Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 31.2017
2017.07.24 — 2017.07.30
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
China-India border dispute shows why the BRICS grouping matters more than ever (Конфликт между Китаем и Индией показывает, почему группировка БРИКС имеет большее значение, чем когда-либо) / Brazil, July, 2017
Keywords: Expert_opinion, India_China
Author: Oliver Stuenkel

In a bit more than one month, the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa will gather in the Chinese city of Xiamen for the 9th BRICS Summit. The meeting will be overshadowed by a longstanding border dispute between India and China, which recently saw diplomatic tensions rise between Beijing and New Delhi after the Chinese government began building a road in a disputed area. In a recent meeting among the BRICS countries' National Security Advisors (NSA), India's and China's representatives discussed the topicbut failed to reach an agreement.

Since both Xi and Modi cultivate their hawkish reputations domestically, backing down or reaching a compromise is politically risky. That is particularly the case for the Chinese leader, who faces a challenging 19th National Congress of the Communist Party later this year where he will seek to consolidate his power and further isolate his opponents.

As a consequence, political observers from around the world, but particularly in the West, will write articles ahead of the summit which question the usefulness of the BRICS concept. "BRICS without mortar", "Farewell to the BRICS", "BRICS destined to disintegrate", "The BRICS idea has run its course" are the kinds of headlines that will appear in mainstream newspapers such as the Financial Times, The Economist and the Washington Post. Such articles have been published for almost a decade, usually predicting the grouping's imminent demise. Seen from Washington or Brussels, the thought of five traditionally peripheral countries from different parts of the world teaming up always seemed either nonsensical, outlandish or dangerous.

Yet contrary to such expectations, BRICS member countries not only maintained their yearly summits, but decided to institutionalize in order to strengthen ties between them in many different areas. Joint initiatives include a broad range of issues, such as the creation of a development bank, stronger cooperation in the fight against tax evasion, art festivals and -- as mentioned above -- yearly meetings of the five countries' national security advisors. China is not the most important trading partner of all the other member countries, and formerly superficial relationships are beginning to gain substance. For example, Brazil and Russia have signed a visa waiver program, and ties between each country's academic community have increased markedly (through from a low base).

From the very beginning, it was obvious that the BRICS countries would never agree on everything -- yet this was never their goal. Rather, the grouping allows member countries to identify potential areas of cooperation, as was the case in 2009, when they jointly -- and successfully -- pushed for reforms in the international financial institutions. Equally important, it provides a platform that can be used to discuss disagreements, such as South Africa's and Brazil's worries about the growing asymmetries in their trade relationship with China. The India-China border dispute is yet another example that shows how important the BRICS grouping has become. Asia is the region with the world's lowest institutional density, opportunities such as the BRICS' NSA meetings are less frequent than most would assume. Particularly when nationalist fervor runs high, merely inviting the other side for a meeting to discuss the matter can be interpreted as a sign of weakness. In such instances, there is nothing better than a long-scheduled meeting that offers a low-cost opportunity to continue talking. In addition, the BRICS grouping is one of the few outfits that forces Indian and Chinese policy makers to work together on numerous issues, thus creating personal relationships that can matter greatly in moments of tension.

As a senior Russian diplomat pointed out to me in Moscow last year, "if the BRICS grouping helps reduce the risk of war between China and India just a little bit, it will have been worth all the effort over the past decade to help institutionalize the group." Indeed, after private conversations on the margins of the BRICS NSA meeting last week, the Times of Indiatitled, "Beijing sends conciliatory signals after Doval's first meeting with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi". While a lasting solution is unlikely to be found for now, desescalation, it seems, is possible.

Asia is yet again becoming the world's economic and political center, and its capacity to overcome difficult moments such as the current one will have a profound impact on the rest of the international community. In this context, the BRICS platform can make an important contribution.
BRICS to beef up information security (БРИКС усилит информационную безопасность) / China, July, 2017
Keywords: Cyber_security, top_level_meeting, Nikolay_Nikiforov, Liu_Lihua

BRICS nations will step up cooperation on information security, as digital communication technology plays an increasingly important role in driving economic growth, ministers from the five countries said in a statement on Thursday.

China, Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa realize that the increasing application of information communication technology is bringing tremendous opportunities, but also new security threats, according to the statement, which came as the third meeting of BRICS communication ministers concluded in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province.

Liu Lihua, China's vice-minister of industry and information technology, said: "It is agreed that we should strengthen dialogue on how to respond to security threats and establish effective mechanisms to tackle cyber emergencies. More joint efforts will be made to build a safe and reliable network, and establish a proper internet governance system."

BRICS nations, which accounted for 23 percent of global GDP in 2016, are accelerating their push to build the digital economy. The meeting of BRICS communication ministers is a prelude to the BRICS Leaders Meeting, which will be held in Xiamen, Fujian province, in September.

Nikolay Nikiforov, Russia's minister of telecom and mass communications, said: BRICS countries account for almost half of the population of the planet, and it is believed that every single citizen of these countries will be connected to the network, or mobile devices, which will equal almost half of the world's ICT market.

"The internet is the foundation of the global digital economy. But now there is not an internationally recognized legal framework to ensure the network is safe. More efforts are needed in this direction," Nikiforov said.

According to Kaspersky Lab, a Russian cybersecurity and anti-virus provider, around 300,000 new digital virus samples appear every day, highlighting the pressing need for global cooperation against cyberattacks.

The meeting of communication ministers also called for intensified efforts to strengthen the inter-connectivity of digital infrastructure and deepen cooperation in new technologies such as 5G, cloud computing and big data among the five countries.

Zhao Houlin, secretary-general of the International Telecommunication Union, said information communication technology is rapidly upgrading traditional industries and empowering individuals and BRICS nations.

China, for instance, has a strong edge in manufacturing communication hardware while India excels in software capabilities. The two sides can step up their efforts to learn from each other, Zhao said.

Nikiforov, the Russian communication minister, also added that as a rapidly growing volume of data is being transmitted across continents, Russia can be a trustworthy partner to help China exchange data with Europe, given the country is in between.

The 3rd BRICS Foreign Policy Planning Dialogue Held in Beijing (В Пекине состоялся третий диалог по планированию внешней политики БРИКС) / China, July, 2017
Keywords: foreign_affairs

On July 21, 2017, the 3rd BRICS Foreign Policy Planning Dialogue was held in Beijing. Presided over by Acting Director-General of the Policy Planning Department of the Foreign Ministry Wang Wenbin, the Dialogue was attended by Chief Director for Regional Organizations of the International of Department of International Relations and Cooperation David Malcolmson of South Africa, Director of Policy Planning Department of the Foreign Ministry Benoni Belli of Brazil, Director of Policy Planning Department of the Foreign Ministry Oleg Stepanov of Russia and Director of Policy Planning Department of the Foreign Ministry Gaddam Dharmendra of India and their delegations.

All parties had candid and in-depth exchanges on current international and regional situation, cooperation among BRICS countries and other topics, and unanimously agreed to make good use of the platform of the Foreign Policy Planning Dialogue, so as to provide strong intellectual support for deepening BRICS cooperation. All parties expect and believe that the BRICS Summit in Xiamen will achieve complete success, and open up a brighter future for BRICS cooperation.
Xi: BRICS ready for closer ties (Си: Страны БРИКС готовы к более тесным связям) / China, July, 2017
Keywords: Xi_Jinping, top_level_meeting
Author: An Baijie

The BRICS cooperation will usher in its second "golden decade" as long as the five members make joint efforts for closer ties with the spirit of openness, inclusiveness, cooperation and win-win, President Xi Jinping said on Friday.

