Experts noted that the expansion of BRICS could bring significant economic benefits to its member countries, despite potential differences among them regarding the group’s role in global politics.
This enlargement is seen as a significant step toward multipolarity, driven partly by the Ukraine conflict that has caused divisions between the G7 and the global South.
According to Alan Cafruny, an International Relations professor at Hamilton College, this expansion is a notable achievement for both Russia and China. The Middle Eastern nations have strong trade ties with these two countries, especially with China’s increasing economic and political involvement in the region, exemplified by its mediation of Iran-Saudi relations. Russia also enjoys close relations with Egypt and the UAE, further weakening American influence in the Middle East.
Roderick Kiewiet, a professor of political science at the California Institute of Technology, shared a similar viewpoint, highlighting that the inclusion of economically powerful nations like the UAE, Iran, and Saudi Arabia could have a significant impact on BRICS. These countries’ economic importance due to their oil reserves makes their membership noteworthy.
However, Kiewiet also noted that the diverse political traditions among current and potential BRICS members might hinder their ability to collaborate cohesively on political matters. Western countries, as represented by the G7, OECD, and NATO, share common values of democracy, market-oriented economies, and strong property rights. In contrast, most BRICS+ countries lean toward autocracy, except for India, Argentina, and Brazil which have democratic tendencies.
While the expanded BRICS could become a strong competitor to the G7, the experts acknowledged challenges in achieving unity. China and Russia view BRICS as a platform to challenge the primacy of the US and G7 in geopolitics and geoeconomics.
South Africa and Brazil, however, focus on inclusivity in the global economy rather than geopolitical rivalry. This dichotomy marks a turning point in BRICS dynamics, especially evident during the Johannesburg summit.
Apart from enlargement, the summit also discussed measures to decrease reliance on reserve currencies like the US dollar or the euro for mutual trade within the group. Experts noted the desire to replace or supplement these currencies, although creating a viable alternative is complex.
While an expanded BRICS might undermine the dollar’s status, it will likely remain the primary international reserve currency for now. Nevertheless, BRICS cooperation will make it harder for the US to enforce unilateral and extraterritorial sanctions.
The annual BRICS summit, held in Johannesburg, saw the official invitation extended to Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates to join the group, a move that has implications for the future direction of the bloc.