Argentina announces that it will not join BRICS bloc

The move is the latest shift in economic and foreign policy by newly elected hard-right President Javier Milei.

Argentine president-elect Javier Milei addresses supporters after winning Argentina's runoff presidential election, in Buenos Aires, Argentina November 19, 2023
Argentinian president-elect Javier Milei addresses supporters after winning Argentina's run-off presidential election, in Buenos Aires, Argentina November 19, 2023 [Agustin Marcarian/Reuters]

Argentina has announced that it will not join the BRICS bloc of developing economies, fulfilling a campaign promise by newly elected far-right President Javier Milei who has pledged to pursue closer ties with the West.

In a letter dated December 22 but released on Friday, Milei told the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa that the timing for Argentina’s membership in the bloc was not opportune.

Milei said in his letter that his approach to foreign affairs “differs in many aspects from that of the previous government. In this sense, some decisions made by the previous administration will be reviewed.”

Argentina’s new president, a self-described anarcho-libertarian who has pushed forward a series of radical economic reforms since taking office in December, has said that he will pursue a foreign policy that aligns with Western countries, moving away from the previous administration’s efforts to build ties with other developing countries.

Former centre-left President Alberto Fernandez had promoted Argentina’s inclusion in BRICS as a way to foster economic relations with the bloc, whose members account for about 25 percent of world GDP. Argentina had been set to join on January 1, 2024.

Reporting from the capital city of Buenos Aires, Al Jazeera correspondent Monica Yanakiew said that Milei has already issued sweeping changes during his three weeks in office.

“He has already made dramatic changes in all walks of life, from expediting divorce procedures to deregulating prices to eliminating subsidies, everything is changing here now,” she said.

During his campaign, Milei railed against countries ruled “by communism” such as China and neighbouring economic power Brazil and said he would pursue greater alignment with “free nations of the West” such as Israel and the US in his economic and foreign policy.

However, in his letter to the BRICS leaders, Milei said that Argentina would seek to “intensify bilateral ties” in order to increase “trade and investment flows” without joining the group.

Domestically, Milei is also facing substantial pushback from the country’s powerful organised labour groups as he embarks on a programme of economic “shock therapy” and deregulation as Argentina reels from sky-high inflation.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies