20 countries favor membership in BRICS: Russian diplomat

Nearly 20 states have sought to join the BRICS group of countries as more nations realize the benefits of joining the economic bloc, according to a senior Russian diplomat.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said on Thursday the number of countries favoring BRICS membership continues to grow.

BRICS is an acronym for the current members of the group, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Since the establishment of BRICS, member countries have achieved beneficial results in areas such as economy, trade, politics, security, technological innovations, as well as social and cultural exchanges.

“The list of candidates for joining the association continues to increase. The number of states seeking to join this association is nearing twenty. It reflects BRICS’ growing and already considerable role in the international arena as an association of countries with similar positions. I would like to stress it,” Ryabkov said as quoted by TASS news agency.

BRICS is a grouping of countries that do not follow the leader-follower principle, Ryabkov said. Instead, he added, the partners in the group “set a constructive agenda based on consensus.”

The Russian diplomat said the bloc has been devising a set of rules for membership. “Discussions continue on what could be the criteria for joining BRICS, and South Africa has intensified this work.”

The senior Russian diplomat said South Africa’s accession to the bloc in 2010 was a “successful experience.”

South Africa was accepted to join the group by all members of the BRIC countries a year after it was formed in 2009. After South Africa’s accession, the group was renamed from BRIC to BRICS.

Ryabkov urged BRICS to be “open” while deciding on taking new members, He said Russia favors the idea of taking Arab and Asia-Pacific countries as the economic bloc “lacks” their representation.

He said the matter is up to BRICS “leaders to decide at the summit in Johannesburg” scheduled for August.

Syria eyes BRICS membership

In related news, the Syrian Minister of Finance announced Damascus’ intention to join both BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), an international intergovernmental organization including Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

“This country is trying to join the BRICS group and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and the country is willing to submit its membership request to both bodies,” Kanaan Yaghi said on Thursday while naming another Arab country hoping to join the group.

“Today, the Algerian president also wanted to speed up the process of his country’s joining the BRICS in a bid to abandon the dollar and the euro which will have very wide benefits for the Algerian economy.”

Egypt has also requested membership in BRICS. “Egypt applied to join the BRICS group because one of the initiatives in which BRICS is currently participating is to facilitate trade as much as possible with alternative currencies (dollars), whether it is the national currency,” according to the Russian Ambassador to Cairo Georgy Borisenko.

BRICS represents about one-fifth of the world’s economy, nearly a quarter of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP), and virtually 40 percent of the world’s population. The group also contributes 16 percent to world trade.

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