BRICS Bloc Mulls Expansion at Annual Summit

brics bloc mulls expansion at annual summit.jpg Business

The BRICS economic bloc, comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, has sparked global intrigue with its recent announcement to consider expanding its membership. The news emerged during their annual summit, held this year in Johannesburg from August 22-24, where expansion was a hot-button topic. With powerhouse economies like Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, and Argentina reportedly vying for membership, the potential growth of BRICS could significantly reshape the world’s financial landscape.

In the face of slowing economies and increasing international pressures, BRICS member states, particularly China and Russia, are pushing for this expansion. Once the economic powerhouses of the group, China is grappling with a major slowdown, while Russia’s economy plummets in the wake of sanctions imposed due to its invasion of Ukraine. This expansion could serve to bolster their influence and compete more effectively with rival economic blocs, such as the G7 group. However, the move has not been met without criticism, with concerns raised about the potential dilution of influence for existing members.

BRICS Economic Bloc Explores Expansion

The economic alliance of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, better known as BRICS, has announced its intention to consider new members at its annual summit. The three-day conference, held in Johannesburg from August 22-24, has been buzzing with speculation about potential new members, with major economies such as Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, and Argentina showing keen interest. In total, over two dozen nations from the developing world have voiced their interest in joining the bloc.

A Bulwark Against Unipolarity

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa, in a televised address prior to the summit, suggested that expanding BRICS could serve as a strong counterbalance to a unipolar world. "An expanded BRICS will represent a diverse group of nations which share a common desire to have a more balanced world order," stated Ramaphosa. This strategy aligns with BRICS’s established goal of providing an alternative to the G7 group, which is composed of the US and its allies.

China and Russia Push for Expansion Amid Economic Slowdown

However, the economic growth of BRICS member states has diminished, making expansion more urgent. China, which was once the economic powerhouse of the group, is navigating a major slowdown, while Russia’s economy is plummeting due to sanctions imposed in response to its invasion of Ukraine. Consequently, both China and Russia are advocating for the inclusion of new members. Contrastingly, India, a close ally of the US, appears more hesitant about expansion, especially concerning countries in the far East.

Why Join BRICS?

The last country to join BRICS was South Africa in 2010, which, despite having a smaller economy, boasted a wealth of natural resources. Current candidates such as Kazakhstan and Algeria are in similar positions, aiming to establish stronger trade relationships with emerging economies. Other potential members such as Saudi Arabia and Iran, already major economies, are looking to expand their financial and political ties with non-western countries. Some countries, like Egypt and Indonesia, are seeking to continue building relationships with BRICS while maintaining their ties with the US.

Potential Relief for Argentina

Argentina, a potential new addition to BRICS, has recently increased interest rates to 118% to counter rampant inflation. Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva suggested during the summit that the New Development Bank—a bank funded by BRICS members—could be utilised to ease Argentina’s debt burden amid the country’s lack of foreign currency reserves.


The potential expansion of BRICS highlights the shifting dynamics of global economic power. The economic slowdown experienced by China and Russia underscores the need for diversification and expansion within the bloc. The interest shown by a diverse range of countries in joining BRICS underscores the bloc’s increasing influence and its potential to challenge the dominance of traditional economic powerhouses. However, the potential expansion also brings challenges, particularly around managing the diverse interests and economic conditions of member states.

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