While most pundits and market savants were preoccupied with the Greek crisis and the plunge in Chinese stocks, a potentially far more important event, with deep political, economic and financial implications for the US, began to take place on Wednesday.
Chinese President Xi Jinping is meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the 15th Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Summit and the seventh BRICS Summit, both of which are being held from July 8 to July 10 in Ufa, Russia. The meetings will focus on regional trade and infrastructure, bilateral cooperation within multilateral frameworks as well as coordination and cooperation in regional and international affairs, according to China’s Foreign Ministry.
SCO and BRICS are part of the alternative world order that China is building with the help of Russia. This matters because last year the combined economic output of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries was $17 trillion, almost equal to the U.S.’ gross domestic product, according to Bloomberg. In 2007, the US’s GDP was double the BRICS’ output.
“Despite some disappointments in some of the BRIC economies, led by China and India, their collective weight in global GDP continues to rise and therefore also does their importance,” Jim O’Neill, the former Goldman Sachs Group chief economist who coined the acronym back in 2001, told Bloomberg.
The main thrust of the summit will be the first meeting for the BRICS’ New Development Bank. The meeting will appoint the bank’s first management team including the president and four vice presidents. The management team will have offices at the bank’s Shanghai headquarters, which will begin operating by the end of 2015 or at the beginning of 2016.
The bank will have an initial capitalization of $100 billion, with half from BRICS countries. Banker K.V. Kamath will be its first president while the other two officials will come from Russia and Brazil, reported China Daily.
Even before the summit, the BRICS countries have been building closer working relationships. After China, India and Russia are the next two biggest contributors to the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. The US and Japan are not among the 57 member-nations.
“Additional glue for the BRICS leaders is a $100 billion currency-exchange reserve program discussed at last year’s summit,” said Bloomberg. “Along with China’s “One Belt One Road” strategy.”