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Argentina's shift not a rejection of BRICS: China Daily editorial

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2024-01-02 20:22

This file photo shows Argentina's President Javier Milei waving to supporters from the Casa Rosada balcony, as his sister Karina Milei looks on, after his swearing-in ceremony, in Buenos Aires, Argentina Dec 10, 2023. [Photo/Agencies]

The decision by Argentina to not join the BRICS group of developing economies came as no real surprise given the pronouncements to that effect by the country's new president during his election campaign.

The populist, self-defined "anarcho-capitalist", Javier Milei had previously said that his foreign policy would differ "in many aspects from that of the previous government" and "some decisions made by the previous administration will be reviewed".

BRICS membership would have likely helped Argentina tap the "possibilities of joining new markets, of consolidating existing markets, of raising investment coming in, of creating jobs and raising imports", as the previous administration said when giving the reasons for it seeking Argentina's membership of the group.

That Milei, in his letter to his counterparts of the five original BRICS members — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — proposed to "intensify bilateral relations" and increase "trade and investment flows" indicates that he is not looking to cut economic ties with the BRICS countries and that he is still hoping to release the immense potential that stands to be tapped in economic cooperation between Argentina and the BRICS members, old and new.

Some in the West, however, are trying to use Argentina's rejection of BRICS membership as ammunition to attack China and other BRICS countries. A Fox News report crowed that Milei's decision was a "setback" for the global ambitions of China and Russia. Rather than viewing it as part of Milei's promise-for-votes and subsequent balancing act, they can only view it from the perspective of Washington's zero-sum "competition" with China and Russia.

Argentina's economy is experiencing immense difficulties, with inflation reaching 150 percent and 40 percent of its population living below the poverty line. As some of Milei's policy changes aimed at revving up the economy have proved unpopular, the possibility of Argentina's new leader adjusting its foreign and economic policies to appease the public was always on the cards.

BRICS now accounts for about 40 percent of the world's population and more than 25 percent of the world's GDP, and it contributes 50 percent of the world's economic growth. As an open and inclusive mechanism, it welcomes like-minded partners to join the big family. That Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have now become formal members of BRICS, starting Jan 1, underscores the aspiration among developing countries and emerging economies for a shared future of mutually beneficial cooperation.

The door of membership to BRICS will always remain open to Argentina. It is welcome to join when it feels the time is right.

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