The BRICS economic coalition of emerging nations has announced that it will extend membership invitations to six nations including Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Announced during the final day of the 15th BRICS Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa on 24 August, the BRICS alliance – which is currently composed of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa – has sought to expand the group as part of efforts to reshape global governance into a more diverse and inclusive world order that benefits the Global South.
The six candidate countries will formally become members of the bloc on 1 January 2024.
“BRICS has embarked on a new chapter in its efforts to build a world that is fair, a world that is just, a world that is also inclusive and prosperous,” stated South Africa’s President, Cyril Ramaphosa during the summit, adding, “We have consensus on the first phase of this expansion process and other phases will follow.”
The inclusion of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, and the UAE marks the introduction of representation from the Middle East and North Africa region, while the inclusion of Argentina has been championed by Brazil.
In addition to the six candidate countries, a combined 23 countries have formally applied for BRICS membership, while other major African players – including Nigeria and Ghana – have expressed informal interest. “The relevance of the BRICS is demonstrated by the growing interest of other countries to join our group,” said Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, adding, “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.”
Meanwhile, welcoming the membership announcement, UAE President, Mohammed bin Zayed, whose country is a shareholder of the bloc’s New Development Bank, stated, “We respect the vision of the BRICS leadership and appreciate the inclusion of the UAE as a member to this important group. We look forward to a continued commitment of cooperation for the prosperity, dignity, and benefit of all nations and people around the world.”
As part of the expansion initiative, the BRICS coalition has pledged to address prospective members’ grievances over the world order’s declining relations with countries in the Global South in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and China’s economic tensions with the U.S. Upon expansion, the bloc is poised to rebalance the world economy and result in modernization and socioeconomic development for its member-countries.