Rise of BRICS, India gives Africa a better chance at prosperity

Listen to this article now

 By Carlton Joseph

Carlton Joseph

The G-20 summit hosted by India’s Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi ended with a joint statement covering a wide range of issues affecting the global economy including climate change and food supply.  Importantly, The African Union, a 55-member bloc of African nations, was welcomed as a permanent member of the G20.  I hope this is the beginning of Africa, with 1.4 billion people, finally being able to function as one united body and presenting a “United Africa,” represented by a President and supporting institutions, with a clear vison of what Africa wants.  This is the only way to achieve global power, security and equality.

Mr. Modi adroitly capitalized on the absence of Presidents’ Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping, the US initiated trade war with China, and the US determination to destroy Russia.  Mr. Modi and leaders of United States, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, France, Germany, Italy and the European Union signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) outlining a plan to create an India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) that would stimulate economic development through enhanced connectivity and economic integration between Asia, the Arabian Gulf, and Europe.

If this MOU materialize it would be a big win for India, because in spite of being a member of the BRICS, India sees China’s Belt Road Initiative (BRI) as curb on its own growth and international trade, and initially tried creating its own corridor linking Mumbai to Moscow via Central Asia and Iran.  For the US, it will facilitate its control of the Indian Ocean and the Middle East, and hopefully normalize relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia.  Interestingly, Saudi Arabia has a similar game plan as India, as she is also a member of BRICS, and seem to be playing on both sides.

IMEC is a long-term goal that will require far more than the billions to which the Saudis have committed, and the potential for IMEC to compete with China’s BRI is good, but would require billions from the US to deploy.  For America to participate as a dominant player it would have to find the money to do so.  Would the current dysfunctional Congress approve such large sums of money for the project?  If the money is not available America would not have a seat at the table, and her ability to curb China’s rise as a global leader will be eviscerated.  Is Biden’s proposal a knee-jerk reaction to China’s global initiatives?  Was the proposal in reaction to China’s diplomatic win with the Saudi-Iranian deal?  IMEC’s route totally bypasses Turkey, was this intentional or an oversight?   Only time can provide answers to these questions.

Regardless of what happens in the future, Modi can claim that he was able to successfully lead the G20 summit, and bring all developing countries, all emerging markets, and the G7 countries together and obtain consensus and even praise for the outcome by the US and other members of the G7.  Importantly, the members agreed on more supportive policies to create stronger trade pathways, full, timely and effective implementation of the Black Sea grain deal, to ensure the immediate and unimpeded deliveries of grain, foodstuffs, and fertilizers/inputs, especially to least developed countries and Africa.  The statement also highlighted the need for reform of international financial institutions, and efforts to support debt vulnerabilities of low and middle-income countries, as well as climate financing. 

The summit is a win for Modi, because unlike Russia and China, he does not desire an anti-West alliance, but increase representation for nations of the Global South, while simultaneously maintaining cordial ties with the Western world.  However, Modi desires will be tested because America initiated the anti-China, anti- Russia sentiments, and intends to remain the only hegemon in the world, and would emasculates any threat it perceives to its dominance.  If accommodation of the Global South threatens Americas’ global dominance or allows India to gain more prestige on the global stage, America and the G7 will begin an anti-India campaign that would wreck India’s economy.

Meanwhile, China understands America’s intention to dominate and is determined to build an alternative to America’s unipolar rules based global order, with a multilateral approach global security order.  China, taking advantage of the cold Saudi-US relations and decades long adversarial relations with Iran was able to broker a Saudi-Iranian Agreement that normalize relations and end decades of enmity between the two countries.  This agreement gave China a diplomatic win in the Middle East, and an opportunity to supplant US dominance in global governance.  The United States must recalibrate how it operates in the Middle East and globally, because optics is part of global power calculations.  The fact that America was not in a position to broker this agreement, despite being the preeminent external power in the region for the past 75 years, reveals Americas’ decline in global power and influence.

Finally, the G20 summit revealed that the US rules-based order will be modified or replaced by a multipolar rules-based order, because India and Saudi Arabia and other countries are serious about diversifying and hedging, even as they maintain their strategic alliance with the United States.  Recently, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Ethiopia, Egypt, Argentina, and the United Arab Emirates became members of BRICS, this new expanded arrangement represents a powerful economic block and political force with the ability to reduce the US dollar decades long dominance, and end its use as the preferred payment for oil.  This de-dollarizing could have dangerous consequences for America, because the dollar’s role as the world’s key reserve currency is the foundation for America’s global leadership, and gives the US the ability to shape international financial policies, and force the global community to adapt to economic decisions made in Washington. 

My hope is that a new multipolar world order would evolve, where powerful countries respect weaker countries sovereignty, territorial integrity and stop interfering in the internal affairs of other nations, and that these new agreements, realignments, and alliances result in a more peaceful world, and an end to the wars in Yemen, Syria and Ukraine.

(Trinidad-born Carlton Joseph who lives in Washington D.C., is a close observer of political developments in the United States.)