Xi made the remarks while meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing with heads of the delegations for the 7th Meeting of BRICS High Representatives for Security Issues. During the two-day meeting, which ended on Friday, the five countries - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa reached consensus on many things, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

South Africa's Minister of State Security David Mahlobo, Minister Sergio Etchegoyen of the Office of Institutional Security of the Presidency of Brazil, Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev of the Russian Federation and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval of India attended the meeting. State Councilor Yang Jiechi hosted it.

The president offered his congratulations on the success of the meeting, saying it has made important political preparation for the BRICS summit to be held in Xiamen, Fujian province, from September 3 to 5.

Given the common wishes of BRICS peoples to boost exchanges and communication, the five countries should push forward economic and financial cooperation, people-to-people exchanges and security coordination at the same time, Xi said, adding that only through such efforts will BRICS cooperation last long and remain stable.

China calls for joint efforts of the international community to push the global economy onto the path of sustainable development, promote economic globalization to develop in a fair, inclusive and sustainable direction, and resolve global issues including terrorism through development, Xi said. The BRICS countries work together for common interests and goals, he added.

Noting that BRICS cooperation has existed for 10 years, Xi said the cooperation has crossed the longest geographic distance of the world, crossed different development paths and social systems, and gathered the five countries' resolution and moves to seek stability, development and improvement of people's livelihood.

The enhanced cooperation among BRICS members has not only maintained and expanded the five countries' interests, but has also provided meaningful exploration of the establishment of a new type of international relations, Xi said.

The senior officials of the BRICS countries extended their state leaders' sincere wishes to the Chinese president. They expressed the willingness of enhancing BRICS cooperation to deal with such challenges as anti-globalization and terrorism in economic and security areas, and to expand the influence of BRICS countries in international affairs.

Russian security chief proposes unified anti-terrorist database for BRICS nations (Глава российской безопасности предлагает единую антитеррористическую базу данных для стран БРИКС) / Russia, July, 2017
Keywords: top_level_meeting, security_issues, terrorism, Nikolai_Patrushev

The chairman of Russia's Security Council has invited BRICS nations to participate in an international database for countering terrorism – a project launched by the Federal Security Service in order to target terrorists and their sponsors.

"We invite all BRICS nations to join the international data bank for countering terrorism created by the FSB in Russia. Thanks to the participation of 33 foreign special services and a number of relevant international organizations, we have created a consolidated array of information on persons complicit in terrorist activities and also on extremist and terrorist groups," Nikolai Patrushev said during a meeting of security officials from BRICS countries in Beijing.

BRICS is an international group uniting Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa – the five major emerging economies with about half of the world's population and 30 percent of global economic output.

In his statement, Patrushev also called upon foreign security officials to be more active in implementing the provisions of international agreements on fighting terrorism, including UN Security Council resolutions concerning terrorists who return from hot spots to their native countries, and measures aimed at destroying channels of terrorism sponsorship. He noted that the latter means an urgent stop to any oil trade with questionable groups in Syria and Iraq.

"We are confident that considering the threat that comes from the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorist group as well as the danger of other terrorist organizations, we must act resolutely. And we count on our colleagues' support in this," the Russian official stated.

Patrushev previously called for unity among BRICS countries and noted that Western nations had attempted to suppress the bloc's development. In mid-2015, he said that the West had withdrawn more than $3.5 trillion since 2005, seeking to suppress the group.

In March, he warned that foreign secret services had intensified their efforts to destabilize the social and political situation in Russia. He also pointed to the terrorism threat in southern areas of the country, originating from various radical and xenophobic groups, internet propaganda of radical ideas, and the growth of xenophobia among the younger generation.
BRICS Countries Hold 2nd Consultation on UN Peacekeeping Operations (Страны БРИКС проводят 2-ю консультацию по операциям ООН по поддержанию мира) / China, July, 2017
Keywords: top_level_meeting, UN_peacekeeping_operations

On July 25, 2017, Director-General of the Department of International Organizations and Conferences of the Foreign Ministry Li Junhua chaired in Beijing the 2nd BRICS consultation on UN peacekeeping operations. Representatives from South Africa, Brazil, Russia, India and delegates from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of National Defense and the Ministry of Public Security of China were present. The five countries exchanged views on the situation facing the UN peacekeeping operations, reforms of the UN peacekeeping operations and cooperation in peacekeeping among BRICS countries.
China's Xi calls for more cooperation from BRICS amid standoff with India (Си призывает к большему сотрудничеству со стороны БРИКС в условиях противостояния с Индией) / India, July, 2017
Keywords: India_China, China_BRICS, Xi_Jinping, Ajit_Doval

Xi said the BRICS nations were faced with a "complex international political and economic security situation" and communication on financial cooperation, cultural exchanges and security issues would help strengthen the ties.

President Xi Jinping on Friday called for more cooperation among the BRICS countries on economics, finance and security at a meeting of security heads of the five-nation grouping, including India's national security adviser Ajit Doval, in the backdrop of a military standoff on the Sino-India border.

Xi said the five countries were faced with a "complex international political and economic security situation" and the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) should communicate more on financial cooperation, cultural exchanges and security issues.

Xi said the five countries have done a lot to promote cooperation on security issues.

Earlier in the day, Doval said BRICS countries should take the lead role in countering global terrorism and address also regional issues at the formal opening of the 7th meeting of the security heads of the group.

Doval's visit to Beijing has been under the cloud of the military impasse in the Donglang and the focus has been on whether his meetings with the Chinese leadership would begin the process of resolving the logjam near the Sikkim border.

The crisis was sparked off in June after India sent troops to the Donglang area – also called Doklam – which China claims is its territory. Bhutan too claims the area. China has insisted on withdrawal of Indian troops for starting talks to defuse tensions.

While standoffs between the neighbours – which share a nearly 3,500 km border – are not uncommon, the Sikkim face-off is one of the longest in recent times.

In his opening remarks at the summit on Friday morning, Doval stressed on BRICS countries' stand on counter-terrorism and the importance of discussing security-related issues among the five members.

"BRICS has grown in global significance over the years. It is natural we should hold a BRICS forum to discuss security issues that impact global peace and stability," he told his counterparts from Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa at the seventh such summit.

Doval's bilateral meeting with state councilor Yang Jiechi in Beijing on Thursday was closely tracked but whether their conversation began a resolution or at least an easing of the standoff remains to be seen.

A brief statement on Thursday's meeting between Doval and Yang put out by the official news agency Xinhua indicated that the standoff was indeed discussed.

"Chinese state councilor Yang Jiechi Thursday met separately with senior security representatives from South Africa, Brazil and India," the statement said.

"Yang also separately exchanged views with the three senior representatives on bilateral relations, international and regional issues and multilateral affairs, and set forth China's position on bilateral issues and major problems," it added.

Chinese experts have given enough indications that Doval-Yang talks will not yield any result if India doesn't withdraw its troops.

