Aggregation of BRICS Financial Strength


INDIA’S K.V. Kamath’s nomination last May as president-designate of the New Development Bank (NDB) signified the BRICS-led bank’s entry into its substantive operational stage. The NDB board of governors will call its first meeting and officially appoint the bank’s president and vice presidents during the BRICS summit in early July in Ufa, Russia.

During the first year after the bank’s establishment, prior to commencement of its official operations, public attention will focus on how the NDB aggregates its member countries’ financial strength and promotes infrastructure construction in emerging and developing economies.  


Formal Operation Imminent

The New Development Bank originated in 2012 in the tentative concept of economists Joseph Stiglitz and Nicholas Stern. It was in March 2013, at the fifth BRICS summit in Durban, that the idea was first raised of establishing the BRICS-led bank, a reserve currency pool, and a business council. At the sixth BRICS summit last July in Fortaleza, Brazil, member countries agreed on the decision, published in the Fortaleza Declaration, to establish the development bank. The declaration states that the bank’s headquarters will be in Shanghai, and that the five founding members will contribute equally to its US $50 billion starting capital. It goes on to specify that the bank’s first president will be from India, the first chair of the Board of Governors from Russia, and the first chair of the Board of Directors from Brazil.

Owing to the extensive common interests and solid consensus among member countries, the establishment of and building preparations for the New Development Bank proceeded smoothly, founding members having resolved minor disagreements and technical details. In less than one year, the bank had become reality. A year later, negotiations on such major issues as the location of the bank headquarters, its capital proportions, and post distribution were completed. The first meeting of the temporary board of directors took place in December of 2014 in Istanbul.   

Taking into account the miscellaneous tasks ahead such as organizing leading teams, drawing up administrative regulations, and formulating strategic plans and business policies, we have every reason to believe that the BRICS-led bank will begin its official operations as scheduled in 2016, and commence lending business.


A more Substantive Financial Cooperation Mechanism

The New Development Bank was founded by the five BRICS countries, each of whom has equal status in the bank. It is an international multilateral development bank that serves emerging and developing economies. The bank is committed to promoting economic development in the five BRICS members and in other developing countries, and to improving the world economic governance system. Its focus on extending financial support to infrastructure construction in BRICS countries and in other emerging and developing nations, the New Development Bank is regarded as the BRICS nations’ most substantive financial cooperation project. As the first international multilateral development bank to be established and managed by developing countries, it performs a function similar to that of the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. The bank’s operation mechanism is in accord with the main rules of the international financial order, and its governance structure, operation principles and mechanism with the world mainstream model. Meanwhile, the bank makes systemic, policy, instrumental, and procedural innovations.

The New Development Bank features a three-tier administration framework: the board of governors, the board of directors, and the board of presidents.

The board of governors comprises finance ministers of the BRICS nations. It is the bank’s supreme body and holds monthly meetings. Approval from the board of governors is mandatory for all new members of the bank. The first chair of the board of governors will be from Russia.

The board of directors is the BRICS bank’s decision-making body, and permanently resides at its Shanghai headquarters.

The board of presidents is responsible for managing daily affairs. The presidency will rotate among the founding member countries, in the order of India, Brazil, Russia, South Africa, and China. The four vice presidents are from four other member countries. The tenure for president and vice presidents is five years, and that for the first vice presidents is six years.

Building the New Development Bank promotes the combination in the BRICS nations’ cooperation mechanism of guidelines and principles with practical projects. China has played a vital role throughout this process. As one of bank’s main advocates, China has been proactive in its preparation, building and establishment. Moreover, as a shareholder and host country of the bank’s headquarters, China provides comprehensive support in electing the board of directors and management team in Shanghai. China has also proposed setting up an initial fund of US $100 billion as the contingent reserve, to help member countries cushion balance-of-payment difficulties. China will contribute US $41 billion to the fund, Brazil, India, and Russia will each chip in US $18 billion, and South Africa will put in US $5 billion. As a cooperation mechanism, the Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) will coordinate with and support the New Development Bank.  

Complementary to Existing World and Regional Multilateral Development Banks

The BRICS-led development bank will complement existing global and regional multilateral development banks, and together with them jointly promote world economic development.

Both the New Development Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) are major measures on the part of emerging economies to boost global and Asian infrastructure construction and sustainable development, and to promote global economic governance reform. Taking into account member countries’ practical conditions and development needs, both banks are geared to the huge world demand for infrastructure and sustainable development.  

The New Development Bank complements the AIIB, whose membership includes the BRICS nations. As the country that raised the proposal of establishing the AIIB, and that contributes the largest portion of capital, China will play a bigger role in the AIIB. However, differences exist between the NDB and the AIIB as regards business focus and operation mode. The NDB’s focus is on its five member emerging economies, and will radiate to their neighboring countries. The AIIB serves as an important supporting body for the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiatives, and will coordinate bilateral cooperation between China and other countries. What’s more, both the NDB and the AIIB are complementary to existing global and regional multilateral development banks, especially as regards business and geographic distribution. The aim of both banks is to promote developing countries’ infrastructure construction and sustainable development.

As a useful complement to existing global and regional multilateral financial institutions, the BRICS-led development bank aggregates the financial strengths of its member countries. It will thus inevitably boost international collective financing strength, and so contribute to the infrastructure construction and sustainable development of BRICS nations, as well as to that of other emerging economies and developing countries. Meanwhile, the establishment of the NDB is of great significance to promoting reforms to the global economic governance system. However, after founding, the NDB must also take on multiple challenges, such as striking a balance between efficiency and fairness, complicated competition and cooperation with similar financial institutions, and huge uncertainty as regards financing infrastructure projects. Therefore, time is needed to bring the BRICS-led bank’s actual role into effect.