The five nation BRICS met in South Africa on 23rd August 2023 amidst western media disparagement of the importance of the grouping and aspersions cast on whether the “hodgepodge” of nations it represented would amount to any kind of force in international economy and politics.
The fact that its two most prominent members, India and China, have been in a protracted frontier dispute has long provided grist for media analysis to play up the scenario that the two nations would never be able to work together and to argue as to why BRICS would fail.
The doubts still exist.
But BRICS 15 was not only a success despite the cold water poured on it by the west and supporters from a few non west countries. Today BRICS is the hottest geo-political club in the world with six countries now joining the pioneering five and their membership taking effect in January 2024.
The six new members are Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Argentina and Ethiopia.
Meanwhile another 16 countries have applied to join the economic bloc. They include Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bolivia, Cuba, Honduras, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Nigeria, Palestine, Senegal, Thailand, Venezuela and Vietnam.
Further – at this time of writing – Afghanistan, Angola, Comoros, DR Congo, Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Mexico, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Uganda, Uruguay and Zimbabwe have expressed interest in BRICS membership.
BRICS Present Members GDP
Brazil: $2.08 Trillion
Russia: $2.06 T
India: $3.74 T
China: $19.37 T
South Africa: $399 Billion
BRICS New Members GDP
Argentina $641 Billion
Egypt: $387 B
Ethiopia: $156 B
Iran: $367 B
Saudi Arabia: $1.06T
UAE $499 B
The economic clout of the current 11 current members can be seen in their combined weight in the global economy. Amounting to US30.76 trillion in GDP terms or close to one third of the world’s total GDP, the enlarged grouping includes several key stake players and stakeholders in international trade, commerce and economics.
The inclusion of Saudi Arabia. Iran and UAE is a potential game changer in the oil and natural gas industries which play a key role as the world’s leading source of primary fuel and by products ranging from pharmaceuticals and health care to fertilisers, detergents and plastic. It has been estimated that the enlarged BRICS will control 80% of world oil production.
Apart from its role in influencing oil economics, the enlarged BRICS is likely to play a role in reshaping the geo-politics of the Middle East and beyond. The economic and geo-political reverberations of the enlarged BRICS can already be seen in the increasing attention given to its impact on the US dollar and currency markets; the possibility of de dollarization; alternatives to current development financing; and in other economic sectors.
New members from small developing countries applying to join BRICS are joining for two primary reasons:
1. The first relates to their inability to make greater progress in their economies especially when under the International Monetary Fund and World Bank economic reform regimes. BRICS is seen as providing more generous financing, access to larger markets and freer economic policy making that would spur economic growth and reduce poverty more effectively. These potential gains are especially alluring to developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America that have suffered from the small carrot and big stick approach of the IMF’s structural adjustment and austerity programs.
2. The second relates to the metamorphosis of BRICS from a primarily economic platform which was its initial objective when the bloc first emerged to the one now in which restructuring of the world’s political and governance structure has become an equally important objective.
In 2014 its modest ambitions were crystallised by the declaration issued:
We are ready to explore new areas towards a comprehensive cooperation and a closer economic partnership to facilitate market inter-linkages, financial integration, infrastructure connectivity as well as people-to-people contacts» (Fortaleza Declaration)
Today, although not fully articulated in the official communiques from the Johannesburg Summit, the enlarged BRICS is being driven by a common vision of a more equitable, balanced, just and representative global political, economic and financial system.
The fact that politics and economics are more inextricably intertwined than ever before has been brought home to all countries in the recent wars waged by the US and its allies in Iraq, Libya, Syria and Afghanistan. US led western dominance and interference in the internal affairs of continues in the economic war waged by the US and the west against Russia, China, Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, and other nations not subscribing or agreeing with the current system of US devised self defined “rules-based international order”.
Brazil President Lula: Today BRICS is fully consolidated as a brand and political asset of strategic value.The participation of dozens of Heads of State and Government in tomorrow’s expanded session will be a historic achievement.This is yet another opportunity to advance the Global South as to inequalities and sustainable development. May the impetus that motivated the creation of the BRICS 15 years ago continue to inspire us in building a multipolar, fair and inclusive order.
Russian President Putin: We cooperate on the principles of equality, partnership support, respect for each other’s interests, and this is the essence of the future-oriented strategic course of our association, a course that meets the aspirations of the main part of the world community, the so-called global majority,
Indian PM Modi: I believe that BRICS nations and friendly nations present here can contribute to strengthening a multipolar world
China President Xi: “BRICS is an important force in shaping the international landscape.
We choose our development paths independently, jointly defend our right to development and march in tandem toward modernization,
South Africa President Ramaposa: We recall the Bandung Conference of 1955, where Asian and African nations demanded a greater voice for developing countries in world affairs. The Conference called for the recognition of the equality of all nations, large and small. We still share that common vision of a fair and just world.
The bloc and alliance the enlarged BRICS is putting in place is not simply one to help each other economically and technologically.
It is one with a complementary objective to counter and fight the stronger and richer nations of the west and allies and their control and hegemony of the world system.
This explains the continuous attempts by the US and its allies through the media to denigrate the body. In the near future, we can expect the opponents of BRICS not only to look for openings to exploit its frailties but also to attempt to undermine it through covert and underhand means.
This is because should the enlarged BRICS even be moderately successful in its aspirations, a new world order will be arriving for all countries of the world