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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

ASEAN Countries Eye BRICS Membership Amid Geopolitical Shifts

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To align more closely with global geopolitical dynamics, many Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries have expressed growing interest in joining the BRICS group, an economic bloc consisting of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.

Thailand and Malaysia are among the ASEAN nations actively exploring the possibility of BRICS membership, while Indonesia, the largest economy in Southeast Asia, is still considering the benefits of joining the bloc.

Thailand aims to join the BRICS bloc at its next summit in Russia this October, as confirmed by a foreign ministry official on 20 June. The nation formally requested membership during a recent BRICS ministerial meeting in early June, expressing hope for a positive response at the upcoming summit.

The Thai Government Public Relations Department of the Prime Minister’s Office stated that by joining the bloc, Thailand aims to increase its global influence, aligning with Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin’s policy of enhancing the country’s global participation.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim also spoke with Chinese Premier Li Qiang about Malaysia’s plan to join BRICS on 19 June, seeking China’s backing for the application. According to Nikkei Asia, this initiative aligns with Malaysia’s objective to enhance connections with Global South economies.

As Thailand and Malaysia prepare to join BRICS, it marks a shift towards forging diverse economic partnerships amidst global economic changes. 

In 2023, Lao Minister of Planning and Investment Khamjane Vongphosy also stated that the country would consider the membership requirements closely, highlighting Laos’ interest in BRICS.

In the meantime, Myanmar’s Minister of Investment and Foreign Economic Relations, Kan Zaw, expressed the country’s interest in joining BRICS and exploring the possibility of a BRICS single currency initiative, highlighting their study of the bloc’s development.

Analysts attribute this growing interest among ASEAN members to a desire for economic diversification and enhancing global influence, noting potential benefits in trade, investment, and infrastructure financing, particularly from China and India within the BRICS. However, concerns are raised about overdependence on China, potential geopolitical tensions within the BRICS, and the economic risks associated with China’s slowing growth.

The BRICS group, established in 2009, has recently expanded to include Saudi Arabia, Iran, Ethiopia, Egypt, Argentina, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and over 40 countries have shown interest in joining so far.

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