BRICS Summits

The implications of the expansion of BRICS


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: BRICS

Mains level: BRICS Expansion and significance

What’s the news?

  • The 15th BRICS summit held in Johannesburg recently made headlines with its announcement to expand its membership.

Central idea

  • The 15th BRICS summit in Johannesburg made waves in international diplomacy when it announced the invitation of six new members: Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, Ethiopia, and Argentina. This move signifies BRICS’ commitment to challenging the West-dominated world order and building a more representative international system.

Expanding BRICS: A New Global Landscape

  • The expansion of BRICS to include Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, Ethiopia, and Argentina
  • It was reported that 40 countries have shown interest in BRICS’ membership, with 22 having submitted formal applications.
  • BRICS has been a platform for emerging economies to voice their dissatisfaction with Western-dominated global institutions like the World Bank, IMF, and UN.
  • At the Johannesburg summit, the UN Secretary General labeled these institutions of yesterday’s world, reflecting the need for change.
  • With the inclusion of new members, BRICS now represents 46% of the world’s population and 37% of the global GDP in PPP terms, surpassing the G-7.
  • This expansion also greatly impacts the energy sector, with the BRICS now accounting for 42% of global oil production.

Significance of BRICS Expansion

  • Economic Clout: The BRICS’ share of global GDP in PPP terms rises from 31.5% to 37%, surpassing the G-7. This expansion creates a formidable economic bloc with the potential to shape global economic policies and trade dynamics.
  • Demographic Powerhouse: The BRICS now represent 46% of the world’s population, giving them significant demographic weight. This diverse population can influence global consumer markets and labor forces.
  • Energy Dominance: The inclusion of new members from energy-rich regions, especially West Asia, boosts BRICS’ role in global energy markets. It solidifies BRICS as a major player in shaping global energy policies.
  • Geo-Strategic Influence: West Asian members already have strong ties with BRICS countries, contributing to the group’s geo-strategic significance. Egypt and Ethiopia hold key positions in the Horn of Africa and the Red Sea region, adding to BRICS’ strategic reach.
  • Shared Political Views: BRICS members have historically shared political views on global issues. The new members’ alignment with these views strengthens BRICS’ collective stance on the United Nations, Middle East conflicts, and global terrorism.
  • Multipolar Advocacy: BRICS challenges the Western-dominated international order. The expansion reaffirms BRICS’ commitment to advocating for a multipolar world order and reforming global institutions.
  • Cooperative Opportunities: The inclusion of new members opens avenues for increased cooperation in areas such as trade, investment, infrastructure, and technology transfer. This expansion promotes South-South collaboration.
  • Global Balance Shift: BRICS’ expansion further shifts the global balance of power away from Western-dominated institutions. It elevates the influence of emerging economies in shaping global policies.

BRICS’ Substantial Achievements

  • Consistent Declarations: BRICS leaders have met for over 15 years, consistently overcoming internal divisions and competitions to issue consensual “Declarations” at each summit. These declarations have expanded in content, reflecting the group’s evolving priorities and interests.
  • Focus on Specific Deliverables: The declarations have increasingly focused on specific deliverables, indicating BRICS’ commitment to achieving tangible outcomes. This shift from broad rhetoric to concrete action is a substantial achievement.
  • Intra-BRICS Cooperation: The Johannesburg Declaration emphasizes the importance of intra-BRICS cooperation. Member countries are committed to encouraging the use of local currencies in internal trade and financial transactions, promoting economic integration within the group.
  • Outreach to Developing Nations: BRICS recognizes its role in supporting other developing nations. The group aims to extend its cooperation beyond its borders, reaching out to other countries that share similar development challenges.
  • Shared Political Views: BRICS members have a history of sharing common political views on various global issues. This shared perspective strengthens their collective voice on matters such as the centrality of the United Nations, conflicts in the Middle East, and global terrorism.
  • Promoting Multipolarity: BRICS challenges the Western-dominated international order by advocating for a multipolar world. This advocacy represents a substantial achievement in pushing for reforms and greater representation for emerging economies in global institutions.

Criticisms directed at the BRICS

  • Talk-Shop with No Vision: Some Western commentators have criticized BRICS as being a talk-shop with no clear shared vision or meaningful achievements. This criticism suggests that BRICS meetings and declarations may lack substance and practical outcomes.
  • Lack of Shared Vision: Critics argue that BRICS members have not demonstrated a cohesive or unified vision for the group’s role in global affairs. This criticism implies that the members may have divergent interests that hinder effective cooperation.
  • Limited Achievements: Some critics have suggested that BRICS has not achieved significant or tangible results in its over 15 years of existence. This criticism questions the group’s ability to translate its discussions into meaningful actions or outcomes.
  • Emerging Global Binary Divide: While not explicitly mentioned in the article, there is an implied criticism that BRICS may contribute to an emerging global binary divide or a new cold war between Western and non-Western nations. This view suggests that BRICS could exacerbate global divisions rather than promote cooperation.

Outlook for Regional Affairs

  • West Asia:
  • The new BRICS members from West Asia, such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE, have pursued independent foreign policy paths since 2020.
  • Saudi Arabia, for instance, has actively engaged in de-escalation efforts, including ending the Qatar blockade in January 2021, establishing relations with Turkey, and initiating interactions with Iran in April 2021.
  • These diplomatic engagements culminated in a significant China-brokered accord with Iran in March of the following year.
  • Maritime Expansion: The UAE has also normalized ties with Iran and is actively expanding its maritime presence across key strategic regions, including the Gulf, the Gulf of Aden, the Red Sea, and the Horn of Africa. This maritime expansion underscores the UAE’s growing influence in these areas.

Outlook for Global Affairs

  • Rejecting the Binary Divide:
  • In contrast to Western commentators who perceive an emerging global binary divide or a new cold war, India and other BRICS members reject this view.
  • They insist on asserting their strategic autonomy within a multipolar world order, rejecting the idea of being drawn into simplistic global power struggles.
  • Historical Significance:
  • A recent media report described the Johannesburg summit as a turning point in modern history.
  • This suggests that the expansion of BRICS, combined with its evolving role in global affairs, is seen as a pivotal and historic moment with profound implications for the contemporary international landscape.


  • BRICS continues to assert its strategic autonomy and push for a multipolar world order, challenging Western-led international institutions. This expansion is a turning point in modern history, reflecting the evolving dynamics of global diplomacy.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments


Join us across Social Media platforms.

💥Mentorship New Batch Launch
💥Mentorship New Batch Launch