Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 34.2017
2017.08.14 — 2017.08.20
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Falling BRICS Endanger Their Citizens' Health, Starting With South Africa's Jacob Zuma (Падающие "кирпичики" БРИКС угрожают здоровью их граждан, начиная с Якоба Зума в Южной Африке) / South Africa, August, 2017
Keywords: Jacob_Zuma, expert_opinion
South Africa
Author: Patrick Bond

As he launched the African Regional Centre of the New Development Bank (NDB) in Johannesburg on Thursday, nearly 18 months behind schedule, South African President Jacob Zuma must have had mixed feelings. Strife-riven Brazil, Russia, India and China are more risky allies than Zuma reckoned when in 2010 he accepted Beijing's invitation to join the club.

"I was poisoned and almost died just because South Africa joined BRICS under my leadership," Zuma told rural supporters at a Phongolo African National Congress (ANC) Cadres' Forum in his native KwaZulu-Natal on Sunday. He offered no proof for the startling claim, which dates to his illness during a mid-2014 US trip. But his wife Nompumelelo Ntuli-Zuma was initially blamed, then banishedfrom his notorious Nkandla palace by Zuma's security minister David Mahlobo in early 2015, and subsequently charged with attempted murder.

Is this new narrative plausible, given the celebratory role BRICS have played in world capitalism? Recall the bloc's initial 2001 rationaleoffered by Goldman Sachs chief economist Jim O'Neill: "It seems quite clear that the current G7 needs to be upgraded and room made for the BRICs in order to allow more effective global policymaking." Last year, just after Goldman Sachs had closed its main BRIC investment fund due to poor performance, O'Neill asked, "How on earth can South Africa be economically in the same class?" However, he conceded, "Politically, it is very important that South Africa is part of BRICS."

Talk left

That's the opposite impression that Zuma is communicating about the views of Western multinational corporations and governments. According to Zuma's complaint to another ANC Cadres' Forum audience last November, Westerners "want to dismantle this BRICS. We have had seven votes of no confidence in South Africa. In Brazil, the president was removed."

Such paranoia is regularly expressed in ANC circuits, including during an SAfm radio debate last week with National Union of Mineworkers deputy president Joseph Montisetsi. He remarked quite justifiably on multinational corporate mining houses' exploitation of workers, their illicit financial flows (capital flight) and their lack of reinvestment. But then Montisetsi claimed these firms aim "to stop the South African community because of their choice of politics. These things are done everywhere, especially in BRICS countries – those countries that want an alternative kind of government which will have a kind of a bank which is contrary to World Bank and International Monetary Fund" (IMF).

In reality, the NDB has a strong relationship with the World Bank, cemented by last September's Memo of Understanding. The NDB's 2017-21 Strategy document commits "to undertake joint projects and knowledge exchanges with the World Bank… to make the most of their decades of experience."

Likewise, the BRICS' $100 billion Contingent Reserve Arrangement strengthens the IMF by insisting that once a borrower takes 30% of its quota (e.g. $3 billion for South Africa), then before it can access the next 70% it must first get an IMF structural adjustment programme. South Africa's foreign debt exceeds $143 billion – nearly 50% of GDP, a modern local record – and has left various commentators either advocating or opposing IMF lending and advice in recent days.

Walk right

But aren't the BRICS making the IMF fairer? Four gained voting power increases in a December 2015 restructuring – China (up 37%), Brazil (23%), India (11%) and Russia (8%) – but only as a result of eight African countries (including South Africa and Nigeria) losing between 21-41% of their IMF votes. When last December IMF managing director Christine Lagarde was convicted of criminal negligence for gifting a party supporter $430 million when she was French Finance Minister, BRICS directors joined a unanimous 'full confidence' IMF endorsement.

In spite of occasional case-specific denials, especially about Greece(where Lagarde clashed with anti-austerity finance minister Yanis Varoufakis in 2015), the IMF maintains its murderous neoliberal orientation. Last month's fib by Lagarde, that the IMF has 'typically protected' health and education spending in poor countries (from 1988-2014) was quickly rebutted by Thomas Stubbs of Cambridge and Alexander Kentikelenis of Oxford: "the IMF's assessment is methodologically flawed, and the organisation remains disconnected from the global political zeitgeist on universal social protection." Their May 2017 study of 2.8 billion IMF victims in 67 countries published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences confirmed that IMF austerity regimes substantially "reduce the protective effect of parental education on child health, especially in rural areas."

A well-publicised 2016 confession of how the IMF 'oversold' neoliberal medicine offered by three of its economists faced a quick internal backlash, according to Oxfam's Max Lawson: "Any chance of the IMF sponsoring a sensible debate of the pros and cons of neoliberalism now seems extremely unlikely." In all of this, BRICS' directors are Lagarde's sub-imperialist allies.

A neoliberal NDB

Part of the problem lies in the orientation of local personnel who occupy these posts. The NDB African Regional Centre's new director general was not yet announced at the time of writing, but the job is a hot potato. It was the fig-leaf excuse Zuma gave in December 2015 for firing pro-business Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene, who then spurned the supposed offer. In his final budget, Nene made cuts to the real value of already-tokenistic social grants to poor South Africans, while generously increasing the amount rich South Africans (mostly white) could take offshore (from $300 000 to $750 000) during yet another exchange control deregulation.

The South African chosen as NDB Vice President, Leslie Maasdorp, previously worked at Goldman Sachs, Barclays and Bank of America – as well as leading Pretoria's internal privatisation office. Until last week, the main local director serving the NDB was Tito Mboweni of Goldman Sachs, a former Reserve Bank governor best remembered for maintaining extremely high interest rates. But then, in his own words, he was "Fired, you might say!!"

Instead of a customary roll-over, Mboweni was replaced by the South African Treasury director general, Dondo Mogajane. He had served as a World Bank board member during the institution's controversy over a corrupt $3.75 billion loan – its largest ever – to South Africa for the world's largest new new coal-fired power plant, one hotly opposed by everyone from community and climate activists to Business Day newspaper and the centre-right opposition party.

Today in South Africa, the NDB has had one customer: the corruption-riddled parastatal energy firm Eskom. Funding was allocated for renewable energy transmission connections to privatised solar and wind projects. Yet neither of the former Eskom leaders who negotiated the loans – Brian Molefe and Matshela Koko – desired renewable energy, favouring nuclear instead.

"Energy experts in South Africa believe the NDB is not happy with Eskom because it has earmarked a large chunk of the $180 million loan for projects not related to renewable energy," reported Peter Fabricius of the Institute for Security Studies recently. "The highly controversial Molefe's indifference to renewable energy suggested to many that he had already signed up to Zuma's dubious nuclear project" – whose cost is estimated at $100 billion – leaving "great suspicion that Zuma has already promised the construction contract to Russian President Vladimir Putin."

The day before the opening of the Johannesburg branch, NDB chief executive KV Kamath revealed that his loan to Eskom was actually "in abeyance" at Pretoria's request. However, he mandated his staff to generate another $1.5 billion in South African loans by 2019. (In its first year of operation, the NDB built a $1.4 billion loan portfolio from the other four countries.)

Can South Africa afford NDB credit? The real interest rate on the dollar-denominated loans depends upon currency devaluation: South Africa's crashed from R6.3/$ in 2011 to R13.4/$ today. As Kamath admitted to Russia Today last month, "The effective costs of borrowing in hard currencies, for any of us developing countries, appears low. It appears to be 2 to 2.5%. But when you add the exchange loss, the weakening of the currency over time, you end up paying 12, 13, 14%. So that's your true cost." (South Africa pays an 8.6% interest rate on international 10-year state bonds, one of the highest amongst 50 major countries tracked by The Economist, this week lower only than Venezuela, Turkey and Brazil.)

Kamath has committed to future lending in Chinese renminbi, Indian rupees, Brazilian reals, and Russian rubles, and while now includingSouth African rands as a potential currency, the NDB's Eskom lending would have financed locally-sourced materials such as steel and cables (and local labour) for the electricity grid extension. Any such further NDB dollar loan offers make no sense.

Watchdogging from below

The characteristics of these loans are difficult to track because the NDB is a relatively opaque institution, critics in civil society complain. The Delhi-based People's Forum on BRICS considered the NDB's role less than five months ago, concluding it is 'no different' from the World Bank or Asian Development Bank: "it is promoting a business as usual model, rather than striking a dramatically new path for people-centered development."

