July 11, 2024

BRICS Expands its Horizons: Saudi Arabia, Iran, and More Join the Fold in 2024

Image Credits: Bloomberg/Getty Images

In a surprising and significant development, the BRICS economic coalition of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa has extended membership invitations to six new nations. South African President and current BRICS Chair Cyril Ramaphosa announced this groundbreaking move.

The new additions to the BRICS alliance are set to be Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. This decision is poised to reshape the global economic landscape and foster cooperation among emerging markets. The membership of these nations will officially take effect from January 1, 2024.

South Africa’s role as the host of the 15th BRICS summit firmly placed the topic of expansion on the agenda. Russian President Vladimir Putin was absent from the proceedings, who opted for a virtual presence, possibly due to an International Criminal Court warrant looming over him. This warrant would have theoretically required his arrest, as the host country, South Africa, is an ICC signatory.

“BRICS is a diverse group of nations,” Ramaphosa said. “It is an equal partnership of countries that have differing views but a shared vision for a better world. As the five #BRICS members, we have reached an agreement on the guiding principles, standards, criteria, and procedures of the #BRICS expansion process.”

Notably, 23 countries, including the six newly invited nations, have formally applied for BRICS membership. Moreover, other major African players, such as Nigeria and Ghana, have expressed informal interest in joining the coalition.

Chinese President Xi Jinping sees this expansion as a “new starting point for BRICS cooperation.”.

“It will bring new vigor to the BRICS cooperation mechanism, further strengthening a force for world peace and development,” he said at a press briefing, in comments officially translated by a summit interpreter.

President Putin commended President Ramaphosa’s diplomatic skills in navigating the complex negotiations, acknowledging that expanding BRICS membership was a challenging endeavor.

“We value the interest of other countries to form a partnership with BRICS. We have tasked our foreign ministers to further develop the BRICS country model and a list of prospective partner countries and report by the next summit,” Ramaphosa said during a press briefing of BRICS officials Thursday.

“The relevance of the BRICS is demonstrated by the growing interest of other countries to join our group,” said Brazilian leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. “Now the BRICS is going up to 37% of the world’s GDP in terms of its purchasing power, and 46% in terms of the world population. BRICS will continue [being] open to new members. 

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi stressed that the expansion and modernization of BRICS clearly show that global institutions should adapt to changing times.

The United Arab Emirates expressed its enthusiasm for joining BRICS, emphasizing its commitment to cooperation and the prosperity of nations worldwide.

Iran also celebrated its invitation, with Mohammad Jamshidi, a senior official, calling it “a strategic victory for Iran’s foreign policy.”

This expansion increases the visibility of the BRICS bloc and provides opportunities for members to engage in local currency trade. The possibility of a BRICS currency was discussed, which could offer alternative payment methods and reduce vulnerabilities.

Additionally, the BRICS nations used this platform to advocate for change in international institutions, such as the World Bank, IMF, and WTO, reflecting their collective voice on the need for global financial reform.

While BRICS countries have varying relationships with the West, including diplomatic tensions and sanctions, they stress their commitment to peaceful conflict resolution through dialogue and inclusive consultation.

As the BRICS alliance evolves and expands, it brings new challenges and opportunities, shaping the future of global economics and diplomacy.

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