Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 30.2017
2017.07.17 — 2017.07.23
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Let's strengthen BRICS (Давайте сделаем БРИКС сильнее) / India, July, 2017
Keywords: Expert_opinion
Author: Onkar S. Kanwar

The G20 leaders' meeting held earlier this month in Hamburg attracted a lot of attention. There were several important economic and geo-political issues that were on the table for discussion. Another important engagement that took place on the sidelines of the G20 meet was the informal meeting of the BRICS heads of states. This meeting was equally important as it was held in the run-up to the summit meeting in Xiamen. At the meeting, the leaders agreed to carry forward co-operation activities amongst the five BRICS countries and play an increasingly important role in global economy, committing to support a rules-based, transparent, non-discriminatory, open and inclusive multilateral trading system and oppose protectionism.

This is important from a business perspective too. Improved economic relations amongst BRICS countries will help enhance trade and investments within the bloc, and contribute to growth and development. BRICS Business Council, set up in 2013, comprising business representatives from BRICS has been engaged through dialogue and exchange of ideas to strengthen trade, investment and economic co-operation.

Last year's BRICS Summit under India's presidency set a new benchmark of taking BRICS co-operation to a much higher and wider scale, with the launch of initiatives like the first BRICS trade fair, first BRICS film festival, first BRICS under-17 football cup, etc. Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid a strong emphasis on people-to-people exchange under BRICS co-operation and it is good to see that several such co-operation mechanisms have been carried forward this year by China, which currently holds BRICS presidency. In-fact, at the second BRICS film festival held in Chengdu, China in June 2017, the first BRICS co-production, Where Has Time Gone, was premiered, which is a joint collaboration of directors from BRICS countries. The filmmakers agreed to continue their joint work in the coming years. On a related note, the Indian film Dangal's premiere in China met with astounding success, setting an example of fostering closer connect amongst BRICS countries and how soft power can be leveraged to enhance understanding about our societies and cultures. Likewise, BRICS games opened in Guangzhou, China in June 2017, where 300 athletes participated. Continuing such people-to-people exchange is essential as this brings our countries closer and enhances trade and investments.

On BRICS economic and business engagements too, several activities are ongoing at the government and business levels. At the BRICS Summit last year in Goa, the BRICS Business Council made several recommendations to the BRICS leaders. Some of these recommendations have found reference in government's agenda and are progressing well. One of the proposals of the Council was to establish a BRICS Rating Agency, to provide a more thorough and complete credit rating analysis of companies in BRICS economies and facilitate cross-border investors to take a more informed decision. The proposal found a reference in BRICS Goa Declaration. At the informal meeting of BRICS leaders on the sidelines of the G20 meet, PM Modi called for action to establish the BRICS Rating Agency. On this subject, a special expert group has been set up under the aegis of the BRICS Business Council to work out the modalities of such an agency based on market oriented principles. We expect the group to present its progress report at the BRICS Summit in China.

The Business Council had also supported bilateral Social Security Agreement amongst BRICS countries to ease the burden of dual social security contributions in member countries. Earlier this year, the negotiations for the first bilateral Social Security Agreement among BRICS nations were officially concluded between India and Brazil and the agreement is expected to be in force by early 2018. We hope that more such agreements between BRICS nations will materialise in due course.

One of the most significant achievements of BRICS has been setting up of New Development Bank, which is progressing at a steady pace and is expected to play a critical role in supporting developmental projects in the BRICS economies. The BRICS Business Council has been interacting with the NDB to build closer partnership and facilitate funding for key developmental projects. Earlier this year, BRICS Business Council members met NDB president and vice-presidents at New Delhi, where they deliberated on areas of co-operation, especially for project identification, pipeline development and knowledge exchange. In fact, it was proposed that BRICS Business Council and NDB should enter into a formal agreement for strategic co-operation. Once accomplished, this will be another major step forward.

