The BRICS group is considering expanding the bloc by admitting new member states as Saudi Arabia and Iran express their interest in joining. The group, which currently consists of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, could be a potential alternative to the United States and its global economic system, particularly with Washington’s waning influence on the global stage. The economic bloc’s proposal to expand will be one of its main focuses this year, according to South Africa’s ambassador to BRICS, Anil Sooklal.
China, the most prominent member state with a GDP of more than twice the size of all other four members combined, is reportedly the one that initiated the discussion on expansion. The move is seen as a way to make the bloc more of a match against current global financial institutions like the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the United Nations.
Sooklal confirmed that the first meeting to discuss the expansion of BRICS was held in early February in South Africa. He added that another three meetings would take place within the next three months to reach a consensus on the criteria, principles, and approaches for BRICS enlargement. A corresponding report is expected to be submitted for consideration to BRICS foreign ministers, whose meeting is scheduled in early June.
While China sees the expansion as a way to boost BRICS, the other member states are said to be wary of Beijing’s hegemonic influence and its allies’ invitation into BRICS, fearing their influence could be diluted. The decision on expanding the group will depend on the criteria and recommendations developed in the upcoming meetings. Saudi Arabia, Iran, Algeria, Turkiye, and Egypt have expressed their interest in joining the economic bloc, and their applications will be considered along with the expansion of the group.