The BRICS association founded in 2006 includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – Reuters
CAIRO - 24 August 2023: The "BRICS" group has decided to expand its membership by inviting Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates(UAE), Argentina, Iran, and Ethiopia to join starting from January 2024.
This step will transform the group into a bloc that holds control over about a third of the global economy.
With this expansion, the first since South Africa joined the group in 2010, the number of member countries will increase to 11, adding to the original five members: Russia, South Africa, Brazil, India, and China.
According to calculations by the World Bank, the combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, Iran, and Argentina reached around $3.1 trillion in 2022. When combined with the $26 trillion GDP of the existing five countries in the group, this constitutes a significant economic force. The Bank's estimations for the global GDP stand at approximately $100 trillion.
The decision to expand the members was made during the second day of the BRICS summit in South Africa on Wednesday, after India expressed support for the expansion process "on the basis of consensus."
China was the main driving force behind adding more members. However, India, concerned that its powerful neighbor could dominate the group, had previously called for a cautious approach.
Chinese President Xi Jinping called for the acceleration of the expansion plan during his speech on the second day of the summit, saying, "I am pleased to see the growing enthusiasm of developing countries for participating in BRICS." He emphasized the need to speed up the expansion process to include more countries, considering that "the acceleration process will bring many countries into the BRICS family."
He pointed out that BRICS countries should act as nations and enhance international cooperation. He called for strengthening cooperation between member states in both political and security domains, considering that the "mentality of the Cold War is a source of concern in our world" and that it is necessary to "commit to international laws rather than succumb to the dictates of powerful countries."
Since its establishment, the BRICS bloc has struggled to transform its growing economic strength into substantial political influence since it began holding summits 15 years ago. However, the current state of fragmentation in the global system, exacerbated by disputes between the United States and China, as well as divisions over Russia's invasion of Ukraine, presents a new opportunity for the group to become a louder voice for the Southern Hemisphere region and potentially compete with the United States and its allies.