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BRICS expansion: More than 40 countries want to join

by Zahid Jadwat

The foreign ministers of Brazil, South Africa and Russia at a BRICS meeting in Cape Town earlier this year. [Picture: Reuters]


With less than a month to go before BRICS heads of state descend on Johannesburg, South Africa, a growing number of countries are applying to join the group of five. The leaders of Brazil, India, China and South Africa, together with a representative from Russia, will gather for the group’s 15th Summit.

Nearly two dozen heads of state have been invited by South Africa, the current BRICS chair. The group’s position as a counterweight to US dominance in the wake of the Ukraine-Russia conflict has attracted interested from some 40 other countries.

Argentina, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are among the countries looking to join, South Africa’s BRICS ambassador, Anil Sooklal, said recently.

“Twenty-two countries have formally approached BRICS countries to become full members. There’s an equal number of countries that has been informally asking about becoming BRICS members,” Sooklal said.


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The topic of expansion is expected to be high on the agenda when the group meets at the Sandton Convention Centre next month. Many have argued over whether the bloc presented a genuine alternative to Western powers.

Speaking at an earlier event hosted by Salaamedia, journalist and author Azad Esa questioned the motives behind BRICS positioning itself as an alternative to the West.

“They have positioned themselves as a kind of anti-imperial, [anti-] Western force, talking about an alternate economy, talking about an alternate way of doing things. But in many ways they are doing the same. China is an authoritarian, imperial state. Russia is the same,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sanusha Naidu, a foreign policy analyst at the Institute for Global Dialogue (IGD), said expansion was probably on the cards. However, she said the framework of such expansion would require much deliberation by BRICS members.

“It’s very likely that it will expand in the long term, but I think right now … what it will entail and who will qualify as part of an expanded BRICS membership is something that hasn’t really been decided on. It’s actually a work in progress,” she told Al Jazeera.

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