"Once the Indian army pulls out, the tension will be quickly reduced. This time, China and its top leaders feel humiliated badly by India's adventurism and invasion," said Hu Shisheng, director of the Institute of South and Southeast Asian and Oceanian Studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

"How can China withdraw? It (the standoff) is in Chinese territory according to the 1890 treaty (signed between China's Qing dynasty and British India)," Hu said.

Jin Canrong, associate dean of the department of International Studies at the Renmin University of China, described India's act as "blackmail".

"India's behaviour is like blackmail to some extent as it knows China will hold the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, which is a key political event," Jin told the nationalistic Global Times.

The NSAs' meeting will be followed by the 2017 BRICS Summit in Xiamen city from September 3 to 5. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to attend the meeting.

The BRICS countries are home to 42 per cent of the world's population. Their total share in the global economy has risen from 12 per cent to 23 per cent in the past decade, while contributing more than half of global growth.
Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
BRICS to play key role in safeguarding free trade (БРИКС сыграет ключевую роль в обеспечении свободной торговли) / Russia, July, 2017
Keywords: BRICS_economy_overview

BRICS to play key role in safeguarding free trade

China will further open up its market for imports from other BRICS countries and pledge to spearhead an anti-protectionism campaign with Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa, a senior commerce official said on Tuesday.

"Investment and trade are the vital economic drive for BRICS countries as it has profound potential," Wang Shouwen, vice-minister of commerce, said at a news conference.

"BRICS took up 23 percent of global GDP in 2016, up from 12 percent a decade ago, but only accounted for 16 percent of world trade, 16 percent of total foreign investment and 12 percent of outbound investment."

Wang said that China will further open its market to other BRICS countries and increase imports, as they are highly complementary in trade.

"For example, agricultural products from Brazil, medical products from India, energy products from Russia and wine from South Africa are welcomed in China," Wang said. "In the past six months China's imports from BRICS countries increased 33 percent year-on-year."

The ministry will host a two-day meeting of BRICS trade ministers in Shanghai on Aug 1-2 before the BRICS Leaders' Meeting to be held in Xiamen, Fujian province, in September.

Wang said while protectionists have a skeptical attitude toward multilateral trade, China hopes the BRICS nations could tackle the skeptics as a united team and build a sufficient trade mechanism. To strengthen trade links, Wang said China will host an international imports exhibition from 2018.

"The exhibition will help with trade and stimulate investment," he added. "We are expecting BRICS countries to play an active role in the exhibition, thus ensuring that more goods can enter the Chinese market."

Zhang Shaogang, director-general of the Department of International Trade and Economic Affairs at the Ministry of Commerce, said Chinese e-commerce platforms have been gaining popularity among companies in other BRICS countries.

"We hope to optimize the e-commerce mechanism, encourage industry interaction and set a good example in e-commerce cooperation between developing countries."

Regarding investment, Wang said BRICS countries have been making progress to facilitate multilateral investment.

"The BRICS proposed action plans to facilitate investment in 2014, and the G20 summit agreed on the guiding principles for global investment," said Wang. "And this year's meeting will make further investment more convenient."

The Chinese market will benefit its BRICS partners in many sectors, such as consumer goods from South Africa and Russia.

Neil Wang, China unit president at the global consultancy Frost& Sullivan, said that China is opening up to different sectors, for example the diamond business.

"China was the major diamond import destination and consumer for South Africa and Russia in 2016, and demand for diamonds has been growing since 2012," he said.

"These two countries are also China's important partners in the Belt and Road Initiative. The trade relationship with them will largely affect China's diamond and jewelry market."

Bond of BRICS Grows Stronger, Benefiting Whole World (Бонды БРИКС становятся сильнее на пользу всему миру) / China, July, 2017
Keywords: BRICS_economy_overview

Over the course of the past 11 years, the bond between the BRICS members — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, has kept growing stronger.

Together, they have achieved a lot for their people and the world. And more is to come.

In fiscal and financial areas, the five countries are set to strengthen international tax cooperation and financial regulatory collaboration, establish an improved network of financial services institutions, and set up a cooperation framework for public private partnerships, agreed BRICS finance ministers and central bank governors at a meeting in Shanghai in June.

Local currency bond markets in BRICS countries will be advanced, and efforts will be made to converge accounting and auditing standards. Measures will also be taken to protect against liquidity pressures and fight against money laundering and financing of terrorism.

The New Development Bank (NDB), a key BRICS institution that was established in Shanghai in 2015, has seen good results in the last two years.

In 2016, the bank granted 1.5 billion dollars in loans to seven projects, mostly concerning green energy and infrastructure. From 2017 to 2018, the NDB has 23 projects at various stages, with a total lending amount of six billion U.S. dollars.

Meanwhile, BRICS countries will increase cooperation in innovation, encouraging cooperation among science parks and strengthening training for technology transfer.

An action plan for innovation cooperation issued Tuesday put emphasis on the younger generation by encouraging BRICS countries to promote partnerships on youth innovation and entrepreneurship for pragmatic cooperation and establish inter-BRICS investment instruments.

Senior BRICS environment officials also pledged to continue the sustainable use of the rich biodiversity of BRICS countries to achieve the internationally agreed targets and goals.

The five countries have also vowed in the past months in a number of ministerial-level meetings to enhance cooperation in areas like food security, health care, culture and sports.

Upholding the spirit of partnership that features openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation, the BRICS is ready welcome the like-minded.

The NDB has said it intends to operate at scale, and is now designing criteria and a strategy to expand membership to new countries in its general strategy for 2017-2021.

The expansion, said the bank, will ensure geographic diversity and a reasonable mix of advanced, middle- and lower-income countries. Absorbing more countries in development discussion and partnership building will help turn BRICS into the most influential platform for South-South cooperation.

The five countries are home to 42 percent of the world's population. Their total share in the global economy has risen from 12 percent to 23 percent in the past decade while contributing more than half of global growth.

Making the BRICS stronger not only benefit people of these countries, but also the whole world.

Imports from BRICS countries grow 33.6% in first quarter (Импорт из стран БРИКС в первом квартале вырос на 33,6%) / China, July, 2017
Keywords: trade_relations, Wang_Shouwen, China_BRICS

China's imports from BRICS countries increased 33.6 percent year-on-year to 473.70 billion yuan ($70.16 billion) in the first quarter of 2017, accounting for 8.1 percent of the country's total imports, official data showed Monday.

China will further increase imports from other BRICS countries, with the figure expected to reach $8 trillion in the next five years, Wang Shouwen, deputy minister of the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), told a press briefing.

The BRICS nations still have enormous potential for cooperation in the areas of trade and investment, Wang said. Statistics from MOFCOM show that the total economic volume of the BRICS countries accounted for 23 percent of the global economy, and they contributed to half of global growth in the last decade.

China will further open up its market to other BRICS countries. Starting in 2018, China will host the China International Import Expo to introduce more BRICS products to the domestic market, achieving mutual benefits and a win-win outcome.

BRICS countries will look into enhancing e-commerce cooperation and creating collaboration principles with an action plan for intellectual property rights cooperation, Wang said.

BRICS will reinvigorate the groupings' core role as a multilateral trading system, and step up efforts against protectionism, Wang said. With continued support from the WTO and other international organizations, BRICS nations will continue to fight against trade protectionism.

