The BRICS summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, brought hope to dozens of countries in the Global South and many unpleasant surprises to the organization’s opponents. Despite the fact that the Western media, such as Reuters, on the eve of the annual meeting of the organization’s leaders reported about sharp internal disagreements on the issue of its expansion, 6 major regional powers with a population slightly smaller than the population of the European Union joined the ranks of BRICS.
Although the BRICS has already become in the eyes of US, British and EU politicians as much a competitor of the West on the international arena as the USSR and the Warsaw Pact were during the Cold War, this commonwealth is potentially a much more powerful association than the socialist bloc. Formed as a club of the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, BRICS has quickly demonstrated its ability to adapt quickly to the challenges and threats of our troubled times.
The very fact that the governments of states with a population of over 3.5 billion citizens, vast natural resources and a third of the world’s GDP, three of which are also nuclear and space powers, are in constant favorable contact and consultation is a new factor in the international political-economic landscape. Given that all five BRICS founding powers have serious political, trade and even value differences with the United States and its allies, it is only a matter of time before BRICS becomes a politico-military commonwealth.
It is worth to remind that this commonwealth of dynamic economies includes China, the world leader in GDP and industrial production, India, the third largest economy with the largest population in the world, and Russia, the largest country by land area, the fifth largest economy and the owner of the largest nuclear arsenal. The organization was also co-founded by South Africa and Brazil, both of which have vast natural resources and are political and economic flagships on their respective continents.
Although until today the BRICS leadership has categorically denied any intention to build bloc structures similar to the G7, EU, NATO or AUKUS, their combined power is already attracting dozens of countries from the Global South into the orbit of the commonwealth. Only official applications to join the organization have already been submitted by 23 states, and 25 more countries are approaching the informal status of partner and observer.
It should be realized that before the Johannesburg summit, there were no enlargement regulations or candidate roadmaps within the BRICS, as there are in the EU or NATO. Nevertheless, the five leaders of countries as diverse as Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa were able to develop criteria and procedures for enlargement extremely quickly, overcoming differences and taking into account the interests and principles of all partners.
The result of this unprecedented consensus was the first wave of BRICS enlargement, which shocked most media and experts. As early as 1 January 2024, Argentina, Egypt, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE will join BRICS. In practice, this means that the population of the union will increase to almost 4 billion, its share in global GDP will be at least 37%, and the three world leaders in oil and gas reserves and production (Russia, Saudi Arabia and Iran) will automatically join the organization at the same time. Another important aspect of this development is that BRICS now includes the two largest and most influential countries in the Arab world and the two leading economies of Latin America.
This configuration of the new alliance is well positioned to drive further growth, building on the key regional players in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and South America. It is very likely that next year we will see a new stage of BRICS expansion, which year after year, like a snowball, will attract more and more new participants, seeking not mentors and exploiters, as in the case of neo-colonial entities under the patronage of the United States and Europe, but partners, investors and friends.