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BRICS Summit Reignites De-Dollarization Debate at Critical Time for US

2 mins
Updated by Geraint Price
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In Brief

  • BRICS leaders gather in South Africa to discuss de-dollarization and funding developments with local currencies.
  • Discussions around adopting a common currency for international trade have occurred; South Africa resists reducing dollar use.
  • Despite countries like China and Brazil dumping the US dollar for trade, BRICS leaders insist the dollar's role won't diminish soon.
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Leaders from the economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (BRICS) are gathering in South Africa for the 15th summit to discuss de-dollarization. Several leaders insist the goal is not an anti-West tirade but a means to reduce the dollar’s role in international trade.

South Africa’s finance minister told reporters the quest is to fund developments in BRICS countries with local money. Long-term, the bloc leaders want to increase trade in their own currencies.

BRICS Leaders Won’t Reduce Dollar Use For Now

In addition, there have been discussions around a common currency they could adopt for international trade. So far, South Africa has resisted withdrawing from SWIFT and reducing its use of the dollar.

De-dollarization efforts are unlikely to unseat the dollar from its dominance in international trade.
US dollar still dominates SWIFT payments | Source: Statista

In April, China and Brazil dumped the US dollar to conduct international trade in their respective currencies. Two months later, sanctions against Russia prompted China to explore expanding the renminbi’s use in international trade.

Around the same time, India and Malaysia agreed to settle international trade with the Indian rupee. Conducting business in local currencies eliminates the need for dollar conversion.

Despite their discussions, BRICS leaders insist the dollar’s role will not diminish soon.

US Fiddling Makes Countries Nervous

Much of the dollar’s dominance comes from its stable value, the strength of the US economy, and the country’s geopolitical power. At a 1944 meeting in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, global delegates made the greenback the standard for international exchange rates.

Countries could regulate buy or sell their currencies if they deviated from the dollar. The Bretton Woods Agreement also christened the dollar as the world’s gold-backed reserve currency.

When President Nixon severed the dollar’s gold backing in 1971, global currencies no longer had a reliable peg to fix exchange rates. Instead of the precious metal, many international forces in politics and finance set the dollar rate countries can benchmark their currencies against.

Read more about the US banking crisis here.

In June, BNP Paribas SA said market conditions are ripe for a slow demise of the US dollar. Recent strained geopolitical ties, soaring national debt, and the collapses of several banking institutions this year have tested the greenback’s resilience.

A new poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found only 36% of US adults support President Joe Biden’s economic leadership. 

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David Thomas
David Thomas, a seasoned electronic engineer with nine years of expertise, has built a distinguished career by combining his passion for writing with an in-depth understanding of...