BRICS nations struggling with corruption, dwindling economic growth: Has the bloc lost its relevance (Страны БРИКС борются с коррупцией, сокращая экономический рост: не потерял ли блок свою актуальность?) / India, July, 2017
Keywords: Expert_opinion, economic_challanges

In 2001, Goldman Sachs chief economist Jim O'Neill coined an acronym which became so popular and gained prominence that five nations actually organised themselves as a group and held their first summit in 2009.

The acronym was BRIC. O'Neill had argued that that since the four BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) were developing rapidly, by 2050 their combined economies could eclipse all the economies of the richest countries in the world. His paper titled, 'Building Better Global Economic BRICs' tried to show that the world cannot be run properly without getting these countries involved.

South Africa joined the bloc later and it became BRICS from BRIC.

About two years later, he tried to explain that the combined GDP of BRIC could become bigger than the G7 around 2037. He expected the countries to grow faster than the developed countries and to play an increasingly important role in the world.

Despite the group surpassing O'Neill's expectations, mainly because of China's expansion, it seems that BRICS has failed to get its act together, according to The Global and Mail. The optimism that emerged soon after the group's first meeting has dulled to a low degree and the hope that BRICS will shape global economies and politics has turned to doubt.

It has been fading as an investment story and fails to represent a united political voice. They have also failed to speak in one voice about important economic and financial challenges.

While in 2009, O'Neill was vehemently opposed to the idea of dropping any of the countries from the bloc, he suggested in 2015 that recession-ravaged Brazil and Russia no longer belong to the club with India and China. In the same year, Goldman Sachs closed its BRIC investment fund after assets reportedly declined in value by 88 percent from 2010.

The economic turmoil in all of these nations is damaging the reputation and trust for success of the bloc, according to Business Day.

While the problems plaguing the countries is very different, they collectively affect the relevance of the group. Russia and Brazil have both fallen into a recession while China has seen a sharp decline in economic activity, The Guardian stated.

Here's a look at how the economies of the BRICS nations are faring:


Brazil is mired in economic problems, which have been exacerbated by political scandals. In the first three months of 2017, the GDP of the country grew by one percent after two consecutive years of negative growth, reported BBC.

A record 14 million people are unemployed according to official figures. The corruption scandal surrounding President Michel Temer has thwarted whatever economic reforms he planned to initiate.


Russia is another country which has significantly brought down the relevance of the bloc. It has slipped into recession following the collapse in oil prices and the sanctions that have been imposed on it. The United States government is mulling even harsher sanctions on the country.

President Vladimir Putin's alleged involvement in the 2016 US elections is also denting his image. The GDP in 2015 was negative 2.8 percent, according to Focus Economics. The 2014 US sanctions on Russia coupled with a crash in global oil prices has cut deeply into the country's revenue. This drop in revenue led to a collapse of the Russian economy.

South Africa

South Africa isn't faring any better. Domestic growth prospects have deteriorated following the GDP contraction in 2017. The economy has recorded two quarters of negative growth, CNBCreported.

Apart from this, President Jacob Zuma is himself embroiled in corruption allegations. The GDP in 2015 was slightly better than Russia and stood at 1.3 percent.


India is doing way better than most of its BRICS counterparts. While the collapse in global oil prices sounded the death knell for Russia, Paul Cashin, head of IMF mission for India said, "It is a large windfall gain for India."

Capital Economics pegs India's real growth rate at 6 percent in 2016 and at 6.5% in 2017. However, according to Business Day, ratings agencies have ruled out the possibility for an upgrade in the foreseeable future, citing vulnerabilities stemming from the country's low per-capita income, high debt-to-GDP ratio and bad assets of its banks.


The latest GDP reading pegged China's first-quarter growth at 6.7 percent on an annual basis. The problem that analysts warn against is that the figure may not bear much resemblance to reality. According to them, the country is growing at no more than 4 or 4.5 percent.

China's crackdown on public debates, lawyers, dissidents among others bespeak regimes nervous that corruption and economic slowdowns could turn their populations restive, according to Foreign Policy.

With all these nations recording low economic growth, the hope that the bloc will challenge the Western world and lead the global economy seems to be in disarray. After years of trying to gain significance and materialise the concept ideated by O'Neill, the purpose behind the formation of the group seems lost.
BRICS tax authorities sign key pact to improve cooperation (Налоговые органы БРИКС подписали ключевой пакт для улучшения сотрудничества) / Brazil, July, 2017
Keywords: FTA, top_level_meeting, concluded_agreements

Tax authorities of the five BRICS countries signed a key agreement to set up a mechanism to enhance and institutionalize taxation cooperation, China's official news agency Xinhua reported Friday.

The BRICS Taxation Cooperation Memorandum, signed at the fifth Meeting of BRICS Heads of Tax Authorities on Thursday, ahead of the BRICS summit in early September in Xiamen, envisages the implementation of a system for the exchange of information on financial accounts by September 2018 to counteract cross-border tax evasion and improve fiscal transparency.

The countries also agreed to cooperate to study the increase in tax capacity as well as possible ways to coordinate fiscal policies.

The director of the State Administration of Taxation, Wang Jun, called on BRICS countries to work together to improve the global system of tax governance and actively participate in the development of standards, lending greater gravitas to the voice of emerging countries.

The head of the international taxation department of the administration, Liao Tizhong, said tax cooperation between BRICS members is inevitable to address the imbalances of global economic development and promote coordinated growth.

The BRICS countries are reportedly home to 42 percent of the world's population and their total share in global economy has risen from 12 percent to 23 percent in the last decade.
Brics industry ministers to deepen industrial co-operation (Министры промышленности БРИКС углубляют сотрудничество) / South Africa, July, 2017
Keywords: concluded_agreements, top_level_meeting
South Africa

Hangzhou - The second meeting of Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) industry ministers held in Hangzhou in China has adopted a seven-point "action plan" on deepening industrial co-operation among Brics countries, the trade and industry department (dti) said on Sunday.

The action plan stated that the world economy was still in a period of profound adjustment after the international financial crisis, the dti said in a statement.

"Industrial sectors, the manufacturing sector, and the service sectors related to it in particular, have become key factors in sustaining mid- and long-term economic development. The plan also acknowledges that in recent years the new industrial revolution featuring digitalisation, networking, and intellectualisation is emerging, changing traditional production flows and business models and giving rise to new industrial forms," the dti said.

Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said the action plan was intended to facilitate implementation of the consensus reached at the first meeting of Brics industry ministers held two years ago in Moscow in Russia, on expanding industrial co-operation in key areas and joint actions, and deepen the mutually beneficial and win-win co-operation in industrial fields, particularly manufacturing.

Seven points had been identified as key in the plan
- strengthen industrial capacity co-operation;
- strengthen the co-ordination and match-making in the field of industrial policies;
- promote co-operation in the development of new industrial infrastructure;
- expand co-operation in technological development and innovation;
- deepen co-operation in the field of SMEs;
- strengthen co-operation in the standards area;
- and facilitate all-round co-operation with the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (Unido).

Prior to the adoption of the plan, Davies said the global manufacturing industry was confronted by the impact of the "fourth industrial revolution" that would transform traditional manufacturing as a result of the growth of smart technologies, as information and communication technology had become more widespread in manufacturing. This had opened the way for disruptive approaches to development, production, and the entire supply chain.

