BRICS: a global trade power in a multi-polar world

BRICS: a global trade power in a multi-polar world

Central to the narrative of emerging powers, and particularly the BRICS, is the issue of trade, as both the driver of their economic surge, the factor behind their growing economies and the platform it has given them to assert influence in global governance. In the seminal paper from Goldman Sachs which gave birth to the BRIC acronym, world trade shares was one of the key parameters used to show the growing importance of these emerging powers. The BRICS share in world trade has increased significantly from 3.6 per cent in 1990 to 15 per cent in 2010. Combined trade (exports and imports) now amount to $5.9 trillion.

Driving this surge is China. From a mere 1.6 per cent share of global trade in 1990, China’s share has increased rapidly, doubling every ten years. China’s current share of 9.2 per cent of global trade accounts for 61 per cent of the combined BRICS share of global trade.

The emergence of the BRICS has raised questions about the role these countries would play on their own and collectively in global trade and economic governance. This chapter examines BRICS trade policies, how these have been advanced in various platforms such as the WTO and bilateral trade negotiations, and whether or not the institutionalisation of the BRICS and their individual and collective actions constitute a break from the status quo, thereby opening up possibilities for more equitable alternatives.

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