Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 41.2018
2018.10.08 — 2018.10.14
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Emerging Powers and their Influence On Global Governance: The Threatening Case (Новые державы и их влияние на глобальное управление: угрожающий случай) / United Kingdom, October, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, political_issues, global_governance
2018-10-09
United Kingdom
Source: cesran.org

Introduction

Emerging countries are gaining more importance in the international arena, inaugurating policies aimed at covering those roles that Western ones seem unable to deal with. In particular, the BRICS group (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) is reaching increasingly importance from the standpoint of geopolitics, soft power and in the institutional-economic field. In fact, they are using all the available means to increase the presence in peripheral areas, build an accountable image of themselves, and have the support of parallel institutions with a different functioning than the traditional ones like the International Monetary Fund (IMF). What effect this situation will have on global governance?

BRICS as a threat

The BRICS represent the most important threat to a "consolidated" international system, deriving from globalization, under the predominance of Western countries both in an economic way1 and also regarding global governance.2 While Europe is struggling to find some unity, and in the US Trump's policies are creating more isolation, these emerging powers are devoting themselves to consolidating their presence (and their power) in much of the "peripheral" world (the so-called Global South) and not only, and to achieve greater cooperation to change current global governance giving impetus to the reform of international financial institutions.3 In the coming years, the economic and political destiny of the world will depend largely on how we act towards them.

While a fragmented EU and the US following protectionists policies are trying to cope with the advancement of those emerging powers (and their policies often reflect this scaring situation), the surprising growth of the BRICS has allowed themselves to free from the weight of economic and financial control of international institutions and, at the same time, to have a more authoritarian voice in the global framework. Furthermore, their economic weight and the achievement of important levels of development have strengthened their partnerships and cooperation, as often declared during the various annual BRICS summits.

Among their cooperative purposes, the BRICS have repeatedly claimed to give a contribution to shaping global governance.4 Over the years their voice has been growing more, so much to encourage reactions from Western countries that, finally, have found themselves unprepared in many ways. First of all as regards the extent of this big change inaugurated by the BRICS, that has consequently affected their leadership, and then because they found themselves fragmented in relation to the economic crisis that has struck them, and in which the growth of these countries has certainly had certain influence. In this sense the EU, conceived as a civilian power and previously considered a model to be imitated5, in recent years has lost a great part of its charm (soft power) and, above all, has highlighted its cracks. Here, in addition to the ongoing inability to cope with economic problems, other important issues have emerged, such as the way in which the issue of migrants and populist drifts are addressed, which highlight even more the divisions among political visions. The same can be said, with due differences, about the US: in this country the policies inaugurated with the "America first" doctrine, have created even more problems, not least a "commercial war", and have also encouraged a greater realignment of emerging countries that now, by making pacts of greater closeness among them6, are organizing a sort of resistance to Western modus operandi by representing the "rebel" world, as in the case of Venezuela7 or in Africa, where their behavior is following a different logic from the European imperialism occurred over the past centuries.

BRICS in Africa

The presence of BRICS countries in Africa, like China and India, has increased significantly, threatening the Western "domination"8, and is characterized by the policies adopted. In the last few months, for example, China has promised interventions aimed at building infrastructures and improving services also with non-repayable loans. This attitude, which certainly hides its personal benefits, traces a major change compared to the policies adopted by European countries. In fact, historically the presence of Western powers in Africa has had the effect of domination and submission, causing in many ways an economic and social backwardness which consequences are still under our eyes: the issue that is dividing Europe in the present day, namely that of migrants, is a consequence of centuries of those kind of policies, which now break on the international scene causing destabilization.

China and India, but also other BRICS countries (not counting also the strategic function that covers South Africa itself), are instead trying to cover this gap, looking for compromises of growth that should establish less conflicting relationships. By doing so, these emerging powers are configuring themselves as the real voice of the Global South: their behavior, together with historical and colonialist motives, could favor a greater rapprochement towards them.

BRICS and Their Policies on Climate Change

Climate change is one of the most pressing problems facing humanity: several summits have been created to try to give an answer, and international institutions are trying to bring attention to this problem by including it, for example, among the Sustainable Development Goals9, in respect of which the BRICS have undertaken commitments.10 Like other problems, climate change seems to play a central role in the BRICS policy choices.11 Their efforts coincide with a parallel decline in credibility by Western countries. In fact, the US have even abandoned the agreements taken in Paris (COP 21), while other European countries, despite the proclamations regarding the urgency of taking action, have often an ambivalent attitude, such as the case of France, where the Minister of Ecological and Inclusive Transition resigned because he accused the system of following "policies that favor environmental disorder".12

Thus if on the one hand Western countries are moving away from that leading role that they should have covered in climate change, also because of their historical responsibility in this regard, on the other the BRICS are proposing themselves as the most credible countries that really take these problems seriously, at least in appearance. In fact, through parallel institutions such as the New Development Bank (NDB), they invested a huge amount of funds in renewable energy.13

This aspect hides a more far-reaching goal: that of overcoming the power vacuum of the declining Western countries, and proposing themselves as leading powers. Even if the Western countries still represent cultural models to be imitated,14 however the BRICS are investing a lot to build a credible image of themselves to represent a sort of accountable alternative.15

We still don't know how much credibility these countries will be able to build, considering that China and India depend on obsolete energy resources.16 But it is clear that the efforts of these countries seem more concrete than Western ones. All this will have an important effect in the future, considering that these efforts could probably be considered as a means to seek accountability to develop more soft power.