Over the last four years, the work of the BRICS Business Council has expanded and engagements are not limited to business to business levels, but also include meaningful interactions with the government and the New Development Bank. It is heartening to see an alignment of businesses led discussions and activities and government's work agenda in BRICS. Private sector engagement at various ministerial conferences of BRICS has been on a rise. A BRICS Agricultural Cooperation Forum involving private sector was recently held in Nanjing on the sidelines of the meeting of BRICS Ministers of Agriculture. Likewise, the BRICS Communications Ministers' meeting scheduled in July 2017 has exclusive industry dialogues as part of the agenda.

BRICS Business Council is committed to strengthen business and economic co-operation and will continue to work with our respective governments to create a favourable business environment through reforms, facilitate trade through easy visas, exchange of information, single window mechanism, and to eliminate administrative barriers to investment. Some of the other areas that are being actively pursued under the Chinese Presidency of the Council include creation of a mechanism to share experience in digital economy, provide support to SMEs through financial services platform as well as leverage e-commerce tools for greater business engagements.
NSA Ajit Doval to visit China to attend BRICS meeting (Аджит Довал посетит Китай для участия в заседании БРИКС) / India, July, 2017
Keywords: Ajit_Doval, India_China

The visit comes amid deterioration in the bilateral ties between the two countries

National Security Adviser Ajit Doval will be travelling to Beijing to attend a BRICS meeting on July 27 and 28, the External Affairs Ministry said on Thursday.

The visit comes amid deterioration in the bilateral ties between the two countries due to the Dokalam standoff with Beijing ratcheting up its rhetoric against New Delhi on the dispute.

"As far as visit of the National Security Adviser to China for the meeting of BRICS NSAs is concerned, I can confirm that he will be visiting on Jul 27 and 28," External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay comfirmed.

Asked whether Mr. Doval will have bilateral meetings with any of the Chinese leaders or the Special Representatives for boundary talks on the sidelines of the meeting of NSAs from BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), Mr. Baglay did not give a direct reply

"We will keep you informed as and when there are developments," he said.

Chinese and Indian soldiers have been locked in a face-off in Dokalam area of the Sikkim sector for over a month after Indian troops stopped the Chinese army from building a road in the disputed area.
Will BRICS Countries Meet International Poverty Goals? (Примут ли страны БРИКС международные цели в области борьбы с нищетой?) / India, July, 2017
Keywords: Expert_opinion, fighting_poverty

BEIJING — When it comes to major distributors of foreign aid, entities like the United States and the European Union typically come to mind. However, newly industrialized nations have also come together to set ambitious goals to eradicate poverty. BRICS is an abbreviation for the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

According to the United Nations, BRICS is "well-positioned to take a leading role" in wiping out wide-scale hunger by 2030. These countries can achieve enormous progress in relieving hunger because together they produce one-third of the world's cereal products; Russia is now the biggest wheat exporter on the globe.

The U.N. cites Fetsa Tlala, South Africa's program to help small farmers expand cultivated land for food production. Although BRICS has the power to meet the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, the question is if they could come together and make it happen.

With Brazil going through a terrible recession and Russia's conflicting political landscape, BRICS is looking less and less sustainable. Even finance company Goldman Sachs, who coined the original term, pulled its investments from the organization after it dropped 88 percent of its asset value since 2010. Some news outlets are even saying the "BRICS era is over," predicting that China would be the next economy to go through a major recession. Chinese President, Xi Jinping, says otherwise.

Heads of delegations from Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa met with Xi at the BRICS foreign ministers' meeting in Beijing. There, they said that the organization would enter a new "golden decade." He also said that cooperation and communication between the nations in BRICS have improved.

