Brics + five: New countries now officially member

Henry

The Brics bloc of countries – formerly consisting of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – has now officially welcomed five more new member states into its ranks following the membership of Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) officially kicked off on January 1.

Following last year’s Brics summit in Johannesburg, the original group extended invitations to these countries, as well as to Argentina, to become part of the group.

However, Argentinian President Javier Milei sent letters to the Brics leaders last week to formalize the country’s decision to decline the invitation. Letters signed by Milei state that Argentine membership of Brics “is not considered appropriate at this stage”, reports AFP.

Milei took over the country’s reins in December and pledged during the election campaign that Argentina would not join Brics. His letters state that his foreign policy differs on many levels from that of the previous administration and that some decisions made by the previous administration will be reviewed.

During his election campaign, Milei also said “our geopolitical alignment is with the US and Israel. We are not going to be the ally of communists.”

Despite promises that he would sever ties with major trading partners China and Brazil, Milei, after taking office, took a much more conciliatory direction.

Argentina’s decision has been labeled a setback in some quarters, with Deutsche Welle (DW) reporting that the newcomers bring with them a significant risk of conflict. Egypt and Ethiopia are fighting over water from the Nile River, and Saudi Arabia and Iran have been engaged in a battle for dominance in the Persian Gulf for decades, reports the website.

Russia is now chairman of Brics and Russian pres. Vladimir Putin on Monday according to the Indian Business Standard said the new countries had joined as “full new members, a strong indication of the growing authority of the association and its role in international relations”.

Putin says Brics attracts a growing number of supporters and like-minded countries that support the underlying principles of sovereign equality, openness, consensus and aspirations to form a multipolar international order and fair global financial and trade system.

The group was formed in 2006 and initially consisted of Brazil, Russia, India and China. It was renamed Brics after South Africa became a member country in September 2010.

Brics represents almost a quarter of the world’s population and has been a major driver of economic growth over the past few years.

According to the Kremlin, Putin said the country, as chairman of the bloc, would give priority to promoting cooperation in the fields of science, high technology, health care, environmental protection, culture and sports.

The next Brics summit will be held in Kazan, Russia in October this year. Putin attended the Johannesburg summit online last year after the International Criminal Court issued a warrant for his arrest for alleged war crimes.