Brics leaders unite in stand over dominance of trade and finance by West

Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa say they will consider requests from more than 20 countries to join group

Leaders of the Brics nations have taken a united stand against the dominance the US and EU exert over international trade and financial systems in their opening remarks at the group’s 15th annual summit in Johannesburg. The leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (Brics) positioned the group as an alternative to a unipolar world currently dominated by the West.

South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, said they had agreed to consider requests from more than 20 countries to join the group, which accounts for a quarter of global GDP.

Mr Ramaphosa also called for a deepening of multilateralism in the world to counter the growing trend of protectionism that was gaining traction. And he repeated his call for the reform of global finance institutions, which attach unacceptable conditions to their loans.

Brazil’s president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, told delegates that Brics provides members with a better solution to the current global financial systems, and he reiterated that the group could not accept the “colonial systems” that were still in place today. He added that Brazil also wanted a new unit for trade in the group – although it would not replace national currencies – as it would make it cheaper for the groups’ members to do business.


Chinese president Xi Jinping’s statement was delivered by the country’s minister of commerce, Wang Wentao, although the former is in South Africa for the Brics Summit. Mr Wentao referenced the growing global tensions that had emerged in recent years, saying the world did not want another Cold War.

“Many emerging markets have become strong after shaking off the yoke of colonialism,” he said before adding that “hegemony is not in China’s DNA. We stand firmly on the right side of history.”

Mr Wentao concluded that China would welcome additional members to Brics.

Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, provided a pre-recorded speech that was delivered virtually as he faces an International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrant for alleged war crimes in Ukraine. Were Mr Putin to travel to South Africa, the local authorities would be obliged to arrest him as the country is a member of The Hague-based ICC.

Mr Putin said Brics nations had surpassed the G7 countries in terms of economic activity, and that the summit would discuss “the detailed transition to national currencies for trade between our countries” to reduce their reliance on the dollar.

India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, called the Brics group “a ray of hope for the global economy” due to the volatility it was experiencing, as its economies were outperforming many of the more developed nations.

“India is the fastest-growing economy. India has converted crises and difficulties into opportunities,” he said before adding that India had managed to rapidly scale up its rail, road and air infrastructure in less than a decade. “The number of airports have doubled over the past nine years. India is among the world’s leaders in the area of renewable energy. It is but natural that India will become a huge market for renewable energy,” he said.

The Brics Summit, which is a trade, development and finance conference for emerging market economies, continues on Thursday.

Bill Corcoran

Bill Corcoran

Bill Corcoran is a contributor to The Irish Times based in South Africa