Egypt on the way to BRICS membership

The issue of Egypt’s membership in the BRICS is an important and urgent matter, writes Cairo newspaper “Al-Masry Al-Youm”.

BRICS is a group created in 2009 that includes China, Russia, India, Brazil and South Africa. The BRICS countries represent 42% of the world’s population, 24% of global GDP. They account for 16% of world exports and 15% of world imports of goods and services.

The BRICS group is not an official organization, but the leaders of its five countries meet annually to deepen and strengthen cooperation between it.

South Africa plans to hold the next summit in Durban at the end of August.

Talk of Egypt’s BRICS membership is not new, and a reader of former Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheith’s book ‘My Certificates’ finds the roots of this aspiration as part of the expansion of Egypt’s advancement in the world.

However, there has always been a question about the advisability of Egypt joining this group. There are those who are skeptical and believe that the BRICS ‘has not achieved much since its inception,’ that it is ‘just a framework for coordination, and not an economic bloc’ or an international organization ‘in the full sense of the word,’ and that some of its countries are ‘going through difficult circumstances,’ or there is a ‘certain tension or heterogeneity between them.’

They point out that ‘Russia is preoccupied and exhausted by the war in Ukraine,’ that the ‘Chinese economy is still suffering from problems after the coronavirus pandemic,’ while the ‘economies of Brazil and South Africa are experiencing a recession’ and their preoccupation with domestic problems. In addition to border tensions between India and China, there is ‘India’s vision of relations with the West,’ which may differ from both China’s and Russia’s.

My point is that, despite the validity of some of the previous assumptions, the BRICS group has recently undergone a huge transformation, whether on the institutional side or the policy of cooperation.

And that the expansion of BRICS to BRICS+ will in the near future be one of the main gatherings that will contribute to laying the foundations for a new global economic order, the forerunners of which have already begun to take shape, and the consequences of new international balance sheets.

Therefore, the issue of Egypt’s membership in the BRICS is an important and urgent matter. As for the new transformations that are the catalyst for Egypt’s interest in joining the BRICS, the most important of these is that the BRICS countries, such as China and Russia, seek to create a certain degree of pluralism in the global economic system.

At the upcoming BRICS summit in South Africa, the issue of the new composition of the group will be considered. Now, as reported in the press, 19 countries to join. According to the South African delegate in the group, 13 countries have already officially applied for membership, and 6 more countries have expressed their intentions. He added: “We receive requests to join every day.”

Some of these countries belong to our Arab world, for example, Saudi Arabia and Algeria; there is Iran from the Middle East. Other most important countries are Argentina and Mexico.

The upcoming BRICS summit will consider using a common currency for their trade exchanges so that the US dollar does not remain the only monopoly in this matter. The BRICS countries also encourage transactions between themselves in local currencies and have already begun to do so.

It is worth noting that in 2014 the BRICS countries established the New Development Bank (NDB) with an initial capital of $50 billion, and some see it as an alternative to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The BRICS New Development Bank, as well as the Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), represent important steps in offering new development alternatives.

Although Egypt has already joined two banks and participated in previous BRICS meetings in the so-called “BRICS+”, membership in the group will open up new horizons for it in terms of both trade and investment with the BRICS countries.

Finally, Egypt’s desire to join the BRICS does not mean that it refuses to cooperate with its Western friends or with other financial and monetary institutions.

However, the global system is rapidly moving towards pluralism, putting an end to the monopoly of one country, bloc or currency in international agreements and transactions. It is important for Egypt to be part of this trend, and as part of the expansion of its movement in the world and the alternatives available to it.