Building with BRICS

An exclusive economic club between Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa is officially open for new members. 

What happened: The three-day BRICS Summit got underway in Johannesburg yesterday, with 60 guests convening to discuss topics like taking the powerful US dollar down a notch and increasing economic ties around the Global South. 

  • Invitee and leader of the ‘R’ in BRICS, Vladimir Putin, joined via video as South Africa would have been compelled to arrest him for war crimes if he set foot in the country.

Why it matters: As countries around the world look to challenge Western dominance in global and financial affairs, BRICS is attracting more attention than ever. In total, 23 nations have applied to join, per South Africa, including Argentina, Iran, Nigeria, and Saudi Arabia. 

  • More members means more trade, investments, and opportunities to grow influence. As is, the bloc already has 40% of the world’s population and a quarter of its GDP. 

Yes, but: Adding more members could create more confusion than cohesion. Even with just five members, disagreements and differences have hindered major accomplishments. 

In fact, the current members can’t even agree on why they should expand. Russia and China are pushing hard for BRICS to become an explicit geopolitical rival to the G7. While India, which is a little cozier to G7 nations, is worried about taking a hard anti-West stance.—QH