Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 22.2020
2020.05.25 — 2020.05.31
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Facing Western public opinion calmly makes China ideologically stronger (Столкновение с западным общественным мнением делает Китай идеологически сильнее) / China, May, 2020
Keywords: expert_opinion, cooperation

Media reported that the Chinese Embassy in Brazil sent a letter to Brazilian parliamentarians, asking them to avoid gestures that could harm the one-China principle after Taiwan regional leader Tsai Ing-wen's inauguration for a second term on May 20. Is there anything wrong? Of course not. It is China that Brazil has established diplomatic relations with. The two countries are important trade partners and BRICS members (BRICS refers to five major emerging countries, namely, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). It is the Brazilian parliamentarians' basic obligation not to do anything that would harm China-Brazil ties.

However, a Brazilian Congress member posted the letter on Twitter. After some Western media hype, some Brazilian netizens even started a hashtag on Twitter called #VivaTaiwan.

The Brazilian government has not yet made any statement about it as of press time. This is purely a public opinion incident, and Western media has amplified its negative influence.

The one-China principle is universally recognized. The Brazilian Congress member was seeking attention by posting the letter on Twitter and deliberately causing China trouble. This is unethical. It is suggested that Chinese embassies in other countries should reduce the kind of persuasion toward local parliamentarians. Doing so would easily backfire in the current global public opinion atmosphere.

No normal countries have kept "diplomatic" relations with Taiwan. Those which have official contact with the island are being very cautious when making relevant moves. Yet, China cannot hold others' tongues when it comes to the Taiwan question. China would seem to have lost the game if we get ourselves into a wrangle with such congress members and public opinion.

China is becoming stronger, and other countries will have complicated feelings about this. Such feelings may be fully released in Western media, which is quite powerful in shaping public opinion. China should face all kinds of noises in a calm manner and ignore petty tricks which do not pose real harm to the country's real interests.

For example, would the Democratic Progressive Party's authority become more powerful if more foreign parliamentarians went to Tsai's inauguration or sent her congratulations letters?

China must adapt to all the disturbances resulting from external public opinion, and accurately understand the Western public opinion system. Some of our acts meant well, but we should remain vigilant that some unfriendly forces are trying to seize any chance they could get to attack us.

We should adapt to the fact that some forces are unfriendly to China under Western public opinion system, and that our official diplomatic persuasion can hardly change the situation. This will be a process for China to become stronger ideologically.
BRICS Tax Authorities discuss support measures for taxpayers under the new conditions (Налоговые органы БРИКС обсуждают меры поддержки налогоплательщиков в новых условиях) / Russia, May, 2020
Keywords: top_level_meeting, cooperation

On 29 May, Head of the Federal Tax Service of the Russian Federation Daniil Yegorov chaired the Meeting of Heads of BRICS Tax Authorities via videoconference.

The meeting focused on economic support measures for taxpayers and providing services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Daniil Yegorov noted that the crisis caused by COVID-19 has accelerated the digital transformation of state management and public services. Thus, the Russian Federal Tax Service gave an example of already implemented projects for the remote provision of tax services, such as tax monitoring that allows tax authorities to have online access to companies' accounts and transactions, a blockchain platform for cooperation with banks and companies that apply for a preferential loan, as well as an online service to receive subsidies to pay salaries to employees of companies affected by the pandemic.

"The entire cooperation process starting from submitting an application to receiving payments is organized via this service. Employers can monitor the application status in their personal account. It usually takes no longer than two or three days. More then 600,000 Russian taxpayers have already received a total of 31 billion roubles in subsidies," Daniil Yegorov noted.

Representatives of BRICS Tax Authorities also discussed the prospects of taxation of the digital economy, as well as practical issues of the automatic information exchange mechanism. They also shared their experience in countering the grey economy.

"The automatic information exchange is another multilateral tool to combat tax evasion. It is necessary to further develop this initiative and improve the quality of data, including other types of information in the data exchange that affect tax revenues. These mechanisms can only be effective if they are developed and used taking into account the interests of all the parties involved," Daniil Yegorov said.

Heads of BRICS Tax Authorities have summarized the main outcomes of the meeting in the final communique.

