Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
2017.06.19 — 2017.06.25
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
[Abstract] Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang's Regular Press Conference on June 20, 2017 (Отрывок из очередной пресс-конференции 20 июня 2017 года у официального представителя МИД КНР Гэн Шуан) / China, June, 2017
Q: Yesterday, the Meeting of the BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs was held in Beijing, during which the five countries discussed the current international situation and international and regional hot-spot issues. Some commented that though the BRICS cooperation is supposed to be an economic cooperation mechanism, China tries to push for stronger cooperation in the field of politics and security among BRICS, so as to counter the influence of the US and the west. How do you comment on that?
A: The Meeting of the BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs was successfully held in Beijing yesterday. The five countries exchanged views on such major issues of mutual concern as global politics, economy and financial sector, as well as BRICS pragmatic cooperation and the preparatory work for the BRICS Summit in Xiamen. The meeting has issued a media note. We have released relevant information in a timely manner and it is on the foreign ministry's website for your reference.
The "BRICS" was first put forward as an economic concept and the cooperation between BRICS countries centered on the economic field at the very beginning. The BRICS countries are all developing countries and emerging markets with important influence, which share the same or similar views on a series of major international issues. So it is only natural for the five countries to sit down together to exchange views and coordinate stance on the international situation, including the political landscape and the international and regional hot-spot issues. This is conducive not only to safeguarding international peace and security and advancing the proper settlement of relevant hot-spot issues, but also to upholding the common interests of the vast developing countries and advancing the democratization process in international relations.
In fact, the Meeting of the BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs was held as early as in September 2006 in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. Moreover, in recent years, the BRICS summit discussed political and security issues several times. Politics and security, economy and finance and cultural and people-to-people exchanges have formed the three pillars of BRICS cooperation.
I want to stress that BRICS cooperation has always followed the spirit of openness, incisiveness, cooperation and win-win results. The BRICS countries do not seek clique or military alliance, nor do we try to target at, challenge, offset or replace any one. The BRICS countries stand ready to work with other countries to jointly build the community of shared future of mankind. Also, China is willing to work with other BRICS countries to move BRICS cooperation forward in a more in-depth way, and make new positive contributions to promoting peace, stability, development and prosperity of countries and the world and jointly meeting global challenges.
Q: You have answered several questions about the Meeting of the BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs, and bilateral meetings were also held during that meeting. The Indian Minister of State for External affairs Singh had a bilateral meeting with Foreign Minister Wang Yi. How do you comment on that?Was the contentious issues that sparked differences between the two countries in recent times figured in the discussion?
In addition, terrorism also figured prominently in the joint statement issued at the end of the meeting. Foreign Minister Wang Yi also talked about terrorism. Russian Foreign Minister spoke about the need for establishing headquarters to deal with terrorism in New York in support of UN Secretary-General's proposal to establish a counter-terrorism mechanism under the UN framework. India is also pitching a comprehensive convention on terrorism. How does China look at these proposals? Can we see some movement forward from China on the listing issue of 1267 Committee?
A: I will answer your first question in the first place. On June 19, Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with Indian Minister of State for External Affairs Singh attending the Meeting of BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs. During the meeting, Foreign Minister Wang Yi pointed out that the current China-India relations are developing steadily on the whole. President Xi Jinping and President Modi held a successful meeting in Astana, which enhanced our mutual political trust and charted the course for the further development of China-India relationship. China wishes to join hands with India to follow through on the important consensus between the two state leaders and reinforce the mutually beneficial cooperation in politics, economy, trade, cultural and people-to-people exchanges and defense and properly manage and handle the sensitive issues and divergences in our bilateral relations. In particular, Foreign Minister Wang Yi welcomed the accession of India and Pakistan into the SCO. He pointed out that, both China and India are major countries with important influences, and China is willing to strengthen coordination and cooperation with India under multilateral framework including the BRICS and the SCO and jointly play a constructive role in upholding regional and world peace and stability.
During the meeting, Minister of State for External Affairs Singh said that, India and China are both ancient civilizations and developing countries. India highly values developing relationship with China and wishes to work with China to take the consensus of the two state leaders as the guidance, keep high-level exchanges, strengthen practical cooperation across the board and properly handle differences. India wishes to reinforce coordination with China in multilateral fields, and make due contributions to upholding the common interests of developing countries. India also wishes to coordinate and cooperate with China to ensure a successful Meeting of BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs in Beijing and make preparation for the BRICS Summit in Xiamen in the second half of the year.
On your second question, BRICS countries have the same or similar stances on terrorism. In fact, BRICS countries have conducted productive cooperation on terrorism for years. As I know, under the framework of BRICS cooperation, BRICS countries have set up a counter-terrorism working group. Under the framework of the working group, the competent authorities of the five countries have conducted sound exchanges and cooperation on counter-terrorism.
On the comprehensive convention on terrorism you mentioned, China and other BRICS countries have an unanimous stance, that is, we all hope the UN General Assembly can adopt this convention as soon as possible so as to provide further guidance to global counter-terrorism cooperation.
As to the proposal of global counter-terrorism efforts under the coordination of the UN, China agrees with it and adopts a positive atitude. As far as I know, the UN made some adjustments to its institutions on terrorism in its Secretariat in a view to further integrating the forces, increasing the UN inputs in counter-terrorism and better coordinating its members' cooperation on counter-terrorism. We support the UN in playing a pivotal and coordinating role in international counter-terrorism cooperation.
As to the issue of the listing of the 1267 Committee, we have stated our position many times. We always stand for the proper handling of the listing matter in the principle of objectiveness, fairness and professionalism. As far as I know, members of the Security Council still have differences about certain listing applications, and China wishes to keep communication and coordination with relevant parties on this matter.
Q: In his press conference, Foreign Minister Wang Yi also spoke about the concept of BRICS-Plus. Can you explain what this is about? Has it been discussed? Can we expect any action on this?
A: Like what I said when I was answering the question about the BRICS just now, the BRICS countries are all representative developing countries and emerging markets with great influence. Since the inception of the BRICS cooperation, with a view to upholding the common interests and reflecting the collective voice of the developing countries, the BRICS countries have never ceased to communicate and coordinate with other developing countries and emerging markets.
You may have noted that during the BRICS Summits in recent years, the BRICS countries held dialogues with other developing countries and emerging markets. These arrangements have further strengthened the interactions and cooperation between the BRICS countries and other developing countries and emerging markets.
The concept of "BRICKS Plus" expounded by Foreign Minister Wang Yi means that the BRICS countries should further enhance the interactions, dialogue and cooperation with other developing countries and emerging markets and make the cooperation among the BRICS countries better reflect the common positions and collective will of the developing countries.
Welcome Remarks by Gen (Dr) V K Singh (Retd), Minister of State for External Affairs in Opening Session of BRICS Foreign Ministers Meeting (Приветственное слово генерала в отставке, д.н. В.К. Сингха, государственного министра иностранных дел, на открытии заседания министров иностранных дел стран БРИКС) / India, June, 2017
Your Excellency Mr. Wang Yi Excellency Ms. Maite Nkoana-Mashabane Excellency Mr. Aloysio Nunes Ferreira Excellency Mr. Sergey Lavrov At the outset, I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to Foreign Minister Wang Yi for organizing today's meeting. I would like to take this opportunity to convey the warmest greetings on behalf of my External Affairs Minister Mme. Sushma Swaraj for today's meeting. I thank Foreign Minister Wang Yi for his warm welcome and gracious hospitality extended to me and my fellow BRICS colleagues. It is our privilege to be in Beijing, which has been a city of great historic significance and played a seminal role in the evolution of Chinese arts, crafts, and literature. Excellencies, I am glad that China, under its Chairmanship, has organized the standalone Meeting of BRICS Foreign Ministers. BRICS Foreign Ministers have been customarily meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly every year. Excellency, the BRICS process had started in 2006 with the meeting of Foreign Ministers on UNGA margins. In 2009 it was elevated to the level of Heads of State and Government at the Yekaterinburg. BRICS has evolved with the eight Summits so far into a vibrant Forum with a rich agenda on economy and financial cooperation. BRICS has come to acquire a meaningful voice in global discourses on growth and development. Our meeting today is further significant in that our leadership will gather in Xiamen city for the 9th BRICS Summit at the beginning of September this year. Before that, our leaders will have an opportunity to exchange views on the margins of Hamburg G20 Summit in early July. I am sure our deliberations today will play a significant roel in the implementation of BRICS agenda and in preparing well for the upcoming Xiamen BRICS Summit. During our Chairmanship in 2016, India strived to consolidate BRICS as a brand by involving our cities and masses with the BRICS process. We paid special attention to enhancing intra-BRICS collaborations and to strengthen people to people exchanges. We are very happy to witness that the process is being carried forward under China's able Chairmanship. Excellencies, India attaches great importance to BRICS and we are continuing to work closely with our BRICS partners in the spirit of mutual trust, respect and transparency to further enhance and strengthen our bonds. Prime Minister Modi had laid special emphasis on people-to-people exchanges in the BRICS process. We are happy to note that this is further being strengthening under the China's Chairmanship this year. As we speak, I believe BRICS games 2017 are well underway. I am told that the games were inaugurated in a wonderful ceremony on 17th June, which also featured a performance by a Yoga team from India. This kind of people-to-people contacts will further cement our ties. Excellencies, Besides cooperating on financial issues, the BRICS agenda has witnessed steady expansion. BRICS Joint Working Group on Counter Terrorism concluded its meeting in May 2017. Our National Security Advisers are scheduled to meet next month. In their Delhi meeting last year they had reached significant understanding to enhance BRICS cooperation in security and counter-terrorism matters. Our Permanent Representatives in New York and Geneva coordinate regularly on issues of mutual and common interest. I reiterate that India attaches utmost importance to its engagement with BRICS. Our Prime Minister has repeatedly underscored the role of BRICS in the international arena and stressed the importance of fostering Intra-BRICS cooperation.
Opening Remarks by Minister Nkoana-Mashabane at the Meeting of the BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Beijing, People's Republic of China, 19 June 2017 (Вступительное слово министра Нкоана-Машабане на встрече министров иностранных дел БРИКС, Пекин, Китайская Народная Республика, 19 июня 2017 года) / South Africa, June, 2017
Honourable Minister Wang Yi Honourable Minister Ferreira Honourable Minister Lavrov Honourable Minister of State, General Singh
Your Excellencies, BRICS Sherpas and senior officials
Ladies and gentlemen
Allow me, first of all, to thank you His Excellency, Minister Wang Yi, for hosting us for this first formal meeting of the BRICS Ministers for Foreign Affairs and International Relations. We are honoured to be here and look forward to our deliberations.
The year 2017 has been declared by our government as the year of Oliver Reginald Tambo, affectionately known as OR to our people, one of the most outstanding leaders of the liberation struggle who mobilised international solidarity against apartheid and contributed to shaping the vision of a post-apartheid democratic South Africa. OR's words at the first congress of the MPLA in Luanda in 1977, when he said: "We seek to live in peace with our neighbours and the peoples of the world in conditions of equality, mutual respect and equal advantage", remain at the core of our foreign policy. His words mobilised the largest truly global solidarity movement; rooted on the African continent and extending to the global South and the North. As we celebrate the centenary of OR Tambo, as well as the first golden decade of BRICS cooperation, we draw inspiration from his exemplary leadership and from the vision that accorded him the accolade of an international statesman and an astute, consummate diplomat. We are delighted that the very values and principles his leadership upheld also find expression in the BRICS context, which we refer to as the Sanya principles, namely openness, solidarity, equality, mutual understanding, inclusiveness and mutually beneficial cooperation.
BRICS has nourished Africa's economic emergence. The historic ties of solidarity, which were forged at the Bandung Conference of 1995, have indeed created a new template for global affairs, as BRICS is increasingly being called upon to show demonstrable leadership on global issues, notably as we set new regimes for guiding our future global engagements. Our foreign policy envisions exactly the same aspirations for our domestic, regional and global agendas. South Africa believes that a people-centred development agenda based on the recently adopted sustainable development goals (SDGs) should be the basis for addressing the myriad of challenges that confront nations across the globe, including those of peace and security.
The United Nations (UN), with its near universal membership and vast agenda, remains the primary multilateral institution and the centre of global governance. Our key priority is the advancement of the reform agenda in order to make the United Nations more representative and to further strengthen it. In its current state, the UN has failed to curb unilateral actions by powerful nations who undermine its founding principles, very often with disastrous consequences. The political instability in Libya, for example, is the direct result of the refusal of some States to heed the African Union's call for political dialogue instead of guns and bombs.
These practices risk the reversal of gains made by the collective, including the implementation of the Paris Climate Change Agreement. The droughts experienced in Southern Africa in 2016, as well as other climatic occurrences, make it important for us as a country to highlight and champion any progress that seeks to provide concrete solutions to the adverse effects of climate change. There is only one planet earth, and for the sake of our own, and of future generations, we must employ every effort at our disposal to reverse the effects of climate change; and we must take measures to safeguard against further degradation.
