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Exploring BRICS Summit outcomes and expansion plans

Sameera Casmod | sameerac@radioislam.co.za
28 August 2023 | 11:01am SAST
2-min read

Picture: Visual Capitalist

South Africa- The 15th BRICS Summit, held recently in South Africa, has generated significant attention as world leaders convened to discuss cooperation among the top emerging economies. Among the notable outcomes of the summit, the announcement that Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE have been invited to join the BRICS grouping has captured international interest.

The BRICS bloc, originally formed in 2009 with Brazil, Russia, India, and China, expanded to include South Africa in 2010. This expansion marked a significant step towards fostering cooperation and dialogue among major emerging economies. To discuss the implications of new expansion efforts and the broader objectives of BRICS, Na’eem Jeenah, the executive director of the Johannesburg-based Afro Middle East Centre, shared his insights in an interview on Radio Islam International.

Jeenah highlighted the original purpose of the BRICS grouping, tracing its conception back to an idea proposed by economist Jim O’Neill. The concept of bringing these four countries together as a powerful economic bloc gained traction, leading to the establishment of BRICS. Jeenah emphasised that while BRICS doesn’t adhere to the organisational structure seen in other international organisations like the G7, it has evolved as a platform for economic and diplomatic engagement among its members.

One of the main points of discussion during the interview centred around the expansion of BRICS to include new members. Jeenah addressed the potential significance of inviting countries from diverse regions, such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, UAE, and Egypt, to join BRICS. While acknowledging regional complexities and diverse economic and political landscapes, Jeenah discussed the strategic considerations and shared interests that might have influenced the invitation of these countries.

The interview also touched on the perception that BRICS could emerge as a rival or opposition to Western powers. Jeenah offered insights into the nature of BRICS, emphasising that while it provides an alternative voice on the global stage, it is not positioning itself as an anti-Western bloc. He noted that member countries maintain various degrees of engagement with Western nations, and the primary focus of BRICS lies in cooperation, rather than confrontation.

Addressing some speculative narratives, Jeenah commented on discussions surrounding the creation of a common currency within BRICS, the idea of de-dollarisation, and the perception of BRICS as a significant opposition to Western powers.

“There are three things that have been hyped up, not by the governments of these countries, but by supporters of the BRICS bloc, and perhaps through some wishful thinking. One is that there will be a common currency. Two is that this is a huge move towards de-dollarisation, or displacing the US dollar as a global reserve currency. And three is that the new BRICS bloc is now a kind of big power opposition to the western bloc. All of these are fantasy.”

He highlighted that these notions might not accurately represent the immediate priorities and objectives of BRICS member countries. Instead, he pointed out that cooperation, economic collaboration, and providing alternative perspectives on global issues remain at the forefront of BRICS’ activities.

Listen to the full interview on Sabaahul Muslim with Moulana Junaid Kharsany here.

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