BRICS leaders agree on mechanisms to expand bloc

Decision paves way for dozens of interested nations to join the group.

SOUTH AFRICA: Leaders of the BRICS bloc of leading developing countries have agreed to mechanisms for considering new members, South Africa said on Wednesday.

This paved the way for dozens of interested nations to join the group which has pledged to champion the “Global South”.

Agreement on expansion could help lend global clout to BRICS — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — at a time when geopolitical polarisation is spurring efforts by Beijing and Moscow to forge it into a viable counterweight to the West.

“We have agreed on the matter of expansion,” South Africa’s foreign minister Naledi Pandor said on Ubuntu Radio, a station run by her ministry, following a meeting by BRICS leaders at a three-day summit in South Africa.

“We have a document that we’ve adopted which sets out guidelines and principles, processes for considering countries that wish to become members of BRICS … That’s very positive.”

Enlarging BRICS has topped the agenda at the summit taking place in Johannesburg. While all BRICS members had publicly expressed support for growing the bloc, there had been divisions among the leaders over how much and how quickly.

Its member countries also have economies that are vastly different in scale and governments that often seem to have few foreign policy goals in common, complicating its consensus-driven decision-making.

China’s economy, for example, is more than 40 times larger than South Africa’s, Africa’s most developed country.

Pandor did not give details of the framework of criteria for considering candidates, simply saying that the bloc’s leaders would make an announcement on expansion before the summit concludes on Thursday.

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