President Xi Jinping delivers an important speech at a press conference during the 15th BRICS Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, Aug 24, 2023.

BRICS leaders agreed on Thursday to invite six countries, namely Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), to join the group. [Photo/Xinhua]

Xi says adding six more members will mark new starting point for group’s cooperation

President Xi Jinping hailed on Thursday the “historic” expansion of BRICS, the group of leading emerging economies, to include six new members, saying that the move marks a new starting point for BRICS cooperation and will provide fresh momentum for the mechanism.

Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were invited to become new BRICS members. The decision was announced at a special news conference during the 15th BRICS Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa. The membership will take effect on Jan 1.

Speaking at the news conference, Xi said the expansion of the grouping — whose current members are Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — speaks volumes for BRICS’ resolve to bolster solidarity and cooperation with other developing nations.

“It meets the expectations of the international community and serves the common interests of emerging markets and developing nations,” he said.

The expansion marks a new starting point for BRICS cooperation, Xi said, adding that it will inject new vitality into the mechanism of BRICS cooperation and further strengthen the forces of global peace and development.

“I believe that as long as we work together, there is great potential for BRICS cooperation, and the future of BRICS countries is promising. Let’s make joint efforts to write a new chapter of unity, cooperation and development among emerging market countries and developing nations.”

Last year, BRICS started the expansion process during China’s chairmanship of the group, and China has since been working with other BRICS members to advance the expansion process, a spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.

Many emerging markets and developing countries have shown keen interest in joining BRICS, “and more than 20 countries submitted their applications, which speaks volumes about the appeal of BRICS and the enthusiasm and aspiration of emerging markets and developing countries for cooperation”, the spokesperson said.

The five member countries have reached agreement on the guiding principles, standards, criteria and procedures for the BRICS expansion process, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said at the news conference.

“We value the interests of other countries in building a partnership with BRICS. We have tasked our foreign ministers to further develop the BRICS partner country model and a list of prospective partner countries and report by the next summit,” Ramaphosa said.

The five leaders shared a vision for BRICS as a champion of the needs and concerns of the peoples of the developing Global South, including the need for beneficial economic growth, sustainable development and reform of multilateral systems, he said.

“We reiterate our commitment to inclusive multilateralism and upholding international law, including the purposes and principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter,” Ramaphosa added.

Wang Lei, director of Beijing Normal University’s Center for BRICS Cooperation Studies, said the fact that the BRICS countries have reached consensus on the expansion of membership is a key indicator of mutual trust within the group.

“The joining of six new members will substantially elevate the strength of the grouping and enable it to play an increasingly important role in the global governance system,” Wang said.

The inclusion of the six additional countries in BRICS will help further demonstrate the solidarity among the Global South and demonstrate the BRICS spirit of openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation, he said.

Wang added that the expansion of the group will enhance the representation of BRICS in the Middle East, Africa and South America. “The rise in the global representation of the grouping will help build up solidarity among developing nations and effectively improve the influence in various regions,” he said.

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