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Brazil’s Lula in favour of Argentina joining BRICS bloc

By Bhargav Acharya

President-elect of Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

SAO PAULO – Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said on Tuesday he wanted Argentina to join the BRICS group of emerging countries, as Brazil’s neighbour struggles with a lack of foreign reserves.

“It is very important for Argentina to be in BRICS,” Lula said in a live broadcast on social media as he attends the bloc’s summit in South Africa.

BRICS, which is not a formal multilateral organization, focuses on boosting economic and trade cooperation between member countries Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

ALSO READ: BRICS leaders meet in South Africa as bloc weighs expansion

Argentina is struggling with historic inflation, dried-up foreign reserves and debt repayments as part of a $44 billion loan deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Lula criticized the IMF’s loans as “suffocating” and hinted at the possibility of the BRICS bank increasing lending to other countries with “different criteria” to stimulate their economies.

The Brazilian leader also said he was in favour of other countries joining the alliance but did not name any. More than 40 countries, including Argentina, have expressed interest in joining BRICS, according to South African officials.

“We want BRICS to be a multilateral institution, not an exclusive club,” Lula said, though he added any new members would need to meet certain conditions, so the group does not become a “Tower of Babel”.

ALSO READ: BRICS currency not on August summit agenda – South African official

Lula has defended a common trading currency to be used between BRICS countries, saying on Tuesday the move would not be aimed at “rejecting” the U.S. dollar, but instead facilitate trade between the emerging nations.

The bloc is also not meant to act as a challenger to the United States or to formal organizations such as the Group of 7 (G7) or Group of 20 (G20), Lula added, but to “organize” the so-called Global South.

“We do not want to be a counterpoint to the G7, G20 or the United States,” Lula said. “We just want to organize ourselves.”

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