BRICS and the SCO summits postponed (Саммиты БРИКС и ШОС перенесены) / Russia, May, 2020
Keywords: summit, chairmanship, covid-19

Taking into account the coronavirus pandemic in the world and the related temporary restrictive measures, the Organizing Committee for Russia's Presidency of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in 2019-2020, and the Russian BRICS Chairmanship in 2020 has decided to postpone the Meeting of the Leaders of BRICS States and the Meeting of the Heads of State Council of the SCO, previously scheduled for 21-23 July 2020 in St. Petersburg. The new dates for the Summits will be determined depending on the further development of the epidemiological situation in the states of the groupings and around the world.
Has coronavirus pandemic really destroyed globalization? (Действительно ли пандемия коронавируса уничтожила глобализацию?) / Russia, May, 2020
Keywords: covid-19, expert_opinion, global_governance

Paul Antonopoulos, independent geopolitical analyst

The coronavirus pandemic has not only created contradictory information on the best ways to deal with it, on whether there are cures and vaccinations, or whether there will be a second wave, but they are also contradictory on how the world will look after we overcome the pandemic. Two supranational ideological tendencies have emerged – those who support globalization and think it will continue to function as if the pandemic never occurred, and those who think it is inevitable that coronavirus has sped up the inevitable end of a U.S.-led globalized world.

It was only on Monday that European Union foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell told a gathering of German ambassadors on Monday that "analysts have long talked about the end of an American-led system and the arrival of an Asian century. This is now happening in front of our eyes." Although the EU supports a globalized world, it predicts that with the end of the coronavirus, the power centers of the world will shift from the West to the East.

The new head of the World Bank, Carmen Rainhart, had a slightly differing position to Borrel and told Bloomberg in an interview that: "Without being melodramatic, Covid-19 is like the last nail in the coffin of globalization. The 2008-2009 crisis gave globalization a big hit, as did Brexit, as did the U.S.-China trade war, but Covid is taking it to a new level."

Every economist, think-tank and journalist are coming to their own conclusions, usually not based on facts and data, but rather based on their own political-economic ideology of how they believe the world should be, and not how it actually is. The governments of each country, whether they are major powers or small states, must decide what to prepare for and what future they want in the post-coronavirus world. The colossal differences between globalist and anti-globalist rhetoric are evident and emerging.

The World Economic Forum is one such example and has aggressively defended the U.S.-led globalized order. Only days ago went with the headline "Coronavirus won't spell the end for globalization - but change is unavoidable," where they argued "Nobody can predict the next crisis. But the most reliable and efficient insurance by far is to build a strong international cooperation network."

Supporters of globalization argue that blocking people at borders can deprive society of talented and needed workers and that there is a better chance of responding to the challenges and threats of globalization if with collective action we can address the risk of disease and climate change, cyber-attacks, nuclear proliferation, terrorism and other problems.

In another article by the World Economic Forum from earlier this year before the coronavirus was declared a global pandemic, they argued that "Discontent with globalization is a key factor behind the temptation to advance policy goals through unilateral actions rather than by working together." The article continues their argument by saying that "although improving international cooperation is an urgent task, it is equally important to acknowledge that there are always trade-offs between qualities such as national sovereignty, democratic legitimacy, effectiveness and speed of decision-making."

The coronavirus pandemic has shown that in times of crisis, even the most ardent backers of globalization, like the U.S. and the EU, contract to protect their own interests first. Although the EU now regrets this course of action and is attempting to amend it, it has only confirmed in the minds of potential new EU members that multilateralism is a mythology that only serves the interests of powerful states who are not willing to reciprocate the trust in times of crisis.

So American unilateralism, that is, the use of maximum geopolitical egocentrism, as well as economic and military violence against countries that do not want to submit to Washington's demands any way, is part of today's global reconfiguration. However, deglobalization will be a difficult task as countries will have to reindustrialize and reconfigure their economies and work forces.

Interestingly, even within the ranks of globalists, there are those who are arguing the end of globalization is near. This was especially galvanized after a Foreign Policy column argued on March 9 that "Globalization is headed to the ICU," while The Economist's May 14 issue asked whether COVID-19 had killed globalization. Time magazine hit back arguing that "Globalization is here to stay. It's a horse that left the barn 30 years ago, when the Soviet Union fell."