According to the Forum, "Dam building is also being promoted under the [NDB's] renewable sector, though it is speciously claimed that what is supported is merely small dams. As is widely evident from the brutal experience of the people of Uttarkhand due to flash flooding of Bhaghirathi river in 2013, so-called 'run of the river' 'small hydro' projects can have devastating impacts equivalent to those of large dams.

In terms of process, "The prevailing policies to review the due-diligence of projects from their economic, ecological and social impacts viewpoints is weak… Nothing in the Bank's approach thus far provides any comfort of believing that the NDB is out to support the needs of pastoral and agrarian communities, of working classes, and the poor… NDB is aggressively promoting privatisation of public services, which has been globally experienced as the most effective way to attack the poor and the working classes."

As the Peoples Forum also reminded, "democracy is under threat in BRICS countries and beyond; state repression is rising in every BRICS nation; and ecological destruction is widespread in every BRICS country. In the context of a world economy teetering on the brink of a financial meltdown, and new generation of Bilateral Trade and Investment Treaties which are designed to adversely impacts on lives and livelihoods of ordinary peoples across the BRICS countries, the Forum felt that there absolutely does not seem to be the necessary deep concern in the NDB to revise its strategies… Promoting finance for such a divisive and inhuman world order is a crime against humanity and nature."

Meanwhile in subsequent months, most of the BRICS countries have witnessed sustained protests, many against corruption, environmental destruction and labour abuse. For example, last week during a hunger strike against further mega-dam construction on the Narmada River, Peoples Forum on BRICS co-founder Medha Patkar was arrested on a framed kidnapping charge and denied bail.

BRICS breaking?

Early next month, the BRICS heads of state will gather in Xiamen, China for their annual summit. Several important developments since the 2016 summit in Goa – when Narendra Modi notoriously failed to have China and Russia declare Pakistan a "terrorist state" – leave the BRICS more fragile than ever:

* India-China border disputes – potentially war – are unfolding in Bhutan and Pakistani-held Kashmir, leading Modi to boycott Xi's huge Belt & Road summit held in May;

* chaos reigns in BRICS-US relations, especially given the creepy warmth between Modi and US President Donald Trump, Putin's alleged interference in the last US election (mimicking what Washington has done countless times), and Trump's erratic 'diplomacy' with Xi Jinping based on trying to halt North Korean nuclear weapons one day and preparing to impose trade restrictions the next;

* at a time of rising US protectionism, Xi has become the most enthusiastic promoter of world capitalism, to the applause of neoliberals (like London School of Economics researcher Andrew Hammond) who appreciate how "China has championed the benefits of market liberalization" – but at a time South African steel production is collapsing due mainly to ultra-cheap Chinese imports, in spite of last month's 'too little too late' 12% tariff protection from Pretoria (and likewise South Africa's chicken industry remains in crisis due partly to Brazilian dumping), while India last month also imposed anti-dumping tariffs against Chinese and South African stainless steel;

* Brazil's ongoing corruption scandal features repeated revelations of Michel Temer's misdeeds; and

* South Africa's chaotic leadership (Zuma barely survived a parliamentary 'No Confidence' vote last week), recent series junk credit ratings and the ongoing recession and worsening unemployment crisis together leave its influence much reduced.

After the bumpy ride across the broken BRICS in 2017, South Africa will host the bloc in 2018 – unless perhaps Zuma decides health is more important than wealth.
[Abstract] Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's Regular Press Conference on August 18, 2017 (Отрывок из регулярной пресс-конференции у официального представителя МИД КНР Хуа Чунинга 18 августа 2017) / Qatar, August, 2017
Keywords: NDB. ACR

Q: According to media reports, the BRICS New Development Bank (NDB) officially launched its Africa Regional Center on August 17. It marks the first branch of the NDB, which will become its window to Africa and help it specify and advance potential projects. What's your comment on this?

A: On August 17, the opening ceremony of the Africa Regional Center of the BRICS New Development Bank was successfully held in South Africa. The establishment of the Africa Regional Center is the consensus of the BRICS leaders as well as an important outcome of the BRICS cooperation this year. In the process of preparation for the establishment of the Africa Regional Center, China has maintained close cooperation with South Africa and assist its communication with the NDB management. The Chinese side appreciates the efforts of various parties to establish the Africa Regional Center, warmly congratulates the opening of the Centerand willactively support various programs of South Africa and the Center and the Center's due role in helping with the development of African countries.

The BRICS New Development Bank constitutes a crucial part of the BRICS cooperation mechanism.Itis a propeller for the common development of the BRICS countries and injects new impetus into the BRICS'spearheading of South-South cooperation. This year marks the beginning of the second decade of BRICS cooperation as well as China's chairmanship of the BRICS mechanism. As the chair, China will host the 9th BRICS Summit in Xiamen, Fujian, from September 3 to 5. We are looking forward to, along with various parties, building consensus on cooperation, mapping out the blueprint for cooperation and promoting for fruitful results of the Summit in Xiamen.
Setting agenda for next BRICS meet (Определяя повестку дня следующей встречи БРИКС) / India, August, 2017
Keywords: expert_opinion
Author: Atul Aneja

Academics, govt. officials in China brainstorm action plan in line with new rules

As the countdown for the September summit of the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) grouping begins, scholars, academics and government officials have been brainstorming ways in which the emerging economies can set the global agenda, based on new rules of governance.

Delegates to a BRICS seminar, organised by the Communist Party of China (CPC) in the southeast Chinese city of Quanzhou, analysed and debated the Chinese model of rapid development as the template for the rapid growth, especially of the global South. The BRICS summit is being held in China's coastal city of Xiamen from September 3-5. It highlights the theme — BRICS: stronger partnership for a brighter future.

Peking University professor and former World Bank chief economist Justin Lin Yifu pointed out at the seminar that among nearly 200 developing economies since the end of the Second World War, only two have transitioned from low-income to high-income economies, with China possibly emerging as the third by 2025.

He attributed the failure to avoidance of either the middle-income or the low-income trap and to the pursuit of western mainstream economic theories — structuralism, and neoliberalism. He stressed that a right balance between the role of the market and the state was required to achieve breakthroughs, Xinhua reported.

Mr. Lin highlighted that the "secret of China's success is its use of both the invisible hand and the visible hand." He added that technological innovation and industrial upgrading could proceed smoothly, only when the market and the state played their complementary roles.

Four Comprehensives

Robert Kuhn, a China expert from the United States, focussed on the pursuit of 'Four Comprehensives' by Chinese leaders as an overarching framework to achieve rapid development goals. The 'Four Comprehensives' cover efforts to pursue a moderately prosperous society, reform, rule of law and Party discipline, he observed.

While acknowledging China's success, most participants also underscored that there was no one-size-fits-all development model that could be fully replicated to achieve growth.

Essop Goolam Pahad, the editor of the South African Thinker Magazine , pointed out that a change of mindset was essential as communities and their leader must believe that development was possible, whatever the odds. "The weak hatchling will never take off if it depends on government aid, financial grants, and welfare allowances," he said.

The brainstorming in Quanzhou was preceded by a conference earlier this month of the BRICS trade minister in Shanghai, which focussed on the continued relevance of globalisation. In the wake of protectionist sentiments in the U.S. and Europe, it underscored the need for a united stand of the emerging economies against protectionism, and backing for a multilateral trade system.

In late July, a BRICS security meeting was held in Beijing, with discussions on global governance, anti-terrorism, the Internet, energy, national security and development.

BRICS: stronger partnership for a brighter future (БРИКС: более близкое партнерство для более светлого будущего) / China, August, 2017
Keywords: Jim_O'Neill, expert_opinion
Author: Jim O'Neill

I never had the slightest idea that a few years after I created the acronym, BRIC, to depict the fast rising economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China, that their political leaders would create a political club between them, adding South Africa to be the BRICS. Here we are nearly 16 years later after I first coined the phrase, BRICs (small s for the plural) and 9 after the start of the BRICS club. What do I think about both?

Well, first of all, I also never dreamt that the BRICs acronym itself would become such common wordology and become code name for the rise of the so called emerging economies and depict the changing nature of the world. That said, much of what has happened to the world in the subsequent 16 years is not that surprising to me, both in terms of its shifting drivers and global composition in terms of economic activity , nor the complex way global governance appears to be evolving.

