Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 14.2020
2020.03.30 — 2020.04.05
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Russia and China should lead global anti-epidemic cooperation (Россия и Китай должны возглавить глобальное противоэпидемическое сотрудничество) / China, April, 2020
Keywords: cooperation, covid-19, expert_opinion

The unprecedented challenge the world is facing today because of the novel coronavirus pandemic will, hopefully, also make all countries realize that our common destiny is to stand by each other's side to overcome common challenges. That many countries have realized this fact was evident on March 26 when the first ever Extraordinary G20 Leaders' Summit was held via video conferencing.

It remains to be seen, though, whether all the countries will put into practice the decisions taken at the G20 meeting. After all, the commitment to not impose protectionist measures made by the G20 Summit to overcome the 2008-09 global financial crisis was soon broken by some countries. But we hope for the best, because the pandemic is a question of life and death, and much more important than countries' or leaders' egos.

Many countries' response to the threat was slow

The flow of people, thanks mainly to economic globalization, helped spread the virus around the globe at such a fast pace. Yet many countries were either slow in taking measures to contain the outbreak or were handicapped by their relative weak healthcare system to appropriately respond to the health crisis.

While China, the Republic of Korea and Japan have largely contained the spread of the virus at home, there are still debates on the best way to avoid an "Italy like" scenario-which range from complete lockdowns, as announced by the Indian government in a country with a population of 1.3 billion, to just asking people to practice social distancing.

Russia swung into action rather early as it realized the threat the novel coronavirus posed to public health. Although it could not prevent an outbreak in the country, it managed to slow the spread of the virus and delay the peak by two-three weeks. This, government officials say, allowed additional healthcare resources to be mobilized to prepare for the worst-case scenario.

Russia restricted, if not completely banned, travel initially from China, and then from the ROK following the implosion of cases there. The restrictions were later extended to travelers from Italy and some other European countries. And on March 18, Russia imposed a complete ban on foreign arrivals, followed by a ban on all international flights a couple of days later till May 1.

As of Wednesday, Russia had more than 2,300 confirmed cases, many of them imported cases or those who had come in contact with them.

Timely shift to online teaching

Keeping in mind the importance of continuing education, the Russian authorities recently decided to shift school and college classes online. And universities such as the Far Eastern Federal University are among those best equipped to introduce online teaching and prepare the students for the future.

Similar measures to keep all employees, if possible, or arrange for some of them to stay at home have also been introduced.

In fact, Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed the nation recently to announce that all workers, except those employed in emergency services, certain government offices, banks, pharmacies and groceries, will be officially off work from March 28 to April 5.

But while trying to protect its citizens against the virus, Russia continues to intensify cooperation with other countries to contain the pandemic.

For example, the Russian Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Well-being has been more closely cooperating with its Chinese counterpart and the World Health Organization since Dec 31.

And after Chinese scientists' research yielded more information about the novel coronavirus genome, they passed them on to their Russian counterparts for further research.

Today, at least six versions of a vaccine are being tested in Russia, raising hopes that an antidote to the novel coronavirus could be ready by the end of this year. In addition to the official-level cooperation between Russia and China, a number of renowned Russian researchers have expressed their willingness to work with other countries for global common good, among whom is Mikhail Schelkanov, renowned epidemiologist and a professor at the Far Eastern Federal University who is known for his contribution to the fight against Ebola in Africa.

True, the expected economic downturn will influence Russia-China relations, but that can be attributed mainly to the impact of the pandemic on the global economy, with sectors such as tourism and transport being the worst hit, with industrial production slowing down and demand for oil and gas falling drastically. But a lull in economic exchanges by no means can influence political and humanitarian factors.

Politically, Russia stands shoulder to shoulder with China, supporting it against the groundless accusations of US politicians. Russians, in fact, are grateful to China for sending medical supplies to Russia, and hope that once the pandemic is contained and the movement of people returns to normal both domestically and internationally, the projects on hold will resume with greater vigor.

Moscow, Beijing have a lot to offer each other and the world

More important, Russia and China should form the core of advanced international cooperation and solidarity within the United Nations and the G20. They are already advancing initiatives in BRICS, including those on global public health governance. In fact, in mid-February the BRICS Sherpa meeting issued a statement saying that the world should unite to fight the coronavirus outbreak.

In other words, Russia and China have a lot in common, and a lot to offer to boost each other's sustainable development and their peoples' well-being. What doesn't kill us makes us stronger-which also applies to Russia-China ties, and we hope to emerge stronger from the pandemic thanks to the strength of our friendship.

The author is vice-president for international relations of the Far Eastern Federal University, and scientific supervisor of the BRICS Expert Council, Russia. The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
What Ever Happened to the B.R.I.C. Economies? (Что случилось с экономикой стран БРИКС?) / USA, March, 2020
Keywords: expert_opinion, economic_challenges

In this article, we will look at the BRIC countries and the social-political challenges they face in overtaking the G7 economies as predicted by Jim O'Neill of Goldman Sachs in his paper entitled "Building Better Global Economic BRICs."

"Most of our predictions are based on very linear thinking. That's why they will most likely be wrong."

— Vinod Khosla, in "GIGATRENDS," Wired 04.01
What Are the BRIC Economies and G7 Countries?

The BRIC acronym refers to the countries of Brazil, Russia, India, and China, which in 2001 were deemed to be at an advanced stage as developing economies. This assertion was made by Jim O'Neill of Goldman Sachs in a paper entitled "Building Better Global Economic BRICs," in which he anticipated a shift in global economic power away from the G7 countries and toward other developing economies.

In fact, some experts at the time suggested that the BRIC economies would in all likelihood overtake the G7 economies by 2027. But are these projections in line with today's realities?

In his book Breakout Nations: In Pursuit of the Next Economic Miracles, Ruchir Sharma argues it is hard to sustain rapid growth for more than a decade, questioning many of the assertions made about the BRICs. As a matter of fact, Goldman Sachs has since revised its prediction to state that 2050 is a more realistic time frame for these countries to replace any of the G7 economies in economic power.

Out of the BRIC countries, in spite of recent setbacks, China and India are the only economies holding their own. Unfortunately, the other two economies have been recently sputtering. Even India has severe problems in infrastructure, extreme poverty, substandard health care, costly pollution, corruption, protectionism, and messy governance. Russia and Brazil are facing problems with corruption and slow growth. China is beginning to face push back from the U.S. as well as other Western and Asian economies. We'll explore all of these factors in this article.

What About South Africa?

Before moving on, however, we need to clarify one detail. In 2010, South Africa was interested in being part of the BRIC forum and consequently was invited to join. The reasoning behind this was that South Africa represents an important part of the world's emerging markets and it could play an important role to the other BRIC members as a gateway to the African continent.

