Johannesburg - South Africa has been proffered a place among the elite of emerging market economies: the Bric club comprising Brazil, Russia, India and China.
Bloomberg on Friday reported that South Africa had been formally invited to join the group, quoting Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi.
The report said that Chinese President Hu Jintao wrote a letter to President Jacob Zuma, inviting him to the Bric nations' third heads of state meeting in China next year.
South Africa was not invited to a similar meeting last year in Russia.
"We believe that South Africa will be beneficial to the development of Bric cooperation and the facilitation of cooperation among emerging market nations," Bloomberg quoted the ministry as saying.
Although the size of South Africa's economy pales in comparison to the other Bric countries, it alone accounts for a significant proportion of sub-Saharan Africa's gross domestic product.
SA has sought membership of Bric because of its influence in the rest of the continent.
According to Bloomberg, Yang spoke to Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana- Mashabane by phone on Thursday to inform her of the decision.
Goldman Sachs economist Jim O'Neill coined the Bric term in 2001 to describe the four emerging market giants.