The Rewards of Solving the BRICS Puzzle
Published: September 4, 2013 (Issue # 1776)
The awesome emergence of the BRICS union, comprising nations representing five major engines of global economic growth and backed by half the planetТs population, is already producing nearly 50 percent of world GDP. The continued expansion of this group Ч Brazil, Russia, India, China and now South Africa Ч could eventually relegate into second place the once indefatigable УWestФ both in terms of production and consumerism.
At this particular point in history (the 2013-2014 Уtipping pointФ), the West is in danger of playing second fiddle in the coming decade to the resurgent East. As China consolidates its position as Уthe factory of the worldФ and India stands to outrank all rival consumers, the union, drawing on seemingly limitless supplies of Brazilian, Russian and ultimately purchased African commodities and agricultural assets, will begin to relentlessly dominate world trade patterns.
As for dictating the terms of production, pricing, supply and demand, and even the choice of available products, fashions and tastes, the East is also poised to dominate. (We manufacture more cheaply than you do, faster and on a bigger scale, and, as we are also the biggest customers, we have the last word).
Prophets of doom on the subject of the Decline of the West have a plethora of statistics to support their line of reasoning. Current European squabbles, lack of unity and Band-Aid solutions, as well as the stuttering U.S. economy and its endemic social, welfare, educational and immigration problems give rise to a pessimistic view of progress for the rest of the decade.
If the BRICS were able to speak in one voice and if dozens of other poor or semi-emerging nations were to buttress them, western abilities to influence trading terms, product manufacturing, distribution mechanisms, trends and fashions, financial services and globalization maxims would come under pressure. In the 19th and 20th centuries, western powers had the strength, resources and historical momentum to bully other nations. They created empires, acquired assets and set trading terms.
Globalization was alive and well in the decades leading up to the First World War. But it was globalization on British, American, French, Portuguese and Dutch terms.
That is now history. How can you bully a world where one person in five is Chinese, where India is the biggest market and where the majority of the worldТs agricultural and mineral assets are in Africa, South America and Russia?
This is not a criticism of the western powersТ dominance of political and economic events that took place in the previous two centuries. These nations did no more than accept the historical opportunities that beckoned. Just as questioning the exigencies of the Persian, Roman or Ottoman Empires would be a waste of time, neither can we blame the BRICS if, with their potential followers, they attempt to dictate economic and, ultimately, political terms to the West.
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