BRICS has seemed to change objectives from ending world hunger to ensuring world security. Though, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi says that advancing the living conditions of countries with the potential to turn into developing economies remains the focus of the organization.
Iran's missile attack on ISIS is game changer: Indian analyst (Иранская ракетная атака на ИГИЛ меняет ход игры: индийский аналитик) / Iran, July, 2017
Keywords: Expert_opinion, terrorism, Syrian_conflict

TEHRAN - Bhakti M. Desai, an Indian international relations analyst, is of the opinion that Iran's missile attack on ISIS strongholds in Syria on June 18 was a "historic game changer".

Desai also says BRIC members including India appreciate Tehran's approach toward Syria.

Following is the text of Desai's interview with the Tehran Times:

Question: During the BRICS meeting in Beijing last month Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov asserted it is better for the U.S. to end its unilateral activities in Syria. How could Russia and the U.S. work shoulder to shoulder in Syria to fight terrorism? Is it is possible?

Answer: The recent meeting of BRICS foreign ministers at Beijing saw fruitful discussions and talks on terrorism, trade and commerce. So when Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov chose to use this potent platform to assert his country's concerns over Syria, it did not really come as a surprise to anyone. Russia has constantly called upon the U.S. to stop unilateral activities in Syria and appealed for well-coordinated multilateral approach to solve the Syrian crisis. Russia also believes that any action in Syria should be coordinated with Damascus. Trump on his part throughout his election campaign had been vocal about the threat that ISIS posed to humanity and had showed willingness to co-operate with even Iran and Russia to eliminate ISIS; he had also spoken of reducing U.S. involvement in Syria.

However post-elections Trump has gone back on his words. The U.S. is now involved not only in a power game politics in Syria but is also concentrating more on targeting the Syrian regime forces rather than the ISIS. The fact remains that no matter who comes to power in the U.S., their foreign policy is driven by corporate interests. In my opinion the recent developments in Syria as well as past experiences clearly indicate that there can never be a U.S.-Russia rapprochement on Syria.

BRICS (which includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) as a whole could play a key role in peace building efforts and post-conflict reconstruction in Syria.There is no possibility of the two former cold war foes working shoulder to shoulder in Syria. First and foremost both Russia and the U.S. have contradictory interests and intentions in Syria. While Russia has long standing geo-political interests in Syria, it supports the Assad regime and has been focusing on eliminating ISIS so that the region can be stabilized. On the other hand the U.S. like always is playing a pretentious game in Syria. It is more interested in downing the Assad regime and bringing in a puppet government rather than fighting ISIS. The U.S. is actually fighting a proxy war in Syria by supporting the rebel groups. The recent downing of a Syrian warplane by U.S. forces and the consequent Russian response have sparked fears that the two countries could be heading for a confrontation which could manifest into a prolonged proxy war in Syria.

Q: Basically, the Syrian issue and conditions in Middle East were two of the main topics of negotiations between BRICS members. How these states, which are not in Middle East, can help find a solution to the wounds of the Middle East?

A: The Middle East in general and Syria in particular have increasingly become a main thread of discussion at consequent BRICS summits and meetings. The international political scenario in the past decade has been dominated by issues of the Middle East and Syria. The Syrian crisis in particular has escalated enormously over the years with a potential of a possible spillover. Even though the BRICS countries are not located in Middle East, the involvement of Russia as a direct actor in the Syrian conflict has made the group a key actor in solving the Syrian crisis. BRICS approach towards Syria is largely driven by its standpoint of questioning certain international norms and pushing for a more just international system based on peaceful relations and respect for national sovereignty. BRICS has challenged and criticized tendencies of the U.S. and its allies to carry out crafty military interventions in the Middle East to suit their political designs. While Russia has been historically close to the Assad regime the other BRICS nations too have not only maintained full diplomatic ties with Syrian government but also kept their embassies in Damascus. Russia and China as permanent members of the UNSC have blocked several unfair and unbalanced resolutions against Syria and certain other Middle East countries. India, Brazil and South Africa on their part have also held non-interventionist approach in the Middle East. The summit documents of BRICS have directly addressed the Syrian crisis reiterating their stand of respect for national sovereignty and independence of Syria while devising any political solution to the escalating crisis in that country. They have acknowledged terrorism as a salient aspect of Syrian crisis. The Middle East being rich in natural resources has always been on radar of the U.S. and its allies. The U.S. and its allies are always on a lookout for opportunities to topple popular governments in these countries and replace them with puppet governments which could help them control the resources and markets of these countries. BRICS nations have objected to the use of Responsibility To Protect (R2P) framework to justify military intervention by the U.S. and its allies in the Middle East in general and Syria in particular. The BRICS clique could play a crucial role in resolving the issues of the Middle East because this group promises a fair and innovative approach to the problems of the Middle East as opposed to western self-motivated solutions. To begin with BRICS on account of its vast political, economic and cultural weight can influence the shaping of international attitude towards Syrian crisis. Further while Russia's intervention has helped in fighting the ISIS, China and India can play a major role in facilitating humanitarian aid for the war-torn nation. BRICS as a whole could play a key role in peace building efforts and post-conflict reconstruction in Syria.

