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Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Argentina and UAE are new members of BRICS

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with other BRICS leaders in Johannesburg, South Africa on Wednesday (Image courtesy: MEA)

Reaching consensus on the expansion guidelines of admission to grouping, the BRICS leaders on Thursday announced Argentina, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Ethiopia and the United Arab Emirates as the new members with effect from January 2024.

The significant decision was announced by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, also the chair of BRICS, while listing the outcomes of the XV BRICS Summit in Johannesburg Thursday afternoon.

The five-member grouping currently includes India, Russia, Brazil, China and South Africa.

“We’ve reached an agreement to invite Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and UAE to become full members of BRICS. The membership will come into effect from January 2024,” said Ramaphosa.

In his remarks, Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioned that India will continue to build consensus for those countries wishing to join BRICS.

“Expansion and modernisation of BRICS is a message that global institutions must mold themselves to changing times; an example of reform for other global institutions,” said PM Modi.

The international media had already been abuzz with speculation since 22 countries applied for the membership of BRICS which brings together five major emerging economies, comprising more than 40 per cent of the world population, 25 per cent of the global economy and more than 18 per cent share in world trade.

Brazilian portal UOL reported Wednesday that Argentina, Egypt, Iran, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia will become new members of the association.

One of the main selection criteria, it said, was the geographical factor, which should ensure a regional balance within the association.

The New York Times, meanwhile, said that Argentina, Egypt, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia are thought to be among those most likely to be admitted while Iran has also “expressed interest”.

It mentioned that the addition to BRICS of Saudi Arabia – one of the world’s leading oil producers – would add economic clout to the group and bolster its chances of positioning itself as a rival to the US-led financial order.

As reported by IndiaNarrative.com, BRICS members had intensified discussions on the expansion process, setting a course for the further development of cooperation between the ‘five’ and interested developing countries in the ‘outreach’ and ‘BRICS Plus’ formats.

Saudi Arabia’s growing interest in BRICS already signalled a major change in the geopolitical architecture of the region while Iran, another country having major natural gas reserves, also made its intentions clear on joining BRICS.

Last week, Iranian President Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi dialled PM Modi, just ahead of their meeting in Johannesburg on the sidelines of the BRICS summit.

In July, Iran – an observer state till now – got a full membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) under the rotating chairmanship of India.

Acknowledging India’s growth as an emerging power, Tehran urged New Delhi to accelerate the process of Iran’s admission to the powerful BRICS grouping.

Hoping that the membership mechanisms of BRICS-friendly countries will be defined and implemented as soon as possible, Iran’s new security chief Ali Akbar Ahmadian had also discussed the matter in detail during his meeting with National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval at the BRICS NSA and ‘Friends of BRICS’ gathering in Johannesburg, last month.

Also Read: BRICS expansion raises many complex geopolitical, eligibility and procedural issues