The bloc of so-called BRICS nations, whose founding members are Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, will as of January 1, welcome five new members: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Ethiopia.
Argentina was invited earlier this year, but that country’s newly elected president, Javier Milei, says he has no intention of joining the bloc because he does not wish to have economic ties with communist countries. This will bring the total membership in BRICS to eleven countries. However, forty other countries have expressed an interest in joining the coalition, including Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria.
Recently, Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Yusuf Tuggar believes Nigeria meets the criteria for membership and will be accepted as a member of BRICS within the next two years. Nigeria has already been invited to join the G20. Said Tuggar: “Nigeria must belong to groups such as BRICS, G20, and all other blocs, because if there is a certain criterion, namely that the largest countries in terms of population and economic weight should be a part of it, then why is Nigeria not one of them?” Tuggar also added, “Nigeria will join all open groups as long as the intentions are good, benevolent, and clearly defined since it has reached the age to decide for itself who its partners are and where they should be.”
The idea behind BRICS has a geopolitical element and an economic element, though the two aren’t always easily separated. The geopolitical element consists in challenging the hegemony of the United States and its Western allies in the global political/economic arena. Currently, because the U.S. dollar is the de facto world’s reserve currency (meaning it is not a legal requirement), most trade among nations is conducted in U.S. dollars.
The BRICS nations aim to change that. Though the U.S. dollar dominates by far international trade (virtually all commodities, including oil, are traded in the currency), calls to conduct such trade in other currencies, in particular the Chinese yuan and Brazilian real, have become more vocal over the last year or two. When measured against the very low baseline, considerable progress has been made in moving away from the U.S. dollar as the currency of international trade, but alternatives to the U.S. dollar still have a long way to go.
However, it has come far enough to attract the attention of some powerful people in the U.S., such as Marco Rubio, Republican Congressman from Florida, who earlier this year revealed one of the implications of using other currencies in international trade. Said Rubio, "there'll be so many countries transacting in currencies other than the dollar that we won't have the ability to sanction them." Of course, that is precisely the point from the BRICS perspective.
Currently, the founding member states of BRICS are home to over 40 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of global GDP. These numbers will, of course, grow considerably as more countries join the bloc. That will pose a serious challenge to U.S. dominance in both the geopolitical and economic arenas.