"Therefore our industrial development strategies and investment co-operation have to grapple with the potential threats, in particular in the context of high unemployment and some of the challenges outlined above. At the same time this presents an opportunity to aggressively acquire, transfer, and diffuse new technologies through securing key investments from global players in key strategic value chains in order to build global competitive capabilities," Davies said.

Industrial development co-operation between Brics countries could be used as a springboard to foster growth, development, and job creation, he said.

The plan stated that "to seize development opportunities brought by the new industrial revolution, Brics countries will take joint action to fully use their advantages of rich natural and human resources, broad domestic markets, and vigorously carry out co-ordination and match-making in the fields of industrial capacity and policies, and co-operation in such fields as development of new industrial infrastructure, technology development and innovation, small and medium sized enterprises", the dti said.

Trade Spats and Border Tensions Cloud BRICS Meeting (Размолвки в торговле и пограничные конфликты омрачают встречу БРИКС) / USA, July, 2017
Keywords: trade_relations, top_level_meeting

Trade ministers of the BRICS nations -- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa -- will meet in Shanghai next week under the shadow of rising trade spats and border tensions between the group's Asian members.

The meeting precedes the annual leaders' summit in September and will discuss trade liberalization, commitment to a multilateral system and other issues, according to a Chinese Ministry of Commerce briefing this week. But prospects for the group to develop into a united powerhouse of emerging economies look as distant as any time since economist Jim O'Neill coined the term back in 2001.

The split among emerging market economies may create strains between winners and laggards, according to Louis Kuijs, head of Asia economics at Oxford Economics in Hong Kong. "This tension is likely to get worse rather than better in the coming decade and will reduce the ability of the BRICS group to speak with one voice."

The BRICS have found little common ground in recent years as their growth trajectories diverged and geopolitical ambitions spurred tensions. China has kept up its rapid, albeit moderated, growth pace and India has vied with it for bragging rights as the world's fastest growing major economy. But life has been tougher for the commodity dependent economies of Russia, South Africa, and Brazil, with the latter also plagued by political turmoil.

Just three years ago, Chinese President Xi Jinping laid out his "blueprint" for the BRICS nations, calling for closer ties within the block and a more "integrated market." His Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin also hoped the group would reshape the global economic order, and named BRICS cooperation as a national priority. The $50 billion New Development Bank, with equal capital contributions from the five economies, was launched in Shanghai in 2015 to provide an alternative funding source to the World Bank.

But instead of increasing integration, the club remains loose and divided. Trade relations between China and some of the other four nations have soured, with the export powerhouse's rising shipments of manufactured products fueling calls for protection.

India recently opened an anti-dumping probe into Chinese solar-equipment makers, the latest in a string of such investigations. The south Asian nation launched 12 trade cases against Beijing in the first six months of 2017, the most in the world, according to China's Ministry of Commerce.

Brazil and China have also locked horns. Latin America's biggest economy extended a probe on Chinese steel, while China imposed additional tariffs on sugar imports, triggering complaints from Brazil.

Trade relations are heavily tilted in China's favor. China was the largest trading partner for the other four nations last year. By contrast, India, Russia and Brazil ranked 13th, 14th and 15th on China's tally, with South Africa further down the list, according to IMF data compiled by Bloomberg.

Geopolitics is also getting in the way.

"Individual BRICS nations are more focused on expanding their economic space and geopolitical influence in their immediate geographical neighborhoods," said Chua Hak Bin, a Singapore-based senior economist with Maybank Kim Eng Research.

The ambitious Belt and Road initiative, proposed by President Xi to link China with Europe, encroaches onto the other BRICS nations' areas of influence, particularly India's and Russia's, he said.

In a move to soothe opposition to its massive trade surplus -- not least from U.S. President Donald Trump -- China has offered to beef up imports from all over the world. Vice Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen said in a briefing this week that China expects to import over $8 trillion worth of goods in the coming five years, and the other BRICS members are welcome to further tap into the vast Chinese market.

The Asian nation's imports from the quartet hit $70.2 billion in the first half of 2017, official data showed -- a 34 percent jump from a year earlier.

While trade within the block may continue to strengthen as their economies pick up, China's most important relationships will still be with the U.S., Europe and the rest of Asia, said Shen Jianguang, chief Asia economist at Mizuho Securities Asia Ltd. in Hong Kong.

The lion's share of China's trade is tied to the global supply chain, and none of the four other BRICS nations are a major player in that respect, Shen said. Chinese imports from other BRICS nations are mainly raw materials, which are volatile due to commodity price fluctuations, he said.

All of that leaves prospects for meaningful progress next week looking slim.

"To be honest, the BRICS grouping has always been a slightly artificial construct," said Kuijs.
BRICS countries hail India's GST reform (Страны БРИКС приветствуют реформу НДС Индии) / India, July, 2017
Keywords: India_GST, top_level_meeting, concluded_agreements, FTA

Hangzhou, China: India's Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime was hailed by the BRICS countries at a meeting of Revenue Heads held here from July 25-27, an official statement said on Friday.

"In the meeting of the BRICS Heads of Revenue and Tax Experts held at Hangzhou, India's GST reform was appreciated and hailed by the BRICS countries," a Finance Ministry statement said.

The Indian delegation at the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) meeting was led by Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia.

"The leaders and representatives from BRICS countries were inquisitive about GST reform introduced in India and appreciated efforts of India in bringing about this major reform. During the press conference held after the meeting, the media also inquired about the reforms introduced in India," it said.

During the meeting, the BRICS Heads of Revenue and tax experts deliberated upon contemporary international tax issues. A joint communique was issued at the end of the meeting.

A Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) in respect of tax matters identifying areas of cooperation, namely, coordination in international forums, capacity building, experience sharing and regular interaction was also signed.
A financial agenda for BRICS (Финансовая повестка дня для БРИКС) / India, July, 2017
Keywords: Expert_opinion
Author: Venkatraman Anantha-Nageswaran

The multi-polar world that BRICS nations seek is not a reality yet and the differences between them do exist. But the BRICS summit in September offers leaders an opportunity to examine a few important financial issues before they can dictate the global agenda

China will be hosting the ninth BRICS summit in Xiamen, Fujian province in September this year. Much water has flowed under the bridge since November 2001, when economists at Goldman Sachs came up with the acronym. The countries in question saw in their unlikely group – the outcome of an American construct, ironically enough – the potential to form an alliance against the Anglo-Saxon dominance of the world. But it was a contrived one, politically: two of the members, Russia and China, had permanent seats in the UN Security Council, and the other two, India and Brazil, were aspiring members.[1]

Today, 16 years down the line, tangible conflicts and philosophical differences between the nations (such as, regulation of the Internet) do exist – and the multi-polar world that they seek remains unaccomplished. The U.S. withdrew leadership on issues such as climate change and free trade, but the U.S. economy mattered more for global economic growth than China's, according to the 2015-16 annual report of the Bank for International Settlements. Even China's economic rise has been due to the U.S.'s support. Even so, BRICS remains relevant, but to be able to dictate the global agenda, the leaders of these nations need to address the following financial issues at the forthcoming summit.

