What is BRICS and Why Everyone Wants to Join the Grouping?

© Sputnik . Photo host agency brics-russia2020.ru / Go to the mediabankFlags of the BRICS countries: South Africa, India, Brazil and China.
Flags of the BRICS countries: South Africa, India, Brazil and China. - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 31.05.2023
In terms of its economic weight and demography, BRICS has emerged as the most influential global organization outside the United Nations (UN) framework.
The foreign ministers' of BRICS countries comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa are scheduled to convene for a meeting in Cape Town on 1-2 June, as per a statement from the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO).
The meeting will be attended by the foreign ministers of all the countries.
The issue of expansion of BRICS is expected be a major agenda item during the foreign minister talks, as per officials.
In August, the leaders of the BRICS countries will be hosted by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa for a summit in Cape Town.
Sputnik takes a look at the evolution of BRICS, its growing role in global affairs and its surging popularity among the middle and low-income nations.

How Вid BRICS Emerge?

It was back in July 2006 on the sidelines of the (formerly) G-8 Outreach Summit that leaders of Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) to discuss the idea of a group.
The ‘BRIC’ grouping was formalized at the inaugural BRIC Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on the margins of the UN General Assembly in 2006. Subsequently, the first BRIC Summit was held in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg in June 2009.
The BRIC was further expanded to BRICS with the admission of South Africa as a full-fledged member at the foreign ministers’ meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in 2010. In 2011, South Africa attended the BRICS Summit in China.

The informal grouping operates on the principles of “mutual respect and understanding, equality, solidarity, openness, inclusiveness and consensus,” as per its previous joint statements.

What Does BRICS Do?

BRICS has emerged as an influential platform for deliberation on various global issues and coordinate the respective policy positions of the five countries.
The BRICS joint statement after the last summit hosted by China identified economy, peace and security, people-to-people exchanges, public health, and sustainable development as major areas of multilateral cooperation.
According to a brief on the Indian foreign ministry’s website, BRICS has two mechanisms of cooperation:
consultation on issues of mutual interest through meetings of leaders and ministers
‘practical cooperation’ through meetings of officials in areas of trade, finance, health, education, science & technology, agriculture, environment, energy, labour, disaster management, anti-corruption, anti-drugs, etc.
In order to advance economic cooperation, BRICS nations also launched the New Development Bank (NDB) in 2014 as a possible counterweight to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
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NDB’s membership is open to all the countries which are part of the United Nations (UN). Headquartered at Shanghai, its current president is former Brazilian leader Dilma Rousseff.

The bank’s having a growing reputation of financing large infrastructure projects in the BRICS countries. As per the NDB, it has managed to get an approval of funding worth over $32 billion for nearly 96 projects till date.

How is BRICS Different From Other Non-Western Groupings?

Countries represented in the BRICS come from a much wider geography than in other non-western mechanisms such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), African Union (AU) or the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) for that matter, which have a narrower geographical focus.
BRICS’ voice on crucial global matters such reforms of the global governance, including the UN Security Council reform, is bound to carry a greater weight than similar appeals by other regional mechanisms operating in the developing world.
BRICS has also consistently objected to the unilateral imposition of economic sanctions by western powers, a theme which is founding increasing global resonance across the Global South amid disruption in food and energy supply chains caused by G7 sanctions against Russia since last year.

Who Wants to Hop in and Why?

The global appeal of BRICS has increased since last year, amid a global volatility in energy and food prices caused by west-led efforts to phase out Russian commodities from the global supply chains.
Many low and middle-income nations, including India and China, have decried the effects of western sanctions on the world’s most vulnerable people, a majority of which live in the Global South.

South Africa, the current chair of the BRICS grouping, has said that at least 19 countries have expressed an interest to join the BRICS grouping, a testament to its growing global heft.

According to officials from several countries, Iran and Argentina have formally applied for a BRICS membership. Iranian foreign minister has been invited to attend the BRICS foreign ministers’ meeting in Cape Town.
As per South African officials, Algeria, Baharain, Egypt, Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have also expressed a desire to join BRICS.
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Former Indian Prime Ministerial advisor Sudheendra Kulkarni told Sputnik that BRICS’ appeal is set to increase further, with the five-nation informal grouping already having overtaken G-7 club or rich democracies in terms of “economic power”.

The BRICS nations account for nearly 25.7 percent of the global GDP (in Purchasing Power Parity terms), more than the combined economic weight of G-7.
Kulkarni also underscored the fact that nearly 42 percent of the world’s population lives in BRICS countries, more than that lives in the “collective west”.
“Whereas the G-7 is a closed group of declining elites, 19 new emerging economies are seeking to join BRICS,” Kulkarni stated.
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Significantly, an increasing number of countries are moving away from the US dollar to carry out trade, a trend which seems to have accelerated after western sanctions against Russia last year.
The share of US dollar reserves held by central banks in the world already declined to a 25-year-low in 2020, as per IMF estimates. Since last year, China and Russia have accelerated the push to trade in local currencies.
The same way, India’s New Foreign Trade Policy (FTP) launched this year encourages the use of rupee in trade. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has already allowed trading in rupees with at least 18 countries.
The ten-member ASEAN bloc has also formally backed the idea of trading in national currencies at the summit in Indonesia this month.
“The expanded BRICS group will accelerate the process of de-dollarization, which will further weaken the global supremacy of America,” Kulkarni stated.