In spite of the fact that South Africa is now officially and deservedly part of this group, this article will exclude information on this country. The reason is that the premise behind this post is that pundits don't always get it right. Since South Africa was not originally included in Jim O'Neill's paper which was meant to envisage those developing economies that would replace the G7 countries in economic power, comments on South Africa will be included in a later post.


The Brazilian economy is an inward-oriented economy with markets that are to a great degree highly protected by the government. This is done by imposing an applied customs averaging tariff of 13.5% plus different types of non-tariff barriers that include import quotas, administrative requirements, and an internal taxing system that is preferential to locally manufactured products.

As a typical inward-oriented economy, Brazil attempts to attain economic independence or self-reliance by imposing comprehensive regulations on the private sector in order to impose its protectionist policy.

According to the European Commission's latest report on Potentially Trade Restrictive Measures, Brazil is among the countries that have resorted to the highest number of trade barriers.

Brazil is an unusually closed economy from an export perspective as well. Most outwardly-oriented economies have a ratio of one exporting firm per 250 people. Brazil has an astonishing ratio of one exporting firm per 10,000 people.

Critics point to the fact that should Brazil be open to imports and exports the local economy would become more efficient in resource allocation and enable people to consume a highly diversified basket of goods, lowering prices to consumers.


According to most sources, Brazil possesses high rates of violent crimes such as murders and robberies; depending on the source (UNDP or World Health Organization) the homicide rate can range between 30 and 40 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, placing Brazil in the top 20 countries in murder rate.

Carjacking is common throughout Brazil, making most local citizens targets. Pick-pocketing and bag snatching are common in outdoor markets, hotels and on public transport. Express kidnappings, where individuals are abducted and forced to withdraw funds from ATMs to secure their release, are common.

Much of the violent crime is done by gangs which has become an important issue affecting the youth. Up until recently, murder has been the most common cause of death among youth in Brazil, with 40% of all victims aged between 15 and 25 years old.


Corruption in Brazil is a pervasive social problem and has become an important part of Brazil's politics. For years, embezzlement and corruption have been involved in Brazilian elections. Petty corruption is extensive. In tax administration, public procurement and in the natural resource sectors, it has been deemed insidious enough as to be a limitation to business. Collusion between government and business is also widespread.

The latest corruption scandal called "Operation Car Wash" has ensnared former presidents Fernando Collor de Mello, Michel Temer and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. All three presidents have been arrested and are either awaiting trial or serving prison sentences, as in the case Lula da Silva. Additionally, dozens of other politicians, have either been jailed or have been forced to resign from their government positions.

Dilma Rousseff, the first woman president of Brazil was impeached and removed from office in 2016, for fiscal irresponsibility, failure to act on the scandal involving the Brazilian petroleum company Petrobras and for failure to distance herself from the defendants in the Operation Car Wash trials.


As per the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Brazilian education is among 35 of the worst in global ranking. Only 33% of students entering college graduate, and teacher's pay is the lowest among OECD members. Enrolment of children under the age of three is only 23%, compared to an average of 36% worldwide.

Brazil has one of the lowest percentages of 25-64 year-olds whose highest education level is a master's degree or higher. Even graduates from vocational programs are among the lowest within OECD members.

The World Economic Forum has ranked the country as 88th out of a total 122 in the education scale.

Racial Inequality

Anybody traveling to Brazil will immediately notice the racial divide that permeates throughout the country. Racial inequality is deeply ingrained in Brazilian culture. Statistics show the following:

  • 63% of blacks earn less than minimum wage compared to 34% of whites.
  • Of the richest Brazilians, 11% are black and 85% are white.
  • 93% of respondents acknowledged that there is racial prejudice in Brazil
  • The richest 10% of the population accounts for 48% of the national income, and the poorest 50% account for 10% of the national income.
  • 2.7% of black Brazilians are employed in management positions.
  • 55% of blacks perform manual labor.
  • 2.5% of blacks have a university degree.
  • Black children born into poverty have a 93% chance of being impoverished for their entire life.

In spite of vast natural resources and possessing the second largest population in the American continent, it is doubtful Brazil can rise above developing nation status any time soon. Brazil has for many decades faced greatly devastating social, economic and political problems that will be difficult to overcome, especially considering that cultural and social changes typically occur in glacially slow time.

A good start would be for Brazil to take down import barriers and increase its export initiatives. Corruption needs to be tackled in a multi-party fashion, rather than as a single-party initiative as it has been done many times in the past.

Initiatives to improve education must be put in placed in order for the country to be globally competitive. Reduction in crime through improved education and lower unemployment is also necessary.

Unfortunately at this point in time, it is hard to see a day anytime soon, when these issues are solved.

Economic System Still in Transition

In 1991 the Soviet economic system of centralized control came to an end with the collapse of the USSR and its communist form of government. A process of market transformation was initiated by Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar, second in command to President Boris Yeltsin. This was a difficult process of market transformation, often referred to as "shock therapy" which at least in the short-term was very costly in human terms.

Since 1991 the Russian economy has been greatly transformed. The large-scale privatization that took place ended to a great extend state ownership in industry and market oriented initiatives were established including the freeing up of prices.

However, Russia remains a predominantly statist economy with a high concentration of wealth held in the hands of a few. Currently the energy, transportation, banking, and defense-related sectors remain under government ownership and control. Most of the media remain in the hands of the government and overall the state continues to interfere in the free operation of the private sector.

In recent years the Russian government has begun to implement protectionist policies imposing 15.5% tariffs, plus NTB's (non-tariff barriers) that include administrative barriers, import quotas, targeted bailouts and direct subsidies for local companies.

Oil and Gas Exports: Russia's Main Source of Hard Currency

Russia's main industries are: oil and gas, mining, processing precious stones and metals, aircraft building, aerospace production, weapons and military industry, electric engineering, pulp-and-paper production, automotive industry, transport, road and agriculture machinery production, foodstuffs industries.

However, its energy industry is one of the largest in the world possessing the largest reserves of natural gas, the second largest coal reserves and the eighth largest oil reserves. Russia is the largest exporter of oil in the world in absolute numbers, and it represents its main source of hard currency.

Oil and gas contribute more than 30% of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) and 52% of federal budget revenues. This makes Russia highly vulnerable to fluctuations in oil prices. In fact the effect of the 2014 oil price collapse was extremely damaging to the Russian economy. Without other supporting industries, over-dependance on one resource, such as oil, opens a country like Russia to the risks of Dutch disease, in which the economy collapses due to the lack of other strong economic sectors.

