IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis

SE Asian countries and BRICS

6th July, 2024 International Relations

SE Asian countries and BRICS

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  • Thailand has formally requested membership, while Malaysia is preparing to start the process, citing potential trade and investment benefits.
  • ASEAN Foundation appealed in BRICS for Southeast Asian nations seeking a stronger voice in global affairs and enhanced economic opportunities.

Reason for SE Asian countries to join BRICS

Strategic Benefits:

  • BRICS could elevate Thailand and Malaysia as middle powers, providing a platform for broader international influence and economic growth through expanded trade.

Economic advantage:

  • There are potential benefits for Thailand and Malaysia economies, particularly in digital sectors and key industries like services, manufacturing, and agriculture.

Geopolitical Dynamics:

  • The nations showing interests already have strong trade ties with China, a major BRICS member, which could further enhance through membership.

Global collaboration:

  • The interested countries see BRICS as a means to strengthen its neutral stance while fostering collaboration with multiple global partners.

Balancing act:

  • Indonesia considered BRICS membership but opted to prioritize OECD accession, highlighting Southeast Asia's strategic balancing act between Western and emerging economies.

Membership Expansion:

  • BRICS recently decided to expand its membership beyond its original members (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa). On 1 January 2024, BRICS – the intergovernmental organisation comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – admitted four new members: Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran and the United Arab Emirates.
  • This move underscores BRICS' global reach and potential as a significant economic bloc.

Challenges in the expansion of BRICS members:

  • Maintaining Cohesion and Consensus: As BRICS expands by including new members such as Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, one of the primary challenges is maintaining cohesion and consensus among a more diverse group. Different countries have varying interests, priorities, and geopolitical alignments, which can complicate decision-making and collective action within BRICS.
  • Strategic Alignment: The expansion introduces new dynamics in strategic alignment within BRICS. New members may have different geopolitical goals and alliances outside of the BRICS framework, which could potentially create divergent interests and hinder the group's ability to present a unified front on global issues.
  • Institutional Capacity and Governance: BRICS may face challenges in scaling its institutional capacity to accommodate new members effectively. This includes enhancing the operational efficiency of institutions like the New Development Bank (NDB) and establishing clear governance frameworks that ensure equitable participation and decision-making among all members.
  • Integration and Coordination: Integrating new members into existing BRICS mechanisms and coordinating policies across a larger and more diverse group pose logistical and diplomatic challenges. Ensuring effective communication, alignment of goals, and mutual understanding of shared objectives becomes crucial for sustaining the group's effectiveness.
  • Balance of Power and Leadership Dynamics: The expansion could potentially alter the balance of power and leadership dynamics within BRICS. Existing members, particularly China and India, may seek to maintain their influence and leadership positions, while new members may aspire to assert their own agendas and priorities within the group. Managing these dynamics while fostering a cooperative atmosphere is essential for BRICS' unity and effectiveness.

Way ahead:

  • Enhance Institutional Capacity: Strengthen the capacity of existing BRICS institutions like the New Development Bank (NDB) to accommodate new members. This includes increasing capitalization, improving governance structures, and streamlining decision-making processes to ensure equitable participation and efficient operation.
  • Establish Clear Criteria for Membership: Develop transparent criteria and guidelines for admitting new members into BRICS. This could include criteria related to economic size, geopolitical alignment, commitment to BRICS principles, and potential contributions to the group's objectives.
  • Promote Dialogue and Consensus-Building: Foster regular dialogue and consensus-building among BRICS members, both existing and new, on key issues and strategic priorities. This involves facilitating discussions, negotiating common positions, and managing divergent interests through diplomatic channels and working groups.
  • Enhance Strategic Coordination: Strengthen strategic coordination among BRICS members by identifying shared priorities and areas of cooperation. This includes aligning policies on global governance reform, sustainable development, energy security, and technology transfer to maximise collective impact on the global stage.
  • Diversify Partnerships and Engagement: Expand outreach and engagement with non-BRICS countries and regional blocs to enhance cooperation and build alliances. This includes exploring partnerships in areas such as trade, investment, technology exchange, and cultural diplomacy to broaden BRICS' influence and relevance globally.


  • Thailand and Malaysia’s interest in joining BRICS underscores the bloc's appeal as a platform for economic growth, global influence, and strategic partnerships, reflecting Southeast Asia's evolving diplomatic and economic strategies.





Q) Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand and Malaysia have expressed interest in joining the BRICS bloc, citing strategic benefits and economic opportunities. The inclusion of these nations into BRICS presents both opportunities and challenges. (250 words)