However, this is an admission from Time magazine that it does not believe that a multipolar world is emerging in the aftermath of the failed U.S.-led unipolar system that came into existence after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. This is devoid of all reality as China continues to expand its economic and transportation network across the world and major regional powers have appeared around the world, such as Russia, who can defend their interests in their own neighbourhood. There is little doubt that the U.S. was on a global hegemonic decline before the emergence of the coronavirus, but the pandemic has only accelerated this inevitability, and no amount of debates by think tanks and media publications can change this fact.

China-Russia Mutual Support Forges Impregnable Fortress Against "Political Virus" (Китайско-российская взаимная поддержка создает "неприступную крепость" против "политического вируса") / China, May, 2020
Keywords: expert_opinion

China and Russia have supported and defended each other against unreasonable attacks and slanders by certain countries since the novel coronavirus outbreak, forging an impregnable fortress against the "political virus," Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said.

Wang made the remarks at a press conference on the sidelines of the annual national legislative session.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin have held several phone calls and kept high-level strategic communication, Wang noted, adding that Russia was the first country to have sent medical experts to China, and China has provided Russia the strongest support in terms of anti-virus materials.

"I have no doubt that two countries' joint response to the virus will give a strong boost to China-Russia relations after the COVID-19 pandemic," Wang said.

China is willing to work together with Russia to turn the crisis into an opportunity by maintaining stable cooperation in energy and other traditional fields, holding a China-Russia Year of Scientific and Technological Innovation, and accelerating collaboration in emerging sectors, including e-commerce, biomedicine and the cloud economy, to create new engines of growth in the post-COVID-19 economic recovery, he said.

China is also willing to enhance strategic coordination with Russia, Wang said.

"By marking the 75th anniversary of the United Nations (UN), we stand ready to firmly safeguard the outcomes of the victory of World War II, uphold the UN Charter and the basic norms of international relations, and oppose unilateralism and bullying in any form," he said.

The two countries will enhance cooperation and coordination in international institutions including the UN, Shanghai Cooperation Organization, BRICS and G20, he said.

"I believe that with China and Russia standing shoulder by shoulder and working back to back, the world will be a safer and more stable place where justice and fairness are truly upheld," Wang said.
Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
An empirical analysis of sustainability of public debt among BRICS nations (Эмпирический анализ устойчивости государственного долга среди стран БРИКС) / India, May, 2020
Keywords: expert_opinion, economic_challenges


The main objective of this paper is to verify the sustainability of public debt among Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) in a political economy framework. Annual panel data have been used for BRICS countries from World Development Indicators of World Bank for the period 1980–2017 for the analysis. Bohn's sustainability framework is used to examine the sustainability of public debt in BRICS nations and verify the influence of political economic variables such as election year, coalition dummy, ideology of the government and unemployment on public debt sustainability. The results suggest that public debt sustainability is weak for BRICS as a whole. China and India have a better public debt sustainability coefficients compared to the same for Brazil, Russia and South Africa. Structural change dummy included in the model suggests that debt sustainability is severely affected after the 2008 crisis period. Political factors have influence on debt sustainability in BRICS. Electoral cycle year and coalition dummy variables adversely affect public debt sustainability in BRICS. While centrist political ideology is found to be significant and negative, left and right ideologies are not significant for debt sustainability. Since debt sustainability is found to be weak in BRICS, countries in the region need to adopt necessary measures to improve their primary balance through appropriate fiscal and debt management. Besides, it is important for the governments to prioritize fiscal prudence irrespective of their ideologies and political compulsions.

Board of Governors holds special meeting, elects Marcos Troyjo as NDB president (Совет управляющих проводит специальное заседание, избирает Маркоса Тройо президентом NDB) / China, May, 2020
Keywords: ndb, top_level_meeting

On May 27, 2020, the Board of Governors of the New Development Bank (NDB) unanimously elected Mr. Marcos Prado Troyjo as the President of the NDB from July 7, 2020, in full accordance with the Articles of Agreement of the New Development Bank and its procedures.


Prior to his appointment as President of the NDB, Mr. Marcos Troyjo pursued a successful multi-layered career in government, business, academia and the public debate on economic development.

