Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 46.2020
2020.11.09 — 2020.11.15
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Vladimir Putin to hold BRICS online-conference on November 17 (Владимир Путин проведет 17 ноября онлайн-конференцию БРИКС) / Russia, November, 2020
Keywords: vladimir_putin, summit

President of Russia Vladimir Putin under the country's BRICS Chairmanship 2020 will host Head of States of Brazil, China, India and South Africa via video conference on 17 November, Trinity Mirror reports. The meeting was originally planned to take place in St. Petersburg in July but was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

BRICS leaders will focus on significant and complicated issues or questions relating to geopolitical to socio-economic spheres and transformations of the global landscape in the 21st century. The meeting will also adopt a working document that will further reinforce the position and development of the group.

Russia has agreed to strengthen and promote strategic partnership in all key areas of BRICS activities, such as politics and security, economy and finance, educational and cultural ties. The theme of the Meeting of the Leaders of BRICS is "BRICS Partnership for Global Stability, Shared Security and Innovative Growth." The member countries will discuss the enhancement of their countries' trade and economic collaboration as well as coordination on international stages or platforms. Russia, in fact, plans to end its chairmanship with a strong set of new agreements, including the already agreed upon BRICS Anti-Terrorism Strategy and the updated Strategy for Economic Partnership 2025. This document defines guidelines and priorities for cooperation and gives a new impetus to development of trade and investment cooperation among the five countries.

Despite the current global situation due to the spread of the coronavirus infection, the activities under the Russian BRICS Chairmanship in 2020 have been carried out in a consistent manner. Since January 2020, a number of events have already been organized, including via videoconferencing.

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reiterated that deepening the strategic partnership in BRICS is one of Russia's foreign policy priorities.

As stipulated by the guidelines, Russia took over the rotating presidency of the BRICS from Brazil. Since its establishment, BRICS has come a long way from an informal forum for exchanging views on current issues on the international agenda to an absolutely mature and stable network of multilateral interactions on diverse issues of international and domestic interest involving the five BRICS countries.

The BRICS is known as an influential bloc that represents over 3.6 billion people, or half of the world's population. The BRICS countries have a combined GDP of $ 16.6 trillion. BRICS has grown into multilateral structure forum and become an organisation pursuing fair, democratic and multipolar world order.

Over the past decade, the BRICS group (Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa) has proved to be a relevant and well-respected format of cooperation. The BRICS countries maintain solidarity in strengthening collective principles in global affairs; they advocate respect for the sovereignty and sovereign equality of all states, and are deeply convinced that conflicts should be resolved only through peaceful means. The BRICS is an influential bloc that collectively defends the principles of a more just world order based on respect for norms and principles of International Laws and the United Nations Charter.
The Results of the Work of the BRICS Competition Authorities in 2020 Were Summed Up (Подведены итоги работы конкурентных ведомств БРИКС в 2020 году) / Russia, November, 2020
Keywords: fas, off_docs

Antimonopoly provisions in strategic documents of BRICS, work in digital, pharmaceutical and automobile markets, exchange trade, creation of the International BRICS Competition Law and Policy Centre and the cooperation within the international organizations such as UNCTAD are the main issues in the agenda of the meeting of the BRICS Coordination Committee on Antimonopoly Policy.

The meeting took place on November 12 in the format of a video conference. "During the spread of coronavirus infection, we have found new forms of work and are developing remote interaction, which allows us to be always effective," noted Andrey Tsarikovskiy, Stats-Secretary, Deputy Head of the FAS Russia. He also informed the BRICS colleagues about the latest structural changes in the FAS Russia: on November 11 Maxim Shaskolsky was appointed as the Head of the regulator.

Within the meeting, the BRICS Competition Authorities emphasized the progressive development of cooperation between in the antimonopoly sphere and the existing formats of joint work, as well as summed up the activities of the BRICS Working Groups for the research of competition issues in socially significant markets.

Speaking about the BRICS Competition Authority Report on Digital Markets, which was jointly prepared under the leadership of the CADE and presented at the Sixth BRICS Competition Conference, the Deputy Head of the Russian Antimonopoly Authority Andrey Tsyganov noted: "This Report may be updated to reflect the new realities of the coronavirus pandemic, which may highlight the challenges faced by competition authorities in the increasing role of digital platforms."