The recent terror attacks in the world, including in BRICS countries, make it necessary for South Africa to re-emphasise that terrorism in all its forms and from whichever quarter cannot be condoned. We join the clarion call for the total isolation and eradication of all terror groups. They have no place among the community of nations.
Further to this, the prevalent pockets of instability and insecurity scattered throughout the world, including our own African continent, remain a challenge. In order to overcome this, it is essential that we identify and consider an alternative narrative capable of tackling the complexity of these challenges.
It is up to us as the BRICS collective to provide solutions for common challenges, to challenge the status quo where it is not benefitting the masses of our people, and to constantly seek justice, equity and development in order to combat the triple challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment.
In conclusion, I would like to congratulate my Chinese counterpart on China's excellent execution of its Chairship of BRICS and I commend the Chair's initiative to host a stand-alone meeting of BRICS Foreign Affairs/International Relations Ministers. It is my sincere wish that going forward, this meeting will become part of the formal calendar of BRICS meetings and I look forward to hosting you in this regard in South Africa in 2018.
I thank you.
India pitches for more engagement with BRICS (Индия хочет добиться большего взаимодействия с БРИКС) / India, June, 2017
India has pitched for a greater engagement with BRICS nations which have steadily expanded its agenda from financial matters to security and counter terrorism issues facing the international community.
Addressing the BRICS Foreign Ministers meeting in Beijing, Minister of State for External Affairs General Y K Singh said BRICS countries have reached significant understanding on security and counter terrorism issues.
"Besides cooperating on financial issues, the BRICS agenda has witnessed steady expansion," he said.
"BRICS joint working group mechanism has concluded in May 2017," Singh said, adding the National Security Advisors (NSAs) of BRICS countries are due to meet next month ahead of this year's summit of the bloc to be held in Chinas Xiamen city in September.
"In Delhi meeting last year they (NSAs) had reached significant understanding on security and counter terrorism matters," Singh, who represented External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj at the meeting, said. Swaraj could not attend the meeting due to health issues.
Singh, who held a bilateral meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, said India attached great importance to BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and "(we) continue to work closely with all our partners with mutual trust, respect and transparency to further enhance our bonds".
"Prime Minister Narendra Modi had laid special emphasis on people-to-people exchanges in the BRICS process," he said.
"I reiterate India attaches its utmost importance to its engagement with BRICS. Our Prime Minimiser had repeatedly underscored the importance of BRICS in the international arena and stressed the importance of intra BRICS cooperation," Singh said.
Besides Wang and Singh, Sergey Lavrov of Russia, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane of South Africa and Alosio Nunes Ferreira of Brazil attended the BRICS foreign ministers meeting which is expected to finalise the agenda for the Xiamen summit.
In his meeting with Singh yesterday, Wang said China and India are both major countries with great influence and that they should boost cooperation in the BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and all other multilateral frameworks to make contribution to peace and stability in the region and the world at large, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
Talking to other BRICS foreign ministers, he called for closer cooperation among the BRICS countries.
In the bilateral meeting with South African foreign minister Maite, Wang said BRICS countries, faced with increasing uncertainties in the international situation, should unite more closely and play a leading role in building a community of shared future for the mankind.
China stands ready to step up coordination with South Africa to strengthen the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) as well as the BRICS mechanism, continuously expand the strategic cooperation between the two countries, and safeguard the common interests of the two nations and all other developing countries.
During his meeting with Lavrov, Wang said China is willing to deepen coordination with Russia to enhance strategic trust, boost economic and financial cooperation, increase cultural and people-to-people exchanges and strengthen the cooperation mechanism among BRICS countries.
China seeks BRICS' expansion, rules out military alliance (Китай добивается расширения БРИКС, исключает военный альянс) / India, June, 2017
China Tuesday proposed BRICS Plus concept at the just concluded Foreign Ministers meeting to enhance cooperation with various developing nations but ruled out the chances of the bloc of emerging countries forming a clique or a military alliance.
Several rounds of dialogues were held with the other developing countries outside the BRICS during the previous summits of the bloc, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters when asked about Beijing's proposal for BRICS Plus at the Foreign Ministers meeting which was also attended by Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh.
"This is way for us to enhance our connection with other developing countries to further coordinate our positions," Geng said.
"So the BRICS Plus concept proposed by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi means that in future development, China will enhance our cooperation with other developing countries, enhance our interaction with them, so that BRICS cooperation can better reflect the collective position on aspiration of developing countries," he said.
China, which is due to host this year's BRICS summit in Xiamen city in September, reportedly plans to invite a number of countries.
A Chinese official cited how India invited leaders of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) during last years Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa (BRICS) summit in Goa.
Likewise China too wants to invite a number of developing countries for the Xiamen meet as it is the discretion of the host country to invite countries for interaction on the sidelines.
Chinese officials said Beijing, however, is unlikely to invite Pakistan keeping up with the sensitivities of India, a leading member of the BRICS group.
Geng said BRICS counters are all major countries with influence and they are very representative in the family of emerging markets.
"So cooperation among the countries will better reflect the call and voice of the developing countries. Since the inception of BRICS, it members never seized cooperation and interaction with other developing countries," he said.
Geng, however, said while the bloc of emerging economies plans to deepen political and security cooperation from economic collaboration, it will not become a military alliance.
"I want to emphasise that BRICS cooperation has always followed the principle of openness, inclusive and win-win cooperation," Geng said.
"BRICS cooperation does not intend to form a clique or political and military alliances. They do not intend to target, offset, challenge or replace someone," he said.
He said the BRICS nations are willing to work with other countries to form a community of shared future for mankind.
"The Chinese side is willing to work with other BRICS countries to promote the development of BRICS cooperation and make positive contribution to world peace and prosperity and jointly tackle global challenges," he said.
Minister Dr Edna Molewa to attend 3rd BRICS Ministers of Environment Meeting in the People's Republic of China (Министр Эдна Молева, д.н., примет участие в работе 3-го совещания министров окружающей среды стран БРИКС в Китаe) / South Africa, June, 2017
The Minister of Environmental Affairs, Dr Edna Molewa, will from 22 to 23 June 2017 attend the third BRICS meeting of Ministers of Environment in Tianjin, People's Republic of China.
The BRICS Forum comprises Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa and focuses on key strategic global issues such as the global economy, trade, peace and security and reform of multi-lateral institutions.
Among the matters deliberated on by the BRICS states has included the implementation, financing and creation of an enabling environment for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and emerging global environmental issues.
The People's Republic of China assumed the Chair of BRICS on 1 January 2017. The 9th BRICS Summit is scheduled to be held in Xiamen, China, in September 2017 under the theme of "BRICS: Stronger Partnership for a Brighter Future".
The inaugural BRICS Ministers of Environment meeting in Moscow, Russia in April 2015, while the 2nd meeting was hosted in Goa, India in September 2016.
During the two-day meeting in Tianjin province in China, the Ministers of Environment are set to deliberate on the development of the environmental technology platform, particularly in relation to clean rivers and the BRICS City Partnership for Environmental Sustainability Initiative (CPESI), proposed by the People's Republic of China.
The Minister will also deliberate on global environmental issues, including the entering into force of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and enhancing cooperation in the field of biodiversity for the implementation of the objectives of the conservation, sustainable use and equitable sharing of benefits in line with the Convention of Biological Diversity.
The BRICS City Partnership Initiative is scheduled for adoption. The CPESI identifies water, air, solid waste management and green finance in cities as the priority areas for development, thus encouraging cooperation between BRICS Member States to realise Sustainable Development Goal 11 which calls for "making cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable".
Minister Molewa said that the rolling out of the Agenda 2030 and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),particularly for developing countries, has to emphasise the importance of the means of implementation, including financial assistance through continued Official Development Assistance (ODA).
"It is important that developed countries honour their historic obligations and responsibilities, as part of the commitments made in the context of the global partnership for development, which itself also needs to be expanded and strengthened," said the Minister. "We must work together in mobilising sufficient, adequate and predictable financial resources for the implementation of these programmes, particularly in Africa and other developing countries."
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's answer to a media question at a joint news conference of BRICS foreign ministers, Beijing, June 19, 2017 (Ответ Министра иностранных дел России С.В.Лаврова на вопрос СМИ в ходе совместной пресс-конференции министров иностранных дел стран БРИКС, Пекин, 19 июня 2017 года) / Russia, June, 2017
Question: Terrorism is one of the main challenges facing the international community. Could the BRICS nations consolidate their efforts in Syria? Could a mechanism be created so that BRICS representatives monitor the ceasefire, including in those areas where this is being established? Yesterday, the United States assumed control of the al-Tanf border crossing in southern Syria. Could the strengthening of the US role without coordination with the Syrian government complicate the efforts toward a settlement?
Sergey Lavrov: The BRICS countries are at one on the necessity of enhancing the effectiveness of counterterrorism efforts. We have a Working Group on Counter-Terrorism, which has held two meetings and has a considerable potential. These efforts should be taken in an interdepartmental format. We have common views on the need to involve foreign policy departments and the concerned counterterrorism agencies, prevent terrorist attacks and exchange related information.
Of course, it takes more than our five countries to rout global terrorism, and the BRICS countries agree on the necessity of broader international efforts. I would like to remind you about President Putin's initiative of a broad counterterrorism front, which is still vital. I hope that the recent UN General Assembly decisions based on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres' proposal for a new office for counterterrorism will give momentum to our movement towards this goal. Russia will actively contribute to this.
As for a settlement in Syria, the BRICS countries stand for the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2254. We are grateful to our colleagues and friends for the high appreciation they have expressed today for the efforts taken by Russia, including jointly with Turkey and Iran, in the framework of the Astana process. The next meeting in Astana will be held on 10 July. It will be attended by the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura. The sides involved have agreed to complete the coordination of the parameters and modalities of the regime in the de-escalation zones and around them at the upcoming meeting. When this initiative was advanced at the previous Astana meeting on May 4, the related memorandum said that Russia, Turkey and Iran as guarantors would welcome any contribution from other parties, even those that are not involved in the Astana process. As I said, when we know the parameters, we will be ready to consider proposals from other countries that are willing to contribute to the implementation of this initiative.
As for the developments on the ground in Syria, we believe that respect for Syria's sovereignty and territorial integrity must be ensured in compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 2254 and other UN documents. Any actions on the ground, where many sides are deployed, including those who are involved in the hostilities, must be coordinated with the Syrian government. This is what Russia, Turkey and Iran are doing in Astana. We coordinate all our initiatives and proposals with the Syrian government. We believe that this is how everyone should act, especially when the issue concerns control of any area in Syria and when such actions may raise questions about their real goals.
We urge the United States and all other countries that have military forces or advisers on the ground in Syria to coordinate their actions. De-escalation zones are a possible form of moving forward together. We urge everyone to avoid acting unilaterally, to respect the sovereignty of Syria – as I have said – and to join the common efforts that are coordinated with the Syrian government.
Media Note of the Meeting of the BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs/International Relations, China, Beijing, 18-19 June 2017 (Сообщение по итогам встречи министров иностранных дел государств БРИКС, Китай, Пекин, 18-19 июня 2017 года) / Russia, June, 2017
1. The Ministers of Foreign Affairs/International Relations of the Federative Republic of Brazil, the Russian Federation, the Republic of India, the People's Republic of China and the Republic of South Africa, met on 18-19 June 2017 in Beijing, China.
2. The Ministers commend the fruitful cooperation forged in the past and look forward to continued and positive cooperation among BRICS countries. They appreciate China's BRICS Chairship for 2017. They reiterate their commitment to the success of the Ninth BRICS Summit under the theme of "BRICS: Stronger Partnership for a Brighter Future". Recalling the BRICS tradition of outreach activities, they welcome the dialogue to be held during the BRICS Summit in Xiamen with emerging markets and developing countries.
3. The Ministers exchanged views on a wide range of global political, security, economic and financial issues of importance and mutual concern, as well as cooperation within BRICS. They fully support China's hosting of the 7th Meeting of the BRICS National Security Advisors/High Representatives in July 2017.
4. The Ministers reaffirm their commitment to safeguarding the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations as well as a fair and just international order, upholding the basic norms of international law such as equal sovereignty and non-interference in other countries' internal affairs, promoting greater democracy and rule of law in international relations, building a brighter shared future for the global community through mutually beneficial international cooperation. They express their commitment to resolutely reject the continued attempts to misrepresent the results of World War II.
5. The Ministers recall the 2005 World Summit Outcome document. They reaffirm the need for a comprehensive reform of the UN, including its Security Council, with a view to making it more representative, effective and efficient, and to increase the representation of the developing countries so that it can adequately respond to global challenges. China and Russia reiterate the importance they attach to the status and role of Brazil, India and South Africa in international affairs and support their aspiration to play a greater role in the UN.