When I first thought of the term, it was primarily in response to the shocking atrocity of 9/11 and the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York. To my surprise, a couple of days later, I found myself thinking that beneath the horror, perhaps there was a deeper message , that the globalisation of the world was becoming more Americanised, and this was not sustainable. Indeed, for much of the previous 19 years of my career, it almost seemed as though globalisation equalled Americanisation. And I concluded- rightly or wrongly- after 9/11, that this was not sustainable, and in order for globalisation to survive, the world needed to both allow and perhaps even encourage, other countries to have a bigger influence on how the world economy was evolving, even if , perhaps it might mean more complex governance of the world. In essence, this is what has happened since, and continues to evolve.

One of the forces that probably influenced me back in 2001, was the rise of China which was already evident to me, and had been quite infatuated with China in terms of its economy, ever since my first visit in 1990. I was also highly impressed with China's role in helping bring an end to the Asian Financial crisis, which led me to think that China could even then, in 1998, play a key role in influencing global economic and financial forces.

As most international economists would agree, long term economic growth is essentially driven by just two factors; the size (and growth) of a country's working age population, and its productivity. Countries with large work forces, and improving productivity would have the potential to become large economies. Conversely, countries with small work force populations, even with strong productivity, could never become especially large, even if they are likely to be wealthy. Think of Luxembourg for example, or these days, Singapore.

It was this that led me to think of other large populated emerging economies that had the potential in the future to become large, in a global sense. India was obvious, along with China, as the only other country with more than 1 billion people. Brazil, as easily Latin America's largest populated country was also obvious, and to make up a foursome, Russia, especially in those days, soon after the collapse of the Soviet Union, its early embrace by the West (now seems rather distant) became quite obvious too.

And as the famous phrase goes, the rest is history!

I often have to remind people that I never included South Africa (something which irritated South African policymakers). Based on the criteria that are economically important, South Africa is not an obvious country to highlight. Its population, between 45-50 million is small in a global sense, it has poor productivity. There are a number of more obvious emerging countries that are likely to be as large as the BRIC economies going forward. As I sometimes perhaps rudely would write, but is factually true, for much of the past decade, China has created the equivalent of a new South Africa once every 3 months. South Africa's economy is around $ 350 bn. China creates an additional $ 1 trillion ever year.

That said, and this is important. I do not begrudge South Africa becoming a member of the BRICS political club, and indeed, as I shall explain later, they appear to play an active and a constructive role.

Back to the economics and how the BRICS have performed.

As is noted commonly, the BRICS economies today are around 23pct of global GDP, nearly the same size as the US and, in line with why the BRICs idea became so popular, they remain reasonably placed to become bigger than the combined size of all the G7 economies by the mid to late 2030's, which is what I and my colleagues at Goldman Sachs had suggested.

I often read many things about supposedly how disappointing the BRICS economic story has turned out, but I find it most amusing when their collective share has more than doubled in 16 years. Yes, it is true that Brazil and Russia have disappointed –so far- in the second decade, but their individual share of global GDP is about the same as they were when I first created the phrase. And of course, at the start of this decade, before their individual crises, their share was notably higher in 2009/2010.

What perhaps is a more valid criticism, is that the group is dominated by China. This is, to some extent true. Today, as an economy nearly $12 trillion, it is more than four times bigger than its nearest BRIC competitor in terms of size, India, and even if India grows at a faster GDP growth rate for the rest of this decade- which seems likely- China will still create another India before this decade is over. And China is today, bigger than all the other BRICS economies put together.

But as much as this is true, I don't think it invalidates the BRICS concept, not least because the only reason why I ever suggested they would become bigger than the G7 is because of the likely size of China ( and to a lesser degree, India) . It is also true, that there are not many things in life, where China isn't becoming a huge influence, whether it be global trade, the fight against climate change, or luxury house prices in many parts of the rest of the world.

Let me now turn to the BRICS political club, and the title of this year's summit, "A Stronger Partnership for a Brighter Future". I hope this is true.

While I truly admire and respect the BRICS political club, and am aware of the number of regular meetings that now take place between their respective Ministers; including on trade, health as well as course, finance, there is not much concrete evidence of anything that the BRICS countries have collectively done to demonstrate their effectiveness.

Sometimes, I read about their ongoing collective economic might as some sort of symbol of their effectiveness, but it seems reasonably obvious that they would achieve this growth even if the club didn't exist, especially as I have discussed, it is led by China. So, I don't see this as valid.

Often there seems to be core reoccurring rational for the BRICS to campaign for a larger share of the IMF and World Bank capital and voting rights, and while this is obviously true, given the shares are supposed to represent relative economic size, it is not clear to me that this is a justification alone for the BRICS club.

What would be justification would be for them to find a genuine collective shared issue, and undertake initiatives between them where such action could make a demonstrable difference. One such area is global health, in a number of areas, and one of great importance to be specific, is tuberculous (TB) and the need to eliminate it.

I spent nearly 2 years, chairing an independent Review into so called antimicrobial resistance ( AMR) and my Review, showed that if we don't do something about it, including finding new effective drugs, then by 2050, there could be 10 million people, yes, that is 10 million people, a year dying, many of them in the BRICS countries. Around 1/3 rd of these deaths would be as a result of the rise of drug resistant TB infections and we need some urgent attention.

To my pleasure, some of our attention was received by the G20 countries when China hosted the 2016 G20 in Hangzhou, and their statement included a short paragraph about the battle against AMR. This was followed up by a bigger statement at this year's G20 in Hamburg, and according to my information, South Africa played a crucial role in ensuring the statement happened. For this alone, South Africa's presence in the BRICS club is justified.

It is also the case that this successful G20 outcome was followed up by a high level agreement at the UN in September 2016, to fight AMR.

I recently had the pleasure of a lunch with the BRICS Ambassadors in Geneva, where I proposed to them to take back to their leaders, that the BRICS Bank (or New Development Bank) should be encouraged to either lend, or invest in some initiatives to accelerate drug trials for urgently needed new TB drugs. This would be a huge and clear sign of the BRICS countries collectively demonstrating their effectiveness, not least as it would make it more likely that my now famous prediction that their collective economic might will surpass the G7 countries before 2040. What better incentive could there be?
New Delhi may disrupt BRICS Summit to blackmail Beijing (Нью-Дели может сорвать саммит БРИКС, чтобы шантажировать Пекин) / China, August, 2017
Keywords: India_China, summit
Author: Liu Zongyi

Nearly two months after Indian troops crossed into China's Doklam area, they still refuse to withdraw. The standoff will unavoidably affect the BRICS summit to be held in Xiamen, Fujian Province, in September.

India orchestrated the standoff to not just guarantee the security of the Siliguri Corridor - India's sensitive "chicken's neck" connecting its central and northeast regions, but more importantly to jeopardize China's Belt and Road initiative. In this way it can reverse its strategic disparity with China in South Asia and the Indian Ocean region and tighten its grip on small countries there.

Given the rising nationalism in India, its leadership believes that the country has entered its third flourishing period since its independence and has the backing of the US and Japan to confront China. Meanwhile, Indian leaders have misjudged the will and resolution of Chinese government and leadership in defending China's territorial sovereignty.

India has calculated that China worries any armed conflict with other countries will spoil its peaceful development strategy and reputation for advocating peaceful solutions to international conflicts and disputes, impact China's investment in and economic cooperation with India, and disturb the upcoming 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China and BRICS summit. It also assumes that a Chinese military undergoing reform dares not start a fight with Indian troops.

India hopes to achieve its strategic goals by delaying withdrawal. With repeated requests to talk with China over the standoff and to withdraw its troops simultaneously with China, India wants to compel China to admit that there are territorial disputes over the Sikkim section of the China-India boundary, and admit India's concerns about the Siliguri Corridor are justified. Yet once China does as expected, it would suffer unbearable losses both diplomatically and internally.

As for the BRICS summit, it is merely a forum for emerging countries, far more important for its geopolitical symbolism than its actual results. Due to India's disruption, in recent years BRICS has barely made any progress in promoting internal cooperation and reform of global economic governance. In fact, any international organization in which India has a big say can't play its due role. A successful BRICS summit can lift up China's international reputation, but it can't offset the losses that an inappropriate handling of the Doklam standoff will inflict.

