The 15th heads of state and government summit of the BRICS group, comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, will convene in Johannesburg this month. Here are some essential details about the summit.
Exact dates and location
South Africa, as the current chair of the BRICS group, will host the summit at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg from August 22nd to 24th.
The upcoming BRICS summit in Johannesburg will mark the first in-person gathering of the member nations since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The summit is expected to be attended by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Brazilian President Luiz Lula da Silva, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Russian President Vladimir Putin will not be physically present at the summit. Instead, he will participate virtually, and his representation in Johannesburg will be through Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor stated that invitations were sent to 67 leaders. These leaders were from Africa, Latin America, Asia, and the Caribbean. The purpose of the invitations was for them to attend the summit.
Additionally, twenty dignitaries, including the United Nations Secretary-General, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, and the President of the New Development Bank, have been extended invitations to attend the summit.
The summit is also anticipated to have the presence of business leaders among its attendees.
Key issues for discussion
A crucial topic for the leaders to address is the expansion of BRICS. They will discuss the inclusion of new members, which is both significant and contentious. Discussions will likely revolve around admission criteria and guiding principles for potential new additions.
Significant announcements are unlikely at the summit due to divisions among BRICS members. This is because they differ on the criteria for admitting new members. As the bloc operates on a consensus basis, consensus might be challenging to achieve on this matter.
China, aiming to enhance its geopolitical influence amid tensions with the United States, is the primary proponent of expansion within BRICS. Russia, seeking to overcome isolation due to the Ukraine war, is also supportive of expansion. India is gradually warming up to the idea as well. On the other hand, Brazil is the most skeptical and cautious about the prospect of enlargement.
In addition to the aforementioned topics, the agenda for the summit also includes discussions on global geopolitics, trade, and infrastructure development.
With over 40 percent of the world’s population and approximately 26 percent of the global economy, the BRICS group provides an alternative platform for countries beyond the traditional Western-dominated diplomatic channels. Its substantial influence and economic weight have sparked interest from numerous nations seeking to join the group.
A total of twenty-three countries, including Saudi Arabia, Iran, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Argentina, Indonesia, Egypt, and Ethiopia, have submitted formal applications to join the BRICS group as new members.
Currency plan halted?
There are currently no immediate plans for the group to introduce a common currency. This is according to Leslie Maasdorp, the vice president and chief financial officer of the New Development Bank, the financial institution established by the BRICS bloc.
In a recent interview with Bloomberg, Maasdorp revealed that while BRICS members are striving to increase trade conducted in local currencies, they are not yet prepared to challenge the global dominance of the dollar, as stated by Maasdorp.
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