According to ablogtophone, the abbreviation BRICS stands for the first letters of the members of the informal group of states:

  • Brazil, R ussia, I ndia, C hina, S outh Africa

In order to have a catchy abbreviation for the three large emerging countries Brazil, India and China as well as for the transition country Russia, starting in 2001, was initially in order to supplement or differentiate from the already existing “G” groups (e.g. G7, G8, G20) in the USA the abbreviation “BRIC” is popular. After South Africa received an invitation to this group on the initiative of China (sic) in 2010 and took part in the annual meeting of the group of states for the first time in 2011, the group trades under the abbreviation “BRICS”.

Annual summits have been held since 2009, the most recent being: 13-14 November 2019, Brasilia, Brazil; 21-23 July 2020, Saint Petersburg, Russia. The meeting is planned in India in 2021.

Population and economic strength

The graphic shows the population figures (green columns in the inlet diagram) and GDP (dark yellow columns) of the five BRICS countries and compares them with the corresponding data for the EU-27 (light gray columns) for 2019 :

  • Population: 3,178 million
    (around 41% of the world’s population of around 7,674 million)
  • GDP: $ 21.109 billion
    (equivalent to about 24% of the world’s gross domestic product of around 87.752 billion)

What is striking is the dominance of the two countries China and India in terms of population figures and China in terms of economic strength, which alone contributes two thirds to the total GDP of the BRICS countries. It is noteworthy that, due to its current economic weakness, Russia is now only in fourth place in the BRICS economic performance.

Interesting findings include:

  1. The BRICS group of countries is almost identical to the group of “O-5”, the group of so-called emerging countries. The only difference: Mexico, which is missing in the BRICS group, is one of the O-5s; Mexico is being replaced by Russia, which in turn was already represented in the G8.
  2. One reason for this lies in the grouping of the four states Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC), which was originally developed in the USA. Obviously the “M” for Mexico didn’t really fit in here. How would that have sounded: BIMC…
  3. It becomes clear that starting in 2017, the total GDP of the BRICS countries exceeded the gross domestic product of the European Union, to which China alone contributes around two thirds. South Africa, on the other hand, falls sharply in the BRICS group, which shows that this country was only included for geostrategic (at the urging of China) or geopolitical reasons.

On July 16, 2014, the heads of state and government of the BRICS countries decided at the sixth summit in Fortaleza, Brazil, to found a joint “development bank” and a mini “monetary fund”.

Variations of the abbreviation BRICS

BRIC – is the originally generated grouping of the four states Brazil, Russia, India and China. This construct has been overtaken by the normative force of the factual (the group accepts South Africa into the group).

BRICK – South Africa (S) is replaced by South Korea (K).

Argumentation: South Korea is a country with relatively high growth rates, while South Africa falls significantly compared to the BRIC countries. However, the assignment problem of South Korea remains: The country is a member of the G-20, but neither a member of the G-8 nor a member of the O-5 (outreaching countries – five emerging countries).

BRICK – South Africa (S) is replaced by Kazakhstan (K).

Argumentation: Kazakhstan’s importance is growing on the one hand due to its potential as an energy supplier, on the other hand due to its geopolitically significant location between the “classic” BRIC countries Russia, China and India. In addition, the country could become the center of the “New Great Game”, that is, the struggle for supremacy and influence in Central Asia. This is where the interests of global actors such as China, Russia, the European Union and the USA culminate as well as those of regional actors such as India, Pakistan and Iran.

RICK – Brazil (B) is completely left out due to the focus on Asia.

BRIICS – the five classic states are supplemented by the emerging country Indonesia (second I).

BRICSAM – the five classic BRICS states are supplemented by the Community of Southeast Asian States (ASEAN = A) and Mexico (M).

As you can see, there are obviously no limits to further abbreviations and assignments…