Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 33.2017
2017.08.07 — 2017.08.13
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Interview: Role of BRICS group growing in global governance -- Indian expert (Интервью: Растущая роль группы БРИКС в глобальном управлении - индийский эксперт) / China, August, 2017
Keywords: expert_opinion, Srikanth_Kondapalli

NEW DELHI, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- The BRICS bloc grouping Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa has gained certain momentum in its cooperation and growth, seeing its influence increase at both the regional and international levels, an Indian expert has said.

"In the last eight (annual) summits, BRICS has acquired certain momentum in international relations," said Srikanth Kondapalli, professor at the Center for East Asia Studies of the New Delhi-based Jawaharlal Nehru University.

"It has advocated dialogue and peaceful resolution of disputes, in addition to lifting any curbs on trade and investments," he said in an interview with Xinhua on Sunday.

As the bloc's five emerging economies "are getting integrated in the global economy, it has advocated certain balance in dealing with the Western countries and the institutions such as the IMF (International Monetary Fund)/World Bank or universally accepted norms," the Indian expert added.

"It tries to protect the interests of developing countries," he noted.

Macroeconomic stability, institutional effectiveness and openness are among the factors that enable the bloc to attract global attention and to play a larger role in global governance and growth, according to the expert.

"Formation of BRICS and the regular summit meetings and the pronouncements so far have provided scope for expanding its influence at the global and regional levels," Kondapalli noted.

The BRICS mechanisms have so far prompted within its framework cooperation in many areas such as trade and investment, with joint efforts also expected in fighting terrorism and climate change.

The Indian expert cited the bloc's New Development Bank, which was launched in 2015 to work with a focus on infrastructure and sustainable development projects, as key to increasing intra-BRICS investment flows, so as to reduce the bloc's financial dependency on international lenders.

The establishment of a BRICS rating agency which Kondapalli said is likely to be proposed at the upcoming BRICS summit scheduled for September in the southeast Chinese city of Xiamen will further help boost economic growth of BRICS member countries.

Noting that investment flows are conditioned partly by the estimates of credit rating agencies, he said, "The three main global credit rating agencies -- Standard & Poor's, Fitch and Moody's -- have in the recent times downgraded many of the BRICS economies. This has affected investment flows and business sentiments."

The BRICS bloc has been contributing increasingly more to global governance, according to the expert, who said it has been "trying to shape discourse on just global governance structures."

"With the BRICS demands, many of the global governance structures are undergoing a gradual reform," he said.

For example, "the BRICS has been highly critical of the voting shares in the IMF/World bank. After the 2010 reorganization efforts, in 2015, the voting rights of China and India were increased in the IMF, although only marginally."

"There is also the collective pressure that BRICS is exerting through the G20 (Group of 20 major economies), the WTO (World Trade Organization) and other mechanisms in opposing trade protectionist trends," the Indian expert noted.

On an outward expansion of the bloc, Kondapalli cited a growing interest in the "BRICS +" idea coinciding with a desire of countries like Indonesia, Turkey, Egypt, Nigeria and Argentina to associate with the bloc, while stressing there are reservations on this issue for the fear, among other reasons, that the bloc might lose its flavor.

Narendra Modi may attend BRICS meet in China (Нарендра Моди может посетить встречу БРИКС в Китае) / India, August, 2017
Keywords: Narendra_Modi, Xiamen_Summit, India_China

New Delhi: Despite the Sino-Indian military tensions amid the Doklam standoff, China is pitching for a successful Brics summit in the Chinese city of Xiamen next month, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to be present, on the grounds that it's in the "interests of all nations".

Chinese President Xi Jinping had attended the Brics summit in Goa last year. At an informal Brics meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Hamburg last month, Mr Modi was quoted as saying last month: "Under President Xi's chairmanship, the progress and positive momentum of Brics has further deepened our cooperation." Mr Xi had also appreciated the momentum of Brics during India's chairmanship.

"The successful holding of the summit is in the interests of all nations," diplomatic sources said in New Delhi. China appears to be trying its best to delink the Doklam standoff from the multilateral Brics forum and summit that it will host.

Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa are members of Brics. Whether the Doklam standoff will be resolved by the time the Brics summit takes place will be keenly watched in view of Mr Modi's expected visit.

China has lambasted India over the past weeks, demanding the withdrawal of Indian troops from Doklam.

Indian and Chinese troops have been involved in a seven-week faceoff at Doklam, which India and Bhutan consider Bhutanese territory.

China, however, regards it as its own territory. China has maintained that "there cannot be any room for discussion except that India withdraws its troops", and that New Delhi should not resort to any "stalling tactics".
Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
BRICS nations strengthen trade ties with new initiatives (Страны БРИКС укрепляют торговые связи новыми инициативами) / China, August, 2017
Keywords: expert_opinion, trade_relations
Author: Feng Jianmin

PRODUCTS and services from companies in Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa will have easier access to Chinese consumers after the recent summit of trade ministers from BRICS countries met in Shanghai to formulate new agreements on e-commerce, tourism, education and medicine.

