Iran and Saudi Arabia are among six countries set to join the BRICS economic group next year. The United Arab Emirates (UAE), Argentina, Egypt, and Ethiopia are the others to become members in 2024.
BRICS stands for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Brazil, Russia, India and China formed the group in 2009 to increase economic cooperation among growing economies. South Africa joined in 2010.
The group has called for more representation of developing countries and those in the south in world affairs. The group announced the addition of new members Thursday at its meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa.
BRICS currently represents around 40 percent of the world's population and more than 25 percent of the world's economic output. That is set to increase with the new members, which include three of the world's biggest oil producers in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Iran.
BRICS nations have long called for reforms of organizations like the U.N. Security Council, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. They say the current structures "reflect yesterday's world."
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is the host of the BRICS meeting this year. He said the expansion is an "effort to build a world that is fair, a world that is just, a world that is also inclusive and prosperous."
In a sign of BRICS' growing influence, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also attended Thursday's expansion announcement. He said that international organizations "must reform to reflect today's power and economic realities."
China's President Xi Jinping called the expansion "historic." He added that the group wanted "unity and development."
However, some observers have questioned whether the group will become anti-Western with the expansion. China's relationship with the United States is at a low point. Russia faces Western economic measures for its invasion of Ukraine.
New members cheer the announcement
Mohammad Jamshidi is the top political aide of Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi. He called the decision to add his country a "victory for Iran's foreign policy."
China and Russia were supporting Iran's inclusion. However, Brazil, India and South Africa, which have strong ties with the U.S., only gave their approval more recently.
UAE leader Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan welcomed the BRICS announcement. He said his nation would be joining an "important group" and would work with all nations and people around the world.
Egypt President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi said in a statement that his country would work to "raise the voice of the Global South."
The expansion also helps Ethiopia, Africa's second most populous country and one of the fastest-growing economies on the continent. Its government is working to reconnect with international partners and financial organizations after a violent two-year conflict in the country's Tigray area.
South African officials say more than 40 countries have said they want to join BRICS. And 22 countries have officially asked to join the organization.
I'm Andrew Smith.