NewsSaudi Arabia joins BRICS group amidst US-China tension, increasing China's influence

Saudi Arabia joins BRICS group amidst US‑China tension, increasing China's influence

Saudi Prince Faisal bin Farhan
Saudi Prince Faisal bin Farhan
Images source: © Getty Images | 2020 Anadolu Agency

8:31 AM EST, January 3, 2024

On Monday, Saudi Arabia was announced as a member of the group of nations known as BRICS, as reported by Reuters, which cited Saudi television. It was also noted that four other countries joined the group: United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Iran, and Ethiopia.

Prince Faisal bin Farhan proclaimed that the BRICS group is a "beneficial and significant conduit" for strengthening economic cooperation, Reuters wrote.

Riyadh's inclusion in the group, which now includes 10 countries in addition to the five new members (South Africa, Brazil, India, China, and Russia), has occurred amidst geopolitical tensions between the US and China along with China's growing influence in Saudi Arabia, as noted by Reuters. It further stated that despite strong ties with the US, Saudi Arabia is striving to act independently. This is because, in their view, Washington is less involved in safeguarding the Persian Gulf region.

China, the biggest consumer of Saudi Arabian oil, strongly advocated for expanding the group to counterbalance the West, the agency wrote. It also recalled that Argentina withdrew their membership in the group on December 29 of the previous year due to the new controversial president, Javier Milei.

The Argentine leader announced this news to his country, expressing that he does not regard "Argentina's future inclusion to this group on January 1, 2024, as fitting."

Russia takes leadership

The expansion was also discussed by Radio Free Europe, which highlighted that the organization now encompasses countries whose combined income is over one-third of the global GDP, and they make up 45% of the world's population.

The group's members possess about 45% of the world's oil reserves. Most of these countries officially maintain a neutral stance in the war between Russia and Ukraine and do not back Western attempts to isolate Moscow on an international level. Moscow has taken over the rotating BRICS leadership as of January 1.

However, the site quotes experts who argue that actual economic cooperation within the group and its effectiveness is currently low. This is a result, amongst other things, of the fact that when the group was established, its founders experienced a very high rate of economic growth, which has significantly decreased in recent years.

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