The 15th International Anti-Corruption Conference is being held in Brazil next year and there is much that makes Brazil an exciting host country. Its vibrancy and diversity, its position as host of the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016 and its growing influence in global issues demonstrate the qualities that have secured Brazil its BRICS status. Most people have heard of the term BRICS and know that it involves emerging economies, but what does being a BRICS actually involve, why is Brazil included in this group and what are the international implications?

The term ‘BRIC’ was first used by Goldman Sachs economist Jim O’Neill in his 2001 paper “Building Better Global Economic BRICs” to describe Brazil, Russia, India and China (now including South Africa) because of their similar economic characteristics. He argued that the growing economic influence of these four emerging market economies would have a significant impact on the global financial system and that their representation in world policymaking forums should be adjusted accordingly.

The BRICS countries are an informal group, having only held three summits together but share some similar interests in relation to the rest of the world. Some predict that with the growing economic power of member countries, there will come demands for greater political influence in international matters. Indeed Brazil and India have submitted request for permanent UN Security Council seats, where they would join their BRICS partners China and Russia. With greater stability in Brazil and a drop in poverty from 20% in 2004 to 7% in 2009 , Brazil, as one of the largest economies, is in a strong position to play a leading role on the international stage.

Brazil is a resource rich country, which has played a big part in its position amongst the BRICS. Export from Brazil to the rest of the world has been growing and trading between the BRICS countries has grown even more rapidly with exports from Brazil to China growing in 2009 to 10 times the amount in 2001 , further fuelling the growth of these countries. As mentioned above, since April 2011, South Africa has joined Brazil, Russia, India and China in the BRICS group, strengthening the group as a whole and Brazil’s individual influence within the group.

With an economy that has been gaining in global influence since Fernando Henrique Cardoso’s Real Plan and as a BRICS country, Brazil is an important actor in dealing with the global challenges that the world does and will face.

Golden Bricks and PIIGS, What’s in a name?: Jim O’Neill used the acronym BRICS to represent (constructive) building blocks of the global economy. The term has been interpreted differently in different countries and languages- for example some draw comparison with Pinochet’s manifesto of rampant privatisation, The Brick whilst others refer to it optimistically as The Golden Bric. If you thought the term BRIC was loaded term, spare a thought for those labelled as a PIIGS country, mainly Southern European countries, grouped together because of their sovereign debt status. Tell us what the term BRICS means in your country, or anything else you’d like to share. We look forward to reading your comments!

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