There is no single agreed deﬁnition of ‘emerging power’, in part because the term has only recently come into common use. However, it is generally agreed that a key characteristic of an emerging power is a growing economy, which gives a state the potential to be an important global actor.
There might be no emerging powers without globalisation. The growing volume of international trade requires the management of trading relations through international organisations, which brings states into closer contact with each other, providing opportunities to exert inﬂuence economically and politically.
A number of states are recognised as emerging powers. As well as the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), there are Argentina, Australia, Indonesia, Iran, Mexico, Nigeria, Poland, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Turkey. The Group of 20, seen by many as the forum through which these countries can exert inﬂuence, is arguably more important than the Group of 7.
Jim O’Neill, the former chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, coined the term ‘BRICS’ as shorthand for the ﬁve major emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The BRICS have met annually since 2009, taking turns to host the event in a different location in the same 5-year cycle, starting with Russia and ending with South Africa. The latter ﬁrst attended in 2010 as a guest, and ﬁrst hosted as a full member in 2013.
The initial BRIC country grouping was controversial, with some of the countries in the group more developed than others, particularly economically. It was also controversial that the group did not initially include any African countries, especially considering that it was supposed to represent newly emerging global powers, and therefore intended to contest the traditional global power hierarchies. This is one of the main reasons behind South Africa’s admission. Nigeria, another African country with dramatic potential for growth, has since been added to the MINT countries, also a term O’Neill coined. The MINT countries represent a similar but more recent grouping to the BRICS, and comprise Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey.
The rise of the BRICS and MINT countries demonstrates the way in which the landscape of international politics is changing. In recent history, the Global North has dominated economic development. However, the twenty-ﬁrst century may see economic and with it political inﬂuence shifting from West to East. The Group of Twenty (G20), unlike the Group of Seven (G7), represents developing as well as developed nations and is increasing in global inﬂuence. In 2015, China established the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), providing a rival centre of economic structural power to the Western-dominated World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF). By around 2020, China is expected to have the largest economy in the world.