UPDATED: G20 agrees membership for African Union on par with EU

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The G20 grouping of nations has agreed to grant permanent membership to the African Union, Bloomberg News reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter.

The move would give the African Union, a continental body of 55 member states, the same status as the EU, up from its current designation of “invited international organization”, it added.

However, two Indian sources told Reuters that membership for AU would only be formalised next year when Brazil takes over the helm of the group of the world’s biggest economies from India.

There is no opposition to the move from within the G20, one of the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity citing government rules.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote to the leaders of the G20 nations in June proposing the AU be given full, permanent membership of the bloc at the upcoming summit in the Indian capital.

In an article published across Indian and international newspapers on Thursday, Modi wrote, “Our presidency has not only seen the largest-ever participation from African countries but has also pushed for the inclusion of the African Union as a permanent member of the G20.”

The G20 currently comprises 19 countries and the European Union. The members represent around 85% of global GDP, over 75% of global trade, and about two-thirds of the world population.

South Africa, which is a G20 member and has supported the admission of the AU, declined immediate comment ahead of the Delhi summit. South African presidential spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said: “We wouldn’t comment now until the official announcement or post the summit.”

A South African foreign ministry spokesperson welcomed the news report about the G20 agreeing to make the African bloc a member along the lines of the EU. “The EU is also a member. We (South Africa) lobbied for and supported this move.”

G20 leaders are expected to announce the decision during the summit, the Bloomberg report said.

Countries like Germany, Brazil, South Africa and Canada have also voiced support for African Union membership.

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