«Battle for Globalisations? BRICS and US Mega-Regional Trade Agreements in a Changing World Order MARKO JUUTINEN AND JYRKI KÄKÖNEN © 2016 Observer ...»
Indeed, the prevalence of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in China, India and Brazil,114 and the acknowledgement of their “important role” in, for example, the 2014 Summit Declaration115 suggests that such economic partnerships are less 'liberal' and 'market-oriented' than their Western counterparts. Similarly, research on Chinese and Indian regional trade deals also provides evidence that Battle for Globalisations?
while BRICS countries adhere to WTO, they are much less inclined to further liberalise non-trade areas like labour and intellectual property rights, or to address WTO-plus issues like the liberalisation of agriculture, financial services, procurement, and technical barriers to trade. It is thus possible that BRICS would produce new norms for economic cooperation rather than assimilating the more ambitious and market-oriented ones of the West. The focal point of difference is the relation between public and private authority. To affirm these interpretations, however, a consideration of the MRTAs must be made. At the Ufa Summit the BRICS adopted the Strategy for the BRICS Economic Partnership (SEP),117 which covers eight broad areas of cooperation, extending well beyond tariff and customs issues to include even issues such as regulatory cooperation. In SEP the BRICS “reaffirm the value, centrality and primacy of the multilateral trading system in world trade regulation and their commitment to strengthen the rules-based, transparent, non-discriminatory, open and inclusive multilateral trading system as embodied in the WTO.” Further, BRICS emphasise the role of macroeconomic and trade policy coordination – that is, state-level cooperation in economic matters – and the need to develop public-private partnership as a mechanism to attract resources for state and private sector cooperation. Within this context, this new initiative can be interpreted as a reflection of BRICS' commitment to cooperate on economic and developmental matters on their terms and within the auspices of the WTO. With regard to Western push for more market-oriented or developed country-led governance of global economy, the BRICS seem to be divergent.
Does this amount to an alternative vision for economic globalisation? With regard to the present trade regime within the WTO context, the answer is the negative. However, the nature of this question is relative to the visions of other stakeholders, that is, the Western visions. With regard to the Western vision as will be show in the following section, the BRICS are being different, but perhaps not too different not to cooperate in the future.
Divergent Foreign Policy?
NDB is just one initiative of the BRICS, albeit an important one. Indeed, not even economic and financial cooperation encompass the whole spectrum of BRICS cooperation. Since the beginning, the BRICS have demanded reforms of BRICS in the Context of Global Governance the UN and increasingly since 2011 the group has taken positions on world conflicts on the basis of its fundamental principles. BRICS' foreign policy is characterised by adherence to the principles of state sovereignty, regional integrity, and non-interference. Another feature is the separation of particular state interests and BRICS positions. In this regard, the BRICS approach to foreign policy is similar to its financial policies: neither China nor Russia can dictate BRICS common positions. This may be interpreted as a lack of internal cohesion, or as a distinct feature of the BRICS cooperation.
In the Concept of the Foreign Policy of the Russian Federation, remarkably strong emphasis is placed on the “partnership of cultures, religions and civilization and harmonious development.”121 At the same time, Russia warns against imposing “one's own hierarchy of values,” expressing a firm rejection of unilateralism and any destructive use of “human rights concept to exert political pressure on sovereign states.”World order should be based on civilisational partnership, state sovereignty, and non-interference in domestic matters. Instead of a universal direction for the future of globalisation, Russia aspires to a pluralist globalisation that opposes what is perceived as Western universalism. Indeed, according to Mäkinen and Turoma, Russia is undergoing an ideational delinking from Western values and a quest for a Russian identity. The Ukrainian crisis provides an additional prism through which to establish this point. Mearsheimer, for example, writes that Russian geopolitical interests are threatened by the expansion of the liberal West:124 a liberal Russia would hardly oppose a liberal Ukraine at its borders. These concepts include identity and civilisation, geopolitics and conflicts, sovereignty and cooperation, western values and unilateralism. These concepts resonate with the fundamental values of the BRICS and mark a difference between the Westphalian international order—based on state sovereignty—and the modern (or Western) international order that is based on confederalism, 125 or the yielding of state sovereignty for overlapping supranational authorities.
According to Barry Buzan,126 China's foreign policy since the economic reforms of 1978 is characterised by (among other things) a desire to achieve a more multipolar and less US-dominated world order, territorial integrity, social stability, and the current political order. In various studies, however, China's adherence to the world trade system has been seen as an indicator of its relations to the global order as a status quo power with much to gain from Battle for Globalisations?
cooperation. In his speech to the American public in September 2015,Chinese President Xi Jinping128 stated that “China will never close its open door to the outside world [and that o]pening up is a basic state policy of China.” Yet it is questionable whether China's desire to benefit from economic cooperation equates with acceptance of a Western-led world order – which is, after all, much more than just the exchange of goods and services. In other words, can China's strong civilisational identity and its long history as Asia's Middle Kingdom be led to a process of assimilation through economic transactions? That idea is quite in contrast with the revitalised tianxia tradition in China, which refers to a tributary system of territorially sovereign states with China as the central power and leader among them.129 Moreover, not even in Jinping's speech addressed to the Americans can you find any implications on political and economic integration. Instead, Jinping stated that relations between the US and China should be based on cooperation and mutual understanding, not integration. President Jinping also noted that “[I]f China and the US cooperate well, they can become a bedrock of global stability and a booster of world peace.” Finally, van der Pijl's analysis shows that the Chinese Communist Party still retains control over Chinese society, which shows that the commercial ties between 'transnational capitalism' have not transnationalised Chinese political system.131 What about India? One authoritative and often quoted perspective on Indian foreign policy was written by an independent group of analysts and policymakers and first presented in 2012 for an audience of current and former National Security Advisers, Foreign Secretaries, Ambassadors and High
Commissioners, and policy analysts.132 The policy report, Non Alignment 2.0:
A foreign and strategic policy for India in the 21st century, said in part: “India must remain true to its aspiration of creating a new and alternative universality.” The report describes India as the most 'Western' among nonwestern powers, though rooted in Asia. As such, India is committed to democracy, but does not 'promote' democracy, nor does the country “see it [promotion of democracy] as an ideological concept that serves as a polarizing axis in world politics.” With regard to the US, the report said that “the relative decline of the American alliance system is already evident,” and India should be cautious of unduly close ties with the US while pursuing a policy of 'strategic autonomy'.This does not translate, however, to non-cooperation with the major Western power and in fact, with regard to the assertive China, BRICS in the Context of Global Governance cooperation with the US offers a key counter balance.133 On the other hand, other analysts argue that a defining factor of an Asian Century are the ties between China and India, and not between India and the US.