If India feels humiliated in the standoff, it may undermine the outcomes of the Xiamen summit. There is a possibility that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi won't attend the summit and send lower-ranking officials instead.

However, it's worth noting that India needs BRICS more than China does. BRICS has provided a platform for India to become an international rule-maker. Besides, India uses BRICS to balance its relations with China, and wants to attract Chinese investment via the New Development Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. India also intends to maintain its relationship with Russia through BRICS.

In the Doklam standoff, China must gear up without any hesitation. China has to enhance communication and coordination with Russia, Brazil, South Africa and other developing countries, and make clear to the international community that India intends to undermine the cooperation between emerging and developing countries and blackmail China at the cost of the common interests of developing countries and South-South cooperation.

So far, Russia hasn't made its voice heard on the standoff. But it must be aware of the damage that India's moves will make to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, BRICS cooperation and regional stability, as well as to Russia's strategic interests.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of BRICS' establishment. China has to work with Russia, Brazil, South Africa and other developing nations to foster the BRICS-plus model and steadily promote its enlargement. Even without Indian participation, BRICS will turn into a new platform for Belt and Road cooperation and South-South cooperation, and take in more members. BRICS will not decline as the West expects, but instead fare better.

BRICS representatives discuss drug control cooperation (Представители БРИКС обсуждают сотрудничество в области контроля над наркотиками) / China, August, 2017
Keywords: Anti_Drug_Working_Group, drug_control

JINAN - Representatives from BRICS nations have agreed on establishing a communication mechanism on narcotics control and cooperation in information sharing and drug control enforcement.

More than 20 officials from drug control departments of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa attended a meeting held Wednesday in Weihai, a port city in East China's Shandong province.

At the meeting, they discussed topics including the control of chemicals that are easily processed into drugs, training of drug control personnel, and technical exchanges between the nations.

Liang Yun, head of the narcotics control bureau of the Ministry of Public Security, led the Chinese delegation at the meeting.

The parties passed a guideline for the future work of the BRICS Anti-Drug Working Group, which will be submitted to the preparatory committee of the ninth BRICS summit.

China, which holds BRICS presidency this year, will host the ninth BRICS summit in Xiamen, Fujian province in September.

BRICS is the answer - KZN will never prosper in isolation (БРИКС- ответ; Квазулу Натал никогда не будет процветать в изоляции) / South Africa, August, 2017
Keywords: BRICS_KwaZulu-Natal
South Africa

KwaZulu-Natal Province is poised to become an economic powerhouse as leaders at the helm of the government resources are taking advantage of bilateral relations between South Africa and other countries including BRICS bloc.

This afternoon 14 August, Premier Willies Mchunu will welcome a delegation from Hubei Province in China. Formal meetings will take place at Oyster Box at 17h00 followed by a Gala Dinner scheduled to start at 18h30. Members of the media are invited to attend the dinner.

Mchunu pointed out: "We pay tribute to the President of the Republic of South Africa, His Excellency J.G Zuma for ensuring that we are part of the BRICS bloc. As KZN, we cannot prosper in isolation. It is for these reasons we are stating unequivocally that our long-term success lies in the integration of our economy with economies of the world."

"We are determined to take advantage of opportunities offered by being part of BRICS. Having hosted the BRICS Summit we understand that this bloc is an organization established to safeguard the interests of the so-called developing nations."

"The people of this province are excited that Jingmen Hubei, a company from Hubei Province will be opening two more factories in Izimbokodweni and Umgababa, South of Durban. This in addition to a project in Cato Ridge where Jingmen Hubei has acquired a 60 percent stake in Shu Powders, cobalt powder manufacturer."

"Critically, the areas identified for this investment were previously ravaged by apartheid sponsored political violence which claimed 20,000 lives between 1984 and 1987 alone. More than 500 000 families were displaced from their homes and these includes people from Umbumbulu, KwaMakhutha, Malukazi, Adams Mission, Folweni, Umlazi U, Z, Q Section and surrounding areas. We are determined to bring back normality to these areas and ensure that local communities benefit from being part of BRICS."

"We have been informed that the two new factories will feature a large recycling park. The factories are expected to create up to 1000 jobs which specializes in recycling end of life vehicles, electronic scrap, rechargeable batteries and many more."

"These are indeed good news that will help strengthen socio-economic relations between the two provinces. Critically, it should be noted the provincial government, as part of responding to challenges caused by Climate Change, we are forging partnerships with the business fraternity to help our country reduce carbon emissions and mitigate climate change."

"We have launched a grassroots mobilization campaign of waste collection focusing on recycling industries of various materials such as plastic, bottles and scrap. The scrap metal industry alone in South Africa is worth between R15 billion and R20 billion a year and has a potential to create more employment."

"It is for these reasons that as the provincial government we are committed to working with Hubei Province to ensure that we create much needed jobs for local communities in the area of recycling."

"We wish to work with Jingmen Hubei to identify opportunities for local SMMEs and black industrialists in particular to become major role-players in the two new factories –either as suppliers or in the entire value chain of recycling."

Issued by the Office of the Premier
Chinese experience highlighted at BRICS seminar on governance (Китайский опыт был освещен на семинаре BRICS по вопросам управления) / China, August, 2017
Keywords: Seminar_on_Governance

QUANZHOU - More than 100 academics, consultants and business leaders gathered Thursday in East China to brainstorm ideas on governance in emerging markets.

The BRICS Seminar on Governance was held in Fujian province, where the 9th BRICS Summit will take place in about two weeks. Participants come from BRICS members -- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa -- as well as other countries such as Tanzania, Kazakhstan, Chile, Guinea, Ethiopia, and Mexico.

Huang Kunming, executive vice minister of the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, which hosted the seminar, said BRICS countries are in similar stages of development, confronted by similar challenges. Sharing experience on governance will help participants learn from one another and improve development.

BRICS members account for about 23 percent of the world economy. They jointly contributed more than half of global growth in 2016. The grouping, based neither on ideology nor geopolitics, is seen as a new and perhaps better form of global governance in which emerging markets play key roles.

But in recent years, BRICS members and other developing countries have encountered difficulties and setbacks. China, though its economic growth has slowed, remains stable and resilient as it moves toward a "moderately prosperous society" by 2020.

Peking University professor and former World Bank chief economist Justin Lin Yifu said that among nearly 200 developing economies after World War II, only two have transitioned from low-income to high-income economies. China may become the third by 2025.

Sharing the findings of his latest study, Lin said the main reason developing economies remained trapped in middle-income or low-income status was that most of them followed Western mainstream economic theories, either structuralism or neoliberalism, and failed to maintain a balance between the market and the state.

Structuralism advocates excessive intervention, while neoliberalism champions "laissez faire," he said.

"The secret of China's success is its use of both 'invisible hand' and 'visible hand,'" Lin said. Only when the market and the state play their respective roles can technological innovation and industrial upgrading proceed smoothly, he said.

Robert Kuhn, a China expert from the United States, expounded on how Chinese decision makers used the "Four Comprehensives" as an overarching framework and strategic blueprint to reach development goals.

The "Four Comprehensives" encompass efforts to pursue a moderately prosperous society, reform, rule of law and Party discipline.

Kuhn has penned many books on Chinese governance, the latest being "How China's Leaders Think." He said foreigners who dismiss these political aphorisms as simplistic sloganeering miss an opportunity to enrich their understanding of the realities of China and of governance experience that has broader applicability in the world.

Director of the China-Brazil Center for Research and Business Ronnie Lins said China's development model could serve as a benchmark for developing countries.

Essop Goolam Pahad, the editor of South Africa's Thinker Magazine, said China's experience in fighting poverty, for example, offers critical lessons for Africa.

China has lifted 700 million people out of poverty over the past 30 years and aims now to end poverty by 2020.

Pahad, who once served as Minister in the South African Presidency, said poverty persists in many African countries. Close to 400 million Africans survive on less than 1.25 US dollars a day.

Pahad said one Chinese lesson he learned was that the battle must begin by addressing the mindset of communities and their leaders: they must believe that development is possible, whatever the odds.

"The weak hatchling will never take off if it depends on government aid, financial grants, and welfare allowances," he said.