6. The Ministers recommit their strong support to multilateralism and the central role of United Nations in international affairs. They commit to strengthening the coordination and cooperation among BRICS in the areas of mutual and common interest within the United Nations and other multilateral institutions, including through regular meetings among their permanent representatives in New York, Geneva and Vienna and further enhance the voice of BRICS in international fora.
7. The Ministers underscore the importance of the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development within the framework of revitalized global partnership for sustainable development. They urge the developed countries to honor their Official Development Assistance commitments. The Ministers reiterate their support for more balanced economic globalization, reject protectionism, and renew their commitment to the promotion of global trade and investment which is conducive to an equitable, inclusive innovative, invigorated and interconnected world economy.
8. The Ministers welcome the entry into force of the Paris Agreement on climate change on 4 November 2016 and urge all countries to implement the Paris Agreement under the principles of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change including the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities. They further call upon developed countries to fulfill their commitment to provide necessary financing, technology transfer and capacity building support to developing countries.
9. The Ministers deplore the continued terrorist attacks, including in some BRICS countries. They condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations wherever committed and by whomsoever. They reaffirm solidarity and resolve in the fight against terrorism, call upon the international community to establish a genuinely broad international counter-terrorism coalition and support the United Nations' central coordinating role in the international counter-terrorism cooperation. They recall the responsibility of all States to prevent financing of terrorist networks and terrorist actions from their territories. The Ministers highly value the 2nd BRICS Counter-Terrorism Working Group Meeting held in Beijing on 18 May 2017. They call upon an expedited adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism in the UN General Assembly.
10. The Ministers welcome the 2nd BRICS Consultation on UN Peacekeeping Affairs to be held in Beijing in July 2017.
11. The Ministers agree to enhance coordination and cooperation among BRICS on international and regional issues, safeguard justice at the United Nations and other international fora. They support political and diplomatic solution of conflicts, such as Libya and the Korean Peninsula, and promote preventive diplomacy in a consensus-based manner. They condemn unilateral military intervention or economic sanctions in violation of international law and universally recognised norms of international relations.
12. The Ministers reiterate that the only lasting solution to the Syria crisis is an inclusive "Syrian-led, Syrian-owned" political process which safeguard the state sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Syria, in pursuance of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254(2015). The Ministers strongly support the Geneva Peace Talks and the Astana process, and welcome the creation of the de-escalation areas in Syria. They oppose the use of chemical weapons by anyone, for any purpose and under any circumstance.
13. The Ministers reaffirm their support to the process of "Afghan-led and Afghan-owned" national reconciliation, the ongoing international efforts in support of achieving practical results in that regard, combating terrorism and drug-threat, and support the national reconstruction efforts. The Ministers support the efforts of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces in fighting against terrorist organizations.
14. The Ministers reiterate the need for a just, lasting and comprehensive settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in order to achieve peace and stability in the Middle East on the basis of relevant United Nations resolutions, the Madrid Principles, the Arab Peace Initiative and previous agreements between the parties through negotiations with a view to create an independent, viable, territorially contiguous Palestinian State living side by side in peace and security with Israel.
15. The Ministers commend the efforts of African countries, the African Union and sub-regional organisations in addressing regional issues and maintaining regional peace and stability, and emphasize the importance of collaboration between the United Nations and the African Union in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations. They reaffirm their support for African Union's implementation of its various programs including Agenda 2063 in pursuit of its continental agenda for peace and socio-economic development.
16. The Ministers are concerned by the threats and challenges posed by the use of ICTS for criminal and terrorist purposes and the weaponization of outer space and arms race there. They underscore the role of collaborative efforts to address these challenges. They note with satisfaction the work of the Working Group of Experts of the BRICS countries on Security in the Use of ICTs and by the BRICS Anti-corruption Working Group.
17. The Ministers look forward to their meeting on the margins of the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly, and welcome South Africa's offer to host the next stand-alone meeting in 2018.
BRICS inching towards complementarity (БРИКС идет к взаимодополняемости) / India, June, 2017
A conference of the BRICS 2017 Think Tank Forum, held in Beijing recently, showed that the grouping had progressed in influencing global governance despite some persistent intra-member differences
The annual BRICS Summit—to be held in September this year–is usually prefaced by numerous conferences that the host country organises at various official and unofficial levels, including those among the think tanks of the five countries, to refine some of the key issues feeding into the agenda that it prepares for discussion at the flagship event.
The theme for the 9th BRICS Summit, to be held in 2017, is 'Stronger Partnership for a Brighter Future', and China, the host country, has set up several think tanks, institutions, and research centres in universities, solely for the study of BRICS, many of which have organised some high-quality interactions so far.
Similarly, in 2016, when India hosted the 8th BRICS Summit, on the theme, 'Building Responsive, Inclusive and Collective Solutions', the government of India organised over 50 events to develop substantive 'action points' for the summit that could be followed up later. Such interactions in different cities achieve a dual objective: first, to identify the priorities of the host country's government, and second, to popularise the idea of BRICS within its own geography.
I was invited last month to participate in one of the several conferences of the BRICS 2017 Think Tanks Forum, held in Beijing, whose subject was, 'The Co-ordination of BRICS Development Strategies: Ways to Shared Prosperity'. It was jointly organised by the National Institute for Global Strategy (NIGS), the University of International Relations (UIR), and, in a first, Guangming, a think tank that also owns a local newspaper, which meant that journalists were present throughout.
At the conference, I was struck by the angst with which some of the members still questioned the viability of the BRICS grouping due to the immense diversity in the size of the countries, and their varying stages of development and degrees of industrialisation.
Another point of concern is their membership in regional groupings, like the South African Development Community (SADC), Mercosur, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), and the Eurasian Union. As big countries, they also have leadership aspirations within these respective regional groupings.
That the members harbour distinct strategic objectives is also evident: China is a superpower, Russia is highly industrialised and also the second largest energy exporter in the world, India is growing rapidly, but Brazil and South Africa are mired in domestic political troubles. As commodity exporters, Brazil and South Africa are beneficiaries of China's economic expansion, but they are simultaneously distressed because their infant manufacturing industries, particularly shoes and readymade garments, are being ravaged by cheap Chinese exports.
To my mind, however, despite the very real differences, members of BRICS see themselves as a "not-Western grouping" but not "anti-West" in thinking. In addition, they share a broad agenda to influence and shape the present global governance structures.
One of the early achievements of BRICS was the broad international agreement to increase the voting share of developing countries in global institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF). However, after that was stymied by the U.S. Congress, BRICS went ahead to create alternate financial institutions and frameworks like the New Development Bank (NDB), and the Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) parallel to the IMF-World Bank structure.
Although the theme at the Beijing BRICS Think Tank Forum was 'The Co-ordination of BRICS Development Strategies: Ways to Shared Prosperity', there were few concrete suggestions on how the development strategies of the members could be made more complementary to the common purpose.
The South African delegation brought up cross-cutting issues, such as social inequality, unemployment, and BRICS countries' membership in multiple regional organisations, which made it difficult to prioritise common strategic objectives.
The Russians pointed out that all the activity among the BRICS countries was on a bilateral, not multilateral basis, but they saw value in disseminating the soft power of member countries. They proposed collaboration in education and science, and the need to shape the global governance agenda by utilising the combined intellectual capacity of BRICS.
The Brazilian delegate had some specific recommendations, which included:
developing a 'BRICS Credit Card', and leveraging the linkages of China's Belt and Road Initiative with the ASEAN countries and Eurasia, to popularise its use;
creating a mechanism similar to Bitcoins for BRICS members;
achieving common infrastructure policies by focusing on sustainability. One mechanism proposed for this was that the NDB and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) promote the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in projects funded by them;
fashioning a common stand on select issues, such as the problems in the Middle East and in UN bodies, recognising that it is not possible to take up sensitive issues, like Crimea and the India-China border;
creating a common BRICS TV Channel, which disseminates content produced by the different member countries, such as CCTV (Chinese News Channel), RT (Russian Television Network), Bollywood films, African music and Brazilian soap operas to promote the BRICS's soft power.
The Chinese experts were keen on linking BRICS directly to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), citing the joint statement between Xi Jinping, and Vladimir Putin, in which Putin called Eurasian integration "a civilisational project for the future".
Since none of the other countries were keen on the Forum being subsumed by BRI, Chinese experts suggested a new 'Friends of BRICS' grouping, to include those seven G20 countries that are not a part of G7 or BRICS. This will mean associating countries like Argentina, Australia, Indonesia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and Turkey, with the BRICS Forums. However, even this was not uniformly agreed upon and the consensus principle under which BRICS operates, prevailed.
The Indian delegates argued for BRICS to move forward together on a consensus principle. My intervention was about recognising the growing importance of trade in services, which already constitutes one third of global trade, amounting to $4.4 trillion. As the most vibrant sector in most economies, its promotion could also address the common problems of unemployment and income inequality.
Commitments to trade in services are being gradually included in all the new bilateral, regional, and multilateral trade agreements. India's comprehensive trade agreements with Japan, Korea, Malaysia and Singapore already have commitments. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Trans Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)of which india is a part, also have committments to trade in services. But at the multilateral level, the developed-country-promoted Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) is the only comprehensive one. Since TiSA does not include BRICS, it is imperative that the BRICS countries support India's proposal for a Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) in services that it submitted to the World Trade Organization in November 2016.
Unlike trade in goods, where border controls are of utmost importance, trade in services has to be regulated "behind the border" by domestic regulatory institutions. Therefore, it is important that a Trade in Services Facilitation Agreement is pursued by BRICS. Such an agreement gains urgency because more and more services are becoming tradeable across borders due to digitisation.
Since the negotiating process is complex and can be long drawn out, BRICS countries could begin, as a first step, to increase interaction among their regulatory authorities. Further, if BRICS regulators gain familiarity with each others' standards they can swiftly harmonise thier standards or sign Mutual Regulatory Agreements sooner. In turn, these will feed into the negotiations for an intra-BRICS Trade in Services Agreement.
The response to the suggestion for an intra-BRICS Trade in Services Agreement, as to those made by other participants, was lukewarm.
Although there was some overlap on issues like soft power, and the achievements remained meagre, the outcome of the conference was that it was useful in reducing differences. So far at least, while BRICS has a grand vision, there is inadequate identification of specific objectives. Once this is done, their implementation will bind the members together.
Brics Environment Ministers adopt sustainability initiative (Министры окружающей среды БРИКС принимают инициативу в области устойчивого развития) / South Africa, June, 2017
The initiative further sets out to improve waste management, spatial planning and mobility as priority areas for cooperation.
The partnership envisions the promotion of sustainabledevelopment in urban areas, aiming to build a knowledge hub to facilitate the sharing of policies and best practices for urban sustainability, to provide an interface for information exchange and communication between suppliers and users of environment-friendly technologies and products.
"Puesi, if implemented in a holistic manner, has the potential to contribute significantly to the reduction of pollution and waste being generated," said Environmental Affairs Minister Dr Edna Molewa.
Speaking at the forum, she noted that the Brics countries needed to work together to mobilise sufficient financialresources for the implementation of [Agenda 2030's] Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
"Without the means of implementation, we will not be able to achieve much. The adoption of the SDG indicators and work plan will be a significant step on the way forward on tracking the implementation of the SDGs," Molewa pointed out.
Further, she warned that these goals would not be achieved if natural resources were not protected and used sustainably, welcoming the Brics Clean Rivers Umbrella Programme that was introduced at the forum.
"We are confident that international solidarity will prevail, where countries will encourage and support each other to implement their nationally determined contributions (NDCs).
"South Africa is of the view that implementation of the NDCs also build on and strengthen wider socioeconomic development and poverty alleviation efforts. Our key challenge is not only reducing current emissions, but avoiding future emissions, and avoiding an erosion of our development gains by climate impacts," Molewa asserted.
A Merry Muddle: The Guiding Document for South Africa's Foreign Policy (Веселая путаница: руководящий документ для внешней политики Южной Африки) / South Africa, June, 2017
The ANC has issued a draft foreign policy discussion document in preparation for its National Policy Conference later this month. There are some gaps. J. BROOKS SPECTOR takes a look.
It is now that time of year when the African National Congress takes up its various policy discussion documents and puts its official stamp of approval upon them at their big National Policy Conference. Given the stresses of its current leadership battle, these policy documents are probably taking second place to the mud wrestling over who will lead the party (and thus, presumably, the nation) in the coming years. Nevertheless, regardless of this rank order, the policy documents will be important in framing the policies endorsed by the party in its efforts to drive the national governmental apparatus.
In some areas, such as economic development, government control over major economic sectors, or social grant policies, the final agreed-to policy documents will certainly be strongly reflective of the leadership's ambitions, values and goals. But that may not be the case as much as in foreign policy. This will be the case, if for no other reason, than that an articulate, cogent, coherent foreign policy no longer looms very large in South African thinking in the way it once did during Nelson Mandela's tenure in office – as with "highly principled foreign policy" as a jewel in the crown of South Africa's return to global respectability. That is because, for many, foreign policy, save at the margins, seemingly has little to do with the all turf wars being fought over the swag that constitutes the winnings of today's "hyper-patronage" state.
