Word of the Month
During their Johannesburg summit last month, the BRICS bloc invited six new members -- Argentina, Ethiopia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Iran -- to join the bloc on 1 January 2024.
This bloc was initially formed in 2009 but waned in significance when Bolsonaro assumed the Brazilian presidency. The return of Brazilian President Lula has revived the bloc.
The Islamic Republic of Iran is delighted with their invitation to join the bloc. Their media is trying to project this (together with Iran's membership of the Shanghai Conference) as a triumph and as proof that they are not isolated internationally
Many hope that the expanded BRICS+ bloc can rival the G7. The weight of their combined populations and GDPs gives them a potential advantage over the Western bloc.
Initial arrangements to conduct trade within the bloc based on local currencies of member states may be a step to 'de-dollarize' international trade. In general, the BRICS+ have the potential to become an alternative to the G7 in terms of global governance, and an instrument against Western domination.
However, the main issue for the BRICS+ bloc is its internal cohesion versus that of the G7.
The G7 are all capitalist countries, both economically and ideologically, and their leaders are proud to say so. The BRICS+ lacks this cohesion. The BRICS’ most ardent proponent is China, which has the most to gain in its rivalry with the US. Russia also stands to gain, not least in the context of Western sanctions. But India promotes a more 'neutral' approach, and the newcomers each have their own various and sundry agendas. Time will tell whether the BRICS+ can overcome their internal contradictions.