BRICS Expansion: More Countries Partner With China

Questions arise about the group’s proper role and its relationship to the U.S. and China.

Written by Jack Elbaum

What’s happening: BRICS, a group partnership between the developing economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, has expanded for the first time in over a decade, adding six new countries.

Why it matters: As competition between the U.S. and China rises, BRICS meetings could play a huge role in determining the future world balance of power.

Divergent visions: China would like to make BRICS a rival to the G7 group of advanced economies as part of its desireto create an alternative to the U.S.-led world order. But some BRICS countries, such as India and Brazil, are U.S. allies and do not share that vision.

  • Expansion: One way this divide shines through is on the subject of future expansion. China is eager to expand the group, but India is concerned it is just a way for President Xi Jinping to bring China-friendly nations into the group.

  • What about the new additions? Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates will become members in 2024. It remains unclear whether this move is a way of displacing U.S. influence over the oil market—a first step to achieving larger anti-Western ambitions—or of addressing countries often overlooked by the U.S.-led order.

De-dollarization? The idea of creating a BRICS currency for trade as an alternative to the U.S. dollar was discussed at length at the BRICS meeting last week. Not all countries could agree on it; it would require the creation of a central bank, among other massive undertakings. The economist who coined the term BRICS called the proposal “ridiculous.”

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