A 2008 visa-free travel agreement between Russia and Brazil came into effect earlier this month, spurring tourism and closer ties between the two BRIC countries. In an e-mail interview, Oliver Stuenkel, a fellow with the Global Public Policy Institute, discusses the potential for commercial and political cooperation among BRIC member states.
WPR: What is the current state of trade and visa restrictions between BRIC countries?
Oliver Stuenkel: Since June 2010, Brazilian and Russian tourists do not need visas to pass or stay on the countries' territories up to 90 days within each six-month-period from the first entry. This does not apply to those who seek to receive education or seek employment. This agreement between Russia and Brazil is still the exception, as both Indians and Chinese citizens need to apply for a visa prior traveling to Brazil and vice versa. The same is true for visa rules between China and India, India and Russia, and Russia and China.
While trade between the BRIC countries has recently increased sharply, especially between China the other three members, there remain formidable obstacles to better economic cooperation. For example, Chinese companies are regularly barred from investing in India on the grounds that they pose a security threat, although there are signs that India will ease some restrictions.