Argentina Won’t Join BRICS Alliance in Milei’s Latest Policy Shift

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA — Argentina formally announced Friday that it won’t join the BRICS bloc of developing economies, the latest in a dramatic shift in foreign and economic policy by Argentina’s new far-right populist president, Javier Milei. 

In a letter addressed to the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — the founding members of the alliance — Milei said the moment was not “opportune” for Argentina to join as a full member. The letter was dated a week ago, December 22, but released by the Argentine government on Friday, the last working day of 2023. 

Argentina was among six countries invited in August to join the group to make an 11-nation bloc. Argentina was set to join January 1. 

The move comes as Argentina has been left reeling by deepening economic crisis. 

Milei’s predecessor, former center-left President Alberto Fernandez, endorsed joining the alliance as an opportunity to reach new markets. The BRICS countries account for about 40% of the world’s population and more than a quarter of the world’s GDP. 

But economic turmoil left many in Argentina eager for change, ushering chainsaw-wielding political outsider Milei into the presidency. 

Milei, who defines himself as an “anarcho-capitalist” — a current within libertarianism that aspires to eliminate the state — has implemented a series of measures to deregulate the economy, which in recent decades has been marked by strong state interventionism. 

In foreign policy, he has proclaimed full alignment with the “free nations of the West,” especially the United States and Israel. 

Throughout the campaign for the presidency, Milei also disparaged countries ruled “by communism” and announced that he would not maintain diplomatic relations with them despite growing Chinese investment in South America. 

However, in the letter addressed to his counterpart Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva in neighboring Brazil and the rest of the leaders of BRICS members — Xi Jinping of China, Narendra Modi of India, Vladimir Putin of Russia and Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa — Milei proposed to “intensify bilateral ties” and increase “trade and investment flows.” 

Milei also expressed his readiness to hold meetings with each of the five leaders. 

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