Finally, it is to consider the weight that the parallel institutions created by the BRICS cover in the global scenario: institutions such as the NDB or the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) represent an alternative to the "old" international ones, such as the IMF and the World Bank (WB): above all because they have a more democratic functioning, compared to that of IMF and WB, which have an asymmetrical system of distribution of votes17 and are also reluctant to reform it18, but also because they want to effectively act as an alternative model to the old global financial governance.

Conclusions

The influence of the BRICS is therefore decisive in geopolitics, soft power and institutional-economic fields. Coinciding with a parallel crisis in Western countries, this situation gives rise to various reflections.

First of all, what consequences this will bring to the sphere of global governance. Global governance, with all its various nuances, has often been criticized because it is considered another means by which Western countries, although they claimed a common condominium in which to promote greater global participation, in practice reaffirmed their preponderant weight in directing global issues. The emergence of the BRICS countries, however, is questioning this paradigm and is transforming the meaning of governance itself.

What kind of reaction the Western countries will have? Will they be accepting this multilateralism now underway? There are countless voices that rise to warn against potential wars (not just commercial ones) that could take place. However, we hope that the answers are of a different kind, tending to recognize the decisive weight that the BRICS are having at a global level, looking for diplomatic, rational solutions, and aimed at reaching a global human governance.19 Otherwise we would have to conclude that the world will be divided in a "new" bipolarity: on the one hand the Western countries, stubborn to a type of policy that is proving inadequate, on the other the BRICS that can exploit this situation to fill this role of leadership, trying to change the "center-periphery" paradigm theorized by Wallerstein20 and to occupy those central positions, building a new global architecture, modeling global governance in a different way, and leading to consequences that give space to multiple interpretations, but that without no doubt could trace an unstable future.

Francesco Petrone

Universidad de Barcelona, Spain

petrone.francesco@gmail.com

Notes:

  1. J. Stiglitz, Globalization and Its Discontents, W.W. Norton & Company, New York, 2002.
  2. There is a lot of critic literature on global governace, just to give an example: J. Friedrichs, "Global governance as the hegemonic project of transatlantic global civil society", in Lederer M. and Muller, P. (eds.), Criticizing Global Governance, Basingstone and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005, pp. 45-69.
  3. Joint Statement of the BRIC Countries Leaders, from the First meeting in Yekaterinburg on June 16, 2009. Avaliable at: http://en.kremlin.ru/supplement/209.
  4. Xinhua, "BRICS ready to play its role in global governance", China Daily, August 07, 2017, http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/opinion/2017-08/07/content_30350595.htm.
  5. J. Rifkin, "The European Dream: How Europe's Vision of the Future Is Quietly Eclipsing the American Dream", Jeremy P. Tarcher Inc/Penguin, New York, 2004.
  6. Adam Withnall, "China's Xi declares Putin his 'best, most intimate friend' as Russia looks to the East for allies", The Independent, 8 June 2018: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/putin-xi-jinping-china-russia-latest-shanghai-cooperation-organisation-summit-india-pakistan-iran-a8389856.html.
  7. Corina Pons and Christian Shepherd, "Venezuela's Maduro travels to China in search of fresh funds", Reuters, 12 September 2018: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-venezuela-china/venezuelas-maduro-travels-to-china-in-search-of-fresh-funds-idUSKCN1LS2UL.
  8. Ambrose Evans-Pritchard , "Is the West's era of dominance slipping away to China and India?", The Telegraph, 9 September 2018: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2018/09/09/wests-era-dominance-slipping-away-china-india/.
  9. https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/?menu=1300.
  10. Elena Kosolapova, "BRICS Commit to Cooperate on SDGs, Climate Change", SDG Knowledge Hub, September 12, 2017, http://sdg.iisd.org/news/brics-commit-to-cooperate-on-sdgs-climate-change/.
  11. Debidatta Aurobinda Mahapatra, "BRICS to push cooperation on climate change", Russia Beyond, April 29, 2015, https://www.rbth.com/economics/2015/04/29/brics_to_push_cooperation_on_climate_change_42893.
  12. http://www.lefigaro.fr/politique/le-scan/2018/08/28/25001-20180828ARTFIG00066-le-ministre-de-l-ecologie-nicolas-hulot-annonce-qu-il-quitte-le-gouvernement.php.
  13. "NDB first loans in 2016: Brazil US$ 300 million for wind and solar power; India US$ 325 million dollars to increase renewable energy, China US$ 81 million to produce solar panels; South Africa to build new power lines and for generating renewable energy; and Russia US$ 100 million for construction of hydropower plants". Source: Radar Socioambiental N. 4 July 2016. Available at: http://bricspolicycenter.org/homolog/publicacoes/interna/7150?tipo=Radar.
  14. O. Stuenkel, Post-Western World How Emerging Powers Are Remaking Global Order, Polity Press, Cambridge, 2016.
  15. Ibidem.
  16. Somini Sengupta, "Why China Wants to Lead on Climate, but Clings to Coal (for Now)", The New York Times, November 14, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/14/climate/china-coal.html.
  17. Mark Weisbrot and Jake Johnston," IMF Voting Shares: No Plans for Significant Changes", Center for Economic and Policy Research, May 2009. Font: http://cepr.net/documents/publications/imf-voting-2009-05.pdf.
  18. Mark Weisbrot and Jake Johnston, "Voting Share Reform at the IMF: Will it Make a Difference?", Center for Economic and Policy Research, May 2016. Font: http://cepr.net/images/stories/reports/IMF-voting-shares-2016-04.pdf.
  19. R. Falk, On Human Governance. Toward a New Global Politics, Polity Press, Cambridge, 1995.
  20. I. Wallerstein, The Modern World-System I: Capitalist Agriculture and the Origins of the European World-Economy in the Sixteenth Century, Academic Press, New York, 1974.
Multi-Polar Political Project Pushed Forward By Putin In India (Многополярный политический проект, выдвинутый Путиным в Индии) / United States, October, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, vladimir_putin, narendra_modi, political_issues
2018-10-12
United States
Author: Tom Luongo
Source: www.zerohedge.com

