characteristic of the states (Kegley, 2008, p.16).

Brighi (2013, p.13) discussed that the characteristics are made up of cultural characteristic, social tradition as well as a historical legacy which affect foreign policy. Furthermore, the organisational level analysis highlights how organisations influence the foreign policy behaviour of the state. At last, not least, individual level focuses on people role in the development of the foreign policy. For example, how a change of leadership affects the state behaviour and foreign policy.

According to Smith, et al (2012, p.14-15), the literature on the theories of the state behaviourism explains why states behave in a particular way. State level theory of ‘classical realism’ argues that state seeks power which is the principle of the state behaviourism. States attempts to increase their power and see other powerful states as rivals and tries to reduce their power.

Moreover, Quinn (2013) added that another system level theory of ‘Neorealism’ assumes all values of realism but suggest that power rivalry is not state function but it is based on the functionality of the international system. Neo-realism suggests that states are alone in the world anarchy and states gain power to protect themselves. Moreover, Neoclassical realism is a mix of classical and neo-classical realism which suggest that the single dominant factor which shapes the foreign policy is material power in relations to the international system  (Humphreys, 2013).

Therefore, classic realists follow human nature, neo-realism involves the structure of state and neoclassical involves both along with specific domestic variables.

Pennington (2014) elaborated that another state level theory of state behaviour is ‘liberalism or idealism’. This suggests that that there is not the just rivalry in the world but there is a lot of cooperation. The principle of liberalism is that states focus on the cooperation rather adopting conflict strategy. On the other hand, ‘neo-liberalism’, system level theories focus on the role of the institutions and their effect on state behaviour.

The institution affects the behaviour of the state through providing rule-based approach or by spreading values. Consequently, constructivism explores the role of the behaviour of state in the light of state characteristic. Different states have a unique set of economic, political, social and cultural values which affect its foreign policy (Schmidt, 2013).

The first goal of BRICS is to address the economic and financial issues. The emergence of the BRICS shows the shifting of power rather economic tigers. BRICS represent the new political order in which states are less satisfied with the existing role in the international context. According to classic realism, states seek to increase their power in the international system. The goal of the BRICS is to reform IMF to address the financial challenges of the world. The existing role of the IMF in the international order with defines rules and practices are imposed by the US (Cooper & Farooq, 2013).

Gray & Murphy (2013) detailed that neo-realism approach suggests that BRICS at the organisational level is interested in reforming the existing international order for the balance of power. Moreover, the individual level analysis shows that leadership of the BRICS is interested in creating new inter-bank mechanism among the states. The combination of the increasing power of the BRICS has changed to the extent the economic and political situation of international order.

Sincai & Monica (2015) analysed that the role of the states in the light of the state characteristic (constructivism) highlight that each country in the BRICS has relatively diverse economic and political scenario. Brazil specialised in agriculture, China has manufacturing, India a strong service sector, Russia and South Africa abundance of natural (energy and minerals) resources has presented diverse characteristic for each state.

The cultural and political sense in BRICS is relative different such as Russia and China have authoritarian style whereas other three states have a democratic system. Consequently, there is less shared value among the BRICS (Becker, 2013, p.182-184).

Quiliconi, et al (2016) explained that in the light of the liberalism theory, states are concerned about the cooperation rather competing with each other. The common for the BRICS is the fastest growing economies, have the common interest of multi-polarity as well as challenging US hegemony.

BRICS has important agenda of IMF (international monetary fund) and UN (United Nations) reforms but it has not achieved yet. China and India in BRICS are relative strategic alliance rather fostering cooperation. The economic and financial success of the BRICS requires more mutual efforts and power (Laidi, 2015).

The second objective of the BRICS is to prepare for a significant role in the international market through competitiveness, institutions and political reforms as well as facilitating the ease of business. According to Realism, BRICS are interested in increasing their role. According to Neo-realism, that states gain power to protect them. The system level analysis shows that member states have taken a number of initiatives to increase their role in the international system. For example, the political and institutional reforms in India have eased of doing business (Cooper & Farooq, 2013; Kiely, 2015, p.42-43).