Q: As, you know, Iran attacked ISIS strongholds in Syria on June 18 using its ballistic missiles for the first time. How India sees this. What is your opinion?

A: I believe Iran's attack on ISIS strongholds in Syria is a historic game changer in many ways. For the first time in 30 years Iran has chosen to fire missiles from its territory. Iran's Revolutionary Guard clearly announced that the attack was in retaliation for double terrorist attacks in Tehran two weeks ago (June 7) and also warned that Iran will not hesitate to launch more missile attacks if the ISIS militants plot any future attacks on Iran. This is a bold step and will now change the dynamics in the Middle East in many ways. Through this attack Iran has sent a clear and stern message to the ISIS, and various other terrorist outfits and its enemies that Iran is fully prepared to retaliate with full force to any threat to its people and its national interests even beyond its boundaries. India would completely understand and support this stand of Iran because India too faces cross border terrorism and has resorted to cross border surgical strikes in retaliation of terrorist attacks. Moreover India too is opposed to the ISIS and would like to see the ISIS out of Syria. Past experiences have proved time again that Iran is the most reliable friend India has in the Middle East. Hence India would appreciate Iran s presence and involvement in Syria. India shares Iran's concern about terrorism and has similar approach towards ISIS. Moreover like Iran, India also supports the Assad regime and understands that Iran's involvement in Syria is part of an effort to fight terrorism and extremism in the Middle East. Though India is not directly involved in Syria but like Iran it endorses peaceful solutions to the ongoing crisis on the basis of respect for Syrian independence and sovereignty. India would like to see a stable, ISIS-free Syria which in my opinion is possible only with Iran's involvement.
Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
Indian investments in Venezuela face no threat: Venezuelan Ambassador to India Augusto Montiel (Индийским инвестициям в Венесуэле ничто не угрожает: посол Венесуэлы в Индии Августо Монтейль) / India, July, 2017
Keywords: India_Venezuela_BRICS, expert_opinion
Source: link

Oil-rich Venezuela is witnessing yet fresh round of Opposition led violence which the government alleges is funded from abroad. In a free-wheeling chat Venezuelan Ambassador to India Augusto Montiel told ET that his government is working on a different economic model beyond oil and focusing on dialogue to bring normalcy through dialogue. India, he said, is expanding its presence in Venezuelan oil fields and assured that Indian investments are fully safeguarded in the Latin American country.

How is the situation unfolding in Venezuela? How does government plan to stabilize the situation?

There will be an electoral process on July 30 to choose 545 constituent assembly members, authorised with generating a national discussion and dialogue, in a peaceful and democratic ambience. This move by President Maduro, sanctioned under article 348 of the National Constitution "The initiative for calling a National Constituent Assembly (NCA) may emanate from the President of the Republic sitting with the Cabinet of Ministers (…)" and approved by the National Electoral Council (NEC) has unmasked the true intentions of the violent opposition in Venezuela: to topple government by any means necessary.

