BRICS Leaders Announce “Historic” Expansion With Six New Members

At a press conference held early on Aug. 24 in Johannesburg, Indian Prime Minister Modi, flanked by Cyril Ramaphosa, Xi Jinping, Lula da Silva, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, announced that the five member nations had agreed by consensus to welcome six new nations to become full-fledged members of the BRICS: Argentina, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, Iran and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Their membership will take effect on Jan. 1, 2024.

PM Modi further said that the group has agreed on “the guiding principles, standards, criteria and procedures for expansion of the BRICS” and emphasized that the modernization and expansion of the BRICS should serve as a model for all global institutions that need to reform in changing times. He noted that India has always favored expansion of the BRICS, underscoring that the enlargement will provide energy and direction to the group. The other countries that have expressed interest in joining the BRICS will likely be invited to participate in future BRICS summits “as partner countries”.

Xi Jinping called the expansion “historic,” as it shows the group’s determination to pursue “unity and cooperation” with the broader Global South. It will bring “new vigor” to the BRICS cooperation mechanism and further strengthen motion toward world peace and development.

In his remarks, Lula da Silva stated that “the relevance of the BRICS is confirmed by the growing number of countries interested in joining”. He went on to report that the group has set up a working group to study the adoption of a reference currency that could be used for transactions among member countries. This, he said, “could increase our payment options and reduce our vulnerabilities”.

Official representatives of all six new member countries welcomed the decision to admit them, and are looking forward to exploiting the many new opportunities this opens. With the addition of these countries, the BRICS will represent 47% of the world population, and 36% of the world’s GDP in purchasing power parity. Moreover, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Iran are all major oil producers, in addition to founding member Russia. Altogether, the BRICS 11 will hold nearly half of the world’s proven oil reserves.

Two of the new members, Argentina and Egypt, have been under heavy pressure from the International Monetary Fund, while Iran is one of the most sanctioned countries in the world, as the West has attempted for decades to isolate it. All the new members also have tremendous human resources to bring to bear in the fight for “an inclusive and prosperous global order”, as Ethiopian President Abiy pointed out.

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