Alexander Babakov, Chairman of the State Duma, headed a Russian delegation to India on March 29 and 30 to encourage stronger trade ties between the two nations. During the various meetings, he also floated the idea of creating a common currency to bolster trade relations between both countries and even throughout other BRICS members. The idea was echoed before by Pavel Knyazev, a Russian Sous-Sherpa (a term used to describe contact persons within the member countries of BRICS) who stated in September of last year at the Valdai Discussion Club, “The possibility and prospects of setting up a common single currency based on a basket of currencies of the BRICS countries is being discussed,” according to an article from The Economic Times. Those two discussions showcase Russia’s optimism toward a standardized currency for BRICS members.
Naturally, the endeavor has been described as creating an alternative to the U.S. Dollar and the European Euro. During last year’s BRICS Summit, President Putin announced that the major members of the quasi-alliance were planning to create and issue a new global reserve currency. What form or shape the currency would take is unknown. Babakov speculated that a digital rupee, ruble, or yuan could be used or a new system implemented which, “[…] should be based on inducting new monetary ties established on a strategy that does not defend the US’s dollar or euro, but rather forms a new currency competent of benefiting our shared objectives.”
Originally, BRICS was little more than an acronym that was used to describe the emerging economies of the early 2000s. Even in the past decade, the member countries focused on making trade easier while occasionally discussing the possibility of collaborating on policies and defense treaties similarly to how NATO operates. The SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) serves a similar purpose to NATO, but of the BRICS nations only Russia, India, and China are members. Where the SCO is focused primarily on Eurasia, BRICS is looking to span itself all across the globe. Regardless, since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, along with rising tensions between China and the United States, there has been a greater push towards strengthening ties between the member states to present the group internationally as an alternative to the United States and Europe.
Thus far, the strive to further centralize and formalize BRICS into a true cooperative pact or alliance has gained the attention of various countries that are looking to align themselves with other than the U.S. and Europe. As of now, there are more than a dozen countries looking to join according to Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergey Lavrov. Interestingly, Saudi Arabia is reported to be interested in joining which is fascinating since China has continued to cozy up to country. Specifically, Saudi Arabia joined the SCO as a dialogue partner on March 29. Looking back to March 10, Saudi Arabia and Iran were brought closer together by Chinese arbitrators in Beijing.
As for BRICS and its potential future of a centralized currency, it is merely only an idea at the moment. Perhaps in the coming months, the organization will strive to lay a foundation as the BRICS countries continue to cooperate on various matters. For now, the member countries will continue to foster trade and recruit other countries to their organization in the hopes of creating an international hegemony of their own.