As a member of BRICS, RIC, NDB, AIIB and soon also of SCO, India does have strong connections and common interests with China and Russia. At the same time, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's leadership India is working hard to improve connections with the US. In January 2015 Modi and US President Barack Obama issued a Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region with the goal of promoting peace, prosperity and stability in the area. The US and India indeed share an interest in rebalancing against China.
A report issued by the Council of Foreign Relations in 2015 emphasises this aspect of India's foreign policy environment and recommends increased ties and future membership in the US-led TPP. Thus while part of the young Eurasian initiatives, India also keeps its doors open for the West. From a strategic perspective, this is viable policy; however, to cooperate with multiple actors and adversaries, a nation would also need to remain non-aligned.
The BRICS principles of independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity, are all in alignment with the perspectives on Russian, Chinese, and Indian foreign policy, discussed earlier. It has been argued that the BRICS are united more by their opposition to US dominance than by any other common interest. This interpretation fails to take into account that adherence to civilisational pluralism does not preclude disagreement on specific issues such as foreign policy. Civilisational pluralism does, however, obstruct conformity in culture, habits, political systems, and governance. It does not preclude cooperation but it does obstruct or limit supranationalism, confederalism, and conformism in world politics.
The Arab-Israeli, Syrian, and Iranian conflicts will be probed in the ensuing sections to grasp how the aforementioned perspectives and the BRICS principles are reflected on the alliance's positions on these conflicts. These cases are chosen because US interest and positions have been strong in all of them while not a single BRICS country has shown a particular interest. The Ukrainian case, for example, is dear to Russia and BRICS positions on it are thus dampened. At the 2014 and 2015 BRICS Summits, the group expressed their “deep concern with the situation in Ukraine” and emphasised that “there is no military solution to the conflict,” 'thus avoiding either blaming the US Battle for Globalisations?
or supporting Russia's strategic interests. At the earlier 2012 Summit, BRICS urged those involved in the Arab-Israeli conflict to rebuild mutual trust while “avoiding unilateral steps, in particular settlement activity in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.” The group also encouraged “broad national dialogue” in Syria and respect for “Syrian independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty,” and expressed their support for a peaceful resolution of the Iranian nuclear dispute. By 2013 the language employed by BRICS had become stronger with regard to both the Arab-Israeli conflict and Iranian nuclear dispute. In place of “avoiding unilateral steps,” the BRICS countries were “deeply concerned”about Israeli settlement policy, “which is a violation of international law and harmful to the peace process.”And rather than expressing support for a peaceful resolution of the Iranian issue, the BRICS expressed their “concern about threats of military actions as well as unilateral sanctions” by the US and its allies.138 In both the 2014 and 2015 summits, the BRICS used the words “we oppose”in reference to Israeli settlement policy, which they said “violates international law” and “gravely undermines peace efforts.” Thus, the semantics of “deep concern” was replaced with the more active,“to oppose”, and “harmful” was replaced with “gravely undermining”. In the case of Syria, BRICS avoided taking sides with either the rebels (allegedly supported by the US) or the Syrian government (allegedly supported by Russia). The BRICS position on Iran, on the other hand, has continued to support that country's right to develop a peaceful nuclear capacity, as opposed to lending its voice on the imposition of economic sanctions or military intervention.139 Such position on Iran is in stark contrast to that of earlier US administrations.
Neoconservative Time columnist Charles Krauthammer echoed President George W. Bush in arguing that Iran is dangerous because it is ruled by an unstable government of fundamentalist fanatics, who not only want to destroy Israel but are in pursuit of chaos. Krauthammer argued that chaos and destruction create the conditions for Mahdi to ascend on earth and to lead the rightful Shias to eternal bliss. BRICS, for their part, see no such threat from the Shias. Neither is there mention of Iran's alleged support for what the US government has described as terrorist organisations in the Palestinian territories and Syria. Instead, at the 2014 and 2015 Summits, BRICS expressed support for the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons, implying that Israel's alleged nuclear weapons should be treated in the same BRICS in the Context of Global Governance way as Iran's. At the Ufa Summit in 2015, BRICS stated their desire for closer cooperation with SCO and its observer states, including Iran.
BRICS foreign policy statements against Israeli settlements have grown stronger over the years. Some analysts like Guy Burton141 argue that despite this rhetorical support for the Palestinian cause, little is being done in active support. On Syria, there has been no significant change in rhetoric in official BRICS documents. China and Russia, on the other hand, as permanent members of the Security Council, have vetoed UN operations for the reason that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has not requested support. US commenced targeted air strikes in the end of 2014 without receiving any request for such from the Syrian government. In the autumn of 2015 Russia joined in, after official request from President Assad. Russian and Chinese positions in the UN and the subsequent Russian intervention can thus be seen to conform with BRICS principles.