BRICS officials recently announced that 13 countries, all ranging from diverse geographies, were interested in joining the association, with six of them already having submitted their applications. After China took the initiative last year to expand the grouping to a second generation of developing economies, BRICS+ continues to grow in importance. This article explores the idea of BRICS+ and the expansion plans surrounding it.
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BRICS, the informal grouping of the world’s fastest-growing & emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China & South Africa is set for an expansion in ambit and membership. The economic bloc has secured much importance in the recent past, especially as an active trading bloc and a balancing system to the USA’s global economic influence.
The previous year noted an acceleration in the call for membership into the grouping, from several developing economies, originating from diverse geographies.
The BRICS group is set to meet and decide on important decisions concerning this expansion – primarily discussing the criteria of extending such membership, and to hear upon the formal requests from Saudi Arabia & Iran seeking to join the grouping. According to South Africa’s ambassador to BRICS, Anil Sookal,
“The proposal to expand the bloc will be one of its main focuses this year.”
The two middle eastern countries are however not the only countries wishing to gain membership in what is considered to be one of the most impactful economic club of nations in the contemporary period. Countries such as Argentina, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Algeria and many others have been pushing for due consideration.
However the group is still deciding upon the criteria for such membership. Among the key criteria, much emphasis is being put on the role that may be played by the candidate country in the region they belong to, alongside also reflecting the values of BRICS – that eventually also shows up in the scale of cooperation that the country is likely to show to BRICS within the existing framework.
As experts from Modern Diplomacy write, another possible criterion may be an even-handed representation of the main regions of the developing world in the BRICS/BRICS+ circle. This implies something similar to a region-wise quota that the UN Security Council membership has, but one specific for equitably representing the Global South.
As per these criteria, experts and BRICS insiders have narrowed down the list of potential countries that might form the second wave of the grouping. This list forms an almost shadow grouping of its own, taking up the name PEAKS, or InPEAKS, comprising of the following emerging economies,
|Indonesia||East Asia||G20 member and largest ASEAN economy|
|Pakistan||South Asia||Second most important economic power in the region after India|
|Egypt||Africa||One of the leading economic powers in Africa, member of the Arab Trade Zone & African Union, and dialogue partner to the SCO and a major trading country|
|Argentina||Latin America||An agricultural heavyweight and a major global supplier, and second largest member of the MERCOSUR|
|Kazakhstan||Eurasia||A major energy exporter and a full-member of the SCO|
|Saudi Arabia||Middle East||Holders of one of the largest share of petroleum deposits, member of OPEC, the GCC & Arab Trade Zone, and dialogue partner of the SCO|
Potential countries that might join BRICS
The InPEAKS constitutes a grouping that works closely with the core grouping under the larger umbrella of the BRICS+ process. All of the above countries (except Pakistan) have already participated in BRICS+ events, and have either applied formally or expressed exclusive interest in joining the core grouping.
The above list is in no way exhaustive. As already mentioned, Algeria & Iran are formally seeking membership as of the current date. Other countries such as Afghanistan, Senegal, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Thailand, Turkiye have all signaled interest in BRICS+ activities. You can read more about these country profiles here.
How To Integrate InPEAKS To BRICS?
However what differentiates the InPEAKS potential grouping, is that unlike other countries, they have been acting in a sort of a ‘second-wave’ capacity for the core member economies.
In 2018, it was realized that grouping’s expansion is not just about formally increasing core membership, but to develop “new BRICS” – more such successful groupings of emerging economies for their collective formal development. This allowed for the InPEAKS group to develop on its own, and now come to the fore as a circle of second generation of BRICS economies as full-fledged extension of BRICS is now being heavily discussed.
Further iterations of the BRICS+ format in the years to come will attempt to build better relationships between BRICS and their partners from the InPEAKS circle. The fact that abundant instances of BRICS & InPEAKS cooperation already exists – creates great hopes for existing precedents to expand the core more seamlessly.
The BEAMS Approach
The grouping also applies one more approach to decide its expansion strategy, and that is to achieve regional inclusion through the integration of crucial regional blocks and organizations from the parts of the world where BRICS+ majorly operates.
By narrowing down a few of such organizations, the approach is currently given the acronym BEAMS – comprising of BIMSTEC (South Asia), Eurasian Economic Union (Eurasia), African Union (Africa), MERCOSUR (Latin America) & Shanghai Cooperation Organization (Asia).
If one tallies the table above giving the details of the InPEAKS circle, one would notice that the economies are all core members of almost all of the above organizations. Therefore, the InPEAKS circle is likely to merge with the BEAMS approach while moving towards formal expansion of BRICS.
Significance of BRICS+InPEAKS
If expansion goes through the formal process, and the InPEAKS circle alongside other interested countries absorbed to the core grouping – then the resulting bloc will have a combined GDP of USD 29.35 Trillion – almost double that of the EU, and significantly higher to that of the US.
The grouping would possess about 45% of known oil reserves, and over 60% of all known gas reserves. It would also account for almost 50% of the global market of consumers. It would also wield immense soft-power influence over much of the Global South international organizations. Finally, it might be one of the most geo-physically diverse of any grouping that is primarily economic and trade focused.
As the world continues to evolve, the Global South has reached its moment of reckoning. All the core BRICS nations have shot up to great roles of impact on the global stage, and the current juncture offers a unique chance for the Global South to build greater solidarity and cooperation on the international arena, and shift the status quo in their favor. With India’s recent appeal to act as the ‘Voice of the Global South’, such a juncture should not go wasted.
Read More : Why Does China Want BRICS To Expand?