Transition to a Dictatorship

In a December 2014 article for Bloomberg, Leonid Bershidsky wrote:

"Vladimir Putin's regime is on the verge of transitioning from mild authoritarianism to outright dictatorship. The country's newly amended military doctrine is an especially ominous sign. Judging by it, the Kremlin's response to the ongoing economic crisis will be to crack down on all signs of popular discontent. The Kremlin seems determined to turn inward and complete its break with the Western world".

Since Vladimir Putin originally took over as president of Russia from 2000–2008 and then again 2012 to present, Putin has been accused of:

  • A stream of assassinations of journalists
  • Suppression of the opposition
  • Assassinations of prominent opposition leaders
  • Election fraud
  • Inundation of the internet as well as the media with pro-Putin propaganda
  • Isolation of Russia from the West
  • Annexed Crimea
  • Sent troops to Ukraine
  • Has effectively remained in power from 2000 to present by holding the post of prime minister in order to circumvent constitutional limitations on consecutive presidential terms
  • Changed the constitution so that he can have a third term
  • Total control over the military
  • Reported to have pilfered and be worth close to $70 billion

Russia's Corruption is Much Worse Than India and China |

Corruption in Russia

Corruption in Russia is wide spread and considered a major problem. It affects all aspects of daily life including public administration, law enforcement, healthcare and education. Corruption in Russia can be considered as institutionalized and largely a result of weakness in the rule of law.

Its corruption has been getting worse since Vladimir Putin's ascension to the presidency. It went from 90th place in the Corruption Perception Index in 2012 to 138th place in 2018. This represents a drop of 48 places in only six years. An equally pessimistic picture emerges from the estimates of the average size of bribes which has substantially increased over the last five years.

A World Bank report estimates that corruption in Russia amounts to 48% of GDP.

In a Newsweek article of June 24, 2019, reporter Ariel Cohen says:

"...Russia is sliding into a black hole of crime, corruption, and illegality—and that more and more Russians are taking note. This was nowhere more evident than in the protests that erupted in Moscow earlier this month after local police planted cocaine and other drugs in the apartment of investigative journalist Ivan Golunov, who exposed high level corruption in the Moscow burial business and among the relatives of a Moscow deputy mayor. Due to the protests, Golunov was acquitted and case closed, but the story does not end there. Corruption in law enforcement and in courts is choking Russia's economic growth."


Alcohol consumption in Russia is among the highest in the world. Although Russia has implemented anti-alcoholism initiatives such as banning sales of spirits and beer at night, raising taxes, and other measures, alcohol producers claim, falling legal drinks consumption is accompanied by growth of sales of illegally produced beverages.

High volumes of alcohol consumption have serious negative effects on Russia's social fabric and it has political, economic and public health ramifications. A study of Russian alcohol's consumption effects, determined that 52% of deaths of people between the ages of 15 and 54 were the result of alcohol abuse.


While Russia has some clear competitive advantages such as a large reserve of raw materials, low internal energy prices and a relatively well-educated work force, it has other negative factors that will limit its growth in the next twenty years. Some of these negative factors are:

  • Dependence on energy production
  • Low global oil prices that are expected to stay low for some time
  • Expectation that global oil consumption will drop in the future
  • No large manufacturing industry
  • Protectionist policies
  • Aggressive geopolitical approach pitting it against the West.
  • Western sanctions
  • Corruption
  • Severe social problems
  • Decreasing population
  • Nascent dictaroship
Russia is certainly a great power. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia has grown economically by a factor of three. The question is whether this type of growth will continue considering the issues Russia is facing. With Putin firmly in control and the possibility of him staying at the center of power in Russia until 2024 or even beyond, it is doubtful Russia will experience sustainable growth in the foreseeable future.


India Is the Most Populous Democracy

India, with a population of over 1.3 billion people is the most populous democracy in the world. Its origins date back to 2500 BC. Currently the Indian economy is the sixth largest in the world based on nominal GDP figures and the third largest based on Purchasing Power Parity (PPP).

India's modern day growth goes back to the market focused economic reforms of 1991, which turned it into the fastest growing major economies globally as of 2014, replacing China. Additionally it is currently considered a newly industrialized country. In spite of this tremendous growth, it still continues to suffer from poverty, malnutrition, corruption, decaying infrastructure and inadequate health care.

Currently, India is the sixth largest economy in the world, however based on its current growth and increasing population, it is expected to become the third largest within the next ten years. In fact according to the IMF, the Indian economy was the "bright spot" in the global landscape as it is expected to grow by 8% from 2016 to 2017. Today, however, the economy has slowed to 6% annually.

India's major industries are:

  • Textile Industry
  • Food Processing Industry
  • Chemical Industry
  • Cement Industry
  • Steel Industry
  • Software Industry
  • Mining Industry
  • Petroleum Industry
Additionally, India has one of the fastest growing service sectors in the world with annual growth rate of above 9% since 2001 contributing to 57% of GDP in 2012–13. India has become a major exporter of IT services, BPO (business process outsourcing) services, and software services with $167.0 billion worth of service exports in 2013–14. It is also the fastest-growing part of the economy. The IT industry continues to be the largest private sector employer. India is also a large start-up hub with 1,200 technology start-ups in 2018.

India has been recording sustained trade deficits since 1980 mainly due to the high growth of imports, particularly of crude oil, gold and silver. For 2019 India's trade deficit was recorded at $103 billion. In recent years, the biggest trade deficits were recorded with China, Saudi Arab, Iraq, Switzerland and Kuwait. India records trade surpluses with US, Singapore, Germany, Netherlands and United Kingdom.


In spite of India's economic reforms that have taken place in the last two decades, it has lagged behind its neighbors in lowering commercial barriers. Trade negotiations with the U.S. and with the European Union have made very little progress as market access and intellectual property rights have been difficult issues to resolve. During negotiations at the World Trade Organization, it tried to torpedo a deal that simplifies global customs procedures unless it received concessions on its massive farm subsidies.

India maintains significant tariff and non-tariff barriers that limit its trade with the world. It imposes an average applied tariff of 12.4%, which is among the highest in the world. Its non-tariff barriers are among the most complex in the world. The World Bank has ranked India in its ease to do business at 134 out of 189. That ranking basically means that it is virtually impossible to export to India.

In the long run such mercantilist approach could limit India's export efforts and New Delhi's hope of raising India's share of world trade to 3.5% by 2020 from 2% presently. Meeting its target of $900 billion in yearly exports by 2020 would require India to sell twice as much to the rest of the world as it does today. This will be a very difficult task unless agreements on trade are reached with the United States, the European Union and other trade partners.

