South Africa, as the current President of BRICS, is set to host a significant meeting this week with the expansion of the grouping as a key agenda.

The BRICS Sherpa meeting, scheduled to take place from July 4th to 6th in Durban, will focus on finalising the expansion document to be considered by the foreign ministers and the leaders.

During the meeting, the member countries will collaborate on establishing guidelines, procedures, and criteria for the expansion of BRICS.

A total of 19 countries, with 13 formal requests and approximately 5 or 6 informal queries, have approached BRICS leaders expressing their interest in becoming full members of the BRICS forum. 

In a recent interview, South Africa's Foreign Minister, Naledi Pandor, disclosed that numerous countries, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Algeria, Argentina, Mexico, and Nigeria, have expressed keen interest in joining BRICS. Minister Pandor highlighted the widespread global interest in becoming part of the grouping, emphasising that the decision on new members will be made after shaping the appropriate criteria.

The recent BRICS Foreign Ministers meeting in Cape Town saw several African countries, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE attend the "Friends of BRICS" gathering.

This meeting further highlighted the interest and potential for BRICS to broaden its reach and influence. Focus on expansion has been part of the conversation withing the grouping for some time now. The 2022 China BRICS summit saw calls by members countries to looking into expansion.

Para 73 of the joint statement said, "we support promoting discussions among BRICS members on BRICS expansion process. We stress the need to clarify the guiding principles, standards, criteria and procedures for this expansion process through Sherpas’ channel on the basis of full consultation and consensus."

Formed in the early 2000s, BRICS brings together the key emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. Collectively, these nations account for 41% of the world's population, contribute 24 per cent to global GDP, and hold a substantial 16% share in world trade. Over the years, BRICS countries have played a vital role as engines of global economic growth.

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