- By Ubaid Sahil
The current global era is often considered the “Era of Blocs.” Worldwide, new blocs are emerging, and old blocs are expanding. Recent summits of global blocs mark the beginning of a new era in politics and economics.
For instance, the recent G20 summit in New Delhi, India, announced the establishment of a new regional economic corridor the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC). Similarly, the recent BRICS summit in South Africa announced its expansion and extended invitations to more countries.
These developments have garnered global attention, sparking discussions about the future of economic and political blocs and alliances. Let’s take a closer look at these significant developments. Formed in 2010, BRICS is a global bloc consisting of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. This geopolitical bloc ranks among the world’s foremost blocs, alongside the G7. Serving as a strong rival to the G7, BRICS represents 42% of the global population and contributes to 34% of the global GDP. Member countries within this bloc engage in economic trade, investment, and development opportunities together.
During its latest summit held in South Africa, BRICS extended invitations to new countries interested in joining the bloc. BRICS member nations are pursuing the establishment of a new global currency to diminish the dominance of the dollar, marking a noteworthy development. BRICS is experiencing rapid growth, and it is projected that by 2050, it will become the dominant global economic and political bloc.
The G20 is another prominent global bloc consisting of 19 countries, in addition to the European Union. Comprising some of the world’s largest economies, the G20 is collectively responsible for 80% of global GDP. Member countries of the G20 include the United States, Australia, India, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the European Union.
At the recent G20 summit, the African Union, representing a group of African nations, has also joined the G20, becoming its 21st member. However, the absence of Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin at recent summits, particularly, has raised tensions in global power politics.
During a recent summit, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a new regional economic corridor named the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor. This project aims to interconnect railways, maritime routes, and shipping lines, facilitating economic ties between India and Gulf countries and extending to Eastern European nations. Analysts view this as another Western rival project aimed at countering China’s rapid economic and political influence in global politics. Prior to this, the West had also introduced other competitive initiatives, such as the Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development (BUILD), Build Back Better World (B3W), and the Global Partnership of Infrastructure & Investment (PGI).
China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a global economic program focused on trade and investment, which seeks to recreate the ancient Silk Route. Announced in 2013, it is considered one of the most expensive economic endeavors in history. The initiative spans 155 countries globally, reaching from Central and South Asia to Africa, Europe, and even South America. It encompasses over 3,000 economic and infrastructure projects, with China aiming to invest up to $1 trillion in global infrastructure development. BRI’s impact extends to approximately 75% of the global population. Its contributions to global infrastructure encompass the construction of trade routes, ports, railway lines, highways, airports, and energy stations.
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a Chinese infrastructure development project in Pakistan. The corridor projects include the construction of infrastructure, highways, railways, a port, and multiple economic zones across the country. Through this corridor, China’s exports will be transported to the rest of the world, replacing the previous route through the Malacca Strait.
CPEC aims to reduce transportation costs and time compared to the Malacca Strait route. China is planning to invest 60% of the funding for this project in Pakistan. The Gwadar port will play a crucial role in facilitating these exports, and it is projected that Gwadar port could become the next global economic hotspot, competing with ports in Shanghai, Singapore, Los Angeles, and Houston.
The development progress on this project has been slow due to rapid political developments in Pakistan. However, in light of recent economic risks and the possibility of default, Pakistan is now committed to accelerating this project to pave the way for economic development.
- Ubaid Sahil is an undergraduate student and writer.