At the two-day meeting last week, member countries discussed eight key areas spanning trade, investment, intellectual property protection and technology exchanges.

The term BRIC was coined in 2001 by Jim O'Neill, then chairman of asset management at Goldman Sachs. It originally referred to Brazil, Russia, India, China — leading developing or newly industrialized nations with large and sometimes fast-growing economies. The first informal meeting of the group was held in 2006 and the first formal summit three years later. South Africa joined in 2010.

The group is trying to leverage the regional influence and trade clout of individual members into wider areas of cooperation. The Shanghai meeting approved a new initiative for joint progress in e-commerce.

"We believe that very soon, we will see more BRICS products on the tables of ordinary Chinese people," said Zhong Shan, Chinese minister of commerce, who chaired the Shanghai meeting. "Chinese companies will also find more opportunities working with their BRICS peers in the aspects of e-commerce sales, logistics and payment systems."

Last month, the ministry said China will import more than US$8 trillion of products in the next five years, offering huge opportunities for BRICS countries.

China's trade with Brazil, Russia, India, and South Africa in the first half of this year rose a third from year earlier to US$70.16 billion, outpacing China's overall trade growth of about 20 percent.

This nation's cross-border e-commerce platforms contributed more to foreign trade. Imports and exports in the first half from China's 13 cross-border e-commerce pilot zones doubled to more than 100 billion yuan (US$14.88 billion), according to the Ministry of Commerce.

Business-to-business platforms comprised 60 percent of that value, becoming a new driver for China's foreign trade, the ministry said.

"E-commerce has become one of the world's most dynamic and constantly evolving business activities," according to a summit communiqué. "That is playing an increasingly important role in promoting trade growth, industry transformation and job creation."

Under the latest initiative, ministers of the five countries pledged to enhance ties in policy sharing, information exchange and implementation of best practices to maximize e-commerce opportunities.

A working group will be established to oversee that process, the statement said.

Zhou Zhiwei, executive director at the Brazil research center of the China Academy of Social Sciences, said China will play a leading role in that process.

"China is more advanced in e-commerce than other BRICS countries, and China can lead the development in terms of consumption and sharing of successful experiences," Zhou said.

BRICS countries have huge potential to expand trade. They already account for a fourth of the global economy, though they generated only 11 percent of the total world trade in services, official data show.

"Services contribute more than 50 percent of the gross domestic products of BRICS countries, and we have carefully chosen areas to be the first steps in boosting trade in services," said Zhang Shaogang, director-general of the Department of International Trade and Economic Affairs at the Ministry of Commerce.

"Tourism is an apparent first choice because BRICS countries are all popular tourist destinations," he said. "Chinese tourists are becoming more familiar with these travel destinations as their holidays take them from Asia to all over the world."

Services in the sectors of medicine, information technology, education and construction will be at the forefront of the new initiative.

Measures will be undertaken to improve the collection of data, improve service quality, coordinate cross-border regulations and break language barriers.

The meeting also generated agreements related to increasing investment, enhancing intellectual property rights protection, building a multilateral trading system, opposing trade protectionism and strengthening economic and technology ties.

"The meeting demonstrated the BRICS spirit of openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation," said Zhong. "It came up with remarkably fruitful results and laid a solid foundation for a successful BRICS summit in Xiamen in September."

China Exclusive: Xiamen summit to help build stronger BRICS ties: NDB president (Эксклюзив из Китая: Саммит в Сямэнь поможет наладить более тесные связи между БРИКС: президент НБР) / China, August, 2017
Keywords: K_V_Kamath, expert_opinion

SHANGHAI, Aug. 10 (Xinhua) -- The upcoming BRICS summit in Xiamen will help the five member countries build a stronger economic partnership and a brighter future, said BRICS New Development Bank (NDB) President K.V. Kamath.

It has been over a decade since Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa came together to form BRICS. The NDB itself is an "outcome of the economic togetherness" of the emerging economies group, Kamath said during an exclusive interview with Xinhua on Wednesday.

At the ninth BRICS summit to be held in the Chinese city of Xiamen in early September, Kamath will present the bank's progress over the last two years as well as the direction it is heading in the coming two to three years.

Founded by BRICS member states in 2014, the NDB opened in Shanghai in July 2015 and became fully operational in early 2016.

The first NDB-funded loan, a solar power project in Shanghai, is expected to start operation in August.

The bank is expected to approve five new projects with a total value of 1.5 billion U.S. dollars in September, with two of them in China, said Kamath.

