On Thursday, the five BRICS emerging countries announced that they would accept Saudi Arabia, Iran, Ethiopia, Egypt, Argentina, and the United Arab Emirates. This decision was made in an effort to increase the bloc’s influence as it works to rebalance the existing global order.
The expansion may potentially open the door for dozens more nations to apply for membership in the organisation, which has promised to address their complaints about an international order that many believe is biased against them.
Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa are the current members of the acronym BRICS, which a Goldman Sachs economist created.
Beijing and Moscow are working to make the BRICS a strong counterbalance to the West in response to the growing geopolitical polarisation caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and China’s deteriorating ties with the US.
Cyril Ramaphosa, the president of South Africa, who is holding a summit of BRICS leaders, declared that “BRICS has embarked on a new chapter in its effort to build a world that is fair, a world that is just, and a world that is also inclusive and prosperous.”
So far, only three African countries have joined the BRICS
On January 1, 2024, the six candidate nations will formally join. Both Ramaphosa and Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva kept the door open for future consideration by other nations.
Ramaphosa stated during a media briefing that “we have consensus on the first phase of this expansion process, and other phases will follow.”
President Mohammed bin Zayed of the United Arab Emirates, whose nation is already a stakeholder in the bloc’s New Development Bank, expressed his gratitude for being included in the enlargement.
The decision by the BRICS leaders to ask Ethiopia to join was hailed as “a great moment” by Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
Balance world order?
As a sign of the bloc’s expanding power, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was there for the announcement of the extension on Thursday.
He backed the BRICS’s ongoing call for reforms in organisations like the Reality Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the U.N. Security Council, saying that these organisations “reflect yesterday’s world.”
“Multilateral institutions must change to reflect the power and economic realities of the modern world if they are to stay really global. Fragmentation is inevitable in the absence of such change, the speaker asserted.
The main topic on the agenda for the three-day summit in Johannesburg is the discussion of expansion. While all of the BRICS nations officially stated their support for the bloc’s expansion, there were disagreements among the presidents as to how soon and by how much.
Even though the BRICS countries account for nearly 40% of the world’s population and a quarter of its gross domestic product, the group has long struggled to make a significant impact on the political and economic landscapes of the world.
China’s President Xi Jinping stated in remarks made after the announcement on enlargement that “this membership expansion is historic.” “It demonstrates the BRICS countries’ commitment to cooperation and unity with the larger developing countries.”
According to South African officials, more than 40 nations have indicated interest in joining the BRICS, and 22 have formally requested admission.
They represent a diverse group of prospective candidates drawn to the BRICS by their pledge to rebalance international organisations now dominated by the United States and other affluent Western governments. Their main motivation is a desire to level the playing field for all nations.