I have to wonder when Russian President Vladimir Putin sleeps. He's busier than any other leader, traveling the globe while consistently changing the board state geopolitically.

While everyone, including me, has had their eye on the turmoil in U.S. political circles over the past couple of weeks, Putin visited India and in a little less than two days ended most speculation as to where India stands in the emerging multi-polar world that Putin and Chinese Premier Xi Jinping are building.

Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi inked deals with huge future consequences for both countries. So, while the headlines were all about the Trump Administration trying to pressure India into not buying S-400 missile defense systems from Russia, Putin and Modi put the final touches on Russia building India no less than six more nuclear power plants.

One of the things holding India back as a first-world economy is a reliable electricity grid. Having eight Russian-designed and built plants operating around the country will upgrade the landscape for India's electricity usage immensely.

Part of the reason India is such a large oil and gas importer is their electricity base load needs are being met with expensive hydrocarbons. Shifting that to nuclear,more like France and the U.S., changes everything, especially in the long run, from a foreign exchange perspective.

Bernard at Moon of Alabama was first on interpreting what the scope of these deals mean for the U.S.'s attempt to cleave India from the BRICS alliance. He rightly linked the western media's finally picking up the Rafale fighter jet corruption scandal dogging Modi as a sign that the U.S. is very angry over these deals and is beginning the process of undermining Modi's government.

Modi in every way declared India's independence from the U.S's "Quad" strategy aligning Japan, Australia and India with U.S. interests versus that of the BRICS and China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Magnum IPI

Remember, last year I told you about the early stage talks between Gazprom and the principle countries to resurrect the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline, or IPI. A small note in RT last year was all we heard of this until recently.

FROM RT: Moscow and Tehran are about to sign a memorandum of understanding to back a new gas pipeline project, according to Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak.

The countries will build a 1,200-kilometer long pipeline from Iran to India with the Russian energy major Gazprom developing several Iranian deposits along the route of the future pipeline.

So, the IPI pipeline, long sought-after by all players and fought against by the forces of Hillary Clinton and the U.S. geopolitical guiding lights, is finally going to get done.

And will likely get done before the TAPI pipeline – Turkmenistan Afghanistan Pakistan India – gets built across Afghanistan. Right now Turkmenistan is building their section, Field of Dreams-style (if you build your section, they will build theirs). But there are no plans at this point for a start date on construction of the Afghan or Pakistani legs of this boondoggle, no less the Indian.

Note that last year's announcement only involved Moscow and Tehran. Now Pakistan is officially on board, which, again, went unnoticed because the reporting on it was sans-information. It took me no less than ten articles to finally find what they were talking about:

Even most Pakistani sources omitted any reference to Iran in the announcement. That, in and of itself, makes you wonder.

Energy Dominance or Glutton?

So, while the Trump administration continues to pursue its 'energy dominance' strategy to put us in the driver's seat producing the marginal barrel of oil, Putin continues to make deals that undercut that and strengthen his central Asian partners.

I'm beginning to think 'energy dominance' is stillborn before it even gets going. U.S. oil production is accelerating and reaching all-time highs but so what if you can't get the oil to market or have the refinery capacity to add value before exporting it around the world.

Look no further than the spread between West Texas Intermediate (WTI) and Brent Crude prices. WTI is trading now at a $10 discount to Brent. While that looks good from a 'market share' perspective, the reason for that is that the pipeline infrastructure in the U.S. cannot bring the oil pouring out of the Permian Basin to market.

We're in a different era while the oil market remains tight. So, if the market is so tight, why is WTI trading at such a steep discount to Brent? Sure some of this is worry over Iran being cut out of the market, but that explains the total oil market being up $10-15 over where it should be.

It doesn't explain the change that began last summer.

This infrastructure problem is real. The slowdown in drilling is here. Multiple Frac Sand producers are looking at layoffs or contract terminations based on the Permian Basin boom turning quickly to bust, not because there isn't demand for the product but because there's too much oil overwhelming the market.

If the entire supply chain isn't tightly aligned then the project to marginalize Iran in the oil market will fail when November 4th rolls around and demand is still there but the suppliers can't meet them.

That's why BP's CEO is going after the Saudis saying they have spare capacity they aren't bringing on line. No one wants to take the blame for the disruptions in the crude oil market on the horizon.

Which brings me back to India, Pakistan and Iran. India will talk a good game to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about cutting back on imports, but at the end of the day India will buy as much Iranian oil as they need, so will China.

There may be some virtue signaling, cutting back ten percent or so, but there is no way this market can take 2.8 million barrels of Iranian exports off the market and be in balance.

