The differences of BRICS, BRICS+, and their potential benefits for Bangladesh


As global economic dynamics shift, emerging economies seek new opportunities for growth and influence. A notable development is the BRICS coalition, originally comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. With its recent expansion, the BRICS framework has introduced the concept of BRICS+, aiming for deeper and more flexible economic integration. This article explores the differences between BRICS and BRICS+, and examines the potential benefits for Bangladesh should it join this influential group.

BRICS was established to foster cooperation among major emerging economies. Over the years, it has become a significant player in global economic affairs, impacting international trade, investment, and policy-making. Recently, BRICS welcomed Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, and the United Arab Emirates, demonstrating its commitment to broader inclusion. This expansion enhances BRICS’ global influence, making it a more formidable economic bloc. Currently, 15 more countries have expressed interest in joining, including Bahrain, Belarus, Cuba, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Senegal, and Venezuela.

BRICS+ represents an advanced stage of BRICS cooperation, focusing on integration between the regional arrangements of BRICS economies and their development institutions. This “integration of integrations” aims to generate multipliers across various areas of economic cooperation, such as trade, investment, anti-crisis policies, and financial cooperation. The BRICS+ framework is designed for greater flexibility, allowing more dynamic economic partnerships and regional collaborations.

The expansion of BRICS offers short-term benefits, like an enlarged platform and increased international influence. However, it also presents long-term challenges, including the need for clear criteria for new members and potential difficulties in reaching consensus among a larger group. BRICS+, with its emphasis on regional integration, promises greater economic dividends through more flexible and dynamic cooperation mechanisms.

In the investment sphere, BRICS+ can generate significant multiplier effects by enhancing the potential GDP growth rates of core BRICS economies and their regional partners through connectivity projects. These projects, financed by regional development banks and institutions like the New Development Bank (NDB), can boost long-term trade potential and foster stronger intra-regional growth impulses. Enhanced regional connectivity can lay the foundation for sustained economic growth across the Global South.

BRICS+ offers substantial benefits in terms of anti-crisis stimuli. Coordinated efforts and investments through regional integration arrangements and development institutions can amplify economic stimuli, boosting demand in core BRICS economies and their regional partners. This coordinated approach can lead to a more robust and resilient economic environment, supporting sustained growth and stability.

 

Bangladesh’s strategic interest in BRICS

 

Bangladesh’s interest in joining BRICS aligns with its strategic objectives of diversifying economic partnerships, enhancing its role in regional and global trade, and securing a stable and sustainable growth trajectory. With robust economic growth, increasing industrialization, and a strategic geographic location, Bangladesh is a promising candidate for BRICS membership.

Over the past decade, Bangladesh has achieved remarkable economic progress, maintaining an average GDP growth rate of around 6-7%. The country is emerging as a key player in the global textile industry, being the second-largest apparel exporter after China. This robust economic performance underscores Bangladesh’s potential as a valuable addition to the BRICS alliance.

One of Bangladesh’s strategic objectives is to diversify its economic partnerships. By joining BRICS, Bangladesh can access a wider range of economic opportunities and reduce its dependency on traditional markets in the West. This diversification is crucial for mitigating risks associated with global market fluctuations and ensuring long-term economic stability.

Joining BRICS could open new avenues for investment in Bangladesh. The BRICS countries, with their significant economic resources, could provide substantial financial and technical assistance. Enhanced access to the New Development Bank (NDB) would facilitate infrastructure development projects, crucial for sustaining Bangladesh’s growth momentum. Such investments can drive significant improvements in infrastructure, boosting economic productivity and competitiveness.

Bangladesh could benefit from technological transfers and industrial collaborations with BRICS countries, particularly in areas such as information technology, renewable energy, and manufacturing. Such partnerships could enhance Bangladesh’s industrial capabilities and foster innovation, driving long-term economic growth. The exchange of technology and expertise can accelerate Bangladesh’s transition to a more industrialized and technologically advanced economy.

