What is BRICS?:
In light of the nearing BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) summit set for August 22-24 in South Africa, Morocco has joined other nations such as Algeria, Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Egypt and Iran in officially submitting their applications to join the economic bloc. Making up a quarter of the global GDP and 40% of the population, the alliance has in recent years ramped up activities, with the upcoming summit expected to be used to discuss the logistics of the bloc’s forecasted expansion.
Although the alliance is not formally a free trade bloc, according to Chris Devonshire-Ellis, chairman and founding partner of the Russia and China Belt Road Initiative office, the BRICS members still coordinate on trade matters and have established the New Development Bank (NDB) as a policy bank. The bank is focused on infrastructure loans in an attempt to decrease members’ reliance on the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Furthermore, the NDB has a triple-A credit rating, meaning it holds the highest possible rating that may be assigned to an issuer’s bonds, thus making the bank highly credible.
A Growing Alliance:
The genesis of BRICS came in 2001 after an economist from Goldman Sachs claimed that by 2050, the nations of Brazil, Russia, India and China due to low labour costs and access to natural resources, would grow to become the world’s leading economies. South Africa joined the alliance in 2010, bringing its abundance of sought-after resources to the table.
Moving with a strong anti-neocolonialist approach alongside the steps the bloc has taken to move away from the US dollar, the alliance has definitely set itself up as a strong opponent to the Western sphere. During a 2022 summit, Vladimir Putin announced the Bloc’s intention to create an ‘international reserve currency’ with ‘de-dollarization’ being at the forefront of the alliance’s policy objectives, speaking in April, Brazilian President Luiz Inàcio Lula da Silva stated: “Every night [I ask myself] why do all countries have to base their trade on the Dollar.”
The accelerated move away from the dollar comes during a time of economic strife for many of the BRICS nations, with Russia marred by sanctions as a result of and in addition to the military quagmire in Ukraine, similarly, China is at loggerheads with the West due to its assertive actions in the Indo-Pacific and South China Seas. And with South Africa currently dealing with an energy crisis and rolling blackouts alongside deep social unrest in much of the country, the alliance’s soft power does not appear to be as robust as that of the West.
Morocco’s bid illustrates the nation’s vision for a stronger position as a regional economic and political actor, as a result of a period of increased agency amongst nations in the global south. Albeit it must still compete for a spot with other potential candidates which may be viewed as more lucrative partners such as Saudi Arabia.