While highlighting China's success, most participants at the seminar also agreed that there is no one-size-fits-all development model to be copied.

Beijing has no intention of imposing its development model onto others, officials and experts said.

He Yiting, executive vice president of the Party School of the CPC Central Committee, said though China has made significant contributions to world governance, no development model remains unchanged.

He said the governance chaos we have seen around the world is largely a result of countries failing to find their development paths. The situation has been further complicated by foreign intervention.

"It is only the person who wears the shoes who knows whether they fit," he said, citing a Chinese proverb. "It depends on the people of a country to choose what suits them best."
BRICS Governance Seminar Highlights Another Golden Era (Семинар по управлению БРИКС акцентирует внимание на еще одной золотой эре) / Ghana, August, 2017
Keywords: Seminar_on_Governance, Quanzhou_consensus, expert_opinion
Author: Zhang Huizhong

The BRICS Seminar on Governance opened in southeast China on 17 August, during which over 160 representatives from BRICS members – -Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — as well as other developing nations brainstormed ideas on how to usher BRICS cooperation into another "golden decade".

The two-day Seminar, themed with "Openness, Inclusiveness, Mutual Benefits and Win-Win: Working Together to Build a Community of Shared Future for Mankind", served as an important supporting event of the ninth BRICS Summit to be held early next month.

The academics, consultants and business leaders, during the meeting held in Quanzhou, Fujian Province, contributed their wisdom on how to enrich the outcomes of the upcoming summit.

The meeting also passed a "Quanzhou consensus" that encourages the signatories to prioritize development, launch mutually beneficial cooperation, engage in global governance in an active manner and learn more from other civilizations.

The representatives agreed that an intensified exchange of state governance experience will endow the BRICS members with a better prospect.

The great vision mapped out by Chinese President Xi Jinping on global governance could make unique contribution to the win-win cooperation of the entire world, Robert Lawrance Kuhn, chairman of the US-based Kuhn Foundation, said when commenting on China's new governance ideas.

He believed that the Chinese experience can play a big weight as the world is now working on a way to transform the current global governance system.

Xi's ideas, including improving the public's well-being by eliminating poverty, are down-to-earth, hailed Director of the China-Brazil Center for Research and Business Ronnie Lins.

BRICS countries, confronted by similar challenges, also share similar development goals, Lins said, suggesting that China's experience on state governance can serve as an important reference for other bloc members.

Edith Phaswana, senior lecturer at South Africa-headquartered Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute, told the People's Daily that she appreciates the development path chosen by China, adding that China realized its growth after picking a suitable road. This is also Phaswana's first Chinese trip.

Impressed on China's development accomplishments, she advised that the emerging markets and developing economies can learn a lot from China's governance experience and apply that to their own growth path.

The lecturer furthered that some nations tried to copy the trajectory of developed nations, but the ill-suited remedy blocked their way ahead.

The participants also placed high expectations on the forthcoming summit. The BRICS cooperation has expanded its ground rapidly in the past 10 years, said Swaran Singh, a professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University.

He suggested closer cultural exchanges in the future, so that the public will have a stronger sense of belonging.

The BRICS mechanism is growing into a key driver of global governance system, Shen Yi, director of the Center for BRICS Studies at Fudan University, told the People's Daily, adding that the BRICS members are now vital engine of world economy.

He elaborated that BRICS cooperation not only provides new solutions to global economic governance and the proceedings into a broader structure of global governance, but also reflects the understanding of emerging and developing economies on building a more equal-footed new order of global governance that can bring the mankind into sustainable development.

Phaswana is bullish on the future of BRICS mechanism, explaining that BRICS cooperation not only reaches its member states, but also drives the common prosperity of other emerging and developing nations in the region. It acts as a platform on which other nations can share and learn advanced experience, she added.

'Golden decade' envisioned for BRICS nations (Странам БРИКС предвидится «Золотое десятилетие») / China, August, 2017
Keywords: Seminar_on_Governance, expert_opinion
Author: An Baijie

It is important for BRICS countries to exchange governance experiences as the bloc, consisting of emerging and developing nations, strives to usher in its second "golden decade", a senior publicity official said on Thursday.

Huang Kunming, executive vice-minister of the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, said the five BRICS countries — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — have gained valuable governance experience in past years that produced excellent economic growth despite global sluggishness.

Huang made the remarks in his keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the BRICS Seminar on Governance in Quanzhou, Fujian province. The seminar attracted more than 1,100 representatives, including senior officials, entrepreneurs and researchers.

The economies of the BRICS countries account for nearly a quarter of the world's total, and they have been the source of more than half of global growth in the past 10 years, Huang said.

"It is of great significance for BRICS countries that are undergoing development at a similar stage and face shared challenges to discuss and learn from each other for a better shared future," he said.

Huang suggested that the seminar should be a long-term program, affording space to bring together think tanks and the media to provide intellectual support for common development while expanding the scale of exchanges and cooperation under an environment of more players joining in.

Essop Pahad, a former Cabinet minister in South Africa, said during the seminar that China's experiences of reducing poverty could be shared with Africa given that many African countries still have to "continue their battle against poverty, joblessness, inequality, disease, conflict, famine and militarized and gender violence".

"Poverty is a major factor which affects close to 400 million Africans who continue to survive on less than $1.25 a day," he said, China's commitment to working with Africa to reduce poverty is "particularly important", he said.

He Yiting, executive vice-president of the Party School of the CPC Central Committee, said China wants the world to understand President Xi Jinping's principles of governance, which, while designed specifically for China's special domestic situation, have broader applicability in that the same principles hold for global governance.

"President Xi Jinping is now proposing a grand vision of global governance, stressing the strength of stability and the goal of mutual prosperity, with China playing a dramatic new role in seeking global win-win cooperation," he said.

BRICS is one platform in an increasingly complex environment of global governance, he said, adding that the Belt and Road Initiative provides a means to facilitate development in developing countries and reverse devastating disparities in economic and social well-being.

On July 28, while meeting with heads of the delegations for the 7th Meeting of BRICS High Representatives for Security Issues, Xi said 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.

Ruan Zongze, executive vice-president of the China Institute of International Studies, said BRICS cooperation has not only helped the countries themselves, but enhanced the right to speak on global issues for all developing countries.

Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
Gigaba sidesteps questions about Nene's non-appointment to BRICS Bank (Гигаба уклоняется от вопросов о не назначении Нене в НБР) / South Africa, August, 2017
Keywords: job_assignment, Tito_Mboweni, Nhlanhla_Nene, NDB
South Africa

JOHANNESBURG – Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba on Thursday distanced himself from the controversy surrounding the non-appointment of his predecessor, Nhlanhla Nene, to the New Development Bank, almost two years after the post was promised him.

The current acting head of the African Regional Centre of the New Development Bank is Tumisang Moleke, the director of the Public Private Partnership Unit at National Treasury.

Asked to comment whether Nene was still a candidate for the top job at the bank, Gigaba said he could not be drawn into the matter as he was not involved when the process was initiated.

"Let me start with Mr Nene. I wouldn't know. I didn't appoint him. I don't know what happened [because] I was not involved in that process. I think you can ask someone else," Gigaba said.

Gigaba was speaking during a media briefing following the official launch of the African Regional Centre of the New Development Bank in Johannesburg.

President Jacob Zuma hastily recalled Nene as finance minister in December 2015, saying his name had been put forward to head the African Regional Centre of the New Development Bank, a move that sent the rand on a nosedive.

At the time, Zuma said the urgency of the change in leadership of the National Treasury was "occasioned by the need to send nominations to Shanghai, of the head of the African Regional Centre of the New Development Bank/Brics Bank, to be based in Johannesburg".

But the promise never materialised and Nene has since taken various private sector jobs and resigned as an African National Congress (ANC) member of parliament following his sacking.

The New Development Bank is a development banking institution created by the BRICS member states ( Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) as an alternative to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Headquartered in Shanghai, China, the bank is meant to boost infrastructure development in the five member states and other emerging economies.

Zuma, who officiated the opening, said that he expected that the bank, through the Africa Regional Centre, to contribute to accelerating infrastructure investment in energy, transport, water and other productive sectors in Africa.

