China invites South Africa to join BRIC: Xinhua

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - China has invited Africa’s largest economy, South Africa, to join the four-member “BRIC” grouping of fast-growing emerging markets, its state news agency reported on Friday.

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said BRIC has accepted South Africa as a full member of the group, which currently includes Brazil, Russia, India and China, according to Xinhua, which was monitored in Johannesburg.

China, South Africa’s largest trading partner, will invite South African President Jacob Zuma to attend a summit of BRIC leaders that Beijing will host next year, it said.

South Africa is the world’s 31st-largest economy, according to World Bank data for 2009 and is less than a quarter the size of the smallest BRIC economy, Russia.

The BRIC countries have sought greater clout for their grouping, holding a summit in Russian in 2009. “BRIC” is a term invented in 2001 by Jim O’Neill, the chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management.

South Africa applied to join BRIC at the G20 meeting of the world’s leading economies in Seoul in November, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said at the meeting.

Its economy is projected by its government to grow about 3.0 percent this year, hardly the blistering pace seen in other BRIC countries.

Some investors make asset allocations based on the BRIC classification and all of the countries that currently make up the grouping have seen their global financial clout increase substantially in recent years.

South Africa’s foreign minister was scheduled to speak on Friday on the BRIC listing, the ministry said. (Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Peter Graff)