Can an Expanded BRICS have a Unified Mission at last?

This first week of January was, amongst other things, notable for the official inclusion of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, Ethiopia and Iran into the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa consortium known as BRICS.  This puts the ink into the agreement pencilled in Johannesburg last year. Not to put a damper on things, but might this prove even more difficult to find common ground in a unified mission? It couldn’t be done with the first five. There were too many agendas on the table, vote-catchingly proclaimed as national imperatives. The only vaguely unifying principle the expanded group has is to marginalize the United States. A bit self-defeating when the U.S. is many of these countries’ chief trading partner.


…thinks BRICS exists to secure loans for African countries to develop their infrastructure. This makes it far less expensive for Beijing as they continue with their practice of debt trap diplomacy.


…thinks BRICS exists for the sole purpose of weakening the value of the US Dollar to the point of worthlessness, by whatever means necessary.


…thinks BRICS exists as a platform on which they can continue their explosive economic growth and rapid-fire social evolution.


…thinks BRICS exists as a salon privé with extra dessert and is deeply resentful of the new club members.

South Africa

…thinks, umm, actually the only thing I can come up with is that President Cyril Ramaphosa likes to be photographed with important people.

The Newbies

Saudi Arabia. The inclusion of the Kingdom (and therefore the United Arab Emirates as well) is the most interesting thing that’s ever happened to this association. Saudi Arabia being an absolute monarchy, what the Crown Prince wants, the Crown Prince gets. And he wants a lot for his country. Given the geopolitical cards he holds right now, the alignment of Saudi Arabia with BRICS, or lack thereof, is going to be fascinating.

Egypt wants money in the form of investments to help generate foreign currency. It wants to take from the association, in other words. Not contribute. It’s not even worthy of another sentence.

The rhetoric around Ethiopia joining BRICS is so it can ‘deepen its economic cooperation with emerging markets’. No it isn’t. It’s to help China push forward their Belt and Road Initiative. Pity. Ethiopia was starting to emerge with a strong independent voice.

Iran’s reason for entry into BRICS is closer to Russia’s than any other country. Having put up with U.S. sanctions for a very long time, this Islamic Republic wants more energy trade, a currency to trade in other than the dollar, and a greater sense of legitimacy and inclusion which the great American PR machine has successfully prevented.

I acknowledge the cynicism in this opinion piece. So I urge you to look at the links for a sense of informed balance. But it seems as if there is no common ground and most of the reasons for being a part of BRICS are self-serving, hidden by economic doublespeak and vagueness. Given the emerging boldness of Saudi Arabia on the world stage, only their inclusion will stop news about BRICS being insufferably boring and inconsequential, and inspire just a little hope.

BRICS is a commonwealth-style bloc that can action and accelerate incredible human progress.

I’m not seeing it yet. Are you?

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