WORLD> Asia-Pacific
Emerging BRIC powers and the new world order
Updated: 2009-06-10 16:31

Brazil, Russia, India and China -- the so-called BRIC group of emerging powers -- have gained clout over the past decade as their economies grew faster than those of developed countries.

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BRIC leaders will hold their first summit meeting in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg on June 16 to discuss the global financial crisis and reforms to the world's financial and trade institutions.

Here are some facts about the BRIC countries.

* The term BRICs was coined by US investment bank Goldman Sachs to describe the four key emerging economic powers, which the bank predicted would account for an increasingly greater share of the global economy.

* Together, the BRICs accounted for about 22 percent of the world economy in 2008, up from 16 percent a decade earlier, based on the widely followed measure of purchasing power parity.

* Real economic growth from 1999 through 2008 averaged 9.75 percent in China, 7 percent in both India and Russia, and 3.3 percent in Brazil.

* China, a global manufacturing center, held $727 billion in US Treasuries at the end of 2008 and analysts estimate two-thirds of its roughly $2 trillion in foreign reserves are parked in dollar assets.

* Brazil is already an agricultural and mining powerhouse, and could become a major player in the world energy market after finding huge deep-sea oil reserves. It is the only BRIC country without nuclear weapons but it has the capacity to enrich uranium. After a five-year run of rapid growth, Brazil's economy slipped into recession in the first quarter.

* Russia is the world's second-largest oil exporter but the global financial crisis and a fall in oil prices last year triggered its worst recession in at least a decade. The economy is expected to contract by 6 percent in 2009 and President Dmitry Medvedev faces soaring unemployment and wage cuts that could undermine political stability, although the recent recovery in oil prices has helped.

* India is the only other large economy besides China that is on track to post robust growth this year, in part due to its vast domestic market. It faces potential trouble from domestic militant groups and a long-running border dispute with Pakistan.

* The BRICs want to reduce the world's reliance on a weak US dollar as a global reserve currency; among the options are a basket of currencies or a system of drawing rates. Brazil is pursuing trade in local currency with China, but analysts caution that Beijing is wary of rocking the boat because of its $1.95 trillion in reserves, of which two-thirds are in US dollars.

* The BRICs want more representation in the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Discussions to change the voting power in the IMF are about to get underway in a review that has been brought forward by two years to reassure the BRICs that their concerns are being addressed.

* Brazil hopes to forge a common BRIC position on global climate talks but their carbon footprints and resulting negotiating positions differ sharply. Russia, the third-largest greenhouse gas emitter after China and the United States, ratified the Kyoto protocol in 2004 while developing countries are not expected to agree to legally binding emissions targets from 2013.