During the meeting, the participants also touched upon the topic of organized trade. "Competition authorities of the BRICS countries need to continue to broadcast the importance of expanding cooperation on the development of competition, an important instrument of which is the exchange," Andrey Tsarikovskiy stressed. "At the same time, as the FAS practice shows, exchange trading should remain in the field of view of competition authorities from the point of view of antimonopoly law enforcement".

As a reminder, in 2020 the FAS Russia uncovered the first cartel on the exchange: the largest Russian fuel traders Solid-Commodity Markets JSC and A-Oil LLC were found guilty of cartel conspiracy in the exchange trading of oil products.

In continuation of the discussion, the participants emphasized the successful results of the Eighth United Nations Conference to Review All Aspects of the Set of Multilaterally Agreed Equitable Principles and Rules for the Control of Restrictive Business Practices and discussed further possible directions of the UNCTAD Working Group on cross-border cartels.

The separate item of the agenda of the meeting was the joint work with the BRICS Competition Authorities and the BRICS International Competition Law and Policy Centre and the ways forward in this direction.

In conclusion of the meeting, the State Administrative for Market Regulation of the People's Republic of China updated the status of the preparations of the VII BRICS Competition Conference to be held in 2021 in China.
Harsh Vardhan Calls For Multilateral Cooperation Amid COVID; Seeks Help Of BRICS Countries (Харш Вардхан призывает к многостороннему сотрудничеству в условиях COVID; Ищет помощи стран БРИКС) / India, November, 2020
Keywords: quotation, top_level_meeting, covid-19

Union Minister for Science and Technology Dr Harsh Vardhan on Friday said multilateral cooperation is required to overcome challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Science, Technology and Innovation Ministers of the BRICS grouping (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) met on November 13 through a virtual platform to discuss S & T cooperation among the member countries. The Ministry of Science and Higher Education of Russia organized the meeting, Russian Federation being the Chair for the 12th BRICS Summit.

Speaking at the summit, the Health Minister cited India's COVID crisis and called for greater cooperation opportunities among BRICS countries to combat this pandemic.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has been a test, demonstrating that multilateral cooperation is the key to overcoming such global challenges. Since we are one of the most affected populations from this pandemic, it provides for greater cooperation opportunities among BRICS countries to combat this pandemic," Dr Harsh Vardhan said.

The Union Minister further informed that India has initiated an integrated response to overcome this unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic.

"From the development of indigenous vaccines, novel point-of-care diagnostics and therapeutic formulations based on traditional knowledge, to establish research resources and offering services, Indian R&D entities both public and private, are working relentlessly to develop effective interventions for combating the pandemic. Hundreds of projects are being supported. More than 100 startups have developed innovative products for COVID-19".

India's vaccine development

Bharat Biotech - ICMR (BBV 152): Phase I & Phase- 2 clinical trials have completed. Phase-3 trials are ongoing at 25 centres across India with a total of 26,000 participants.

Cadila-Zydus (ZyCOV-D): Phase I clinical trials completed, revealing its safety. Enrollment and dosing of 1,000 volunteers for Phase-2 clinical trials completed, is likely to enter Phase III final stage of clinical trials by December.

Serum-ICMR & Oxford-AstraZeneca (ChAdOx1-S): Globally, this vaccine is undergoing phase-3 clinical trials in Brazil. In India, enrollment for phase-3 clinical trials completed with 1,600 participants at 15 locations. The trials were halted briefly when AstraZeneca paused trials due to a volunteer inflicted with a strange disease. After Oxford conducted safety evaluations, DCGI allowed India trials to resume.

Serum-ICMR & Novavax: Trials will be initiated in the second half of October after the vaccine is manufactured by SII.
Jaishankar holds extensive talks with Brazil FM on bilateral cooperation and global developments (Джайшанкар проводит обстоятельные переговоры с главой МИД Бразилии о двустороннем сотрудничестве и глобальных событиях) / India, November, 2020
Keywords: foreign_ministers_meeting, cooperation

New Delhi, Nov 11 (PTI) External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Wednesday held an extensive exchange of views with his Brazilian counterpart Ernesto Araujo, and the two leaders agreed to further strengthen their cooperation in global affairs and discussed opportunities to strengthen the India-Brazil Strategic Partnership in a post-COVID world. In a virtual meeting, the two ministers discussed the importance of India-Brazil cooperation in economic recovery efforts, healthcare, supply chain resilience, cyber security and reformed multilateralism, according to a statement issued by the External Affairs Ministry.

"The ministers discussed opportunities to strengthen the India-Brazil Strategic Partnership in a post-COVID world and noted the importance of India-Brazil cooperation in economic recovery efforts, healthcare, supply chain resilience, cyber security and reformed multilateralism," the statement said.