The problem, of course, is that foreign policy, writ large, is about much more than that hoary old cartoon version of diplomats standing around in morning dress, balancing their cups of tea (or something stronger), and prancing their way through the dance of those inscrutable discussions at international conferences. Foreign policy – the diplomats' occupational field of activity – is supposed to be a careful analysis of a nation's most fundamental needs, goals, ambitions and responsibilities in connection with the rest of the international community and then a sorting out of what has to happen to enhance the nation's safety and security.
In that sense, for a middle-tier nation such as South Africa, foreign policy is significantly about boosting the chances of the nation for economic advancement and regional stability – and, hopefully, in advancing at least some elements of that "highly principled foreign policy", in terms of its efforts in international forums such as the United Nations. All of this must be tempered with some kind of realistic evaluation of what the country's leaders see as national self-interest.
For a middle-range nation like South Africa, self- or national interest naturally includes the traditional values of state preservation and economic advancement, as well as support for the broad application of the rule of law, along with a vigorous nod towards support for regional and global stability. But while a nation's foreign relations are strategies designed or intended to safeguard those national interests, in the current world, the deepening globalisation of relationships and decisions (even under stress) and the growth of transnational activities and non-state actors, all means foreign policy efforts bring much more than the traditional diplomats and foreign ministry into foreign relations – and reach deeper into the fabric of government and beyond.
Not surprisingly, as with this document under discussion, the governing party periodically produces a foreign policy manifesto for its national policy conference (coming up at the end of the month). Thereafter, a significant share of that language will find its way into governmental language on foreign policy planning and execution. The challenge is to see what is key about this document – and what has been left out.
In response to the version on offer some six months ago, we argued then that, "In sum, as a document for hands-on guidance to the government or the nation's people, it suffers the flaws of all cut-and-paste jobs. Its constituent parts are there in response to the goals of many different interest groups and factions and the stitching together was spotty at best. What it clearly lacks, however, is any real sense of the criticality of economics and trade for national growth and success. There is no sense of comparison with rivals and alternative models of success, and no embrace of difficult choices that must be met in the future. When everything has equal weight and everything is a first priority, nothing is. This paper will make some ideologues happy, but it will offer little practical guidance to the party's own government leaders, or to the bureaucracy they must lead in a complex, difficult world. And it will give them no insights about opportunities to advance the national interest that must be pursued."
This time around, while the newest document speaks of South Africa's dealings with the BRICS alignment, the building of solidarity with progressive forces globally and global institutional reform, as well as a range of consultative mechanisms such as enhanced parliamentary relations and exchanges, it devotes three sentences to the entirety of economic diplomacy. It says, in full,
"The discussion document underscores the need for a holistic economic diplomacy strategy that is co-ordinated by the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (DIRCO). Economic diplomacy is an important component of our foreign policy. The establishment of a new economic diplomacy unit within DIRCO will enable us to take advantage of the economic boom on the continent and improve trade relations with both traditional and newly identified markets. We are guided by the NDP [National Development Plan] injunction to increase foreign direct investment (FDI) and attract more tourists in order to build a resilient economy."
There is no discussion of the how of growing FDI or other international participation in the economy, let alone why such things should matter to the country's foreign affairs agency, or how that department should work tightly with all other elements of government, private industry and the investor community as a whole.
In response to this document after it was released to the public, in a recent discussion paper prepared by University of Johannesburg academics Chris Landsberg and Mzukisi Qobo, together with the Centre for Global Dialogue's Francis Kornegay, the co-authors argued,
"Since 2009 the ANC has failed to offer animating ideas about the country's place in the world. Its perspectives on power dynamics in the world have travelled back in time, and are frozen in a world that no longer exists. This is notwithstanding its acknowledgement that at both the National Conference in Mangaung in 2012 and the National General Council of 2015 [it] observed that the material conditions continue to change in ways that are unpredictable and fluid. This point also features in the current discussion document prepared for the 30 June 2017 ANC Policy Conference."
The ANC's discussion document, however, does spend energy touting the criticality of the BRICS grouping for South Africa, saying, "The discussion document notes that South Africa's role in BRICS is growing. At the same time we are alive to the changes in governments of our BRICS partners such as Brazil and assess how this could affect the cohesion in the forum in future.
"The African Agenda must continue to guide our engagements in forums such as the BRICS. The BRICS New Development Bank shall become an alternative and effective funding mechanism for infrastructure development and socio-economic development in member countries and on our respective continents. South Africa will host the Africa office of the BRICS Bank, which will further strengthen our efforts to implement the vision of the African Renaissance.
"Our focus in BRICS however shall not be construed as a negation of relations with countries of the North. Our understanding and approach is that these relations are not mutually exclusive; on the contrary, they could be both complementary and reinforcing."
But as the Institute for Strategic Studies' Jakkie Cilliers notes in a new paper – "Life Beyond BRICS?" – South Africa's share of the BRICS group's combined GDP is, bluntly put, virtually a rounding error, by virtue of the weight of the enormous economies of India and China. Based on current trends, it will become even smaller in future. Meanwhile, as a whole, the BRICS nations have less than 5% of their trade among the five nations.
Further, South Africa's trade with the EU still dwarves its China trade. Moreover, South Africa continues to have trade surpluses – not with places like China or India, but with the US and the rest of Africa, grouped together. Of these details, the party's discussion paper says virtually nothing.
Cilliers adds it is "ironic" that the "elevation of China's importance to Africa and South Africa has largely occurred at considerable expense to South Africa's manufacturing sector. Mbeki's concerns that were expressed in a widely publicised speech in December 2006 have therefore come to haunt Zuma: 'In its relationship with China, Africa must guard against merely becoming a supplier of raw materials in exchange for manufactured goods,' he argued. The penny has dropped, but only after significant damage to the South African industrial base…." Cilliers does argue, however, that significant effort has now been going towards trying to leverage Chinese trade and financial resources to reverse such a de-industrialisation trend line. Still, any reversal of that trend still has a long distance to travel before there is measurable progress.
But as far as the ANC discussion document is concerned, there is little hint of any of this. There is only a scant reference to the American unilateral trade concession, the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). That US law was extended for a further full decade last year, and exports to the US from South Africa that qualify under AGOA account for around $2-billion worth of duty-free exports to the US. This total generates many tens of thousands of increasingly highly skilled jobs in agriculture and manufacturing. But, given the Trump administration's clearly expressed preference for bilateral trade agreements that carry a transactional, something-for-something bias, one would have expected the party's discussion paper to have noted an increasingly urgent need for a forward thinking trade negotiation policy; one that looks beyond the current horizon, and aims to lock in some of this enhanced market access into the US – but not so.
Moreover, Landsberg, Qobo, and Kornegay, in pointing to a need for a more proactive approach, argue, "The ANC paper does not account for the fact that some countries, including India, have come out of the crisis [global financial crisis of 2008-9] emboldened to take policy measures that would restore economic dynamism. A balanced and honest appraisal of South Africa's economic performance is necessary if the country is to turn the corner while also bolstering its place in the world. For South Africa to reclaim its credibility in the world, engage effectively in the African continent and earn the respect of its peers, it would need to fix its domestic politics and improve the performance of its economy. Rhetoric is unhelpful in the absence of a purposeful development strategy and an international relations perspective that is cast on the frame of rich ideas."
But on perhaps the most important issue of all beyond economically related diplomatic efforts and foreign policy initiatives, the ANC discussion document is mum. And that, of course, is the future of South Africa's interactions with its northern neighbour, Zimbabwe.
This relationship is almost certain to be tested in the future as the reins and reality of power move beyond the grasp of its incumbent president. There is the real possibility that such a shift might well trigger extensive population movements, still greater food insecurity than at present (and the consequent possibilities of disease), and the need for international efforts to provide emergency assistance, and even the possibility of civil unrest in Zimbabwe. All of these possible effects would generate impacts on South Africa's border security, its ability to provide emergency support to affected communities, and how it is to deal with such impacts throughout the country.
Presumably because of a reluctance to upset the current leadership in Zimbabwe and aspects of the bilateral relationship, the party's discussion paper avoids mentioning any of this. The question becomes one of where the locus of co-ordination for dealing with such possibilities is located in the South African government, and how the party will align itself in dealing with the potential outcome. Of course the transition of power in Harare could be a model of calmness and serenity; but shouldn't a forward thinking party and government be planning how best to react to the possibilities – and thus helping encourage a peaceful transition there?
The challenge, then, just as Landsberg, Qobo and Kornegay have said, is that "The ANC's idea of alliance blocs that are fixed, and determined ideologically or geopolitically, is a backward one, and does not resonate with the character of global transformations that have taken place in the last three decades." While they were referring most specifically to South Africa's sentimental attachment to Russia as a hold-over from the then-Soviet Union's role in South Africa's liberation struggle, this observation can, with equal weight, point to the need for a more realistic appreciation of the possibility a political dislocation or worse in Zimbabwe (or even other states in the region) would force painful decisions and actions inside South Africa.
But on this important issue of national security (just as with the centrality of economic diplomacy), the discussion paper has little to offer. One hopes that somewhere in DIRCO and in the rest of the security cluster, some careful plans are being worked out in the event of calamity.
Beijing Hosts BRICS Meeting Prior to Summit (В Пекине состоялась встреча БРИКС до Саммита) / Cuba, June, 2017
The gathering was attended by the ministers of Foreign Affairs and International Relations from all the BRICS countries
Trade, climate change, reforms of the United Nations and fight the scourge of terrorism were high on the agenda when BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs met in Beijing, in preparation for the group's 2017 summit to be held in Xiamen later this year.
Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) make up the blossoming group that account for about 40% of the world's population and 20% of the global economy.
The gathering was attended by Ministers of Foreign Affairs and International Relations from all the BRICS countries such as Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, of South Africa; Wang Yi, of China; Sergey Lavrov, of Russia; Aloysio Nunes, of Brazil, and Vijay Kumar Singh, of India. In a final statement, the ministers reaffirmed their commitment to safeguarding the purposes and principles of the charter of the United Nations, as well as a fair and just international order, while complying with the groups' goals.
BRICS was initially formed as an economic concept. All five members are developing countries and emerging markets, and share the same or similar positions on some major international issues. Their cooperation is underpinned by political security, economy and finance, and people-to-people exchanges.
Its member States not only contribute to safeguarding international peace and security, but also helps protect the common interests of developing countries and champions the democratization of international relations.
In their Beijing meeting, the BRICS Foreign Ministers reaffirmed the need for a comprehensive reform of the UN, including its Security Council, with a view to making it more representative, effective and efficient, and to increase the representation of the developing countries so that it can adequately respond to global challenges.
China and Russia reiterated the importance they attach to the status and role of Brazil, India and South Africa in international affairs and support their aspiration to play a greater role in the UN.
While underscoring the importance of the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, BRICS countries urged the developed countries to honor their official commitments to make that agenda reachable.
They also called on all countries to implement the Paris Agreement under the principles of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
In particular, they called upon developed countries to fulfill their commitment on this relevant issue to provide necessary financing, technology transfer and capacity building support to developing countries.
Their call comes following US President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. On terrorism, the ministers deplored the continued terrorist attacks and reaffirmed solidarity in the fight against it.
The ministers voiced their concerned by the threats and challenges posed by the use of ICTS (Scientific Infrastructure and Singular Technology) for criminal and terrorist purposes and outer space militarization.
Particularly, they underscore the role of collaborative efforts to address these challenges.
They also called upon the international community to establish a genuinely broad international counter-terrorism coalition and support the United Nations' central coordinating role in the international counter-terrorism cooperation.
On other international relations, the group rallied behind political and diplomatic solutions to conflicts in countries such as Libya and the Korean Peninsula.
With respect to Syria, the BRICS ministers reiterated that the only lasting solution to the Syrian crisis is an inclusive 'Syrian-led, Syrian-owned' political process which safeguard the state sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Syria, in pursuance of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254 (2015).
They strongly supported the Geneva Peace Talks and the Astana process, and welcome the creation of the de-escalation areas in Syria. They oppose the use of chemical weapons by anyone, for any purpose and under any circumstance.
They also reiterate the need for a just, lasting and comprehensive settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in order to achieve peace and stability in the Middle East.
In response to Western media criticism, Geng Shuang, spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, denied the BRICS countries were forming a 'clique' to target or replace other world groupings in an effort to counteract Western influence.
'BRICS countries have always been unified by a spirit of openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation, and there has never been any intention of forming cliques or political or military alliances, to target, slander, challenge, or replace anyone, and [the bloc] stands ready to work with all countries for a community of shared future,' Geng assured.
