Published: 18:50, May 30, 2024
Thai application signals strength of BRICS membership
By Yang Wanli in Bangkok
Journalists gather at the media center of the 15th BRICS Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa. (PHOTO / SPUTNIK)

Thailand’s bid to join BRICS is evidence of the bloc’s expanding influence and the growing voice of developing countries on the international stage, experts said.

On May 28, Thailand’s cabinet approved its strategic move to become a member of BRICS — an intergovernmental organization founded in 2009 by Brazil, Russia, India, and China.

BRICS membership has expanded to include additional countries such as South Africa in 21010 before Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, and the United Arab Emirates joined at the beginning of this year. 

Thai government spokesperson Chai Wacharonke revealed that the kingdom is scheduled to submit its application to join the expanding economic bloc during the upcoming 16th BRICS Summit in Kazan, Russia, in October.

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Narongsak Putthapornmongkol, president of the Thai Chinese Chamber of Commerce, said the country is an active participant in world affairs and its diversified economic structure has a strong ability to resist risks. 

“Becoming a BRICS member country will elevate Thailand’s role in the international arena and increase its opportunity to take part in international economic policy-making and to create a new world order,” he said. “The bloc is a platform to expand our market and boost trade with other member countries.”

Thailand can also have more investment and financial support from the New Development Bank to mobilize resources for infrastructure and sustainable projects, he said, referring to the Shanghai-based bank formerly known as the BRICS Development Bank.

With its expanded membership, BRICS now boasts a combined population of about 3.5 billion — nearly half of the world’s total. According to studies, the BRICS group now accounts for 36 percent of global GDP and 25 percent of world trade

Narongsak added that new technologies and advanced management experiences can be shared within BRICS countries, creating more opportunities for mutual benefit and win-win achievements.

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“With the expansion and growth of the BRICS countries, the global economic governance and political system will further achieve multipolarity, bringing equality for the developing countries,” he added.

With its expanded membership, BRICS now boasts a combined population of about 3.5 billion — nearly half of the world’s total. According to studies, the BRICS group now accounts for 36 percent of global GDP and 25 percent of world trade.

“Thailand’s bid is not only a significant move for the kingdom itself but also will benefit other ASEAN countries,” said Wichai Kinchong Choi, senior vice-president at Kasikornbank, a leading Thai bank. 

“Once it becomes BRICS member, the kingdom’s engagement will pave way for further cooperation between other ASEAN countries and BRICS member states,” he said.

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Wichai stressed that Thailand has placed great importance on multilateralism and the increased representation of developing countries in the international system, which is in line with BRICS principles.

Tang Zhimin, director of China-ASEAN Studies at the Bangkok-based Panyapiwat Institute of Management, said Thailand’s bid will enhance the country’s role as a leader among developing countries in Southeast Asia and further expand the opportunities with other BRICS members. 

“BRICS has developed a comprehensive cooperation mechanism that has proven successful in various fields, including economy, culture, education, technology, and healthcare,” Tang said.

“The bloc that aims to create a fair and open platform with mutual respect and win-win result has been recognized by more developing countries,” he added, pointing to this year’s expansion.

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The growing interest in BRICS membership is reflected in the membership aspirations of numerous nations, with more than a dozen currently being assessed for the next round of admission. 

James Gomez, regional director at the Bangkok-based Asia Centre think tank, said becoming a BRICS member would expand Thailand’s economic and strategic engagement with China. 

“The expected impact is the increase in economic returns for both sides and strengthening of their long-term relationship,” Gomez said. 

“Also, the kingdom’s move can be seen as an encouragement for other non-BRICS countries in Southeast Asia to come onboard,” he added, noting that Thailand needs to balance between major powers like most all small and middle power countries in the region.

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Gomez’s comments were echoed by Wichai, from Kasikornbank. “Thailand’s bid showed most countries’ vision, which is seeking a fair and open platform on the world stage and having a voice in the global decision-making process instead of ‘taking a side’,” Wichai said.