News Update: Ethiopia joins BRICS as bloc welcomes six new members

Addis Abeba – Leaders of the BRICS nations have come to a consensus regarding the expansion guidelines for admission to the influential multinational association. Effective 01 January, 2024, six countries will formally become full members of the BRICS, further strengthening its global presence. These countries include Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE.

This decision marks a momentous occasion as two of the newly admitted members hail from the African continent. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who is currently attending the BRICS summit, expressed his excitement on Twitter about Ethiopia’s official inclusion in the group. He tweeted, “a great moment for Ethiopia as the BRICS leaders endorse our entry into this esteemed group”. The Prime Minister further emphasized Ethiopia’s commitment to collaborate with all stakeholders in building an inclusive and prosperous global order.

An expert closely monitoring the Ethiopian economy has hailed Ethiopia’s membership in the BRICS bloc as a significant diplomatic triumph, possibly the most substantial accomplishment during Prime Minister Abiy’s five-year reign.

The expert told Addis Standard on conditions of anonymity that although the economic benefit is not that much, Ethiopia’s admission will improve investor perception and provides alternatives for external development finance.

It also “provides negotiation power for members in dealing with Bretton Woods Institutions, especially on issues related to conditionalities, [and] help enhance trading with the external world as the New Development Bank under BRICS provides trade financing support and resources during shocks.”

This poses a challenge for Ethiopia, given its significant resource deficit, particularly in terms of foreign currency, and the burden of heavy debt repayment obligations

However the expert cautioned that Ethiopia’s decision to join the BRICS group should not be overemphasized, as “the group and its banks are still under the heavy influence of China. Hence, these all things would not happen instantly and will be determined by geopolitics, and how Ethiopia positions itself”.

Furthermore, becoming a member of this group and the new development bank entails a substantial financial commitment. “This poses a challenge for Ethiopia, given its significant resource deficit, particularly in terms of foreign currency, and the burden of heavy debt repayment obligations”, the expert said.

While announcing the expansion of the block, president of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa said “the block is an equal partnership of countries that have different views but a shared vision”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was notably absent from the ongoing BRICS summit in South Africa, conveyed his message through a video recording. In this message, he emphasized that embracing the guiding principles for the expansion of BRICS will guarantee the continuous growth of its role and significance on the global stage. Putin has chosen Sergey Lavrov, the Foreign Minister of Russia, to represent him at the BRICS.

With the inclusion of these nations, the collective gross domestic product (GDP) of the BRICS is set to account for a remarkable 36% of the global GDP while also representing 47% of the world’s total population.

On 29 June, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed that Ethiopia has officially applied to become a member of the BRICS bloc, a group of developing nations. During a press conference, Meles Alem, the ministry spokesman, acknowledged Ethiopia’s aspiration to join BRICS and highlighted the significance of aligning with influential consortia like BRICS, which includes Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.AS

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