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The expansion of BRICS+: More may be better

Malaysia and Thailand recently unveiled their plans to join BRICS, which has been rechristened as BRICS+ with the induction of new members. This multilateral bloc of rising economies of the 21st century that is often seen as an emerging institutional collective of the Global South countries that aspire to establish a robust and inclusive multipolar world order.

With its list of new entrants including Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the grouping has expanded to a ten-member-strong club from the four founding members – Brazil, Russia, India, China – and South Africa, which had joined the first four earlier to add the S to the name.

Talk of a further round of expansion comes at a time when China and Russia, in the wake of the US sanctions, have strengthenead their ties bilaterally and also with the Middle East, especially Iran The strength of significant oil-producing Gulf economies has been added to the BRICS group.

BRICS+ now represents nearly 3.64 billion people who constitute approximately 45.78 percent of the world’s population. Together, members’ economies are worth more than $28.5 trillion – about 28% of the global economy.

South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation recently revealed that at least 34 other countries have indicated their interest in joining the bloc.

With Malaysia and Thailand expressing their intention to join BRICS+, the grouping makes solid inroads in the ASEAN region. Fellow ASEAN member Indonesia has also shown interest in joining although it has been more offhand about the matter. Moving forward, Vietnam, the Lao PDR and Cambodia could be potential candidates. Rumors have it that Türkiye is also mulling the possibility of joining BRICS+, which will not