Here’s what to expect from next week’s BRICS summit

by Adam Garrie, The Duran:

The BRICS summit in Xiamen which begins on the 3rd of September presents the wider world with a cohesive trade strategy over which China and Russia are taking the lead.

Next week’s BRICS meeting is set to discuss options for creating new customs cooperation initiatives which could pave the way for integration between the BRICS, the Eurasian Economic Union and the overarching goals of One Belt–One Road.

Russia which is a core member of both organisations currently operates a customs union within the single market of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), a bloc which includes Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Russia. Indonesia has recently been in talks to either join the EAEU or develop a customs deal with the bloc.

While the EAEU is comprised of states with historic ties to the Russian Empire and Soviet Union, the BRICS is bloc focused on economic, monetary, trade and political cooperation between the leading economies of the so-called multi-polar world. BRICS members Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa represent the major hubs across several continents.

According to Russian Presidential aid Yury Ushakov,

“Documents to be signed after the meeting of the business council include an action plan for the BRICS countries on trade and economic cooperation, an action plan for cooperation in innovation, a strategic program for customs cooperation and a memorandum of understanding between the BRICS business council and the New Development Bank”.

This would have the de-facto effect of combining the material and geo-political assets of the BRICS with those of the EAEU, to create a potentially continent wide single-market underpinned by Russia’s membership of both institutions.

In addition to existing members of the BRICS, this year’s summit which begins on Sunday in China will also include the leaders of Egypt, Mexico,Thailand, Guinea and Tajikistan thus opening the possibility for the expansion of a would-be BRICS customs union to the Arab world, South East Asia and addition parts of Central Asia and Africa.

The opportunities implicit in such a product include the following:

–Easing trade regulations across a multitude of inter-dependent growing as well as booming economies.

–Harmonising product regulations across a more cohesive single market

–Easing the ability of investment banks to take advantage of a wide range of opportunities for growth across the world

–Easing the transfer of labour and business representatives across countries which at present have a wide variety of differing visa regulations

–Creating wealth and jobs throughout markets with young and educated labour forces

Most importantly utilising the BRICS in tandem with the EAEU could help to harmonise the trading and customs laws across important areas along China’s One Belt–One Road, the land and maritime trading logistics project through which China seeks to modernise the material mechanisms of world trade across, East Asia, South Asia Asia, Eurasia, East Africa, The Middle East and into Europe.

In this sense the advantages of mutual participants in the BRICS, One Belt–One Road and the EAEU could effectively mean that each body works to utilise its inbuilt strengths to bolster the desired outcome of each which in summary aims for the ever closer cooperation between countries of the wider ‘global east’ and ‘global south’ on trade, monetary policy, freedom of movement and goods, investment, security and political cooperation in the name of the greater collective peace.

According to Shen Yi, deputy director of the Center for BRICS Studies and an associate professor at School of International Relations and Public Affairs, Fudan University in Shanghai,

“The confidence of BRICS nations evolved over the years. Previously, they were all very cautious, especially China. They tried to focus mostly on reshaping the global economic order, specifically regarding to trade and investment. But political and security related agenda topped the proposed topics under discussion at the upcoming summit. It shows the BRICS nations have set their sight on global governance, instead of being limited to economic issues”.

There are of course obstacles to such an ambitious initiatives beyond the obvious efforts it would take to create anything on such a wide global scope.

While Russia and China, the two most powerful members of the BRICS have become key allies, India and Vietnam are two countries which while maintaining good relations with Russia, continue to exercise scepticism towards projects involving China.

In this respect, India is the greater worry. From June until the final week of August, India was involved in an active border dispute with China in the Doklam/Donglang region at the tri-junction of China, India and Bhutan. India claimed that China was building a road on Bhutanese territory which threatened India’s security while China has maintained that India illegally and provocatively moved its troops onto sovereign Chinese territory.

The dispute was at least temporarily resolved when India withdrew its troops on the 28th of August. Since then, China has reasserted its sovereign claims over the region and its right to build roads on that sovereign territory.

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