Pollution in India

According to Global Burden of Disease Study, air pollution has killed over a million people in India in 2017 alone. However, the government continues to claim there is no connection between air pollution and these deaths. In the meantime, 15 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world are in India. (Al Jazeera News - Counting the Cost. 31 Aug 2019)

Pollution comes at an economic cost in loss of work and productivity, as well as in human lives. As per the World Bank, India lost 8.5% of it GDP in 2013 due to pollution-related costs.

Professor E Somanathan, of the Indian Statistical Institute, said:

"If we could cut air pollution to zero, every Indian would be willing to pay about $300 per year to cut that risk. The total benefit would be about $300bn or $400bn per year."

Prarthana Borah, India director of Clean Air Asia, further said:

"China puts air pollution not as part of an environment agenda, it is part of the national planning process. We definitely need to integrate air within development policy."


India's ranking in Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index for 2015 is 76th out of 176. This ranking places India at the same ranking level as Brazil, but just above China, Sri Lanka and Colombia, all three ranked at 83rd. In recent years there have been several high-profile scandals that have underscored the extent of the problem. Some of these high-profile scandals are the Army Bribery scandal, Wikileaks Cash for votes, a scam involving homes for war widows, financial irregularities involving the Delhi Common Wealth games, and many more.

Facts About Corruption in India

  • A study conducted by Transparency International found that more than 62% of people in India had paid bribes or peddled influence to get a job in a public office.
  • Transparency International estimates that truckers pay annually of more than US$3.3 billion in bribes.
  • Dev Kar of Global Financial Integrity concluded that about 1.5% of India's GDP on average per annum basis gets deposited into Swiss bank accounts in the form of "black money". This money includes corruption, bribery and kickbacks, criminal activities, trade mispricing and efforts to shelter wealth by Indians from India's tax authorities.
The Indian media is mainly owned by corrupt politicians and industrialists who also play a major role in most corruption scams. Typically these outlets attempt to mislead the public with wrong information and using media for mudslinging against their political and business opponents.

Various studies and reports have noted several causes that encourage corruption in India. These reports suggest high taxes and excessive regulation from bureaucracy as major causes. India has high marginal tax rates and numerous regulatory bodies with the power to stop any citizen or business from going about their daily affairs.

While India has many laws dealing with different types of corrupt practices, the level of institutionalized corruption will continue to be a major factor in slower economic growth. Foreign companies looking to establish businesses in India will find it difficult to achieve the level of success they would normally attain under less corrupt and complex regulatory environments.

Infrastructure Needs

Years of under-investment have left India with poor infrastructure that endangers its economic growth. The government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has identified eight infrastructure sectors that must be brought up to world standards. These are: civil aviation, ports and inland waterways, roads, railways, telecom, power, coal, and new and renewable energy.

It is estimated that India will need a minimum of $1 trillion in infrastructure expenditures in order to close the gap needed to continue its economic expansion. Part of this enormous funding must be raised through foreign direct investments (FDI), however, due to India's protectionist tendencies, FDIs remain politically divisive.

Poverty in India

Poverty in India is widespread and a historical reality. Rapid economic growth since 1991, has led to sharp reductions in extreme poverty in India. However, those above the poverty line live a fragile economic life. Lack of basic essentials of life such as safe drinking water, sanitation, housing, health infrastructure as well as malnutrition impact the lives of hundreds of millions.

According to the World Bank living at or below $1.90 per day represents poverty. It is estimated the world has 872.3 million people below the poverty line, of which 179.6 million people live in India. In other words, India with 17.5% of total world's population had 20.6% share of world's poorest in 2014. It is also estimated that 58% of the total population in India was living on less than $3.10 per day during that same year.


There is no doubt that India has several advantages over some of the other BRIC members. First of all, although it is a messy democracy, it is non-the-less a democracy. It's economic rise might not be viewed by the West as threatening as that of China. India can represent a newly-arrived world power that can easily integrate with old established democracies.

However, its relationship with Pakistan is complex and sometimes violent. While some steps have been taken to improve relations between both countries, frictions continue to surface over Kashmir and other political disagreements. The risks of two nuclear-able antagonist states living in close vicinity, represents a regional as well as a global danger.

Additionally, India seems to be looking toward China as a potential adversary, creating another area of risk. In fact, those observing India point to the "China factor" as reasons for driving India's attempt to modernize its navy. The need to protect India's 4,600 mile long coastline and exclusive economic zone that exceeds a million square-miles is another of the reasons for its naval build up.

Certainly, India must look for ways to diminish corruption; fight back pollution; heavily invest in infrastructure; address poverty; and open its markets to investment, before they can show sustainable growth.


Billions of words have been written about China and billions more are yet be written. China is both enigmatic and paradoxical with a history that dates back to at least 2070 BC. This post is merely a minute snapshot of China today. It is meant to allow the reader to get a peek at this great country and determine whether China can catch up and even replace the West not just economically, but as a superpower.

In fact, China (if you believe the figures the Chinese government has provided) has already overtaken the U.S. in GDP PPP valuation. (US$19.5 trillion vs. US$18.9 trillion) The calculus for nominal GDP is much more in favor of the U.S. (US$17.9 trillion vs. US$11.4 trillion). But irrespective of how you view these numbers China is a force to be reckoned with.

Government officials claim that China wishes to rise peacefully, that it has never invaded another country, but yet it continues to build its military at an alarming rate. It has embarked on an ambitious and unprecedented construction project in the South China Sea that entails the building of airfield and ports on a series of small islands and atolls. It has also built new islands where there were none before by reclaiming large sea areas with dredged sand.

When China was dealing with its internal problems and not able to project its power beyond its borders, many of China's neighbors felt at ease and even benefited. Now that China sends gunboats into disputed waters, it makes those same neighbors feel an impending sense of domination from a foreign power. They see China as a menacing warmongering resource-hungry expansionist.

However, China has massive problems of its own. These problems are sure to limit any of its expansionist ideas and ultimately limit its growth.

Negative Demographics

China's one child policy has caused a demographic imbalance of massive proportion. Its population is aging more rapidly than its growth in GDP. In other words, China's population is aging more rapidly than it is accumulating wealth.

This very fact will have profound ramifications for China's future growth outlook. This means that there are not enough young workers to support retirees at a time the elderly population is rising dramatically. The government estimates that the number of elderly will rise from 194 million in 2012 to 300 million by 2025.

In 2012 alone 13,600 primary schools nationwide closed due to a falling population of primary and secondary school children.

