The BRICS bloc was created to provide a forum for developing economies to express their concerns and facilitate cooperation within a framework.
In the early 2000s, when the group was still referred to as “BRIC” (a term devised to attract the attention of foreign investors to the economic potential of Brazil, Russia, India, and China), the world was observing how well this new assemblage integrated itself.
Some had even suggested that in the near future, BRIC would adopt a position in opposition to the established world order.
So far, BRIC, and since 2011, BRICS (with the addition of South Africa) appear to favour operating within the established norms and with the entities and institutions that facilitated their emergence.
Despite the fact that they placed a great deal of emphasis on the need to make the international order more democratic and representative, the past decade has altered the demography of the global economy, including the unprecedented growth of the BRICS economies.
China and India’s economic dominance sparked the competition, and others followed in their footsteps.
Meanwhile, the developing world has also performed remarkably over the past few decades, resulting in a significant increase in the number of developing nations.
Consequently, BRICS is undertaking initiatives to link the developing world. In addition, Saudi Arabia and Iran have already made formal requests to join the alliance, along with Argentina.
While China was chairing the group of nations last year, a renewed interest in expanding the group emerged.
Bangladesh, on the other hand, is regarded as a textbook example of spectacular economic development. Consequently, it also possesses a number of essential characteristics for membership in BRICS.
The BRICS countries also emphasise the possibility of including developing nations such as Bangladesh, with which they already have substantial ties.
Bangladesh is therefore not an exception in this regard.
Why should Bangladesh be offered to join the BRICS?
Firstly, the recent context of the global economy does not reflect a healthy atmosphere; rather, it is now evident that the global economy is experiencing a substantial amount of hardship that is affecting every country in the world.
In 2022, as the global economy neared the halfway mark for attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, it was struck by a series of severe and mutually reinforcing disruptions.
While the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic continue to reverberate globally, the conflict in Ukraine has unleashed a new crisis, destabilising food and energy markets and exacerbating food insecurity and malnutrition in many developing nations.
High inflation is eroding real incomes, causing a global cost-of-living crisis that has driven millions of people into destitution and economic hardship.
Massive economic cooperation and investments are a straightforward means of alleviating the global economic crisis.
BRICS and Bangladesh, on the other hand, have an ideal combination for investment and cooperation. A new horizon of cooperation has emerged as a result of the shifting economic characteristics and government approach to sustainable investment policy.
Hence, Bangladesh’s current position is appropriate for investment and cooperation with the BRICS.
Second, Bangladesh’s geostrategic location is a crucial factor for BRICS to consider for membership.
Due to the fact that it shares land borders with Myanmar, which connects southeast and western Asia, and India, a BRICS member and significant player, Bangladesh maintains three seaports — Chattogram, Mongla, and Payra — out of the Bay of Bengal’s 12.
These locations are crucial for connecting China, India, and Russia to another member of BRICS.
Additionally, by integrating Bangladesh, BRICS will be able to develop a new trade channel, which will make it possible to bypass the conventional markets of Southeast Asia.
Third, due to Bangladesh’s natural position as a gateway between South Asia and Southeast Asia, BRICS also has the opportunity to communicate and coordinate regionally with the enormous trade blocs BIMSTEC, ASEAN, and SAARC.
Consequently, BRICS could contribute to regional organisations in south and southeast Asia via Bangladesh.
Fourth, Bangladesh’s market economy has expanded swiftly over the past decade, and it is estimated that by 2040, Bangladesh’s economy will reach $1 trillion, and that by 2030, Bangladesh will become the ninth largest consumer market in the world.
The country’s population of over 160 million makes it ideal for expanding business and commerce.
And the BRICS nations already have outstanding trade relations with Bangladesh, which would be strengthened by Bangladesh’s membership in the bloc.
Fifth, a consolidation of power throughout the whole Asian coastline had already been established prior to the United States’ pivot into the Indo-Pacific.
Therefore, Bangladesh occupies a crucial position in this grand scheme, and some BRICS members view Bangladesh as an ideal location for investment and collaboration.
Besides, Bangladesh maintains a strategically balanced approach to continuing its development voyage. Therefore, if BRICS is able to include Bangladesh, it could be considered a diplomatic victory against the West.
However, Bangladesh also represents the developing world and serves as an example of accelerated economic development.
BRICS is also searching for this type of remarkable and inspirational actor to include in the bloc who have not only developed their economy, but also established a global power characteristic.
Finally, once thought to be a platform for convergence rather than negotiation, the complicated geopolitical shift of 2022 has transformed the nature of BRICS and placed it in a position to prevent any hegemonic drives via economic and strategic adjustments in the world.
BRICS’ growth is therefore one of the fundamental characteristics of the institutions that had the potential to offer a genuine challenge to the western alliance.
Given Bangladesh’s recent growth history, it also depicts the true narrative of a “developing world leader” capable of connecting with big economic entities.
As a result, Bangladesh’s reasons and capabilities make it evident that it has the potential to join BRICS, and it is for the same reasons that the bloc should invite Bangladesh to join the organisation.
– S. M. Saifee Islam is a Research Associate at the KRF Center for Bangladesh and Global Affairs (CBGA).
Published in The Business Standard [Link]