The BRICS assert themselves against the dollar
The BRICS summit, which was held from 22 to 24 August in Johannesburg, was quite rightly one of the main topics of conversation: this international organisation is indeed set to take on more and more importance on the world stage. The most obvious point to mention is that it is growing in numbers: the founding countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) have welcomed six new members: Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Ethiopia and Iran. As a result, the BRICS are starting to make their mark at the global level: 36% of GDP, 46% of the population, 80% of oil production. And many other countries are knocking on the door; we are talking about forty candidates.
Rumours of a BRICS common currency have been heard, and the fact of no longer depending on the dollar is a stated objective.
The summit's final declaration highlights “the importance of encouraging the use of local currencies in international trade and financial transactions between the BRICS as well as their trading partners”. Going via the dollar means having to acquire it in exchange for one’s own currency, and therefore making the American currency rise against one’s own. The Central Bank must have enough to meet the needs of importers; transaction currency and reserve currency go together. Exchanging goods using one’s own currency relieves these constraints, and this is what China has been doing in Asia for several years, and more recently with Saudi Arabia which accepts yuan in return for its oil. In addition, using the dollar exposes to the extraterritoriality of American law, which can pose a legal threat.
Another argument: the risk of seeing your hard-earned dollars reduced to nothing, and finding yourself banned from international trade. The sanctions taken by the United States - followed by the European Union - against the Central Bank of Russia following the invasion of Ukraine sounded like a clap of thunder in a calm sky. Never before has such a decision been taken, not without impact. The dollar assets of the Russian monetary institution have in fact disappeared. Since then, nations may think that in the event of conflict with Uncle Sam, their dollar assets will decline, hence the urgency of finding alternatives.
For its part, China did not wait for sanctions against Russia to start reducing its dollar reserves: since December 2021, its assets in US Treasury Bonds have fallen by $205 billion, or 20% of the total. And other countries are following suit. This could have a strong impact on the United States in financing its budget deficit: who will buy their Treasury Bonds? BRICS against US hegemony, to be continued.