At a recent conclave in Cape Town, foreign ministers from the BRICS nations initiated discussions with the New Development Bank (NDB), a financial institution established by the bloc. The aim was to explore the feasibility of a shared currency that could potentially provide a shield against the implications of sanctions for its member nations, such as those currently impacting Russia.
This diplomatic meeting brought together representatives from Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa to strategize ways for enhancing the bloc’s global influence and to present a formidable challenge to the U.S. While the talks didn’t culminate in concrete decisions, the concept of deploying alternative currencies emerged as a salient discussion point.
South Africa’s Minister of International Relations, Naledi Pandor, articulated the bloc’s aspiration to “ensure that we do not become victims to sanctions that have secondary effects on countries that have no involvement in issues that have led to those unilateral sanctions”. Pandor didn’t directly reference Russia, but the implications of sanctions imposed on the country due to its invasion of Ukraine led by President Vladimir Putin were unmistakable.
Proposed solutions are now under review by the NDB, based in Shanghai. The institution will subsequently provide guidance on prospective models to the BRICS bloc, stated Pandor, while refraining from divulging further information.
The meeting also featured discussions on expansion plans, with representatives from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Kazakhstan, among others, participating. More than 20 countries have expressed an interest in joining the bloc.
BRICS, despite accounting for over 42% of the world population and contributing 23% of the global gross domestic product and 18% of trade, has struggled to assert its collective influence. Adding more members to the bloc was a proposition first made at last year’s summit in China, and since then, 13 nations have officially requested to join, with at least seven others indicating interest.
The proceedings in Cape Town serve as a prelude to the summit of BRICS heads of state slated for August 22-24 in Johannesburg. However, sources suggest that South Africa may relocate the venue to circumvent potential legal complications associated with executing an International Criminal Court arrest warrant for Putin should he visit the country.