At a moment China and Russia have envisioned the future of BRICS as fundamentally an anti-Western bloc of developing nations, the Gulf oil powers Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have been formally invited to become members, which marks the bloc’s first expansion in over a decade.
“The membership will take effect from the first of January, 2024,” South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said, adding that additionally Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia and Iran will be added to the fold next year.
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China’s President Xi Jinping hailed the rare expansion, beyond the current large economies of China, Russia, Brazil India, China and South Africa as “historic”. He said it will “inject new impetus into the BRICS cooperation mechanism and further strengthen the power of world peace and development.”
President Putin too congratulated the soon to be newest members, saying in a video message, “I would like to congratulate the new members who will work in a full-scale format next year.”
“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,” the Russian leader added. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also hailed the expansion which he said will strengthen the bloc.
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan’s statement said, “the special, strategic relations with the BRICS nations promotes common principles, most importantly the firm belief in the principle of respect for sovereignty, independence and non-interference in internal affairs.”
He vowed in words before the BRICS conference on Thursday that the kingdom will be a “secure and reliable energy provider,” and noted that total bilateral trade between Riyadh and BRICS countries exceeded $160 billion in 2022, the Saudi foreign minister said.