May 26, 2024

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President of Brazil Lula: BRICS is not a competitor to the Group of Seven and the Group of Twenty

  • The BRICS Summit will be held in Johannesburg on August 22-24
  • Expand the cluster to the top of the agenda
  • Chinese president says confident summit will be ‘important milestone’
  • Dozens of countries are interested in joining

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said on Tuesday that the BRICS group of countries aims to organize the developing global south and is not meant to compete with the United States and the rich economies of the Group of Seven. .

His comments signal a divergence of vision as leaders of the bloc made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa arrive in Johannesburg for a summit that will consider expanding the group as some members seek to shape it into a counterweight to the West. .

Increasing global tensions stemming from the Ukrainian war and the growing rivalry between Beijing and the United States have prompted China and Russia – whose President Vladimir Putin will attend the meeting virtually – to seek to strengthen the BRICS bloc.

However, their vision of an enlarged BRICS nation capable of rivaling American and European global hegemony has been met with skepticism by some members. The outcome of the enlargement debate could determine the future of a bloc that has long been criticized for its lack of cohesion.

“We don’t want to be a counterpoint to the G7, G20 or the United States,” Brazilian President Lula said on Tuesday during a social media broadcast from Johannesburg. “We just want to organize ourselves.”

South Africa, the host of the summit, welcomed Chinese President Xi Jinping, the main proponent of BRICS expansion, for a state visit Tuesday morning ahead of meetings with other BRICS leaders scheduled for later in the day.

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“I am confident that the upcoming summit will be an important milestone in the development of the BRICS mechanism,” Xi said shortly after his arrival in South Africa.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said during a bilateral meeting with Xi that the two countries have “similar views” on expansion.

“We share your view, President Xi, that BRICS is a very important forum and plays an important role in reforming global governance and in promoting multilateralism and cooperation around the world,” he said.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also attending the summit, which will be held from August 22-24.

Putin, who is wanted under an international arrest warrant for war crimes in Ukraine, will not travel to South Africa.

Apart from the issue of expansion, promoting the use of local currencies of member states is also on the agenda of the summit. However, South African regulators say there will be no discussions about the BRICS currency, an idea that Brazil floated earlier this year as an alternative to reliance on the dollar.

point of contention

The BRICS remain a disparate group, ranging from China, the world’s second largest economy which is now suffering from a slowdown, to South Africa, a small economic nation facing an electricity crisis that has led to daily blackouts.

Russia, under sanctions over its war in Ukraine, is keen to show the West it still has friends.

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But India is increasingly reaching out to the West, as has Brazil under its new leader.

Two members – India and China – have clashed now and then along their disputed borders, adding to the challenge of consensus-based decision-making in a group.

Expansion has long been a goal of China, which hopes wider membership will give influence to a group that already includes about 40% of the world’s population and a quarter of global GDP.

The leaders are scheduled to hold a small meeting and dinner on Tuesday evening, where they are likely to discuss the framework and criteria for accepting new states.

Russia is keen to include new members.

Indian Foreign Minister Vinay Quatra said on Monday that India, wary of Chinese dominance and wary of rapid expansion, has “positive intentions and an open mind.” Meanwhile, Brazil is worried that expanding BRICS will weaken its influence, although Lula confirmed on Tuesday his desire to see neighboring Argentina join the bloc.

While potential BRICS enlargement is still up in the air, the group’s pledge to become a champion for the developing world and offer an alternative to a world order dominated by rich Western countries is already resonating.

South African officials say more than 40 countries have expressed interest in joining BRICS. Among them, nearly two dozen have formally requested admission, and some of them are expected to send delegations to Johannesburg.

(Reporting by Bhargav Acharya in Johannesburg and Gabriel Araujo in São Paulo – Prepared by Mohamed for the Arabic Bulletin – Prepared by Mohamed for the Arabic Bulletin) Additional reporting by Karen du Plessis in Pretoria; Writing by Joe Bavier. Editing by Andy Sullivan, William McLean and Emilia Sithole-Matares

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Bhargav is based in Johannesburg and reports on breaking news in sub-Saharan Africa. He previously spent three and a half years in Bengaluru, India, as part of the Reuters global news team. He holds a master’s degree in international studies.

Gabriel is a reporter based in São Paulo, Brazil covering Latin American financial and breaking news from the region’s largest economy. A graduate of the University of Sao Paulo, he joined Reuters while in college as a commodities and energy intern and has been with the company ever since. She previously covered sporting events – including football and Formula 1 – for Brazilian radio stations and websites.