BRICS leaders agreed to expand the membership. The South African government made this announcement on Wednesday. Jacaranda FM reports that discussions about its enlargement have been a central focus during the three-day summit in Johannesburg. This development has highlighted differing viewpoints among the member nations, particularly concerning the entry of new participants.
China, keen on bolstering the BRICS and its influence on the international stage, has been driving rapid expansion. However, India has expressed concerns about the motives of its geopolitical rival, China. Approximately twenty countries have formally applied to join BRICS. These twenty nations are a consortium representing 40 per cent of the world’s population and a quarter of the global economy.
On Wednesday, South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor confirmed that BRICS leaders have “agreed on the matter of expansion.” A comprehensive announcement regarding the conditions and principles for new members is anticipated before the summit’s conclusion on Thursday.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa characterised this moment as standing on the threshold of enlarging the BRICS family. While the bloc operates by consensus, the group has not admitted any new members since South Africa’s inclusion in 2010.
The prospect of BRICS expanding its membership underscores the unique composition of the bloc, encompassing diverse economies and political systems. Despite these differences, the member nations share a common goal to challenge the existing Western-dominated global order, which they argue doesn’t adequately reflect their interests or growing influence.
The summit has also highlighted divisions among Western nations over issues such as the Ukraine conflict and Russia’s role. Russian President Vladimir Putin, currently facing international accusations, addressed the summit via video link and criticised sanctions. The expansion of BRICS, while presenting opportunities, also poses challenges for member countries in striking a balance between establishing closer ties with China and Russia and maintaining relations with the United States, a key trading partner.
The discussions around new member admission come as BRICS aims to solidify its standing as a powerful voice from the Global South, representing nations beyond the Western sphere. The unique mix of countries applying for membership ranges from G20 giants to states openly adversarial to the United States and its allies.
Around 50 heads of state and government have participated in the Johannesburg summit, underscoring the resonance of the BRICS message in the Global South. The potential inclusion of new members presents an opportunity for BRICS to expand its economic and political influence but also poses a complex task of managing diverse interests within the bloc.
Picture: X / PresidencyZA
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