Graphic: BRICS seeks to expand its influence globally

Following the 15th annual BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit held from 22-24 August 2023 in Johannesburg, the group of five major emerging economies announced the admission of six new members. Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Argentina and the United Arab Emirates will officially join BRICS on January 1, 2024, with the aim of increasing the economic and political weight of the “Global South” on the world stage, creating a real counterweight to the Western-dominated G7.

The enlarged BRICS group will represent approximately 46% of the world’s population, 29% of nominal world GDP and 37% of world GDP at purchasing power parity. It is interesting to note that the new members have relatively little impact on the above indicators, as BRICS is (and will continue to be) dominated by China and India, both in terms of population and size. Together, the six new members will account for about 10% of the bloc’s total GDP, with Saudi Arabia the only economy worth at least $1 trillion among the new entrants.

“We shared our vision of BRICS as champions of the needs and concerns of the people of the South. These include the need for favorable economic growth, sustainable development and reform of multilateral systems,” South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said after the summit. He also indicated that the arrival of six new members was only the beginning of the bloc’s expansion process: “We have agreed on the issue of expansion. We have adopted a document that sets out guidelines, principles and assessment processes for countries applying for membership.

Elliot Frost

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