Friday, March 1, 2024

BRICS Summit Brings Hope to Malawi; Aspiring Economies Eager to Join

President Chakwera's arrival in South Africa via Lanseria Airport ahead of BRICS summit

The 15th summit of the BRICS group, composed of major emerging economies (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), is scheduled to take place from Tuesday, August 22, to Thursday, August 24, at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg. This three-day event will encompass a meeting with leaders from the BRICS emerging economies, including Malawi.

President Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi, who will be in attendance, aims to utilize this summit to engage with the Government of India regarding a plan to repay a debt of approximately $136 million (equivalent to around K148.9 billion) owed by Malawi to India. President Chakwera has emphasized that the current level of Malawi’s debt to India is unsustainable, stating his intention to seek a resolution to enable the country’s developmental pursuits.

The BRICS consortium envisions a shift away from Western dominance in the global order. These five nations collectively represent over 40% of the world’s population. Their shared aspirations include fostering a more multipolar world and advocating for increased influence in global affairs.

Analysts suggest that Chinese President Xi Jinping’s ultimate goal is not to challenge the existing US-dominated international order, but rather to establish a Sino-centric world order. While the expansion of BRICS to include new members is a critical and contentious issue on the summit’s agenda, divisions among current members regarding admission criteria may hinder significant announcements during the event.

The BRICS bloc operates through consensus, and China is driving expansion efforts, seeking to enhance its geopolitical standing amid US tensions. Russia sees expansion as a way to overcome isolation due to the Ukraine conflict, and India is also becoming more receptive to the idea. Brazil, however, remains cautious about enlargement.

South Africa, the smallest economy and population within the group, was the first country to join BRICS expansion plans, officially attending the original BRIC summit in 2011. A total of 23 countries have formally applied for BRICS membership, including Saudi Arabia, Iran, United Arab Emirates, Argentina, Indonesia, Egypt, and Ethiopia. Other issues on the summit’s agenda encompass discussions about global geopolitics, trade, and infrastructure development.



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