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Argentina Has Revised Its Plan to Join BRICS

31.12.2023
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https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-67842992

In a letter to the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, Milei said decisions taken by the previous government had been reconsidered. BRICS is often seen as a counterweight to the Western-led community of countries. Argentina was among a new group of six countries poised to join the bloc next month.

It was set to be admitted to the BRICS club on January 1, along with Egypt, Iran, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The decision not to do so comes after Milei, a right-wing populist outsider, won a surprise election victory in November, promising to overhaul the South American country's troubled economy.

He replaced left-wing Peronist Alberto Fernandez, whose views were more in line with those of the leaders of the current BRICS members. In his letter, Milei noted that his government's foreign policy "differs in many ways from that of the previous government." At the same time, he added that although he does not consider it appropriate for Argentina to become a full member of BRICS, he remains committed to strengthening bilateral ties, especially with the aim of increasing trade and investment flows.

Although the BRICS alliance is often touted as a champion of a more multipolar world, it is economically dominated by China, which accounts for more than 70% of the bloc's total GDP. Argentina's bid for membership during Fernandez's presidency received support from Beijing, but Milei sharply criticized China. During the election campaign, he called the Chinese government murderers and said he would not work with communists.

Argentina's changing position underscores the vulnerability of its economic and political position as it struggles to correct decades of mismanagement. The country is struggling with rising inflation: prices have risen by about 150% over the past year. Argentina's financial reserves are low, public debt is significant, and 40% of the population lives below the poverty line. Milei's administration has already devalued the country's currency by more than 50% as his plans for economic shock therapy are coming to fruition.

BRICS members Brazil and China are Argentina's two largest trading partners, but the US is not far behind, so maintaining good working relationships with all three countries is essential. Milei, who has been considering replacing the Argentine peso with the US dollar, appears likely to gravitate more toward Washington than Beijing in the future, judging by steps already taken.

 

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