Leaders of the BRICS group of developing nations have invited Saudi Arabia, Iran, Ethiopia, Egypt, Argentina and the United Arab Emirates to join, in a move aimed at growing the clout of a bloc that has pledged to champion the “Global South”.
Expansion could also pave the way for dozens of interested countries seeking admission to BRICS – currently Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – at a time when geopolitical polarisation is spurring efforts by Beijing and Moscow to forge it into a viable counterweight to the West.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is hosting a summit of BRICS leaders, announced on Thursday that the new candidates would be admitted as members on Jan. 1, 2024.
The debate over enlargement has topped the agenda at the three-day summit taking place in Johannesburg. And while all BRICS members publicly expressed support for growing the bloc, there were divisions among the leaders over how much and how quickly.
Though home to about 40 per cent of the world’s population and a quarter of global gross domestic product, BRICS members’ failure to settle on a coherent vision for the bloc has long left it punching below its weight as a global political and economic player.
More than 40 countries have expressed interest in joining BRICS, say South African officials, and 22 have formally asked to be admitted.
They represent a disparate pool of potential candidates motivated largely by a desire to level a global playing field many consider rigged against them and attracted by BRICS’ promise to rebalance the global order.