An aging population will put a strain on existing health care programs that have already been weakened by the elimination of the universal health care system that was in place before the transition from a centrally planned to a more market oriented economy. The Chinese health care system also will have to respond to a disease burden that is shifting toward the aging population, which will account for two-thirds of the total by 2030 .

An aging population will also limit military infrastructure expansion, due to lack of funding from taxes to the working class as well as limitations on able-bodied young recruits.

Inept and Totalitarian Government

When China began its transformation from communism to state capitalism most observers felt that greater freedom for its markets and its citizens would eventually come. However this has not been the case. Instead Chinese leader Xi Jinping has clamped down on the flow of information in the internet and the media. Free expression is being completely strangled. The Great Firewall is alive and well and getting stronger.

Secret and illegal abductions of Chinese citizens that dare voice their opinions about the government are common place. Case in point; the recent open letter to Chinese leader Xi Jinping asking him to resign which was published on a state-controlled website has led to the disappearance of at least 20 Chinese citizens. In general dissidents and their families are typically subject to investigation, harassment, threats, imprisonment and worse.

State capitalism is also being viewed as an invalid model for growth. It is based on endless debt issuance, mercantilist trade policies, top-down industrial direction from Beijing and a forced 40% savings rate. Government owned businesses cause severe damage to private industry as they swallow up loans from state owned banks. Basically, the economy is being strangled by the government.

The debt created by the government is also a sign of ineptness. Debt-fueled over-investment and excessive capacity building in order to inflate GDP figures has been a modus operandi of the government. The creation of unnecessary factories, the building of 'ghost towns' with empty buildings have provided lots of jobs but have turned manufacturing and real estate into major liabilities.

China's illegal shadow banking system has approximately $3 trillion of municipal debt using real estate as collateral. When all of this real estate loose value due to slowing economy or too many empty building, the borrowers will need to provide many billions of dollars' worth of additional collateral. That will soak cash out of the economy and make any slowdown even worse.

Currently, China faces political descent in Hong Kong. Its further deterioration could cause disruptions inside of the mainland. Additional issues with the estimated one million Uyghurs in re-education camps further exposes China to civil upheaval. Complicating matters, is also China's ongoing dispute with Taiwan over its sovereignty. Should this situation deteriorate to the point of war, bringing about a U.S. involvement, the cost to China could be substantial.


Pollution in China creates a health hazard of massive proportion. The pollution seen in China is manifested in various forms.

  • Soil contamination — Threatens the environment, food and water safety, sustainable agriculture
  • Waste — Insufficient recycling systems, 300 million tons of waste annually.
  • Electronic waste — 2.3 million tons of electronic waste annually.
  • Industrial pollution — Hundreds of thousands of premature deaths annually attributed to industrial pollution, waterways are affected, environmental degradation that goes beyond China's borders, cancer leading cause of death in China, 500 million people without safe drinking water, only 1% of city dwellers breath air considered safe, lead poisoning, marine life affected.
  • Water pollution — Water shortages and severe water pollution.
  • Air pollution — It has become a major issue, in China, can cause asthma, bronchitis, acute chronic respiratory problems, premature death, becoming China's biggest health threat.
  • Particles — Particle matter is of great concern in all major cities, smog often causes airports to shut down.
  • Lead — Lead poisoning is a major pediatric problem, one third of Chinese children suffer from elevated serum lead levels.
  • Persistent organic pollutants — Perfluorinated compounds are associated with altered thyroid function, illegal pesticides.
Government efforts to curve pollution have been for all intents and purpose futile. Pollution continues to be a major problem in China.

Corruption in China

Corruption in China is widespread and starts at the very top echelons of power, working its way down to the lowliest bureaucrat.

When Xi Jinping began his campaign to stamp out corruption, expert China watchers saw right through his real motives. They immediately knew that his anti-corruption initiatives were more about getting rid of political competitors and enemies than about cleaning up corruption.

The Panama papers scandal that recently hit the news showing money stacked away in off-shore banks points to many world leaders, athletes and rich businessmen. One of these world leaders is Xi Jinping proving the theory that Xi's anti-corruption efforts are nothing more than hypocritical and disingenuous acts of self-promotion.

As soon as the news on the Panama papers was reported in the media and internet, the Chinese government immediately moved to squash the news. China has blocked news and social sites that are revealing information about political leaders involved in the Panama papers scandal. Words and phrases such as Panama, off-shore, Panama banks, and many others are immediately erased by the Chinese censors.

Innovation Gap

China's innovation gap threatens the country's long-term economic competitiveness. Currently, China ranks number 29th in the Global Innovation Index behind countries such as Japan with a ranking of 19th, the U.S.A. ranked 5th, the U.K. ranked 2nd and Switzerland as the number one ranked.

China's education system has been blamed to a great extent for stifling creativity and innovation. Chinese universities typically provide students with a good basic education, yet graduates show very little creative and critical thinking skills.

The practice of copying and reverse engineering intellectual property developed by others in order to drive its industry, especially as it relates to high-tech products, continues. This practice, however, stifles Chinese development of any meaningful intellectual property as local companies forego R & D efforts and instead depend on theft of others' ideas and product developments.

All experts agree that a country that cannot innovate and can only depend on someone else's ideas will not be able to grow in today's global environment. The best that China can expect is to continue to be the manufacturer for companies like Apple which are the ones making the lion's share of the profits for the products they have created.

Chinese factories currently make less than 10% of the money each iPhone generates. The rest of the revenues generated by each iPhone go to Apple and the retailers selling the phones to consumers. For China to catch up with the West it needs global brands. Without innovation, global brands will not happen.

China's GDP Numbers are Fabricated

It might come as a shock to many, but several sources have reported in the last years that China's GDP figures are not reliable. In fact most economic figures coming out of the Chinese government are bogus.

A CNN Money report dated July 15, 2015 makes the following claim:

"In 2007, Li Keqiang, a Chinese provincial official, let the American ambassador in on a little secret: China's GDP figures are "man-made" and therefore unreliable. He told the ambassador that most of the country's economic data, and especially its GDP, should be used for "reference only," according to a diplomatic cable published by Wikileaks."

CNN continues:

"On Wednesday, the debate over the accuracy of China's GDP figures was revived after officials announced that the economy grew by 7% in the second quarter — a level that few economists thought probable. First quarter GDP also came in at 7%, and Beijing's official growth target for 2015 is … you guessed it: 7%."

China does not have an independent statistics bureau, said Andy Xie, an independent economist. "It depends on local government reporting the numbers from the bottom up, and local governments do have an incentive to distort numbers." Xie said the country's current GDP growth is probably closer to 4% or 5%.