He recently served as Brazil's Deputy Economy Minister and Special Secretary for Foreign Trade and International Affairs and represented the Brazilian Government on the boards of multilateral development institutions.

Mr. Troyjo was also Chairman of Brazil's Commission on External Financing and its National Investment Committee.

He co-founded and served as Director of the BRICLab at Columbia University, where he taught international and public affairs, and lectured extensively at universities and research centers around the world.

Mr. Troyjo is a member of the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Future Council on International Trade and Investment. He was Director of the Intelligent Tech & Trade Initiative (ITTI).

An economist, political scientist and diplomat, he holds a Master's degree and a PhD in sociology of international relations from the University of São Paulo and pursued postdoctoral studies at Columbia University. He is an alumnus of the Rio Branco Institute, the diplomatic academy of Brazil's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Mr. Troyjo authors books on development, technology and global affairs.

According to the Articles of Agreement of the New Development Bank, the NDB Board of Governors elects a President from one of the founding member countries on a rotational basis. The President is the chief of the operating staff of the Bank, conducting, under the direction of the Directors, the ordinary business of the NDB.

The Board of Governors of the New Development Bank also appointed Mr. Anil Kishora as Vice President of the NDB.


Mr. Anil Kishora had worked in India's largest bank, the State Bank of India (SBI) for about 38 years. During his long career, Mr. Anil Kishora had exposure to all areas of SBI operations.

Before joining the NDB, he worked as Deputy Managing Director & CRO of SBI, being responsible for managing SBI Group's operational, market, credit, cyber, information security and other risks. Prior to that, Mr. Anil Kishora served as Deputy Managing Director/ Chief General Manager, SBI Local Head Office, Chandigarh, India and CEO of SBI in Singapore.

Mr. Anil Kishora completed a number of executive development programmes and trainings, including Risk Management in Banking Programme (INSEAD), School of Bank Risk Management (EUROMONEY Learning, Geneva), Advanced Management Programme (NUS Business School, Singapore) and Certification Programme in IT & Cyber Security for CXOs (Institute for Development & Research in Banking Technology, Hyderabad, India). He also participated in Oxford Private Equity Programme.

Mr. Anil Kishora is a Certified Associate of the Indian Institute of Banking & Finance. He holds B.A. (Honours) in English.

Mr. Paulo Guedes, Minister of Economy of Brazil, Mr. Anton Siluanov, Minister of Finance of Russia, Mrs. Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of Finance of India, Mme. Jiayi Zou, Vice Minister of Finance of China and Mr. Tito Titus Mboweni, Minister of Finance of South Africa participated in the BoG Special Meeting held in virtual format.

BRICS in Time of Pandemic: Leadership from Emerging Economies? (БРИКС во время пандемии: лидерство у стран с развивающейся экономикой?) / Russia, May, 2020
Keywords: expert_opinion, covid-19, emerging_market

As international institutions come under fire for failing to adequately respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, BRICS has to navigate a post-COVID-19 world order. It can either consolidate the influence of member states for concrete action or succumb to the naysayers of its credibility as an institution of global governance. There are however some bright spots for BRICS leadership.

By Nazia Hussain

Foreign Ministers of the five large emerging BRICS economies ─ Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa ─ met for a video conference on 28 April 2020 to review the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on trade and investment among BRICS member states. The meeting was ahead of the bloc's scheduled July summit in St. Petersburg. This innocuous gathering comes at a time when established international institutions, designed to serve a United States-led liberal order, have lost their credibility.

The escalating row between Washington and Beijing over the role of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in handling the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a last-minute cancellation of a second virtual summit of G20 leaders. The Trump administration has suspended funding to the WHO. The EU, the UN and G7 too have come under fire for their inadequate COVID-19 action plans. Meanwhile, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) struggles to maintain its relevance as its dispute settlement function is at risk of collapsing. Moreover, nations under lockdown have resorted to panicked protectionism to secure food supplies and medical equipment.

BRICS Response to COVID-19

Amidst the crisis, a concerted BRICS effort could offer a new paradigm for multilateral institutions and shape the discourse in global governance from an emerging countries' perspective.

