Many of the countries now proposing the bric have common interests, not least a dislike of U.S. hegemony. But while the enemy of my enemy may be my friend, a successful BRICS needs more than that. It needs genuine aims, rules and commitment. No amount of backslapping and fist-pumping will change that.
India sees China as a strategic rival. It is aggressively positioning itself as a palatable alternative to China for manufacturing. Meanwhile, the skirmishes between India and China on the Tibetan plateau have turned more deadly. If China is promoting a BRICS concept as cover for Chinese hegemony, India is determined to use that same organization to block Chinese influence. Saudi Arabia and Iran feel the same way about each other.
South Africa is rapidly becoming a failed state. Its power crisis threatens value-added exports. How can the country possibly lead any alliance? Mexico? Every Mexican company I talk to tells me how it is expanding in the United States.
Brazil’s President, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, recently lamented, “Every night, I ask myself why all countries have to base their trade on the dollar.”
Simple answer: Brazilian mining giant Vale SA can sell iron ore to China in Chinese yuan, or renminbi (RMB), all it wants, but what would it do with those RMB afterwards? Vale’s debts are all in U.S. dollars. The heavy construction equipment the company uses is often built by Caterpillar Inc. or Japan’s Komatsu Ltd., so Vale needs dollars and yen to buy it. RMB is valueless for Vale’s operations in Sudbury or Sulawesi (part of Indonesia).
Meanwhile, China has bought considerable influence outside of BRICS via its “One Belt, One Road” initiative, which invests in more than 150 countries. Why would China give that influence away to others via BRICS?
I’ll take our problems over theirs any day.