BRICS discusses expansion as Iran, Saudi Arabia formally ask to join

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The BRICS group of nations plans to decide this year whether to admit new members and what criteria they would have to meet, with Iran and Saudi Arabia among those who’ve formally asked to join, according to South Africa’s ambassador to the bloc.

Enlarging the group that includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa would benefit Beijing, as the world’s second-biggest economy tries to build diplomatic clout to counter the dominance of developed nations in the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, World Bank and other institutions.

China initiated the conversation about expansion when it was chair last year, triggering concern among other members that their influence will be diluted, especially if Beijing’s close allies are admitted. China’s gross domestic product is more than twice the size of all four other BRICS members combined.

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The proposal to expand BRICS will be one of the economic bloc’s main focuses this year, said Ambassador Anil Sooklal. South Africa is the group’s current chair.

“There are over a dozen countries that have knocked on the door,” Sooklal said in an interview in Johannesburg last week. “We are quite advanced at looking at a further group of new members.”

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