Considering Indonesia's Geopolitics in the BRICS Alliance

The 15th BRICS Summit on 22-24 August 2023 in Johannesburg, South Africa, made the world’s eyes widen. BRICS leaders consisting of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa have agreed to expand the membership of the group.

Based on the implementation of this Summit, news spread that Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, and Argentina were considered as strong candidates for new members from the 40 countries considering new membership. This decision was taken at the BRICS Summit after three days of meetings, the leaders agreed to allow new countries to become BRICS members.

The BRICS, however, is an alliance that has a significant impact on the global economy and politics. So in that context – which is also related to changes in global power, Indonesia is a potential candidate to join the BRICS.

In addition, as a member of ASEAN – and a key player in Asia-Pacific, Indonesia has a developing economy, abundant natural resources, and a strategic geographic position. Therefore by joining the BRICS, Indonesia can expand its economic relations and influence.

Economic growth and development are the main advantages, with market access and investment from the BRICS countries.

So it is logical to say that for this reason Indonesia is considering membership in the BRICS alliance.

So it’s also a consideration, to what extent Indonesia expands its role through its independent-active political approach. Within this framework, of course, independence and the effectiveness of national diplomacy cannot be taken for granted.

In this way, it is clear that in the concept of independent-active politics, Indonesia in the BRICS could further strengthen its position in the international realms. This is considering that Indonesia as a member of influential economic and political groups, always voices interests, builds partnerships, and plays a role in global issues with the principle of independence in independent-active politics – in which Indonesia actively contributes to shaping global policies.

In addition, geopolitical considerations are very important in Indonesia’s decision on BRICS. Because no matter how small it is, there is an impact on regional and international relations – especially with ASEAN and its Western allies. Although the BRICS is not inherently anti-Western, this alliance can change geopolitical dynamics.

Indonesia’s participation in the BRICS could influence the global debate on trade, climate and sustainable development.

From a geostrategic perspective, the impact on multilateral diplomacy must also be taken into account.

Will BRICS membership strengthen or undermine Indonesia’s role in forums such as the UN, G20 or ASEAN? This decision must be in accordance with Indonesia’s diplomatic objectives.

Not to mention the geopolitical challenges that have arisen. Where relations with other major powers, particularly China and the United States, must be considered. Joining the BRICS can be seen as support for China – one of Indonesia’s important economic partners. So this requires a balance between economic interests and national security.

In addition, Indonesia’s inclusion in the BRICS can influence ASEAN – an important forum in Indonesia’s foreign policy. Some ASEAN members “might” just feel worried about changing dynamics if Indonesia joins it. Therefore, policy coherence and stability in the region need to be maintained.

So Indonesia’s inclusion in the BRICS –at least– involves geopolitical complexities. There are opportunities for global influence here, but economic opportunities need to be considered carefully, while addressing the challenges of relations with great powers, the dynamics of ASEAN, and also being careful in dealing with the impact on multilateral diplomacy.

In an independent-active political perspective, Indonesia’s inclusion in the BRICS needs to be assessed from the perspective of regional diplomacy. ASEAN must still be the main focus in Indonesia’s foreign policy. BRICS membership must not upset the balance in Southeast Asia.

Indonesia, as an archipelagic country at the intersection of the Pacific and Indian Oceans, has a key role in global geopolitics. Consideration of joining the BRICS alliance brings both challenges and opportunities in a geopolitical context.

In terms of potential, BRICS membership can provide broader access for Indonesia in making global decisions. The BRICS has a major economic impact and influence on global issues such as trade, security and climate change. Through the BRICS, Indonesia may influence the global agenda and represent its regional interests, especially in the Asia-Pacific region.

Therefore it must be revealed holistically that Indonesia’s involvement in the BRICS is not only a matter of the benefits obtained – but also the contribution. Indonesia’s potential inclusion in the BRICS offers both opportunities and challenges.

While economic benefits and greater leverage are added values, careful consideration of suitability, competition, and geopolitical implications should not be overlooked.

(Prof. Dr. Ermaya Suradinata, SH, MH, MS, is the former Director General of Social and Political Affairs of the Indonesian Ministry of Home Affairs, Chancellor of IPDN, and former Governor of Lemhannas RI.)