"BRIC" was invented in 2001 as a convenient shorthand for four key countries: Brazil, Russia, India, China. The country grouping was considered appropriate as their economies were at a similar stage of development, on their way to becoming developed countries. These were the countries that had come to symbolise the shift in global economic power away from the developed G7 economies

The group was typically rendered as "the BRIC," "the BRIC countries," or "the BRIC economies." The original aim of grouping the BRIC countries was the establishment of an equitable, democratic and multi-polar world order, but later the group became a political organisation. In 2009 the leaders of the four BRIC countries held their first summit. On 24 December 2010 South Africa was added to the group and so BRIC became BRICS.

The catchy term was coined by economist Jim O'Neill (born 17 March 1957), a British economist who is a former chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management. Since 2008, O'Neill has written monthly columns for international media organization Project Syndicate. On 28 May 2015, he was created a Life Peer with the title Baron O'Neill of Gatley, and took up an unpaid post in the British government as the Commercial Secretary to the Treasury.

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