It said the ministers had an extensive exchange of views and agreed to further strengthen their cooperation in global affairs.

They also discussed a wide range of regional and multilateral issues especially in the context of India''s upcoming membership of the UNSC, the role of G4 and India''s priorities in the UNSC. They agreed to coordinate closely at the multilateral fora -- Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (BRICS) and India, Brazil and South Africa (IBSA), the statement said.

In a tweet, Jaishankar said India will work closely in multilateral forums including Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (BRICS) and India, Brazil and South Africa (IBSA).

"A productive virtual meeting with FM @ernestofaraujo of Brazil. Extensive discussions on bilateral cooperation and global developments. Will work closely in multilateral forums including BRICS and IBSA," Jaishankar tweeted.

Jaishankar conveyed his condolence to the family of the Brazilian national who had lost her life in a terrorist attack in France.

"The Ministers strongly condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and reaffirmed their determination to combat this menace as also organised crime," the statement said. PTI UZM RDM RDM
BRICS Summit: A new agenda for cooperation? (Саммит БРИКС: новая повестка сотрудничества?) / India, November, 2020
Keywords: summit, cooperation, expert_opinion

The main challenge ahead of the BRICS is not procedural nor bureaucratic, but to continue to lead with innovative thinking and practical responses to some of the most pressing development challenges of our time.

The 12th BRICS Summit on November 17 will be a test for the grouping under Russia's helm. Since the creation of the BRICS in 2009, the five countries have strengthened their participation in the world economy. Pushed by China and India, the total BRICS GDP amounted to 25% of global GDP (US$21 trillion) and BRICS share in international trade stood at almost 20% (US$6.7 trillion) in 2020. Over the past five years, intra-BRICS exports grew by 45% and the share of intra-BRICS exports in total BRICS international trade increased from 7.7% to 10%. The GDP of the five countries also grew faster than global and G7 GDP at an average annual rate of 5.31% according to the IMF.

The costs inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic on the society and the economic activity of the five countries, however, may halt this trend. At least temporarily. Among the ten countries most affected by the pandemic, four are BRICS members. The health crisis is also reflected in the economic indicators. In 2020, the BRICS are projected to grow -30.1% with Brazil, India and South Africa's economies bearing growth rates below the world average. Changes in domestic and foreign policy orientation in Brazil and South Africa and the deterioration of a crucial axis of BRICS cooperation-the India-China relationship - have further spearheaded scepticism on the breath of the BRICS as a political grouping in addition to an economic powerhouse.

Amid the turbulence, the BRICS Summit this year is expected to focus on practical measures to fight the pandemic and support the economic recovery of the five countries. Proposals include the creation of an early warning system for epidemiological threats and the development of regulations on medical products in order to improve BRICS ability to cope with COVID-19. Agreements to facilitate trade, investments and SMEs participation in international trade are also expected to be signed in support of the speedy recovery of the BRICS economies. Civil society groups have been pushing for the revival of the BRICS Vaccines Research and Development Centre and the strengthening the BRICS TB research network, originally proposed during the South African chairship in 2018.

Less impressive, however, has been the ability of the grouping to agree on groundbreaking ideas and live up to its potential as a global leader. Recently, Russia became the first country in the world to register a vaccine against the coronavirus. China is at the final stage of testing its vaccine and has announced its intention to make it a public good. Yet, the grouping is still far from reaching consensus on practical measures for the joint production and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Instead, the topic has been captured by a political-ideological debate that, thus far, has prevented collective action from materializing.

The disbursement by the New Development Bank (NDB) of US$10 billion in crisis-related assistance including US$4 billion in emergency program loan to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and its socio-economic consequences was received with enthusiasm in Brazil, China, India and South Africa. Yet, the bank has not yet signalled if or how it will support long-term recovery plans and the transition of member countries towards a more sustainable economy. Dubbed as 'BRICS best card', the NDB can go beyond its role as a financier to become a platform for the exchange of solutions and incubator of practices with the potential to catalyze BRICS collective leadership and response to contemporary development challenges.

In this regard, attention turns to the announcement of the BRICS Economic Partnership 2020-2025 during the Summit. As a major instrument within the BRICS economic track, the strategy aims to help the five countries to step into the new industrial revolution and promote shared interests in sustainable trade and investment without barriers and sanctions; advancing the digital economy in the interest of BRICS citizens in the context of the digital transformation; developing science, technology and innovation; and promoting sustainable growth and balanced development in the context of climate, energy, human capital development and food security. The strategy could pave the way for a new BRICS cooperation agenda.