The opposition leadership, in cooperation with external powers in the region and the OAS, have recklessly called for increased violence and death, burning hospitals, schools and day care centers, and lynching, burning, stabbing and shooting people in order to blame the government. To this Opposition has been responsible for 95 deaths in the country.

The Constituent Assembly is the perfect institutional body for peaceful and democratic dialogue, it is the country's best bet to resolve all the political violence and chaos led by the opposition.

To resolve this, the Venezuelan Government, apart from working out the political solution through the NCA, is also solving the economic hardships working with thousands of businessmen and entrepreneurs to consolidate a new productive model that combines sustainability with social development. Together with the nationalist chambers of commerce and industry, the conditions for a productive market were being set, under a new industrial model oriented towards local production for regional and global exports. This would reduce dependence on the old oil based economy and place the country in the forefront of direct foreign investment in the region.

The actions of the opposition, since 2002 when they staged a Coup D'etat, have always placed greed for power before the well-being of the majority.

Has Venezuela government approached India to extend any support to overcome economic difficulties?

Venezuela and India have always enjoyed friendly bilateral relations and have supported each other in various multilateral institutions over the years. Recently both countries have expanded their economic ties, increasing the amount of Indian investment in the Hugo Chavez Orinoco Heavy Oil belt and in the pharmaceutical industry. In Nov 2016 Oil and Natural GasBSE -0.81 % Company Videsh signed a very important agreement with Venezuela's PDVSA oil company to increase production.

We believe it is fundamental that all countries voice their strong support for the principles of non-interference and call on the opposition to sit down at the dialogue table, President Maduro has coordinated the efforts of several countries of the region, ex presidents of the world and even his holiness the Pope but the opposition leadership has always refused peaceful resolution, instead they have been encouraged to protest allegedly by the highest authorities beyond Latin America.
As more and more like minded countries denounce this violence provoked by the opposition, it will be faster to regain political stability, benefitting economic prosperity and growth.

What is the Venezuela doing to protect investments from friendly countries like India amid the violence?

It is important to state that the violent terrorist protests are happening in only seven municipalities of the three hundred thirty-seven that exists in Venezuela. These posh urban municipalities are governed by opposition mayors who aid the violent protesters.

In this regard, the majority of the foreign investments in Venezuela are secure in states and municipalities governed by nationalist mayors and governors who have provided all the state protection to public and private institutions, under a legal framework of legal security and newly created dynamic mechanisms of repatriation of capital.

The government has launched successful social programs called "Missions", which have not only achieved great social accomplishments, but have also stimulated the construction sector (through the building of 1,6 million fully furbished homes in the last 3 years), the health sector (through public purchases of medicine and investment in research and bilateral cooperation), the educational sector (through capacity building) and other programs aimed at fortifying the productive chains.

The Venezuelan government has always defended Indian pharmaceutical companies amid attack on their prices from elsewhere.

What do you think led to current situation?

Since the opposition won parliamentary majority in 2015 they have tried to direct the country on a crash course of ungovernability. With the help of foreign agencies and "Human Rights" NGOs, they lobbied against multilateral financing of development projects in the country, spreading lies about Venezuela's stability and progress. Using parliament, opposition implemented a parallel diplomacy with foreign funds to unlawfully threaten companies that work with Venezuela with sanctions. Using these tactic, they have forced airlines to cut flights, telecommunications carriers to stop providing services, freight and transport companies to stop shipping to Venezuela, including imports of food and medicine.

During the last year, government was executing a massive public plan in order to diversify the economy and overcome the economic crisis, until the opposition subjected the country to violence.

