World Markets

An Economic Overview of the BRICS Countries

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Credit: Photo by Christine Roy on Unsplash

Back in 2001, a paper by Jim O’Neill titled, “Building Better Global Economic BRICs,” highlighted the growth potential of Brazil, Russia, India and China, which then constituted 8.03% of the global GDP.

The paper suggested, “In line with these prospects, world policymaking forums should be re-organized and in particular, the G7 should be adjusted to incorporate BRIC representatives.” More than two decades later, BRICS (joined by South Africa in 2010) commands 26% of the global GDP.

However, if we look deeper, the economic health of the member nations has been mixed. Here’s an economic overview of the nations constituting BRICS.


2003: 14

2013: 7

2023: 10

2028: 8

Brazil, the largest economy in Latin America, is poised to be the tenth-largest economy in 2023 with a GDP size of $2.08 trillion as per IMF estimates, moving up one spot from its 2022 ranking. Brazil’s GDP is projected to be $2.75 trillion by 2028, making it the eight-largest in the world. Brazil is home to more than 60% of the Amazon rainforest, the largest tropical forest in the world. Driven by rising global demand, strong prices and technological advances, Brazil’s agricultural production has grown rapidly over the past two decades. Brazil is well known for its coffee production. In addition to coffee, it is a leading exporter of soybeans, corn, sugar, meat and ethanol. Brazil has struggled with multiple problems (such as public corruption scandals, political issues, inflation and employment, and income inequality) over the recent years, and thus despite favorable demographics, the structural bottlenecks held back its growth potential resulting in an average GDP growth of just 0.6% over the past decade. Brazil is classified as an upper middle-income nation as per the World Bank. 


2003: 16

2013: 8

2023: 11

2028: 11

Russia is the largest country in the world, and it represents 11% of the world’s land mass. Russia was the eighth-largest economy in 2022 with a GDP of $2.21 trillion. While the firm crude oil prices along with redirection of crude exports have supported the Russian economy, the economic damage of its ongoing war with Ukraine will shrink its economy by $152.65 billion in 2023. The contraction will push Russia out of the top ten global economies list. The country is categorized as an ‘upper middle-income’ economy by the World Bank. Russia is the largest member of OPEC+ both in terms of proven oil reserves and GDP size. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), Russia is the world’s third-largest producer of petroleum and other liquids behind the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. Russia has been working towards diversifying its economy to reduce dependence on oil and gas exports. In 2021, it set an ambitious target to increase the share of non-commodity and non-energy exports by at least 70% by 2030.


2003: 12

2013: 10

2023: 5

2028: 3

India is the world’s largest democracy and a bright spot amid a scenario of global economic uncertainties with strong macroeconomic fundamentals, fiscal discipline, high saving rates, robust domestic demand, demographic trends and political stability. The government has remained committed to increasing capital spending, particularly on infrastructure, to boost growth and competitiveness. India overtook the United Kingdom to be the world’s fifth-largest economy in 2022. India is a domestic consumption-led economy with exports contributing roughly 20% to its GDP. Over the years, the rising middle class and corresponding shift in spending pattern have strengthened its consumption. India’s nominal GDP for 2023, which is assessed at $3.76 trillion, is poised to be $5.57 trillion by 2028 based on IMF estimates, which will make India the third-largest economy in the world. India is a lower middle-income nation as per the World Bank. According to a recent EY report, Indian economy will reach GDP size of $26 trillion by 2047, with a six-fold increase in its per capita GDP which would cross $15,000, the 100th year of the country’s independence.


2003: 6

2013: 2

2023: 2

2028: 2

China’s GDP for 2023 is projected at $19.37 trillion, which will be equivalent to 18.43% of the global GDP. By 2028, China’s GDP is estimated to touch $27.5 trillion, which will be 20.5% of the global GDP share. China is an upper middle-income country as per the World Bank classification. China’s reopening after the COVID-19 outbreak took longer than the rest of the world, which dampened its growth at 3% in 2022. Further, declining property sales and real estate investment posed a drag on economic activity last year. Growth is expected to rebound at 5.2% in 2023 and 4.5% in 2024, generating positive spillovers to its trading partners and providing fresh momentum for growth in the region. While China’s real estate sector has shown early signs of stabilization in 2023, its economy remains vulnerable as “the real estate and construction sectors account for about one-fifth of final demand absorption and a significant fraction of lending”, according to an IMF report. “Over the medium term, China’s economy continues to confront a structural slowdown,” according to the World Bank.

South Africa

2003: 29

2013: 31

2023: 39

2028: 42

The transition to democracy since the mid-1990s provided a boost to South Africa on many counts; however, the country has witnessed stagnation in the last decade and continues to face several challenges. The acute power shortage, inefficiencies in state-owned enterprises and presence of a huge dual economy continue to weigh on its economic growth. According to the World Bank, “Electricity supply shortages have constrained South Africa’s growth for several years. Rolling scheduled power cuts (load-shedding) started in 2007 and have intensified exponentially, reaching close to 9 hours daily in 2022.” The electricity shortage has negatively affected all sectors of the economy. South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered the State of the Nation Address for 2023 on 9 February 2023, where he listed out the priority areas of 2023 starting with restoration of energy security, growth of economy and jobs, building better lives, fighting corruption and more efficient government machinery. South Africa’s GDP is estimated at $399.01 billion in 2023 and is expected to expand to $468.56 billion by 2028. South Africa is classified as an upper middle-income nation by the World Bank.

Disclaimer: The author has no position in any stocks mentioned. Investors should consider the above information not as a de facto recommendation, but as an idea for further consideration. The report has been carefully prepared, and any exclusions or errors in it are totally unintentional. GDP data on World Bank and IMF WEO April 2023. Gross domestic product is in current prices (U.S. dollars).

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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Prableen Bajpai

Prableen Bajpai is the founder of FinFix Research and Analytics which is an all women financial research and wealth management firm. She holds a bachelor (honours) and master’s degree in economics with a major in econometrics and macroeconomics. Prableen is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA, ICFAI) and a CFP®.

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