Global summit speaks up for developing economies

BRICS leaders Dilma Rousseff, Dmitry Medvedev, Manmohan Singh, Hu Jintao and Jacob Zuma.

Last week, the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa met for the fourth annual BRICS Summit. Are these emerging nations the future of our planet?

They represent 40% of the world’s population, and 20% of its economy. Spread across three continents, and dominating almost all of Asia, their wealth is growing at an impressive rate. Together, they make BRICS – a new alliance set to become a powerful force in the global economy.

Last week, that potential was put to the test. For one day in New Delhi, the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa gathered for the fourth annual BRICS summit.

The emerging economies set out bold ambitions. In a statement, BRICS challenged Western policy on Iran and urged diplomatic solutions to conflict there and in Syria. Developing countries, it demanded, should have a bigger say in global decision-making. It even suggested an alternative to the World Bank, run and funded solely by emerging economies.

But what is BRICS, and where did it come from? In 2001, Goldman Sachs economist Jim O’Neill coined the acronym BRIC for Brazil, Russia, India and China. He suggested that the following decade would see those countries increase their share of global GDP – and that global decision-making bodies like the UN should be changed to reflect this.

BRIC took off. Companies began to target consumers in these developing markets; financial organisations created specialised funds, universities focused courses. Soon, BRIC was bettering expectations. When Western economies were battered by the financial crisis, they went from strength to strength. They began trading with each other, rather than Europe and America. Now, it is thought the GDP of BRICS – with the 2011 addition of South Africa – will surpass that of the Eurozone by 2015.

Since 2006, the countries that made up BRICS have embraced their relationship with an official alliance. Their mission? To challenge the dominant voice of the USA, and promote new, emerging economies. Delhi’s summit, they hope, will be a bold step in making that exciting future happen.

Building blocks

In the eyes of some critics, however, BRICS isn’t ready to increase its power. Though their wealth may be growing, its countries still struggle with the serious problems and big questions that come with development. Progress in areas like inequality and corruption will, of course, come with time. Until then, global institutions should be guided by established voices.

International governance, others argue, is often messy – and Western leadership had hardly been perfect. As emerging economies go from strength to strength and America and Europe struggle, decisions must reflect that new power. There is, quite simply, no alternative to BRICS becoming the new global leader.

You Decide

  1. What country is more powerful – America or China?
  2. Do you think developing economies are in a good position to take a leading global role?


  1. Design a logo for BRICS.
  2. Create a profile of one BRICS country. Present the information in an interesting way, using data, pictures and graphics.

Some People Say...

“Western power is history.”

What do you think?

Q & A

So will this affect me?
In the Western world, the economic downturn is old news – and unemployment has been a problem for several years. While America and Europe struggle, however, other countries are prospering. And that means that today’s teenagers could start looking to developing countries like India and China for opportunities – if they aren’t already.
How is that happening right now?
A good example might be Goldman Sachs – the financial organisation that first coined the term BRIC. Over the last decade, it has been expanding in developing countries at a rapid rate, chasing opportunities for profit. If you live in a BRIC country, that means more opportunities to work for international companies when you leave school.

Word Watch

World Bank
The World Bank is a multinational financial lending organisation, that provides loans to developing countries for poverty-fighting projects. It is motivated by the aim of increasing investment and and trade, and decisions are made by voting members – with the biggest sawy going to the United States, Japan, China, Germany and the UK.
Gross Domestic Product describes the market value of all the products and services created in a country or area. It is often used as a measure of wealth and living standards.


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