A BRICS-driven initiative could serve to underscore the potential of the bloc which not only spans across continents but makes up 42 per cent of the world population and 23 per cent of global GDP. Individual initiatives by BRICS member states are already underway.

India is already providing pharmaceutical assistance to nearly 85 nations on a grant basis to support their response to the pandemic. China has leveraged its manufacturing capacity to provide personal protective equipment to hotspots across the globe under its Health Silk Road diplomacy.

Russia has launched its air mission — 'From Russia with Love' — flying medical supplies to Italy while a Russian Antonov-124 packed with medical aid headed to New York. Meanwhile, South Africa is engaged in framing a pan-African response to COVID-19. Brazil is the only BRICS member state in need of a reassessment as President Bolsonaro continues to resist lockdown measures even as infections continue to soar.

Need for Overhaul

To supplement the individual efforts of BRICS countries, existing BRICS mechanisms have been activated. The ministers agreed to allocate US$15 billion to the Shanghai-based BRICS New Development Bank (NDB) towards a special loan instrument for BRICS economies to counteract the economic fallout of the pandemic.

The NDB has been moving quickly to help affected countries recoup some of their financial losses ─ the bank has already disbursed $1 billion emergency loan to China and India, and subsequently to South Africa. Moreover, BRICS countries are expecting to step up cooperation in the healthcare sector, accelerating the process of setting up the BRICS Vaccine Research and Development Centre. The institutionalisation of BRICS – with the creation of the New Development Bank (NDB) which holds a lending portfolio of more than $15 billion and a Contingent Reserve Arrangement with a capital of $100 billion – alleviates some degree of scepticism towards the bloc which has often been dismissed as a non-starter.

Although BRICS has been lauded for attempting to provide emerging countries with Bretton Woods alternatives to existing multilateral development banks, the NDB has been criticised for lack of transparency and due diligence on its lending practices.

Need to Deliver on Results

Despite claiming to promote sustainable infrastructure and proper governance, the NDB met out a $200 million loan to Transnet – a controversial South African majority state-owned enterprise – to finance the expansion of the Durban port-petrochemical complex amidst fears that not enough due diligence was done in granting the loan.

Moreover, the NDB decided to loan $180 million to Eskom – a power utilities company which is severely in debt and mired in a corruption scandal. The NDB would do well to practice transparency and due diligence to assuage concerns and criticisms on project financing; more than 100 environmental activists led by four African Goldman Prize winners protested against the NDB at the start of the BRICS Johannesburg summit in 2018.

Besides an overhaul of its financial mechanisms, member states need to deliver on implementation of initiatives already in the pipeline. Although countering pandemics, vaccination, joint medical programs, including telemedicine, have long been prominent on the BRICS agenda, failure to follow through has marred the credibility of the bloc in the past.

Reformed Multilateralism

Noting that the pandemic and its subsequent ramifications highlight the need for reform of multilateral systems, Indian Foreign Minister S Jaishankar called for a 'reformed multilateralism' focused on the centrality of development and growth in the global agenda.

New Delhi has initiated a joint South Asian response to COVID-19 by activating the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), despite the grouping being in a stalemate since 2016 with a cancelled summit as tensions heightened between India and Pakistan.

The BRICS foreign ministers' pledge for a concerted effort by emerging economies in tackling the pandemic is a step in the right direction even as internal dynamics between member states are being navigated.

While India and China remain embroiled in a territorial dispute along the Himalayan frontier, the BRICS member states remain at odds over the expansion of the UN Security Council. With vested interests in the existing system, Russia and China frequently do not go beyond rhetoric in supporting Brazil, India and South Africa's greater roles in the UN.

Even a decade after its inception, observers remain sceptical of this oddly divergent grouping with different socio-cultural and political systems, whose economies are in different stages of development, and who share some degree of ideological dissonance.

As BRICS seeks to influence and shape the norms of global governance, the onus falls on member states to preserve a modicum of policy coordination – at best a ragged unison – in order to outperform the other multilateral institutions of the liberal order.

Nazia Hussain is a Senior Analyst with the Centre for Multilateralism Studies (CMS) at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore.

Eurasia Review

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of InfoBRICS.