"I am encouraged by the recent announcement made at the Second Annual Meeting of the New Development Bank Board of Governors in New Delhi to increase the bank's lending to U.S.$2.5 billion in the 2017/2018 financial year. This announcement has come at an opportune time for South Africa as we need more projects," Zuma said.

Last week, former governor of SA Reserve Bank Tito Mboweni's contract as a non-executive director of the BRICS New Development Bank was not renewed after serving a two-year term. Mboweni was replaced by National Treasury director-general, Dondo Mogajane.

Deputy finance minister, Sfiso Buthelezi, also serves as the alternate governor of the bank for South Africa while deputy director-general for economic policy at the National Treasury, Monale Ratsoma, serves as alternate director of the National Development Bank for South Africa.

BRICS summit to open new chapter in Russia-China regional cooperation (Саммит БРИКС откроет новую главу в российско-китайском региональном сотрудничестве) / China, August, 2017
Keywords: Karelia, Artur_Parfyonchikov

The Republic of Karelia in Russia's northwest and east China's Fujian Province are expected to sign an agreement during the upcoming BRICS summit that could significantly increase trade between the two, Karelia's top official said.

"Currently, the preparation for the establishment of a friendly and cooperative partnership between the two sides has entered the final stage. Hopefully, we will sign the agreement during the BRICS summit and start to carry out joint projects as soon as possible," Artur Parfyonchikov, acting head of the Republic of Karelia, told Xinhua in a recent interview.

The Ninth BRICS Summit to be held in early September in Fujian's resort city Xiamen, under the theme of "BRICS: Stronger Partnership for a Brighter Future," will be the first summit among the BRICS members in the second "Golden Decade" of the multilateral organization.

Plans for expanding cooperation between Karelia and Fujian are based on their multiple similarities, Parfyonchikov noted.

Geographically, both are border regions. Economically, the two regions boast of rich resources in forestry, mining, tourism and other fields, and enjoy similar priorities in their respective country's national economic policy, which guarantees great potential for cooperation, he explained.

Joint projects in non-traditional industries including automation machinery, information technology, culture and education are also being explored by the two jurisdictions, he added.

In addition, the acting commissioner said Karelia has great advantages in attracting foreign investment and tourists, highlighting its well-conditioned railways, maritime and other transportation infrastructure, which efficiently connect the region to major cities like Moscow, St. Petersburg and Murmansk as well as neighboring Finland.

At present, Karelia is in talks with Chinese authorities to develop tourism projects and routes for Chinese tourists, according to Parfyonchikov.

Recalling the Beloporozhskaya hydropower plants project in Karelia launched in October last year, the first project in Russia financed by the New Development Bank, Parfyonchikov said it set an example for the pragmatic cooperation within the framework of BRICS.

Parfyonchikov also expressed his confidence in future prospects for comprehensive cooperation among the BRICS countries, saying that BRICS provides its member countries with an efficient platform for dialogue and consultation.
Interview: Economist who coined BRICS term says group's performance exceeds expectations (Интервью: экономист, который придумал термин BRICS, говорит, что производительность группы превышает ожидания) / China, August, 2017
Keywords: Jim_O'Neill, expert_opinion

LONDON, Aug. 14 (Xinhua) -- The economic performance of the five leading emerging economies of the BRICS group exceeds expectations of the man who first came up with the acronym, the inventor of the term told Xinhua in a recent interview.

Former Goldman Sachs chief economist Jim O'Neill coined the acronym BRIC in 2001 to cover the nations Brazil, Russia, India and China (South Africa later joined to make the term BRICS) as economies which would blossom in the 21st century and take the lead in global business.

"Sixteen years later the BRICS share of global GDP (gross domestic product) is bigger than every scenario I projected," O'Neill said.

His comments came weeks ahead of the ninth BRICS summit which is to be held in the Chinese city of Xiamen early next month.

O'Neill predicted in his 2001 paper "Building Better Global Economic BRICS" that the BRICS nations by now would have a combined economic worth of about 11.6 trillion U.S. dollars. Their actual worth is about 16.6 trillion dollars this year.

The first decade of this century was a period in which the group reached and then more than fulfilled the potential that O'Neill foresaw in 2001, and which has made the world sit up and take notice.

Average annual growth rates for the BRICS nations from 2001-2011 were, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) -- Brazil 3.8 percent, Russia 4.8 percent, India 7.8 percent, China about 10.7 percent and South Africa 3.7 percent.

The second decade has seen less stellar progress for the nations, as the world economy recovers from the financial crisis and nations like China are embarking on a different phase of development.

The nations have collaborated and now meet regularly as a group. They have set up a development bank called the New Development Bank, based in Shanghai.

O'Neill also noted a very recent development in bilateral trade between China and Germany, one of Europe's leading economies.

In 2016, China became Germany's largest trade partner, with trade between the two nations surpassing 150 billion dollars.

"It's good. A lot of these forces are happening. Here's an important statistic about global trade -- China became Germany's largest trading partner. Hugely symbolic for BRICS countries," said O'Neill, who believed the BRICS success story is for the long term.


O'Neill hits back at those who have said that the BRICS is losing its shine.

To focus merely on a slowdown in the combined growth of the economies is missing the point, said O'Neill.

China's economy continued its steady expansion in the first half of this year with its GDP up 6.9 percent year-on-year to about 38.2 trillion yuan (5.6 trillion dollars), according to the country's National Bureau of Statistics.

Russia and Brazil suffered recessions in recent years, but Brazil's economy grew again in the first quarter of this year after a protracted recession and Russia achieved a growth rate of 2.5 percent year-on-year in the second quarter.

"The fact they have slowed down is an irrelevance if they are still way bigger than I thought 16 years ago -- primarily because of China but also because of India, and not withstanding the problems that Brazil and Russia have had."

"So these people that say it is not so important because they have grown less, it is ridiculous," he said.

What's more, O'Neill has his eyes set on other nations that could also surprise the world in the coming decades.

"I would say going to 50 years in the future, there are probably four countries with potential to be as big as Russia or Brazil," said O'Neill.

"Definitely Indonesia, possibly Mexico, possibly Turkey and, excitingly, possibly Nigeria. But let us see -- just because they have the potential it does not mean it will happen."

"The BRICS countries have already said they are open to other members. But I would not do that any time soon until we see clear evidence of any of those four becoming a lot bigger," he said.


They are an unequal group in economic volumes, with China leading the way and South Africa being the smallest economically.

O'Neill had always had misgivings about South Africa being in the group, but thinks it should be there, despite its economy being the smallest at about 300 billion dollars a year.

"China creates another South Africa (economically) every six months, how on earth can South Africa be economically in the same class?" the economist said.

"Politically, it is very important that South Africa is part of BRICS," said O'Neill, who was a minister in the British government until late 2016.

His responsibility was to craft a response to the danger of Anti-Microbial Resistance (AMR), an issue he took to the G20 Summit last year in China's Hangzhou.

It was there he saw the benefit of South Africa.

"I have seen, because of my role in health, South Africa take a lead. Last year's G20 Summit in Hangzhou included a statement about AMR -- it would not have happened if it had not been for South Africa supporting its inclusion," said O'Neill.
South African, Chinese banks sign deal to fund SMEs in Africa (Южноафриканские и китайские банки подписали соглашение о финансировании МСП в Африке) / China, August, 2017
Keywords: Absa_Bank, CDB, SME, conluded_agreements

JOHANNESBURG — South Africa's Absa bank and China Development Bank (CDB) on Friday announced the conclusion of a $100 million Special Facility Agreement to fund small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Africa.

Absa is a subsidiary of the Barclays Africa Group. The money will benefit Barclays bank's existing and prospective SME clients across the continent. The $100 million will address the current funding needs, and may be increased in the future to assist with new funding opportunities within Barclays's operations, both banks said on Friday.

"We are glad to partner with CDB on this landmark transaction, which also echoes the 2017 BRICS theme of Stronger Partnership for a Brighter Future," said Craig Bond, head of partnerships, joint ventures and strategic alliances at Barclays Africa Group Limited.

The funding is expected to assist the African SMEs who face funding shortages. SMEs on the continent have the potential to boost economic growth and create employment.

