Expansion of BRICS

  • The Leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) took a call recently to expand the BRICS grouping from five countries to 11.
  • The Johannesburg declaration, issued after the summit, said Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) had been invited to become full members from January 1, 2024

Origin of BRICS

(World Map): Global Map with BRICS Countries

  • In 2001, the BRIC was first used by Goldman Sachs in their Global Economics Paper, ‘The World Needs Better Economic BRICs’.
  • This paper projected that the four economies of Brazil, Russia, India, and China would be among the world’s largest economies in the next 50 years or so.
  • The first BRIC Summit was held in Yekaterinburg, Russia, in 2009.
  • It was decided to include South Africa at the BRIC Foreign Ministers’ meeting in New York in 2010, and so, South Africa attended the 3rd BRICS Summit in Sanya, China, in 2011.
  • Currently, BRICS brings together five of the largest developing countries of the world, representing around 41 per cent of the global population, around 24 per cent of the global GDP, and around 16 per cent of global trade.

Significance of BRICS

  • With the rise in uncertainty in the world and shifting political and security equations draw new geo political dimensions.
  • There is widespread anxiety about their vulnerability to US sanctions of the kind that froze a significant part of Russia’s foreign exchange reserves.
  • Promotion of trade in local currencies and the raising of funds through local currency bonds, which BRICS has been promoting, are a modest and useful beginning for attraction .
  • In the 15 years of its existence, BRICS’ key achievement has been the BRICS New Development Bank (NDB), which has become a modest source of development finance for developing countries
  • BRICS has set up a contingency reserve which may be drawn upon by a member who may be facing balance of payments problems.
  • It has not been used so far.
  • There has been more recent progress in promoting the use of local currencies for trade settlement, but the talk of creating an alternative BRICS currency rivalling the US dollar is a long way to achieve
  • The interest in BRICS also reflects a growing frustration among developing countries that their interests and aspirations continue to be ignored by the developed countries.
  • International institutions like the UN and multilateral financial institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank continue to be dominated by the G7.
  • As the economic and security profile of the major emerging economies continues to expand, there is a more insistent demand for a greater voice in global governance.

Expansion of BRICS

  • The role of BRICS will expand as the economic, technological and military capabilities of its members continue to increase and narrow the gap with the G7 advanced countries.
  • India’s successful Chandrayan mission coinciding with the BRICS summit underscored the fact that this was a grouping of substantial powers, not like the gathering of the weak that was characteristic of the Non-Aligned Movement during the Cold War.
  • The expanded membership will make BRICS an energy superpower, with Saudi Arabia, Iran and Russia dominating the global energy market.
    • But unlike the G7, BRICS lacks a broad ideological affinity and coherence.
  • The G7 has also matured over half a century since its birth in the wake of the oil crisis and resultant high inflation in 1973.
    • BRICS has a history of only 15 years.
  • Furthermore, while in terms of GDP, trade and investment volumes, BRICS has caught up with the G7, its members have sharper internal contestations.
    • The India-China rivalry is an example.
  • The G7 are also a tightly knit security grouping.
  • All its members are also members of NATO and Japan is a US treaty ally.
  • The BRICS countries do not have a common security perspective.

New BRICS as per India

  • For India, a policy of participating in multiple groupings, which helps address its now multi-faceted interests and aspirations, has proved to be a sound one.
  • An expanded BRICS need not detract from India’s interests and it does not need to choose between BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the Quad and regular engagement with the G7 as has now become the practice over several years.
  • These expand India’s diplomatic options and help in smoothing the rough edges of an increasingly polarised world.


  • It is more likely that this new architecture of international governance will be fashioned in forums such as the G20, where both advanced and major emerging economies are represented, rather than be spearheaded by BRICS or the G7.