BRICS leaders expand meeting in South Africa

  • The BRICS summit will be held in Johannesburg from August 22 to 24
  • Extending the meeting to the main agenda
  • Dozens of countries are interested in joining

JOHANNESBURG, Aug 22 (Reuters) – Leaders of BRICS nations – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – gathered in Johannesburg on Tuesday for a summit where they will weigh expanding the bloc, with some members trying to counterbalance it. towards the west.

Global tensions fueled by the Ukraine war and growing rivalry between China and the United States have added urgency to the push to strengthen the bloc, which has at times suffered from internal divisions and a lack of coherent vision.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa hosted China’s Xi Jinping, a leading proponent of BRICS expansion, on a state visit on Tuesday morning ahead of meetings with other leaders of the group.

Brazil’s Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will also attend the summit, which will be held from August 22 to 24.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is wanted under an international arrest warrant for alleged war crimes in Ukraine, will not travel to South Africa and instead will almost certainly not join.

“The enlarged BRICS will represent a diverse group of countries with diverse political systems that share a common desire to achieve a more balanced global order,” South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa said ahead of the meetings.

Increasing the use of member states’ local currencies is also on the agenda. However, organizers of the South African summit say there will be no discussions on the BRICS currency, which was introduced by Brazil earlier this year as an alternative to dependence on the dollar.

Point of view

BRICS remains a diverse group, from China, the world’s second-largest economy, currently mired in recession, to South Africa, which is hosting this year and an economic minnow facing a power crisis that has led to daily blackouts.

India, like Brazil, has increasingly reached out to the West under its new leader, as Russia has been hit by Western sanctions over its war on Ukraine.

Two members — India and China — have clashed periodically over their disputed border, adding to the challenge of decision-making in a group that relies on consensus.

Expansion has long been China’s goal, hoping to give wider membership influence to a group that is home to about 40% of the world’s population and a quarter of global GDP.

Leaders will hold a small retreat and dinner on Tuesday evening, where they are likely to discuss a framework and criteria for admitting new countries.

But expansion has become a controversial issue.

Russia is eager to bring in new members to counter its diplomatic isolation over its occupation of Ukraine. South Africa also expressed support.

India, which is wary of Chinese hegemony, has cautioned against rapid expansion, with “a positive mindset and an open mind,” Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwadra said on Monday. Meanwhile, Brazil worries that BRICS expansion will reduce its influence.

While potential BRICS expansion is up in the air, the group’s pledge to champion the developing “Global South” and offer an alternative to a world order dominated by the wealthy West is already resonating.

South African officials say more than 40 countries have expressed interest in joining the BRICS. Of those, about two dozen have formally applied, and some are expected to send delegations to Johannesburg.

Reporting by Bharkav Acharya in Johannesburg and Garion du Plessis in Pretoria; Written by Joe Bevier; Editing by Andy Sullivan, William McLean

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Based in Johannesburg, Barkau reports on breaking news across sub-Saharan Africa. He previously spent three and a half years in Bangalore, India as part of Reuters’ Global News Monitoring team. He holds a Masters in International Studies.

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