India wants China's Belt and Road Initiative and BRICS on separate tracks (Индия хочет, чтобы Китайская инициатива ОПОП и БРИКС шли разными путями) / India, June, 2017
Indian and Chinese delegations failed to arrive at a consensus that the five emerging economies should formally support the BRI
India and China are working together to find common ground ahead of the summit in September of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) grouping, despite their differences over docking the Beijing-led Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) with the alliance in the future.
At a conference of political parties, think tanks and civil society groups of BRICS held in Fuzhou, The Hindu has learnt, the Indian and Chinese delegations failed to arrive at a consensus that the five emerging economies should formally support the BRI.
The Fuzhou meet, organised by the Communist Party of China (CPC), is widely seen as an important component in framing the outcome of the BRICS summit that will be held in the Chinese coastal city of Xiamen in September.
The differences between the two delegations became evident when the text of the Fuzhou Initiative—an open document released at the end of the conference - was changed, on the insistence of the Indian delegation. Paragraph 14 of the first version of the Fuzhou Initiative had commended "the Belt and Road Initiative proposed by China", for its "great significance for achieving development in developing countries…" However, since a consensus could not be achieved, the entire paragraph was dropped in the final version of the document, which was finally adopted at the conference.
A source privy to closed door deliberations, which resulted in recommendations for the BRICS summit as a separate "outcome" document, said that the Indian side, nevertheless, expressed its willingness to support individual connectivity projects, provided they were not tied up with the BRI.
India had boycotted last month's Belt and Road Forum, hosted by China for promoting the BRI. But in an interview with The Hindu, BJP general secretary Ram Madhav said India's decision was driven by "certain sovereignty related questions", and should be treated as an "exception", within the overall growth of India-China ties in the last three years.
The two delegations at Fuzhou also differed on establishing a permanent "Friends of BRICS" forum, which would include other countries outside the five emerging economies.
The source said, "All member-countries have an outreach programme. For instance, India at the last summit invited countries belonging to BIMSTEC. Under the outreach programme, we can give loans to everyone. The Chinese side during the Fuzhou conference has invited Laos, Philippines and Cambodia. That is fine. But embedding countries into the BRICS arrangement on a permanent basis, which might include Pakistan, through the Friends of BRICS club was not found acceptable."
At a press conference in March, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi proposed establishing a BRICS-plus arrangement, involving other countries with the grouping.
However, there was greater convergence among the delegates on other issues, including establishment of a BRICS financial institute, back up the existing contingency reserve arrangement of the New Development Bank of the emerging economies. "There is a suggestion to set up an institution on the lines of the IMF. It is not a bad idea but the location of the headquarters of such an institution is yet to be decided," the source said.
India is keen on establishing a BRICS credit rating agency, while, so far, the Chinese have been focusing more on improving the methodology of the existing credit rating agencies. "But this might change after Moody's downgraded China's credit rating," the source observed.
In his his opening remarks at the conference, Samir Saran, vice president of the New Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation (ORF) and leader of the visiting Indian delegation, proposed that the forthcoming Chinese Presidency of the BRICS must pursue the institution-building project, proposed by India in 2016, which included setting up research institutions, rating agencies and other bodies that promoted intra-BRICS cooperation.
Cyber security is likely to emerge as another important topic in the Xiamen summit. India, on its part, is keen on promoting digital economy, and is likely to back the existing working group on Information and Communication Technology (ICT), to comprehensively examine all aspects of cyber security.
BRICS finance minister's forge consensus to fight terrorism (Министры финансов БРИКС добились консенсуса в борьбе с терроризмом) / India, June, 2017
Pressing Brazil, Russia, China, South Africa at its first Foreign Ministers meeting ahead of this year's summit in Xiamen, MoS for External Affairs General (retd) V K Singh said that there was no good or bad terrorists as all of them should be treated as criminals threatening global peace.
India today asked the BRICS nations to back its efforts in adopting a comprehensive convention on terrorism at the UN to shed the ambiguity about "good" and "bad" terrorists, as the foreign ministers of the bloc forged consensus on evolving a common strategy to combat the menace. Pressing Brazil, Russia, China, South Africa at its first Foreign Ministers meeting ahead of this year's summit in Chinese city Xiamen, Minister of State for External Affairs General (retd) V K Singh said that there was no good or bad terrorists as all of them should be treated as criminals threatening global peace.
"Everyone agrees that terrorism is common enemy of mankind. Everybody is fully concerned about threat of terrorism in various manifestations," Singh said, addressing a joint press conference with Foreign Ministers from the BRICS countries in their first stand alone meeting to work out agenda for the Xiamen summit.
"We also ask for expediting the adoption of the comprehensive convention on international terrorism in the UN which has been pending for some time. We have the support of all members of BRICS nations," he said. Responding to questions over concerns on cross border terrorism from Pakistan, Singh said "on behalf of India I pointed out that terrorism remains one of the most potent global menace".
"We did bring out that it threatens global peace and terrorists cannot be differentiated by calling them good or bad," without directly referring to China's efforts to block efforts by India, US and other countries to bring about a UN ban on Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) leader Masood Azhar for his involvement in Pathankot terror attack.
"They are terrorists and they are criminals and we need to have a concerted action both in the regional and internationally to curb their activities," Singh said.
Earlier speaking at the BRICS Foreign Ministers meeting, Singh said BRICS countries have reached significant understanding on security and counter terrorism issues as the five-member bloc of emerging economies expanded steadily in the international arena. "Besides cooperating on financial issues, the BRICS agenda has witnessed steady expansion," he said.
The BRICS joint working group mechanism has concluded in May 2017, Singh said, adding that the National Security Advisors (NSAs) of the BRICS countries are due to meet next month ahead of this year's summit.
In Delhi meeting last year, they (NSAs) had reached significant understanding on matters of security and counter terrorism, Singh said. Backing Singh, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said China opposed to terrorism in all forms and it is also a victim of terrorism.
"So China is actively taking part in international cooperation against terrorism and in our own way China is making its contribution and playing our constrictive role. On this point with all colleagues present today including Indian colleagues, China shares the same position," he said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said BRICS countries are united and their understanding of the fight against terrorism. He said there are working groups formed in BRICS to deal with counter terrorism issues.
"It has started working already and held two sessions and its potential is quite considerable. We need take it inter-agency format. We have a common opinion. In this regard, we need to involve foreign agencies other relevant agencies involved in cantering terrorism," he said.
"It is clear that we cannot solve this problem by ourselves need a broad anti-terror front", he said Russia will actively support UN Secretary-General António Guterres recent suggestion to the UN General Assembly to create a new UN office In New York to coordinate fight against terrorism.
South Korean Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said in her speech that the recent terror attacks in the world, including in BRICS countries, make it necessary for South Africa to re-emphasise that terrorism in all its forms and from whichever quarter cannot be condoned.
"We join the clarion call for the total isolation and eradication of all terror groups. They have no place among the community of nations," she said.
BRICS foreign ministers call for diplomacy to tackle Korean tensions (Министры иностранных дел стран БРИКС призывают к дипломатии в борьбе с корейской напряженностью) / USA, June, 2017
Foreign ministers from BRICS nations called for the use of "preventative diplomacy" to tackle the situation on the Korean Peninsula, according to a communique on Monday.
The ministers from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa met in Beijing for a two-day conference that ended on Monday. BRICS leaders will meet in the southern Chinese city of Xiamen in September.
"The foreign ministers support the use of political and diplomatic means to resolve disputes in Libya and on the Korean Peninsula, and the promotion of preventative diplomacy built on common consensus," the communique said, according to a version posted on the Chinese foreign ministry website.
The document also condemned unilateral military interventions and economic sanctions that violate international law or internationally accepted norms.
Addressing the ministers after the meeting, Chinese President Xi Jinping said that BRICS cooperation was entering a "golden decade".
"At present the international situation has complexities and also factors of instability and it is right for the BRICS to speak their voice," he said.
Tensions on the Korean peninsula have escalated over North Korea's nuclear and missile tests and its vow to develop a nuclear-tipped weapon capable of hitting the U.S. mainland. The United States has called for greater action from China to pressure Pyongyang into abandoning its weapons programs.
China has said repeatedly that it adheres to United Nations Security Council sanctions against North Korea but does not support unilateral sanctions, instead calling for restraint and diplomacy.
China's top diplomat Yang Jiechi is due to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Washington on Wednesday in talks that the United States says will focus on curbing North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.
Last week, Tillerson said Washington was considering imposing "secondary sanctions" on foreign firms doing business with North Korea and had been in discussions with Beijing about the activities of entities inside China.
Libya fell into turmoil following the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 and now an array of armed groups and competing governments are vying for control.
Xi encourages BRICS countries (Си вдохновляет страны БРИКС) / China, June, 2017
'Let your voices be heard', president tells ministers from emerging nations
The BRICS countries should push forward with international order to develop in a more fair and reasonable direction, President Xi Jinping said on Monday, while also calling for joint efforts to create a new golden decade for the BRICS bloc.
The BRICS members－Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa－each face similar tasks of maintaining stability of development, Xi said while meeting with the emerging nations' foreign ministers in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
"Facing the current chaotic and complicated international situation, the BRICS countries should let your voices be heard," Xi told the ministers.
China is the rotating chair country of the BRICS group this year. The BRICS summit will be held in the coastal city of Xiamen, Fujian province, on Sept 3 to 5.
Xi called on the BRICS members to carry out the spirit of win-win cooperation, continue to focus on development and firmly adhere to the multilateralism principle and basic norms for international relations.
"The BRICS cooperation mechanism has existed for 10 years, and I don't think the color of the BRICS has faded. We will have the new golden decade, and we should have such expectations and confidence," he said.
Cooperation among BRICS nations is an innovative practice that has surpassed the outdated mentality of political and military allies, and built the partnership with mutual trust and benefits, Xi said.
The ministers expressed gratitude toward China's work as rotating leader of BRICS. They agreed that BRICS members should enhance coordination and cooperation to jointly face various global challenges.
The BRICS mechanism should serve as an engine of cooperation among emerging countries and developing nations, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said at a news conference after the meeting of the five foreign ministers.
"The BRICS mechanism does belong not only to the five nations, but also to all emerging market countries and developing nations," Wang said.
According to a joint statement issued after the meeting, BRICS countries expect to hold a dialogue meeting between emerging market countries and developing ones during the BRICS summit in September.
In the statement, the ministers urged all countries to implement the Paris Agreement under the principles of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
"There is one climate, and, for future generations, we must employ every effort at our disposal to reverse the effects of climate change," South African Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said at the news conference.
The five countries also deplored continued terrorist attacks, including in some BRICS countries.
The ministers reaffirmed the need for a comprehensive reform of the UN, including its Security Council, to make it more representative, effective and efficient, and to increase the representation of developing countries.
They committed to strengthening cooperation among BRICS within the UN and other multilateral institutions through regular meetings among their permanent representatives in New York, Geneva and Vienna.
Ruan Zongze, executive vice-president of the China Institute of International Studies, said BRICS cooperation has the vitality and potential to promote global economic growth and has contributed more than half the world's GDP.
Trade, exchanges can unlock BRICS potential (Торговля, обмены могут открыть потенциал БРИКС) / China, June, 2017
The foreign ministers of BRICS met in Beijing a few days ago to review the journey of the group and chat about the path forward, as they do every year. As these important BRICS leaders meet, they will be pondering the group's multi- and bilateral areas of success and hindrances as well as put a premium on future bilateral priorities.
A few things immediately spring to mind about where their energies should go in an attempt to nourish the tree so that it can bear everlasting fruits in terms of both the future survival and success of the BRICS grouping.
It becomes important to acknowledge that there are huge expectations among both the BRICS nations and in the international community that the BRICS grouping will speedily bring about immense changes.
Expectations articulated in the annual resolutions of the BRICS presidencies, which are fed by an assortment of meetings like the BRICS Academic Forum and the various meetings of either economy and trade or foreign ministers, must be balanced between being overly zealous and realistic.
At the same time, it is important that decisions emanating annually be audited against previous summits to avoid overlaps and with a view to emphasize and reinforce important decisions.
Were we to serve as advisors to the BRICS foreign ministers, we would beg them to consider the following two points as imperative:
First, audit and analyze the achievements of the BRICS grouping to date. Acknowledge that which could have been done differently for better results.
Second, the future of BRICS hinges even more than before on the lubrication that should be provided by the bilateral and multilateral agreements facilitated by the BRICS foreign ministers.
Let us introspect snippets of these two elements. The question worth asking is: What has the BRICS grouping achieved? Could those things be achieved better - more efficiently and effectively?
In the area of education and culture, BRICS established the BRICS Network University. Thus far the network has not been fully operational nor funded at levels comparable to individual BRICS members' bilateral agreements with other countries of the north like the US-China academic and cultural exchanges or South Africa-German cultural and academic exchanges.
