The acronym BRIC refers to Brazil, Russia, India and China, which are seen as the four major emerging economies in the developed world. China especially is viewed as the economic powerhouse likely to dominate the next century. Although the impact of these emerging economies is often portrayed as negative to the developed world, they do provide some vital services which help not only their own economies but the global economy as a whole.
Manufacturing has been slumping for decades in Europe and North America due to the increasing price of raw materials and labour. These jobs have been replaced by high-tech engineering, but there is still a demand for heavy industry, which has now moved to the BRIC economies. Labor costs are much less in these countries and the raw materials can be imported cheaply. The main criticism is that many workers in these countries would be classified as slave labour in the developed world.
Financial services is currently the dominating industry in the developed world. The BRIC economies have provided businesses with fantastic investment opportunities that have helped stabilise share prices during the economic downturn and offer a growth market, which is necessary for the U.S. to revitalise its economy.
Europe and America for decades possessed a vast majority of the world's wealth and a fraction of the consumers. As the economies of the BRIC nations have improved, so has the buying power of its citizens. This has led to much greater exporting opportunities to these countries for goods produced in the U.S. Trade has also seen many brand names and stores expanding into Asia and South America to fill a gap not yet occupied by domestic service providers.
The global economic downturn has hit the developed nations the hardest since they relied heavily on financial services. The BRIC countries, which are more manufacturing based, were able to ride out the troubles and are currently expanding rapidly. There has been huge overseas investment by these countries to secure natural resources and trade deals. China especially is heavily invested in African nations where it is trading cash for oil drilling rights and preferential trade bargains. In theory, this should lead to improved economic conditions in Africa.