ISSN 2674-8053 | Receive article updates on Telegram:

The BRICS as a rehearsal for the new Bretton Woods

Photo: Press Release / The Economist

2015 is a potentially important year for the Brazilian international positioning, was when the New Development Bank was created ( by the formed BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). The Bank came as an alternative to the already consolidated World Bank ( and Inter-American Development Bank ( Although the former is also under strong European influence, both are in a United States control sphere.

Broadly speaking, the Bank of the BRICS focuses on supporting the development of structural works, especially linked to infrastructure. On the other hand, it also has an important political function., by showing the world that the BRICS countries are willing to inject resources into the Bank so that, in sequence, be redistributed to the countries of the group.. Thereby, show a willingness to cooperate and build alternatives..

Now the Bank enters a new phase, in which new shareholder countries can join. Each member country may invite up to three new shareholders, which indicates the will for political growth of the proposal. The entry of new members, even not being part of the BRICS, makes them actively participate in a new international power structure. It is too early to say which countries will want to join, but it is becoming clear that the movement is not just these three initial indications..

At a time of increasing global tensions around the macro-model of power to prevail in international relations, all these moves are ordination rehearsals. Europeans are locked in their internal challenges, seeking maintenance of the block, in order to avoid major international engagements that could lead to differences in positions among its members.. The United States, in its turn, have shown erratic international leadership in recent years.. China has been trying to regain its global relevance for years and now appears more confident in defending what it believes to be its role in the world..

The result is the rehearsal of a global structure in which the United States leads the current model and China strives to build an alternative model. I would not go so far as to say that we will live a new Cold War, but with the replacement of one of the opponents. But we can say that we live in a new Bretton Woods (, as the opportunity to recreate an effort to structure the global political-economic system is appearing. Latent military tensions that could lead to actual warfare seem unlikely at the moment, but the weakening of institutions that shape international reality and the emergence of others show this potential movement..

BRICS and the New Development Bank are certainly not institutions capable of shaping a new international power structure, as they would have to be able to replace the still important (although declining in terms of capacity to organize international relations) ONU e OMC. However, they are power projection tests that can point the way to this global rearrangement.

Brazil is at an advantage in this debate as it is an original member of the BRIC (which has the S of South Africa attached almost 10 years after the concept). No moment, we are wasting this advantage and not giving real importance to the group, making it one of the real pillars of our foreign policy. If we don't wake up soon for this, it may be too late.

Rodrigo Cintra
Post-Doctorate in Territorial Competitiveness and Creative Industries, by Dinâmia - Center for the Study of Socioeconomic Change, of the Higher Institute of Labor and Enterprise Sciences (ISCTE, Lisboa, Portugal). PhD in International Relations from the University of Brasília (2007). He is Executive Director of Mapa Mundi. ORCID