Altogether, the bank has 23 projects at various stages of preparation for 2017-2018, with a total lending amount of 6 billion dollars. The bank granted loans to seven projects in 2016.

According to its general strategy for 2017-2021, the bank will put about two-thirds of its loans into sustainable infrastructure development.

"The growth of emerging countries, particularly the growth that we have seen in China, has clearly underlined the importance for growth to be sustainable," Kamath told Xinhua.

"I would say that we have learned from China's experience to push sustainability as a core of the lending process," he added.

The NDB is looking into more local currency financing opportunities in member countries.

After the bank's first green bond issuing in China was welcomed by the market last year, Kamath said the bank is planning another bond issuing between 3 to 5 billion yuan (450 to 750 million U.S. dollars) in the second half of this year.

Meanwhile, it plans to issue bonds in local currencies in other member countries. "India will likely be one of the first, and our dialogue with bankers in Russia and other member countries indicate that there is good scope to raise local currency bonds in these countries," said Kamath.

He also told Xinhua that the bank will open its first regional office in Johannesburg of South Africa on Aug. 17.

This regional office will act as a "face to Africa," as it will initially focus on preparing projects in the pipeline, Kamath said.

The bank intends to open other regional offices, but the timing of this is unclear, said Kamath.
Zuma to open first Brics bank regional office in Joburg (Зума откроет первое региональное отделение банка БРИКС в Йоханнесбурге) / South Africa, August, 2017
Keywords: NDB
South Africa

Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma will preside over the launch of the African Regional Centre of the New Development Bank on Thursday August 17 in Sandton in Johannesburg, National Treasury said in a statement on Friday.

The president will be joined by New Development Bank president Kundapur Vaman Kamath, Cabinet ministers, and the bank's executives among others.

Kamath, an Indian national, was the former chairperson of the country's second largest private sector bank.

Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, which make up the Brics countries, signed an agreement to establish the New Development Bank, also called the Brics bank, in July 2014 in Brazil.

The bank, headquartered in Shanghai, China, officially opened in February 2016.

"Another key resolution taken at the 2014 Brics summit was to establish regional offices that would perform the important function of identifying and preparing proposals for viable projects that the Bank could fund in the respective regions," National Treasury said.

The first of its kind would be set up in Johannesburg, South Africa. The launch of the African Regional Centre will showcase the NDB's service offering, highlighting the Bank's potential role in the area of infrastructure and sustainable development in emerging and developing countries.

The Brics Bank was in the news earlier this week when it emerged that National Treasury director general Dondo Mogojane replaced former South African Reserve Bank governor Tito Mboweni as a non-executive director.

When Zuma removed former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene from his position in December 2015, the President claimed the move was to free up Nene to head up the African Regional Centre of the Brics bank. A year-and-a-half later Nene has still not been appointed to the role.
World of work
Social policy, trade unions, actions
Tito Mboweni out of Brics bank after term expires (Тито Мбоуни уволен с должности в банке БРИКС после истечения срока действия контракта) / South Africa, August, 2017
Keywords: Tito_Mboweni, Dondo_Mogajane, NDB, job_assignment
South Africa
Author: Siyabonga Mkhwanazi

Cape Town - Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba has confirmed the axing of former SA Reserve Bank governor Tito Mboweni as a board member of the Brics Bank. Gigaba also said on Friday his deputy Sifiso Buthelezi would join the bank as the alternate governor.

The minister's confirmation comes a week after Mboweni complained on social media he was fired by the government. But in a statement the National Treasury said Mboweni's term of two years as a board member of the Brics Bank had expired.

Mboweni wrote on Facebook that despite his contract expiring at the beginning of last month, it was a renewable contract and the government did not renew it.

Treasury said its director-general Dondo Mogajane will take over the position held by Mboweni at the bank.

"The nomination of Mogajane by Gigaba and subsequent appointment will ensure that no additional costs are incurred by government in remunerating an appointment from outside of public service while also enhancing strategic alignment and collaboration between the government and the bank," the Treasury said.

It added that Mboweni's contract was for two years and it ended last month.

Treasury said that the appointment of Mogajane, Buthelezi and Treasury deputy director-general Monale Ratsoma as an alternate board member was in line with the practice of other Brics member states to appoint government officials in the bank.

Buthelezi will serve in the bank as the alternate governor.

Mboweni has been outspoken in recent times and when Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane released her report in June recommending the central bank's powers be clipped by Parliament, he warned against this.

Mboweni had said the Sarb's independence must be protected as is done in many other countries.

This was critical for the market and financial stability in the country.

President Jacob Zuma will next week Thursday formally open the Brics regional office in Joburg.

When he fired Nhlanhla Nene as finance minister in December 2015, Zuma said he would head the Brics regional bank, but Nene never got the job. He has since joined the private sector.

The regional office will provide funding for projects on the African continent.
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