And if you want to know why Modi finally made the decision to get off the fence about the BRICS look no further than the U.S. not being able to control the flow of energy like it has in the past.

With each little victory across central Asia, Putin makes it easier and easier for other leaders to say yes to him and no to the U.S.

One can only hold a system out of balance for so long. And "The Heartland" of Central Asia has been in a constant state of upheaval for more than a hundred years thanks to first the British and then the U.S.'s imperial demands.

But, the economic incentives are too big for countries like India to not make peace with its neighbors. Modi finally came to the conclusion that it is time to stop playing into the geopolitical games stoked via cultural and border conflicts by the U.S. That going it alone as a buffer state only holds India back in the long run now that there is a resurgent Russia ready to work with China to knit the entire region together.

We are witnessing, bit by bit, the end of our ability to implement the Brzezinski Doctrine of Central Asian chaos. Putin gets this and plays the game very well.

And he just took a big piece off the board.

* * *

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Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
BRICS gearing up for digital revolution (БРИКС готовится к цифровой революции) / India, October, 2018
Keywords: digital, innovations
2018-10-14
India
Source: cantoncaller.com

BRICS gearing up for digital revolution The five-nation bloc of emerging economies Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (BRICS) has decided to work closer together to embrace rapidly developing technology that has carved a fourth industrial revolution.

Dubbed the Digital Age or Revolution 4.0, it is considered the fourth major technological era since the 18th century. It encompasses digital technology as well as nanotechnology, biotechnology, robotics, artificial intelligence, and others.

The digital revolution is the next threshold for BRICS countries, according to South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.

"This surge in innovation has the potential to conclusively improve productivity and to place entire countries on a new trajectory of prosperity. It has the potential to solve many of the social problems we face…" he said during the BRICS summit in Johannesburg.

Ramaphosa's comments were echoed by India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who said technological innovations could aid to enhance better service delivery and productivity levels.

"India wants to work collectively along with BRICS nations in the area of the fourth Industrial Revolution and all nations need to share the best practices and policies on this," Modi said.

According to Brazilian President Michel Temer, BRICS countries can only be competitive if they are open. "And I mean open to more sophisticated inputs, advanced technology, bolder ideas, and open to more investments and trade," he explained.

Major banks from BRICS countries have agreed to work together to study how innovative technology such as cryptocurrencies and blockchain could be applied in the infrastructure finance sector. Last year, the Central Bank of Russia (CBR) proposed to create a joint digital currency for BRICS countries and the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). It could replace the US dollar and different currencies used in settlements among the member states, CBR said.

Multilateral Banks Reaffirm Pledge to Support Resilient, Sustainable Infrastructure (Многосторонние банки подтверждают обязательство поддерживать стабильную, устойчивую инфраструктуру) / China, October, 2018
Keywords: concluded_agreements, ndb
2018-10-13
China
Source: www.ndb.int

BALI, INDONESIA (13 October 2018) — The heads of the leading multilateral development banks (MDBs) meeting at the Global Infrastructure Forum 2018 (GI Forum) today expressed their condolences following the tragic loss of lives and livelihoods in Sulawesi, Indonesia and reaffirmed their commitment to work together to deliver infrastructure that is resilient, inclusive, and sustainable.

The important role of technology in this goal was at the heart of discussions at the GI Forum under the theme "Unlocking Inclusive, Resilient, and Sustainable Technology-driven Infrastructure". 2018 marks the first time this annual forum is being held outside of the US. Indonesia's Vice President Jusuf Kalla opened the discussion.

The MDBs agreed that their joint efforts should be based around the following priorities:

  • Increase technical assistance and advisory services for knowledge creation and knowledge transfer;
  • Disseminate knowledge through collaborative events that support the delivery of bankable projects;
  • Contribute to delivering sustainable infrastructure through the MDB Information Cooperation Platform;
  • Mobilize sustainable finance at scale;
  • Support sustainable public procurement;
  • Identify infrastructure and capacity gaps, particularly in least-developed countries, landlocked developing countries, and small island developing states and African countries.
These pledges are included in the MDBs' Outcome Statement.

The GI Forum gathered private sector investors with representatives from the United Nations and leaders from the African Development Bank, Asian Development Bank, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, European Investment Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, International Finance Corporation, Islamic Development Bank, New Development Bank, and the World Bank.

The forum comprised two opening sessions. The first looked at how technology, such as solar energy systems, blockchain, and big data, can be used to make infrastructure more sustainable. The second discussed how to increase private infrastructure finance.

Other sessions looked at using technology to achieve the crucial but difficult "last mile" of getting services to end users, good practices in scaling up investments in infrastructure, ways of financing the global infrastructure gap, and maximizing innovative climate finance for sustainable infrastructure.

The infrastructure needs across the world are huge. An estimated 1 billion people have no access to electricity while over 660 million people have no access to clean drinking water. These needs must be met if the global community is to meet commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals. New technologies and approaches such as smart transport systems and innovative climate finance can help to fill the infrastructure gap. They can also help build infrastructure that can withstand climate change and natural disasters.

A joint report by 13 development banks released in June noted that in 2017, MDBs and development finance institutions mobilized $73.3 billion of long-term private and institutional investor cofinancing for infrastructure such as power, water, transportation, and telecoms. This compared with $68.7 billion mobilized in 2016.

