In a move of unprecedented geopolitical consequence, the Brics grouping of nations has made the landmark decision to expand beyond its five founding members. Announced on Thursday at the conclusion of the Brics summit in Johannesburg, host South Africa along with Brazil, Russia, India and China invited six nations to join the bloc – Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Argentina.

If the new invitees from Africa and the Middle East accept, Brics Plus would be the economic formation with the largest membership on the shores of the Arabian Gulf and Red Sea. Although Algeria’s membership bid was not formally accepted in this first expansion round, an effort to enhance the economic representation of the grouping in the Mediterranean basin could soon follow. Egypt’s Brics Plus membership advances China and Russia’s efforts to economically integrate with North Africa.

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