The BRICS group of emerging-market nations is poised to undergo a significant expansion, doubling its membership as Saudi Arabia, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Ethiopia, and Egypt are set to join on January 1, according to South Africa’s envoy to the bloc.
The existing members—Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa—extended invitations in August to six other nations, creating a fusion of major energy producers and substantial consumers among developing countries. Argentina was the sole nation to decline the invitation, with President Javier Milei, who assumed office this month, reversing the previous administration’s membership bid.
BRICS Welcomes New Members
Representatives from the five new invitees actively participated in a recent BRICS sherpa meeting in Durban, South Africa, indicating their acceptance of the invitation, as stated by Anil Sooklal, Pretoria’s ambassador to the bloc, in an interview on Friday. Coined in 2001 by economist Jim O’Neill of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., the term “BRIC” originally highlighted robust economic growth in Brazil, Russia, India, and China, serving as a positive scenario for investors amid market uncertainty following the September 11 terrorist attacks in the US that year. South Africa joined the group in 2010, expanding its scope both geographically and alphabetically.
Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergey Lavrov reported this week that approximately 30 countries are expressing interest in establishing ties with the BRICS bloc. Nigeria, the most populous nation in Africa, aims to pursue BRICS membership within the next two years, according to Minister of Foreign Affairs Yusuf Tuggar’s announcement in November.
Despite India’s relative outperformance, the BRICS nations, excluding India, have lagged behind their emerging-market counterparts over the past five years, as per Bloomberg Intelligence. US-led sanctions have restricted foreign investment in Russia, while certain sectors in China, particularly technology companies, face sanctions or potential investment bans.