SIPG seminar: Geopolitical issues behind joining BRICS

Flags of BRICS member statesFile photo

Experts at a seminar in Dhaka have said the geopolitical issues, rather than the economic ones, have mainly prompted Bangladesh to join the BRICS, an economic alliance comprising five nations.

They believe this is the high time to join the alliance in order to maintain balance as well as healthy relationship with China and India, two influential members of the group.

The South Asian Institute of Policy and Governance (SIPG) of North South University arranged the seminar, titled ‘Bangladesh’s priorities in BRICS: Challenges and benefits’, on Sunday.

Addressing the seminar as the panel speaker, former foreign secretary Shahidul Haque said the BRICS was not formed through discussions or bargaining among the member nations, rather it was constituted in an organisation’s board room. Hence, it did not advance as a forum dedicated for economics and investment.

He asserted that the anticipated expansion of BRICS is driven by the desire to use the platform as a geopolitical tool.

Shahidul Haque identified three major challenges that Bangladesh may face while joining the alliance. To begin with, the changed reality after the country’s graduation from the group of least developed countries (LDC) in 2026. Besides, he noted challenges regarding the capacity of armed forces and ability to maintain balance among the superpowers.

Bangladesh has a policy to maintain balance among the foreign powers, but it does not always succeed. It tries to hold on to the policy and recover as soon as possible if its position is compromised in some certain cases.

“The major challenge is to restore balance after leaning towards a side,” he added.

Meanwhile, India and Brazil suggested setting up a standard for new members to comply with before joining the block.

Lailufar Yasmin, chairperson of International Relations department at Dhaka University, said as all the countries have their own interests, it is up to India whether it will help Bangladesh to join the alliance. Their stance will be determined by their national interests and some other calculations.

Niyaz Asadullah, an economics department professor at North South University, also said it is a good time for Bangladesh to join the BRICS if the geopolitical issues are taken into account. The joining process is likely to be smooth as Bangladesh has good relations with India and China.