The BRICS group of nations has invited six new countries to join the bloc that has pledged to champion the “Global South”. The debate over the expansion of BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – topped the agenda at the three-day summit in Johannesburg. While all BRICS members have publicly expressed support for expanding the five-member bloc, reports suggested divisions among the leaders over how much and how quickly.
South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa, the current chair of the BRICS grouping, said that Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and UAE have been invited to join the BRICS as part of the first phase of expansion. The new membership will be effective from January 1, 2023.
“As a five BRICS countries, we have reached an agreement on the guiding principles, standards, criteria, and procedures on the BRICS expansion process which has been in discussion for quite a while,” Ramaphosa told a joint media briefing.
“We have consensus on the first phase of this expansion process and other phases will follow.”
Nearly two dozen countries had formally applied to join the bloc, which represents a quarter of the global economy and more than three billion people.
All six new entrants have signed agreements to join China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which India has not become part of. The push for expansion was largely driven by China but had the backing of South Africa and Russia, which is grappling with its diplomatic isolation because of the Ukraine war.
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Modi’s message to China on UN reforms
Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Ramaphosa for the successful summit and said India has always fully supported the expansion of BRICS membership.
“India has always believed that the addition of new members will further strengthen BRICS as an organisation and it will give our shared efforts a new impetus. This will also strengthen the belief of many countries in the multipolar world order,” PM Modi said.
Prime Minister Modi expressed confidence that BRICS, along with the new members, will be able to infuse new momentum and new energy into the bloc’s cooperation. He noted that India has had very deep and historic relations with new BRICS members, adding that new dimensions will be also added to the bilateral cooperation.
“The expansion and modernisation of BRICS is a message that all institutions in the world need to mould themselves according to changing times. This is an initiative that can be an example of reforms in other global institutions that were established in the 20th century,” the prime minister said, in an obvious reference to the long-pending demand to expand the UN Security Council by increasing the number of both permanent and non-permanent representatives.
New members react
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said the decision by the BRICS group of nations to invite Ethiopia to join was “a great moment” and that his country wanted to cooperate for “an inclusive and prosperous global order”.
A senior adviser to Iran’s president hailed the country’s forthcoming admission to the BRICS grouping as a triumph of diplomacy for the Islamic Republic.
“Permanent membership in the group of global emerging economies is considered a historic development and a strategic success for the foreign policy of the Islamic republic,” Mohammad Jamshidi wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.