In August, six more countries – Argentina, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Ethiopia and Iran – agreed to join BRICS by 2024, later called BRICS Plus. (Photo: Shutterstock)
GEOPOLITICAL ANALYSIS. Since 1945, the decline in the ranking of the US and Western countries has been incorrectly predicted several times. In the 1950s, the countries of the former Soviet Union had to “bury” capitalism. In the 1980s, analysts stated that Japan’s economy would one day surpass that of the United States. In the 2010s, the slogan was that China would become a leading economic power. Today, it is BRICS Plus that is destined to reshape the international order.
Founded in 2009, BRICS includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, which joined in 2010. In August, six other countries – Argentina, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Ethiopia and Iran – agreed to join the BRICS in 2024hence the term BRICS Plus.
However, caution is needed with BRICS Plus forecasts like this so as not to give in to the geopolitical “flavor of the month”, as analysts have often been wrong in the past:
- It’s not just the former Soviet Union and communism that don’t “ buried” capitalism (as leader Nikita Khrushchev said in 1956), but it collapsed in the early 1990s – at least in Europe, because of Communism.
- The Japanese economy never surpassed the American economy. Since the Japanese real estate bubble burst in 1990, the Japanese economy has experienced stagnation or relative sluggishness, and has become a shadow of its previous economic conditions.
- Companies, such as Goldman Sachs, which argued that China would surpass the United States in becoming the leading economic power by the 2020s, are now pushing back that deadline. And some companies, like Capital Economics, even say this will never happen because China has too many problems.
Of course, the lack of understanding of the BRICS Plus situation has no real impact in the short and medium term on Canadian companies active in international markets.
On the other hand, in the long term, for example in the 10 to 25 year period, overestimating the impact of BRICS expansion on the economy and international relations has the potential to result in bad decisions.
For example, it ignores some promising markets in the Indo-Pacific on the grounds that the rise of BRICS Plus is expected to lead to a decline in democracy and the rule of law in certain regions of the world.
Half of the population, one third of GDP
The aim of BRICS Plus is to give a stronger voice to the countries of the South – a heterogeneous collection of non-aligned countries – and thereby exert greater influence on the world stage, which is still dominated by the United States and the West. In short, helping to create a new multipolar international order in which Western society is the only stakeholder in the “management” of the world.
It is difficult to oppose this principle of more collegial world management, as long as this does not result in a decline in human rights and democracy in the world.
One thing is certain, the BRICS Plus member countries have quite a large influence on the international arena.
Combining Argentina, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Ethiopia and Iran, this group would be home to 46% of the world’s population and also account for more than a third of the country’s GDP. around the world, reports French newspapers World.
To illustrate, Western countries (which are basically Canada, the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, Australia, and New Zealand) account for about 10% of the world’s population, but about half of the world’s population are countries -West Country. World GDP, according to data from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.
In short, BRICS Plus has demographic weight, while Western countries have economic weight.
BRICS Plus structural weaknesses
Despite their influence, the BRICS countries – at least currently – lack the coherence that Western countries have thanks to the organizations and agreements that bind them and which are a guarantee of power. and influence.
British Magazine Statesman News give some examples.
- BRICS Plus does not have any regional free trade agreementsCanada-United States-Mexico Agreement (KUSMA).
- BRICS Plus does not have a military alliance like the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
It can be added that Western countries also share the characteristics of being liberal democracies, where the rule of law and freedom of the press are usually the norm.
That said, there may be exceptions in countries like Poland or Hungary, two EU member states ruled by radical, illiberal right-wing groups.
On the other hand, the BRICS Plus countries do not demonstrate such political and cultural coherence.
For example, India, Brazil and Argentina, South Africa are democracies, while other countries are authoritarian regimes or dictatorships.
There is another factor to consider within the confines of BRICS Plus: China’s demographic decline will ultimately further undermine its economic potential as well as its political and military clout.
However, China is seen as the leader of the group.
China’s population will decrease by hundreds of millions by 2100, according to two Chinese organizations. (Photo: Getty Images)
China’s population will shrink in the 21st century
A little-known fact is that China’s population of 1.4 billion will begin to decline in 2022.
Here are two forecasts that give an idea of the extent of the phenomenon.
The United Nations (UN) estimates that by 2100, China’s population will fall to 767 million. The Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences estimates a more critical scenario is a drop to 587 million.
On the other hand, by 2100, the United States should have 394 million residents (332 million today), according to the UN.
Finally, we must consider the last two elements to understand that BRICS Plus will not downgrade the US and Western countries in the future.
On the one hand, India, the world’s second economic and demographic giant, is not hostile to the West, even though this country, for example, has a neutral position on the conflict in Ukraine – it even buys Russian oil.
India in particular is part of QUAD (Quadrilateral Security Dialogue), an alliance formed by the US, India, Japan and Australia. Founded in 2007, the organization aims to stem China’s rise to ensure stability in the Indo-Pacific, the vast region encompassing the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
He who controls the ocean controls the world
On the other hand, the United States – as an economic, political, cultural, technological, military and demographic power – controls and will in the future control the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, particularly through its allies in Europe and the Indo-Pacific. . , including South Korea, Japan, Australia and India.
However, the power that controls these two oceans can control the international economy, emphasized George Friedman, author The Next 100 Years: 21st Century Scenarios (ZLD Éditions, 2013) and founder of geopolitical analysis and business intelligence firm Stratfor.
The emergence of BRICS Plus will be a trend that will structure our century on a geopolitical level.
Western countries must learn to share more power and influence in the world, to pay more attention to the diversity of humanity.
And, we repeat, that’s a good thing.
Nonetheless, analysts who predict or wish for a downgrade of the US and other Western nations on the world stage risk disappointment.
The West must remain the main center of power and influence in the world for a long time to come.
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