BRICS, the 85 World and the future of the Middle East

When British economist Jim O’Neill dubbed the fast-growing, large, emerging market economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China as “BRICs” in 2001, few could have imagined that an acronym invented by a Goldman Sachs banker could today become a potent symbol of rising multi-polarity in a world formerly dominated by Western powers. But that is exactly what has happened.

The grouping added South Africa a decade later to become BRICS. These countries account for some 40 percent of the world’s population, almost a quarter of global gross domestic product (GDP) and some 16 percent of total exports. China is the economic heavyweight, inflating the numbers, but BRICS should not be weighed by the size of its economies or the value of its exports. Nor should the concept be confined to BRICS alone.

Indeed, if we take the traditional “global South” countries across Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East, we would be looking at some 85 percent of the world’s population and more than half of global economic output.

Several Middle Eastern and North African states play a key role in the future of this “85 World,” notably Saudi Arabia as a major crude supplier across Asia, as well as the UAE, a vital nexus state that links Asia to Africa and the Middle East through its thriving air and sea hubs. Morocco has also emerged as a major African trade and finance hub.

To understand the future of our world, it is vital to understand some of the deeper structural trends driving it. The first would certainly be demographics. The Western world is not just a minority, but a minority by far.

India, with roughly two births per second, is well on its way to surpassing China as the largest populace in the world, and it recently surpassed France to become the sixth-largest economy. Africa is set to double its population by 2050, creating a continent of some 2.4 billion people, with more than a billion urban residents.

This 85 World has experienced three transformational trends over the past two decades: Rapid urbanization, unprecedented connectivity and growing middle classes. To varying degrees, countries from Latin America to Africa and Asia have also experienced better macroeconomic management and improved infrastructure.

To understand the future of our world, it is vital to understand some of the deeper structural trends driving it. The first would certainly be demographics. The Western world is not just a minority, but a minority by far. 

Afshin Molavi

Challenges abound across developing countries in the 85 World. One only need watch the harrowing scenes of African migration to Europe to see the failures of African governments to provide well for their people. Or just glance at illiteracy and poverty rates across India and Pakistan to see the multiple failures roiling South Asia.

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http://www.arabnews.com/node/1350631

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