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Argentina formally rejects BRICS membership

December 29, 2023

Argentina has formally withdrawn from the expansion of the BRICS bloc. New far-right president Javier Milei has followed through on an election promise to reverse the country's decision to join.

Argentinien | Präsident Javier Milei
Image: Natacha Pisarenko/AP/picture alliance

Argentina's President Javier Milei has sent letters to BRICS leaders to formalize his decision to withdraw his country from its planned entry into the alliance of major emerging economies, it was announced on Friday.

Milei said the moment was not "opportune" for Argentina to join as a full member.

The bloc — made up of G20 nations Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — in August announced it was admitting six new members.

The membership of Argentina, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates was due to take effect from January 1, 2024.

The BRICS nations currently account for about 40% of the world's population and more than a quarter of the world's GDP, with as many as 14 nations mostly from Asia, Africa and the Middle East interested in joining the bloc.

Milei reverses predecessor's plans

The letters signed by Milei and published by several media houses said Argentina's membership was "not considered appropriate at this time" but Milei has expressed his readiness to hold meetings with each of the five BRICS leaders.

The libertarian outsider Milei took office this month after his resounding defeat of Argentina's traditional political parties, and he had vowed on the campaign trail not to join BRICS.

In his letters he said his foreign policy "differs in many aspects from that of the previous government. In this sense, some decisions made by the previous administration will be reviewed."

Milei's predecessor, former center-left president Alberto Fernandez, had endorsed joining the alliance as an opportunity to reach new markets.

Argentines protest Milei's 'economic shock therapy'

Argentina 'will not ally with communists'

During his election campaign, Milei said "our geopolitical alignment is with the United States and Israel. We are not going to ally with communists."

Throughout the campaign for the presidency, Milei disparaged countries ruled "by communism" and announced that he would not maintain diplomatic relations with them despite growing Chinese investment in South America.

Despite vowing to cut ties with major trading partners China and Brazil, he has taken a more conciliatory tone since coming to office.

Milei defines himself as an "anarcho-capitalist" and has implemented a series of measures to deregulate the economy, which in recent decades has been marked by state interventionism.

Soon after taking office Milei warned of his economic plans, claiming that there is "no alternative to austerity and no alternative to shock treatment."

He insisted that his predecessors had left the country without funds and on a path to hyperinflation.

What does BRICS want?

mds/lo (AFP, AP)