South Africa has received a formal invitation to join the Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) group of large emerging economies, Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said on Friday.
"China, in its capacity as rotating chairperson of the BRIC formation, based on agreement reached by the BRIC member states, invites South Africa as a full member into what will in future be called BRICS," Nkoana-Mashabane told journalists in Pretoria.
She said she received a phone call Thursday from Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi informing her of the invitation to join the group, whose current members will account for 61 percent of global growth in 2014, according to the International Monetary Fund.
"(Chinese) President Hu Jintao also issued a letter of invitation to (South African) President Jacob Zuma to attend the third BRICS leaders' summit, to be held in China in the first quarter of 2011," Nkoana-Mashabane added.
The BRIC countries are not formally linked but have held summits and taken steps to boost financial cooperation and investment opportunities among them.
The group held its first formal summit in Russia last year.
South Africa, whose economy is about one-fourth the size of India's, had been lobbying heavily to be admitted to the club.