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Skip to 0 minutes and 7 seconds In 2001 Jim O’Neill, former Chief Economist of Goldman Sachs, coined the term BRIC to describe the 4 largest emerging economies of the time. Originally the BRIC countries were Brazil, Russia, India and China. In 2010, South Africa officially joined their ranks. They represent 40% of the world’s population as spread across all continents excluding Antarctica and their combined nominal GDP rivals that of the EU or the United States. The group has been having annual summits since 2009 and claim to represent the world’s emerging markets. They work as a counter-balance to groups like the G8 and G20 which are largely controlled by rich world economies. The BRICS

Skip to 0 minutes and 53 seconds also have their own bank, The New Development Bank, which allows them to loan money to each other and countries outside of the group. With their large populations and wide geographic spread, O’Neill figured that these nations would drive the world economy and propel it forward for decades to come. It has been estimated that by 2039, the BRICS economy may overtake the G6; Germany,

Skip to 1 minute and 15 seconds France, Japan, Italy, UK and USA, in economic size and by 2050 they will be on track to undeniably become the largest group of economies. However, several BRICS countries have been struggling to keep their impressive growth going while China and India have surged ahead. South Africa, Brazil and Russia have had poor growth. The

Skip to 0 minutes and 0 seconds group is also quite diverse: India, South Africa and Brazil are democratic countries while China and Russia have different systems in place. The cultural diversity between the different nations is great as well. The result of this diversity means that the countries don’t always agree and even get into direct conflict with each other. The territorial disputes between India and China have been an issue for a long time. Despite these challenges, the BRICS are quite a political and economic force to be reckoned with. Some of these countries, if not all, will remain important players in our globalised world.

Who are the BRICS?

Since the term was first coined by Jim O’Neill of Goldman Sachs in 2001, the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and latterly South Africa) have become the most talked about emerging markets.

Watch the video to find out more about the background to and history of the BRICS.

Enthusiastic forecasts about the future growth prospects of these countries peppered international media and threatened to fundamentally restructure the global economy.

However, while the rise of the BRICS economies has been impressive, many commentators have questioned the BRICS concept and pointed to many obstacles to their continued success.

Indeed during the last couple of years the BRICS have lost their lustre with slowing economic growth prompting investors to look to new groupings such as the MINTs (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey) (Boesler 2013) and the Next 11 (N-11) (O’Neil 2007: 161-164).

Your task

Having watched the video above, you should by now be slightly familiar with BRICS nations. To develop a further understanding, review the article entitled Dreaming with BRICs: The Path to 2050 and evaluate and discuss some of the factors that make BRICS nations attractive and fertile markets for global businesses.


Boesler, M. (2013) ‘The economist who invented the BRICs just invented a whole new group of countries: The MINTs’. Business Insider [online] available from http://www.businessinsider.com/jim-oneill-presents-the-mint-economies-2013-11?IR=T [10 May 2018]

O’Neill, J. (2007) ‘Beyond the BRICS: A Look at the ‘Next 11’’. in BRICS and Beyond by Goldman Sachs Economic Group, [online] 161-164. available from http://www.goldmansachs.com/our-thinking/archive/archive-pdfs/brics-book/brics-chap-13.pdf [10 May 2018]

Wilson, D., and Purushothaman, R. (2003) ‘Global economics paper no. 99 ‘Dreaming with BRICs: The Path to 2050’’ [online] Goldman Sachs Economic Group available from http://www.goldmansachs.com/our-thinking/archive/archive-pdfs/brics-dream.pdf [10 May 2018]

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