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Publisher: Maaal International Media Company
*By: Prof. Alaa Alghamdi
For anyone that might not be familiar with this economic powerhouse, BRICS consists of a group of 5 countries, which are Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, formulating the acronym “BRICS” and has been in operation since 2009 as a means to offer a counter to the International Monetary Fund, largely operated, funded, and controlled by the west. Recently, BRICS has endeavored to advance itself to “BRICS+” by offering participation spots to a select group of countries, though over 40 countries have applied or shown interest in the bloc.
Being a part of a prestigious organization like BRICS holds immense importance as the current members are expected to contribute 31.7% to the global economy by the end of 2023, which is a significant increase from 18% in 2011. The selection process for membership was stringent, and only six countries with substantial economic and logistical influence were granted entry. These nations, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran, Ethiopia, and Argentina, were chosen for their abundant resources and strategic geographical positioning. The UAE has established itself as a global hub for business and trade, while Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, is located along key international trade routes. Adding the Gulf states will undoubtedly amplify the group’s energy dynamics. Egypt controls the Suez Canal, a critical waterway for international trade. Meanwhile, Iran, Ethiopia, and Argentina each have their respective natural resources and geopolitical clout, which will undoubtedly enhance BRICS’ global significance. They will begin their full membership from January 1st next year and bring a plethora of strengths to the table, further augmenting BRICS’ place as a major player on the world stage and supplying a host of benefits to its members.
“We look forward to developing this cooperation to create new developmental and economic opportunities and elevate our relationship to the aspired level,” said Prince Faisal bin Farhan, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, at the summit. He later stated that the kingdom welcomed the invitation and would review the details to make an appropriate decision before the proposed joining date. It is believed that joining BRICS will strengthen economic cooperation between Saudi Arabia and participating countries, drawing nearer to goals set within the confines of the Vision 2030 initiative by contributing to the future growth of the Saudi economy.
Even without the inclusion of the 6 nations mentioned above, the existing economies harbored by members of BRICS represent approximately 41% of the world’s population and will claim even more ground after the dust of ‘who’s going to accept the invitation’ settles. While there is currently no discussion of a unified currency to compete with the USD, the BRICS Development Bank has emerged as a prominent player in various development initiatives across member countries, particularly in the arenas of energy and infrastructure. BRICS is a huge market that can absorb the exports of any economy, not to mention offering huge investment opportunities to its participants. In 2022, the BRICS countries collectively achieved an impressive GDP of $24.2 trillion; unsurprisingly, China was (and still is) the most notable contributor, accounting for approximately 70% of the group’s total output. Having said that, it is not difficult to imagine the impact that the inclusion of the KSA’s economic drive may have, alongside all else the nation has to offer to the bloc.
Prof. Alaa Alghamdi
Saudi Scholar & Writer