BRICS expansion sparks debate

MOSCOW (Russia)� Leaders of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, Russia, India and South Africa) have expressed full-fledged satisfaction of the Group’s performance using its current format that include the Big Five, BRICS Plus and Outreach, and consequently have no plans to increase its numerical strength in the near future.

Russian leader Vladimir Putin made the Group’s position known during his final media conference held at the 2018 BRICS summit in Johannesburg, South Africa.

He said BRICS was an organic association of countries sharing many things in common: – shared interests and common approaches to addressing challenges that were relevant to all of humanity.

This is one of its key advantages, and today, many countries are showing an interest in BRICS.

Concerning the group’s expansion, BRICS Plus and Outreach format have already been created to this effect. For now, we agreed to rely on these formats for expanding our reach and drawing into our orbit countries that share the underlying principles and values of BRICS, the President Putin added.

While many viewed the existing formats of interaction effective, he said any questions regarding enlargement in future would definitely need additional thorough discussions and final consideration.

But so far, we have no plans to expand BRICS membership, since the existing formats have proven effective.

As for discussions of issues we intend to address, these are issues relevant for a vast majority of countries and economies around the world. The sky is the limit for us, the Russian leader stated.

The first meeting of the Group began in St Petersburg in 2005. It was called RIC, acronym for Russia, India and China. Brazil and South Africa joined later, and now referred to as BRICS.

President Putin said the initial goals and tasks were modest, primarily focused on the economy, and the coordination of efforts toward attaining more ambitious goals

As more members joined the Group, it developed into a full-scale organisation with new spheres of activity and broader common interestsn.

Experts expressed different views in GNA interviews with Nandan Unnikrishnan, Research Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, India, saying there was nothing wrong in trying to expand the BRICS if the new countries met the criteria of what it represented and their entry added to the cohesion of the grouping.

However, it appears that at this stage of the evolution of BRICS the need of the hour is not expansion, but consolidation, given developments in the world as well as in each of the BRICS countries.

Secondly, BRICS is quite clear about the Africa’s developmental needs. The question is how to mobilise the necessary resources to propel Africa’s development over and above their bilateral commitments to African countries.

All the BRICS countries had been facing economic challenges, which they needed to address urgently. .

Charles Robertson, Chief Economist at Renaissance Capital, argued that the BRICS was just a concept from Goldman with little intellectual coherence and that all four of the original BRIC countries had a-historically low GDP and they were likely to rebound in size.

They were populous and among them, were two commodity importers and two commodity exporters. South Africa was a late minor addition to the group, to add a bridgehead to Africa angle.

So, it could expand because the BRICS are under-represented in the global financial architecture. Europe and the US dominate institutions like the IMF and the World Bank, and to some extent many others, he wrote in comments to GNA.

According to him, Russia and others in the BRICS would like to see larger power centres emerge to offer an alternative to that Western domination. That is reasonable enough � providing there are countries with the money to backstop the new institutions, such as China supporting the BRICS bank, and if the countries offer an alternative vision that provides benefits to new members.

Robertson, however, questioned whether a broader BRICS + body would offer tariff-free access to their markets as the EU and the US can? I doubt that. Can they offer financing via a BRICS bank. Perhaps!

Now, is a very good time to show that BRICS members and relations between them are an alternative to the format existing in the West, Executive Director of the Russian National Committee for BRICS Research, Professor Georgy Toloraya, told the Kommersant – a Russian daily business newspaper, adding that BRICS favours order, compliance with agreements and development.

There were plans to expand the Group and that was why the leaders of Argentina, Turkey, Indonesia and some African countries invited to the summit.

According to Toloraya, India was currently opposed to expanding BRICS fearing that new members would support China.

On the other hand, Moscow had been making a strong case that “the entrance ticket” to the group was independence and sovereignty, and under no circumstance, potential candidates be called China’s satellites.

The BRICS member countries collectively represent about 26 percent of the world’s geographic area and are home to 2.88 billion people, about 42 per cent of the world’s population.

Source: Ghana News Agency