JOHANNESBURG, Aug 7 (Reuters) – The BRICS group of major emerging economies – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – will hold its 15th heads of state and government summit in Johannesburg this month.
Here are some key facts about the summit.
WHERE AND WHEN IS THE SUMMIT?
South Africa will host the summit from Aug. 22-24 at the city’s Sandton Convention Centre, after the country took up the one-year rotating chairmanship of the BRICS group in January.
It will be the first in-person BRICS summit since the COVID-19 pandemic.
WHO WILL ATTEND?
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, President Xi Jinping of China, Brazil’s President Luiz Lula da Silva and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi are expected to attend the summit.
Russian President Vladimir Putin will not attend in person due to a warrant for his arrest issued by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes in Ukraine, something Moscow denies. Putin, who will be a virtual participant, will be represented in Johannesburg by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
Invitations to attend the summit were also extended to 67 leaders across Africa, Latin America, Asia and the Caribbean, South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor said.
Twenty dignitaries including the secretary-general of the United Nations, the chairperson of the African Union Commission and the president of the New Development Bank have also been invited.
Business leaders are also expected to be in attendance.
WHAT IS THE KEY ISSUE TO BE DISCUSSED?
Perhaps the most important and controversial issue the leaders are expected to discuss is BRICS expansion by adding new members, including the admission criteria and guiding principles.
But divisions among BRICS members over criteria for admitting new members may preclude any major announcements at the summit, as the bloc operates by consensus.
China, seeking to boost its geopolitical might at a time of tensions with the United States, is the main driver of expansion. Russia is also embracing it as a way of overcoming isolation over the Ukraine war, and India is also coming around to the idea. Brazil is the most sceptical of enlargement.
South Africa, the smallest in the bloc in terms of economic clout and population, was the first country to benefit from the its expansion ambitions when it officially attended the original BRIC members summit of 2011.
The BRICS group accounts for more than 40% of the world population and about 26% of the global economy and offers an alternative forum for countries outside diplomatic channels seen as dominated by traditional Western powers. Its influence and economic heft has more nations eager to join.
Twenty three countries have formally applied to become new BRICS members, including Saudi Arabia, Iran, United Arab Emirates, Argentina, Indonesia, Egypt and Ethiopia.
Other issues on the agenda include discussions on global geopolitics, trade and infrastructure development.