- BRICS bloc expands from five to 11 members, set to represent nearly 38.5% of global GDP by 2028.
- New Middle Eastern members aim to solidify the group’s energy security, offsetting Western sway.
The Evolution of BRICS
BRICS, an acronym for Brazil, Russia, India, China, and later South Africa, emerged as a powerful association of major economies. Initially coined in 2001 by Goldman Sachs chief economist Jim O’Neill, the bloc’s objective was to challenge the prevailing Western influence, particularly that of the U.S.
The member nations collectively represent over 40% of the global population and a quarter of the world’s economy. Historically centered on geopolitical interests, economic collaboration, and multilateral trade and development, the bloc’s influence has only grown. Since its inception, over 40 nations expressed interest in joining, a testament to its allure.
Sanctions and Solidarity: The Energy Dynamics
The imposition of Western sanctions on Russia has inadvertently bolstered BRICS’ unity. Russell Hardy, CEO of Vitol, points out the duality of these sanctions. While they decrease Russia’s revenue from its energy commodities, they simultaneously deepen the ties among BRICS nations.
August saw the BRICS family growing with invitations extended to Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, Iran, Argentina, and Ethiopia. By 2024, once these nations formally join, the bloc will command an impressive 37.3% of global GDP, a figure forecasted to ascend to 38.5% by 2028.
This expansion isn’t merely about numbers. It’s about resource control. Current BRICS members hold approximately 5,493 tonnes of gold. When it comes to oil, members like Russia, Brazil, and China account for 21% of global production. But with the entry of oil-rich nations like Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Iran, BRICS will oversee about 41% of global oil production.
Strategic Expansion: Beyond Numbers
The selection of the new members, especially with a Middle Eastern focus, has raised eyebrows in global circles. Sanusha Naidu, of the South African Institute for Global Dialogue, underscores the geo-economic, geostrategic, and geopolitical implications of this choice. The desire is clear: BRICS nations, many of which aren’t energy producers, aim to ensure their energy security without being ensnared in the quagmire of sanctions.
Fereidun Fesharaki, chairman of Facts Global Energy, captures the essence of this BRICS evolution, “BRICS is the candidate” to serve as a counterweight to the G7 or G20, especially given the shared irritations with U.S. policies.
With the world order experiencing shifts and the echo of the COVID-19 pandemic still resonating, BRICS stands at a juncture. The addition of new members is not just about enlarging numbers; it’s a strategic move towards greater global influence, leveraging vast resources, and an increasingly significant share of the world’s population.