After months of publicity leaders of the BRICS nations – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, are holding their much anticipated summit in Johannesburg.
South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa will host Chinese President Xi Jinping, Brazil’s Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the duration of the summit which starts on Tuesday and ends on Thursday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin who is wanted under an international arrest warrant for alleged war crimes in Ukraine, will not travel to South Africa, but is expected to join virtually.
Key on the agenda for this year’s summit is the push by some members for the bloc to become a major global force through membership expansion.
At the summit the BRICS leaders are expected to discuss the membership expansion proposal that could make the bloc a threat and an alternative to the West.
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“An expanded BRICS will represent a diverse group of nations with different political systems that share a common desire to have a more balanced global order,” South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, said in an address ahead of the meetings.
Divergent views over expansion
The bloc’s heavyweight like China believes that broader membership will give it an influential position in global affairs.
Russia and South Africa support such an expansion drive but India is wary of Chinese dominance and has warned against rushing expansion. Brazil on the other hand is concerned that growing BRICS will dilute its influence.
Already at least 40 countries are said to have expressed interest in joining BRICS with over 20 formally asking to be admitted.
Iran, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Argentina, Algeria, Bolivia, Indonesia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Comoros, Gabon, and Kazakhstan have all expressed interest in joining, according to South African officials.
Brazil has also suggested there should be a currency for the bloc to counter the dominance of the American dollar, but leaders would not discuss that, instead promote the use of member states’ local currencies.
History of BRICS
The bloc was founded in 2009, initiated by Russia to provide a platform for its members to challenge a world order dominated by the United States and the West.
The 1st BRIC summit was held in Yekaterinburg, Russia on 16 June 2009. Brazil, Russia, India and China are the founding members.
BRIC was then renamed as BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) after South Africa joined as a full member at the BRIC Foreign Ministers’ meeting in New York in September 2010.
BRICS is home to some 40% of the world’s population and a quarter of global GDP.