/ 24 August 2023

Brics+6: Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi and UAE added to bloc

Gettyimages 1618574407 594x594
President of Brazil Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, President of China Xi Jinping, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi and Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov pose for a BRICS family photo during the 2023 BRICS Summit at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg. Photo by GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Brics chair, President Cyril Ramaphosa, has announced the inclusion of Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in the economic bloc. 

Ramaphosa made the announcement while addressing the media on Thursday, the third and last day of the 15th Brics summit, which took place this week in Sandton, Johannesburg. 

He was joined by the other Brics leaders, Brazilian president Lula da Silva, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, China’s president Xi Jinping and Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, who stood in for president Vladimir Putin. Putin delivered his address virtually. 

The inclusion of oil-rich Saudi Arabia is considered a big coup for the Brics alliance, as it positions itself as a powerful force against the West’s hegemony. Of the new members, Saudi Arabia has the largest GDP. 

However, the fossil fuel-powered economy’s addition does raise questions about the bloc’s commitment to its climate goals.

Ramaphosa said the Brics leaders have tasked their foreign ministers to further develop the Brics partner country model and a list of prospective partner countries and report by the next summit.

Earlier on Thursday, the Mail & Guardian reported that South Africa supported Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Iran to become permanent members, according to high level diplomats.

At least 20 countries, four of which were from Africa, had formally requested to join Brics.  

Ramaphosa also indicated in his address that the Brics leaders had noted the global momentum behind the use of local currencies, alternative financial arrangements and alternative payment systems. “As Brics, we are ready to explore opportunities for improving the reliability of the global financial architecture.”

He noted that the Brics leaders have tasked their finance ministers and central bank governors to consider the issue of local currencies, payment instruments and platforms and to report back by the next summit.