BRICS leaders to discuss expansion as Global South countries line up to join

Xinhua
6 Min Read
South African officials have said the country expects more opportunities and greater cooperation from the 15th BRICS Summit to be held from Tuesday to Thursday in Johannesburg, South Africa.

 The upcoming 2023 BRICS summit logo features a sun that beams light in five colours: green, blue, orange, red and yellow, representing the current five members of the group.

This year’s summit, to be held in South Africa from Aug. 22 to 24, champions the theme “Partnership for Mutually Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development and Inclusive Multilateralism.”

That spirit, BRICS officials say, has sparked the interest of some 40 countries from the Global South in joining the group.

GROWING INTEREST

At the forthcoming summit, leaders are expected to discuss the BRICS group’s expansion, including the admission criteria and the guiding principles, Carlos Maria Correa, executive director of the South Center, told Xinhua in a recent interview.

“Twenty-two countries have formally approached BRICS countries to become full members. There’s an equal number of countries that have been informally asking about becoming BRICS members,” said Anil Sooklal, South Africa’s BRICS ambassador.

Algeria is among the latest countries to show their interest. “We officially applied to join the BRICS group, and we sent a letter asking to be shareholder members in the bank (New Development Bank),” Ennahar TV, an Arabic broadcaster, quoted Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune as saying on July 22.

According to Mainichi Shimbun, a Japanese daily, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Nigeria and other oil-producing countries have also made applications. Once approved, the BRICS members will cover over half of the world’s oil and gas resources.

“Many countries in the Global South have sought to come together in order to work towards a more just and inclusive world order … BRICS inspires many countries to come together again in order to advance this vision,” said Kenneth Creamer, a senior lecturer at the University of the Witwatersrand, during a recent interview with Xinhua.

CHARM OF BRICS

In June this year, French President Emmanuel Macron once voiced his intention to attend the upcoming summit following his talks with South Africa’s International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor.

This is where the charm of BRICS lies. The bloc has become a positive, stable and constructive force in international affairs.

Several emerging economies, for instance, are financially distressed due to the IMF’s stringent economic policies, said Deutsche Welle, Germany’s state-owned broadcaster. It noted that the New Development Bank and the BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement could support economies with payment difficulties.

“The New Development Bank is the most prominent achievement. It’s also led to some increased trade between the countries, and won some international attention,” said Daniel Bradlow, a University of Pretoria professor who has studied the group.

Above all, BRICS defends multipolarity and multilateralism, Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel said. By doing so, “BRICS countries are countering the concept of the Cold War and opening up the possibility of a more equitable and just international order that benefits the world.”

“In an increasingly polarised world, BRICS is creating an enabling avenue for countries to fashion a more inclusive political and economic order,” said Cavince Adhere, a Kenyan international relations scholar.

Many countries are tired of the United States virtual domination of the global economy for decades, the Spanish website Rebelion said. Failure to comply with Washington’s directives results in sanctions and financial blackmail.

BROADER PROSPECTS

With potential members down the road, cross-border trade within the group would become more efficient and catch the eye of more investors. The prospect of a BRICS-issued currency is a possibility.

“Its members would likely be able to produce a wider range of goods than any existing monetary union,” said Foreign Policy, an American news publication, while remarking on the prospective currency. “Because each member of the BRICS grouping is an economic heavyweight in its own region, countries around the world would likely be willing to do business in the hypothetical money.”

As Bangladesh, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay were added as new members of the BRICS New Development Bank, there’s bound to be even fairer and more accessible international trade as the four countries lie on three continents.

“For new entrants, being part of BRICS could expand their diplomatic influence and open up lucrative trade and investment opportunities,” the Washington Post said in a recent article.

In an interview with the TASS news agency, Nozipho Mxakato-Diseko, South Africa’s permanent representative to the United Nations in Geneva, said BRICS is happy to accept new members who express interest in joining.

“BRICS is committed to upholding multilateralism, reforming the global governance system and has consistently advocated for the developing countries to be fairly treated in the international arena,” Gerald Mbanda, an Africa-China cooperation expert, told Xinhua.

“This is the reason I believe that the BRICS is undoubtedly an avenue for accelerated growth with increased trade and investment opportunities,” Mbanda said. 

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