An economic bloc led by five emerging economies, including the United States’ two main rivals, looks poised to expand as Washington strives to push its global agenda beyond traditional allies and partners around the world.
The group, known by the acronym of its five main members, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS), represents more than a quarter of the world’s GDP and about 40% of world population. Although the BRICS is not a formal alliance and significant geopolitical differences exist among the members, their common interest in strengthening economic and trade mechanisms outside the Western framework has demonstrated growing overseas appeal.
Following the last BRICS summit held in Beijing in June, Argentina and Iran applied to join the organization, and the bloc’s current chairman, Purnima Anand, told Russian media the following month that the Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey were among the countries that also expressed interest in following suit.
On Monday, Algerian special envoy Leila Zerrougui confirmed that her country was the last to officially apply for BRICS membership, according to Algerian news portal Al Shorouq.
Speaking at the last “BRICS+” summit organized by China, Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune affirmed that “the continued marginalization of developing countries, within the various institutions of global governance, constitutes a certain source of instability, ‘inequality and development’.
In addition to the need to establish a “new economic order” in accordance with United Nations resolution 3201 adopted in 1974, he spoke of Algeria’s commitment “to the construction of a new international order which includes our collective security based on the stability and prosperity of each of us.”
Tebboune was one of 19 world leaders to participate in the expanded BRICS format, and was joined by the heads of the five BRICS members as well as Argentina, Cambodia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Fiji, from Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Nigeria, Senegal, Thailand and Uzbekistan.
While the United States has largely dismissed concerns that the BRICS could present a serious challenge to the economic might of the Group of Seven, or G7, made up of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, from Japan, the UK and the US, deepening geopolitical and economic relations Disputes exacerbated by Russia’s war in Ukraine and subsequent Western sanctions have thrust the BRICS into the spotlight.
This has even extended to Algeria, a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) which is the third largest exporter of gas to the European Union. As the EU struggled to wean itself off Russian energy, the North African nation was among the alternatives discussed, even as it continues to favor ties with Moscow and rejects the adoption of any punitive measures in response to the conflict in Ukraine.
Saudi Arabia’s bid to join the bloc is also potentially consequential. Weeks after OPEC+, the broader OPEC group, decided to cut global oil production by two million barrels, fraying already strained ties between Washington and Riyadh as President Joe Biden battles for keep fuel prices low, Russian President Vladimir Putin has openly supported the idea of Saudi Arabia joining. BRICS.
The Russian leader noted at an Oct. 27 event hosted by the Valdai Discussion Club that such a decision first requires “a consensus of all BRICS countries.” But he backed Saudi Arabia’s admission, noting its economic prowess.
“Saudi Arabia is a fast-growing nation, and not just because it is a leader in hydrocarbon production and oil extraction,” Putin said at the time. “It’s because the Crown Prince and the Saudi government have very big plans to diversify the economy, which is very important.”
He also said the kingdom ‘deserves’ to be a member of another China-Russia-led bloc, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which Iran has joined as a separate member. at the last annual summit hosted by Uzbekistan in September.
Following Putin’s comments late last month, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a press briefing that “China actively supports the BRICS expansion process.”
He pointed out that BRICS leaders had reached consensus on expanding the group after the Beijing summit in July, and said that “after the meeting, many countries expressed a desire to join BRICS cooperation. “.
“China will work with other BRICS members to jointly push forward the expansion process,” Wang said, “so that more partners join the BRICS family.”
The the wall street journal then reported on Sunday that Chinese President Xi Jinping is preparing to visit Saudi Arabia before the end of the year, citing people who are believed to be familiar with preparations for the trip. The move, which would mark one of the few cases of overseas travel for Xi since the COVID-19 pandemic gripped the world in 2020, is said to have come against the backdrop of Beijing and Riyadh struggling for a more multipolar world order.
The trip is tentatively scheduled for the second week of December, the same month that the first Arab-Chinese summit is to be held in Saudi Arabia, as announced in September by Khalil Al-Thawadi, deputy secretary general of the Arab League, who concluded its first summit since the start of the pandemic this week in Algeria.
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