Davos 2024: Minister says Saudi Arabia not yet a BRICS member

Majid al-Kasabi spoke at the ongoing World Economic Forum meeting
Davos 2024: Minister says Saudi Arabia not yet a BRICS member
Saudi Arabia has not yet officially joined BRICS

Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Commerce Majid al-Kasabi clarified that the country has not officially joined BRICS yet. 

“While Saudi Arabia has received an invitation to join BRICs, we have not formally accepted,” noted al-Kasabi, who spoke on the sidelines of the ongoing Davos 2024.

Al-Kasabi is one of the 3,000 global political and business leaders who have convened in Davos, Switzerland, for the 54th annual World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting. This year’s event is under the theme “Rebuilding Trust.”

BRICS membership clarification

The statement resolves confusion following earlier reports by Saudi state TV claiming the Kingdom had joined the bloc, which were subsequently withdrawn from social media. The Saudi government still needs to provide additional details on the matter.

Nonetheless, media reports have stated that Saudi Arabia is still contemplating the invitation due to the escalating geopolitical strains between China and the U.S. 

BRICS was initially composed of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. It has since expanded, welcoming the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Iran, Egypt and Ethiopia. Argentina, who has also been invited, declined in November.

Read: BRICS bank reportedly eying Saudi for membership

Economic heavyweight

Before expansion, BIRCS is already an economic heavyweight, representing about 26 percent of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP). Additionally, the bloc is responsible for 16 percent of global trade.

The development will be economically advantageous to BRICS if Saudi Arabia officially joins. As the country is the biggest economy in the Arab world, it boasts an annual GDO of over $1 trillion. Additionally, it has about 15 percent of the world’s confirmed oil reserves.

As for Saudi Arabia, becoming a member of BRICS represents a strategic shift. It opens up new economic opportunities and pathways for diversification, aligning with their goal to reduce dependency on oil. Additionally, this move enhances the geopolitical influence of the country and fellow Middle Eastern member states, offering a balance between traditional Western ties and burgeoning global partnerships.

As early as May last year, media reports have already indicated BRICS’ New Development Bank (NDB) has been in talks with Saudi Arabia about joining the bloc. According to the China-based bank, it’s a crucial step that could offer the NDB new funding avenues.

Established in 2015, the NDB aims to support the infrastructure and sustainable development in BRICS countries and other emerging economies. It has since approved over 90 projects worth $32 billion. 

Experts further suggest that Saudi Arabia’s potential inclusion in the NDB would bolster the BRICS nations’ capabilities in managing risks associated with the global shift away from the dollar.

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