Brazil, the Russian Federation, India and China (coined under the acronym BRIC at the end of 2001) are alongside the United States of America (USA), Canada, Japan, Mexico and South Africa the strategic partners of the European Union (EU). Although the relationships between the EU and each of the four largest emerging economies in the world have a common backbone - the bilateral trade and investment flows - each one bears its own particularities. In this article, our purpose is to explore the strategic partnerships between the EU and the BRIC countries with emphasis on the economic pillar of the EU-BRIC cooperation framework. In our investigation, we will start with the analysis of the "BRIC mechanism", continue with a short presentation of the particularities of the individual relationships between the EU and each BRIC country, and conclude with emphasising the EU role in the process of modernization of these economies.
Keywords: EU-27, BRIC, emerging economies, strategic partnership, trade and investment flows.
JEL classification: F50, F59, O24, O52-O54, O57.
1. The "BRIC mechanism"
Since 2001, the international experts have used the "BRIC" acronym in order to define the group of countries including From an Brazil, Russia, India and China 1. institutional point of view, the alliance of the most powerful emerging economies of the planet is looked at with circumspection. It was asserted that BRIC were the only worldwide group first prefigured "in the minds of economic analysts", and only subsequently turned into "practical reality"2. Nevertheless, after two high level summits (Ekaterinburg, June 16, 2009 and Brasilia, April 15, 2010) and the official invitation addressed to South Africa to attend the third summit (which took place on the April 16, 2011 in Sanya, China), equivalent to a first enlargement of the BRIC group, we can assert that the "BRIC mechanism" works.
In a parenthesis, we underline that the invitation of the largest African country to join the BRIC group should be linked, on the one side, with China's need of commodities and, on the other side, with the South Africa's role as a "gate" to the African market. This geostrategic point of view is also emphasized through statistics: South Africa (by all means an emerging economy) ranks only the 28th in the hierarchy of countries taking into consideration the GDP in current prices and, besides, it does not belong to the group of the Next-11 or N-11 3 , therefore the rethorical question: why should it be invited to join the BRIC group before countries like Mexico or Turkey?
But this step is surely the first one to pave the way towards other enlargements, as the BRIC countries represent the core of an alternative G-8: that of the emerging countries, in search for a common stronger voice on the international stage.
The BRIC countries had in 2010 a cumulative share of 40% in the total population of the planet, almost 18% in the global GDP (in comparison with the US, having a share of 19%), 16% in the international trade and 40% in the global foreign exchange reserves. Nevertheless, the IMF statistics indicate that, in 2015, the BRIC's share in the world GDP (22%) will surpass that of the USA (21%).
Although the BRIC economies are not deeply integrated with each other, China is considered to be the "mortar"? of the BRIC(S). Among the countries in the world, China is the trade partner number one for Brazil, Russia, India (and South Africa), even though the EU, as entity, represents the main trading partner of each BRIC(S) country (Wessel, Prada, 2011, DG Trade, 2010).
In the hierarchy of the world countries in terms of GDP (at current prices), China surpassed Japan in 2010, and ranks second, after the USA 4 . In addition, in 2010, China became the largest world producer of goods, bringing the supremacy cycle of the USA during 1895-2010 to an end. In 2010, China concentrated about 19. …