THE G20 group of nations has reportedly agreed to grant permanent membership of the bloc to the African Union.
The announcement today came ahead of the two-day G20 summit starting on September 9.
The move would give the 55-member union the same status in the bloc as the European Union.
The African Union is currently designated as an “invited international organisation,” and with the new designation would become a full, permanent member of the G20.
The bloc currently comprises 19 countries plus the EU.
The G20 has also invited nine non-member countries to attend the summit, including Bangladesh, Singapore, Spain and Nigeria, as well as the United Nations, World Health Organisation, the World Bank and the IMF.
The G20 brings together the world’s major developed and developing economies and represents around 85 per cent of global Gross Domestic Product, over 75 per cent of global trade, and around two-thirds of the world’s population.
It meets at a time of shifting sands in global relationships.
The 15th Brics summit in South Africa during August has largely been seen as a watershed moment in international economic relations as existing members — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — invited six more nations to join their ranks.
Saudi Arabia, Iran, Ethiopia, Argentina and the United Arab Emirates are all set to join the group in January of next year.
The bloc already represents over 40 per cent of the world’s population and is seen as a counterweight to the economic and military dominance of the United States.
The G20 summit will be a diplomatic high-wire act due to the war in Ukraine.
None of the G20 meetings held this year have produced a communique that criticises Russia’s invasion, with Russia a member and many global South countries including China, India, Brazil and South Africa declining to take sides.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is not attending and neither is Chinese President Xi Jinping, though both are sending representatives.
But for a large number of developing nations, dealing with local conflicts and extreme weather events is a greater priority than the Ukraine war.
A report from the Economist Intelligence Unit in March suggested growing support for Moscow from the developing world, with the number of countries actively condemning Russia falling from 131 to 122.
“Some emerging economies have shifted to a neutral position,” it noted.
The number of countries that lean toward Russia jumped from 29 a year ago to 35, it said. Mali and Burkina Faso had moved into this group, highlighting Moscow’s rising influence in Africa.