BRICS nations asked the bloc’s specially created bank to provide guidance on a how a potential new shared currency might work, including how it could shield other member countries from the impact of sanctions such as those imposed on Russia.
The foreign ministers of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa convened in Cape Town earlier Thursday to discuss how the bloc can win greater global influence and challenge the US. While they didn’t reach firm conclusions, the use of alternative currencies was among the prominent talking points.
The BRICS are looking 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,” Naledi Pandor, South Africa’s minister of international relations, told reporters after the meeting.
While she didn’t mention Russia directly, the country has been hit by widespread sanctions from Western powers over President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Proposals are being considered by officials at the New Development Bank, the Shanghai-based lender created by BRICS nations, and the bloc “will be guided to them as to what the future models might be,” Pandor said, without providing further details.
The BRICS ministers were joined by counterparts from countries including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Kazakhstan. Also on the agenda was expansion, with more than 20 countries aspiring to join.
Asked about a meeting held with a Saudi Arabian delegation, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said only that the issue of the kingdom joining was discussed amid broader talks about how the bloc should expand its membership.
“With regard to the issue of BRICS, it is still being shaped, it is still evolving,” he said.
BRICS, which invited South Africa to join in 2010, has failed to punch its weight as a group. That’s despite its members representing more than 42% of the world’s population and accounting for 23% of global gross domestic product and 18% of trade, giving credence to demands for more sway.
The prospect of adding more members was first raised at last year’s summit in China and 13 nations have formally asked to join, with at least seven others expressing interest.
The gathering is a precursor to an Aug. 22-24 summit of BRICS heads of state currently scheduled for Johannesburg.
According to people familiar with the matter, South Africa is considering switching the venue to another nation, which would resolve its dilemma over whether to execute an International Criminal Court arrest warrant for Putin if he travels to the country.