Thailand seeks entry into BRICS

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The Bangkok government has decided to join the growing group led by emerging economies

Southeast Asia is poised to make its official entry into BRICS. On May 28, the Thai government approved the submission of a letter of intent to join the multilateral platform led by emerging economies. If the request is approved, as all indications suggest, Thailand will become the first member of the group from the ASEAN region. BRICS initially consisted of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, but as of Jan. 1, 2024, five more countries joined: Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran and the United Arab Emirates. Thailand is currently included in the list of 15 countries that will soon be considered for admission. The decision made by Bangkok is expected to speed up the process ahead of the next summit, scheduled for October in Kazan, Russia. “BRICS membership will strengthen Thailand's role as a leader among developing countries,” said Chai Wacharonke, government spokesman, at a press conference organized to announce the formal step. The letter outlines dozens of benefits for Bangkok in joining BRICS, one of which is the possibility of collaborating with other countries in the global South to strengthen its presence on the world stage. Thailand, moreover, is trying to frame its foreign policy moves as part of a broader proactive diplomatic approach that emphasizes involvement with institutions such as BRICS and the OECD. Not so much as a balancing act between great powers, but to promote its own economic interests and cultivate ties with a wider circle of developed and developing countries. The Thai initiative is an interesting sign because it shows the dynamism of the so-called “Global South,” with emerging countries committed to strengthening various multilateral platforms. Indeed, as Bangkok formalizes its intention to join the BRICS, Indonesia is taking similarly decisive steps toward joining the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Indonesia, already a member of the G20 representing ASEAN, is the first Southeast Asian country to formally request to discuss membership. In recent days, Mathias Cormann, secretary of the OECD, visited Jakarta to speed up the process designed to bring the country's status to that of full membership. Cormann met with outgoing President Joko Widodo to discuss next steps. Jakarta aims to achieve full membership within three years.

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