Zuma applauds Brics bank local currency loans (Зума аплодирует кредитам НБР БРИКС в местной валюте) / South Africa, August, 2017
Keywords: Jacob_Zuma, NDB, ARC, K_V_Kamath
South Africa

Johannesburg – President Jacob Zuma has officially declared the opening of the African Regional Centre (ARC), of the New Development Bank (NDB), founded by the Brics member nations.

Speaking at the launch of the ARC, the first regional centre of the NDB, Zuma said due to the infrastructure gap, Africa was unable to unlock its growth potential and bring prosperity to her people. The bank aims to address these challenges by accelerating infrastructure investment in energy, transport and other productive sectors.

The President was joined by other Cabinet ministers and NDB executives including NDB President Kundapur Vaman Kamath.

The Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) countries signed an agreement which established the NDB at the sixth Brics Summit in July 2014. The NDB headquarters is in Shanghai, China and was opened in February 2016.

The bank will focus on funding sustainable development and infrastructure in member nations as well as other emerging and other developing countries.

During his address, Zuma highlighted the challenges African countries were facing due to their under-industrialisation. He said that Africa was not sleeping when this happened but this was imposed on the continent.

He lauded the bank's approach of making loans available to member countries in their local currency. Kamath explained that loans will be extended to member countries in local currency to avoid exchange rate risk.

"Reducing the exchange rate risk can enable infrastructure projects to be financed more sustainably." This will also reduce the cost of borrowing.

"We have an appetite to do $1.5bn lending to South Africa in the next 18 months," said Kamath.

In 2016 the bank approved seven projects in the area of sustainable infrastructure, worth $1.5bn. In 2017 loans are expected to be approved for 10 projects worth between $2.5bn and $3bn and in 2018, the bank expects to approve loans for 15 to 20 projects worth $4bn. The target for the end of 2018 is to have a total loan book of $8bn. The ARC will play a major role in identifying and preparing projects, explained Kamath.

The bank also intends to begin private sector operations in 2018 and will explore investment through public-private partnership programmes. So far the bank has recruited 100 staff from member countries, and 150 staff are expected to be appointed by the end of the year and 220 in 2018, said Kamath.

Capital contributions

The bank has received total capital contributions of $2.6bn from its member countries. A further $900m is expected in January 2018.

The bank expects to raise additional funding of between $2bn and $2.5bn through bonds between now and 2018. So far $450m has been raised through China's financial markets. Kamath said South Africa's market also offers attractive opportunities in raising funds.

Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Leslie Maasdorp explained that the bank would explore the option of local currency funding. According to the bank's five-year strategy document it has a prescribed capital base of $50bn. Of this, $10bn is paid-in capital contributed by founding members, every seven years. The remaining $40bn is comprised of callable capital.

With the capital raised in bond markets, interest rates are charged on loans made for the bank to earn a return. "Most of the loans made in the past have been in US dollars… It was a challenge many borrowers faced because when your currency depreciates the loan becomes more expensive," said Maasdorp.

As was done in China, the ARC will consider raising funds in South African bonds and then lend this in South African rand for development projects in the country.

International rating

The bank is currently in a process to obtain an international rating. The NDB has an AAA rating in the domestic Chinese markets, said Maasdorp.

"In 2016, less than a year of opening offices it obtained a rating from two of the largest ratings agencies in China which allowed the bank to issue a bond which was AAA rated in China's local markets," he said.

"The rating is important. It allows the bank to raise funding at a cheaper rate and allows them to lend at comparative rates," he said.

Speaking to journalists ahead of the event, Finance Minister Malusi Gigaga said the bank would support development across the African continent. "We are quite excited about this development, it means that after the opening today we are ready to start operating.

"And in the near future, as the NDB accepts new members it will be in a position to provide loans for infrastructure funding to other African countries that will join as members," he said.
BRICS mechanism has bright future: New Development Bank VP (Механизм БРИКС имеет светлое будущее: вице-президент НБР) / China, August, 2017
Keywords: NDB, Paulo_Nogueira_Batista, expert_opinion

The vice president of the New Development Bank (NDB) said BRICS countries will enjoy a bright future provided we work hard and cooperate together to maximize our effectiveness.

The NDB is currently preparing to accept new members, Paulo Nogueira Batista told People's Daily in a recent exclusive interview.

The NDB is the multilateral institution set up 2 years ago by the five BRICS members.

The bank will expand its coverage in the future to increase its capital base and gain greater international influence, he added.

Batista said that Western economists have been predicting a hard landing for China since the 1990s. However, facts have proved that China has been doing remarkably well.

"A growth of 6 or 7 percent per year for a large economy like China is a major achievement," the NDB official noted, saying that China will keep playing a vital role in the world economy. Batista believes that China would remain a chief factor in world growth.

Many people have been worrying about the slowdown in economic growth of the BRICS countries, but Batista remains positive about the economic prospects of these nations. "China has a large weight in the world economy, and the BRICS countries will continue to hold the key to a large part of what happens in terms of world growth," Batista predicted.

The NDB officially started operations in Shanghai on July 21, 2015. "We've had enormous support from Beijing, and it was really the best decision for the NDB to be based in China," Batista said.

Batista admitted the importance of the existing banks, including the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, but said they are not fulfilling all the needs of the developing countries. "We also intend to be new, as our name promises, whenever there is a need to do things differently," he said.

"We want to be a bank that is more focused on equal relationships, relationships of respect with borrowing countries," he said, adding that "we are not going to be in the business of dictating policy or even recommending policy."

The three-billion-yuan green bond first issued by the NDB in China last summer has been well accepted. Batista said the bank will continue to issue bonds in the national currencies of member countries, which will allow NDB to provide local currency financing.

"It's a new area that challenges us, but we are confident that we can continue down this road and offer clients something that they don't normally get from other multilateral development banks," Batista noted.

With the rise in China's global position, the voice of developing countries is also getting louder in the international arena.

Batista said that the BRICS countries are one major source of voice for emerging markets and developing countries on international platforms such as the World Bank, G20 summit and International Monetary Fund.

"As China grows in the world, I believe China will naturally have an increasingly greater voice," he stressed.
Russia's office of BRICS New Development Bank to be launched after 2019 (Российский филиал НБР БРИКС будет открыт после 2019) / Russia, August, 2017
Keywords: NDB, Andrei_Bokarev

MOSCOW, August 17. /TASS/. The Regional Center of the BRICS New Development Bank (NDB) will be launched in Russia in 2019 or 2020, head of the international financial relations department at the Finance Ministry Andrei Bokarev told TASS.

"There is a political arrangement that the first office [will be launched — TASS] in South Africa, the second — in Brazil, and the third - in Russia," he said. "We don't expect it in Russia earlier than in 2019, most probably in 2020," Bokarev said, adding that "it is necessary to develop a project basis" for setting up the local office.

On Wednesday, the African Regional Centre of the BRICS NDB was officially launched in Johannesburg.

As reported earlier Russia will contribute up to $1.5 mln to the New Development Bank in 2017-2019. The money will be sent from the federal budget as contributions to the financial organization for the purpose of financing the Technical Assistance Fund for Preparation of Projects. The plan is to contribute up to $500,000 annually.

The agreement on establishing the BRICS New Development Bank (NDB) with $100 bln worth of starting capital was reached on July 15, 2014 in Brazil's Fortaleza. The Shanghai-headquartered bank has been set up to finance infrastructure projects and projects for sustainable development of BRICS and other developing countries.

Earlier officials with Russia's Finance Ministry noted that creation of a special fund in the NDB to finance the preparation of feasibility studies of projects would help submit more Russian projects for its consideration.

BRICS is an informal association of five major emerging national economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The group was founded in June 2006 at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum and was known as BRIC prior to inclusion of South Africa in 2009.
NDB Launches Africa Regional Center in Johannesburg, South Africa (НБР запускает Африканский региональный центр в Йоханнесбурге, ЮАР) / China, August, 2017
Keywords: ARC, K_V_Kamath, concluded_agreements

On 17 August 2017, the New Development Bank officially opened Africa Regional Center (ARC) in Johannesburg. The Bank is aiming to establish the ARC as an important contributor to sustainable infrastructure development in South Africa and as a useful participant in the development agenda of the continent.

The Agreement between the Government of the Republic of South Africa and the New Development Bank on the Hosting of the New Development Bank Africa Regional Centre in the Republic of South Africa was signed by International Relations and Cooperation Minister Ms. Maita Nkoana-Mashabane and NDB President Mr. K.V.Kamath, in the presence of the President of the Republic of South Africa Mr. Jacob Zuma.

