BRICS on the cusp of expansion, leaders discuss strengthening the bloc

The BRICS leaders with their hands clasped together and aloft pose for a group picture.

Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, China's President Xi Jinping, President Cyril Ramaphosa, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in a group photograph, at the BRICS summit in Johannesburg yesterday. Picture: AFP

Published Aug 24, 2023


The leaders of BRICS countries were in unanimous agreement that expansion was necessary for the bloc as it seeks to become a larger grouping of developing countries from the Global South.

At least 20 countries have applied to be part of the bloc and yesterday President Cyril Ramaphosa, Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, People’s Republic of China President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin (via video link) and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi were seized with discussions on how an expanded group would work.

Xi and Putin have suggested that the expanded group be referred to as “BRICS Plus” and among those seeking inclusion are Algeria, Egypt, Argentina, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates.

The leaders attended the 15th BRICS summit in Johannesburg and while the gathering ends today, there are suggestions that a declaration on the expansion may not necessarily be announced soon.

Ramaphosa congratulated India and Modi, saying yesterday’s landing of the spacecraft Chandrayaan-3 on the moon was a momentous occasion for the BRICS family.

Regarding the group’s expansion, Ramaphosa said economic upheavals and uncertainty needed a strong grouping that would offer stability.

“Yes, President Xi, you are in full support of the expansion of BRICS as has been articulated by all members that we stand at the cusp of expanding the BRICS family because it is through this expansion that we will be able to have a much stronger BRICS,” said Ramaphosa.

Putin said BRICS was a credible entity in the global arena with an ever-growing influence on global affairs.

“The aspirations of the global majority rely on developing countries acting together to deal with the most pressing issues in the global and regional agenda. BRICS stands for the rights of people to pursue their own development path.”

Modi said India fully supported the expansion of the bloc, based on consensus. He said the country was leading in innovation and technology and was willing to share these platforms with all BRICS partners to complement one another in their development journeys.

“Despite the volatility of the past few years, India has become one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. No doubt, in the future India will become a global leader. We have carried out the reforms that drove ease of doing business, and India has seen a boost in investor confidence,” he said.

Xi said BRICS would grow steadily and make a greater contribution to world peace and development.

“People to people contact should underpin our unity around BRICS, there must be respect for the modernisation paths that countries have opted for and there should not be ideological competition. Yes, we are in full support of expansion, we stand at the cusp of expansion and then we will have a stronger BRICS in these turbulent times that we live in.

“We await the decision that will be taken by the leaders,” Xi said.

Lula said the many requests by countries to join BRICS showed its growing relevance. He said other countries were committed to achieving a peaceful world and this was appreciated by members of the current group.