Argentina has formally declined an invitation to become a member of the BRICS group of nations, as per various news media outlets on Friday, December 29, quoting an official letter they have seen which was distributed to the leaders of Russia, China, India, Brazil, and South Africa. While new Argentinian President Javier Milei had hitherto opposed joining the alliance before being elected, the latest move signified a complete U-turn from the stance of his predecessor, Alberto Fernandez.
Fernandez had welcomed the invitation to join BRICS in August, maintaining that such a move would give the Latin American nation a “new scenario” for its development. Milei, who won the presidency in November, declared at that time that he would not “push for deals with communists because they don’t respect the basic parameters of free trade, freedom, and democracy.”
The media published one of Buenos Aires’ letters on Friday that was apparently addressed to Brazilian President Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva. The letter said that the policy of the new Argentinian government would “differ in many cases from that of the previous government” and that some of its decisions, including “active participation in BRICS,” would be “reviewed.” None of the BRICS nations has officially verified receiving the letter so far.
Argentina’s foreign minister Diana Mondino, who was Milei’s senior economic advisor, also said that her government did not “see any advantage” in becoming a member of the group and would thus “not join BRICS.”
The letter stated at the same time that Milei’s government hopes to “intensify” bilateral relations with BRICS members, especially in the sectors of trade and investments. Formerly, the president said that, while he was not going to “align with the communists,” his government would still not prevent the Argentinian private sector from doing business with “whoever it wants.”
The South American nation is presently grappling with its worst economic crisis in decades. Inflation has skyrocketed 160 percent over the past year alone. The gravely devalued peso compelled the country to refinance its $44-billion debt with the IMF. Besides, Milei’s government is also encountering widespread protests over its radical deregulation and austerity-based reform program.
In total, more than 40 countries have so far expressed interest in joining BRICS, according to present group chair South Africa. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, Iran, and Ethiopia joined BRICS on January 1, doubling the alliance’s membership to 10, with Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa as the original members.
Russia is poised to hold the presidency of BRICS in 2024. The nation’s priorities during its chairmanship would include further enlargement of the “circle of BRICS friends” to include Latin American countries, as well as a rise in trade settlements using national currencies, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said in October.