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While the term was first coined in the paper “The World Needs Better Economic BRICs” published in 2001 by Jim O’Neill, global economist at Goldman Sachs, the acronym has come to prominence ever since the 2003 Goldman Sachs report predicting that BRICs would become the leaders of world economy. According to Goldman Sachs, by 2050, the combined economies of the “Big Four” will top the combined economies of the current richest countries, because of the rapid growth they are witnessing.

Brazil, Russia, India and China cover some 25 per cent of the land and approximately 40 per cent of the population in the world and are the fastest and biggest emerging markets.

The four countries are not organised in a political-economic entity such as the European Union or ASEAN, but they do have plenty of agreements and accords and there are indications that they are on their way to forming an alliance, whether formal or informal. In the summer of 2009 the BRICs held their first summit in Russia and issued a common declaration on the establishment of a multi-polar, democratic, world order. Furthermore, they have taken steps to influence US positions on major issues.

For many companies, the four largest emerging economies represent very good expansion opportunities due to low wages and production costs. The 2003 Goldman Sachs report indicates that India and China could become the world’s biggest providers of services and manufactured goods, while Russia and Brazil could easily turn into the main suppliers of raw material.