Addiction to debt

For BRICS to make sense as a political grouping, the nations have to break the paradigm of financial globalisation that has dominated western thinking and policy-making over the last three decades – and acknowledge that they too have made some of the West's mistakes, such as the reliance on debt. China's overall debt – non-financial debt, including the government's – has ballooned since the new millennium, especially since the onset of the financial crisis of 2008, while its GDP has plateaued. What was supposed to be a crisis of the western nations saw China unleash a massive economic stimulus to bail its economy out, which added greatly to its debt stock. The problem with debt is that too much is a drag on economic growth, and China is fast approaching that point, if it is not already there.

Addiction to debt, therefore, has to be first moderated, then reversed. It will have short-term growth consequences, but it will make the economy healthier in the long term.

Regulating capital flows

Since the 1980s, free movement of capital has been added to free trade as part of the policy prescription for the developing world. However, not all capital is the same. Until recently, economists had ignored that distinction. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) came close to adopting capital account liberalisation as one of its missions in 1997. But, the Asian crisis stopped it. Lately, the Fund came around to accepting and even publishing research on evidence that capital flows can hurt economic and social stability in the developing world. For example, Davide Furceri and Prakash Loungani of the IMF[2] found that capital account liberalisation episodes were associated with a statistically significant and persistent increase in inequality. In particular, they found that, on average, capital account liberalisation reforms have typically increased the Gini coefficient by about 0.8% in the very short term (a year after the occurrence of the liberalisation reform) and by about 0.7- 2½% in the medium term (five years later). This outcome was due to the effect that capital account liberalisation had on the labour share of income, which declined after liberalisation. Therefore, it is essential for BRICS countries to stand up to pressure on capital account liberalisation.

Thirdly, closely related to the earlier point is the treatment of financial transactions. The U.S. and UK have resisted European proposals[3] to levy a tax on financial transactions that add no economic value. Such a tax would throw sand under the wheels of short-term trading which do not add any value to economies. Germany and France are in favour of it, but the U.S. and UK have resisted it because of the importance and clout that the financial sector holds for their economies. If BRICS nations lend their weight to the European proposal, it will gain traction. Financial markets will change from being casinos in disguise to being mechanisms for efficient long-term capital allocation.

Executive compensation

Evidence has emerged in America that listed companies invest far less in real assets than unlisted ones.[4] Public listing and executive compensation practices that reward executives for short-term stock price performance have combined to discourage companies from undertaking real investments. With the possible exception of China, other BRICS nations need more investments in physical assets for the next decade or two if their economic promise is to become reality. They should therefore institute regulations that keep executive compensation in check and executives accountable for the long-term performance of their companies. It is complex work that requires stakeholder consultations and BRICS nations need to address it speedily. There are signs in India, for example, that the ratio of executive pay to median worker pay in listed companies is higher than it is in the U.S.![5]

Addressing these issues will be proof that BRICS has an alternative to the western paradigm whereupon it can tackle related areas, such as regulating new financial products and the role of stock markets in society. This will also mark a fitting start to a second, more meaningful decade for the group.


[1] South Africa became part of the group on 24 December 2010 and BRIC became BRICS.

[2] Davide Furceri and Prakash Loungani (2015): 'Capital Account Liberalization and Inequality', IMF Working Paper WP/15/243, November 2015, <> (Accessed on 17 July 2017)

[3] See, for example, Weber Alexander, Jennen Birgit, "German Courting of London Banks May Falter on Tobin Tax Pledge", Bloomberg, 24 January 2017 <> (Accessed on 17 July 2017)

[4] Asker, John, Joan-Farre Mensa, and Alexander Ljungqvist (2014), "Corporate investment and stock market listing: A Puzzle?" Review of Financial Studies 28, no. 2 (February 2015), 342-390, (Accessed July 17, 2017)

[5] "Pay Gap: Indian CEOs Earn Up to 1,200 Times More Than the Average Employee", Business Standard News, <> (Accessed on 26 July 2017)
Sources: IMF World Economic Outlook database (April 2017) and BIS database on credit to the non-financial sector (up to end-2016). BIS database updated in June 2017 and accessed on 11th July 2017
World of work
Social policy, trade unions, actions
BRICS Youth Forum opens in Beijing (В Пекине открывается молодежный форум БРИКС) / China, July, 2017
Keywords: Youth_Forum

BEIJING, July 25 (Xinhua) -- The 2017 BRICS Youth Forum opened in Beijing Tuesday to discuss youth development in BRICS countries.

Themed "Enhance BRICS Partnership, Promote Youth Development," the three-day forum gathered 50 youth representatives working as civil servants, scholars, entrepreneurs, artists and journalists from BRICS countries.

Representatives will hold discussions on issues concerning youth policies and entrepreneurship, as well as the roles of BRICS youth in global governance, before formulating an action plan for the forum.

The five BRICS countries, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, first came up with the idea of establishing a dialogue mechanism for BRICS youth in 2014 during a meeting between BRICS leaders in South Africa.

In the past three years, the forums have had achievements in various fields, such as youth policies and employment through dialogue.
Shri Bandaru Dattatreya attends the BRICS Labour & Employment Ministers' Meet in China (Шри Бандару Даттатрея посетил встречу министров труда и занятости БРИКС в Китае) / India, July, 2017
Keywords: top_level_meeting, labour, employment, Shri_Bandaru_Dattatreya

Indian delegation led by Shri Bandaru Dattatreya, the Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Labour & Employment participated in the BRICS Labour & Employment Ministers' Meet, held on 26-27th, July, 2017 at Chonqging, China. China is the chair for the BRICS Labour & Employment Ministers' Meet for the year 2017. The delegation included M Sathiyavathy, Secretary( Labour and Employment), Manish Gupta, Joint Secretary, Anuja Bapat, Director and Prof Sasikumar, Sr. Fellow, VVGNLI.

The meeting concluded with the adoption of the BRICS Labour and Employment Ministerial Declaration by the BRICS Labour and Employment Ministers on 27th July 2017 in Chongqing, China. The Declaration covered a variety of areas that are of critical importance to all BRICS countries including India and called upon strengthening collaboration and cooperation on these through appropriate institutionalisation . These areas consisted of : "Governance in the Future of Work", "Skills for development in BRICS", "Universal and sustainable social security systems", "BRICS Network of Labour Research Institutions", "BRICS Social Security Cooperation Framework" and "BRICS entrepreneurship research".

On this occasion, Shri Bandaru Dattatreya said that the BRICS countries should collaborate to address the challenges of the 'Future of Work' emerging in the area of non-standard forms of employment like part-time work, temporary work, fixed term contracting and subcontracting, home based work, etc. that are changing the character of the labour markets in the BRICS countries. Networking of labour institutes of BRICS nations could create mechanisms for regular exchange of information and creating further areas of cooperation in this and other common areas.

Labour & Employment Minister reiterated that India has always adhered to the principle of CBDR in Global Supply Chain and was pleased that the BRICS countries echoed this policy stand. Shri Dattatreya added that technology could be a critical enabler for creating efficient and transparent labour governance structure and that in India ICT has been deployed to ensure effective, timely and efficient delivery of services and for creating simpler and transparent compliance structure in all areas including financial inclusion, social security, employment generation and skilling.

The Minister emphasized that skilling not only increases the employability of the workers but also the productivity of the employers which leads to a cycle of increased production, increased revenue stream and increased GDP of the country. India endorsed the BRICS Action Plan for Poverty Alleviation and reduction through Skills which inter alia includes policy recommendations to integrate poor into overall national plan for vocational training, improving lifelong vocational training and learning systems, promoting high quality apprenticeship systems, strengthening collaboration between Governments, sectors and enterprises for research initiatives, and leveraging the network of BRICS National Research Institutes for creating such alliances.