Instead, the future generation of BRICS leaders continues to flock to the universities of Europe and America, thereby exchanging and learning northern cultures, rather than exchanges among BRICS members. Education and cultural exchange are the best methods over the long term for cementing nations' relations and socioeconomic partnerships.
While there have been numerous attempts including commitments by heads of state on the importance of establishing a "common market area," these articulations have not been met by practical application. It is still equally and perhaps even harder to facilitate trade among BRICS nations than has historically been the case.
Trade conditions remain un-harmonized and disparities among member states abound. Without solving this deficiency, the BRICS nations will not be able to maximize benefit from each other's development trajectories.
Indeed, the debates of BRICS revolve around the economy and trade, with cursory attention to other areas like education. Even so, the role of foreign ministers in the facilitation of the social and economic derivatives of BRICS economic goals is central to its success.
To unlock its potential, BRICS foreign ministers should facilitate the ambitions of "strengthening intra-BRICS trade" by unlocking a common visa system for the BRICS nations that will facilitate movement within and across member nations with ease. These conditions already exist between some BRICS nations and other nations outside the grouping but rarely within the grouping.
Working with the New Development Bank and the ministers of trade and economy facilitates a common currency market. To this effect, the eighth presidency alluded to the development of a road map to implement a long-standing idea for the promotion of currency swaps, settlement in local currencies and other instruments across BRICS.
The road ahead is long and winding for the BRICS grouping and there are as many expectations and demands as there are cynics. The BRICS foreign ministers however should firmly assert their grip on the levers of this grouping to negotiate a stronger and brighter future of the group.
Wang Yi: BRICS Cooperation Shows Strong Vitality (Ван И: Сотрудничество БРИКС показывает сильную жизненную силу) / China, June, 2017
On June 19, 2017, the meeting of BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs was held at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing. Foreign Minister Wang Yi made the remarks at the opening ceremony and said that the BRICS cooperation mechanism has grown into a vigorous big tree.
Wang Yi pointed out that since the establishment of BRICS cooperation mechanism ten years ago, under the guidance of the five leaders and the joint nurturing and cultivation of the five countries, BRICS cooperation has grown out of nothing, from the shallower to the deeper, and grown into a vigorous big tree. Firstly, BRICS cooperation has greater importance, as the five countries' share in global economy has increased from 12 percent to 23 percent while they have contributed more than half of global growth. Trade and investment among the five countries have increased sharply, and voice of the BRICS has been significantly enhanced in major international finance institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Secondly, BRICS cooperation becomes more mature, as cooperation among the five countries has been expanded from economy to all aspects such as political fields, people-to-people and cultural engagement and other areas. A cooperation framework featuring all-round aspects, broad areas and multiple levels has been formed. Thirdly, BRICS cooperation has greater effect, as it strengthens coordination within the international organizations such as the UN and G20, safeguarding the interests and unity of developing countries, contributing BRICS wisdom and proposing BRICS measures to cope with global challenges.
Wang Yi said that the key for BRICS cooperation working steadily with one step at a time and maintaining exuberant vitality is to uphold BRICS spirit featuring openness, inclusiveness, cooperation and win-win results. This year sees the opening year of the second decade of the BRICS, and China holds the BRICS rotating presidency. The country stands ready to work with all sides to shelter each other from wind and rain, embrace the future together, and usher in a new golden decade of BRICS countries, so as to take its responsibilities for world stability and prosperity, as well as for the health development of multilateralism.
Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
Four BRICs and a Great Wall (Четыре кирпичика БРИКС и Великая Стена) / Philippines, June, 2017
EMERGING markets have been through a great deal in the past four years. The "taper tantrum" in 2013, prompted by fears of a change in American monetary policy, was followed by the oil-price drop of 2014, China's botched devaluation of its currency in 2015 and India's botched "demonetization" of much of its own currency in late 2016, in which it abruptly removed high-value banknotes from circulation.
This year has started more brightly, however. Indeed, for the first time in two-and-a-half years, the world's four biggest emerging economies—Brazil, Russia, India and China, known as the BRICs—are all growing at the same time.
Russia's GDP bottomed out at the end of 2015, using seasonally adjusted figures, after the longest recession since the 1990s. It has expanded at a gathering pace for the past three quarters. Higher oil prices have helped, though Russia cannot profit fully from the improved market by ramping up sales without violating the production limits that caused the market's recovery.
During the collapse of the ruble in late 2014 and early 2015, it was easy to forget some of Russia's economic strengths, such as its consistent trade surpluses and its substantial foreign-exchange reserves, which never fell below $300 billion. As Russia has regained its footing, the ruble has rebounded, gaining 15% against the dollar during the past 12 months, making it one of the world's best-performing currencies.
Brazil's torment has been even more prolonged. Its economy contracted for eight consecutive quarters as commodity prices tumbled, a president was impeached and a corrupt political class was impugned.
Brazil's political scandals remain far from resolved, but at least the weather has improved. Generous summer rains in states such as Bahia contributed to a bumper harvest of soybeans and wheat in the early months of the year. That helped Brazil's GDP expand by 1% in the first quarter, an annualized pace of better than 4%. Many forecasters believe that growth will be positive for 2017 as a whole.
If inflation has been too high in recent years in Brazil, it has been too low in China. Thanks to downward pressure on prices and the currency, China's economy actually shrank in dollar terms in 2016, for the first time in 22 years. The deflationary threat has receded, however, and this year the yuan has strengthened against the greenback as capital outflows have been tamed. Indeed China's central bank may have resumed adding to its foreign-exchange reserves, which increased by $24 billion in May, having declined by about $1 trillion since their 2014 peak as capital fled.
Will the resumption of growth in Brazil and Russia, and the return of "dollar growth" in China, breathe new life into the BRICs brand? The term was coined by Jim O'Neill, then chief economist at Goldman Sachs, and took on a life of its own. The countries' leaders began holding an annual summit, and invited South Africa to join as an additional member. They also set up a development bank, with its headquarters in Shanghai but headed by an Indian, which now has operations in all five countries, having approved its first loan to Brazil in April.
O'Neill always has felt that South Africa, a country of only 56 million people with a GDP of less than $300 billion, was too small to stand alongside his original quartet. So far this year, indeed, the fifth member's fortunes have diverged from those of the others, with South Africa's economy slipping into a recession in the first quarter.
Having christened the BRICs in 2001, Goldman Sachs later sketched out their futures for the next five decades in a paper entitled "Dreaming with BRICs," published in 2003. The investment bank then upgraded those growth projections in 2011 in light of the BRICs' strong performance during the previous decade. That proved to be a mistake: Of the four economies, only China's dollar GDP has kept pace with those optimistic 2011 projections, and the others have fallen short of them by a combined $3 trillion.
A similar disappointment befell stock-market investors. The BRIC equity index compiled by MSCI has lost 40% since its 2007 peak. In October 2015 Goldman Sachs folded one of its BRIC equity funds, meant for American investors, into a broader emerging-market product—"a more holistic solution in emerging-markets equity," in its words.
These setbacks seemed to vindicate the curmudgeonly sneer cited by Peter Tasker, of Arcus Investment, dismissing the BRICs as a "Bloody Ridiculous Investment Concept."
If the BRICs have not sustained the euphoria of 2011, however, they have amply fulfilled the original "dream," as articulated by O'Neill in 2001 and quantified by his team two years later. Even after their recent tribulations, their combined GDP of $16.6 trillion remains far greater than the $11.6 trillion envisaged by the Goldman team back in 2003. Only Russia has failed to live up to those early expectations. China has easily surpassed them. In Brazil growth was slower than Goldman Sachs had projected, but the country's real exchange rate appreciated further than they imagined, boosting its GDP in dollar terms.
Moreover, at some point after 2015, the BRICs became unmodish enough to count once again as good investments. Since Goldman Sachs closed its fund, the BRIC stock-market index has gained almost 20%.
Emerging market investors think the BRICs are back (Инвесторы из развивающихся рынков считают, что БРИК вернулись) / India, June, 2017
Emerging market investors piling into BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China) are pushing monthly inflows and stock prices to nearly two-year highs
Resurgent growth is reviving one of the past decade's hottest trades.
Emerging-market investors are again piling into the so-called BRIC nations—Brazil, Russia, India and China—pushing monthly inflows and stock prices to nearly two-year highs.
The bet is that a pickup in the global economy will fuel demand for the countries' commodity exports, drive an expansion of middle-class consumption and help them shore up fiscal accounts.
Wooed by India's efforts to streamline regulations, Brazil's economic rebound, stabilizing prices for Russian oil exports and China's stronger currency, traders are warming to the countries' higher yields and better outlook for equities. It's an abrupt reversal after they were scorched by a 40% drop in the biggest BRIC exchange-traded fund from the end of 2012 through early 2016 as Brazil lost its investment grade, Chinese growth slowed from a meteoric pace, Russia's oil revenue plummeted and India's current account deficit swelled.
"Improving fundamentals, attractive valuations, and high yields in a yield-starved world make emerging markets once again attractive, including some of the BRICs," Jens Nystedt, a New York-based money manager at Morgan Stanley Investment Management.
Non-resident portfolio flows into BRIC nations rose to $166.5 billion last month, up from $28.3 billion in outflows 12 months prior, according to data compiled by the Institute of International Finance and EPFR Global. Chinese equities saw their biggest quarterly inflows in two years, while traders piled into Indian bonds at the highest level in almost three years, Bloomberg data show.
Mark Mobius, executive chairman of Templeton Emerging Markets Group, favours Brazil, China and India, adding that Russia will also benefit from a growth rebound.
Coined in 2001 by former Goldman Sachs economist Jim O'Neill, "BRICs" became a ubiquitous shorthand for the fastest-growing emerging economies.
In the decade ending 30 December 2012, developing-nation equities had annual returns of 17%, twice those of developed nations. That changed in the taper tantrum years amid fears that the Fragile Five, which included Brazil and India, would struggle to meet high external funding needs. Responding to changing sentiment, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. shut its BRIC fund in October 2015 after losing 88% of its assets since a 2010 peak.
Earlier this year, Goldman signalled its partial return, urging investors to " stay the course" with a bet on currencies from Brazil, Russia and India. Meanwhile, O'Neill said last month that fears of an economic slowdown in China are " completely overblown". To him, the world's top story remains the rise of emerging-market consumers, led by China's mushrooming middle class.
In India, measures designed to fuel growth and investment spearheaded by Prime Minister Narendra Modi could remake the country into one of the more dynamic markets over the next several years, according to Charles Knudsen of T. Rowe Price Group Inc. from Baltimore.
The country is expected to reclaim its crown from China as the world's fastest-growing large economy over the next three years.
Although developing-nation assets rallied over the past year, with stocks surging 25% and currencies gaining about 7%, investors say there's room for further gains. Bloomberg
Brics meet at key point in battle against global inequality (БРИКС встречаются в ключевой момент в борьбе с глобальным неравенством) / South Africa, June, 2017
Keywords: FM_meeting, expert_opinion 2017-06-19
South Africa Author: Andrew Hammond Source: mg.co.za
Foreign ministers of the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) met on Monday in Beijing in advance of the group's 9th annual summit of presidents and prime ministers in September.
The Beijing meeting unveils China's agenda for this year's event in Xiamen, which will build on the 2016 summit in India that focused on institution building to deepen and sustain Brics co-operation.
At last year's Goa summit, reform of the global financial architecture was a key agenda item, including expanding the role of emerging economies in the International Monetary Fund, and the Brics agreed to set up a new credit rating agency. The group also called on the Brics New Development Bank to focus on funding specific development priorities, and set up research centres in areas such as agriculture and railways.
The Beijing session, chaired by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and feature foreign ministers except India sent the minister of state, comes at a potentially pivotal moment in the battle against global economic inequality. World Bank research indicates that, for the first time in some two centuries, overall global income inequality - one of, but not the only measure of economic inequality - appears to be declining.
The Brics nations, which account for more than 40% of world population and just under 40% of global gross domestic product, have been the key drivers of this historic movement toward greater overall global income inequality. The collective economic growth, and very large populations of India and China, have lifted a huge number of people out of poverty — an estimated 600-million between 1981 and 2004 in China alone.
This has helped catalyse what Branko Milanovic, who co-authored the World Bank research with Christoph Lakner, asserts is the "profoundest reshuffle of individual incomes on the global scale since the Industrial Revolution".
At the same time, however, there is an opposing force: growing income inequality in many countries, and this issue has become increasingly politically salient. It is the rising inequality in developed markets that gets most attention and this has fuelled an occasionally wild political period in some Western countries. Take the United States, for instance, where concerns over inequality and stagnant living standards have led to surging support for populist and nationalist politicians, with Donald Trump powering his rise to the presidency last year.
These two opposing forces, like tectonic plates, are pushing against each other. Although the net global trend for the past 200 years has been toward greater overall income inequality, there is now significant, growing evidence since the turn of the millennium that the "positive effect" of growing income equality between countries, spurred by the development of the global South, is superseding the "negative effect" from increasing inequality within nations.
