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BRICS Summit 2023: 5 Items On the Agenda to Look Out For

by Rahil M
0 comment

The BRICS Summit is scheduled for August 22-24.

Johannesburg, South Africa, is set to host a significant gathering next week as leaders from the BRICS group of nations, along with representatives from the Global South, convene to address the challenge of balancing Western dominance in the global order while simultaneously managing their own internal divisions. The summit, scheduled for August 22-24, will bring together more than 40 heads of state and government, including prominent figures like South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa, India’s Narendra Modi, China’s Xi Jinping, and Brazil’s Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Notably, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will be representing President Vladimir Putin, who will attend virtually due to concerns of potential arrest over alleged war crimes.

The following are the items on the agenda for the August Meet –

  • Expansion

At the forefront of the summit’s agenda is the discussion of expanding the current BRICS membership of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. This proposal, previously deferred in earlier summits, is gaining renewed attention. Since its formation in 2009 and the subsequent inclusion of South Africa in 2010, BRICS has garnered interest from 23 additional nations, including Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, and Egypt.

However, tensions between China and India regarding the rapid expansion’s implications remain a point of concern, with India wary of the group potentially serving as China’s mouthpiece. Brazil is also cautious about alienating Western powers. Nevertheless, the opposition appears to have softened, with countries now advocating for transparent admission rules and predefined criteria for new entrants.

  • Challenging Dollar Dominance

The BRICS summit will rekindle discussions on reducing the dominance of the US dollar in global transactions, a topic that has emerged in past gatherings. The issue has gained prominence due to factors such as US interest rate hikes and Russia’s incursion into Ukraine, which led to a surge in the dollar’s value and commodity costs. Among the proposals to be considered are increased utilization of member countries’ national currencies in trade and the establishment of a common payment system.

While the prospect of a shared currency remains a long-term endeavor, several BRICS members have already initiated bilateral trade deals using local currencies. India, for instance, has partnered with Malaysia to enhance the use of the rupee in cross-border trade, while Brazil and China recently settled a trade agreement in their respective currencies.

  • Empowering Trade: The Role of New Development Bank

Over the past five years, trade between BRICS members surged by 56%, reaching a substantial $442 billion. The collective nominal GDP of these nations stands at $25.9 trillion, contributing 25.7% of global output. Central to facilitating these transactions is the New Development Bank (NDB), established in 2015 as an alternative to the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

The NDB, headquartered in Shanghai, aims to diversify its funding sources and promote local currencies, with an estimated one-third of lending projected to be in local currencies by 2026. The summit will provide updates on these efforts and explore opportunities for capital contributions from Middle Eastern and Asian countries, expanding NDB’s influence.

  • Addressing Ukraine: Seeking Peaceful Resolution

Russia’s prolonged invasion of Ukraine, which spans over 18 months, remains a critical issue for discussion at the summit. While most BRICS nations have maintained a united front throughout the conflict, Brazil notably supported a United Nations resolution in favor of ending the war and Russia’s withdrawal. China, India, and South Africa, on the other hand, abstained. Former Brazilian President Lula emphasizes the bloc’s potential role in forging peace, and South Africa is driving an African initiative to resolve the combat.

  • Food Security: Battling Rising Prices

The summit will also address soaring food prices, a pressing concern for vulnerable populations worldwide. India’s and Russia’s recent actions have exacerbated the situation, with India imposing export curbs on rice to protect its local market and Russia discontinuing an agreement supporting safe Ukrainian grain exports. Such decisions impact regions like Asia and Africa, where rice contributes up to 60% of calorie intake. The summit will explore ways to enhance food security through initiatives like India’s hosting of an India Africa Forum and China’s plans for a similar event.

Anil Sooklal, South Africa’s BRICS ambassador, anticipates positive outcomes from these discussions, stating, “I believe both of them will make announcements, including around agriculture. I’m quite confident that some of these issues will be addressed positively.” As the leaders of BRICS and other Global South nations gather in Johannesburg, the world’s attention will be on their efforts to shape a more balanced global order while navigating internal complexities. The summit marks an opportunity for nations traditionally considered outliers to assert their presence on the global stage and challenge the established Western-centric framework.

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