José Juan Sanchez
JOHANNESBURG - The reputation and profile of nations in today's world can be affected by a multitude of internal and external dynamics.

Internal governance, economic profile and performance, business competence and confidence, societal features such as culture and quality of people all play a role in shaping a nation brand's reputation.

While such internal factors shape the nation brand from the inside out, the contribution a nation makes to international affairs and global governance impacts significantly on how international audiences receive and ultimately perceive such a nation.

This then begs the question as to how important the brand of BRICS - the bloc of developing nations including Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - is for South Africa?

When we seek to assess the perceived value the BRICS brand holds for member nations, we use many lenses through which to develop such an analysis.

In its 10th summit this year, evidence suggests that the value of BRICS lies in its institutionalisation, and increasing global recognition of BRICS as an emerging institution of global governance. This means the value for members lies in increasing and deepening institutionalised interactions and increased influence in global affairs through association with the bigger BRICS brand.

So it follows that determining the value of belonging to a brand such as BRICS can give us an indication of how important it is that South Africa belongs to such a forum.

Key measures include the emergence of BRICS as an institution in the global governance arena; its capacity to deliver on key objectives and how it is able to use "soft power" - the persuasive approach to international relations, typically involving the use of economic or cultural influence.

Of course, the world today is vastly different to the world of 2001, when the term "BRIC" was coined by then chairperson of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, Jim O’Neill, as an acronym for four countries that were all deemed to be at a similar stage of newly advanced economic development.

Since 2009, when BRIC held its first summit, and 2010 when South Africa joined the organisation, transforming its acronym to BRICS, the global order has undergone a seismic shift with the role of bloc simultaneously evolving.

Today's global political landscape is increasingly characterised by isolationism and protectionism by the developed nations - one in which open, free and unrestricted world trade is under threat. Against this backdrop, BRICS has undergone a transformative process evolving into far more than an economic club.

Indeed, some analysts would argue that in an ironic twist of geopolitical fate, the five developing nations that make up BRICS are becoming the protectors of free global trade, advocates of globalisation, activists for protection of the global climate and a force that advances the cause of a just, equitable and integrated multi-polar international order.

Within this context, BRICS is increasingly seen as a symbol of global collaboration in a volatile geopolitical and international economic arena.

Considering that the individual nation brands of the BRICS members all play a major role in their respective regions and globally, the collective impact of co-operation among these members has naturally driven the growth of the collective BRICS brand. China's economy is valued at $10209bn (ranked 2nd in the world); Brazil at $798bn (18th); India at $2 046bn (8th); Russia at $832bn (17th) and South Africa at $222bn (43rd).

This increasingly positive reputation stems from a number of achievements. First, BRICS and its member states are distinguishing themselves as actors seeking an equitable system of global political and economic collaboration.

Second, the bloc’s increasing institutionalisation has also formalised its operations and made it easy to track deliverables. Since inception, there have been more than 160 formal meetings between BRICS members and 60 documents have been adopted and implemented through various working groups and co-ordination mechanisms. In fact, between 2009 and 2017, the BRICS nations made a total of 406 commitments.

Further, the BRICS Research Group (University of Toronto) found a high level of compliance by BRICS members when it comes to implementing summit decisions. On average, they found that BRICS members implemented 70percent of summit decisions - indicating a high level of commitment to making BRICS a reality.

As a relatively young multilateral organisation, the high compliance levels by member states is a positive indicator.

Scepticism about the capacity of the BRICS members to overcome individual differences and to deliver therefore seems misplaced. Given the short time the organisation took to create a complex multilateral mechanism such as the New Development Bank, for example, BRICS has surprised observers with its successes and clear focus in making its decisions tangible in an institutional form.

South Africa, like its co-members of BRICS, stands to benefit from its association with this increasingly powerful BRICS brand in terms of trade and economic interactions. It stands poised to reap the rewards of belonging to an influential global brand that promotes global economic participation in the context of growing protectionism.

Dr Petrus de Kock is the general manager: Research at Brand South Africa.

The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.