How can groups like BRICS help to stabilize situation in Venezuela

Multilateral groups like BRICS and the Non Aligned Movement (NAM), of which Venezuela is currently Chair, play a vital role in the stability of the world, not just Venezuela. They offer a more fair and democratic approach to world matters. In the case of Venezuela, the United Nations Human Rights Council majority supported a draft proposed by several Latin American Countries for Venezuela and call for non interference and the need for the opposition to lay down arms; India was one of the supporters of this joint Statement. Venezuela is also part of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank which like BRICS adheres to principles of a new multipolar model of development and respect for sovereignty.
Cabinet approves MOC in respect of tax matters between India and BRICS countries - Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa (Кабмин одобрил МоВ в отношении налоговых вопросов между Индией и странами БРИКС - Бразилией, Россией, Китаем и Южной Африкой) / India, July, 2017
Keywords: concluded_agreements, FTA

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given the approval for the signing of Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) in respect of tax matters between India and the Revenue administrations of BRICS countries namely, Brazil, Russian Federation, China and South Africa


The MoC aims to further promote cooperation amongst the BRICS Revenue administrations in international forum on common areas of interest in tax matters and in the area of capacity building and knowledge sharing. It envisages regular interaction amongst the heads of Revenue administration of BRICS countries to continue discussion on common areas of interest and strive towards convergence of views and meeting of the Experts on tax matters to discuss the contemporary issues in areas of international tax. In addition, the MoC accords confidentiality and protection to information exchanged under this MoC.


The MoC will stimulate effective cooperation in tax matters. The collective stand of BRICS countries can prove to be beneficial not only to these countries but also to other developing countries in the long run in tax matters being steered by the G20.


The Heads of Revenue of the BRICS countries have been meeting regularly to discuss the potential areas of cooperation in tax matters and to exchange opinions and views based on the existing commitment to openness, solidarity, equality, mutual understanding, inclusiveness and mutually beneficial cooperation, as stated in the Goa Declaration issued on October 16, 2016. The BRICS countries have identified four areas of mutual interest on which understanding and cooperation can be further strengthened. The heads of Revenue of BRICS countries in their meeting held on the sidelines of FTA plenary at Beijing, China in May, 2016 decided to sign a MoC outlining these areas of cooperation.
World of work
Social policy, trade unions, actions
Young SA scientists forge networks at BRICS (Молодые ученые ЮАР налаживают связи в БРИКС) / South Africa, July, 2017
Keywords: Young_Scientists_Forum, SA_BRICS
South Africa

The 2nd BRICS Young Scientists Forum gathered young researchers from five partner countries of the BRICS conglomerate to share in their academic and policy practices. The networking forum was hosted by China as BRICS 2017 chair at the Zhejiang University from 11 to 15 July in the south-eastern city of Hangzhou, in the Zhejiang province.

The event is an offshoot of the 5th BRICS Science, Technology and Innovation Ministerial Meeting that would be held in Hangzhou from 17 to 18 July. The BRICS Young Scientist Forum is meant to bolster relationships among the five partner countries in science, technology, and innovation, through relationships that would result from nudging young scientists to share in their innovation and policy solutions.

The five-day programme consisted of two days of in-depth presentations from the over 100 young talents who each scrambled to present their research in the limited time they had; an elevator pitch of sorts. The presentation sessions were given weight by the senior researchers who each gave keynote presentations and set the tone for each of the three parallel sessions.

The South African Department of Science and Technology (DST), through the Academy of Science South Africa (ASSAf), sent a delegation of over 20 young scientists and senior researchers to mingle with other talented researchers from the five BRICS countries.

DST Deputy Director, Babongile Mkhize gave a presentation on South Africa's Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) policy during the opening plenary. She mentioned to the BRICS delegates how South Africa faces inequality, poor standards of living in some areas and a shortage of human capital, and how the DST planned to mitigate these issues.

In general, the researchers who represented South Africa at the forum said in interviews that they gained exposure and networked with colleagues at a global stage.

Dr. Mkhulu Mathe, a senior researcher representing the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) found some valuable practices from countries such as Brazil and India on their initiatives to tackle climate change.

