The King Abdullah Financial District in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The King Abdullah Financial District in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Jeremy Suyker/Bloomberg)

Membership of the BRICS group of emerging-market nations is set to double, with Saudi Arabia, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Ethiopia and Egypt to join its ranks on Jan. 1, South Africa’s envoy to the bloc said.

Current members Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa in August invited six other nations to become part of their group, pairing some of the planet’s largest energy producers with some of the biggest consumers among developing countries. Only Argentina declined the invitation after President Javier Milei, who took office this month, reversed his predecessor’s membership bid.

The five invitees sent senior-level representatives to a BRICS sherpa meeting in Durban, South Africa, earlier this month and they fully participated in the gathering, “a clear indication that they have accepted the invitation” to join, Anil Sooklal, Pretoria’s ambassador to the bloc, said in an interview Friday.

The new members will also send officials to a sherpa meeting in Moscow on Jan. 30, he said.

“BRIC” was coined in 2001 by economist Jim O’Neill, then at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., to draw attention to strong economic growth rates in Brazil, Russia, India and China. The term was intended as an optimistic scenario for investors amid market pessimism following the terrorist attacks in the US on Sept. 11 that year. The group held its first leaders’ summit in 2009 and invited South Africa to join a year later, adding another continent and the letter “S.”

About 30 countries want to establish ties with the bloc, Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergey Lavrov was cited by news agency Tass as saying this week.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, will seek to become a member of BRICS within the next two years, Minister of Foreign Affairs Yusuf Tuggar said in November.

Except for India, the BRICS have underperformed their emerging-market peers over the last five years, according to Bloomberg Intelligence. US-led sanctions have put Russia off limits for many foreign investors, and some sectors in China - especially technology companies - have also been sanctioned or face potential investment bans.


©2023 Bloomberg L.P.

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