Pandor Expects ‘Fantastic News’ at BRICS+ Summit

The 15th #BRICS Summit is scheduled to be held towards the end of August 2022 and is dominating the global agenda for the coming few weeks. Already, speculations are flying around regarding the main items on the agenda. Keeping the suspense, South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor announced that one can expect some ‘fantastic news’ coming out of the Summit.

In preparation for the meeting, several ministerial and other high-level meetings have already taken place. Issues discussed involved the expansion of BRICS membership and the creation of a BRICS currency.

South Africa revealed that more than 40 countries have expressed interest to join BRICS and 13 of them have already officially submitted an application in writing. It is rumored that the hot favorites to join the expanded BRICS+ Club are Argentina, Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia. Interestingly, even France — a developed country and member of G7 — publicly expressed the desire to attend the BRICS Summit.

The other question that caused quite a bit of a stir was the participation of Russian President Putin. South Africa might have to detain him since he is under an arrest warrant by the International Criminal Court (ICC), to which South Africa is a signatory. In order to circumvent this embarrassing situation, Putin might have to attend in virtual mode while sending his diplomatic chief Lavrov to South Africa.

Russia has been a strong proponent for #dedollarization since the USD was weaponized as part of the sanctions since the start of the Ukraine-Russia war. Russia can longer trade in USD and its banks no longer have access to the SWIFT system for cross-border transactions. Therefore, it is calling for a BRICS currency backed by gold.

Other countries may not be so keen to replace the USD, which is still the dominant currency for international trade and as foreign reserves. However, there appears to be some momentum to promote the use of local or alternative currencies for bilateral trades within BRICS. For instance, India is already paying its oil from Russia using INR, but Russia has expressed that it would rather have RMB than INR.

One of the key attractions is the New Development Bank or BRICS Bank as it is also called. Developing countries have deplored the excessive role that Western countries have in Bretton Woods financial institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

Several developing countries have been calling for reforms of these multilateral institutions in order to better meet the demands and challenges of the day. In addition, the AU could soon integrate the #G20 and is lobbying to have a permanent seat at the UNSC.

As the host country, South Africa has the privilege to decide on the guest list. SA President Ramaphosa has revealed he has invited all African countries and regional or international institutions working with developing countries.

This BRICS Summit is eagerly expected as it marks a tipping point in the history of the organization which was formed in 2009. In 2023, the combined #GDP of the #BRICS has exceeded that of the #G7. Thus, BRICS is evolving as the go-to organization for the Global South.

Altogether 69 official invitations were issued, plus the 5 current members of BRICS, that will make up a total of 74 leaders if they all attend. Thus, the BRICS+ Summit could turn out to be the largest gathering of world leaders in 2023 so far.