The 15th BRICS Summit is scheduled for August 22 to 24, 2023, in Johannesburg, South Africa. Key topics include the potential for a unified BRICS currency, the international growth of the Chinese Yuan, emerging economies’ growth trajectories, and BRICS’ role in global governance.
To gain insight into these themes, Global Times’ Xie Wenting and Bai Yunyi interviewed Jim O’Neill, the “father of BRICS.” He notably conceptualized the “BRICS” term in 2001 and foresaw their rising global economic contribution. O’Neill candidly shared his views on the evolving global economic landscape and what lies ahead.
The Promise and Challenges of BRICS
GT: As the person who coined “BRICS,” what do you anticipate from the upcoming summit?
O’Neill: The anticipation around the summit has been palpable, especially regarding the potential expansion to “BRICS plus.” The question remains: which countries will join, and under what criteria? Despite criticisms that BRICS countries lack commonalities, I assert they share demographics and challenges, notably infectious diseases. Their collaboration on public health and climate change would be beneficial. I’m bullish on BRICS due to its inherent potential, with China and India, given their demographics, being pivotal.
The Move Away from the Dollar and the Rise of RMB
GT: The world’s reliance on the dollar is under scrutiny. What’s your take on de-dollarization and the use of RMB in BRICS trade?
O’Neill: This discussion is decades old. The dollar’s global dominance impacts all nations, subjecting them to the US economic cycle. A more balanced monetary system is appealing. RMB is poised to become a more dominant trade currency within BRICS, but its realization is contingent upon Chinese policymakers. China’s meticulous approach to RMB’s internationalization, ensuring robust domestic financial markets, is commendable.
G7’s Relevance in a BRICS World
GT: You’ve previously critiqued G7’s relevance. However, some believe it’s regaining prominence. Your thoughts?
O’Neill: The G7’s prominence is a facade. While President Biden may promote G7, its global economic share is dwindling. Countries like Japan, Italy, and Germany have stagnant growth. The G7’s relevance, dominated by the US, is minimal when addressing global issues. Emphasizing the G20, which includes both BRICS and G7, is more constructive.
Emerging Economies and Their Role in Global Governance
GT: Do you believe emerging economies will hold sway in global governance amidst geopolitical tensions?
O’Neill: Absolutely. Historically, influential countries dictate global dynamics. As emerging economies grow, their influence is inescapable. Despite challenges, their ascendancy in global discourse is inevitable.
The Steady Growth of Emerging Economies
GT: Will emerging economies continue to propel the global economy?
O’Neill: Undoubtedly. China, the world’s second-largest economy, and India, soon to eclipse Germany, are pivotal. Furthermore, countries like Indonesia, Vietnam, Nigeria, and Ethiopia are rising stars. Yet, Brazil, Russia, and South Africa need reforms to overcome their economic stagnation.
China’s Crucial Role
GT: How vital is China in global economic development?
O’Neill: China’s rapid growth is integral. Its influence spans globally, impacting nations from South Korea to Germany. However, the Chinese must address dwindling individual confidence and promote consumption. Ensuring policies that build consumer trust is crucial for economic vitality.
The Era of “Tech Decoupling”
GT: With the US imposing tech restrictions on China, how might “tech decoupling” affect the global economy?
O’Neill: The idea of complete US-China decoupling is illogical. Economic interconnectedness means blocking trade with one country only shifts trade routes indirectly. Such decoupling is mere political posturing without a pragmatic foundation.
In summary, as the world gears up for the 15th BRICS Summit, the dynamics of emerging economies, the potential shift from the dollar, and the broader implications of geopolitical decisions remain at the forefront. What’s clear is that the world is evolving, and the BRICS nations, particularly China and India, will undoubtedly shape the future of global economics.