BRICS II – another BRICK in China’s global strategy

Thursday, August 31st, 2023

We recently noticed the BRICS summit in South Africa. Expectations in our part of the world were not hopeful before the summit in a sense that decisions from Johannesburg would mean an encouraging injection for the global economy. However, it was recognizable that China managed to launch another brick in its global political economic strategy by establishing its de facto leadership for the new and enlarged BRICS II organization.

Democracy clearly underrepresented …

I have been watching BRIC(S) from its start in the early days of this century – i.e. before South Africa was invited to join – as quite an unnecessary organization. BRIC(S) was initially launched as a smart financial marketing idea of an American investment bank without any other logical unifying argument than putting together Brazil, Russia, India and China as the four largest emerging markets with – then – potentially good economic prospects.

Then, two of these four founding countries were not democratic (China -and at least partly – Russia), and two others could be described as democratic (India and Brazil, plus joining South Africa some years later).

Now, when BRICS II will come into force in a few months time, this previously quite balanced democratic participation in BRICS will not be maintained when the six invited new members will become part of BRICS II as well.

These six new BRICS countries are:

Iran, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, Ethiopia and Argentina.

It is indeed very obvious that none of these invited six countries can offer democratic standards and/or economic strength. There is all reason to believe that democracy in the new BRICS II will become clearly underrepresented.

… and weak economies totally overrepresented

Another angle may be a pure economic one. Also in this context there is nothing encouraging to find – apart from currently more or less healthy macroeconomic stability in India, Brazil and the oil producers of Saudi Arabia and UAE.

So what can the 11-nation BRICS II finally offer themselves and the rest of the world? In my view not very much. There are too many internal imbalances.  May be some increase of intra-trade (mainly for oil and other commodities) could show up. An obvious disadvantage is the missing positive homogeneity between the countries.

However, one more aspect still remains to be considered in the BRICS II context: China’s global political and trade economic strategy with BRICS II as perfect tool.

Application of the old and new Chinese diversification efforts

As I have written before in this blog, China has been starting to work more ambitiously on its intensified and revised geopolitical strategy. I have followed China’s internationalization and globalization for many years and have to admit that China since the start of the opening-up reform policy by the prominent reformer Deng Xiaoping had a logical strategy in their search for enlarged international partnership through all the years.

The international reform steps in the opening-up context were during the years about FDI and more foreign investment in China, the move of Western labor force (experts) to China, increasing exchange of students with abroad both from and to China, mutual cooperation in research –> altogether different steps to improve skills, technology, products and productivity with ideas from outside China. So far about the traditional diversification objectives.

Gradually after China’s important WTO entry, Chinese political leaders also announced objectives for developing China into a technological superpower and for increasing its global political power, more lately very much by focusing on (emerging) countries that appreciate incoming Chinese investments and (expensive) financial support (, from February 17, 2023). Thus, we also have some examples of China’s modern diversification strategy, happening to a high extent geographically.

When summing up some international/global organizations below with obvious strategic interest, you can find some obvious examples where China already is or will become the dominant player, such as:

BRICS II – certainly an organization ready for increasing Chinese influence

Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) – infrastructure projects, fully led by China

RCEP (The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership RCEP) includes 14/15 East Asian and Pacific nations working for free trade among each others in a longer perspective (without having the U.S. in the organization). It is quite easy to imagine that China at some point will become more active within RCEP as well.

Looking at these examples clarifies well that China wants to expand its global influence. This will happen via bilateral action or via international organizations. Strengthened global platforms will become even more important to President Xi Jinping and the CP, since China nowadays domestically performs insufficiently after many years of boom.

Hubert Fromlet
Affiliate Professor at the School of Business and Economics, Linnaeus University
Editorial board


Back to Start Page

My impressions from (studying) India

Friday, April 28th, 2023

This is an attempt to summarize my impressions from quite a number of trips to the “continent” of India. Yes, l see India rather as a continent than representing a single country. When having noticed that India recently has surpassed China as the country with the largest population in the world and when having become aware of the enormous distances from the North to the South and from the West to the East, foreigners should conclude that India is characterized by different geographical, political, ethnical, religious, cultural, social, institutional and economic conditions. All this  in one country!

Understand and comment on these above-mentioned Indian conditions in a friendly and appreciatively way when meeting Indian business people! Foreign business people should stick closely to good relations and business deals. This conclusion looks logical and will remain valid in the long run.

Why is India gaining momentum?