Bypassing the Dollar: The Rise of Alternate Currency Systems (В обход доллара: рост альтернативных валютных систем) / India, May, 2020
Keywords: emerging_market, ndb

President Donald Trump, in recent times, has deeply weaponised the dollar in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

First metaphors were mixed when trade with China was labelled a 'war'. There have been speculative attacks and unilateral sanctions placed on perceived threats and 'enemy countries'. Retribution was expected since countries at the receiving end have been preparing to hit back.

This misuse of the dollar hegemony is not entirely new for the US but has deepened under the Trump administration.

Wars and retribution can have unexpected consequences. This time around, America's geopolitical targets are preparing to shield themselves from the dollar hegemony. Procedures and plans are in process to bypass the dollar in international trade and use national currencies instead. These moves have picked momentum.

Russia and China have initiated several measures like cross-border inter-bank payment systems parallel to the SWIFT. Both have increased gold holdings to back their currencies and initiated national currency swap agreements in several regional and bilateral arrangements where they play a role.

The March 2020 conference of finance ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation that includes China, Russia, Central Asian states, India and Pakistan agreed to send recommendations finalising a roadmap to conduct bilateral trade, investments, mutual settlements and issue bonds in national currencies. This system is being expedited after US actions during the pandemic.

The BRICS's New Development Bank, proposed disbursements in national currencies in 2015. In the April 2020 annual board of governors meeting with BRICS finance ministers, president of the bank K.V. Kamath said that in 2019, a quarter of the USD 15 billion of financial assistance was given in local currencies. Kamath said that BRICS had no intention of destabilising the dollar but "50 per cent (of projects) should be local currency financed".

This is but another step that emerging economies have taken to show their play in the international system. The BRICS countries appear committed to trading in national currencies.

China is reducing its share in US treasury bonds and preparing for currency swap facilities as part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership with South-East Asian countries. Most of the ASEAN countries are ready for this.

Russia, previously a top holder of US sovereign debt, has radically decreased its holdings because of sanctions. Russia's strategic relations with China deepened after the 2014 partnership and energy centred agreements. In 2017, Ruble-Yuan 'payment versus payment' started along the BRI. In 2019, the two countries switched to the Yuan RMB and Ruble exchange for their USD 25 billion trade.

Russia is pushing for currency swap agreements with various trade partners. The Eurasian Economic Union with Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Russia comprises of the 'road' part of the BRI. With a population of 183 million and GDP of some US$ 5 trillion, 70% of its trade is in Rubles and local currencies. Several Central and West Asian countries want to join this union and Vietnam already has a full trade agreement with them. This saves the exchange charges of the dollar.

Trump used sanctions and stopped Russian companies like Rusal Aluminium from accessing the dollar-based financial system in 2017 and then on Rosneft Oil in 2020. Since then the US has over 30 active financial-and trade sanctions that cut access to the Federal Reserve that have had severely de-stabilised and targeted weaker economies like Iran, Iraq and Venezuela. The Trump administration tried to pressurise the IMF not to assist Iran for COVID relief package.

The consequence is that all these countries have established linkages with China and Russia for trade and economic sustainability. Russia is selling Venezuela's crude oil. China diverted Iranian crude with Yuan payments and initiated the Iran-China silk route agreements. China is now Iran's largest trade partner. Iran has diversified trade with Afghanistan and oil for gold with India.

Russia revived trade in national currencies that they was earlier used during the Soviet period within the communist bloc and with India. This exchange ended with the disintegration of the Soviet Union. In 2019, Delhi switched again to Ruble payments for Russian S-400 defence systems because of US sanctions on Moscow.

India has worked out local currency trade with the UAE, approved USD 75 billion currency swap with Japan and USD 400 million currency swap with South Asian countries. India notified non-dollar mediated rates of exchange for Turkish and Korean currencies. Turkey is trading in national currencies with China and Russia. Now Russia proposes trade in Euros with the EU.

China is internationalising the Yuan RMB which is included in IMF basket, has risen to fifth place as global currency and represents 15% of global currency holding. Russia has 25% of Chinese RMB international reserves. Of course, the problem remains that the Yuan is not deep, open and liquid enough for financial markets. At the same time, most countries would not want the Yuan to become a mirror image of the dollar in its ability to manipulate financial sectors. So currency will be diversified with no currency maintaining complete hegemony.