The picture is not yet clear. In part, this is because data sources on income across the world are imperfect, which means conclusions are hedged with uncertainty.
Althouth more proof is needed to judge whether this economic phenomenon is robust and sustainable, what is certain is that the overall lot of the South has improved, as exemplified by the Brics over the last generation. The most prominent beneficiaries have been a much heralded "new" middle class — estimated to be as large as a third of the world's population — disproportionately located in key Asian emerging economies such as China, India, and other key countries including Indonesia.
The World Bank research also indicates that much of the bottom third of the global income hierarchy have also generally benefited. As in China, many other hundreds of millions of people have shifted from absolute poverty.
But not all the South has shared fully in this success story. Much of Africa and some of Latin America have generally not benefited as much as Asia.
With the current economic problems that China and other key emerging markets, including Brazil and South Africa, are now experiencing, it is unclear whether the development of the global South has enough momentum to keep driving towards a more equitable world order. This will depend, largely, on the same twin issues of whether emerging markets generally continue growing robustly, and whether the trend toward rising income inequality in countries is sustained.
On the first issue, the trajectory of the global economy will probably continue to shift toward the South, and fmany key emerging markets will remain in robust shape. But the recent wave of emerging market growth of the last generation appears to be decelerating, and the global transformation it has produced in recent years may not be repeated again.
On the latter, it is not set in stone that ever-growing income inequality in countries will continue, especially if there is political and popular will to address it. But the debate over what long-term reform agenda should be undertaken to tackle this problem is contested by the left and right across much of the world.
BRICS continues to drive global economy (БРИКС продолжает продвигать глобальную экономику) / China, June, 2017
Keywords: Xiao_Jie, expert_opinion, Fin_meeting, NDB, energy 2017-06-20
BRICS will continue to be a growth engine of the world economy despite difficulties and challenges, Chinese Finance Minister Xiao Jie said Monday.
"We firmly believe the economic condition of BRICS will be better under our joint effort," said Xiao in an interview on the sidelines of the second BRICS Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.
Slower-than-expected global economic recovery, policy uncertainties in developed countries, de-globalization and world protectionism caused a complex economic environment for BRICS, Xiao said.
BRICS is experiencing a shift in gears after years of robust economic development and needs to develop new economic growth points via in-depth structural adjustment, he said.
BRICS should create new economic growth models, promote structural reform and seek new growth momentum, while strengthening policy coordination and enhance cooperation, Xiao said.
Xiao highlighted the fruitful results of the meeting, saying that BRICS finance ministers and central bank governors agreed to enhance macro-economic policy coordination, combat protectionism and deepen cooperation under the financial and monetary channels of the G20.
All sides agreed to make full use of the platform of the New Development Bank (NDB), promote international tax cooperation and set up cooperation on public-private partnerships, Xiao added.
"This meeting in Shanghai is an important stepping stone to the summit in Xiamen under the Chinese presidency," said Paulo Nogueira Batista Jr., vice president of the New Development Bank.
The 2017 BRICS Summit will be held in Xiamen, southeastern China's Fujian Province, in September 3-5 this year.
"When the BRICS mechanism was first launched 10 years ago, there was lots of skepticism. The last ten years has showed the mechanism is not artificial. It is a working mechanism," Paulo said. "I believe the next 10 years will be very important for BRICS countries."
Given that BRICS countries are already about the same economic size as the G7, Paulo said he believes BRICS would be larger than the G7 in the next 10 years.
"I am sure this year under China's presidency, we will meet the expectation as BRICS countries continue to be the driving force not only in economy, but also increasingly in ideas and in proposals for international governance," Paulo said. "The performances of BRICs countries are very crucial to the performance of world economy as a whole."
He also expressed confidence that the NDB would consolidate and run as a major bank with global reach within 10 years.
Renewable energy is very important for the NDB, in the next five years, around two-thirds of its projects will be in renewable energy, according to Paulo.
Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa will push the development of the BRICS New Development Bank, ensuring it plays an important role in BRICS cooperation, according to an official document released after the meeting.
The parties also agreed to strengthen financial regulatory collaboration and establish an improved network of financial services institutions, boosting the integration of financial markets among the BRICS countries.
Local currency bond markets in BRICS countries will be advanced through collaboration, and coordinated efforts will be made to converge accounting and auditing standards, laying a solid foundation for connectivity in bond markets in BRICS countries.
World of work
Social policy, trade unions, actions
WATCH: 'Brics Media should be about the untold stories' (Смотрите видео: «СМИ БРИКС должны быть о не рассказанных историях») / South Africa, June, 2017
The Brics Mainstream Media Forum in Shanghai culminated with the signing of a co-operation agreement between China's Shanghai United Media Group and Russia's Sputnik on Sunday.
Kochetkov Sergey, the first deputy editor-in-chief of Sputnik, signed the agreement with Shanghai United Media Group's president Qui Xin.
Delegates from Brazil, India and South Africa, who also attended the forum, "Internet Era: The win-win co-operation of Media", agreed to work towards greater Brics collaboration.
Dr Iqbal Surve, executive chairperson of Independent Media, said Brics Media should be about the untold stories.
"It's about the narratives...and it's going to become even more important as the world becomes more polarised, that the untold stories are told," he said.
"Cooperation is absolutely critical," Surve said.
"Until the lions tell their side of their story, tales of the hunt will always glorify the hunter. So in this world where we are trying to make sure that as a Brics grouping, as developing nations, as nations that are aligned to progress, development, win-win co-operation, that we must tell begin to tell our stories."
BRICS meeting discusses agricultural development to eradicate poverty and hunger (Совещание БРИКС обсуждает развитие сельского хозяйства в целях искоренения нищеты и голода) / United Kingdom, June, 2017
The 7th meeting of BRICS Ministers of Agriculture in China focused on the agrarian development and to take leading role in creating innovation to develop the agricultural sector, with an aim to meet the international goal of hunger and poverty eradication
BRICS meeting discusses ways to eradicate hunger and poverty by meeting global food security requisite. (Image source: Jankie/Flickr)
During the meeting, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS), emphasised on the importance of global food production and cooperation for a sustainable agricultural development worldwide.
The UN's Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) said that BRICS play important role in international agricultural arena, as the countries together produce more than one-third of global cereal production, with Russia becoming the largest wheat exporter in 2016.
In a statement in the meeting, Kundhavi Kadiresan, assistant director-general and FAO's regional representative for Asia and the Pacific, commented that the BRICS countries, together, can help to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) to address the issues of hunger and poverty by 2030.
Kadiresan said, "Agriculture can be a driver of sustained and inclusive rural growth. In low-income countries, growth originating from agriculture is twice as effective in reducing poverty as growth originating from other sectors of the economy."
In addition, she said that farmers should have access to farming technologies and equipment to increase productivity.
The BRICS summit addressed the needs of investment in improving the agricultural research and application of information technology to boost up production. Also, the meeting prioritised the areas of the effect of climate change on agri-production, food security and agricultural trade.
The ministers in the BRICS meeting pointed out that information technology can play important role in providing smallholder farmers access to information on prices, weather forecasts, vaccines, financial services and others.
FAO said that it aims to collaborate with the G20, OECD and International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) to ensure technological benefits to the smallholder farmers.
Apart from the agricultural development, BRICS summit addressed that social protection programmes are needed to eradicate the issues of hunger and poverty. They showed the examples of Brazil's 'Fome Zero' and India's 'National Rural Employment Guarantee Act' as playing role in poverty reduction, health benefits and improving income of poor households.
Kadiresan said, "The income from these activities provides not only a higher standard of living, but also a more stable one in many cases. Governments play a key role in encouraging this transformation by investing in rural health and education."
BRICS media chiefs here (Руководители СМИ БРИКС здесь) / China, June, 2017
Senior media executives attend a panel discussion at the BRICS Mainstream Media Forum in Shanghai yesterday. The forum was organized by Shanghai United Media Group, parent of Shanghai Daily, and was designed to boost communications and exchanges between media outlets in BRICS countries — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Representatives from Brazil's Bandeirantes Group, Russia's Sputnik News Agency and Radio, India's ITV Network, Shanghai United Media Group and South Africa's Independent Media participated.
ASU welcomes participants at Summer Academy of BRICS Youth Assembly (АГУ приветствует участников Летней академии Молодежной Ассамблеи БРИКС) / Russia, June, 2017
Today, 22 June 2017, Summer Academy of BRICS Youth Assembly has opened at flagship Altai State University. Youth leaders from 12 world's countries have come to ASU.
Around 100 representatives of active youth from 5 BRICS countries and 7 other countreis are going to deliver their reports and attend the events of BRICS Academy.
The forum guests include activists from Fortaleza, the state capital of Ceara, Brazil; Brasilia, the federal capital of Brazil; Pretoria, one of the three capitals in South Africa; New Delhi, the official capital of India; Noida, a city in India located 20 km away from New Delhi; China; Armenia; Donetsk People's Republic; Kazakhstan; Nigeria; Tajikistan; and other countries.
Today briefing, where the participants of Summer Academy of BRICS Youth Assembly will get acquainted with each other, is to be held. Tomorrow, 23 June 2017, grand opening of the Academy will be held in the concert hall of flagship Altai State University.
Young participants of the forum will be welcomed by Vice Chairman of the National Council for Youth and Child Associations of Russia Alexander D. Bolotnov; Counselor of the National Committee for BRICS Research Valeria O. Gorbacheva; Director of the Center for International Programs under the Russian Union of Youth Alexey S. Yezhov; Program Director of the Alexander Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Fund Nikita Yu. Silakov; representatives of the Board of Young Legislators under the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation; representatives of Altai Krai Legislative Assembly; and others.
The working part of the Summer Academy will start with a panel discussion of the role of BRICS in modern international relations. The event program includes expert sessions and roundtables dedicated to the issues of youth cooperation in the framework of BRICS and aimed at advancement of youth leaders' qualifications and development of interaction between young people in such areas as business, science, culture, journalism, information technologies and so on. One of the key topics for discussion will be preparation for the XIX World Festival of Youth and Students in Sochi.
According to organizers, the main strategic goals of Summer Academy of the BRICS Youth Assembly are development of the unified work direction for major national youth organizations of BRICS countries; creation of international project teams with a view to implement joint large-scale youth projects; shaping of partner relations between young people; establishment of scientific and educational ties for the purpose of research of global political, social, cultural processes; organization of joint laboratories, internships, academic mobility programs.
Comprehensive reports, BRICS research materials
The Emerging Role of BRICS in the Changing World Order (Проявляющаяся роль БРИКС в меняющемся мировом порядке) / USA, June, 2017
The rapid economic and political rise of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) as an informal co-operative group as well as their individual emergence on the international stage as influential actors have shifted the power dynamics of the international world order. Most importantly, the emergence of BRICS after the financial crisis has changed the structural dynamics of the West-dominated financial system by providing an alternative bypassing the normative structure. Of which, what provided the institutional framework to the BRICS is the New Development Bank and the Contingent Reserve Arrangement- key milestones of cooperation among emerging economies and developing countries. Thereby, this makes it imperative to understand the role of BRICS as an important platform in the international order and how it is shaping the international order.
Keywords:BRICS, New Development Bank, International Order, Bretton Woods Institutions, South-South Cooperation
Surviving under the metamorphic phase of two decades, BRICS has significantly evolved as a potential institution. Under the presidency of China, the 9th BRICS Summit will be held on September 3-5, 2017 in Xiamen, in East China's Fujian province.Being the chair of the summit, on February 23, 2017, China unveiled the theme and key priorities in the event of the First Sherpa Meeting of the 9th BRICS Summit in Nanjing. As China's State Councillor Yang Jiechi officially announced that the 2017 Summit will be held under the theme- "BRICS: Stronger Partnership for a Brighter Future". In his speech, Yang further stated that Summit will feature four key objectives: promote members strengthening solidarity and collaboration, and improving global governance; deepening pragmatic cooperation to achieve mutual benefit; increasing people-to-people exchanges, and enhancing public support; and strengthening institutional mechanism and improving cooperation platform. Given these key objectives at play, the 9th BRICS Summit will further pave the way in shaping the international world order.
What makes BRICS distinct is its timely diversified outlook, which was first envisaged at the 7th BRICS Summit held in July 2015, in Ufa, Russia. Wherein, the BRICS leaders, as the Ufa Declaration states: "emphasized the importance to strengthen BRICS solidarity and cooperation, and decided to further enhance [the] strategic partnership on the basis of openness, solidarity, equality and mutual understanding, inclusiveness and mutually beneficial cooperation." And further emphasized on "enhance[ing] the collective role of [BRICS] countries in international affairs". From this statement, it can be assessed that BRICS as a forum has evolved both in significance in the international order as well as its vision from being economically oriented to that of adopting a multi-dimensional approach to global concerns.
