What we all should know about BRIC

By Julian del Prado

BRIC – that is, Brazil, Russia, India and China – is a subject that is becoming more and more relevant in world affairs. But what sets these countries apart from the rest and why should the average American care about them? Furthermore, what sets them apart from each other?

The answer to the first question is relatively straightforward. In terms of projected economic growth, combined, BRIC “has far outpaced” the United States and the European Union, according to the Los Angeles Research Group. This means that the way the United States decides to cooperate with these countries may very well determine the role the United States will play in the emerging international community.

Although BRIC countries are united by their surging growth rates, the methods and scale on which they have achieved this vary significantly. This makes each individual country a unique point of insight into economic development. Each country is governed differently and has a unique relationship with the United States. In the coming years we are all going to see exactly how this balance of power plays out, but it doesn’t hurt to know what each of these countries is bringing to the table.

China might as well stand alone as an economic challenger to the United States and the European Union. With the world’s second largest economy and third most powerful military, it’s no wonder China is becoming a central part of global politics. That said, even China has limits on growth within the international framework. Japan, the United States and even India serve as checks on Chinese power, citing human rights abuses and expansionist sentiment to hold their ground when China seeks further power in the sea and air. With its often-corrupt local government and its practice of manipulating Chinese currency to the detriment of other countries, China may see great economic growth and heavy resistance from United States alliance networks. Strangely, this would be similar to the containment of the former USSR, had that demised country been able to successfully grow sectors other than its military.

Russia, for its part, may hardly be a part of BRIC at all. Critics argue that, because Russia completely relies on oil and natural gas, it is incapable of the dynamic economic growth of other BRIC nations. Moscow has become the city with the largest number of billionaires on earth, though, and that is a hard statistic to ignore. Russia is currently the largest oil exporter in the world, with a flourishing steel industry. With Russia as one of the biggest producers of raw materials, it looks like future Russia is more akin to Saudi Arabia than Rio de Janeiro, new oil rich tundra to replace the desert. Rio de Janeiro, on the other hand, is going strong. Brazil and India, as the most pro-U.S countries in BRIC, have the greatest potential to shift power on the global stage. With the ability to at once cultivate raw materials, produce finished goods and provide services, Brazil is perhaps the most dynamic economy with whom the U.S is allies. India, for its part, has a potential in services, which is similar to China’s potential in manufacturing. Times are changing in the international community, and by being informed about the strengths and weaknesses of all the players, we can all better see the game being played by nation-states.

Julian del Prado is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]