Oil powers Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have been invited to join the BRICS group of developing nations in their first expansion in more than a decade.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said Thursday, at the end of the group’s annual summit in Johannesburg, that Iran, Egypt, Ethiopia and Argentina are also invited.
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said the kingdom was waiting for details from the BRICS group about the nature of membership, and would take the “appropriate decision” accordingly.
all six The invited countries have already expressed interest in joining. The BRICS group currently includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
“The membership will come into effect from January 1, 2024,” Ramaphosa said.
In a video message, Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated the new BRICS members, adding that the bloc’s global influence would continue to grow.
“I would like to congratulate the new members, who will work on a large scale next year,” Putin said.
And I would like to assure all our colleagues that we will continue the work that we started today on expanding the influence of BRICS in the world.
Chinese President Xi Jinping described the bloc’s expansion as “historic,” which reflects its size Determined to “unite and cooperate with developing countries”.
“[It will] “Inject new impetus into the BRICS cooperation mechanism and strengthen the strength of world peace and development,” said Jinping.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also welcomed the expansion, saying his country has always believed that adding new members would strengthen the bloc.
Speaking to Al-Arabiya TV, the Saudi foreign minister added that the bloc “has proven to be a useful and important channel for enhancing economic cooperation with countries of the so-called global south.”
Bin Farhan said before the BRICS conference earlier Thursday The kingdom will remain a “safe and reliable energy provider,” adding that total bilateral trade between Saudi Arabia and BRICS countries will exceed $160 billion in 2022.
If Saudi Arabia accepts the invitation, the world’s largest exporter of crude oil will find itself in the same economic bloc with the world’s largest oil importer, China.
It would also mean that Russia and Saudi Arabia – both of which are members of OPEC +, a group of major oil producers – will join each other in a new economic bloc. The two countries often coordinate their oil production, which in the past has put Saudi Arabia at odds with its ally the United States.
The expansion of the bloc raises the issue of the possibility of canceling the dollar. It is a process through which members gradually switch to using currencies other than the US dollar to conduct trade. The BRICS countries are also talking about a common currency, an idea analysts have called unworkable “unlikely” In the near future.
Putin said the issue of a common currency was a “difficult one” but added, “We will move towards solving these problems.”
The expansion is taking place at a time when some of the BRICS members, namely Russia and China, are engaged in increasing tensions with the West.
Experts said choosing to include countries that are openly hostile to the West, such as Iran, could push the group further into an anti-Western bloc.
Building on a term originally coined by former Goldman Sachs economist Jim O’Neill to describe major emerging markets, the group has survived despite the profound differences in political and economic systems among its members.
“Economically, not a lot of the countries applying are particularly big,” O’Neill told Bloomberg earlier this week.
He added that the current BRICS members “have had enough difficulty trying to agree just between the five countries”. “So, outside of the very strong symbolism, I’m not entirely sure what it would accomplish by having more countries there.”
BRICS held its first summit in 2009 with four members and then added South Africa the following year. The New Development Bank was launched in 2015.
“We appreciate the UAE’s inclusion as a member of this important group,” UAE President Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan said on X, previously Twitter.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi said that his country is looking forward to joining BRICS in order to enhance economic cooperation among its members, as well as “raise the voice of the global south,” according to the presidential spokesperson.
— Manfina Suri, Mustafa Salem, Lizzy Ye, Mingchen Zhang, and Nadine Ibrahim contributed to this article.
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