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BRICS invites six new members to join, covering over 1/3 of the world's population


Six new nations are joining the group of emerging economies known as BRICS, which stands for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The announcement came on the last day of the summit in South Africa. The group has positioned itself as a counterweight to what it sees as U.S. dominance. Kate Bartlett reports from Johannesburg.

KATE BARTLETT, BYLINE: BRICS was already a politically and economically diverse group before expansion was announced and is formidable in that it accounts for 40% of the world's population and about 25% of global GDP. The group has now added Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, Iran and the United Arab Emirates. This was political analyst Steven Gruzd's take on the news they'll be joining in January 2024.

STEVEN GRUZD: I think they're trying to build on the momentum that's been created of new countries wanting to join the BRICS system. What that will do to the acronym is another question.

BARTLETT: Relations between current members haven't always been easy. China and India are in a dispute over part of their border, and the combination of new members has also raised eyebrows. Iran and Saudi Arabia are old political foes, and there have also been tensions between Egypt and Ethiopia over a hydroelectric dam on the Nile. Many developing countries have long chafed against what they see as U.S. imperialism and an unequal international system and like the idea of a group challenging the status quo. No one's more pleased about that than China and Russia, which has been hit hard by sanctions over the Ukraine war. Here's President Vladimir Putin at the summit joining by video link because an international criminal court warrant for his arrest made it impossible for him to travel to South Africa.


PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN: (Through interpreter) Some countries promote their hegemony, exceptionality and the policy of the ongoing colonialism and neocolonialism.

BARTLETT: This week, while the other bloc members voiced aspirations for world peace, they fell short of condemning Russia and its invasion of Ukraine. For NPR News, I'm Kate Bartlett in Johannesburg. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Kate Bartlett
[Copyright 2024 NPR]