"One important aspect is how we phrase the story of climate change," he said. "From one of the Brazilian speakers, one can see that South Africa uses a lot of coal so we have to ask ourselves how we can reduce this to reduce CO2 emissions and look at how we can get to Brazil's energy mix."

Dr. Banothile Makhubela of the University of Johannesburg, a technology development scientist who designs catalysts (an important part in many chemical processes) to produce liquid fuels from biomass was also impressed by what researchers from other BRICS countries are up to.

"I was particularly struck by the trends in terms of energy mix," she said. "It really drives home the message that every country needs to work on how they can coordinate their own means of energy production."

Dr Patience Mthunzi-Kufa of the CSIR, who gave a talk on using lasers to administer antiretroviral drugs for HIV, found the lack of restrictions on the types of presentations as a welcome change and she was impressed with the quality of the talks and the work being done by researchers from all five BRICS countries.

International Liaison Manager at ASSAf, Stanley Maphosa,who lead the South African delegation says the forum was a great improvement from the first Young Scientist Forum held in Bangalore in India in September 2016.

"I see growth in numbers and an increase in the quality of presentations and especially the engagements," he said. "South Africa will be chair of BRICS next year so it important that we learn and improve on this conference even more."

During question and answer sessions, some attendees brought attention to the fact that not much time was given in the programme for networking. On the other hand, some researchers took the allocated coffee breaks peppered across the programme as opportunities to exchange business cards and ask detailed questions.

The talented young scientists chosen to represent South Africa (in no particular order) were:

Dr Patience Mthunzi-Kufa, CSIR; Dr Karen Cloete, iThemba Labs; Prof Rapela Maphanga, CSIR; Dr Luyanda Noto, Unisa; Dr Banothile Makhubela, University of Johannesburg; Raesibe Sylvia Ledwaba, UL; Dr Saahier Parker, Stellenbosch University; Nokuthula Ethel Magida, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University; Dr David Ming, University of the Witwatersrand; Dr Michelle Low, University of the Witwatersrand; Dr Mohsen Alimandegari, Stellenbosch University; Dr Busiswa Ndaba, Agricultural Research Council; Dr Gaokgatlhe Mirriam Tawane, Ditsong Museum of Natural History; Dr Shivan Chetty, University of Cape Town; Dr Erna Blancquaert, Stellenbosch University; and Dr Ben Loos, Stellenbosch University. They were accompanied by senior scientists; Dr Mkhulu Mathe, CSIR, Prof Phuthi Ngoepe, UL, and Muziwandile Madikizela, University of Pretoria.
BRICS Countries to Expand Collaboration on Science and Technology (Страны БРИКС расширят сотрудничество в области науки и техники) / Brazil, July, 2017
Keywords: S&T, concluded_agreements

Beijing, July 19 (Prensa Latina) BRICS-member nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) have set up an action plan to give a boost to science and technology cooperation among them, according to a statement released today.

The official agreement was signed by the ministers of science, technology and innovation of BRICS member nations on Tuesday, in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou.

Wan Gang, China's minister of Science and Technology, stated at the 5th ministerial meeting on science, technology and innovation BRICS that 'Hangzhou Declaration' was once again a cooperation among member nations and very important to boost the global economy and support sustainable development.

BRICS Action Plan for Innovation Cooperation 2017-2020 'emphasizes that innovation is one of the key forces for global sustainable development and plays an essential role in furthering economic growth.

It stated that BRICS are committed to expanding innovation cooperation based on existing joint research mechanisms and programs, to encourage collaboration between science parks and to strengthen training for technology transfer.

BRICS-member nations embrace 42 percent of the world's population and create 18 percent of gross domestic product on a global scale.

Likewise, they hold 17 percent of the world's investment in research and development and publish 27 percent of the scientific articles on international journals.

