Two important events occurred last week. One was the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, S. Africa) summit that ended on Aug. 24, and they announced membership expansion to six other countries starting January 2024. No. 2 was the start of Federacion International de Basketball (FIBA) World Cup on Aug. 25 at the Philippine Arena.
BRICS EXPANSIONThe original five BRICS member-countries were already huge in population. With the addition of six more countries, the bloc will now be called BRICS-11 and would have a combined population of 3.64 billion people as of 2022 — a huge consumer market.
— Table 1 compares some basic economic and energy data on BRICS, the expanded members, G7 industrialized countries and the ASEAN-6. Here are the basic facts as of 2022.
One, in terms of population, BRICS-11 is 4.7x larger than G7 and 6.1x larger than ASEAN-6.
Two, in GDP size, G7 is still larger than BRICS-11 in nominal values but in purchasing power parity (PPP) values, it is 1.2x larger than G7. The Philippines is now a trillion-dollar economy in PPP values along with Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia.
Three, in total electricity generation, BRICS-11 is 1.8x larger than G7. China alone with 8,849 terawatt-hours (TWH) is larger than G7 combined. This is mainly because BRICS and ASEAN countries have significantly expanded their conventional fossil fuel plants, while G7 has pulled back.
Four, oil consumption of BRICS-11 at 34.4 million barrels per day (bpd) is now larger than G7. In ASEAN-6, Singapore and Thailand have nearly three times each larger than the Philippines. They are huge airport and international trading hubs in the region.
Five, in proven oil reserves, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are OPEC-member countries and now that they are with BRICS-11, their combined oil reserves of 709 billion barrels are three times larger than G7. One would say that BRICS expansion is primarily an energy security project, and secondarily an economic integration project.
Six, in coal consumption the original BRICS (except Brazil, which is mainly hydro) with 115,600 petajoules (PJ) have powered their GDP expansion and electricity generation mainly from coal, while G7 countries have significantly pulled back from coal. Check my Aug. 17 column titled “Energy realism: Decarbonization and deindustrialization.” Good thing that ASEAN-6 has a similar energy policy as the original BRICS except Singapore, which is mainly using other fossil fuels — oil-gas (see Table 1).
The long-term economic and energy implications of BRICS-11, which may become BRICS-20, etc. in the coming years, is more energy security for them and their economic allies, more stable energy and consumer prices. The G7 and allies with their continued anti-fossil fuels and decarbonization rhetoric will likely continue their high energy and consumer prices. The Philippines and other developing countries should stay away from the G7 and western climate and energy agenda, prioritize faster economic growth and job creation for its people.
FIBA WORLD CUPThe FIBA Basketball World Cup is held every four years. The first and last time the Philippines hosted it was in 1978 or 45 years ago. This year, the Philippines through the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) is co-hosting it with Japan and Indonesia for the group elimination games, but the quarterfinals to final games will be hosted only by the Philippines.
I watched the opening games at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan on Aug. 25. I brought my 12-year-old daughter Bien Mary and two Filipino-German boys Simon and Luis, sons of our friends who live in Bavaria, Germany and now on vacation here.
The crowd was huge — more than 38,000 — a new attendance record in FIBA World Cup history. The previous record was about 32,600 in Canada in 1994. My daughter, who does not watch basketball, became an instant fan of the game. Simon and Luis were surprisingly happy to see for the first time a World Cup basketball live — the entertainment between the games, the atmosphere and energy of Gilas Pilipinas fans and the games of the four teams/countries. They said they will not forget the day and they have shared their experience and observations with their friends in Germany and other countries.
Experiences like these can be translated into more tourism and more good vibes about the Philippine economy. Kudos to SBP for hosting the FIBA World Cup and hats off to SBP President Al Panlilio and SBP Chairman Emeritus and member of the Central Board of the FIBA, Manuel V. Pangilinan or MVP. Good job, sirs.
When foreign visitors watch live international sports competitions like FIBA games, they watch not only the games and the arena; they also see our hotels, our malls, our musicians, dance troupes and other entertainers. They see the country and the always-smiling Filipinos. Tourism later translates into trade and investments, economic growth and job creation.
Because of our geography — detached from mainland Asia, an archipelago that requires flight-hopping from one big island to other islands — plus other factors, our tourism arrivals are not as big as those in Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam (Table 2).
Tour de France is the most popular sport in the world in terms of live audience, estimated at 23 million people on the roads for three weeks. The last French cyclists who won the Tour were Bernard Hinault and Laurent Fignon in 1978-1985 except 1980. All other winners in the past three decades were from other countries. But Tour de France continues mainly because of the sports tradition and tourism revenues, and not so much hoping that another French cyclist or team will win the Tour.
Same for hosting this FIBA tournament — the goal should be to help boost tourism and investments in the country. So far, Gilas Pilipinas has lost their two games with the Dominican Republic and Angola. Our players did their best, but the two other teams played better. Nonetheless, it is the hosting of the FIBA games that matters more than our team winning the games.
I like this observation by Joe Zaldariaga in his column “Sports: A game changer for the economy” (Philippine Star, Aug. 10). He wrote:
“The hosting of this event is more than a celebration of basketball as a cherished national passion; it’s an invitation from the Philippines to the world. As the nation welcomes the international basketball community, it sends a clear signal that it’s ready to step onto the global stage as a prime destination for international business.”
Bienvenido S. Oplas, Jr. is the president of Bienvenido S. Oplas, Jr. Research Consultancy Services, and Minimal Government Thinkers.