The full agenda of the Global Infrastructure Forum 2018 is available on the GI Forum's website, along with other information from past fora and publications and other materials from participating MDBs.

G-20 must act to minimise spillover effects of global risks: India (G-20 должна действовать для минимизации побочных эффектов от глобальных рисков: Индия) / United Arab Emirates, October, 2018
Keywords: global_governance, economic_challenges, ndb
2018-10-14
United Arab Emirates
Source: gulftoday.ae

NEW DELHI: G-20 nations should take coordinated action to ensure that the negative spillover effects of global risks on emerging economies are minimized, Economic Affairs Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg said.

Speaking at G-20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meet in Bali, Indonesia, Garg asserted that the risks related to trade tensions, financial vulnerabilities and oil prices were having major impact on the emerging market economies.

"The secretary emphasised the need for G-20 nations to take coordinated action so as to ensure that the negative spillover effects of global risks on emerging and developing economies are minimised," Finance Ministry said in a statement.

The deliberations in the meeting centered on key risks facing the global economy, enhancing a resilient international financial architecture, financing infrastructure, progress on compact with Africa and streamlining of the Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion (GPFI) process.

India gave unequivocal support for New Development Bank (NDB)'s membership expansion and the need for setting up of an independent BRICS rating agency, the Ministry said.

Appreciating the progress under the Argentine Presidency on developing infrastructure as an asset class, Garg advocated developing global standards and protocols for attracting private funds in infrastructure and hoped that the G-20 can contribute in this direction.

On Compact with Africa, Garg highlighted the $10 billion soft loan facility announced for Africa by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the investment facilitating schemes in India to encourage private players to invest in Africa and elsewhere.

Membership expansion of NDB, the staggering of schedule of payment of paid-in capital of NDB, the work of BRICS PPP Task Force and examining the possibility of developing a consensus on BRICS Rating Agency were discussed on the Finance Ministry track. On the Central Bank track, the discussions centered on the test run of the BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement undertaken by the Central Banks in 2018, the Fintech stocktaking exercise and the progress of work happening in the BRICS Bond Fund Working Group.

Expansion plan

Garg in his interventions called upon the BRICS Deputies to endorse the membership expansion plan of NDB following which the NDB board along with the management can continue with their work on finalising the processes for membership expansion.

He said the role of BRICS is to provide broad guidance to NDB and the decisions on managing the micro details should be left to NDB board of directors and board of governors.

On the BRICS Rating Agency, he emphasized on the need felt by the emerging markets and developing economies for a rating methodology that takes into account the country circumstances of these economies.

Japan wants to highlight global imbalances as key topics of debate, and take steps to fix them, when it chairs next year's gatherings of the Group of 20 major economies, government officials said this week.

Tokyo hopes other countries would join Japan to counter US President Donald Trump's focus on narrowing US trade deficits through purely bilateral trade deals, the officials say, rather than the big international agreements now in place.

The annual International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings have been held on the Indonesian resort island of Bali this week.

Japan's agenda-setting plan also underscores Tokyo's view that instead of focusing too much on bilateral trade imbalances, there should be more emphasis on overall capital flows and structural factors behind the US current account deficit — such as a lack of domestic savings.
Political Events
Political events in the public life of BRICS
Speaking Notes: Speaker of the National Assembly Ms Baleka Mbete – Mid-year Briefing of Diplomats, Stakeholders and the Media on Key International Engagements (inter-parliamentary Union, Brics Parliamentary Forum) (Тезисы выступения: спикер Национального собрания г-жа Балека Мбете - среднегодовые отчеты дипломатов, заинтересованных сторон и СМИ о ключевых международных обязательствах (межпарламентский союз, парламентский форум БРИКС)) / South Africa, October, 2018
Keywords: parliamentary_forum, top_level_meeting, SA_chairmanship
2018-10-12
South Africa
Source: www.parliament.gov.za

INTRODUCTION

As the fifth Parliament, we remain acutely aware that the world's problems are interconnected – that economic crises, for instance, to which countries and their citizens are exposed, often emanate from far beyond their borders.

Parliament's engagement in international relations is informed by South Africa's foreign policy and parliamentary diplomacy imperatives. In turn, this is an expression of the democratic values of our country, entrenched in our Constitution.

The vision of our Parliament is to create a better South Africa in a better Africa and a just world. Engagement in international relations is important in achieving our country's goal of improving the quality of life of South Africans.

Our participation in parliamentary platforms includes advancing motions and resolutions of key issues on our national agenda – human rights, democratic advancement, health, women empowerment and gender equality.

We also employ alternative methods of engagement. These include knowledge sharing on processes and procedures; legislative and policy alignment with country groupings; and promoting democratic electoral systems through election observer missions.

PARTICIPATION AT THE IPU AND BRICS PARLIAMENTARY FORUM

From Sunday, 14 October, a delegation from Parliament will be participating in the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) 139th Assembly and Related Meetings in Geneva, Switzerland. This is a major international parliamentary event, which takes place twice a year.

Our Parliament's multiparty delegation to the IPU Assembly and Related Meetings, ending on 18 October, comprises: Mr Raseriti Tau (Deputy Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces), Ms Mmatlala Boroto (National Assembly House Chairperson for International Relations), Mr Seiso Mohai (Chief Whip of the National Council of Provinces), Mr Pumzile Justice Mnguni, Ms Peace Mabe, Mr Michael Waters (Democratic Alliance Deputy Chief Whip), Mr Marshall Dlamini and Mr Mkhuleko Hlengwa. The Speaker of the National Assembly is leading the delegation to the IPU.

