“BRICS: In the Mirror of Time”. What are the coinciding interests of Russia and Brazil?
The nineteenth episode of the joint project of TV BRICS and GAUGN is devoted to the potential of co-operation between Russia and Brazil
In the nineteenth issue of the joint project of TV BRICS and GAUGN “BRICS: In the Mirror of Time”, dedicated to the interaction between Russia and Brazil within the BRICS, Alla Borzova, Doctor of Historical Sciences, Professor of the Department of Theory and History of International Relations, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, RUDN, spoke about promising areas of cooperation between Russia and Brazil.
The project is supported by a grant from the Russian Ministry of Education and Science under the federal project “Popularisation of Science and Technology”.
Brazil is one of the founders of BRICS. Today it is clear that this association is a significant step towards a multipolar world, where the interests of all states are taken into account. In what areas do Russia and Brazil have the same interests and how can they benefit from a single BRICS currency?
First of all, let’s remember how BRICS was formed and why Brazil became a full member of the five?
From Russia’s point of view, understandably, it is Primakov’s idea of “Russia – India – China” – this triangle. Brazil is on a completely different continent. It would seem that there should be no special interests, no points of contact, but Brazil also developed the idea of co-operation between the so-called whale countries, i.e. countries that are huge in terms of territory, have a significant population, huge raw material potential, but are not so honourably represented in the global system. Therefore, when in 2009 at the first summit in Yekaterinburg there was a meeting of the Quartet (China, India, Russia and Brazil), Brazil showed interest, because they discussed global food security, economy, problems of world development and adopted a declaration “Prospects for dialogue between Brazil, Russia, India and China”. Actually, here is the year 2009, which is the foundation of BRICS.
In just a few years, Brazil’s trade within BRIC has grown almost 13 times, which shows Brazil’s extreme interest in developing co-operation between the giant countries, the whale countries, the bricks, the foundation of the world economy. When Dilma Rousseff became president (Third BRICS Summit, 2011, Sanya, PRC), Brazil’s co-operation with BRICS becomes strategic. At the fifth summit, the issue of the creation of the BRIC Bank came up; after South Africa joined, it was called the BRICS Bank.
Next, I highlight Brazil’s contribution at the sixth summit, which is Fortaleza. The focus was on sustainable development, Brazil prepared documents on the BRICS Development Bank and the creation of a pool of reserve currencies. In 2015, the creation of the BRICS Bank was confirmed, the initial capital of 100 billion US dollars was determined. In general, a number of investment projects within the BRICS framework are being paired with the Silk Road Economic Zone, something that China has proposed and that Brazil is interested in.
In 2017, the activities of the New Development Bank, i.e. the BRICS Bank, began to intensify. In March 2023, Dilma Rousseff, the former president of Brazil, took the helm of the Bank. She is a prominent economist, a strong-willed woman. Now the Bank is working in accordance with the development strategy 2022-2026. Dilma Rousseff is expected to lead this bank until 2025. I looked at the bank’s website, and all the infrastructure projects and climate change projects are represented there – you can click on any of them and see where, how and when they are being implemented, how much money has been spent.
Brazil also takes loans from this bank. Russia has taken several loans to implement projects, particularly in the north-west of our country. The structure of the BRICS Bank is interesting: there are five members, and each country has 19.42 per cent of votes and a chairman, so we are talking about absolutely equal representation.
Further, the idea of a pool of national currencies was proposed by our president, and now Brazilian leader Lula da Silva has put forward the idea of introducing settlement in national currencies in BRICS, and there is talk of a BRICS currency.
What goals does Brazil set for itself by participating in BRICS, and do these goals coincide with Russia?
BRICS now, especially in the last two or three years, shows its demand and relevance for both Brazil and Russia. That is, it has turned out to be a platform for multilateral co-operation, without restrictions. What Russia and BRICS are discussing: first of all, development issues, political issues, trade, investment, energy, climate, and the fight against terrorism. They are also discussing the multipolar world order, something that interests the entire “five”, not just Russia and Brazil. The two countries are also interested in BRICS expansion.
Lula announced that he will be very attentive to regional integration – that is Mercosur. Lula is ready to revive UNASUR, the southern association, the southern market, the ten countries of South America. And it would be favourable for us to establish, apart from the memorandum of understanding, real relations between Mercosur and the EAEU.
Brazil is primarily interested in our fertilisers. This is a commodity that is in demand not only in Latin America and specifically in Brazil, but also all over the world. The potential for our co-operation is huge, because Brazil has a food problem: only 8% of its territory is used for growing agricultural products. We have much more, but we have a risky farming zone. Many of the technologies that Brazil uses could be used by us.
I wrote an article on the activities of the Brazilian agricultural research company EMBRAPA, which is a public-private company that leads the national agricultural research network. I would like to give some specific examples.
Brazil, let’s say in West Africa, has developed a special rice that can be grown on saline soils. That is, the soil does not need to be desalinised, which is a solution to the food problem in a number of West African countries. Brazil supervises the production of cotton, fine fibre cotton, it spreads these technologies in Latin American countries, in African countries. The Cotton-4 programme is very popular. Brazil has managed to design a cotton harvester.
Next, I would like to mention the issue of renewable energy. Brazil gets about 20 per cent of its electricity from wind power. Our percentage is much lower, which means that we could exchange technologies, because what we use here could have a higher efficiency. We cannot but talk about the closed system of production, preserving ecology. We have certain achievements, and so do they. Brazil is interested in building hydroelectric power plants. The small nuclear power plants that we have in the north are in high demand in Brazil.
In addition, there are great prospects for co-operation in IT-technology. All of this needs to be developed. Brazil has an ABC co-operation agency under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which has developed a manual on technical co-operation, i.e. how to evaluate projects, select them and, most importantly, how to cut off the corruption component. We need to look at all these stages, i.e. we just need to cooperate with the ABC agency, and it cooperates with 8 or 10 countries of the world.
Next, I would like to talk about the problem of health care. It is serious in Brazil, it exists in our country and, of course, in Africa. We need joint projects here. We can rely on the Brazilian Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, which works under the Ministry of Health and develops vaccines, drugs, medicines, diagnostic kits, and so on. The Oswaldo Cruz Foundation co-operates with similar institutions in 50 countries around the world. I think if co-operation is successful, as it is with Brazil with India, Brazil with China, and our triangle, Russia, India and China, it will attract other countries. And this will become the next pole of the formation of a multipolar world.