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Over 40 Countries Are Clamoring to Join BRICS Bloc

  • Over 40 countries are interested in joining Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa in the BRICS bloc, Reuters reported.
  • The bloc is seen as an alternative to Western-led blocs dominating the world order.
  • However, the BRICS bloc faces challenges from rivalry between China and India, and Russia’s war in Ukraine.

The BRICS international summit in South Africa this week is drawing interest from countries that are sick and tired of the Western-led blocs.

More than 40 countries have expressed interest in joining Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa in the BRICS bloc as an alternative to Western-led international groupings, Reuters reported on Tuesday, citing South African officials.

South Africa is hosting the 15th summit of the BRICS bloc in Johannesburg from Tuesday to Thursday. The group is considering adding members to its alliance at the meeting.

Of those who have expressed interest, nearly two dozen have formally asked to join the group that represents a quarter of the world’s GDP, per Reuters.

South Africa hasn’t published a list of new candidates to the bloc, but some of the interested countries include heavily sanctioned Iran and Venezuela, Southeast Asia’s largest economy of IndonesiaSaudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

“The objective necessity for a grouping like BRICS has never been larger,” Rob Davies, South Africa’s former trade minister, told Reuters. “The multilateral bodies are not places where we can go and have an equitable, inclusive outcome.”

It’s not just about diversity and creating a more multipolar world.

“Authoritarian countries such as Saudi Arabia and Venezuela are particularly drawn to BRICS as cooperation does not require caveats of protecting human rights and civil liberties,” wrote Evan Freidin, an international relations analyst, on the Australian Institute of International Affairs think tank website last Tuesday.

Still, the BRICS group does face challenges, including the long-standing rivalry between China and India, China’s economic slowdown, and Russia’s war in Ukraine.

As it is, Russian President Vladimir Putin is not attending the BRICS summit in person because South Africa — a member of the International Criminal Court that has a warrant out for Putin — would be compelled to arrest him if he shows up. 

The BRICs bloc also doesn’t have a de facto leader so far, which makes it less cohesive than Western-led blocs like the G7, Freidin added. 

Former Goldman Sachs economist Jim O’Neill coined the term BRIC in 2001. The bloc was formed in 2009 with its first summit, and South Africa joined in 2011, making the grouping BRICS. The group founded the Shanghai-headquartered New Development Bank in 2015. It has approved $32.8 billion worth of financing for 96 development projects in member countries so far, according to the bank’s website.

Other than an expansion of the group, the topic of de-dollarization will also be on the summit agenda as the countries discuss ramping up local currency trade.

South Africa’s department of international relations and cooperation did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider sent outside regular business hours.

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