The commemoration of our first democratically elected President, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, will feature at both the IPU and the BRICS Parliamentary Forum events.

This follows the unprecedented unveiling on 24 September of a statue of a leader – Madiba – at the headquarters of the United Nations (UN) in New York and the UN General Assembly's peace summit, paying homage to Madiba's legacy.

The forthcoming IPU and BRICS Parliamentary Forum meetings are landmark occasions on which Madiba's role in advancing human rights will be profiled among the Parliaments of the world. At both these key international platforms, our delegation will promote the constitutional values of human rights and democracy.

We are scheduled to address a special session of the IPU during which tribute will be paid to Madiba's significant contribution to advancing human rights. The commemoration of Madiba and his high regard for human rights coincides with the 70th anniversary, this year, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Parliament has been affiliated to the IPU since South Africa became a democracy in 1994. The IPU provides a platform to advance South Africa's position on topical global issues. It also provides a platform to advance accelerating socio-economic development in Africa.

Several topics on the agenda of the forthcoming 139th IPU Assembly and Related Meetings have a bearing on the National Development Plan and implementation of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals, to which South Africa is a signatory.

The General Debate of 139th Assembly is intended to provide a platform for Parliaments to explore the impact and role of science in development.

The subject of the General Debate is: "Parliamentary leadership in promoting peace and development in the age of innovation and technological change". A number of questions have been circulated to stimulate the debate.

Members of the delegation will also participate in the:

  • Forum of Women Parliamentarians (Sunday 14 October)
  • Forum of Young Parliamentarians (Monday 15 October)
  • Standing Committee on Sustainable Development, Finance and Trade (starting Monday 15 October, continuing Wednesday 17 October), which will receive a briefing on the Parliamentary contribution to the 2018 UN Climate Change Conference; have a debate on: "The role of fair and free trade in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, especially regarding economic equality, sustainable infrastructure, industrialisation and innovation"; and have a panel discussion on: "Taking forward the IPU resolution entitled Engaging the private sector in implementing SDGs, especially on renewable energy"
  • Standing Committee on Democracy and Human Rights (starting on Monday 15 October, continuing on Tuesday 16 October and Wednesday 17 October) which will have debate on the draft resolution on: "Strengthening inter-parliamentary co-operation on migration and migrant governance in view of the adoption of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration". Our delegates who are participating in this Standing Committee are scheduled to make some amendments to the draft resolution.
The IPU is the oldest and largest global organisation of Parliaments working together, to safeguard peace and promote positive democratic change through political dialogue and concrete action.

It has permanent observer status at the UN General Assembly.

Currently, there are 178 Member Parliaments affiliated to the IPU, coming from countries in which about 6.5 billion of the world's 7 billion people live. The IPU also has 12 Associate Members. These are Parliaments coming from groups of nations, such as, the Arab Parliament, the European Parliament and the East African Legislative Assembly

South Africa hosted the 118th Assembly of the IPU in 2008 in Cape Town.

During the time when we are in Geneva, we will chair the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) Parliamentary Forum, also meeting in Geneva.

The BRICS Parliamentary Forum first met in 2015 in Moscow, Russia. It is chaired on a rotational basis by Parliaments of member countries. The rotational chairing of the Forum coincides with the rotational chairing of the BRICS Summit, which President Cyril Ramaphosa chaired earlier this year, when it was held in Johannesburg.

The BRICS countries, collectively, are home to 42% of the world's population. The BRICS Parliamentary Forum provides an opportunity for the BRICS Parliaments to reflect on how they can, through the mandates of their Parliaments, ensure implementation of BRICS Summit decisions.

The BRICS approach is informed by the need to deepen, broaden and intensify relations within the grouping and among the individual countries for more sustainable, equitable and mutually beneficial development. This approach takes into consideration each member's growth, development and poverty objectives to ensure relations are built on the respective country's economic strengths and to avoid competition where possible. The bloc offers a unique opportunity for BRICS countries to extend and advance their co-operation in ways that meaningfully promote their economic development agendas as well as that of other developing countries. In this regard, Parliaments of these countries are crucial in ensuring that, through their oversight, legislative and public involvement processes, they ensure effective realisation of economic co-operation, people-to-people exchange and political and security cooperation.

In the light of Parliament this year commemorating the centenary birthdays of Madiba and MaSisulu, these key multilateral institutions are important in galvanising the international community to meaningfully embrace the noble principles, values and ideals for which these two stalwarts of our struggle lived.

OTHER INTERNATIONAL PARLIAMENTARY FORUMS

In addition to the IPU and the BRICS Parliamentary Forum, our Parliament's international participation includes the African, Caribbean and Pacific-European Union Joint Parliamentary Assembly and the Global Legislators' Organisation International (Globe).

We are active in the Pan African Parliament and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Parliamentary Forum.

In August, the SADC Heads of State Summit considered the proposal for the transformation of the SADC-Parliamentary Forum into a fully-fledged regional legislative institution. This matter will once again be discussed at the next Summit during the first quarter of 2019. This is a significant and progressive step towards the conclusion of this long-standing process, which has been in the making for over 20 years. The transformation of the SADC Parliamentary Forum, once concluded, will bring it on a par with the rest of regions in the continent, which already have fully-fledged regional Parliaments.

