Daily Hot Topic
Topic : Why do Southeast Asian Nations Want to Join BRICS?
GS-2 Mains  : IR

Southeast Asian countries like Malaysia and Thailand are interested in joining BRICS.

BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) is a bloc of emerging economies considering expansion. The new name is unofficially referred to as BRICS+.

Benefits of Joining BRICS for Southeast Asian Nations

  • Strengthen Trade Ties with China: China is a major trading partner for Southeast Asia. Joining BRICS could solidify and expand these ties.
  • Geopolitical Influence: BRICS promotes a multipolar world order, challenging Western dominance. Southeast Asia can leverage this for more autonomy.
  • South-South Cooperation: BRICS emphasizes collaboration among developing countries. Southeast Asia can learn from BRICS’ experiences.
  • Diversifying Economic Partnerships: BRICS membership reduces over-reliance on traditional Western trade partners.
  • Aligning with BRICS Principles: BRICS emphasizes respecting sovereignty, aligning with ASEAN’s values. This can foster stronger international cooperation.

Significance for India

  • Expansion holds significance for India in terms of expanding partnerships and geopolitical influence.
  • There are concerns about potential pro-China dominance within the alliance.

Challenges of Joining BRICS

  • Geopolitical Challenges
    • Balancing Act with Existing Alliances: Strong ties with the US and other Western powers might be strained.
    • Tensions within BRICS: The diverse geopolitical interests of BRICS members could create challenges.
  • Economic Challenges
    • Over-reliance on China: Increased economic dependence on China could expose Southeast Asian economies to vulnerabilities.
    • Differing Economic Priorities: The diverse economic structures and development priorities of BRICS members could lead to conflicts of interest.
  • Political Challenges
    • Domestic Opposition: Joining BRICS could face domestic political opposition.
    • Compromising Values: BRICS’ approach to human rights and democracy might not align with some Southeast Asian nations.
    • Limited Influence: Given the size and economic power of existing BRICS members, Southeast Asian nations might have limited influence.

Way Ahead

  • Southeast Asian nations need to carefully assess the potential benefits and risks of joining BRICS.
  • Thorough consultations with stakeholders are necessary before making a decision.


  • Members: Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.
  • Origin: Coined by British economist Jim O’Neill in 2001.
  • First Meeting: Foreign Ministers met on the sidelines of the UNGA in 2006.
  • Summits: Annual summits since 2009.
  • Significance: Major emerging economies representing 45% of the world’s population, 28% of the global economy, and over 16% of world trade.
  • Pillars of Cooperation: Political and security, economic and financial, and cultural and people-to-people exchanges.
  • New Development Bank: A multilateral development bank established by the BRICS states.


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