The BRICS Nation – Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa agreed on Thursday to admit that six new countries into the group: Saudi Arabia, Iran, Ethiopia, Egypt, Argentina, and the United Arab Emirates.

Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, Argentina and Ethiopia will join BRICS, said South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. The six countries are expected to become members from 1 January, 2024.

Through this step, the faith of numerous nations in a multipolar world order will become stronger,” said Prime Minister Narendra Modi, welcoming the expansion in the five-nation grouping.

BRICS began as a group of four countries in the mid-2000s. In 2009, BRICS nations held their first leaders’ summit in Russia. BRICS was expanded to include South Africa in 2010.

This move holds the potential to open the doors for numerous interested countries to align with a coalition committed to championing the interests of the “Global South”.

“As I said yesterday, India has always fully supported the expansion of the membership of BRICS,” said Modi during a press statement with the other BRICS leaders.

Congratulating the countries who had become new members of the BRICS, Modi said “I am pleased that our teams were able to build agreement on the guiding principles, standards, criteria and procedures of expansion.”

The expansion of BRICS was billed as a point of contention between India and China. Experts speculated that China was trying to induct a number of countries which shared its Western-sceptic view of the world.

Media reports prior to the summit, which is being held in the South African city of Johannesburg, cited Chinese officials who argued that the BRICS should become a bloc to rival the G7.

India’s stance on expansion

While India had not opposed the expansion of the BRICS, it did push for rules and procedures to be laid down that would govern which countries could enter the bloc. South African officials stated prior to the summit that over 20 countries had applied to join BRICS. Some rumoured names included Cuba, the Comoros, Bolivia, Algeria and Indonesia among others.

No Pakistan in BRICS

China’s push to incorporate Pakistan into the BRICS alliance earlier stirred a diplomatic conundrum, introducing a layer of complexity to the ongoing proceedings. China’s rationale behind this initiative stems from its belief that the BRICS alliance should embrace an expanded membership, thereby accommodating more developing nations.

For the first time in 13 years, BRICS leaders left the door open to future enlargement by deciding in favour of an expansion. And this seems to be just the beginning, as around 40 countries have expressed interest in joining the BRICS with the hope of having a level playing field globally.

BRICS was founded as an informal club in 2009 to provide a platform for its members to challenge a world dominated by United States and Western Alliances

Brazil,  Russia, India, and China are the founding members, whereas South Africa, the smallest member in terms of economic clout and population, was the first beneficiary of an expansion of the forum in 2010, when the grouping became known as BRICS.

The existing member nations of BRICS came forward to congratulate the six new countries that have been given the green signal to become BRICS members from January 1, 2024.

India’s PM Modi tweeted, ”On the occasion of the 15th anniversary of BRICS, we have taken the decision to expand this forum. India has always fully supported this expansion. Such an expansion will make BRICS stronger and more effective. In that spirit, India welcomes Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and UAE into the BRICS family.”

“This membership expansion is historic,” Chinese President Xi Jinping, the bloc’s most stalwart proponent of enlargement, said, as per a Reuters report. “It shows the determination of BRICS countries for unity and cooperation with the broader developing countries.”

The six new nations will formally become members on Jan. 1, 2024, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said when he named the countries during a three-day leaders’ summit he is hosting in Johannesburg.

“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,” Ramaphosa said. “We have consensus on the first phase of this expansion process and other phases will follow.”

“BRICS is not competing with anyone,” Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, who is attending the summit remotely due to an international warrant for alleged war crimes, said on Thursday.

“But it’s also obvious that this process of the emerging of a new world order still has fierce opponents.”

For instance, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva had vocally lobbied for Argentina’s inclusion, while Egypt has close commercial ties with Russia and India.

Whereas the entry of oil powers Saudi Arabia and the UAE highlights their drift away from the United States’ orbit and ambition to become global heavyweights in their own right.

Russia and Iran have found common cause in their shared struggle against U.S.-led sanctions and diplomatic isolation, with their economic ties deepening in the wake of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Beijing is close to Ethiopia, and the country’s inclusion also speaks to South Africa’s desire to amplify Africa’s voice in global affairs.

This membership expansion is historic,” said Chinese President Xi Jinping.

“The expansion is also a new starting point for BRICS cooperation. It will bring new vigour to the BRICS cooperation mechanism and further strengthen the force for world peace and development.”

A senior adviser to Iran’s president on Thursday welcomed the country’s admission to the grouping.

“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, which was previously known as Twitter.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed hailed what he called “a great moment” for his country.


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