CNN is not the only news outlet to report this. Newsweek reported the same story by saying "The People's Republic of China is awash in gaudy numbers". Bloomberg, as well as dozens of other news outlets, have come out with a similar story.

The World Bank calculates that China's true GDP for 2015 is US$10 trillion rather than the US$19.5 trillion it has reported. This revelation puts into total doubt the claims that China is now the world's number one or even number two economy. It also puts into doubt all the hoopla that has been made of China's growth and eventual economic domination.


It will take many decades before China can catch up with the West, especially the U.S. Americans and Europeans are far richer than Chinese. Democracy, open markets, better education, relative lack of corruption, governments that for the most part have citizens well being in mind, greater innovation, to name a few will keep the West well ahead of China.

China's severe problems will prevent it from growing in the near future. Perhaps fifty years from now a different story can be told, but for now unless there are major changes in government, market fundamentals, reduction in pollution, reduction in corruption, perhaps even a shift in culture, the type of growth economists originally predicted China would experience will not be here just yet.


Will the predictions on the BRIC economies become a reality in ten, twenty or thirty years from now? Only time will tell. The reality is that the world changes constantly. Countries are in a constant state of flux. One thing is for certain; making predictions is difficult. Many pundits think in very straight forward terms. They look at economic indicators while neglecting social, cultural, legal and historical implications.

Let's see how things go in the next ten years, and for those that are still around, let's revisit the BRICs and see how well they are doing.

SA may look to Brics bank for money as COVID-19 batters economy (ЮАР может обратиться к банку БРИКС за деньгами, поскольку COVID-19 наносит ущерб экономике) / South Africa, April, 2020
Keywords: ndb, covid-19, economic_challenges
South Africa

JOHANNESBURG - The country is in an economic crisis.

Ratings agency Fitch has pushed the country further into junk status.

It follows Moody's decision to move South Africa's credit rating to sub-investment grade.

This comes as the country battles the coronavirus pandemic.

Deputy Finance Minister David Masondo says structural reforms will have to follow measures put in place to mitigate the economic impact of COVID-19.

"Government has been undertaking a number of interventions to cushion the people from the economic impact of this crisis we are facing. We have allocated money towards health, we also did tax referrals, the Reserve Bank on their own reduced the repo rate," said Masondo.

"We are in the process now of finalising a document as National Treasury which we will present to Cabinet which will add to more measures," he added.

Masondo said government is looking at all options "including getting money from the New Development Bank."

He said R1-billion has been allocated for South Africa.

The New Development Bank is a bank established by the BRICS states -- which include Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Masondo says SA will only approach the IMF for only health reasons.

"We will only approach them for health if we think we are not able to finance our fight against the COVID-19," he said.
Panda bonds aid in virus fight (Панда бонды помогают в борьбе с вирусами) / USA, April, 2020
Keywords: ndb, investments, covid-19

HONG KONG, April 3 (IFR) - China's Panda bond market has emerged as an alternative venue for public sector issuers and companies raising funds to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week, New Development Bank, the multilateral development bank created by the BRICS countries, raised Rmb5bn (US$705m) from a Panda bond public offering to help fund a Rmb7bn emergency assistance programme loan to the Chinese provinces of Hubei, Guangdong and Henan, which will help finance increased expenditure on public health.

Meanwhile Hong Kong-listed smartphone maker Xiaomi issued Rmb1bn Panda bonds in a private placement, with part of the proceeds to be set aside for expenses related to epidemic control.

"China's domestic bond market has been relatively shielded this time around compared with the global market, and we've seen a window available for issuers," a banker on NDB's deal said. Bonds that raise funds to combat the coronavirus have received robust demand from domestic financial institutions because of the government's support measures, the banker said.

NDB's deal was the first coronavirus-themed Panda bond from a multilateral financial institution, although other multilateral institutions such as the African Development Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank have recently issued coronavirus-themed US dollar bonds.

The offering attracted strong demand from both onshore and offshore investors, which allowed it to price the bonds at a tighter yield than its previous issues, the banker said. "As a high credit quality multilateral issuer, it has won support from high-quality offshore investors including central banks and sovereign wealth funds."

The three-year Panda bonds were priced at par to yield 2.43%, near the tight end of the indicative range of 2.37%–2.97%.


The pricing translated to 4bp tighter than China Development Bank's three-year benchmark curve. Most of the bonds in its previous issue were priced flat to CDB's curve, according to the banker.

NDB is rated AA+ by both S&P and Fitch, while the Panda bonds are unrated. CDB is rated A1 by Moody's and A+ by S&P.

Total subscriptions stood at 2.99 times the issue size. If only orders with a yield of 2.43% or tighter are included, the deal was covered twice.

The bonds were issued off a Rmb10bn programme that NDB has registered with regulators. It still has Rmb2bn remaining following the latest issue.

Headquartered in Shanghai, NDB was established by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa to mobilise resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging economies and developing countries.

For Hong Kong-listed Xiaomi, its Rmb1bn 365-day Panda bonds were priced at 2.78%, inside the indicative range of 2.6%–3.4%.

The deal, the Cayman Islands-incorporated company's first onshore issue, was 2.2 times subscribed. It was also the first Panda bond issue from the technology sector.

The bonds were the first tranche under a Rmb8bn debt programme that it has registered with regulators.

Xiaomi also plans to use the proceeds for loan repayments and working capital.

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China was the lead underwriter and bookrunner on NDB's deal. Bank of China, Agricultural Bank of China and China Construction Bank were joint underwriters.

For Xiaomi's deal, BOC was the lead underwriter and ICBC was joint underwriter.

Earlier this year, sanitary napkins and baby diapers maker Hengan International Group and gas distribution company China Gas Holdings issued Panda bonds, with part of the proceeds slated for working capital related to epidemic prevention and control.

(This article will appear in the April 4 issue of IFR Asia magazine. Reporting by Carol Chan; Editing by David Holland)

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.
China outperforms in worst quarter for global stocks (Китай выигрывает в худшем квартале по мировым запасам) / United Kingdom, April, 2020
Keywords: expert_opinion, economic_challenges
United Kingdom
Author: Philip Lawlor

By Philip Lawlor, managing director, Global Markets Research

Call it a case of first in, first out: Despite the distinction of being the initial epicenter of the now global coronavirus outbreak, China's equity market suffered far less than both the emerging and developed indexes in the March downdraft and for the year so far.

In March, the FTSE China Index fell 7.0%, significantly outperforming the declines of 14.1% for the Emerging Markets Index and of 12.7% for the FTSE All-World Index. China's resilience is particularly striking when compared with the significant losses of its peers among the largest emerging markets—the so-called BRICs—with Brazil, Russia and India dropping between 22% and 29%.

