The BRICS association, aimed at building an alternative mechanism for international cooperation to the current world order led by the United States, managed to attract attention with its decisions towards this goal at almost every summit. However, the 15th BRICS Heads of State and Government Summit, held in the Republic of South Africa on August 22-24, 2023, was the summit in which the world community has so far shown the greatest interest, writes Turkish Anadolu Agency.
Prior to the summit, 22 states filed official applications to join the BRICS. In addition, the meeting was scheduled to discuss a new common currency that will respond to the growing expectations of de-dollarization in the non-Western world.
President Putin was unable to attend the summit in person, but he delivered a speech in the spirit of anticipation, declaring “a new multipolar world order that would take into account the sovereign interests of states and open up opportunities for various development models, helping to preserve the diversity of cultures.”
One of the main items on the agenda of the BRICS summit was the expansion of the group through new members. Prior to the summit, China, Russia and South Africa were believed to support new members, while Brazil and India were skeptical of expansion. As a result of talks between the leaders they decided to accept Argentina, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Ethiopia, Iran, Egypt and Saudi Arabia as full members from January 1, 2024. Thus, the number of BRICS member countries has grown to 11.
Regarding the reform of the international monetary system is the second important item on the agenda of the summit meeting. The first summit held in Russia in 2009 spoke of the need for “a more stable and predictable international monetary system.” At the 5th BRICS summit, held in South Africa in 2013, it was decided to create a bank that will take steps towards meeting the mentioned need and become an alternative center of capital.
Finally, in 2015, the New Development Bank (NDB) was established, headquartered in Shanghai. The NDB, with an initial capital of one hundred billion dollars, has accepted Bangladesh, the UAE, and Egypt in addition to the existing BRICS members. At the 15th BRICS Summit, it was confirmed that the NDB plays a key role in promoting infrastructure development and sustainable development of member countries.
Although expectations did not fully materialize that the summit would announce a new currency that would weaken the global dominance of the US dollar, significant steps taken in this direction. Brazilian President Lula da Silva announced the creation of a working group to develop the BRICS single currency. It was noted that until the completion of the process, the members of the Bloc will conclude transactions using their national currencies, the necessary payment systems will be developed to ensure a cheap and safe cash flow between the participants, in this regard, the African Development Bank will primarily cooperate with the NDB.
The 15th BRICS summit became a platform for vocal criticism of the Western-centric international political, financial and legal system built after the Cold War. Chinese President Xi Jinping’s condemnation of the lingering logic of the Cold War and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s emphasis on a new multipolar world order point to a clear divergence between the world represented by the West and the world represented by the BRICS. With the addition of new members to the Bloc, this discrepancy will deepen.
In a New Order, China and Russia are the dominant poles, with India’s position open to debate. As an integral part of the US strategy to contain China, India will either seek to become a more autonomous center of power. The US attempt to include India in “NATO plus” is one of the issues that currently leaves New Delhi in a dilemma.
BRICS invitees such as the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Saudi Arabia have been known as allies of the United States so far. With the addition of these oil-rich states to the association, the number of supporters of the New World Order in OPEC will increase, and the petrodollar system may come to an end.
BRICS, as it expands, will play a prominent role not only in oil production, but also in food production at the same time. The Bloc’s countries, which currently account for one-third of the world’s food production, will continue to play a critical role in global food security in the event of a crisis.
Iran’s accession to the BRICS, along with the oil giants of the Persian Gulf, is a significant event in terms of the international representation of the Islamic world.
The fact that BRICS will include three African countries – South Africa, Ethiopia and Egypt, may give the continent an opportunity to take a more active position in world politics and economics. In addition, the ongoing dispute between Ethiopia and Egypt over the waters of the Nile could be settled through a new common vision and dynamics of cooperation through BRICS is similar to the normalization of relations between Tehran and Riyadh mediated by Beijing.