Financial markets are complex and the US dollar is still the preferred currency. But countries have followed the contradictions within Trump's policies – like raising debt ceilings to sustain the dollar as a global currency and even concealing lending to certain foreign banks – and have decided they need to protect themselves from this militarised dollar.

Trump's marshal approach threatens others as well as the US and has hastened the rise of alternate currency systems. The US appears to be swiping at its nose to spite its face. Meanwhile the Chinese aphorism "hide your capability and bide your time" is clearly popular in much of Eurasia's national currency transitions.

Anuradha Chenoy is the former dean at School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

The Wire

World of Work
BRICS countries to hold competition of research projects on COVID-19 in June (Страны БРИКС проведут конкурс исследовательских проектов по COVID-19 в июне) / Russia, May, 2020
Keywords: innovations, research, social_issues

It is planned that the competition will be announced in June 2020, whereas research groups of BRICS countries will be able to start implementation of projects at the end of 2020

MOSCOW, May 27. /TASS/. BRICS member-states plan to hold a competition of research projects aimed at searching for solutions to overcome the consequences of the global coronavirus infection pandemic, with the best of them planned to receive financing for research works, press service of Russia's Ministry of Science and Higher Education said in a statement on Wednesday.

Joint scientific projects were discussed during an online meeting of the managing committee on science, technologies and innovations of BRICS states and the BRICS working group on financing science, technologies and innovations. Representatives of relevant ministries, embassies, as well as organizations of BRICS countries that finance science, technologies and innovations, participated in the meeting.

"The Russian side initiated holding a multisided interdisciplinary competition of BRICS research projects on the novel coronavirus infection, particularly on search for solutions to overcome the consequences of the global pandemic in the fields of healthcare, economy, social sciences, mental health and other areas of human life and activities. BRICS states welcomed the initiative," the statement said.

It is planned that the competition will be announced in June 2020, whereas research groups of BRICS countries will be able to start implementation of projects at the end of 2020. The Russian Foundation for Basic Research will act as a financing organization from the Russian side.

"Today all eyes are on the scientific community, which is set to unite efforts through international scientific and technical cooperation. In this respect it is gratifying to note that there exists a ready instrument for selecting and financing multisided scientific projects - the Framework program of BRICS in the field of science, technologies and innovations. The use of that mechanism will help implement large-scale researches on search for responses to global challenges," Russia's coordinator of scientific, technical and innovative cooperation within BRCIS Victor Smirnov was quoted as saying.

BRICS Competition Authorities agree upon a joint work plan during the pandemic (Антимонопольные органы БРИКС согласовывают план совместной работы во время пандемии) / Russia, May, 2020
Keywords: cooperation, covid-19

On 27 May, the Heads of international divisions of BRICS Competition Authorities held an extraordinary meeting via video conference.

During the meeting chaired by Russia, the participants discussed the impact of the novel coronavirus infection COVID-19 on the BRICS States and the measures taken by antimonopoly regulators to maintain a healthy competitive environment in the markets most affected by the pandemic. In this regard the representatives of the competition authorities confirmed their readiness to consolidate pentalateral efforts to combat negative economic consequences of the deterioration of the global sanitary and epidemiological situation and supported the initiative of the Federal Antimonopoly Service of the Russian Federation (the FAS Russia) on drafting a joint statement by Heads of BRICS Competition Authorities on cooperation under these exceptional circumstances.

The meeting participants also reviewed the agenda for the Meeting of Heads of BRICS Competition Authorities via videoconference in late June-early July this year. They paid particular attention to the issues of extending the Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in the field of competition law and policy of the BRICS countries, adopting by the five countries the Model recommendations on the use of waivers (information confidentiality waiver) when coordinating global economic concentration transactions, approving a plan of activities of the International BRICS Competition Law and Policy Center, as well as developing a joint position of BRICS Competition Authorities on issues discussed at international venues, such as UNCTAD and the ОECD.

