On 13 April 2011 the BRIC economic group became BRICS, when South Africa joined the powerful group of emerging nations. The country attended the 2010 summit in a guest capacity and is now at the 2011 event as a full member after formal admission in December 2010.
The founding nations – Brazil, Russia, India and China – and now South Africa, are in a similar state of economic development, although South Africa ranks lower according to several significant indicators. However, despite its small standing in terms of statistics, South Africa is viewed as a gateway into the rest of Africa and its rich natural resources and millions of consumers, and as such, is of great value to the other nations as a strategic partner.
To date three summits have been held: in 2009 Russian president Dmitry Medvedev hosted his BRIC counterparts in Yekaterinburg; in 2010 it was the turn of then-president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to welcome the other nations to Brasilia, Brazil; and in 2011 the group met in China at the invitation of President Hu Jintao.
The five current leaders are Hu Jintao; Dmitry Medvedev; Indian prime minster Manmohan Singh; President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil; and President Jacob Zuma of South Africa.
The 2012 summit will take place in New Delhi, India, under the patronage of Prime Minister Singh.
A report (PDF, 408KB) published in 2005 by Goldman Sachs’s economic research group, titled How solid are the BRICS?, suggests that at the time, only Mexico and South Korea were suitable potential candidates for expansion of the bloc.
Referring to a previous paper published in 2001, the Goldman Sachs report mentioned that while it did not ignore South Africa, it felt that South Africa was unlikely to match the BRIC nations in economic clout, despite having great potential in its own right.
Even Goldman Sachs’s list of Next 11 (N11) countries, those which have the potential to rise to the economic heights of the BRIC countries, excluded South Africa. In 2005 the list included Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, Turkey and Vietnam.
Goldman Sachs based its selection on factors such as political maturity, macroeconomic stability, quality of education, and openness of trade.
BRICS vital statistics
|Population growth rate||107th||221st||90th||156th||158th|
|GDP (nominal) per capita||55th||54th||137th||95th||71st|
|GDP (PPP) per capita||71st||51st||127th||93rd||77th|
|GDP (real) growth rate||15th||88th||7th||5th||117th|
|Human Development Index||73rd||65th||119th||89th||110th|
|Current account balance||47th||5th||169th||1st||179th|
|Number of mobile phones||5th||4th||2nd||1st||25th|
|Number of internet users||5th||7th||4th||1st||44th|
In 2006 Goldman Sachs carried out a projection of the GDP of countries of interest, forecasting up to 2050. It found that the GDP of the then-BRIC nations would eventually outstrip that of the powerful G7 bloc by some way.
Gross Domestic Product (in US$ billions, 2006)
Data taken from BRICS and Beyond (PDF, 3.4MB), published in 2007 by Goldman Sachs.