An invitation to join the BRICS group of emerging economies opens up a “new scenario” for Argentina, outgoing President Alberto Fernández has said, as the South American nation grapples with an economic crisis and galloping inflation.
Fernandez said in a speech Thursday that joining the BRICS – a group that currently includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – would be a “great opportunity” to strengthen Argentina’s economy.
“We are opening up the possibility of accessing new markets, consolidating existing markets, increasing investment, creating jobs and increasing imports,” he said.
His comments come shortly after the South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the BRICS countries had agreed to invite six other countries to join the alliance, which sees itself as a counterweight to Western powers.
Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, Ethiopia and the United Arab Emirates have been invited to join the bloc next year alongside Argentina, Ramaphosa said on final day of BRICS summit in Johannesburg.
The possibility of joining the BRICS has been on the radar for months in Argentina, where triple-digit inflation, a steadily deteriorating peso and debt repayment under a $44 billion loan deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) sparked public frustration.
“The BRICS have the ability to redefine Argentina’s relationship with debt,” said Julio Gambina, economist and professor at the National University of Rosario in Argentina. told Al Jazeera in May.
“His investments could enable the country to build a community economy that prioritizes the needs of individuals and families over the needs of transnational corporations. But that remains theoretical.
Fernandez full membership application in the group in June 2022 during discussions with representatives of the BRICS, and his request enjoyed the support of another left-wing leader in the region, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
This week, Lula said it was “very important for Argentina to be part of the BRICS”, calling IMF loans “suffocating” for neighboring Brazil.
The Brazilian president also hinted at the possibility for the BRICS bank to increase its loans to other countries with “different criteria” to stimulate their economy.
Meanwhile, Argentina, whose largest trading partner is Brazil, is preparing for a general elections in octoberwhich could upset his rise within the group.
Several of the presidential candidates hoping to succeed Fernandez have opposed the current government’s desire to join the bloc.
Including Javier Milei, a far-right politician who won the most support in this month’s primary elections. He criticized Brazil and China, members of the BRICS.
Patricia Bullrich, a Tory who won the internal competition for the main centre-right opposition coalition, also voiced her disagreement with the decision on Thursday.
Fernandez is unable to negotiate her country’s entry into the bloc, Bullrich said, adding that she disagrees with her country joining BRICS along with Iran and while the war in Ukraine continues.
“One of the main Argentine presidential candidates, Javier Milei, promises to significantly deteriorate ties with Brazil and China,” said political scientist Oliver Stuenkel. wrote on social media on Thursday.
“Patricia Bullrich, another candidate, has just said that she opposes Argentina joining the BRICS. Interesting times ahead.