What is BRIC? What countries does BRIC stand for?

BRIC is an acronym for “Brazil, Russia, India, and China”.

In 2003 Goldman Sachs issued a report which predicted that by 2050 the four BRIC economies would be wealthier than most of the current major economic powers.

All these nations share some the following characteristics:

  • A large population
  • Vast territory with an abundance of natural resources
  • Impressive GDP growth and world trade

Mexico and South Korea are the only countries which are comparable to the BRICs, however, they are excluded as they are already members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

BRICJim O’Neill, global economist at Goldman Sachs, coined the term “BRIC”

BRIC countries are estimated to account for over 40% of the world population. Some years ago, they were predicted to have a combined GDP greater than that of the US and European Union jointly by 2050. However, Brazil’s and Russia’s economies have entered a recession, while China’s GDP growth has slowed down considerably.


BRIC countries are among the most powerful countries in the world.

BRIC countries:


BrazilPresident Dilma Rousseff.

Brazil is by far the largest economy in South America. The country’s agricultural, manufacturing, and mining sectors account for most of Brazil’s economy. After the turn of the century, the country enjoyed impressive economic growth for more than a decade. Recently, however, serious problems have emerged, including the Petrobras scandal.

Population: 201,009,622 (July 2013 estimate)
Population growth rate: 0.83 percent
Labor force: 105.7 million (2012 estimate)
GDP (PPP): $2.394 trillion (2012 estimate)
GDP – real growth rate: 0.9 percent (2012), 2.7 percent (2011), and 7.5 percent (2010)
Exports: $242.6 billion (2012 estimate)
Imports: $223.2 billion (2012 estimate)
External debt: $438.9 billion (31 December 2012 estimate)
Public debt: 58.8% of GDP (2012 estimate)
Defense budget: 1.3 percent of GDP (2012)


RussiaPresident Vladimir Putin.

After years of communism the Russian Federation is no longer a globally-isolated nation. The country has drifted from a centralized economy to a market-based economy with a global vision. Since the first half of 2014, Russia’s economy has slowed down significantly, mainly due to a fall in oil prices and economic sanctions imposed by the US, Canada, the EU and other allies.

Population: 142,500,482 (July 2013 estimate)
Population growth rate: -0.02% (2013 estimate)
Labor force: 75.68 million (2012 estimate)
GDP (PPP): $2.555 trillion (2012 estimate)
GDP – real growth rate: 3.4 percent (2012), 4.3 percent (2011), and 4.5 percent (2010).
Exports: $528 billion (2012 estimate)
Imports: $335.7 billion (2012 estimate)
External debt: $631.8 billion (31 December 2012 estimate)
Public debt: 58.8% of GDP (2012 estimate)
Defense budget: 3.9 percent of GDP (2012)


IndiaPrime Minister Narendra Modi.

A little over fifty percent of India’s labor force is in the agricultural sector. However, the country’s main source of economic growth comes from services (making up almost 66 percent of the country’s total output).

According to Fortune magazine columnist Ian Bremmer “Change has come to India, the lone BRIC country that’s worth holding on to.”

Population: 1,220,800,359 (July 2013 estimate)
Population growth rate: 1.28% (2013 estimate)
Labor force: 482.3 million (2012 estimate)
GDP (PPP): $4.761 trillion (2012 estimate)
GDP – real growth rate: 6.5 percent (2012), 7.7 percent (2011), and 11.2 percent (2010).
Exports: $301.9 billion (2012 estimate)
Imports: $503.5 billion (2012 estimate)
External debt: $378.9 billion (31 December 2012 estimate)
Public debt: 51.7% of GDP (2012 estimate)
Defense budget: 1.8 percent of GDP (2012)


ChinaPresident Xi Jinping.

China became the world’s greatest exporter in 2010. After years of a very centralized economy China is beginning to adopt a much more “market-oriented” economy. Over the past 18 months, GDP growth has slowed down. There is concern about the financial health of many Chinese banks.

Population: 1,349,585,838  (July 2013 estimate)
Population growth rate: 0.46 percent (2013 estimate)
Labor force: 798.5 million (2012 estimate)
GDP (PPP): $12.61 trillion (2012 estimate)
GDP – real growth rate: 7.8 percent (2012), 9.3 percent (2011), and 10.4 percent (2010).
Exports: $1.971 trillion (2012 estimate)
Imports: $1.653 billion (2012 estimate)
External debt: $728.9 billion (31 December 2012 estimate)
Public debt: 31.7% of GDP (2012 estimate)
Defense budget: 2.6 percent of GDP (2012)

The future of BRIC countries

The Economist recently stated that a “great deceleration” could occur. The economies of China and India dropped from double-digit growth rates prior to the financial crisis to only single digit figures.

However, Ruchir Sharma, the head of emerging markets and global macro at Morgan Stanley Investment Management, told the Economist:

“This cooling phase will be particularly dramatic, because of the unprecedented scope and pace of the boom in the last decade. Starting with the highly accommodative American monetary policy stance in 2003, in response to the tech bust, a tide of easy money fueled a new investor enthusiasm for emerging nations that in turn had cleaned up their act following the serial crises that had afflicted many of them in the 1990s.”

He added:

“Over the next four years, the average annual GDP growth rate in emerging nations doubled to 7.5%. By 2007, with three small exceptions, every economy in the emerging world was growing, and more than 100 were growing faster than 5%. This kind of synchronized global boom had never happened before, so far as the records show, and it is not likely to happen again.”

Infographic – the BRIC economies

BRIC economies