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A new step towards a multipolar world:
summary of the 8th BRICS Summit (Goa, India, 15-16 October 2016)

The modern world is going through a complicated and contradictory period of transformation. Before our eyes entire regions and continents are being reformatted, global financial architecture is changing significantly, the balance of power in the international area is shifting and a multipolar world is gradually forming with BRICS as one of its main pillars.

Modern BRICS  is no longer just an acronym invented by the British economist Jim O’Neill, it is quite an influential informal interstate association with more than 2.83 billion people living on its territory.

Despite a slight decline in economic growth, the role of the BRICS in the global economy and politics can hardly be overestimated. One example of this – 8th BRICS summit, which was held under the theme “Building Responsive, Inclusive and Collective Solutions” (to a certain extent this theme is similar to the theme of the recent G20 summit).

During the summit, a series of multilateral and bilateral activities with the participation of the Leaders of BRICS took place. These activities included a meeting with BRICS working Group on environmental issues, meeting with Ministers of Environment, BRICS Academic Forum, meeting with Ministers of Finance and Heads of central banks, meeting with BRICS working group on the issues of development, a seminar on export credit issues, meeting with BRICS Business Council, the mechanism of interbank BRICS cooperation and the Finance forum.

As a result of the 8th BRICS Summit Leaders of Brazil, Russia, China, India and South Africa signed a number of important documents, including:

  • Goa Declaration;
  • Action Plan for the implementation of the Goa Declaration;
  • Memorandum of Understanding for Establishment of BRICS Agricultural Research Platform;
  • Memorandum of Understanding on Regulations on Customs Cooperation Committee of the BRICS;
  • Memorandum of Understanding on Mutual Cooperation between Diplomatic Academies.

BRICS Summit clearly demonstrated the growth of its inner unity, although bilateral relations between the Member States of this association still prevail over multilateral (and this is quite natural, given the fact that BRICS is a young format, created only in 2006). But it is the dynamic convergence of key developing countries in the sectors of economy and international politics that is important.

BRICS Leaders supported the Action Plan for implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which was adopted during the G20 summit in Hangzhou, expressed their support for the creation of an open global economy and their opposition to any form of protectionism. At the same time the participating countries of the BRICS have embarked on the course of an increase in mutual trades. While trade between the Member States of the BRICS represents only 5% of the world, in the near future the situation may change for the better.

BRICS member states confirmed their commitment to «strong quota-based and resourced IMF» and welcomed the inclusion of the yuan in the currency basket of Special Drawing Rights from October 1, 2016.

Summit participants positively assessed the first steps of the New Development Bank BRICS (NDB BRICS) and the reserve currency pool, which greatly contributes to the strengthening of the global financial architecture.

In 2016 NDB approved first 5 loans that totally amounted to $1 billion, and in 2017 it will issue loans with the total sum of $2-2.5 billion. In July 2016 NDB successfully debuted on the borrowing market, placing on the Chinese interbank market 5 year old “green bonds” that amounted to 3 billion Chinese yuan. Possibly in the 1st quarter of 2017 NDB will issue bonds in Russian rubles.

As we can see, the amount of loans and borrowings is not too large right now, but the dynamics are positive. At the same time a close dialogue between the NDB and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is establishing.

Leaders of the BRICS member states unanimously supported the idea of creating their own credit rating agency. As rightly noted by Indian experts, this measure is aimed not only at creating alternatives to traditional Moody’s, S&P and Fitch’s, but also to get more “fit” with Chinese companies and funds, as China has become an important source not only of exports but also of foreign direct investments and loans (with the sum of $700 billion, Chinese finance portfolio is twice the one that is available in the World Bank).

Despite the predictions of some experts, 8th BRICS summit has not bypassed the pressing issues of international politics. On the contrary, BRICS Leaders expressed quite openly and harshly, calling things by their names.

Firstly, Goa Declaration clearly fixed the commitment of BRICS member countries to the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of each other: «We remain confident that resolving international problems require collective efforts for peaceful settlement of disputes through political and diplomatic means. Implementation of principles of good-faith, sovereign equality of States, non-intervention in the internal affairs of States and cooperation excludes imposition of unilateral coercive measures not based on international law. We condemn unilateral military interventions and economic sanctions in violation of international law and universally recognized norms of international relations. Bearing this in mind, we emphasize the unique importance of the indivisible nature of security, and that no State should strengthen its security at the expense of the security of others.»

Secondly, the Leaders of the BRICS member countries emphasized the central role of the UN in the modern world: «We reiterate our common vision of ongoing profound shifts in the world as it transitions to a more just, democratic, and multi-polar international order based on the central role of the United Nations, and respect for international law. We reaffirm the need for strengthening coordination of efforts on global issues and practical cooperation in the spirit of solidarity, mutual understanding and trust.»

Thirdly, BRICS Leaders reaffirmed «the need for a comprehensive reform of the UN, including its Security Council, with a view to making it more representative, effective and efficient, and to increase the representation of the developing countries so that it can adequately respond to global challenges. China and Russia reiterate the importance they attach to the status and role of Brazil, India and South Africa in international affairs and support their aspiration to play a greater role in the UN.»

Fourth, BRICS member nations expressed their concern over the situation in the Middle East and North Africa: «We support all efforts for finding ways to the settlement of the crises in accordance with international law and in conformity with the principles of independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of the countries of the region.»

BRICS member countries also called upon all parties involved to work for a comprehensive and peaceful resolution of the conflict taking into account the legitimate aspirations of the people of Syria, through inclusive national dialogue and a Syrian-led political process based on Geneva Communiqué of 30 June 2012 and in pursuance of the UN Security Council Resolution 2254 and 2268 for their full implementation.

Fifth, BRICS member countries confirmed their support for the efforts of the Afghan Government to achieve national reconciliation and also expressed the view that capable and effective Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) should be the key to the stabilization of Afghanistan. BRICS Leaders stressed the importance of multilateral region-led interaction on Afghan issues, primarily by those organizations, which consist of Afghanistan’s neighboring countries and other regional states, such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Collective Security Treaty Organization, and the Heart of Asia Conference.

Sixth, in the current complicated international situation it is especially important that BRICS member states recognized the international terrorism as an unprecedented threat to the global economy and called for the fight against terrorist groups such as «ISIL» and «Jabhat al-Nusra».

In general, the results of 8th BRICS Summit indicate that this informal interstate association has quite favorable prospects. There is a growing understanding of the need for closer economic and political cooperation of BRICS member countries in the international arena, their readiness for joint coordinated actions in all strategically important areas of modern international relations is increasing.