The BRICS challenging NATO

There are troubles all over the world; Ukraine, Sri Lanka, Iraq, and an impending financial crisis in Bangladesh and Pakistan. Here in southern France, near the site of our Lady of Lourdes, on my way to Barcelona, Spain, where I am on a speaking tour in universities and colleges, we are discussing NATO and another emerging alliances like the BRICS: Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. The new Philippine government should be aware that this global convergence of economic, political and military powers is a threat to both NATO, the US and the latter's allies, including the Philippines.

BRICS was founded on June 16, 2009. Today the five heads of state constantly confer and join forces on matters of the economy, trade, military and national security, as well as their stands on geopolitics and international alignments and alliances. Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro, Russia President Vladimir Putin, India Prime Minister Narendra Modi, China President Xi Jinping, and South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa are all in constant dialogues. NATO members are watching from outside wondering what they are up to. These five countries have held an annual summit since 2009.

The five nations have a combined population of 3.22 billion people, a little less than the total world's population in 2021. They have a combined Gross Domestic Product of no less than $24.44 trillion. Brazil alone has 214 million people with a GDP of $1.45 trillion in 2020 but expanded to grow to $2.44 trillion 2027. Russia has an estimated population today of 74 million and a GDP of $1.713 trillion today and expected to grow to $1.766 by 2027. In 2022, India's population is 1.405 billion and expected to rise to 1.467 billion in 2027. India's GDP is $2.651 trillion in 2022 and bound to rise to a whopping $5.533 trillion in 2027.

China is the biggest and strongest in BRICS. Its population was 1.41 billion in 2021, slightly higher than India. But this will taper down in 2027 due to multiple causes, the slowing birth rate, and also COVID-19’s effects on its population, among others. Its area is no less than 9.6 million square kilometers. Its GDP is $30.18 trillion in 2022. South Africa is the newest, smallest, and least wealthy member, but is strategically located at the tip of Africa with trillions worth of gold deposits. It has a population of 57.39 million and a GDP of $370 billion. The combined foreign reserves of BRICS is $986.994 billion.

BRICS’ headquarters is in the BRICS Tower in Shanghai. It was founded during the 61st United Nations session right in the UN headquarters in Manhattan. Compared to NATO, which is a military alliance, BRICS is an economic and political alignment of forces. But sooner or later, these two forces are bound to collide. The Philippines is more tilted towards NATO because of US influence. But if China would hold sway, the new president may lead the country to shift to BRICS. On second thought, that is most unlikely. Despite the Marcoses' experiences with Americans, the fact is they were nurtured in Hawaii in comfort and security. I know that for a fact for I visited the wake of the old man in Makiki, which was just half kilometers from where my parents resided,

NATO is composed of 30 big powers that include the US, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands and many other smaller powerful countries like Denmark and Iceland. Sweden and Finland have applied to become members and Turkey has withdrawn its objections. There was a time I believed NATO was gradually losing steam in Ukraine. Russia is now looking at BRICS to help defeat Zelensky and gain more territories, notwithstanding NATO's saber rattling and grandstanding. Someone whispered to me my old joke that NATO stands for No Action, Talk Only. Well, I don't really mean that. NATO is still a formidable power. Only that its leaders are hesitant to use it and trigger World War III. That, I shudder to think, would be the end of the world.

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In his SONA, the president mentioned some broad strokes on his foreign policies. I didn’t hear him elaborate on the macro implications of geopolitics and the global economy to our own financial and economic outlook. He didn’t mention BRICS, NATO, or the EAGLEs and the new power axis of Russia and Iran. Indeed, there are many truths that have been left unsaid perhaps in the interests of space and time. But I suspect these weren’t on top of his mind. He has too many emerging challenges to face and these aren’t easy ones. Let us pray for president BBM.

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