By Alex Tuai.

In the world of international relations, economics, and finance, one of the most common acronyms used is BRICS. Originally born as BRIC by former Goldman Sachs economics Jim O’Neill in 2001, it stood for the four fastest emerging economies: Brazil, Russia, India, and China. Then in 2010, South Africa gained entry into the group thus transforming it the current BRICS.

While not openly stated, one of the major goals of the BRICS countries is to create an alternate dominating power to the primarily Western- dominated (primarily the United States) international landscape. It should be noted that two of the (if not the two most) powerful critics of Western power: China and Russia are part of the BRICS conglomeration. Following the first official summit in Yekaterinburg the then BRIC countries announced the need for a new global reserve currency counter to the US dollar, which would be more “diversified, predictable, and stable”[1]. This ambition was furthered in the two most recent summits in Durban, South Africa and Fortlazea, Brazil where the BRICS countries announced the plans and then signed the ratification documents to begin the launch of the New Development Bank as well as a reserve currency pool worth more than $100 billion[2]. Again, while not openly stated many see this bank as the creation of a direct competitor to the traditionally American and British dominated World Bank and IMF. If successful, the New Development Bank would mark an important shift away from the traditionally Western dominated banking and loaning system. Countries would have the option to accept loans from the New Development Bank instead of the World Bank/IMF, which have been heavily criticized for being tools of spreading Western domination and perpetuating the cycle of poverty and oppression of the Global South.

However, the rise of these countries does not come without criticism. Economic experts like Professor Patrick Bond at the South African University of KwaZulu Natal argue that despite their cries for a world order that is not dominated by Western imperialism the BRICS’ policies and practices lean towards sub-imperialism through economic and resource exploitation[3]. The road to the rise of new global powers is not without its bumps. Fully understanding both the good and bad of the BRICS countries will be crucial to understanding the potential new leaders of the international system. Over the next six weeks I’ll be exploring the good, the bad, and the ugly of the BRICS countries including the rise and potential of the New Development Bank, the rise of the BRICS as a new powerhouse to the Western world, their sub-imperialist tendencies, and looking at the future with the rise of their sisters the MINT (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Turkey) countries.


Alex Tuai is a senior at Long Island University Global who will be working with the network alliance BRICS from Below in Durban, South Africa for the next six months. She is majoring in global studies with a focus in international relations and American foreign policy.


[1] “BRIC Wants More Influence.” RSS. Euro News, 16 June 2009. Web. 25 Aug. 2014.

[2] “BRICS Establish $100bn Bank and Currency Pool to Cut out Western Dominance.” RT Business. Russia Today, 15 July 2014. Web. 25 Aug. 2014.

[3] Bond, Patrick. “BRICS and the Tendency to Sub-imperialism.” Pambazuka. Fahamu, 10 Apr. 2014. Web. 25 Aug. 2014.


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