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BRICS Expands Its Membership To Welcome Six New Nations

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BRICS have made an agreement on Thursday to allow Saudi Arabia, Iran, Ethiopia, Egypt, Argentina and the United Arab Emirates in the bloc in an effort to overcome the present world order dominated by the West.

In its expansion, being the group’s first in 13 years, the member nations left the scope for expanding it further in future as many other countries showed enthusiasm in being a part of the bloc they have pinned their hopes on for making the global platform even for all.

The new members will economically burden BRICS, whose members include China, the world’s second largest economy, as well as Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa. In its progression BRICS could declare itself a champion of the Global South.

At this stage, potential friction between members like China, Russia and now Iran who want to weigh against the West and those who want to continue their ties with the United States and Europe.

The most ardent supporter of enlargement in the bloc, Chinese President Xi Jinping, remarked, “This membership expansion is historic. It shows the determination of BRICS countries for unity and cooperation with the broader developing countries.”

The acronym was first used by Jim O’Neill, the chief economist at Goldman Sachs, in 2001. The bloc was established as an informal group of four countries in 2009, and its only previous enlargement saw the addition of South Africa a year later.

The new members, six in numbers, will officially become members on Jan. 1, 2024, said South African President Cyril Ramaphosa after announcing the names of the new members. BRICS summit ended on Thursday in South Africa’s capital Johannesburg.  He said, “BRICS has embarked on a new chapter in its effort to build a world that is fair, a world that is just, a world that is also inclusive and prosperous. We have consensus on the first phase of this expansion process and other phases will follow.”

The nations asked to join reflect each BRICS member’s ambition to have their allies join in.

While Egypt has strong business links with Russia and India, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva actively advocated for the admission of Argentina, the country’s neighbour.

The admission of oil-rich Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates shows their departure from the US and desire to become world powers in their own right.

In their joint fight against U.S.-led sanctions and diplomatic isolation, Iran and Russia have found common ground, and their economic links have grown stronger as a result of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin on Thursday said, “BRICS is not competing with anyone.” As Putin is under an international warrant for alleged war crimes, he did not attend the meeting physically but virtually. He added, “But it’s also obvious that this process of the emerging of a new world order still has fierce opponents.”

Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi cheered BRICS invitation for his country and took a dig at the United States by speaking on Iranian television network Al Alam that the growing bloc “shows that the unilateral approach is on the way to decay”.

Ethiopia’s inclusion, which is geographically close to China, makes South Africa’s intent to raise Africa’s voice in global affairs apparent.

Antonio Guterres, the secretary-general of the United Nations, was present for the announcement of the bloc’s enlargement on Thursday. He reaffirmed the long-standing demands of the BRICS for changes to the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the U.N. Security Council. He said, “Today’s global governance structures reflect yesterday’s world. For multilateral institutions to remain truly universal, they must reform to reflect today’s power and economic realities.”

The BRICS countries’ radically dissimilar economies and frequently differing foreign policy objectives complicate the bloc’s consensus decision-making approach.

Despite containing approximately 40% of the world’s population and a quarter of its gross domestic output, internal conflicts have long prevented the BRICS from realising their aspirations to dominate the international scene.

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