The future of Argentina and its participation in the regional integration of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa has been under consideration over the last decade.
This year, however, has been particularly important as China invited the country to participate in BRICS 2022 Summit.
Previously, Argentina has attended BRICS in 2018 when Mauricio Macri participated in the summit held in South Africa; in 2014, Cristina Fernandez attended the conference in Brazil at the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
However, the remote possibility of its membership in the coalition has been materializing only recently.
Invitation by China
This year, Xi Jinping, the President of China invited the President of Argentina, Alberto Fernadez, who was welcomed after many reviews by Argentina’s government and tangible support by BRICS members.
Argentina’s interest in BRICS
According to the President of Argentina, Alberto Fernández, the BRICS has enormous potential to debate and build the desired future. He further emphasized taking historical decisions by restoring peace as the new name of development.
Los BRICS constituyen una plataforma que tiene un potencial enorme para debatir y construir ese futuro mejor que queremos.
Estamos escribiendo la historia. LA PAZ ES URGENTE y debemos convertirla en el nuevo nombre del desarrollo.
— Alberto Fernández (@alferdez) June 24, 2022
Furthermore, Fernandez participated in the fourteenth BRICS conference through video link and urged the members to incorporate Argentina as a full member.
The President has also asked the members to effectively agree on a common agenda to convey their concerns at the upcoming G20 meeting.
In addition, he stressed achieving financial stability by expanding BRICS and emphasized the need to explore a new cooperation mechanism to protect public and private interests.
Argentina as a Formal Member
While it is difficult to project the future of the formal incorporation of Argentina into the bloc, the current trajectory of global events indicates a complex geopolitical environment.
The world is struggling with a multipolar world with three major stakeholders, two of which are already a part of BRICS. Incorporating another member from the Southern part of the third stakeholder would have significant implications for this coalition’s core values.
Moreover, China has made this official that BRICS intends to expand, however the decision by the other members is pending.
The bilateral relationships between Russia and Argentina have been budding for a decade. In 2014, Russia invited Argentina to participate in the BRICS summit.
In addition, the serving President of that time, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, signed nearly twenty agreements on trade, nuclear energy, investment, and trade with Russia.
Later on, Mauricio Macri signed significant agreements with the country, including one on joint uranium exploration and production.
Meanwhile, Russia faces a complex situation due to the initiation of war in Ukraine. This endeavor has resulted in several sanctions on the country, leading to a significant economic crisis.
In addition, the Argentine President emphasized ceasing hostilities in Ukraine. Before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Alberto Fernandez visited Kremlin and offered Russia a gateway to Latin America. However, the country has a vague position on this stance now.
BRICS has representatives of the most important emerging countries from each continent; the formal incorporation of Argentina into the bloc would alter the founding spirit of the coalition, remarked the Director of the Sino-Argentine Observatory, Patricio Giusto.
China and Argentina enjoy close bilateral ties. The exports of goods and public projects funding are two prominent features of this relationship. China has implemented various public works through loans and sovereign guarantees in Argentina.
China’s support for Argentina
Argentina is receiving China’s flagship global infrastructure development program, the Belt and Road initiative. Also, China is Argentina’s leading trading partner outside South America.
The countries are also collaborating on mining and renewable energy resource development. However, the social policies of Argentina have been publicly called by China at international forums.
In 2021, Xi Jinping referred to some Latin American countries as inefficient and regarded welfare-ism as the cause of economic and political nuisances.
India and Argentina are close allies in terms of trade and agriculture. In addition, the country is Argentina’s fourth-largest trading partner due to flexible export policies compared to Russia and China.
India imports a large portion of soybean from Argentina. For this purpose, incorporating Argentina into BRICS may compromise existing trade routes and agreements.
The relationship between India and Argentina with China is also significant as their strategic partnership is under debate.
Despite China’s influence and presence in Argentina being more effective than India’s, the current government is eliminating import tariffs on oil to foster their bilateral relations.
It is worth noting that India has yet to make any statement on the possibility of Argentina’s membership in the bloc.
Relationship between Brazil and Argentina
Meanwhile, Argentina and Brazil face complex relationships. The two economies already have a conflict on the opening and flexibilization of Mercosur.
Recently, the Minister of Economy in Brazil, Paulo Guedes, has recommended access to the New Development Bank (NDB) in Argentina.
South Africa-Argentine relationships
South Africa and Argentina are strategic partners and enjoy rich bilateral relations. Full diplomatic relations between South Africa and Argentina were re-established in August 1991.
The Joint Bi-National Commission (BNC) consolidated South African-Argentine relations in 2005. After four successive sessions, both countries signed cooperation on the Exchange of Tax Information in 2013.
South Africa and Argentina reinforced their bilateral relations by promoting trade and investment. In 2019, South Africa exported machinery, vehicles, iron, steel, chemical, and mineral products.
On the other hand, vegetables, food items, vehicles, and live animals were major imports from Argentina. In addition, Argentina and South Africa pursue regular people-to-people relations.
The addition of Argentina into BRICS could foster their partnership in trade and related economic activities.
Possible gains for Argentina
While Argentina looks forward to joining the economic bloc with the support of Brazil and China as well as Russia’s dubious global position, India’s ambiguous response to Argentina’s proposition raises several questions about the implications for the country.
Meanwhile, the future of Argentina in joining BRICS is critical in terms of multilateral relationships with Europe and the United States.
The US already seeks to isolate Russia after the invasion of Ukraine politically and economically with sanctions. Therefore, an alliance with Russia can weaken Argentina’s position in the coming G20 summit.
Improving International Position
Argentina can gain a pioneer position in the evolution of BRICS into BRICS plus. This new alliance would also incorporate Argentina into integral global value chains through improved financial infrastructure.
Similarly, membership in BRICS can help Argentina resolve its financial and capital challenges and pave the way to become a sustainable emerging economy.
Argentina can contribute immensely to the food security crisis and strengthen its bilateral ties with the member states.
Further, the country has an ideal chance to access the financial institutions through BRICS to resolve its socio-economic challenges and international debts.
In June 2022, the BRICS economic forum focused on the global agenda of international solidarity, peace, stability, security, and sustainable development through comprehensive and coordinated measures.
While devising the response to the Covid-19 pandemic, BRICS emerged as the proactive alliance of intern-civilizational cooperation for security and progress.
Likewise, China is playing an active role in following these principles by promoting global peace, development, and protection measures.