Will Pakistan join BRICS?

As of now I can say there is no discussion from Pakistani side, says official

Kamran Yousaf August 23, 2023
President of Brazil Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, President of China Xi Jinping, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi and Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov pose for a BRICS family photo during the 2023 BRICS Summit at the Sandton Convention Centre. PHOTO: REUTERS


Pakistan has not made any formal request to join BRICS, the bloc of leading developing nations Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, as officials here say it is premature to draw any conclusion when the group itself has yet to evolve a consensus on the expansion plan.

There have been reports particularly in the Indian media claiming that Pakistan has shown interest in joining the BRICS and China has already started lobbying for it.

The BRICS represent about 40% of the world's population and a quarter of global GDP.

Leaders of BRICS are in Johannesburg for a three-day summit. Since the formation of the group in 2009, this is the first time BRICS has got lot of traction. The interest in many Western capitals stems from fears that Russia and China, two big players in the grouping, are seeking to expand their role through BRICS with an aim to counter the US or West-led global financial system.

China’s President Xi Jinping called for unity among his BRICS counterparts at a summit on Wednesday as he pushed the case for expanding the grouping to face a global “period of turbulence and transformation.”

Read more: China's Xi calls for accelerated BRICS expansion

According to Reuters, leaders of the bloc of leading developing nations Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa are meeting in Johannesburg with discussions around establishing a framework and criteria for admitting new members topping the agenda.

While all BRICS members have publicly expressed support for growing the bloc, divisions remain over how much and how quickly.

Bloc heavyweight China has long pushed for expansion and views its deteriorating relations with Washington as well as heightened global tensions resulting from the Ukraine war as adding urgency to the enlargement project.

Addressing the summit of the bloc’s leaders, Xi said he was glad to see that developing countries had shown great enthusiasm in participating in BRICS and many of them have applied to join.

Read also: BRICS summit of emerging economies begins in South Africa

“We should let more countries join the BRICS family to pool wisdom and efforts to make global governance more just and equitable,” Xi said.

Ahead of the summit certain Indian publications claimed that China wanted Pakistan to be part of the BRICS, something that New Delhi would object to.

However, background discussions with foreign office officials here suggested that Pakistan might be following the developments with regard to BRICS but yet to make up its mind to join the grouping.

“I think the Indian media is reading narrowly on the Chinese and Russian desire to expand the BRICS,” remarked one official while requesting anonymity.

The official was of the view that BRICS first had to decide whether it wanted the expansion and discussions about Pakistan or any other country joining the bloc came later.

“As of now I can say there is no discussion from the Pakistani side,” the official added.

The cautious response from Pakistani officials appears to suggest that it also does not want to become the part of bloc politics. Russia and China have shown clear intent to use BRICS to counter G-7, the grouping of powerful wealthy developed nations.

More than 40 countries have expressed interest in joining BRICS, say South African officials, 22 of whom have formally asked to be admitted.

Details of the criteria for joining could be included in a joint declaration due to be finalised on Wednesday.

Beyond the enlargement question, boosting the use of member states’ local currencies in trade and financial transactions to lessen dependency on the US dollar is also on the summit agenda.

South African organisers had said there would be no discussions of a common BRICS currency, an idea floated by Brazil as an alternative to dollar-dependence.

At least 15 potential new member countries — including Saudi Arabia, Algeria and Argentina — are under consideration to join the bloc’s New Development Bank (NDB), its chief financial officer said on Wednesday.

The NDB, which has long tapped China’s capital market for funding, is registering an Indian rupee bond programme worth $2.5 billion over five years after it issued its first South African rand bond last week.

President Putin, who is attending the summit virtually because of fear of arrest over warrants issued by the International Criminal Court, has pushed for de-dollarisation.

There has been a debate within BRICS to introduce a single currency or trade in their local currencies in order to reduce dependence on the US dollar.

However, prospects of such a proposal getting through are slim as two key members of BRICS—India and Brazil—may not back the idea given both countries are also closely aligned with the US and its interests.


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