Russian Ministry of Science and Higher Education unites BRICS efforts to combat COVID-19 through science, technology and innovation (Министерство науки и высшего образования России объединяет усилия БРИКС по борьбе с COVID-19 с помощью науки, технологий и инноваций) / Russia, May, 2020
Keywords: innovations, cooperation, top_level_meeting

On 25 May, a joint meeting of BRICS Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Steering Committee and BRICS STI Funding Working Group was held under the Russian BRICS Chairmanship in 2020 via videoconference. The meeting was attended by the representatives of the relevant ministries and Embassies of the five counties, as well as and the organizations from the BRICS countries that finance science, technology and innovation.

Discussing scientific cooperation on combating the spread and overcoming the consequences of COVID-19 became the main issue on the agenda of the meeting. . Viktor Smirnov, Russia's BRICS STI Cooperation Coordinator, noted that over the past few months the global pandemic has inflicted a heavy burden on healthcare systems around the world, and although some countries are starting to lift their coronavirus restrictions and there has been some progress in curbing the epidemic, other countries are not yet past the peak. There are still unresolved issues with regard to rapid diagnosis of the novel coronavirus, its prevention and treatment methods.

"Today, all eyes are upon scientific community, which is being called on to combine efforts through international scientific and technical cooperation. In this regard, it is gratifying to note the availability of a working tool for the selection and financing of multidisciplinary research projects – BRICS STI Framework Programme. The use of this mechanism will facilitate the implementation of major research projects to respond to global challenges," Viktor Smirnov said.

The Russian BRICS Chairmanship in 2020 envisages more than 20 STI events, including Meetings of BRICS STI Senior Officials and BRICS Ministers of Science, Technology and Innovation.
BRICS countries to hold a research projects competition aimed at overcoming the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic (Страны БРИКС проведут конкурс исследовательских проектов, направленных на преодоление последствий пандемии COVID-19) / Russia, May, 2020
Keywords: research, cooperation, covid-19

During a joint meeting of BRICS Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Steering Committee and BRICS STI Funding Working Group via video conference on 25 May, representatives of the five countries supported the initiative of the Russian Side to hold a multilateral multidisciplinary competition of BRICS research projects on the novel coronavirus infection, including finding solutions to overcome the consequences of the pandemic in the field of healthcare, economy, social sciences, mental health and other areas of human activities. The competition is expected to be announced in June this year and BRICS research teams will be able to start implementing projects at the end of 2020. The Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR) will fund the contest from the Russian Side. The announcement will be posted and applications can be submitted through the official website of BRICS Science, Technology and Innovation Framework Programme.
BRICS Youth Officials discuss the issues on the Russian Chairmanship youth agenda (Молодежные чиновники стран БРИКС обсудили вопросы молодежной повестки российского председательства) / Russia, May, 2020
Keywords: cooperation

On 22 May, a working meeting of the BRICS youth officials took place via videoconference. The meeting was moderated by Tatiana Seliverstova, Head of the International Division of the Youth Projects and Programs Department of the Federal Agency for Youth Affairs of the Russian Federation.

The meeting participants discussed a number of five-sided initiatives in developing volunteering and youth entrepreneurship. Moreover, the meeting focused on the issues related to the preparation of relevant events within the framework of Russian BRICS Chairmanship in 2020.
Comprehensive reports, BRICS research materials
Special issue of the International Affairs magazine devoted to the Russian BRICS Chairmanship in 2020 (Спецвыпуск журнала «Международные отношения», посвященный председательству России в БРИКС в 2020 году) / Russia, May, 2020
Keywords: expert_opinion

A respected journal – the International Affairs magazine has published a special issue devoted to the Russian BRICS Chairmanship in 2020.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov writes in his address to readers that "BRICS is a striking example of the effectiveness of multipolar diplomacy. Countries with different cultural and civilizational backgrounds have united on the basis of a constructive foreign policy philosophy, so in demand in the tumultuous modern world."

The magazine will introduce the readers to the priorities of the Russian BRICS Chairmanship in 2020 in all three pillars of BRICS Strategic Partnership – policy and security, economy and finance, people-to-people exchanges. It emphasizes the readiness to strengthen and deepen cooperation among the five countries, which is becoming even more relevant against the backdrop of global challenges such as the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The online version of the magazine's special issue is available in Russian and English on the official website of the Russian BRICS Chairmanship in 2020

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