India is currently receiving much more international analytical and commercial attention than a few years ago. There are several explanations for this development:

–  A lot of positive reports on India could be read more recently in the international press – partly in order to create or show a kind of contrast to China;

–  India’s status as a democracy seems to be acknowledged more carefully by current non-Indian corporate leaders;

–  India has started to plan and implement economic reform policy more ambitiously;

–  India received recently the most positive GDP outlook of all countries for 2023/2024 by several global forecasters, by the IMF as well; 

–  the Western global corporate world regards Indian companies to a lesser extent as future competitors than they do when it comes to Chinese global players;

–  China lost certainly recognition in a substantial number of Western countries by not opposing to the Russian war in the Ukraine (which India also rejected to do but India was able to apply its political bonus in the West);

–  some serious policy failures in China (e. g. the reactions on corona) may have turned global commercial attention somewhat stronger to India than ante coronam.

One may summarize as follows: The global business community still seems to judge China as more dynamic – but India still seems to be better able to attract more sympathy points from democratic countries and their corporations all over the globe – and this way also become increasingly interesting to foreign investors. Further growth potential can be explored by sizeable improvements of mainly infrastructure, institutions and education. However, necessary policy changes can take long time to be implemented.

How to meet Indian business people

Here we come to a very important issue for Western business people. When meeting Indian managers or other kinds of Indian colleagues, Westerners often feel that meetings or negotiations are handled more or less the same way in India as it is done at home or in familiar countries in the neighborhood. However, this may turn out to be a completely wrong reaction or attitude.

The other way around: Indian business culture is very different from the Western. Though not covering everything in this article, my experience from India can lead to a number of conclusions or recommendations as follows:

  1. 1. Accept the Indian rule of the game! Don’t hesitate to use or say titles!
  2. 2. Focus on communication, first on telling and showing who you are!
  3. 3. When you meet initially in India, don’t act straight forward to a deal!
  4. 4. Accept a dinner without business talk. Talk about your family!
  5. 5. For Indians, the family is very important. Take your time to listen!
  6. 6. Don’t talk about politics which Indians usually do not like to take up!
  7. 7. Don’t be very critical! Indians are rather euphoric or happy. Relax!
  8. 8. Indians are religious. Never question their religious habits / seriosity!
  9. 9. Never ask or talk about the Indian caste system!
  10. 10. During negotiatins: Never let your hosts feel any time pressure from you!

Obviously, one should look for information about how to behave in India. Sensitive topics should be avoided, appreciated topics like family, religion and knowledge about India should be preferred.

If intense commercial relations to Indian companies are planned, it would be a good idea to learn Hindi. Indians even appreciate low skills in Hindi. Do not forget that India already today is the no 5 economy in the world and will probably have moved into the third place around five years from now. The potential is enormous but necessary economic, institutional, social, environmental and educational changes should happen faster than in the past.

India will – as far as one can see today – develop into a giant market for direct foreign investors, exporters and purchasing managers.

Hubert Fromlet
Affiliate Professor at the School of Business and Economics, Linnaeus University
Editorial board


Back to Start Page

The Nobel Prize in economics from an Indian perspective

Thursday, January 19th, 2023


Summary from a speech by Hubert Fromlet, Linnaeus University/Sweden on January 8, 2023, at the “International Research Conference” arranged by the Indian Institute of Finance (IIF)            

Ever since its start 55 years ago, 95 economic researchers have been awarded the so-called Nobel Prize1) which is broadly considered as the most prestigious recognition for economic research. Unfortunately, only two female scientists made it so far: American sociologist Elinor Ostrom in 2009 and French-American experimental poverty researcher Esther Duflo in 2019. More female candidates could be found which I various times elaborated on in the Swedish and global press, Indian press included 2).

Presumably, the long-term perspective looks better because of the favorable outlook for more extended female research. This probable global way forward – in reality favored by more and more female academic students and graduates – may also serve as a strategic encouragement for Indian economic and financial research.

Since management research very rarely has been awarded so far and management researchers are not ruled out formally from the Nobel Prize in Economics, one may also imagine that fundamentally important and sustainable management research gradually could move closer to the inner circle of Nobel Prize candidates. If so, also more Indian economists may show up on the candidate lists at some point.

Interesting names from India

For being an emerging country, Indian economists were so far quite well visible in a Nobel-Prize context (with the past winners Amartya Sen in 1998 and more recently Abhijit Banerjee in 2019) – even if more could have happened. Jagdish Bhagwati should have been a Prize Winner already many years ago, micro economist Avinash Dixit at least in the past ten years. A strong Indian name for a future Nobel Award should be in my view behavioral and financial scientist Sendhil Mullainathan (Chicago).

It would be positive if economists in the visibly catching-up country of India  strongly could be provided with conditions that can develop ambitions and research in line with India’s obvious individual potential – also for eventually knocking more frequently on the door of a future Nobel Prize in Economics.



Hubert Fromlet
Affiliate Professor at the School of Business and Economics, Linnaeus University
Editorial board


Back to Start Page