Brazil, the Russian Federation, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) now form one of the world’s most important economic blocs, representing more than one quarter of global GDP, and 42 per cent of the world’s population. Significantly, the BRICS have seen their economic influence increase over the past decades, as drivers of global growth, trade and investment.
Since Jim O’Neil created the acronym BRIC, in 2001, the grouping has both expanded, and deepened its collaboration. In 2011, South Africa joined, to create the BRICS economies. Although the bloc is an informal arrangement, with no charter, it has nonetheless developed a more institutional character, both through a high level of political interaction (e.g. annual summits) and the creation of economic institutions such as the New Development Bank (NDB) and the Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA).
Foreign investment has played an important role in the growth of BRICS economies since 2001, with annual FDI inflows to the bloc more than quadrupling from 2001 to 2021 and contributing significantly to gross fixed capital formation.
The growth in FDI inflows to the BRICS was very strong in the first decade, but has remained relatively flat since 2011, against a global backdrop of negative growth of FDI flows over the decade.
To deal with the challenging global investment environment, and also in response to the need to leverage foreign investment for sustainable development, the BRICS economies continued moving in the general direction of a more open and supportive investment policy environment.
Looking ahead, the potential for intra-BRICS investment remains promising. However, more collaboration will be required to make investment a key driver of economic cooperation among the BRICS, and to bring more benefits for sustainable and inclusive economic development in the bloc.
This report was prepared at the request of the BRICS Trade and Investment Working Group under the China Presidency in 2022. It is meant for deliberation on BRICS collaboration in the area of investment for development. The report does not represent the views of the member states of the BRICS.