Ethiopia and Egypt are set to join BRICS alongside the oil majors Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Iran in the first expansion of the bloc in a decade.

Alongside Argentina, which will also be joining the BRICS next year, the six new entrants have a combined Gross Domestic Product of over $2 trillion.

Leaders pose for a photo during BRICS summit in South Africa. (BRICS).
Leaders pose for a photo during BRICS summit in South Africa. (BRICS).

This comes at a time when calls for de-dollarization have gathered momentum with BRICS keen on using currencies within their member states as it cuts back overreliance on the US dollar, even as they plan to establish a common currency, a plan that analysts have termed as impossible.

The announcement was made on Wednesday by South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa during the closure of this year’s annual meeting in Johannesburg.

The new members had already expressed an interest in joining the group, which currently has Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa as founding members. (South Africa joined a year later after it was founded).

“The membership will take effect from the first of January, 2024,” said President Ramaphosa on Thursday.

Russia and China welcomed the decision by the bloc to invite the new members as part of the BRICS team.

“I would like to congratulate the new members who will work in a full-scale format next year,” Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said in a video message.

Mr Putin, who could not attend the in-person session owing to warrant of arrest issued against him by the International Criminal Court over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, said BRICS will continue the work that it has started on expanding its influence in the world.

“The new membership will inject new impetus into the BRICS cooperation mechanism and further strengthen the power of world peace and development,” said China’s Xi Jinping.

BRICS held its first summit in 2009 with four members and then added South Africa the following year. It launched its New Development Bank in 2015.