Expanding BRICS To Meet the Needs of The Global South

By Jessie Taylor 

The recent BRICS Summit in South Africa has reaffirmed a partnership to promote the interests of the Global South while expanding collaboration with new members. Announcing the outcomes of the Summit, President Cyril Ramaphosa, the current BRICS chairperson, said that six nations would join the BRICS bloc. The 15th BRICS Summit took place at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg between 22 and 24 August. It is the first BRICS Summit to be hosted in person since the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent global travel restrictions.

The Summit provided an opportunity for BRICS leaders to engage each other, as well as the New Development Bank and the BRICS Business Council. Leading up to the Summit, a wide-ranging BRICS business programme was aimed at attracting investment, promoting collaboration and showcasing opportunities within South Africa, Africa and BRICS countries.

A Diverse Group Of Nations With Shared Interests

President Ramaphosa announced that Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates have been invited to become full members of BRICS. The membership will take effect from 1 January 2024. President Ramaphosa said that BRICS is a diverse group of nations but is an “equal partnership of countries that have differing views but have a shared vision for a better world”.

“As the five BRICS countries, we have reached an agreement on the guiding principles, standards, criteria and procedures of the BRICS expansion process, which has been under discussion for quite a while. We have consensus on the first phase of this expansion process, and further phases will follow,” he said. President Ramaphosa added that the current BRICS member states’ Foreign Ministers have been tasked with developing a BRICS partner country model and a list of prospective partner countries.

The inclusion of additional nations is a significant step in the bloc expanding its reach and influence, and the new members will likely lead to a stronger coalition of developing nations that can promote the interests of the Global South. 

Working Towards Viable Solutions

The expansion aims to create opportunities for BRICS nations to trade more easily with local currencies. This topic was discussed at length by member states during the Summit. “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,” said President Ramaphosa.

“The Summit agreed to task the BRICS Finance Ministers and/or Central Bank Governors, as appropriate, to consider the issue of local currencies, payment instruments and platforms and report back to the BRICS leaders by the next Summit.” President Ramaphosa said that the Summit had allowed BRICS member states to discuss viable solutions for common challenges faced by the global South.


“We shared our vision of BRICS as a champion of the needs and concerns of the peoples of the Global South. These include the need for beneficial economic growth, sustainable development and reform of multilateral systems,” he said. “We reiterate our commitment to inclusive multilateralism and upholding international law, including the purposes and principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter.”

BRICS is a partnership between Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The five emerging markets and developing countries combined make up 42% of the global population, 30% of the world’s territory, 23% of GDP and 18% of global trade. The partnership is based on the shared commitment to restructure the global political, economic, and financial architecture to be fair, balanced and representative. At the heart of the partnership are the values of multilateralism and international law. The partnership was formed between Brazil, Russia, India and China in 2006, with South Africa joining in 2010.

More than 40 countries expressed interest in joining BRICS, and 23 formally applied to join. The six that were selected met the guiding principles, standards, criteria and procedures of the BRICS expansion process. BRICS champions the interests of the broader global South. The member countries work towards practical cooperation in a spirit of openness and solidarity to find mutual interests and common values through more than 150 meetings annually.

The meetings are in aid of political and security cooperation, financial and economic cooperation, and cultural and people-to-people cooperation. Over 30 agreements and memoranda of understanding provide a legal foundation for cooperation. BRICS cooperation provides tangible benefits for South Africa through science, technology and innovation, energy, health, and education cooperation, as well as through BRICS financing for infrastructure development, capacity building, research, educational and skilling, trade, investment, and tourism opportunities.

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