CONCLUSION

We are honoured that the 139th session of the IPU will mark the centenary commemoration of Madiba's birth and that the BRICS Parliamentary Forum will also do so.

These international events to celebrate Madiba are fitting. He was, after all, an internationalist and a leader of a movement, which consciously pursued international engagement in its struggle to free South Africa of the scourge of apartheid.

As Madiba said in March 1999, in his last address, as President, to Parliament: "To the extent that I have been able to achieve anything, I know that this is because I am the product of the people of South Africa… To the extent that I have been able to take our country forward to this new era it is because I am the product of the people of the world. They gave us hope because we knew by their solidarity that our ideas could not be silenced since they were the ideas of all."

India emphasis on the need for G-20 Nations to take co-ordinated action to ensure that the negative spillover effects of global risks on Emerging Market Economies (EMDEs) are minimized;. India gives unequivocal support for New Development Bank (NDB)'s Membership expansion and need for setting-up of an Independent BRICS Rating Agency- (Индия подчеркивает необходимость того, чтобы государства Группы Двадцати предпринимали скоординированные действия для сведения к минимуму негативных побочных эффектов от глобальных рисков для стран с формирующимся рынком (EMDE); Индия дает однозначную поддержку расширению членства в Новом Банке Развития (NDB) и необходимости создания независимого рейтингового агентства БРИКС -) / India, October, 2018
Keywords: off_docs, political_issues
2018-10-12
India
Source: pib.nic.in

The Final G-20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting under the 2018 Argentine Presidency and the final BRICS Deputies Meeting under the 2018 South African Chairmanship were held on 11th -12th October 2018 in Bali, Indonesia on the sidelines of the IMF/Fund Bank Annual Meetings.

G-20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors (FMCBG) Meeting

The deliberations in the G-20 FMCBG meeting centered on key risks facing the global economy, enhancing a resilient international financial architecture, financing infrastructure development, progress on compact with Africa as well as streamlining of the GPFI process.

Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs (DEA), Ministry of Finance, Government of India, Shri Subhash Chandra Garg in his interventions indicated that the risks related to trade tensions, financial vulnerabilities and oil prices have materialized and are having major impact on the Emerging Market Economies. Secretary (EA) emphasized on the need for G-20 nations to take co-ordinated action so as to ensure that the negative spillover effects of global risks on EMDEs are minimized. Secretary (EA) also appreciated the progress of work under the Argentine Presidency on developing infrastructure as an asset class. He indicated the importance of developing global standards and protocols for attracting private funds to the infrastructure space and hoped that the infrastructure agenda of G-20 can contribute in this direction. Secretary (EA) also highlighted the efforts undertaken by India to attract private players in infra financing space such as creating Real Estate Investment Trust Fund, Infrastructure Debt Fund as well as undertaking efforts for monetizing brownfield assets. On Compact with Africa, Secretary (EA) indicated the importance that Government of India (GoI) has placed on undertaking investments in Africa and highlighted the USD10 billion soft loan facility announced for Africa by the Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi. He further highlighted the investment facilitating schemes that GoI has in place to encourage private players to invest in Africa and elsewhere such as National Export Insurance Fund, Concessional Financing Facility etc.

BRICS Finance Deputies

The meeting focused on reviewing the progress achieved by the BRICS Forum in 2018 as well as deliberating on the way forward under the upcoming 2019 BRICS Chairmanship of Brazil. On the Finance Ministry track, the main issues that came-up for discussion were the membership expansion of New Development Bank (NDB), the staggering of schedule of payment of paid-in capital of NDB, the work of BRICS PPP Task Force and examining the possibility of developing a consensus on BRICS Rating Agency. On the Central Bank track, the discussions centered on the test run of the BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement undertaken by the Central Banks in 2018, the Fintech stocktaking exercise and the progress of work happening in the BRICS Bond Fund Working Group.

Secretary (EA) in his interventions indicated India's unequivocal support for NDB's membership expansion. Further, he called upon the BRICS Deputies to endorse the membership expansion plan of NDB following which the NDB Board along with the Management can continue with their work on finalizing the processes for membership expansion. Secretary (EA) also emphasized that the role of BRICS is to provide broad guidance to NDB and the decisions on managing the micro details should be left to NDB Board of Directors and Board of Governors. On the BRICS Rating Agency, Secretary (EA) indicated that the Report of the Expert Group set-up to study the feasibility of BRICS Rating Agency has envisaged the setting-up of a BRICS Rating Agency which is completely independent and private sector led. Secretary (EA) emphasized on the need felt by the emerging markets and developing economies for a rating methodology that takes into account the country circumstances of these economies. In this context, there was a need for BRICS to take lead and work together on the setting-up of a BRICS Rating Agency.

Other Meetings

Other than the G20 and BRICS Meeting, Secretary (EA) also participated in the G24 Ministerial Meeting which was its 100th Meeting. Further, Secretary (EA) also had bilateral meetings with the G-20 Italian Finance Deputy, Mr. Alessandro Riviera, the Under Secretary of US Treasury, Mr. David Melpass as well as Mr. Marco Buti, Director-General of European Commission among others.

World of work
Social policy, trade unions, actions
Movie exhibition of BRICS member states kicks off in Maputo (В Мапуту начинается выставка фильмов стран-членов БРИКС) / China, October, 2018
Keywords: movie
2018-10-09
China
Source: www.globaltimes.cn

The embassy of Brazil in Mozambique held here on Monday an exhibition of movies from BRICS member states (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), drawing crowds of attendance.

