Leaders from the BRICS consortium, encompassing Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, have made substantial headway by formulating mechanisms to consider the induction of new members into the fold, heralding a pivotal juncture that may see an array of interested nations join the ranks of this influential alliance, dedicated to championing the interests of the “Global South”.
This landmark agreement on expansion bears the potential to amplify the global influence of BRICS, especially in a time characterized by escalating geopolitical polarization. With Beijing and Moscow ardently pursuing the consolidation of BRICS into a formidable counterweight against the Western paradigm, this strategic move assumes heightened significance.
South Africa’s foreign minister, Naledi Pandor, confirmed the consensus reached on expansion, divulging that a comprehensive document detailing guidelines, principles, and processes for the inclusion of aspiring countries had been unanimously adopted. The resonance of this development is undeniable, encapsulating an optimistic trajectory for the alliance.
The summit, currently underway in Johannesburg, has underscored the paramount importance of expanding BRICS. While unanimous support for such enlargement had been articulated by all member states, nuances concerning the scale and rapidity of this growth had fostered divergent perspectives amongst the leadership.
The inherent heterogeneity among BRICS nations, encapsulating disparate economic magnitudes and foreign policy orientations, intricately complicates the consortium’s consensus-driven decision-making process. China’s economic girth, eclipsing that of South Africa, one of Africa’s most advanced economies, serves as a conspicuous example of this variability.
Elucidating the contours of the evaluation framework for prospective members, Pandor abstained from disclosing specific criteria, affirming that the alliance’s leadership would unveil the expansion plans before the culmination of the summit, slated for Thursday.
Functioning as the flag bearer for the developing world, BRICS has elicited interest from over 40 countries, a staggering number that further corroborates its allure. A subset of 22 nations has formally sought admission, reflecting a motley amalgamation encompassing Iran and Argentina, bound together by the common aspiration of rectifying a global equilibrium that they deem skewed against their interests. BRICS’ commitment to restructuring the global order resonates deeply with this aspirational array of nations.
China’s President, Xi Jinping, a proponent of BRICS’ expansion, articulated the prevailing shifts, divisions, and transformations in the global panorama. He emphasized that development constitutes an inalienable right for all nations, rather than a prerogative reserved for a select few, as he addressed the summit.
Despite encompassing approximately 40% of the world’s population and a quarter of global GDP, the bloc’s ambitions to metamorphose into a global economic and political powerhouse have often been impeded by internal schisms and a lack of cohesive vision.
In light of Russia’s isolation due to geopolitical tensions, the country seeks to reaffirm its international standing through BRICS. Brazil and India, conversely, have ventured towards closer partnerships with the Western camp. Notably, Brazil’s President, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, advocated against a confrontational stance vis-à-vis the United States and the Group of Seven economies.
The expansion drive and the concurrent promotion of the New Development Bank as an alternative to established multilateral lending institutions, however, have raised eyebrows in Western corridors. Werner Hoyer, the head of the European Investment Bank, issued a warning to Western powers, underscoring the urgency of intensifying support efforts for less privileged nations, lest the confidence of the “Global South” in the West be eroded.