The 10th anniversary summit of the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) will be held on July 25-27 in South Africa's Johannesburg. During the meeting, participants plan to outline rules of the game in the digital economy. Member-countries will focus on inclusive growth in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, role of the BRICS in ensuring peace and security, as well as strengthening of economic and financial stability. Leaders of five states will also discuss problems of world trade, in particular need to comply with the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO). As Russia's Minister of Economic Development Maxim Oreshkin said, one of the main topics will be trade wars between the US and China.
What issues will be discussed at the summit? How can the BRICS oppose unilateral protectionist measures in trade that are applied against its member-states? How will newly created mechanisms of the BRICS develop and improve? What does creation of the BRICS Partnership mean in the new industrial revolution? What are challenges that new energy research platform faces? These and other issues were discussed during the round table "BRICS Summit in Johannesburg: Priorities of South Africa as Summit's Chair and Russia's Interests."
Executive director of the National Committee for BRICS Study, head of the Center of Russian Strategy in Asia, professor of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, Georgy Toloraya, discussed expansion of the BRICS: "There's an opinion within the BRICS that there's no need to expand it. If we add new countries to current five large countries, then this union will become unmanageable. I think that addition of India and Pakistan to the SCO made people question organization's ability to act in the long term, but the BRICS attracts many countries. Two concepts can help to resolve this situation: one is integration of integrations, and the other one is the BRICS+ concept. We must form a club of BRICS friends without accepting new members. They will cooperation with the BRICS in various specific spheres."
Speaking about potential partners of the BRICS, Georgy Toloraya named Turkey and Iran, but he noted: "Turkey is a member of NATO and has certain obligations. It hasn't determined its own identity yet. But overall, Turkey is an interesting partner... Iran is a pretty isolated economy. I don't know whether it's membership in the BRICS friends club will be useful, but perhaps it's necessary to also create a broader circle of friends of the BRICS, or observers, who would occasionally participate in certain BRICS events, not on a permanent basis, but when it is necessary."
Meanwhile, according to some reports, presidents of Turkey and Russia Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin are going to hold a meeting on the sidelines of the BRICS summit. Leonid Grigoryev, professor of the Higher School of Economics, noted that presidents of the two countries meet and talk on the phone quite often: "Turkey has extremely important geographical and historical position at the crossroads of Asia and Europe. We're not competing countries, on the contrary, we are helping Turkey with the TANAP, with the Turkish Stream, help it to become an energy hub and a self-sufficient country."
Leonid Grigoryev recalled that before the Arab spring in 2011, there were five years of drought in Syria: "Syrian refugees who reached Europe in 2015 apparently had to move three times. First, drought drove them from the east of Syria to the Aleppo-Damascus region, then, when the conflict started in 2011, they were forced to move to Turkey, and in 2015 to Europe. That's why issues of conflicts and climate are so important. Right now there's a discussion about restoration of Syria. Instead of sending refugees to Europe, it's better to return them home. This is a topic we discuss with Turkey and Syria... Cooperation between Russia and Turkey on socio-economic development during post-crisis period may bring very interesting developments to the Middle East."
Speaking about Russia's participation in integration projects, program director of the Valdai International Discussion Club, chief economist of the Eurasian Development Bank, Yaroslav Lisovolik, told Vestnik Kavkaza that their implementation must be discussed from the point of view of investment coopeartion: "Regional banks will play a big role here. One of the key players in this sphere is the Eurasian Development Bank, whose mission is to implement integration projects, including in the transport sector. These projects help to build additional bridges between the EAEU countries and use this greater integration to reach foreign markets in terms of creating joint ventures, in terms of creating value chains that could compete with products from the non-CIS countries."
Lisovolik highlighted cooperation between Russia and Kazakhstan: "In recent years we can see increase in mutual trade turnover. Kazakhstan is Russia's key partner in the framework of the EAEU. As for the BRICS, one of the formats that could help to get the EAEU countries such as Kazakhstan involved is the BRICS+ format, which was announced by China. It's also possible to cooperate with the Mercosur (common market of the countries of South America, economic and political agreement between Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay), where Brazil is the largest economy.