In recent times, there have been discussions about the potential decline of the United States dollar as the global reserve currency. One significant development that has gone underreported in the media is the admission of Saudi Arabia as the ninth member of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) alliance. This move is expected to strengthen the BRICS alliance and has potential implications for the US dollar, as Saudi Arabia has historically been a crucial ally in the Middle East, playing a pivotal role in the petrodollar system. This article explores the possible consequences of Saudi Arabia’s membership in BRICS and its impact on the future of the US dollar.
The Petrodollar System and US-Saudi Arabia Partnership:
The petrodollar system was established in 1973 through an agreement between the United States and Saudi Arabia. Under this system, oil trade and pricing were denominated in US dollars, making it necessary for countries worldwide to acquire American currency to purchase oil from Saudi Arabia. This arrangement significantly benefited the United States, contributing to its global standing. However, the recent development of Saudi Arabia joining BRICS poses a potential challenge to the dominance of the US dollar.
Saudi Arabia’s Admission to BRICS:
Reports indicate that Saudi Arabia has applied for membership in BRICS, a bloc formed by major developing economies as an alternative to Western-led Bretton Woods institutions. The addition of Saudi Arabia, the world’s second-largest oil producer, to BRICS would strengthen ties between the bank and a significant oil producer. Other countries, including Iran, have also expressed interest in joining BRICS, with a total of 19 nations actively considering membership. A decision on Saudi Arabia’s inclusion is expected to be made later this year.
Closer Ties between China and Saudi Arabia:
China, being the largest oil importer globally, has been seeking closer ties with Saudi Arabia. As China uses its currency, the yuan, to purchase oil and liquefied natural gas from the Saudis, the dollar’s status as the global reserve currency may face challenges. China’s increasing oil imports, expected to reach record highs this year, indicate a shifting landscape in global oil transactions. For instance, reports suggest that China paid $88 billion in yuan-denominated transactions to Russia for commodities in 2022, with even higher figures anticipated for 2023.
Impact on the Dollar and Global Reserve Currency Status:
With major oil players like Saudi Arabia, Russia, and Brazil already conducting trade using their own currencies, the addition of Saudi Arabia to BRICS could further weaken the US dollar’s position. The BRICS New Development Bank aims to accumulate around $30 billion in reserves denominated in member currencies for infrastructure projects in developing nations. This shift allows these countries to repay loans in their own currencies, strengthening their economic stability and reducing reliance on the US dollar.
Implications for the United States:
The potential decline of the US dollar’s dominance as the global reserve currency could have several consequences for the United States. Firstly, the loss of Saudi Arabia as a key ally in the Middle East weakens the US position in the region, potentially affecting geopolitical dynamics. Additionally, as more countries conduct trade using their own currencies, the US may miss out on significant dollar-denominated oil transactions, leading to a decline in the dollar’s value and influence.
Saudi Arabia’s admission to BRICS as its ninth member holds significant implications for the future of the US dollar. The strengthening ties between China and Saudi Arabia, as well as the shift towards conducting trade in alternative currencies, pose challenges to the US dollar’s dominance as the global reserve currency. While the full extent of these developments remains uncertain, it is crucial to closely monitor the evolving landscape of international trade and geopolitical alliances to assess the potential impact on the US dollar and its role in the global economy.