The round table "The BRICS in the context of growing rivalry between US and China" was held within the framework of the XXIII Yasin (April) International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development
HSE University Vice-Rector Ivan Prostakov and Department Head of the International Cooperation Office Marina Batalina opened the round table with a welcoming speech.
The main agenda for the round table was the BRICS countries in the context of the growing rivalry between the US and China. The participants discussed the position of BRICS in the context of the new Chinese foreign policy, the role of BRICS in the world; the trade war between the US and China and its consequences for the BRICS countries; development of BRICS multilateral relations in the era of COVID-19.
The round table was chaired by Alina Shcherbakova (HSE University) and Bruno De Conti (University of Campinas), the roundtable participants presented their findings as follows: Xu Yanran (Renmin University of China), G. Romano (UFABC), C. Hiratuka (Unicamp), D. Vasilyev (RUDN, HSE University), V. Costa (Fudan University), A. Pyatachkova (HSE University).
Prof. Xu Yanran, an expert on China's relations with Latin American countries, presented her research on China's foreign direct investment in the LA countries and their dependence on the stability of institutions in the country.
Chinese investors carefully evaluate the quality of institutions and political stability before investing in developing countries, in this context, political risks indirectly affect the volume of FDI from China.
In conclusion, the expert drew attention to the fact that China does not seek to invest in countries with any particular ideology, but only in stable countries with a high quality of institutions.
The next speaker, Giorgio Romano, professor at the Federal University of ABC in Brazil, analyzed the rivalry between the US and China. The speaker drew attention to the United States currently going through the second crisis for the world championship. Despite the severe financial crisis of 2008, the United States is still the world leader in economic and military terms.
However, every year it becomes more and more difficult for the US to maintain this status due to the growth of the Chinese economy. The conceptual conflict between classical Western economic liberalism and China's desire to pursue a policy of protectionism added fuel to the fire. It would be naive to deny the recent successes of Asian colleagues in entering new markets, developing and promoting new technologies that are undoubtedly the driver of the modern economy, and improving global value chains. The current situation, in which the volume of sales of US subsidiaries manufacturing their products in China exceeds total US exports to China, tells us that the economic essence of multinational companies does not necessarily contribute to the development of the American strategy of primacy, and often slows down this agenda. Thus, current and brewing political conflicts and, as a result, unilateral sanctions by the United States only move them away from retaining economic primacy, as they help emerging economies such as the BRICS become more stable.
In his presentation, Professor Célio Hiratuka also emphasizes the economic and political events that have already happened and are still ongoing, and their contribution to the weakening of the US position on the world stage.
One of the most important factors for economic prosperity is the financial market and investment flows: after the financial crisis of 2008, the United States lost a significant part of its financial power, and the current situation in Ukraine only contributes to this process. In addition to external factors, the demonopolization of the United States is reinforced by the technological development of China, which is already actively using such advanced technologies as 5G, the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence. Large-scale changes in global value chains only confirm the fact that the United States is losing its position on the world stage: the Coronavirus pandemic and the crisis in Ukraine have contributed to the regionalization and localization of production, reducing the level of US trade openness and allowing developing countries to take advantage of their own production capacities. Thus, we can talk about the end of the era of a monopolar world led by the United States, and the current economic and political context only confirms this hypothesis.
The next speaker, Dmitry Vasiliev, presented his findings related to the cooperation between Brazil and China in connection with the trade war between the US and China. The expert briefly described the origins of the trade war between the US and China and its main stages.
The trade war caused a slowdown in the development of the economy, a decrease in the level of foreign direct investment around the world, and losses among large international companies. Despite this, South Korea, Malaysia, Vietnam, Argentina and Brazil were able to benefit from the conflict and their economies were positively affected by this situation. China began to increase its economic and trade cooperation with Brazil, compensate for losses and some goods by importing them from Brazil. Thus, Brazil was able to increase its presence in the Chinese market, for example, through the supply of soybeans, and China also increased the export of selected items to Brazil. Foreign direct investment in Brazil from China has also increased, which also contributes to fruitful cooperation between the two countries.
The final presentation on the policy of China and BRICS in shaping the new agenda of international relations was by Prof. Anastasia Pyatachkova of HSE University. The expert noted that, despite the current geopolitical situation, the competition between the US and China is not over, but only paused for some time. The internal processes in the USA and China, their economic interdependence also need to be considered.
The challenges for the BRICS in the current situation are the challenges of "soft power" in the form of information flows, economic interdependence.
The expert focused on the information aspects and also compared the agendas that form the information space. Further, she drew the participants' attention to the factors that increased the tension between China and the United States in 2020.
At the end of the session, a round of Q&A took place, the participants discussed each other's reports and outlined topics for further research cooperation. A friendly atmosphere of the roundtable was conducive to a productive scientific discussion.