By Sikelelwa Mfundisi

Picture taken from google

In Johannesburg, the group of the world economics, BRICS launched a conference that started on the 22nd of August 2023 ended on the 24th of August 2023. Over a decade after the BRICS group was established, Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa debated whether to expand the membership.

More than 40 countries have expressed interest in joining the group and more than 20 formally applied with Saudi Arabia being one of them.

On Thursday, six nations, including Iran and Saudi Arabia, joined the BRICS group of developing economies. This action suggests a deepening of the Chinese-Russian alliance as tensions rise between the two nations.

Additionally, to joining existing members Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, UAE, Argentina, Egypt, and Ethiopia are also scheduled to join BRICS on Jan. 1, 2024.

It was a surprise when Iran was included in the emerging economies category. Iran, which has the second-largest gas reserves in the world and one-fifth of the Middle East’s oil reserves, asked the BRICS to strengthen political and economic ties with non-Western countries. There is a good chance that Iran’s entrance will increase geopolitical tensions with the West, which could cause concern among certain present bloc members, particularly India.

Ethiopia was once Africa’s brightest light, with one of the world’s fastest-growing economies and a young, charismatic leader called Abiy Ahmed who had won the Nobel Peace Prize. Even though the fighting in Tigray was settled in November, Mr. Abiy’s forces have begun a new conflict with armed militias in another location.

The economy crumbled, the US cut off food aid to Ethiopia and curtailed trade privileges, and Mr. Abiy has worked to keep Ethiopia stable.

“We value the interest of other countries in building a partnership with BRICS,” President Cyril Ramaposa said.

He then added that they have tasked their Foreign Ministers to prepare a list of prospective partner countries by the next summit and further develop the BRICS partner country model.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are two of the world’s top oil producers and are political and economic titans of the Persian Gulf. Their inclusion will enhance the bloc’s efforts to challenge the US-dominated global order.
They both rely on the US for security in a dangerous region. Despite being longtime allies of the US, they have grown tired of their previous collaboration and have drifted apart on issues such as oil production, the Ukraine crisis, and their relations with Iran and Syria.

Since dollars were scarce, Egypt had to significantly weaken its currency, which made it harder for it to meet its obligations and contributed to the misery of ordinary Egyptians. Although Egypt receives a lot of American aid, it maintains a strong relationship with Russia and is expanding its trade with China.

When investors fled Egypt in a panic, wheat and petrol prices soared, and investors withdrew billions of dollars. Over the past 1.5 years, Egypt has become increasingly keen on weaning itself off American dependence as it has learned how difficult it can be to rely on the dollar. A financial crisis arose because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which spiralled Egypt’s economy.

According to Argentina’s President Alberto Fernández in a taped speech on Thursday, joining the BRICS was an economic opportunity as his country is experiencing one of the worst economic crises in decades.

Gabriel Merino, a specialist in international relations based in Buenos Aires, says Argentina’s entry into the BRICS will strengthen current markets and create new ones. It will also open additional financial options to the nation once it joins the additional Development Bank of the BRICS.

President Cyril Ramaposa said, “We have noted that there is global momentum for the use of local currencies, alternative financial arrangements, and alternative payment systems. As BRICS, we are ready to explore opportunities for improving the stability, reliability, and fairness of the global financial architecture.”

Reference list

Anon, 2023. BRICS Chair President Cyril Ramaposa’s Media Briefing Remarks announcing the outcomes of the XV BRICS Summit, 24 August 2023 – DIRCO. [online] Available at: [28 Aug. 2023].

AP News. 2023. Iran and Saudi Arabia are among 6 nations set to join China and Russia in the BRICS economic bloc. [online] Available at: [25 Aug. 2023].

Burke, J. and correspondent, J.B.A. 2023. Brics group looks to expand at summit despite divisions among key members. The Guardian. [online] at: [23 Aug. 2023].

Chiappa, C. 2023. 6 new countries to join BRICS, including Iran and Saudi Arabia. [online] POLITICO. Available at: [30 Aug. 2023].

Fassihi, F., Yee, V., Alcoba, N. and Walsh, D. 2023. What to Know About the 6 Nations Invited to Join BRICS. The New York Times. [online] at: [28 Aug. 2023].

France 24. 2023. Expansion and a common currency on agenda at BRICS summit. [online] Available at: [25 Aug. 2023]. 2023. What is BRICS? Group of world leaders that considered making a new currency meet to discuss economy – CBS News. [online] Available at: [23 Aug. 2023].

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