As a member of BRICS, Bangladesh would gain a stronger voice in international forums, contributing to shaping global economic policies. This enhanced geopolitical influence would support Bangladesh’s aspirations to play a more prominent role in regional and global affairs. Being part of BRICS would also enable Bangladesh to collaborate more effectively with other major emerging economies, amplifying its impact on global economic and political decisions.

China, a key player in BRICS, has expressed strong support for Bangladesh’s bid to join the alliance. During a visit to Bangladesh, Liu Jianchao, Minister of the International Relations of the Communist Party of China (CPC)’s Central Committee, reaffirmed China’s commitment to fostering extensive cooperation with Bangladesh. He assured that China would positively consider Bangladesh’s inclusion in BRICS and support its economic growth through various means, including continued market access and assistance with the Rohingya crisis.

In April 2024, Brazilian Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira visited Bangladesh and expressed Brazil’s serious consideration of Bangladesh’s interest in joining BRICS. He highlighted shared principles and positions between the two countries, reinforcing the potential for Bangladesh’s inclusion. This diplomatic engagement underscores the growing recognition of Bangladesh’s economic and strategic importance within the BRICS framework.

During a courtesy call on Bangladesh President Mohammed Shahabuddin, Liu Jianchao emphasized China’s dedication to bolstering development ties and assured support for Bangladesh’s growth across various sectors. The relationship between Bangladesh and China is deeply rooted, with both nations expressing hope for a stronger development partnership in the coming years. President Shahabuddin sought China’s support for Bangladesh’s BRICS bid, a sentiment echoed by Foreign Minister Hasan Mahmud during meetings with Chinese officials.

Bangladesh’s strategic objectives include diversifying its economic partnerships, enhancing its role in regional and global trade, and securing a stable and sustainable growth trajectory. Joining BRICS could facilitate new avenues for investment, technological collaboration, and enhanced geopolitical influence.

BRICS membership could provide Bangladesh with access to significant financial resources for infrastructure development. The New Development Bank (NDB) and regional development banks within the BRICS framework could play a crucial role in financing projects that enhance connectivity and economic productivity. Such investments are vital for sustaining Bangladesh’s growth momentum and achieving its Vision 2041 goals of becoming a high-income country.

Bangladesh could benefit from technological transfers and industrial collaborations with BRICS countries. Partnerships in information technology, renewable energy, and manufacturing could drive innovation and industrial growth in Bangladesh. Access to advanced technologies and expertise from BRICS nations can accelerate Bangladesh’s transition to a more industrialized and technologically advanced economy.

As a BRICS member, Bangladesh would gain a stronger voice in international forums, contributing to shaping global economic policies. Enhanced geopolitical influence would support Bangladesh’s aspirations to play a more prominent role in regional and global affairs. This would enable Bangladesh to collaborate more effectively with other major emerging economies, amplifying its impact on global economic and political decisions.

The distinction between BRICS and BRICS+ lies in their approach to economic integration and cooperation. While BRICS focuses on strengthening ties among its member states, BRICS+ aims to create a more flexible and dynamic framework for regional and global economic partnerships. For Bangladesh, joining BRICS offers numerous benefits, including access to investment, technological transfers, and enhanced geopolitical influence. As the country strives to diversify its economic partnerships and achieve sustainable growth, membership in BRICS could be a transformative step towards realizing its strategic objectives and securing a prominent position in the global economic arena.

Bangladesh’s quest to join BRICS, with China’s backing, is a significant step towards becoming a high-income nation by 2041. The multifaceted partnership between Bangladesh and China, encompassing infrastructure, technology, trade, and cultural exchange, provides a solid foundation for this ambitious goal As Bangladesh continues to make strides in economic development and industrialization, support and collaboration from global players like China and potential inclusion in BRICS will be pivotal in shaping its future on the global stage.

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