The economic coalition of BRICS is nearing an agreement to expand its membership in the face of flooding interest from other nations, an insider reports.
South Africa’s Ambassador to BRICS Anil Sooklal says in a new Bloomberg interview that a criteria for expanding the group, which currently consists of Brasil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, is already more or less in place.
He says BRICS’ foreign ministers, who are convening at a summit in Johannesburg, are expected to make a statement on the expansion of the group.
We almost have convergence and consensus on the four areas that leaders tasked sherpas to look at and that is guiding principles, standard criteria, and procedures for expansion and models of expansion. All of that is more or less in place. It’s a bit more work to do on some of the provisions on the criteria…
There’s one or two areas where we don’t have convergence in terms of the global multilateral architecture. As you know, this is a complex issue, and I’m confidence that we’ll find convergence and that this exercise will be completed in time for our foreign ministers to meet later this week and to make firm recommendations on expansion to the leaders.
There is an expectation that the leaders will make a pronouncement on expansion. This is on the agenda in terms of their discussions and I’m sure there will be some pronouncement on this issue.”
Sooklal says since last year’s BRICS Summit hosted in China, the group has been focusing on building criteria and modalities for expansion. While the official says the type of expansion is ultimately up to the foreign ministers of BRICS, recent reports have suggested that up to 44 countries are now interested in joining the coalition, including Saudi Arabia, Argentina and Iran.
“Last year in China what happened was they gave the directive that we need to stop discussing expansion and work on the criteria and so forth. That’s what we were tasked to do and that’s where it stopped. As part of the mandate, the foreign ministers asked us to expand and look at modalities for expansion, which we have done. And that’s on the table at the moment, but it’s the leaders’ decision on the type of expansion and the number of countries should we decide to expand.”
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