A bigger BRICS – Expansion of the group

Source: The post is based on an article “A bigger BRICS – Expansion of the group is in offing, challenge for founder members is to ensure it does not become a Chinese bandwagon” published in The Indian Express on 3rd July 2023.

Syllabus: GS 2 – Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Relevance: challenges associated with the expansion of BRICS

News: Middle-sized countries with strong economies in the global south are looking to join BRICS.

Why are those countries interested in joining BRICS?

BRICS represents 40 percent of the world’s population and 23 percent of global GDP, making it an attractive grouping for other countries.

Further, the change in the geopolitical shifts in the world from the time of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, has prompted these countries in the global south to look for a platform that can acknowledge their voice and power. These both are potentially possible in BRICS.

Over 20 countries are in line for membership, with Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, the UAE, Egypt, and Argentina expected to be granted membership this August.

Must Read: The paradox of BRICS, its new pathway

What are the challenges with expanding BRICS grouping?

An increase in membership is likely to weigh the group in favour of China because some countries waiting to join are also part of the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative.

This raise concerns that an expanded BRICS could be seen as a Chinese-led anti-American bloc. 

India, which has been strengthening its bilateral relationship with the US, has been concerned about expansion. India views China’s role in driving these countries for membership of BRICS along with the support of Russia.

India also raised its concern in last year’s BRICS that any addition of new members must follow the carefully thought-out objective criteria for membership.

This should be mutually discussed among the present members, so that all are of the same view regarding expansion.

Further, at the BRICS foreign ministers’ meeting last month, India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar emphasized the need to consider the ways in which existing BRICS countries collaborate with each other and engages with non-BRICS countries.

Must Read: BRICS FM meeting in South Africa: What’s on the agenda?

What lies ahead?

Despite the concerns, India may not be able to prevent expansion entirely, as many of the countries are also friends of India. Hence, India seems to have accepted the possibility of limited addition of five new members.

However, the challenge would be for the original BRICS members and the new entrants to ensure that the group does not become a Chinese bandwagon.

Print Friendly and PDF