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Natalia Khmelevskaya

BRICS’ Sustainable Development Dialog: Framing Contours to a Common Agenda through the Intragroup Trade

2018. Vol. 13. No. 4. P. 74–95 [issue contents]

This article explores the formation of multilateral dialogue among the BRICS grouping of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa to address the problems of development quality based on the most demonstrative sphere of the countries’ economic cooperation — mutual trade.

The foreign policy contour of the BRICS dialogue is a shared responsibility and stems from national obligations within the United Nations (UN) system, the World Trade Organization (WTO) and other international fora. As it connects with development strategies in different environments and at different paces, the convergence of the positions taken by BRICS members both within and outside the forum is in line with their domestic economic priorities, and hence multilateral cooperation mechanisms are included in national development plans. The external economic contour poses similar restrictions on internal development — agricultural and manufacturing industries based on the exploitation of natural resources, the use of dirty fuels, ecologically intensive exports and the general need to preserve and restore the resource base.

Analytically, this study is based on the quantitative parameters of intra-BRICS trade from 2009–2017, the BRICS export resource-intensity indicators and non-tariff restrictions statistics. Maintaining relatively similar and generally low tariffs in raw materials sectors, BRICS countries regulate the turnover of “green” goods within the group through technical barriers, price control measures and quality standards, maintaining a consistently high share of environmentally intensive raw materials. At the same time, given the differentiation of BRICS countries in terms of quality of growth and sensitivity to external shocks, some of them seek to diversify their exports (oil and petroleum products from Russia and China), while others protect local producers (agricultural products from Brazil and Russia), and take “green economy” measures as a substitute for higher tariffs for environmentally friendly goods to help retain markets.


Khmelevskaya N. (2018) BRICS’ Sustainable Development Dialog: Framing Contours to a Common Agenda through the Intragroup Trade. International Organisations Research Journal, vol. 13, no 4, pp. 74-95 (in English). DOI: 10.17323/1996-7845-2018-04-04.

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