BRICS Invites Six New Members Amidst Diverging Interests

In a landmark decision at the 15th summit of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) held in Johannesburg, the group has extended invitations to six additional countries to join their alliance. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates will become full-fledged members of BRICS, with their membership set to commence on January 1, 2024.

Ramaphosa emphasized the importance of building partnerships with other nations, acknowledging the growing interest from various countries in collaborating with BRICS. To explore this further, the leaders have tasked their Foreign Ministers with developing a model for BRICS partner countries and compiling a list of potential partner nations for consideration at the next Summit.

This expansion of BRICS signifies the challenges in strengthening the existing alliance, despite representing a significant portion of the global GDP. The group’s members have diverse interests, ranging from China’s emergence as a global superpower to India’s policy of nonalignment and Brazil’s role as a major agricultural exporter. Additionally, the inclusion of countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran, with complex historical relations, may present obstacles to cohesive action within the bloc. Nonetheless, this move aims to enhance representation from the Middle East and Africa within BRICS.

Notably, the 15th BRICS Summit was the first to be hosted in person since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Russian President Vladimir Putin opted to participate virtually due to the risk of arrest under a war crimes indictment related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, issued by the International Criminal Court in The Hague. He delivered his address via video message.

Prior to this decision, reports had surfaced indicating interest from over 40 countries in joining BRICS, with 22 countries formally expressing their desire for membership. The expansion reflects the evolving dynamics of global partnerships and the desire of emerging economies to play a more prominent role on the world stage.

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