Saudi Arabia, UAE, Ethiopia, Egypt, Iran, Argentina Invited to Join BRICS

*Shettima says Tinubu’s economic reforms, diplomatic alliances will attract investment, partnership to Nigeria

Deji Elumoye in Abuja with agency report

Oil powers Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have been invited to become members of the BRICS group of developing nations in its first expansion in over a decade.
Also invited were Iran, Egypt, Ethiopia and Argentina, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said yesterday, as he wrapped up the annual summit of the group in Johannesburg.
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said the kingdom was awaiting details from the BRICS group on the nature of the membership, and would take an “appropriate decision” accordingly.
All six countries invited had already expressed an interest in joining, CNN reported.
The BRICS group currently includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

“The membership will take effect from the first of January, 2024,” Ramaphosa said.
In a video message, Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated the new BRIC

S members, adding that the bloc’s global influence would continue to grow.
“I would like to congratulate the new members who will work in a full-scale format 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,” the Russian president added.

China’s President Xi Jinping called the bloc’s expansion “historic,” reflecting its determination to “unite and cooperate with developing countries.”
“It will inject new impetus into the BRICS cooperation mechanism and further strengthen the power of world peace and development,” Jinping said.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also welcomed the expansion, saying his country had always believed that adding new members would strengthen the bloc.
Speaking to Saudi TV channel Al Arabiya, the Saudi foreign minister added that the bloc had, “proven itself to be a useful and important channel to strengthen economic cooperation with countries of the so-called Global South.”
Bin Farhan told the BRICS conference earlier yesterday, that the kingdom would continue to be a “secure and reliable energy provider,” adding that total bilateral trade between Saudi Arabia and BRICS nations exceeded $160 billion in 2022.

If Saudi Arabia accepts the invitation, the world’s largest crude oil exporter would find itself in the same economic bloc as the world’s biggest oil importer, China.
It would also mean that Russia and Saudi Arabia — both 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 output, which has in the past put Saudi Arabia at odds with its ally, the United States.
The bloc’s expansion raises the question of potential de-dollarisation, a process by which members would gradually switch to using currencies other than the US dollar to conduct trade.
The BRICS countries have also been talking about a common currency, an idea analysts have described as unworkable and “unlikely” in the near future.
Putin said the issue of a common currency was a “difficult question” but added “we will move towards solving these problems.”
The expansion takes place at a time when some BRICS members, namely Russia and China, are locked into rising tensions with the West.

Experts have said that choosing to include countries that are openly antagonistic toward the West, such as Iran, could swing the group further toward becoming an anti-Western bloc.

Built off a term originally coined by former Goldman Sachs economist Jim O’Neill to describe key emerging markets, the group has persisted despite deep differences in political and economic systems among its members.

Meanwhile, Vice President Kashim Shettima has disclosed that President Bola Tinubu administration’s economic reforms and diplomatic alliances were intended to attract investments and partnerships to Nigeria as well as aligning with international and regional cooperation.

According to him, “the new government, which began less than three months ago, is examining the variables and evaluating the scope and level of regional and global cooperation to pursue in order to establish Nigeria as the desired friend and partner.”

The vice president stated this yesterday, in an address to world leaders at the 3rd BRICS-Africa Outreach and BRICS Plus Dialogue on the sidelines of the on-going 15TH BRICS Summit at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa where he represented President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

Speaking to a large audience which includes Presidents of China, India, Brazil, South Africa and Russia’s Foreign Minister on the theme, ‘BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Mutually Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development, and Inclusive Multilateralism,” Shettima said the theme “underscores the profound realisation that the cornerstone of stability within our intricate multipolar landscape lies in fostering developmental partnerships.”

He commended efforts of the organisers for focusing on the agenda items which centers on, “BRICS and Africa, stating that the agenda aligns with “the aspiration of the people we represent, the future citizens of a world that can ensure our collective prosperity.”

While extending Nigeria’s gratitude to the government and people of the Republic of South Africa for convening the 15th BRICS Summit, the vice president said, “the BRICS-Africa Outreach and BRICS-Plus Dialogue provide a unique platform for deliberation, note comparison, and exploration of a mutually beneficial partnership that could evolve into a novel driving force for development.

“The international global governance structure to which we currently adhere was established prior to the independence of the African continent and many countries in the global south.

“So, it’s indeed imperative to reform global governance to align with the realities of today’s world and to acknowledge the necessity for partnerships that ensure shared prosperity, inclusivity and sustainable development.”

Shettima assured that Nigeria under Tinubu, “is committed to shaping and fortifying the global framework and governance concerning all major international issues, particularly in the fields of finance, climate change, bridging the digital divide, adopting a comprehensive strategy towards debt alleviation, addressing food and energy insecurities, instituting post-pandemic recovery measures, and fostering financial inclusion within developing countries.”

Stressing the need for a revitalised international cooperation that is effective, representative, and inclusive to tackle the challenges facing the world, vice president Shettima opined that Nigeria is ready for collaboration and, “partnership that guarantees a world governed by acceptable rules and norms.

“We seek partnership that provides opportunities for all to engage in trade, prosperity, and shared progress with no marginalisation based on geography, race and legitimate sovereign affiliations,” he affirmed.

On the 2030 Agenda for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Shettima observed that the reality of achieving the SDGs remains bleak for many developing countries.

According to him, “these nations confront historical developmental vulnerabilities and challenges that are beyond their control. Thus, it is imperative for us to unite within regional groups and forge a novel form of international cooperation.

“This endeavor aims to foster global economic governance reform while enhancing the representation and voice of emerging market economies or developing countries.”

The vice president while emphasising partnership as a major key for addressing current global challenges, seeks formidable global partnerships through harnessing the agricultural potential of nations; harnessing renewable energy to revolutionise Africa; fostering technology, innovation, and job prospects for holistic and equitable progress; collaborative efforts on climate change and nature-centered approaches to development.

Others include strengthening vibrant private sector participation among the countries of the global south; nurturing youth employment and skill building as a deterrent against terrorism, organised crime, and related challenges; proactive crisis prevention and heightened resilience as well as promoting proactive involvement of business leadership in shaping an improved and ideal landscape for trade and economic exchanges in the Global South.

Earlier, in his speech on the third day of the Summit, the Chairman of BRICS and President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, expressed the commitment of South Africa to advance the interests of the global south.

Also, he announced as part of the outcomes of the Summit to expand its objectives, the admission of six new full members which are Argentina, Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia and United Arab Emirates.

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