India complimented the Chinese Presidency for taking forward the commitments made collectively by BRICS during the previous presidencies in a very articulate manner. India supported the proposed institutionalization of Social Security Cooperation Framework for BRICS as it will help us understand strategies being followed by fellow BRICS countries towards universalisation of social security especially in respect of on standard forms of works. Minister said that asymmetry in labour market information is big challenge for all of us. In this context the network of National Labour Institutes presents significant possibilities for integrating research and information sharing. Shri Dattatreya said that the network will also help us to form common positions on relevant labour and employment issues. Encouraging innovation and Entrepreneurship is a key priority for India. India expressed her desire to work with BRICS partners in strengthening the BRICS Entrepreneurship Initiatives.

The BRICS Labour and Employment Ministerial Declaration would now be presented to the Leaders/ Head of the State summit scheduled to be held on 3-5th, 2017 Xiamen, China.

BRICS pledge deeper education collaboration (БРИКС закладывает более глубокое сотрудничество в области образования) / United Kingdom, July, 2017
Keywords: top_level_meeting, education, BRICS_NU
United Kingdom
Author: Kirill Tregub

Ministries of Education in Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa have pledged greater educational cooperation to take advantage of rapidly expanding education developments in BRICS nations.

At the fifth meeting of BRICS Ministers of Education earlier this month in Beijing, delegates discussed educational reforms, promoting equity and quality in education, boosting exchange of students as well as promoting language and cultural knowledge of member countries.

The meeting resulted in the signing of a declaration between senior ministry representatives, proclaiming deeper collaboration and support for the two-year old BRICS Network University.

The meeting resulted in the signing of a declaration of deeper collaboration on BRICS Network University

BRICS NU is the only functioning university association between the countries and their main platform for research, scientific and innovative cooperation.

The platform was established in 2015 in Russia and is dedicated to joint short-term, master's and PhD programs in the fields of computer science and information science, energy, BRICS studies, economics, ecology and climate change and water resources and pollution treatment.

"It is to facilitate and encourage the integration of the geopolitical environment through education, common education and research tasks and goals, developing and fostering academic and student mobility, and creating education programs in an innovative format," commented vice rector for international academic mobility of RUDN University, Larisa Efremova.

Currently, BRICS NU consists of 55 universities, among which there are nine Russian universities belonging to the 5-100 program. Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro and the Federal University of Minas Gerais are among the Brazilian participants. Meanwhile in India, IIT Bombay and Kanpur are participants and in China, Hunan University and Sichuan University are members.

In South Africa, participants include the Universities of Cape Town, Pretoria and Witwatersrand.

Despite its fledgling success, the initiative still faces challenges related to financial support and the mutual recognition of some degrees and qualifications, according to Maxim Khomyakov, head of the Russian National Coordinating Committee at the BRICS Network University.

"For example, in South Africa and Brazil recognition is done mostly by the autonomous universities on a program by program basis," he said.

"Russia does have agreement with India, but from the Soviet era. It is not clear how to recognise master's, bachelor's or PhD programs, which didn't exist in the Soviet Union. Brazil and South Africa have issues with recognition of academic credits as well."
South Africa's Minister Cwele Emphasizes Importance Of Digital Economy At BRICS Communications Ministers' Meeting (Министр ЮАР Цвел подчеркивает важность цифровой экономики на совещании министров связи стран БРИКС) / South Africa, July, 2017
Keywords: top_level_meeting, digital_economy, Siyabonga_Cwele
South Africa

At the 3rd BRICS (Brasil Russia India China South Africa) Communications Ministers' Meeting in Hangzhou (China), South Africa's Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services (DTPS), Dr. Siyabonga Cwele, has emphasised the importance of nurturing and developing the 'Digital Economy'. He further highlighted how most youth among all BRICS countries rely on the Digital Economy for their livelihoods and development.

South Africa's Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services (DTPS), Dr. Siyabonga Cwele, delivering his opening remarks address at the 3rd BRICS Communications Ministers' Meeting in Hangzhou, China.

The meeting kicked off on 27 July 2017 and also sees ICT business delegations from the various BRICS countries accompanying the Communications Ministers to collaborate and seek business / investment opportunities with their counterparts.

"Our young people are driven by the digital economy. As governments, we must enable young people and the industry at large, to undertake cutting edge research and development that will put new and existing technology at the center of government service delivery. Localization is at the core of the industrialization strategy for the country," said South Africa's Minister for the DTPS in his opening remarks address at the 3rd BRICS Communications Ministers' Meeting.

Dr. Cwele also highlighted South Africa's efforts in providing broadband connectivity to citizens by stating that the government has prioritized access to quality, affordable and safe ubiquitous high-speed broadband by 2020 to all South Africans.

"Currently, we are busy with Phase 1 of connecting government offices in 8 priority districts. However, to ensure country-wide rollout in the rest of the country, we will need investment partners Public Private Partnership funding. We encourage BRICS companies to participate in this $5b project when we call for request for proposal later this financial year,"

"Our second priority is the Internet for All, an initiative adopted by the World Economic Forum on Africa in May this year. The initiative aims to connect 22 million South Africans currently offline. Most of these are in rural and underserved areas, where there is only 2 G coverage. We invite you all as partners in rolling out connectivity; ensuring affordable services and handset devices; promoting e-skills; and developing local content applications to increase uptake and usage," said Dr. Cwele.

You can read Minister Cwele's full speech at the 3rd BRICS Communications Ministers' Meeting below.

Opening Remarks By The Minister Of Telecommunications & Postal Services of South Africa, Dr. Siyabonga Cwele At The 3rd BRICS Communications Ministers' Meeting

Your Exellencies, Honourable BRICS Leaders,
Programme Director, Mr Liu Luhua,
Deputy Governor
Mr Houlin Zhao, Secretary-General of ITU,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Senior Government Officials,
Business Leaders,
Ladies and gentlemen

On behalf of the South African Government and its beloved people, permit me the latitude of conveying our sincere and brotherly greetings to our revered allies, the BRICS nations and the citizens of the People's Republic of China.

As sister countries, the essence of our responsibility is to influence and shape the future of the global Information Communication and Technologies (ICT) agenda.


As a collective, we hold a strategic and important place in the global economy. Together, our gross domestic product (GDP) is about 21% of the global volume, and I am confident this percentage will steadily increase. Let me reaffirm, the Republic of South Africa remains committed to cooperate with our BRICS allies in all sectors, especially in the information and communications industry.

ICTs remains high on the BRICS agenda, with multi-disciplinary enabler for driving innovation and development, contributing to GDP and the economy, empowering citizens; and fostering security.
In line with this theme of this meeting is "ICT Innovation and Integrative Development in the Era of Digital Economy," our priorities should remain on:

  • rolling out of ICT infrastructure and communications networks and services and ensuring connectivity amongst BRICS countries;

  • development of new applications to support enterprise development; supporting the e-Skills Development for the digital economy;

  • developing local incubation programs to drive technology and development to support ICT for Small Medium and Micro Enterprise (SMMEs) including in the areas of e-commerce as endorsed by the BRICS GOA Declaration 2016.