"The establishment of the ARC, which is the first regional office of the NDB, is an important milestone for the Bank. It marks the fulfillment of a commitment made by the founders of the Bank in its Articles of Agreement," said Mr. K.V.Kamath.

"The ARC will be the face of the NDB in Africa. It will progressively undertake a growing range of the Bank's work, beginning with project identification and preparation," highlighted NDB President. "We are confident that South Africa will be a significant country of operations for the Bank, especially with our on-the-ground footprint of the ARC," he added.

"We sincerely appreciate the strong support that we have received from the relevant ministries in the South African Government that have allowed us to reach this milestone," said Mr. K.V.Kamath.

The ARC's initial emphasis will be on identification and preparation of sustainable infrastructure and sustainable development projects in South Africa in line with South Africa's National Development Plan adopted by the Government as a blueprint for future economic and socio-economic development strategy for the country.

The Bank's loans will enhance and complement the available founding sources in South Africa and the region. The NDB is working with the Government of South Africa and other strategic partners, including development finance institutions on strengthening its project pipeline, focusing on such sectors as water, transport, energy and urban development.

"The ARC will work closely with the Government, public and private sector agencies, and other relevant stakeholders in South Africa to identify projects that have strong development impact to be supported by the NDB. It will play an important role in preparing these projects so that they can be financed. Subsequently, the ARC will also support the effective and efficient implementation of these projects," said Mr. K.V.Kamath.

The Bank will continue to explore opportunities to raise capital in local currency to meet the borrowers' demand.

Background Information

The NDB was established by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa to mobilize resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging economies and developing countries, complementing the existing efforts of multilateral and regional financial institutions for global growth and development. To fulfill its purpose, the NDB will support public or private projects through loans, guarantees, equity participation and other financial instruments.
Since starting of its operations in July 2015, the NDB has been focusing on building a strong institutional foundation for the Bank's work. The NDB has progressively put in place the necessary policy and administrative measures and commenced lending and borrowing operations.

To date, the NDB Board of Directors approved seven projects in all member states, for a total of over USD 1.5 billion in the areas of renewable and green energy, and transportation.

In July 2016, the NDB successfully issued the first onshore bond in China for an amount of RMB 3 billion (approx. USD 445 million). The choice to issue green bond as the first capital markets transaction of the Bank was in line with its mandate to promote infrastructure and sustainable development projects and was supported by the fact that all the projects approved in the first half of 2016 were in the green sector.

According to the NDB's General Strategy: 2017 – 2021, sustainable infrastructure development will be the primary emphasis of the Bank's operations in the next five years.
Business Breakfast Connects NDB with Strategic and Potential Partners in South Africa (Бизнес-завтрак соединяет НБР со стратегическими и потенциальными партнерами в Южной Африке) / China, August, 2017
Keywords: ARC, K_V_Kamath

On 16 August 2017, strategic and potential partners of the New Development Bank gathered at a Business Breakfast organized by the NDB in Johannesburg, South Africa on the eve of the official opening of the NDB Africa Regional Center (ARC).

The Business Breakfast was attended by Mr. Sfiso Buthelezi, Deputy Minister of Finance, NDB Alternate Governor, ambassadors, business leaders, members of BRICS Business Council and other honorable guests.

In his speech, the NDB President Mr. K.V.Kamath highlighted that the Bank will continue to consolidate and strengthen its foundation, and the NDB's activities are firmly guided by its founders' vision and their commitment to finance green, sustainable and environmentally friendly projects. "Most of the things that we are trying to do at our Bank are green, and the projects that we tried to do are sustainable," he stressed. The NDB President also emphasized the importance of local currency financing for the Bank's members and other developing countries.

"NDB is working with the Government of South Africa and other partners in strengthening its project pipeline, focusing on such sectors as water, transport, energy and urban development," said NDB VP, COO Mr. Xian Zhu.

Africa Regional Center of the New Development Bank will be officially opened in Johannesburg on 17 August 2017. The Bank is aiming to establish the ARC as an important contributor to sustainable infrastructure development in South Africa and as a useful participant in the development agenda of the continent.

The ARC's initial emphasis will be on identification and preparation of sustainable infrastructure projects in South Africa in line with recently approved General Strategy of NDB, as well as other projects that fall within the mandate of the Bank.

Background Information.

The NDB was established by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa to mobilize resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging economies and developing countries, complementing the existing efforts of multilateral and regional financial institutions for global growth and development. To fulfill its purpose, the NDB will support public or private projects through loans, guarantees, equity participation and other financial instruments.

Since starting of its operations in July 2015, the NDB has been focusing on building a strong institutional foundation for the Bank's work. The NDB has progressively put in place the necessary policy and administrative measures and commenced lending and borrowing operations.

To date, the NDB Board of Directors approved seven projects in all member states, for a total of over USD 1.5 billion in the areas of renewable and green energy, and transportation.

In July 2016, the NDB successfully issued the first onshore bond in China for an amount of RMB 3 billion (approx. USD 445 million). The choice to issue green bond as the first capital markets transaction of the Bank was in line with its mandate to promote infrastructure and sustainable development projects and was supported by the fact that all the projects approved in the first half of 2016 were in the green sector.
New Development Bank, Eurasian Development Bank and International Investment Bank Sign Loan Agreements for Project in Karelia, Russia (НБР, Евразийский Банк Базвития и Международный Инвестиционный Банк подписали кредитные соглашения для проекта в Карелии, Россия) / China, August, 2017
Keywords: NDB, EDB, IIB, concluded_agreements, Karelia

On 15 August 2017, the New Development Bank (NDB), Eurasian Development Bank and International Investment Bank signed loan agreements with a total amount of USD 100 mln for the construction of two hydropower generation plants with a total installed capacity of 49.8 MW in the Republic of Karelia in the Russian Federation. The NDB will provide the financing for the project through two international financial institutions – Eurasian Development Bank and International Investment Bank.

The project in Karelia involving the provision of financial assistance of USD 100 mln was approved by the NDB Board of Directors on 22 July 2016, and the construction of the power plants was launched in October 2016.

The New Development Bank was created with an objective of financing infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging economies and developing countries. The Bank will complement the efforts of other financial institutions and establish a network of global, regional and local partnerships with multilateral and national development banks as well as other institutions and market players.

International Investment Bank (IIB) founded in 1970. Current shareholders of the Bank include Bulgaria, Cuba, Czech Republic, Hungary, Mongolia, Romania, Russia, Slovakia and Vietnam. The Bank has undergone major modernisation since late 2012 and is rated BBB (outlook stable) by S&P, Baa1 (outlook stable) by Moody's, BBB (outlook stable) by Fitch and A (outlook stable) by Dagong.

Eurasian Development Bank (EDB) is an international financial institution founded by Russia and Kazakhstan in January 2006 with the mission to facilitate the development of market economies, sustainable economic growth, and the expansion of mutual trade and other economic ties in its member states. EDB's charter capital totals US $7 billion. The member states of the Bank are the Republic of Armenia, the Republic of Belarus, the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Russian Federation, and the Republic of Tajikistan.

World of work
Social policy, trade unions, actions
BRICS think tanks agree to enhance exchanges (Аналитические центры БРИКС договорились об улучшении обменов) / China, August, 2017
Keywords: Seminar_on_Governance, concluded_agreement

QUANZHOU, Fujian, Aug. 18 (Xinhua) -- Five think tanks from the BRICS countries Friday signed a memorandum to begin exchanges and conduct joint research.

The memo was signed on the sidelines of the Seminar on BRICS Governance in Fujian Province prior to the Ninth BRICS Summit.

The five think tanks are China International Publishing Group, The Thinker Magazine of South Africa, Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences, University of Delhi's Department of East Asian Studies and China-Brazil Center for Research and Business.

According to the deal, the five will share research information, arrange exchanges between researchers beginning next year, hold joint research every year on mutually-interested topics, and co-organize academic seminars.

Wang Gangyi, deputy director of China International Publishing Group, said BRICS think tanks need to cooperate more as the BRICS mechanism enters its second decade. Substantial research and advice is needed to promote BRICS to become a new leading platform for South-South cooperation and global governance.
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