Further following up on the Ufa lines, the 8th BRICS Summit under India's chairmanship emphasized on "Building Responsive, Inclusive and Collective Solutions"- which comprehensively encompassed the acronym 'BRICS'. The Goa Declaration further accentuated the broadened vision as it categorically pointed at the "emerging challenges to global peace and security and to sustainable development [that] require further enhancing of our [BRICS] collective effort". This constant expansion in BRICS vision categorically exemplifies the evolving role of BRICS as a potential institutional framework in the international order. What is important to note is the diversified outlook that significantly reflects the shift in BRICS' organizational focus- from prioritizing economics to that of engaging with the emerging global concerns.
What makes BRICS more significant is the indicative expansion of its institutional framework and functionaries since its inception in 2009. Of which, the most important outputs have been reached in terms of the New Development Bank, the Currency Reserve Arrangement, and Strategy for BRICS Economic Cooperation and so on. Given the rapid rate of their economic growth, analysts predict that the BRICS will overtake the United States in terms of GDP by 2016 and the G7 by 2030. This makes it imperative for BRICS to further elevate its reach and output.
Thereby, having a comprehensive diversified vision, the pragmatic way forward for BRICS lies in evolving into a multilateral framework that goes beyond the economic logic and significantly addresses the global political and security concerns. This multilateral step forward can only elevate the institutional stature of BRICS to that of a responsible stakeholder in the international order. And most importantly, serve as an indicator of both the ability of BRICS to affect international outcomes as well as the intentions of the concerned states in doing so.
Origin and Evolution of BRICS
BRICS is an informal group of states comprising of the Federative Republic of Brazil, the Russian Federation, India, China and South Africa- a composition of the emerging economies and political powers at the regional and international level. Initially, conceptualized as 'BRIC', the acronym was first coined in 2001 by Goldman Sachs' chief economist, Jim O' Neil in an attempt to forecast global economic trends and thereby, highlighted the exceptional role of important emerging economies, which included only Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC). Under this study, the main finding suggested that the BRICs would play an increasingly important role in the global economy. As Neil predicted that "over next 10 years, the weight of BRICs and especially China in world GDP will grow, raising important issues about the global economic impact of the fiscal and monetary policy of BRICS". In 2003 Goldman Sachs came up with another paper titled "Dreaming with the BRICS: The Path to 2050".This paper made more definitive and long-term conclusions about the BRICs economies and forecasted that the BRIC economies will surpass the G-6 economies (the United States, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, France and Italy) by 2050 in US dollar terms. Therefore, originally the BRICs were meant to be a purely economic category-bounded by the strength of their fast-paced economic growth.
This economic acronym of 'BRIC' paved its initial formalization, wherein the first move was taken in September 2006 when the first meeting of the BRIC foreign ministers took place on the sidelines of the 61st UN General Assembly in New York. This was followed by successive meetings in 2007 and in 2008 the BRIC Heads of State meeting was held. Having emerged strongly from the 2008-2009 financial crisis and projecting a viable model of growth, the member states formalized BRIC as an institutional body with the first summit of the BRIC leaders held on 16 June 2009 in Yekaterinburg, Russia. This summit concretized the acronym 'BRIC' into a reality by laying the broad objective of building a "more democratic and multipolar world based on the rule of law, equality, mutual respect, cooperation, coordinated action, and collective decision making of all states". While in 2010, with the inclusion of South Africa into the gamut, the acronym expanded to 'BRICS'- symbolizing the collective economic clout of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Though each country has distinctive economic and political character, what assimilates these five countries together is their commonalities in terms of- the outstanding size of their economies, strong growth rates with significant input in the world economy and ambition to have a strong political voice in the international order. Besides, what makes BRICS a heterogeneous economic group is their distinctive economic character wherein Russia is a commodity-driven economy, China is the export-led economy, India is a domestic consumer-based economy, Brazil has much developed economic structure and South Africa represents the fast-growing region of Africa. And most importantly, BRICS brings together five major emerging economies, comprising 43 percent of the world population, having 37 percent of the world GDP and 17 percent share in the world trade. 
Since 2009, Summit level meetings between the Heads of the State have become a regular practice- strengthening the institutional framework of BRICS. So far, seven BRICS Summit have taken place: 2009 (Yekaterinburg-Russia), 2010 (Brasilia-Brazil), 2011 (Sanya-China), 2012 (New Delhi-India), 2013 (Durban-South Africa), 2014 (Fortaleza-Brazil) and 2015 (Ufa-Russia). From these dynamics, what is noteworthy is that BRICS forum has evolved and expanded since its official formalization in 2009, as witnessed in the addition of South Africa to the economic grouping. BRICS has also evolved in their vision as initially emphasizing on economic issues, the BRICS agenda has expanded over the years to encompass topical global issues. In this process, BRICS function under twin pillars- consultation on issues of mutual interest through meetings of Leaders as well as of Ministers of Finance, Trade, Health, S&T, Education, Agriculture, Communication, Labour, etc. and practical cooperation in a number of areas through meetings of Working Groups/Senior Officials. Besides, regular annual Summits, as well as meetings of Leaders on the margins of G20 Summits, are held.
In doing so, BRICS has expanded its activities in two main streams of work: (i) coordination in meetings and international organization; and (ii) the development of an agenda for multisectoral cooperation among its members. Wherein, in the area of International fora and organizations, BRICS is focused on the economic-financial and political governance spheres. As for economic-financial domain, the BRICS agenda prioritized G-20 cooperation, including the IMF reform. While in the political realm, the BRICS advocate the reform of the United Nations and of its Security Council, aiming for more inclusive representation and a more democratic international governance. In addition, the BRICS maintain a constant dialogue on the main issues on the international agenda.  The intra-BRICS cooperation has expanded into areas such as agriculture, science, and technology, culture, outer space, think tanks, Internet governance and security, social welfare, intellectual property, health, and tourism, among others.
Thereby, BRICS has evolved and expanded both in its role and agenda over the years as witnessed in the significant shift from being an acronym to that of becoming a formal grouping of emerging economies, which plays a significant role in reforming the global financial system as well as setting a new alternative process within the world politics.
Role of BRICS in the International Order
What makes BRICS important is the fact that with over 40 percent of the world's population in its fold, the combined output of these countries constitutes more than 20 percent of the world GDP. That is, the BRICS economies collectively have evolved into a strong economic force as reflected in the increasing share of BRICS in the world GDP. From a share of little over 10 percent of the world GDP in 1990, BRICS now commands a share of more than 25 percent, which implies that the economic size of BRICS in terms of its share of world GDP has expanded by 150 percent.
Since its inception, BRICS has played a vital role both in practical as well as ideational terms in reforming the global financial system as well as in the norm-setting processes within world politics. Wherein, the practical role for the BRICS resides in the original mandate of this informal grouping, which took shape chiefly after the global financial crisis of 2008. The aim of founding the grouping was to discuss economic and trade, primarily towards reform of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, in order to enhance the representation of emerging economies in these financial institutions. In this view, the aim of BRICS was driven by two factors: first, it was felt that the IMF model of growth (Washington Consensus) contributed to the global financial crisis in the absence of sound financial surveillance. And in this phase, the BRICS member states were able to survive the financial crisis. Second, with 40 percent of the world population and a creditable contribution to world economic output (25 per cent), the BRICS grouping felt it is time to seek political access in global rule-setting processes.
What led to the relevance of BRICS in international order was the financial crises of 2008, which raised skepticism and concerns over the dollar-dominated monetary system. This further challenged the relevance of west-led Bretton Woods institutions given the suffering of the United States and Europe in the wake of the financial crises. While on the other end, the BRICS economies showed resilience and thereby, called for the "the reform of multilateral institutions in order that they reflect the structural changes in the world economy and the increasingly central role that emerging markets now play".  In this light, BRICS provided an alternative discourse on global governance. Another characteristic feature of BRICS that exemplified its role in international order was that BRICS did not stop after financial crises, rather it expanded and "spilled over" to other areas. That is, the BRICS co-ordinated actions beyond the economic realm and expanded to new areas of cooperation and interaction among BRICS countries. Thus, BRICS rather than being a narrow issue-based coalition has evolved and expanded into a multilateral forum engaged in various activities related to the international order. Significance of BRICS: Role of New Development Bank
It remains clear that over time, BRICS has evolved into a vital grouping that has significantly played an important role both in practical as well as ideational terms. Most importantly, BRICS has been able to provide an alternative platform to the West-dominated international order. Of which, the most significant landmark has been BRICS New Development Bank (NDB) which came as a result of growing grievances among BRICS nations on the failure of IMF to implement 2010 IMF quota reforms. BRICS initiative to establish the NDB and Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) as agreed during the 5th BRICS Summit in Durban was an initiative to undercut the Bretton Woods institution. Although mostly seen to be a direct challenge to the existing development banks (World Bank and IMF), but BRICS nations view the NDB to be a complement rather than a substitute to the existing financial institutions in the public and private sector to support the future growth of the developing and emerging economies.
Since the economic sphere is the most promising sector for the BRICS, thereby, two instruments of special importance were signed at the 6th BRICS Summit in Fortaleza in 2014: the constituent agreements of the NDB- aimed at financing of infrastructure projects and sustainable development in emerging economies and developing countries – and the Contingency Reserves Arrangement- which has the goal of promoting mutual support amongst BRICS members in situations of instability in the balance of payments. The initial capital subscribed for NDB was $50 billion and the authorized capital was $100 billion. While the resources allocated to the CRF was estimated to $100 billion. With the 7th BRICS Summit in Ufa, July 2015, the agreement on the NDB came into force followed by starting of its operation in 2016, with its headquarter in Shanghai and first presidency under India. What is noteworthy is that the New Development Bank has provided the institutional framework to the BRICS grouping in the international order.
Here, it becomes imperative to understand what is the significance and role of the NDB. That is, how does the NDB provide an alternative to the Western international order. There are three key features that exemplify the role of NDB and sets it apart from other multilateral development banks. They are "south-south" cooperation, equity in power-sharing and sustainable development.
First, the creation of NDB by countries of the global south for the global south is both unique and necessary. It has been created to meet the specific development needs of the global south, namely those of infrastructure, wherein unlike the West-led development banks, NDB's funding is provided free of political conditionalities and is disbursed without delays. In this light, the BRICS Bank seeks to address the existing gaps in the financial architecture of the Southern countries. For infrastructure development is the key driver of economic and social growth, but in the context of developing countries, infrastructural deficiencies are a matter of concern. Thereby, NDB aims at bridging these gaps between "needs and funding".  In this regard, BRICS growing impact on low-income countries through trade, foreign direct investment, and development financing is significant and also challenges the old system of donor countries such as United States, EU, and Japan. Therefore, the South-South Nexus makes BRICS-led NDB a successful alternative given the logic of solidarity, shared experiences and self-reliance of the South.
Secondly, NDB provides equity in power sharing. That is, each of the BRICS governments has ownership of one-fifth of the share of the Bank, which translates into an equal say in decision-making. This makes NDB more inclusive and there exists no monopoly in power sharing unlike the West-led banks such as IMF and World Bank, where there is a hierarchy at play.
And lastly, NDB is committed to the principle of sustainable development, which makes it an exception in itself. For this is a departure from a business-as-usual approach. In its own words, NDB looks forward to partner with initiatives that drive growth and employment while ensuring environmental protection.
Therefore, the $100 billion bank floated by the BRICS nations has been an important step forward in the current structural dynamics of the world order. The Bank would provide a valuable addition to the existing network of multilateral, regional and national development banks. it is important to note that the development of BRICS institutions such as NDB and CRA- can provide a valuable platform for the BRICS to advance reforms in the international financial and development architecture that favor the developing and emerging countries in general. It is in all likelihood that BRICS-led NDB will eventually emerge as a major cornerstone of the global developmental landscape. And that, the emergence of such institutions will very likely alter the hegemonic influence over developmental finance that the US currently enjoys. Although the New Development Bank is unlikely to replace the IMF and the World Bank. But, it certainly will emerge as a strong financial institution in the international order setting new norms to the old structure.
In the concluding remarks, it can thus, be stated that BRICS as an informal grouping of emerging economies has evolved both literally and figuratively. Economically, the role of BRICS has been most promising given the institutionalization of the New Development Bank and the Contingent Reserve Arrangement- which are definitive and are deemed to play a significant role in the geo-economic and geopolitical domain. Although BRICS is at its formidable stage. But, it has been successful in laying the groundwork of an alternative order in the current structural dynamics of the West-dominated international system. The most important characteristic feature that defines BRICS is the 'South-South cooperation'- which makes BRICS more viable as an agency. And with the broadening of agenda from economics to greater stakes in global political and security concerns such as cooperation in counter-terrorism activities and others have further exemplified BRICS evolution in significant terms. Therefore, in the long run, BRICS is likely to emerge as a strong and effective multilateral forum in the global order. Given this assessment, the 9th BRICS Summit will play a significant role in further enhancing the role of BRICS in the international order.
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