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17 Jan, 2024 11:30

Saudi Arabia clarifies BRICS membership reports

Riyadh was officially invited to the group of emerging countries in August 2023
Saudi Arabia clarifies BRICS membership reports

Saudi Arabia has yet to officially join the BRICS group of economies, the kingdom's minister of commerce, Majid Al-Kasabi, announced at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Tuesday.

The country's state media reported earlier this month that the kingdom had officially become a member of BRICS. The reports, however, were later removed from social media.

“Saudi Arabia has been invited to attend BRICS; we have not yet officially joined BRICS,” Al-Kasabi clarified.

The group of major emerging economies saw a groundbreaking expansion last year. In August, the bloc, which at the time comprised Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, agreed to admit Saudi Arabia, Iran, Ethiopia, Egypt, Argentina, and the United Arab Emirates, while leaving the door open to accepting new members.

Argentina, however, officially declined the invitation after its newly-elected president, Javier Milei, opposed the move, pledging that the country would not “ally with communists” on his watch.

Starting from January 1, BRICS, already an economic heavyweight, expanded, welcoming the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Iran, Egypt, and Ethiopia.

According to the IMF, the expanded BRICS now accounts for 36% of global GDP in terms of purchasing power parity, surpassing that of the G7 group of Western countries.

Commenting on the statement of the Saudi minister, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that “the work on the integration of Saudi Arabia with the BRICS countries continues,” as Russia considers it of high importance. He added that President Vladimir Putin discussed the country’s accession during his recent visit to Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia’s membership will be economically advantageous to BRICS as the country is the biggest economy in the Arab world, boasting an annual GDP of over $1 trillion, economists say. Additionally, the kingdom holds about 15% of the world’s confirmed oil reserves.

Analysts note that becoming a member of BRICS would represent a strategic shift for Saudi Arabia, opening new economic opportunities and boosting its influence among fellow Middle Eastern member states.

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