Before the exhibition, in the presence of the ambassadors and representatives of the embassies of BRICS member states in Maputo, Brazilian ambassador, Rodrigo Soares gave a brief explanation about BRICS, the economy of the platform as well as its population and purposes.

"As BRICS our relations with other countries are based in non-interference in internal affairs of other countries, it is based in equality and common benefit," said the ambassador.

The first film to be exhibited was a Brazilian movie about a young man traveling around Africa, followed by a Russian film the coming day, and there will be a break on Wednesday. The exhibition will resume on Thursday with an Indian movie, on Friday it will be a romantic movie from China and on Saturday a movie from South Africa about liberation struggle.

The head of the Russian diplomatic mission in Mozambique said the movies selected for the week-long exhibition are not from a super production industry, but ones that offer a glimpse into the stories of normal people and daily lives, characteristics of the BRICS member states.

Need to empower nurses midwives as they play vital role in providing basic health services Choubey (Необходимо расширить возможности акушерок-медсестер, поскольку они играют жизненно важную роль в предоставлении основных медицинских услуг Choubey) / India, October, 2018
Keywords: social_issues
2018-10-08
India
Source: www.theweek.in

New Delhi, Oct 8 (PTI) Union minister Ashwini Choubey said on Monday that there is a need to empower nurses and midwives as they play a vital role in providing basic medical services.

The MoS for Health also said they need to be perceived as equal partners in the health care sector.

"To meet the future needs of the growing health care sector and constantly increasing disease burden, there is a need to empower our nurses and perceive them as equal partners in health care," Choubey said after inaugurating the second BRICS Nurses Forum hosted by Indian Nursing Council here.

He said the government was committed to develop the capacities of health care professionals, especially nurses and has taken several necessary steps towards improved governance in India's public health system, through establishment of robust recruitment, selection, promotion and transfer policies for our nurses.

"The government is determined for making significant improvements in nursing and midwifery education and services in the light of recommendations proposed under the 12th five year plan and National Health Policy 2017," the minister said.

He said the objective of the conference was to enhance the communication and understanding among the BRICS nations on contribution of nursing sector towards achieving universal health coverage in relation to nursing policies and practices.

"It is pertinent to note here that BRICS nations represent more than 40 per cent of worlds' population and about 40 per cent of global burden of diseases, playing an important role in the global health affairs," Choubey said.

"The nursing cooperation of the BRICS nations will be of significance to the global disease prevention and improving people's health in the BRICS nations. This will be beneficial as we face many common health challenges," he said.
This conference aims at creating a platform for enabling networking of institutes, learning from best practices in BRICS countries and creating avenues for inter-professional collaborations and research.

It will see deliberations on nursing education regulation practice in the BRICS nations.

Around 30-40 delegates from professional nursing associations from BRICS countries i.e. Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa are part of the second BRICS Nurses Forum along with 150 nursing professionals from India.

China hosted the 1st BRICS Nurses Forum in 2016 and BRICS nurses' associations signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) regarding nursing co-operation for the BRICS countries in Beijing in 2016.

The objective of the MoU is mutual learning and respect for cultural differences.
The Third International Conference "G20 and BRICS: Pursuing Multilateral Solutions to 21st Century Challenges?" (Третья международная конференция "G20 и БРИКС: В поисках коллективных ответов на ключевые вызовы 21 века?") / Russia, October, 2018
Keywords: global_governance, social_issues
2018-10-10
Russia
Source: www.ranepa.ru


Leading international researchers gathered at the RANEPA for the third annual global governance conference to discuss G20 and BRICS achievements and priorities for the future.

The Third International Conference "G20 and BRICS: Pursuing Multilateral Solutions to 21st Century Challenges?" was organized at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA) on 10 October 2018.

The Conference was organized by the Center for International Institutions Research (CIIR) of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA) in partnership with National Committee on BRICS Research with expert support of the G20 Research Group of the University of Toronto and BRICS Research Group.

The Conference brought together more than 40 leading international researchers of global governance from the G20 and BRICS member countries, representing world-known think tanks such as the University of Toronto (Canada), Shanghai International Studies University (SISU) (China), German Development Institute (DIE) (Germany), Soka University (Japan), University of Gdansk (Poland), University of Pretoria (South Africa), University of Gothenburg (Sweden) and Brookings Institutionhn (the US), representatives of Russian governmental bodies and international organizations, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and World Trade Organization (WTO).

The Conference opening session was attended by Ms. Svetlana Lukash, Russian G20 Sherpa, Deputy Head of the Presidential Experts' Directorate, Presidential Executive Office; Mr. Pavel Knyazev, Russia BRICS Sous-Sherpa, Deputy Director of the Foreign Policy Planning Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federatio; as well as H.E. Mr. Ricardo Lagorio, Ambassador of República Argentina to the Russian Federation.

The participants discussed a wide range of themes, including the global challenges and trends in global governance; the multilateral solutions in key policy areas (macroeconomic policy, trade and investment, SDGs, climate change, financing for development, sustainable infrastructure, digitalization, labor and productivity); G20 and BRICS achievements, unfulfilled expectations, priorities for future cooperation and forthcoming presidencies; the G20 and BRICS role in the system of international multilateral institutions; and legitimacy in the global governance.

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