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All eyes on building BRICS

It might be moving slowly but it is easy to forget that the BRICS grouping is but five years old.
Last modified: 27 Mar 2013 00:18

With all the hype around BRICS it's easy to forget that the group is only five years old but that was the point South Africa's Finance Minister Pravin Gordham emphasised to me when I asked him about criticism that BRICS hasn't unified on the world stage.

Because the five countries are so diverse; economically, culturally and politically BRICS is hard to define.

It was formed because each countries economic clout translated into a hunger for a bigger say on the world stage, a way of addressing Western domination of global organisations.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he wants the group of major emerging economies to broaden its role and get more involved in geopolitics.

He has been a harsh critic of Europe and American actions on a range of issues and said that conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan and Iran's nuclear program would also be discussed at BRICS.

The countries do agree that there should be a diplomatic solution in Syria, both Russia and China have used their veto power at the United Nations Security Council to oppose sanctions and block calls for President Bashar al Assad to step down.

Intriguing dynamics 

That doesn't mean to say the other BRICS nations necessarily agree.

One of the intriguing aspects about BRICS is that its members have so many differences.

Their relationships are complementary; South Africa, Russia and Brazil have natural resources in abundance. Resources that China in particular buys in buik, it also invests billions of dollars in the continent and has plenty of manufactured goods to export.

Yet they're also in competition.

Brazil frequently raises the issue of China's monetary policy, meanwhile India and China have a history of fraught relations over Tibet. There also rising concerns in South Africa that the relationship with China is too unbalanced.

But South Africa's Finance Minister Pravin Gordham asked me: "How long did it date the EU to become the EU and look, it still has troubles".

The point is that BRICS is new.

Its member countries are getting to know each other and like every relationship, each is testing the boundaries.

Follow Al Jazeera's Tania Page on Twitter: @TaniaPage