At the meeting, the parties agreed that South Africa will host the 6th Ministerial Meeting on Science, Technology and Innovation.
Emerging Markets South African labor union to champion workers' rights at BRICS forum (Профсоюз развивающихся рынков ЮАР защитит права рабочих на форуме БРИКС) / Ghana, July, 2017
Keywords: Trade_Unions_Forum

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) said Tuesday that they will attend the BRICS Trade Unions Forum in China next week and call for progress in situation facing workers in the bloc's countries.

Cosatu International Relations Secretary Bongani Masuku said at a media briefing in Johannesburg, "In all our declarations, as BRICS trade unions, we have insistently placed job creation through industrialization and building the manufacturing base, prioritization of food security through agriculture and the accessibility of IT for all countries and people, to enhance sustainable development and social progress."

asuku said the South African labor federation will focus on, "Deepening and advancing the interests of poor and developing countries, particularly, Africa and the global south, in this era of heightened imperialist globalization, particularly in the areas of policy and research development, trade and food security."

Cosatu will also focus on decent work, workers rights and more organization and unity of workers to bargain effectively and improve their working and living conditions in the BRICS countries.


BRICS Trade Unions Forum meeting will take place in China, on July 24-27, 2017. The 9th BRICS Heads of states Summit shall be held in Xiamen, in September 2017 under the theme "BRICS: Stronger Partnership for a Brighter Future."
Comprehensive reports, BRICS research materials
[Abstract] 2017 Global Retirement Index ([Аннотация] 2017 Глобальный индекс выхода на пенсию) / France, July, 2017
Keywords: Research, statistics

Executive Summary

Norway, Switzerland and Iceland continue to present the environments most favorable to retirement security as they reclaim the top three spots in the 2017 Natixis Global Retirement Index. Number-one Norway and number-two Switzerland rose to the top of the index based on strong scores in all four sub-indices, the lowest being 73% for Norway in the Finances sub-index. Despite Iceland's absence from the top ten in two of the four sub-indices, its robust performance in Material Wellbeing and Quality of Life supports its third place position.

North America leads Finances and Health indices

Although countriesin Western Europe dominate the top 10 ranking, on a regional basis, Europe loses out to North America. The United States and Canada succeed in supplanting Europe by dominating the Finances and Health sub-indices. Western Europe is home to countries that continue to be faced with financial difficulties – namely Italy, Spain and Portugal – which pulls down the Finances score for the region.

Europe weighed down by financial pressures

Western Europe's lagging regional performance in the Finances sub-index is echoed across most of the top 10. Higher tax burdens and levels of public debt leave some of the strongest players in the lurch, reducing their scores for the Finances sub-index. This suggests central bank interventions across the region have not supported the recovery enough to match Western Europe's Finances scores with its own performance in other sub-indices. Seven of the top 10 performers in this sub-index are not based in Europe. Instead, the top performing countries in this sub-index are countries like Singapore, Chile, South Korea and Estonia that do not feature in the top 20 overall. This underscores the important role that stable and robust government finances play in ensuring retirement security.

Quality of Life and Material Wellbeing offset poorer performances in Finances

Results for countries ranking high in the index, including Germany, Denmark and Sweden, are buoyed by strong performances in the Quality of Life and Material Wellbeing indices. This is despite more lackluster achievements in the Finances sub-index. While retirement discussions often focus on the conditions in which retirees live rather than the financial strength of their country, any disruption on the financial side of the equation is likely to impact their quality of life as well.

Governance poses a challenge to the BRICs

Poor governance is a key driving force behind the below-average performance of the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) countries' finances. But they also rank high where Western Europe stumbles, offering better old age dependency ratios and lower tax pressures, while employment and government indebtedness score more positively. The challenge is that governance accounts for a large portion of the Finances sub-index and Western Europe continues to outpace the BRICs in this sector. These countries have a poor showing in the other sub-indices, indicating that crucial elements related to the life of retirees, such as health expenditure per capita, remain inadequate.
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