BRICS: meaning, history, criticism and more

BRICS is an acronym for Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, a group of five emerging economies that have formed an alliance for economic growth and standard practice in their various economies. 

This article will explore the meaning of BRICS, its history, and its significance in the global economy. It will also delve into the criticisms levelled against the group, its achievements and future prospects.

What is BRICS?

BRICS refers to Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, a collection of developing economies that are anticipated to have a major impact on the worldwide economy in the 21st century. With a collective GDP of over $24 trillion and accounting for over 40% of the world’s population, the BRICS countries represent a formidable economic alliance that was expected to cause a major shift in global economic decisions. 

History and significance of BRICS

The concept of BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) was first introduced by Jim O’Neill of Goldman Sachs in 2001. He predicted that these five countries would join the world’s most developed economies by 2050. In 2006, the first BRIC summit was held in Russia, and in 2010, South Africa was added to the group resulting in the formation of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).

One of the main goals of BRICS is to promote economic cooperation among its member countries. The group has established several initiatives and institutions to achieve this objective, including the New Development Bank (NDB), the Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA), and the BRICS Business Council.

The New Development Bank is a multilateral development bank that provides funding for infrastructure projects in developing countries. The Contingent Reserve Arrangement is a pool of foreign exchange reserves that member countries can use in case of a balance of payments crisis. The BRICS Business Council is a platform for businesses from member countries to exchange ideas and promote trade and investment.

Criticism of BRICS

While BRICS has been lauded as a significant emerging power bloc, it is not without its critics. One of the main criticisms of BRICS is that it is simply a group of countries with disparate economies that have little in common beyond their status as emerging markets. Some argue that there exist a lack of coherent agenda or shared vision for the group.

Furthermore, a majority of experts argue that BRICS is simply a reflection of the global power shift towards emerging markets and not a distinct entity with a unique identity. Others argue that the group lacks the political and institutional infrastructure necessary to achieve its goals.

Another criticism of the BRICS is that it does not include important emerging economies such as Indonesia, Mexico, Turkey, Nigeria, Egypt, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Thailand and Malaysia. Most argue that the group should be expanded to include these countries to more accurately reflect the global power shift towards emerging markets. Experts argue that aside from China, the other emerging markets are no different from the BRICS economies, with countries like Nigeria taking over from South Africa as Africa’s largest economy in 2013. 

Perhaps a major criticism of the BRICS is the significant progress that has occurred in South Korea, the UAE and Qatar. South Korea ascended from emerging market status to advanced economic status in the early 2000s beating all BRICS nations including China to reach the position. It is also believed that the economies of Qatar and the UAE would likely become advanced economies before the BRICS nations.  

There are concerns that BRICS may not be able to address some of the pressing global challenges that the world faces, such as climate change, inequality, and conflict. Critics argue that the group has been primarily focused on economic issues and has not addressed these critical issues effectively.

Brics vs. G7: comparing the world’s leading economic powers

BRICS and G7 are two of the most significant economic blocs in the world. While BRICS represents emerging economies, G7 consists of the world’s seven most advanced economies, which include Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Both groups have a significant impact on the global economy and are influential in shaping economic policies and global governance.

One of the key differences between BRICS and G7 is their economic size. G7 has a combined GDP of over $46 trillion, while BRICS has a combined GDP of over $24 trillion. G7 countries also have higher levels of per capita income, which reflects their higher level of development.

Another difference is the institutionalization of the groups. G7 has a well-established system of governance, with regular meetings and well-defined decision-making processes. BRICS, on the other hand, is a more informal grouping with a looser structure and fewer established institutions.

BRICS and G7 also have different priorities and interests. G7 countries tend to prioritize issues such as economic stability, democracy, and human rights, while BRICS countries tend to focus on issues such as development, trade, and investment.

Despite these differences, there are some areas of overlap between BRICS and G7. Both groups have a significant impact on global economic policies, and their decisions can have far-reaching implications for the global economy. Both groups also have the potential to play a significant role in addressing global challenges, such as climate change and inequality.

BRICS and the Global South: examining its role in developing countries

BRICS has been seen as a potential champion for the Global South, representing a group of countries that have traditionally been marginalized in the global economy. As emerging economies, BRICS countries have the potential to challenge the dominance of the global North and shape the economic policies that affect developing countries.

One of the key initiatives of BRICS is the New Development Bank (NDB), which provides funding for infrastructure projects in developing countries. The NDB is seen as a potential alternative to traditional development finance institutions, such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, which are dominated by developed countries.

Additionally, BRICS countries have been active in promoting South-South cooperation, which refers to economic cooperation among developing countries. This includes initiatives such as the India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) Dialogue Forum, which promotes cooperation among the three countries on issues such as trade, investment, and technology.

Although BRICS has taken steps to advance the interests of the Global South, it encounters obstacles. Economic inequality between its members is a primary challenge, as China’s prominence in the group has caused apprehension among others, notably India. Moreover, BRICS countries have varying economic objectives and confront distinct hurdles, posing challenges to reaching an agreement on matters.


BRICS has become a significant bloc on the world stage, representing over 40% of the world’s population and a quarter of the global GDP. Despite criticism of the group’s effectiveness, BRICS has made significant strides in promoting economic cooperation and political collaboration.

As the global economy continues to evolve, the BRICS nations must continue to work together to achieve their goals 

Critics argue that the grouping is too diverse and lacks coherence, that it has failed to live up to its potential, and that its member countries have different economic and political systems that make cooperation difficult.

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Richard Okoroafor

Richard Okoroafor

Richard is a brilliant legal content writer who doubles as a finance lawyer. He brings his wealth of legal knowledge in corporate commercial transactions to bear, offering the best value that exceeds expectations.

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