South Africa’s top diplomat responsible for BRICS relations has revealed that more than 40 countries are interested in joining the economic bloc. Among them, 22 nations have formally applied for membership. He believes that the BRICS group could expand to include more than 50 countries.
BRICS Group Attracts More Than 40 Nations
Anil Sooklal, South Africa’s top diplomat in charge of BRICS relations, and officials from the South African foreign affairs department shared the latest stats on BRICS membership applications in a press conference in Johannesburg on Thursday. South Africa will host this year’s BRICS summit. The economic bloc comprises Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.
Sooklal revealed that 22 countries have formally asked to join the BRICS. He was also quoted by Reuters as saying:
An equal number of countries … have informally expressed interest in becoming BRICS members … (including) all the major global south countries.
Countries interested in joining the BRICS include Argentina, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Cuba, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Comoros, Gabon, and Kazakhstan.
The BRICS leaders’ summit will take place on Aug. 22-24 in Johannesburg, with one of the key topics on the agenda being the discussion of BRICS expansion. Russian President Vladimir Putin, however, will not be attending in person.
On Tuesday, Sooklal emphasized the rapid expansion of the BRICS bloc. The diplomat was quoted by IOL news outlet as saying:
With the expansion of BRICS, it could increase to include more than 50 countries.
One of the topics that has received worldwide attention is the proposed common BRICS currency. Russian news outlet RT recently claimed that the BRICS nations are launching a gold-backed currency that will be announced at the August summit. However, Leslie Maasdorp, vice president and chief financial officer of the New Development Bank, also known as the BRICS Bank, has insisted that the BRICS does not have an immediate plan to create a common currency to challenge the dominance of the USD.
According to IOL, Sooklal said the topic of BRICS currency is not on the summit agenda. He further stated:
We will expand on addressing the idea of deepening interaction in trading in local currencies. Countries want to have greater flexibility and to be less dependent on the dollar.
Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said in June that he intends to raise the issue of de-dollarization at the summit. He has been vocal about countries ditching the U.S. dollar in global trade and using their national currencies instead. The Brazilian leader has also expressed support for the creation of a common BRICS currency.
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