Ladies and Gentlemen

This 3rd BRICS Communications Ministers' meeting is an important gathering in cementing the ICT relations between our respective countries. For South Africa, ICT innovation and technology change is at the heart of the economic development strategy. Our Government has prioritized access to quality, affordable and safe ubiquitous high-speed broadband by 2020 to all South Africans. Currently, we are busy with Phase 1 of connecting government offices in 8 priority districts. However, to ensure country-wide rollout in the rest of the country, we will need investment partners Public Private Partnership funding. We encourage BRICS companies to participate in this $5b project when we call for request for proposal later this financial year.

Our second priority is the Internet for All, an initiative adopted by the World Economic Forum on Africa in May this year. The initiative aims to connect 22 million South Africans currently offline. Most of these are in rural and underserved areas, where there is only 2 G coverage. We invite you all as partners in rolling out connectivity; ensuring affordable services and handset devices; promoting e-skills; and developing local content applications to increase uptake and usage.

This links to our project of localisation for centers on innovation as well as our ICT Industrial Development Zonens in Durban, Johannesburg, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth cities. We call on our BRICS companies to take advantage of these investment opportunities

Program Director,

Frantz Fanon, an Afro-Caribbean philosopher and revolutionary once said: "Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it, or betray it." Our young people are driven by the digital economy. As governments, we must enable young people and the industry at large, to undertake cutting edge research and development that will put new and existing technology at the center of government service delivery. Localization is at the core of the industrialization strategy for the country.

Distinguished Delegates: SA is open for business.

South Africa is a dynamic and stable economy with solid economic fundamentals. We pride ourselves with the prudent fiscal management and monetary policies that have created macroeconomic stability. The sound financial system, highly regulated banking sector and world class infrastructure make us an ideal investment destination.

  • We currently ranked as number 1 economy in Africa and 25th in the world on Foreign Direct Investment South Africa is ranked 47 of 140 countries in WEF Global Competitive Index.

  • We ranked 6th out of 54 countries in Ibrahim Index on African Governance.

  • Ranked in at 38 from 100 countries in Most Value Nation Brands.

  • Is no 47 of 154 countries in Data Quality Index.

  • South Africa has the most diversified economy on the continent and advocates for Africa's advancement, supporting the African Union Agenda 2063.

Ladies and gentlemen

ICTs remain a critical cornerstone of socio-economic development. The increased access to ICTs, in particular, broadband services and content carried on ICT networks, is acknowledged as an important means of promoting inclusive growth.
I have with me a diverse business delegation: a commitment that South Africa wants to partner with BRICS in transforming our country, sector, industry, and Africa at large. South Africa is open to partnering with BRICS countries in all areas of the ICT value chain.


If we are to achieve a digital economy, we need substantial cooperation amongst BRICS members to change the international rules and standards to ensure inclusive participation by developing and emerging markets.

We have an opportunity to strengthen the functioning of our BRICS Union and build a more integrated, innovative, and vibrant ICT network that is truly able to meet the needs of our people. We look forward to forging new partnerships, especially amongst the industry and Small Medium Micro Enterprises stakeholders present.

Your Excellencies,

We must develop effective mechanism to ensure that the decisions we make get implemented without delay. Now is the time for the BRICS nations to be leaders of the digital economy--and we will only achieve this through corporations and establishing a commity relationship.

The South African Government is looking forward to growing trade and economic cooperation within the BRICS community.

I thank you.
BRICS countries to strengthen labor, employment cooperation (Страны БРИКС укрепляют сотрудничество в сфере труда, занятости) / China, July, 2017
Keywords: top_level_meeting, labour, employment, Yin_Weimin

The BRICS countries should work together to ensure stable employment and better quality of life for their people, according to the 2017 BRICS labor and employment ministers meeting that ended Thursday.

According to Yin Weimin, minister of Human Resources and Social Security, progress in science and technology and changes in economic and demographic structure have brought new challenges to labor markets around the world, and the international community should find common ways of dealing with them.

China has made employment a priority and tried to improve the quality of employment through vocational training, Yin said.

The BRICS countries -- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, should work together to boost employment and inclusive growth, enhancing the skills of professionals to alleviate poverty, he said.

Countries should cooperate on social security systems, cultural exchange in the labor market and mechanisms for future collaboration, he said.

During the two-day meeting in Chongqing, labor and employment ministers discussed topics including skills-driven development and a universally sustainable social security system.

A declaration was passed, while four documents were presented, including one on common ground in labor market governance and an action plan on skills-driven poverty alleviation.

The meeting comes ahead of the 2017 BRICS Summit to be held in Xiamen, Fujian Province, from Sept.3 - Sept.5.
BRICS countries play key role in tackling work challenges (Страны БРИКС играют ключевую роль в решении проблем труда) / Pakistan, July, 2017
Keywords: top_level_meeting, labour, employment, Guy_Ryder

HONGQING, China, July 30 (PPI): The weight and experience of BRICS countries is essential to addressing the major challenges faced by the global economy, said ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder, in his opening address at the 3rd BRICS Labour and Employment Ministers' meeting in Chongqing.

"The strategic position of the BRICS countries and their weight and dynamism in the global economy means that you are all addressing these challenges globally and nationally," he said, stressing the importance of coordination and sharing of experience and good practice.

Ryder underlined that the BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – represent 48 per cent of the global population and 21 per cent of the world's production. "The BRICS group – as it approaches its 10th anniversary – has established itself as a key actor on the international stage and in many areas of policy-making. It is of the highest significance that labour and employment policy seems now to be firmly established as one of its priorities," he said.

The ILO Director-General commended the steps the five nations have taken to promote social security cooperation and to establish a network of labour research institutes. In addition, he expressed "particular appreciation" for the role and presence of the BRICS social partners who are "vital to the work we do and that we will continue to do together".

Ryder noted that the agenda of the Chongqing meeting is strongly aligned with two crucial global processes: The United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and the ILO Centenary Initiative on the Future of Work .

He added that the Initiative is entering its second stage with the launch of a high-level Global Commission on the Future of Work in Geneva. The Commission will report to the centenary International Labour Conference (ILC) in 2019.

Ryder said he was confident that the Chongqing meeting and the final declaration will contribute effectively to strengthening a "Stronger Partnership for a Brighter Future" ahead of the BRICS Leaders' Summit in Xiamen in September.

"It is after all a fundamental desire of people across the world, above all in this period of transformative change and sometimes of uncertainty, that they can look forward and contribute to a better future of work – one with social justice and prosperity and decent work for all," he concluded.

Comprehensive reports, BRICS research materials
BRICS countries: Emerging players in global services trade (Страны БРИКС: Новые игроки в международной торговле услугами) / Switzerland, July, 2017
Keywords: Expert_opinion, research, report, global_services_trade

BRICS countries – Brazil, the Russian Federation, India, China, and South Africa – have emerged as important players in global services trade in the past decade. BRICS services exports are growing faster than the developed countries; their share in global services markets is also expanding rapidly. Yet they still lag behind traditional major players and much work remains to tap into their potential.

This report provides data on sector and modes of supply for each BRICS country, and analyses intra-BRICS trade. The analysis suggests that BRICS can better integrate into the global services economy by improving services regulations and reducing trade costs.
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