BRICS expansion plans: India takes lead in forging consensus on selection of new members

(LANKAPUVATH | COLOMBO) –  In what is a significant development amid plans for an expansion of BRICS, India has played a key role in getting existing members to agree on how new members should be selected.

It is learnt that during discussions at the BRICS Leaders’ Retreat in Johannesburg on August 22, 2023, it was India that stepped in and steered discussions to finalise the process of choosing new members for the group that currently includes Brazil, India, China, and South Africa.

India took the lead in forging a consensus on the membership criteria and the selection of new members, said people familiar with the developments. “Our efforts were guided by our objective to incorporate our Strategic Partners as new members,” one of them said.

The BRICS Leaders’ Retreat was held at the Summer Place in Johannesburg. Upon arrival at the Summer Place, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was warmly welcomed by the President of South Africa and Chair of 15th BRICS Summit Cyril Ramaphosa.

The Retreat, which took place in closed format, was an opportunity for the leaders to discuss global developments and ways for leveraging the BRICS platform to find solutions to global challenges, the Indian Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said, without revealing further details.

The Retreat took place on the eve of the 15th BRICS Summit being held in Johannesburg on August 23-24 under the South African Chairmanship. The summit comes at a time when several countries have expressed interest in joining BRICS. Some BRICS members are also keen on an expansion to make the group stronger and more effective on the global scene.

Responding to questions about the expansion of BRICS during a special media briefing on Monday (August 21, 2023), Indian Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra had acknowledged that there was considerable interest in many countries to become a part of BRICS. They wanted to associate themselves with BRICS, to leverage different opportunities that the BRICS and the cooperation under the BRICS presents for itself, he explained.

“In so far as the BRICS expansion is concerned, we have been very clear from the start that we have a positive intent and an open mind when it comes to the BRICS expansion,’ he said.

“As you all know, BRICS works under the modality and principle of consensus. And all the BRICS countries have to have full consensus on how they would want BRICS expanded, what should be the guiding principles of that expansion, what would be the criteria for such an expansion,” Foreign Secretary Kwatra pointed out.

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