CHAPTER THREETHE RACE FOR GLOBAL ECONOMIC POWER3.1 IntroductionThe international political economy system has known a continuous process of change and transformation. Each step taken by humankind in world economic development had winners and losers. Humankind has been under constant change on the way from bipolarism to multipolarism (Dindire, 2012:16).In earlier chapters, we have pointed out that Cold War came to an end in the late-20th century; global affairs became heavily influenced by the United States (US) and its loyal allies. Politically and economically, the US and its allies filled the gap left by the downfall of the Soviet Union and sought to assume the position of the global hegemon. However, in the early-21st century, global affairs were preoccupied with the terror attacks of September 11th and their effects on the global economy as world equity markets lost approximately two trillion US dollars, with 20 of the world’s major stock exchanges dropping more than 10 percent.Against the background of a slowdown in the global economy, the BRICS grouping of large emerging markets was forecasted by Jim O’Neill at Goldman Sachs to grow at a higher rate compared to the G7, which is consists of seven of the world’s advanced economies. Economically; Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) were projected to be “safe places for investors in the 21st century” because of their increasing influence in and share of the global economy (Mielniczuk, 2013: 1075). Jim O’Neill (2001: 1) recognizes that the growth of emerging markets would exceed the growth of the G7, and declared that “world policymaking forums should be reorganized and…be adjusted to incorporate BRIC representatives”.The increased global economic share of the BRICS states would result in increased political power and, therefore, present a challenge to the authority of the Western-dominated developed economies of the G7. Regular meetings between BRIC states began in 2006 as foreign ministers met on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. The ambitions of global partnership by the BRIC states led to an independent meeting of states’ foreign ministers in Russia (DIRCO, 2014). In response to “the four BRIC countries…seeking to form a political club” as evidenced by the meeting in 2008, O’Neill asserted that “Western leaders should take note of that meeting and start to accelerate bringing them into the (then) G8 club and the IMF” (Faulconbridge, 2008). In 2011, the BRIC foreign ministers extended their political and economic reach to the African continent as they welcomed South Africa into the grouping. Ebert and Maurer (2013: 1055) observed, “The emergence of a coalition between Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa has substantiated the assumption of a concerted counter-hegemonic movie…”Despite the efforts by economists, politicians, and scholars to group emerging countries together, Cooper and Flemes maintain that the proliferation of these groups “does not mean that there is any precision in determining which countries are in ascendancy” (Cooper and Flemes, 2013: 945). For example, some scholars suggest that China is the main force to be reckoned with at the global level because it leads the grouping in every indicator (ibid: 949). Other scholars highlight the decline that Russia has experienced since the Cold War, which might suggest that it is as much a declining power as it is an emerging power (MacFarlane, 2006).Despite the variety of actors in the West with differing foreign policy objectives, the West is referred to as a collection of states and organizations that are often perceived as being hegemonic by dominating the global agenda. Challenges against this hegemonic directive by the BRICS states may be directed at global governance institutions, individual states, or policies perceived as Western and may take the form of unilateral or multilateral action. Unilaterally, the BRICS states have their own unique foreign policies regarding their national interests ranging from territorial issues to nuclear capabilities. Cooper and Flemes (2013: 954) suggest that “the most serious drag on the prospects of BRICS being a major force in global governance is…serious differences of values and interests among the group’s members”. Multilaterally, however, states may recognize that, figuratively, an army of many is more capable than an army of one of its challenges against the hegemony of G7. For example, including South Africa, the BRICS states make up “43% of the world’s population, 18% of global trade, and 20% of the world’s GDP” (Mielniczuk, 2013: 1076). These numbers accentuate the influence of the BRICS collective in global affairs and illustrate why this grouping commands the respect of global actors. This unilateral and multilateral approach is important for understanding the variety of challenges by BRICS states to G7. Whether militarily, economically, or politically, the tactics and strategies employed by the BRICS states differ based on their specific capacities, domestic circumstances, and interests. In terms of assessment, this Chapter will examine both the multilateral efforts of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa to increase their share of power in global affairs and G7 countries to preserve, promote and hype their ‘global power throne’.Whether challenges to the hegemony of G7 are voiced rhetorically or take the form of overt action, it is important to recognize that these emerging states are pushing for more of the global spotlight. In order to examine the diplomatic power ambitions and individual challenges to the hegemony of G7, this chapter is organized into various sections before concluding. The sections will seek to provide a fundamental, yet not complete, review of key challenges directed against the hegemony of G7 by Brazil, Russia, India, and China in the 21st century.In conclusion, this chapter will revisit and assess the variety of efforts taken by the BRICS states to increase their power share in global economic affairs and challenge the hegemony of G7. To compare economic potential and competitiveness of the BRICS and the G7 countries, this study decided to use the World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Index (WEFGCI) defined indicators and focused on the following five factors: economic growth, market size, savings and investment, labor force with science and engineering education background, and innovation (i.e. patent application) from the three main sub-indexes. Most of the data were collected from secondary sources. For example, FDI data were collected from the UNCTAD database, and science and engineering graduates’ data from the National Science Foundation and the OECD databases. Descriptive statistics, mainly, the percentage and index analysis were used to compare and evaluate the data. To assess the economic and business potential of different national economies, percentage and index analysis are widely used by other researchers and are well-accepted tools of analysis. Previous comparative studies on the BRICS countries also used the same percentage and index analyses to exemplify findings and to illustrate tentative conclusions (Aggarwal, 2013; Armijo, 2007; Ardichvili et al., 2012, Luckhurst, 2013). Data from these different sources is compiled and presented in tabular form to provide logical support of the arguments. In addition to the analysis of the secondary data, the study also used information from academic journals, newspaper articles, and research reports published by different research organizations. Finally, some information from the websites of both public and private agencies indicating the growth and constraints of the G7 and the BRICS were also collected and used in this study.