Argentina’s new president, Javier Millay, has announced he will not let his country join the China-Russia-led BRICS trade bloc, dealing a major blow to the trade group’s ambitions.
The reversal comes after Milei’s team indicated it was merely planning to delay the country’s entry into the bloc, which was founded by members Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. In a letter to the leaders of each member state, Millay wrote that he did not consider it “appropriate at this time” to join.
Miley spent much of his time on the campaign trail warning countries ruled “by communism” and insisted he would honor alignment with the “free nations of the West,” particularly the United States and Israel.
Since taking office on Dec. 10, he has moved quickly to deregulate the economy with a package of bills that would repeal more than 350 regulatory policies in the country.
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Some of the regulations Milei sought to overturn include a price cap on rent, certain worker protections and laws that limit price increases when inflation and poverty have reached certain thresholds.
The move proved hugely unpopular, prompting the country’s labor unions to file a lawsuit against the government over “unconstitutional” policy changes and thousands to take to the streets in support of the lawsuit as Argentine citizens asked the courts to take action.
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The self-described “anarcho-capitalist” argued that his foreign policy “differs in many aspects from that of the previous government” and “in this sense, some decisions taken by the previous government will be reviewed.”
Millay insisted he would meet with each of the BRICS leaders and discuss plans to “intensify bilateral ties” and increase trade and investment, German news agency DW reported.
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The group aims to dismantle Western hegemony in the international economic landscape, but China largely dominates the bloc, accounting for more than 70% of the combined GDP of member states.
China and Russia have largely seen the alliance as a rival to the G-7 and are looking to more than double their bloc’s membership to 11 states, offering admission to Argentina, Iran, Egypt, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Argentina was due to join on 1 January 2024.
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China and Brazil are Argentina’s two largest trading partners, making Argentina’s accession seemingly meaningless until Milei introduced some economic “shock therapy” to a country that has 150% inflation and more than 40% of its population lives below the poverty line, on the BBC.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.