Nearly twenty nations have expressed interest in joining the BRICS economic bloc, ahead of the China-led group’s annual meeting in early June, Bloomberg reported Monday.
The economic alliance — composed of the emerging markets of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — will consider its expansion at its Cape Town, South Africa meeting, after China first proposed the idea at last year’s meeting, which it hosted, according to Bloomberg. China economically dominates the bloc — which it is hoping to develop into a diplomatic and economic counterweight to the U.S.-led international economic order.
“What will be discussed is the expansion of BRICS and the modalities of how this will happen,” Anil Sooklal, South Africa’s representative in the group. said in a Monday press conference, according to Bloomberg. “Thirteen countries have formally asked to join and another six have asked informally. We are getting applications to join every day.”
China has been jockeying to establish its yuan as a viable alternative to the dollar in international trade for some time, and has encouraged BRICS nations to trade in their local currencies instead of the dollar, according to Foreign Policy. Smaller and developing nations, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region, have expressed concern that the aggressive U.S.-led sanctions on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine have shown that other countries cannot guarantee they will always have access to the U.S. dollar.
Some BRICS members have reportedly expressed concern that if too many of China’s allies are admitted, it will exert even more influence over the bloc’s actions than it currently does, Bloomberg reported. The group has only added one new nation since its inception in 2006, adding South Africa in 2010.
While it was not immediately clear which nations had expressed interest in joining, Sooklal in February said that Saudi Arabia and Iran had launched formal applications, according to Bloomberg. Saudi Arabian state-owned oil giant Aramco recently signed a series of multibillion dollar oil and natural gas deals with several state-owned Chinese energy firms .
Egypt announced in March that it had joined the BRICS New Development Bank (NDB), with members of the country’s parliament expressing a desire to reduce demand for U.S. dollars, according to Indian news outlet, Economic Times. The NBD’s board of governors in late 2020 authorized it to engage with possible BRICS member states.
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