Similarly, Elfakhani & Mackie (2015) conferred that Brazil at organisational level has taken a number of initiatives to ease the doing the business such as reducing cost and days to start the business. The institution and structural improvement within states have helped to improve the situation. On the other hand, neo-liberalism involves the system level focus on the role of the institutions and their effect on state behaviour. Despite the efforts, India and Brazil ranked at 126 and 132 on the world index of ease of doing business.

Iqbal & Araujo (2015)  argued that the lack of shared values and diverse culture and political scenario in BRICS has shown less improved. Neo-realism suggests that power rivalry is not state function but it is based on the functionality of the international system. BRICS are relative less competitive in relation to US and characteristic from state-level analysis shows the cultural, economic and political differences. The state-level analysis is evident that the level of export among member is low as well as the trade and investments are problems.

Kingah & Quiliconi (2016) evaluted that the recent changes in the monetary policy in the west has made evident the flow of the capital from the BRICS market. The (constructivism) characteristic of the BRICS states involves the large volume of red tape; political uncertainty and leadership have made trade investment a disjointed and fragile issue. The organisational level analysis highlights how organisation influences the foreign policy behaviour of the state.

The launch of the BRICS interbank is evident in the context of BRICS has shown the political differences among the member states. Therefore, despite the resources and power, the competitiveness of BRICS remains questionable. The outflow of the capital, characteristic of states and institutions has questioned the competitiveness of the BRICS (Duggan, 2015).

The third objective of the BRICS is to move towards the new international order and the multipolar economic environment. According to neo-classical approach the single dominant factor which shapes the foreign policy is material power in relations to the international system. BRICS have increased power and role in the international system in the both global politics and economy (Kaya, 2015; Maguire, 2015, p.65-66).

The power shift through cooperation among the BRICS has resulted in the rebalancing of economic structure and emerging markets such as BRICS has a significant role in the global geopolitical landscape. The power of the state and changes in the international system results in a change in state behaviour. The power of the BRICS to influence the international relations based on the political and military resources has formed a new paradigm for new international order.

In the light of the liberalism that there is not the just rivalry in the world but there is a lot of cooperation which results in the development of the new economic and political order (Baumann & Dingwerth, 2015).

Duggan (2015) mentioned that the emergence of BRICS has resulted in the shift of the power process as states built power against the existing political and economic power; the realism approach suggests a changing global power dynamics. BRICS states are a member of international institutions such as UN and IMF and with their economic power has managed to create the political influences.  Constructivism highlights the role of the behaviour of state in the light of state characteristic.

For example, South Africa role with BRICS is based on the dominance in the Africa. BRICS in the international world has moved on the economic issues and interested in neo-realism scenario of the international order. Individual-level analyses show the people role in the development of the foreign policy. The political regime of the BRICS is focusing on the global political issues and participating in the global institution reforms (Liu, 2016).

For example, BRICS want to reform the IMF and both China and Russia are pushing for the reforms at the UN Security Council. However, the leadership of the IMF as well as World Bank was lost by the BRIC because of lack of the agreement (failure of liberalism) because BRICS were failed to agree on common candidate (Zangl, et al., 2016).

In conclusion, BRICS has managed to create the political influence beyond economic but neoclassical realism suggests it will take time before BRICS can have a greater role in the international order. The Analysis of the three BRICS goals in the light of international relation and foreign policy shows that BRICS has not been successful in meeting its goals.

Despite the fastest growing economies and large contribution towards the World GDP, member’s states have failed to achieve its economic and financial goals. The institutions in the BRICS and characteristics of these state’s present challenges at both organisational and state level.

The challenges at individual level such as lack of institutions, lack of shared values and fragile investment scenario need to deal. The lack of cooperation among the BRICS members and neo-liberalism has raised different geopolitical interest. Neoliberalism suggests that institution affects the state behaviour and BRICS has not yet managed to achieve the goal of IMF reforms or the common economic trust.

The recommendations for BRICS to achieve its objectives are

  • BRICS member needs to increase trust and cooperation and consolidate itself as a group. The group should take a common position on the international geopolitical and economics issues.
  • BRICS member at individual and organisation level should make institutional and political reforms which link people and state and achieve resources for BRICS objectives.
  • BRICS should increase cooperation and agree on common goals. BRICS as a group should increase solidarity and take the collective approach for achieving its goals especially when nominating members.


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