UAE, Ethiopia, Iran and Egypt 'set to join BRICS', Saudi Arabia still considering its invite

UAE, Ethiopia, Iran and Egypt 'set to join BRICS', Saudi Arabia still considering its invite
South African FM Naledi Pandor has said that the UAE, Egypt, Iran, Ethiopia have confirmed their membership to the bloc.
3 min read
01 February, 2024
Delegates from the BRICS intergovernmental organisation in the Qatari capital of Doha on Dec 10 2023 [Getty]

Four of the six countries invited to join the BRICS bloc of nations from 1 January have confirmed they are joining, South African foreign minister Naledi Pandor said on Wednesday.

Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, and the UAE have officially joined the bloc of emerging economies, after being invited last year. This is the first time the body has expanded its membership in over a decade.

The four countries were invited along with Argentina and Saudi Arabia to join the bloc comprising Brazil, Russia, China, India and South Africa at a summit in August in Johannesburg.

"With respect to the BRICS confirmations, five out of the six have confirmed. That is Saudi Arabia, UAE, Ethiopia, Iran... and Egypt," Pandor told a news conference on Wednesday.

"Argentina has written to indicate that they will not act on this successful application by the previous administration to become full members of BRICS, and we accept their decision."

A Saudi official source said Riyadh was still considering the invitation to join the bloc.

"Saudi Arabia has not yet responded to the invitation to join BRICS. It is still under consideration," the Saudi source said in a statement to news agency Reuters.

BRICS members say the move would help reshuffle a world order they view as outdated and has been seen as some as a challenge to US-EU "hegemony". 

Argentina has since declined the invitation to join, following the election of ultra-right-wing Javier Milei into power.

Without naming the countries, Pandor added that thirty-four countries had also expressed their interest in joining the BRICS. 

The potential addition of oil-producing Gulf nations to the bloc comes as sanctions-hit Iran boosts ties with Russia and China.

Egypt’s membership in the economic bloc was also officially activated in January. 

"By joining the BRICS, Egypt is believed to have been trying to alleviate the dominance of the US dollar in the North African country’s economy amid an unforgiving economic crisis triggered by internal and external factors such as the currency devaluation and the Israeli war on the neighbouring Palestinian Gaza Strip," financial analyst Ahmed Hamouda said in a previous interview with The New Arab.    

The expansion of the BRICS could strengthen the bloc's declared ambition to become a champion of the Global South, with greater financial and diplomatic coordination.

This includes plans to build a payment system without the use of the US dollar and reforming the United Nations Security Council.

The foreign minister said the latest developments serve to "redress what we regard as a rather unfair and costly payment system".

Reuters has also contributed to this article.