A realignment would be a big change for the bloc, which hasn’t admitted any new states since the inclusion of South Africa in 2009.
- China is looking to expand the BRICS bloc beyond its traditional five members of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi reportedly told the group’s other representatives Thursday.
- For now, the most likely candidate is Argentina, and according to national media, their bid to join the bloc could pay off as soon as next year.
“BRICS contains 40 percent of the world population and 20% of the world’s GDP,” the Argentinian foreign minister reportedly told a local outlet Wednesday.
“Argentina has the possibility of participating with a growing agenda. That is the task that we have set for ourselves last year, and the president has set it with Xi Jinping.”
Amid serious questions about how food and fertilizer shortages could impact the developing world, the Chinese government outlet Global Times reports this year’s summit aims “to counter the US’ increasingly reckless abuses of its dollar hegemony [which] hurt the bloc and the broader developing world.” BRICS nations would “naturally” have to discuss potential precautions in light of “the US and its allies’ sanctions on Russia,” according to Cao Yuanzheng, chairman of the Bank of China’s International Research.
“Freezing the country’s $300 billion in gold and foreign exchange reserves, which account ‘for nearly half of Russia’s total foreign exchange reserves,” means US authorities have “made the US dollar lose its neutrality,” Global Times explained.
Monday’s virtual meeting between foreign ministers of the usual BRICS nations was reportedly followed by a broader “BRICS Plus” discussion which included representatives of Argentina, Kazakhstan, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Nigeria, Senegal, and Thailand. The group includes a number of countries that have expressed interest in joining the bloc’s New Development Bank, which was established in 2014 as a kind of counterweight to the IMF and the World Bank. The bank has already brought Bangladesh and the UAE on board, and Egypt and Uruguay are set to join the financial institution soon.
But Argentina is the only nation with a clear path to joining the bloc. A series of high-level visits and discussions between Argentinian and Chinese officials in recent months culminated in an official invitation for Argentinian Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero to join in on the meeting Thursday, reportedly at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Thursday morning, after ceremonies opened with an address by President Xi, Argentine ambassador to China Sabino Vaca Narvaja read aloud a letter penned by Argentinian President Alberto Fernandez, in which the South American head of state described BRICS as an “an excellent alternative for cooperation in the face of a world order that has been working for the benefit of a few.”
“The New Development Bank of the BRICS, in which my country could participate, is, for me, the institutionalization of a new world order focused on development–far from the financial speculation that has caused so much damage to our countries,” Fernandez explained.
Argentina’s likely ascension to the group had previously faced pushback from at least one other BRICS member. In February, when Fernandez made an official visit to Beijing and expressed his interest in joining the group, Brazil’s foreign ministry was vocally opposed, citing the lack of an “officially established process for the entry of new members.” But now Brazilian Foreign Minister Paulo Guedes has promised to push for the group’s integration into the New Development Bank as well:
“Argentina has many fertilizers and the capacity to multiply current production” tenfold, he’s quoted as saying. “The most important objective is the integration of our economies.”
Further strengthening Argentina’s bid, India reportedly gave its blessing to the country’s inclusion as well.