BRICS group picture in Benaulim, in the western state of Goa, India, October 16, 2016.
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The narrative concerning BRICS in the Beltway/Wall Street axis predictably spans two vectors; the five-member emerging power group -- over 22 percent of global GDP, over 40 percent of global population -- is either "in crisis" or dismissed as irrelevant.
This is the Goa Declaration, summarizing the results of the annual BRICS meeting held this past weekend in India. Apparently there's not much that meets the eye. Yet President Putin once again stressed the context; this is a long-term project, a "key element" in the embryonic multipolar world, driven by nations that don't accept "power pressure" and attempted "targeting of sovereignty" by the usual suspects.
Economically, prospects for the BRICS are not as dire as a year ago. The medium-term scenario spells out stability in commodity prices. Even the IMF -- always not to be fully trusted -- bets on Russia growing 1.1 percent in 2017 (after a 3.7 percent recession in 2015) while Brazil might grow 0.5 percent.
Always looking at The Big Picture, Putin put on a brave face -- stressing BRICS integration via more than 30 ministry-level teams working on common political, economic, humanitarian, security and social projects, as well as major advances such as the New Development Bank (NDB) and the proposed, $200 billion BRICS reserve currency mechanism.Brazil as Trojan Horse?
This was a very tricky BRICS meeting. For the first time Brazil was represented by Temer the Usurper -- the beneficiary of the recent institutional/parliamentary/judicial/media impeachment farce in Brasilia that ended up sharply steering Brazil towards a neoliberal "paradise" very much aligned with Washington's interests -- and away from the BRICS platform.
Former President Dilma Rousseff had a very productive relationship with the key "RC" in BRICS -- Putin and China's Xi Jinping. It's a graphic sign that Putin held bilaterals in Goa with all other BRICS leaders, except Temer. They did talk briefly during the official dinner about Brazil's economic "reforms" -- shorthand for the ongoing neoliberal shock.
While Moscow carefully evaluates which way Brazilian loyalties are swinging, Temer The Usurper, for his part, sold the fantasy that Brazil is back in business. No, it's not. A cursory look at the numbers reveals unemployment at an 11.2 percent historic high; monster interest rates (14.25 percent a year); the largest GDP contraction among BRICS nations in 2015 (3.8 percent); and the highest accumulated rate of inflation in one year (8.48 percent).
Business was done in Goa. Russia and India signed no less than 18 agreements -- from energy to weapons. The BRICS business council once again encouraged the creation of a new rating agency for emerging powers, away from the American cartel.
And then there was the BRICS-BIMSTEC meeting. BIMSTEC is about "multi-sectoral technical and economic cooperation" between South Asia and Southeast Asia, uniting member states India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka. It's a sort of BRICS extension, Chinese New Silk Roads-style.