Among the BRICs, China has vastly improved its performance relative to the global index since the peak in world equity markets in mid-February, while Russia and Brazil have badly lagged.

For the last 12 months, China is down 6.4%, far better than falloffs of 13.3% for its emerging-market peers and 9.6% for the global index.

China's currency has also held up relatively well. The yuan is down only 1.7% versus the US dollar year to date, while commodity-dependent emerging-market peers such as the Brazilian real, South African rand and Mexican peso have suffered steep depreciations of around 20-23%.
Select global equity total returns (%) – China sustains far less damage in market turmoil

Source: FTSE Russell. Data as of March 31, 2020. Past performance is no guarantee to future results. Please see the end for important disclosures.
FTSE BRIC country relative performance vs FTSE All-World Index (rebased, TR, LC) – China leads the BRICs

Source: FTSE Russell. March 31, 2020. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Please see the end for important legal disclosures.
Three-month FX moves vs the US dollar – China's other endurance test

Source: FTSE Russell. March 31, 2020. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Please see the end for important legal disclosures.
NDB Sets 3yr Panda Bond Price Range at 2.37%-2.97% (NDB устанавливает 3-х летний диапазон цен облигаций Panda на уровне 2,37% -2,97%) / USA, March, 2020
Keywords: ndb, rating

New Development Bank has set the indicative price range at 2.37%–2.97% for a Rmb5bn (US$705m) three-year Panda bond offering.

Settlement will be on April 3. Offshore institutional investors can also subscribe through Bond Connect.

The deal is the first coronavirus-themed Panda bond from a multilateral financial institution.

The bonds will be issued off a Rmb10bn quota that the multilateral development bank has registered with regulators.

NDB is rated AA+ by both S&P and Fitch and the proposed bonds are unrated.

It is planning to provide a Rmb7bn emergency assistance programme loan to the Chinese provinces of Hubei, Guangdong and Henan to finance public health expenditure on the coronavirus epidemic.

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China is the lead underwriter and bookrunner on the deal. Bank of China, Agricultural Bank of China and China Construction Bank are joint underwriters.

Headquartered in Shanghai, NDB was established by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa to mobilise resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging economies and developing countries.

New Development Bank Issues Coronavirus Combating Bond Raising RMB 5 bln (Новый банк развития выпустил 5 миллиардов юаней на борьбу с коронавирусом) / China, April, 2020
Keywords: ndb, investments, covid-19

On April 2, 2020, the New Development Bank successfully issued a 3-year RMB Coronavirus Combating Bond in the China Interbank Bond Market. The Bank raised RMB 5 bln, garnered interest from a high-quality diversified investor base both onshore in mainland China, as well as offshore. The bond was priced at the lower end of the announced pricing range, and the transaction represents the largest-ever RMB-denominated bond as well as the first RMB-denominated Coronavirus Combating Bond issued by multilateral development bank in China.

The aim of this bond issue is to support the Chinese Government in the financing of public health expenditure in Hubei, Guangdong and Henan provinces that are hit the hardest by COVID-19. The proceeds of the bond will be fully utilized to finance the RMB 7 bln Emergency Assistance Program Loan to the People's Republic of China approved by the Board of Directors of the Bank on March 19, 2020. This loan will contribute in a material fashion to improving the resilience of the public health sector in the three provinces.

"Since the outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus Disease – 19 (COVID-19) in December 2019, the lives of people and the economy have been heavily impacted," said Mr. Leslie Maasdorp, NDB Vice President and CFO. "NDB is fully committed to supporting our member countries during this period of crisis to fight the spread of COVID-19 and stand ready to provide the necessary financing to this objective."

The Coronavirus Combating Bond met an extraordinary demand from investors. The final order book was in excess of RMB 15 bln, more than 3 times oversubscribed. The bond distribution was well balanced between onshore and offshore investors. The distribution by geography was as follows: China mainland – 41%, EMEA – 45%, APAC (excl. China mainland) – 14%. The bond investor distribution by investor type: Central banks/Official institutions – 54%, Banks/Bank treasuries – 45%, Securities – 1%. The high-quality final orderbook, with notable participation from central banks and official institutions, is a testament to the strength of the New Development Bank's credit quality.

"We are pleased with the strong demand, pricing and the overall exceptional result of this RMB Coronavirus Combating Bond in the China Interbank Bond Market. This RMB bond issue is strategically relevant to our mandate of promoting sustainable development and deepens our commitment to raise funding in the local currency of our member countries. The funding from NDB will specifically provide much-needed emergency support during this period of crisis in our member countries, who are all facing new economic challenges and human hardship," said Mr. Leslie Maasdorp.

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Limited acted as the lead underwriter and bookrunner. Bank of China Limited, Agricultural Bank of China Limited and China Construction Bank Limited acted as the joint lead underwriters for the bond.

Background information

The NDB was established by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa to mobilize resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging economies and developing countries, complementing the existing efforts of multilateral and regional financial institutions for global growth and development. To fulfill its purpose, the NDB will support public or private projects through loans, guarantees, equity participation and other financial instruments. According to the NDB's General Strategy, sustainable infrastructure development is at the core of the Bank's operational strategy for 2017-2021. In August 2018, the Bank received AA+ long-term issuer credit ratings from S&P and Fitch.

In July 2016, the NDB successfully issued its first Green Financial Bond with the issue size of RMB 3 bln and tenor of 5 years in the China Interbank Bond Market. In February 2019, the NDB successfully issued its first Panda Bond with the size of RMB 3 bln in the China Interbank Bond Market.

World of Work
Health System Outcomes in BRICS Countries and Their Association With the Economic Context (Результаты системы здравоохранения в странах БРИКС и их связь с экономическим контекстом) / Poland, March, 2020
Keywords: research, social_issues

