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What benefits does Ethiopia get from joining BRICS?

BRICS _ Ethiopia _ benefit
National flags of BRICS member states. left to right : South Africa, China, India, Russia and Brazil

By Staff Reporter

ADDIS ABABA –  (BORKENA) – The Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said a week ago that it submitted an application for membership of BRICS, an international economic group formed by Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa . What we have not yet been told about is the advantages Ethiopia will get if it registered as a member of that group. What are the objectives of the decision made to become a member? In the other way round what benefits are there this country is aiming to get from BRICS? 

We have solely been told through the spokesperson of the Ministry that Ethiopia “… will work to be a member of international organisations to safeguard … national interest in view of changing international relations and balance of power…”.

We, as a big but unfortunate nation, have been entangled with multitudes of problems. We have not been able to provide sufficient food, shelters and security to this nation. Economically, we are in a bad situation. The cost of living is getting worse and worse. The security of the people is being threatened by illegally armed militants. We are a nation that cannot provide food and shelter to internally displaced persons…

Now, is there any sign that can show us how we can emancipate ourselves from these complications? What is the contribution of becoming a member of BRICS in this regard?

This issue has become a good discussion point. What has been written by the renowned political analyst, Yonas Biru (PhD) under the title, “Ethiopia’s Request to Join BRICS is a Sign of Desperation, Not of Strategy,” is among the arguments that should be raised here. 

Yonas is telling us that there is nothing Ethiopia is gaining from being a member of BRICS. “…there is no tangible benefit Ethiopia can get from joining the good-for-nothing Club.”

The “good-for nothing” thing has come here to indicate the ‘failure’ of BRICS. Yonas is of the opinion that BRICS has not achieved anything since its establishment over the past couple of decades. It seems he lost hope that this Club “…is unlikely to succeed in the near future – in the next 25 years or even 50 years.”

Besides Ethiopia, there are many other developing countries that show interest to join BRICS. We believe that they have something they expect the Club to do for them. They need economic support… But the question is, can this be realised? The history of BRICS does not show anything on this. Dr. Yonas expresses doubt that supporting developing nations is unlikely in that quarter… He substantiates his argument in the following way. 

“… If [BRICS] expands its membership to poor countries such as Ethiopia, it will have serious economic implications. Such nations need grants and concessional loans at or near zero interest rate. China is the only country with resources, but it does not provide grants and low interest rate loans. The other four countries are not in any position to provide grants and loans…”

China is the heavyweight economic power in the Club with its GDP “more than double that of the other four BRICS nations combined. China’s GDP was $17.96 trillion compared to India ($3.39 trillion), Russia ($2.24. trillion), Brazil ($1.92 trillion) and South Africa (405.9 billion)…”

We do not forget that the request of  Ethiopia for debt write-off or debt relief was turned down by China. Though it has done a lot in supporting us with our economic ailments, nowadays China seems to get bored with us… Then, what benefits does Ethiopia get from joining BRICS?

The current Ethiopian Ambassador to Russia has recently said that Ethiopia’s desire to join the club is of multi purposes.

“The desire to join BRICS is not only for economic benefits, it also provides a political option. The world is changing, no one wants the world to be reined in by a single superpower. Countries join the BRICS because they want the world to have a multi-faceted communication option,” the Weekly Amharic Reporter quoted the Ethiopian ambassador to Russia as saying. 


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