New Brazilian leader to lay out skimpy welcome mat for BRICS leaders?

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President Jair Bolsonaro hosts the 11th summit of the BRICS – perhaps reluctantly – in Brasilia. Reports on BRICS enterprises, which include the New Development Bank (NDB), and debate about the expansion of the bloc await the leaders. Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to attend.

China has been Brazil’s top trade partner for a decade, and the two nations seek to strengthen political and economic ties at a time of global trade tensions.

The summit theme is Economic Growth for an Innovative Future.

BRICS is the acronym for the five major emerging economies – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Time magazine notes that taken together, they cover 40 per cent of the world’s population and more than 25 per cent of the world’s land. The leaders’ agenda is likely to center on risk factors to the global economy, identified at their 2018 summit as an increase in global debt, volatility of stock markets and escalating trade disputes.

Former-president Michel Temer invited the leaders to Brazil. Whether recently-elected Bolsonaro would have invited them is an open question. The Australian Institute of International Affairs sees Bolsonaro’s government possibly putting an end to or a hold on the traditional international role of Brazil as an avid supporter of multilateralism.

The NDB announced in May 2018 that it was expanding lending to the private sector. Zhu Xian, the NDB’s chief operating officer, told Reuters that the bank was targeting an overall 70-30 split between sovereign and non-sovereign loans in its project portfolio, and was seeing strong demand for private sector loans especially in Brazil, South Africa and Russia.

Under Temer, Brazil saw expansion of BRICS as a move to improve partnerships and expand the forum’s global influence. China is more guarded about expansion because of the potential for change to the structure of the organization. The compromise might be observer status for some or all of the countries thought to be in contention: Argentina, Turkey, Mexico, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Iran, Egypt, Nigeria, Greece, Syria, Sudan and Bangladesh.

Brazil, Russia, India and China founded the bloc in Jun 2006. BRIC became BRICS with the addition of South Africa in 2010.

‘Tropical Trump’ Bolsonaro threatens to upend Brazil’s foreign policy (France24 Oct 2018)

The Mixed Fortunes of the BRICS Countries, in 5 Facts (Time Sep 2017)

Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro creates a dilemma for BRICS (Opinion: IOL Nov 2018)

New Development Bank

BRICS development bank to expand lending to private sector (Reuters May 2018)

Date written/update: 2019-06-15