The six countries invited to join the BRICS club

President of Brazil Lula da Silva, President of China Xi Jinping, President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa, Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia Sergey Lavrov at the 2023 BRICS summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, August 22, 2023. Image by 15th BRICS SUMMIT from Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain Mark 1.0)

This story was originally published by Africa Feeds and an expanded version is republished on Global Voices as part of a content-sharing partnership agreement.

Ethiopia and Egypt join Saudi Arabia, Iran, Argentina and the United Arab Emirates as countries invited by the leaders of the BRICS group of countries to join their club, an achievement hailed by the Ethiopian prime minister:

The speaker of the Arab Parliament, Adel bin Abdul Rahman Al-Assoumi, also said in a statement:

According to the BRICs group, this move to expand the group will give it the needed clout to champion the Global South. The announcement was made by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who presided over the BRICS leaders’ summit in Johannesburg.

Ramaphosa declared at the final day of the group's 15th Summit of Heads of State and Government in Johannesburg, which began on Tuesday, August 22 that “BRICS is embarking on a new chapter in its pursuit of creating a world that is characterized by fairness, justice, inclusivity, and prosperity.”

The prospective new member nations are slated to be formally inducted into BRICS on January 1, 2024. Should these countries gain entry into the BRICS alliance, it will potentially pave the way for other interested nations to seek membership. Both Ramaphosa and Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva hinted at the possibility of admitting additional members in subsequent phases. “We have consensus on the first phase of this expansion process and other phases will follow,” Ramaphosa told journalists at the summit.

The establishment of the BRICS bloc dates back to 2009, when it was initiated by Russia. The primary objective was to provide a platform for member countries to challenge the prevailing world order, which was heavily dominated by the United States and Western powers. The inaugural BRIC summit was convened in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on June 16, 2009, with Brazil, Russia, India, and China as its founding members. After South Africa gained full membership during the BRIC Foreign Ministers’ meeting in New York in September 2010, the group was rechristened as BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa). Collectively, BRICS countries account for approximately 40 percent of the global population and a quarter of the world's total GDP.

Divergent views over expansion

China, a prominent player within the bloc, envisions that a more extensive membership will grant it a more influential stance in global affairs. While Russia and South Africa rally behind this expansion initiative, India and Brazil remains hesitant due to concerns outlined in this article.

Notably, more than 40 countries have reportedly demonstrated interest in affiliating with BRICS, and among them, over 20 have officially sought admission. Noteworthy contenders like Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Argentina, Algeria, Bolivia, Indonesia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Cuba, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Comoros, Gabon, and Kazakhstan have all indicated their intent to join, as confirmed by South African officials.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasized that the expansion of the bloc should serve as a signal to other global institutions that their relevance might be waning, saying: “The expansion and modernization of BRICS is a message that all institutions in the world need to mould themselves according to changing times.”

The evolving landscape of BRICS suggests a strategic move towards inclusivity and relevance in an ever-changing global order. As new members are poised to join and perspectives converge, would BRICS's transformational journey reshape international dynamics?

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