The aim of the article is to compare health system outcomes in the BRICS countries, assess the trends of their changes in 2000−2017, and verify whether they are in any way correlated with the economic context. The indicators considered were: nominal and per capita current health expenditure, government health expenditure, gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, GDP growth, unemployment, inflation, and composition of GDP. The study covered five countries of the BRICS group over a period of 18 years. We decided to characterize countries covered with a dataset of selected indicators describing population health status, namely: life expectancy at birth, level of immunization, infant mortality rate, maternal mortality ratio, and tuberculosis case detection rate. We constructed a unified synthetic measure depicting the performance of individual health systems in terms of their outcomes with a single numerical value. Descriptive statistical analysis of quantitative traits consisted of the arithmetic mean (xsr), standard deviation (SD), and, where needed, the median. The normality of the distribution of variables was tested with the Shapiro–Wilk test. Spearman's rho and Kendall tau rank coefficients were used for correlation analysis between measures. The correlation analyses have been supplemented with factor analysis. We found that the best results in terms of health care system performance were recorded in Russia, China, and Brazil. India and South Africa are noticeably worse. However, the entire group performs visibly worse than the developed countries. The health system outcomes appeared to correlate on a statistically significant scale with health expenditures per capita, governments involvement in health expenditures, GDP per capita, and industry share in GDP; however, these correlations are relatively weak, with the highest strength in the case of government's involvement in health expenditures and GDP per capita. Due to weak correlation with economic background, other factors may play a role in determining health system outcomes in BRICS countries. More research should be recommended to find them and determine to what extent and how exactly they affect health system outcomes.
International Economic Integration of BRICS Countries–Driver of Regional and Global Economic Growth (Международная экономическая интеграция стран БРИКС - движущая сила регионального и глобального экономического роста) / Russia, March, 2020
Keywords: expert_opinion, economic_challenges
Authors: Tamara Parfinenko

Abstract The article examines the state and effectiveness of the integration processes of the international BRICS association. Since its establishment, the BRICS member countries have continued to deepen and increase economic integration, what became the driver of economic dynamism, both within the group and of the global economy on the whole, forming a polycentric global architecture of both economic and institutional space. At the regional level, BRICS economic integration has led to the intensification of bilateral relations between the members in direct investment, trade, access to technological advances, and the formation of bilateral financial funds. The study aims to assess the effectiveness of the integration between the BRICS countries, which were grouped with the effective use of the existing pool of competitive advantages of each of them. That enforced a synergetic effect of the evolution of an international economic association to the global level. The subject of the study is the development of economic relations of the BRICS member states in the direction of expanding the functionality and scale of integration processes. The hypothesis is grounded on the ability of the international level integration association BRICS to become a driver of balanced and sustainable economic growth of the direct regional participants and the possibilities of its influence on global economic trends and on the reform of the geo-economic structure. The scientific contribution consists in the analysis, synthesis, structuring and evaluation of the results of the BRICS international integration processes. The article presents analyses the economic indicators and the current institutional state of the association of BRICS, gives a comparative analysis with the economies of developed countries. In the work were used methods of analysis and synthesis, logical, comparative methods, system approach, and graphical method. In conclusion, effectiveness of integration relations between the BRICS member states is presented and tendencies of further expansion and strengthening of their economic integration are identified, based on mutually beneficial use of each country's unique competitive advantages, on the striving for restructuring of national economies under the conditions of development of innovative and knowledge-intensive industries. Also a model of synergistic effect of BRICS integration is suggested.
St. Petersburg takes part in BRICS online conference (Санкт-Петербург принимает участие в онлайн-конференции БРИКС) / Russia, March, 2020
Keywords: cooperation, covid-19

Learning from others' mistakes and sharing experience – St. Petersburg has taken part in an online conference of the BRICS countries dedicated to containing the coronavirus outbreak. Saint-Petersburg TV Channel reporter Maxim Lebedev tells about the discussion.

Maxim Lebedev, reporter: 'Empty metro, streets and parks – this is a view to be seen all over the world now that anti-COVID measures are in force. And, still, according to the statistics, some 33.5 thousand people get infected daily. The global problem should be tackled together, and international organizations should lead the way.'

One of such international organizations is the BRICS. Experts from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa discussed the main problem of 2020 at a major online conference. Municipal authorities are usually at the forefront in the anti-COVID battle. That is why they gathered at the conference.'

Mikhail Sverdlov, Director, Development, BRICS International Municipal Forum, says: 'We always hear the federal authorities, the presidents, etc. But today we want to talk about what is happening locally. We will share experience in order to tackle the outbreak and its consequences more efficiently.'

The main issues were, what measures the countries will implement should the contagion accelerate, how to make the transition to distant services for the public, how to maintain availability of healthcare services when people's mobility is restricted. These questions are especially important for the countries that faced coronavirus just recently.

Enrique Dominguez, Advisor to the Guarulius city parliament, Brazil, tells: 'We are very glad to take part in such a conference dedicated to fighting coronavirus worldwide. Now we are taking all the necessary measures on the municipal level to contain the decease. But we experience a lack of experts, so we cooperate actively with international organizations.'

The conference participants were interested to hear the Chinese experts hoping that they probably have a recipe to fight COVID-19. China has been able to cut the contagion rate, but people coming to the country from abroad remain a threat.

Men Jinbo, head doctor, Jilin province, China, confirms: 'During the past several days, the number of infected people in our province has dropped to almost zero, on March 15 the last patients left hospitals. How did we do it? To fight the decease, very strong leadership is necessary on both the municipal and the federal level. That is why I suggest establishing a common BRICS anti-COVID headquarters.'

This measure could help the BRICS react quicker to the situation in each of the member countries. St. Petersburg representatives are positive that to contain the outbreak, implementing the successful practices of foreign colleagues would be sufficient.

Vyacheslav Kalganov, Deputy Chairman, St. Petersburg Committee for external relations, says: 'Some of the countries that take part in the conference have already passed the peak of infection, and some will have to face it. We will follow in the steps of our Chinese colleagues and those European countries that implement more serious measures.'

Following the discussion, the conference participants are to develop recommendations for BRICS municipalities to contain the COVID-19 outbreak. St. Petersburg has already implemented most of these measures.

Photo and video: St. Petersburg TV channel

Renewable Energy Consumption, Education and Economic Growth in Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa (Потребление возобновляемой энергии, образование и экономический рост в Бразилии, России, Индии, Китае, Южной Африке) / South Africa, April, 2020
Keywords: research, ecology
South Africa


The study investigated two aspects, namely, (1) the impact of renewable energy consumption on economic growth in BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) and (2) whether education is a channel through which renewable energy consumption affects economic growth in BRICS. Panel data analysis such as fully modified ordinary least squares (FMOLS), pooled ordinary least squares (POLS) and fixed effects methods were used with data ranging from 1994 to 2015. Both models across all the three estimation techniques show that renewable energy consumption had a significant negative effect on economic growth in support of the findings by Silva et al (2012) and Lee and Jung (2018). What is also clear across all the three panel data analysis methods used is that education reduced the size of the negative effect of renewable energy consumption on economic growth in BRICS. In other words, education is a channel through which renewable energy consumption's influence on economic growth is enhanced, in support of views by Dunn and Mutti (2004), Ozcicek and Agpak (2017) and Lawrence et al. (1991). The implication of the study is that BRICS countries are therefore urged to invest more in education as that is more likely to enhance the impact of renewable energy consumption on economic growth.
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