Last Updated: August 03, 2023, 21:45 IST
External affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi on Thursday reiterated India’s position that BRICS should be expanded through “full consultation and consensus” among members of the bloc. The group will hold a summit in Johannesburg from August 22 to 24. Around 20 countries have formally applied to join the bloc, Brazilian foreign affairs minister Mauro Vieira recently said. Among them are Argentina, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Iran, and Venezuela, he said.
“We have talked about India’s position on expansion, we have clarified our position in the past. As mandated by the leaders last year, BRICS members are internally discussing the guiding principles, standards, criteria, and procedures for the BRICS expansion process on the basis of full consultation and consensus,” the MEA spokesperson told a regular media briefing.
Bagchi rejected reports that India was opposing the expansion. “As our external affairs minister (S Jaishankar) had mentioned, we are approaching this with an open mind and a positive outlook. We have seen some baseless speculation that India has reservations against expansion. This is simply not true,” he said.
The summit in Johannesburg will take place as China and Russia, facing isolation by the United States and European Union, seek to expand their economic influence in developing countries. The issue of expansion has raised some concerns among a few present members that their influence will decrease, especially if pro-Chinese nations are admitted. South Africa took over the chair of BRICS from China at the beginning of this year.
Asked about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s participation in the summit, Bagchi said: “I would urge you not to go by speculative media reports. When we are in a position to announce such high-level visits, we will certainly do so.”
The BRICS, an economic bloc that includes Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, was formed on June 16, 2009. South Africa was the only country to join the group after its formation, in December 2010.
The bloc represents around a fifth of the world’s economy and has emerged as a powerful new voice alternative to the West. At present, the five members of BRICS contribute 16 per cent to world trade and around 24 per cent to global GDP.
(With agency inputs)