In terms of conflict management, the India-China border standoff will not find a place in the Penta-lateral discussions this year. Instead, the BRICS is likely to accommodate differences and avoid the dominance of a single country's interest, political view or ideology. One of the key principles guiding the BRICS since inception is that member countries do not cross each other's "red lines" and follow the general "club" principle of not publicizing members' disagreements. As such, there is a strong case for keeping the BRICS away from issues that touch upon conflicting interests of member countries. It will be on India's hands to play responsible leadership and ensure this principle is followed through its chairship next year.

The health and the economic crises, the domestic policy shifts, and the intra-BRICS contention have led critics to believe the BRICS would be rendered dysfunctional or even split apart. The main challenge ahead of the BRICS is not procedural nor bureaucratic, but to continue to lead with innovative thinking and practical responses to some of the most pressing development challenges of our time. No other grouping has set such an ambitious goal for itself. Building a collective strategy and identifying priority processes to implement it can ensure that BRICS cooperation deepens and becomes self-reinforcing. This is the main expectation for the Russian chairship this year.
Are the cracks between the BRICS beginning to show? (Начинают проявляться трещины между странами БРИКС?) / UAE, November, 2020
Keywords: expert_opinion, political_issues
Author: Andrew Hammond

Russian President Vladimir Putin is making final preparations to host the 2020 BRICS summit on Tuesday for his Brazilian, Indian, Chinese and South African counterparts.

While the bloc increasingly projects itself as a unified forum of key emerging markets, the differences between the five members are sometimes just as striking.

Politically, for instance, this year there have been rising tensions between China and India. Bilateral border tensions in Ladakh have worsened and at least 20 Indian soldiers were killed in June alone during clashes with Chinese counterparts. Casualties among the latter are unknown.

Indian ministers have had face-to-face meetings with their Chinese counterparts about the border stand-off. However, there appears to be little prospect of an imminent breakthrough, with both sides digging in with the onset of winter.

The original rationale for the club's formation was to enjoy economic benefits, but even here there are stark differences that have only been accentuated by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. China might be the only BRICS economy to expand this year, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The IMF predicts that despite facing its own coronavirus challenges at the start of the year in Wuhan, the world's second-largest economy will end the year 1.9 percent bigger after recovering from a 6.8 percent contraction during the first quarter. That compares with forecast contractions of 10.3 percent overall in India, 8 percent in South Africa, 5.8 percent in Brazil and 4.2 percent in Russia.

While this data is striking, China has in fact been an outlier in the group for some time, thanks to sustained economic outperformance. The nation's real gross domestic product has grown 979.9 percent since 2001, compared with 480.8 percent for second-placed India and 188.9 percent for the group's laggard, South Africa.

This data not only points to China's relative success, it also means that there is growing uncertainty over whether the bloc will fulfill the prediction by economist Lord Jim O'Neill — who first coined the concept of BRICS — that it will overtake the G7's collective economic output in just over a decade.

Whether or not BRICS does overtake the G7 in the time frame proposed by O'Neill, there is no question that its growth is having a major global effect. The five members now account for more than 30 percent of global GDP, on a purchasing parity basis, an increase of more than 10 percentage points from two decades ago.

In addition, World Bank research shows that for the first time in two centuries, overall global income inequality — one of, but not the only, measures of economic inequality — appears to be in decline.

This is being driven by BRICS members, especially the collective economic growth and very large populations of China and India. A massive amount of people in both countries have been lifted out of poverty, driving this greater overall global income equality.

At the same time, however, there is an opposing force: Growing income inequality within many other countries. This has also assumed growing political salience recently as it helps to fuel political populism.

These countervailing pressures are, like tectonic plates, pushing against each other. While the net global trend for the past 200 years has been toward greater overall income inequality, there is growing evidence in the past two decades to suggest that the "positive effect" of growing income equality between countries, spurred by key BRICS members, is superseding the "negative effect" of increasing inequality within nations.

Monumental as this could be, the picture is not yet clear cut. What is certain, however, is that, overall, the lot of the southern nations has improved dramatically, as exemplified by key BRICS members over the past generation. This is partly why the five nations continue to value their membership of the club, despite the differences between them.

Post-pandemic, it is unclear whether BRICS, and the wider development of the global South, will have enough momentum to keep driving forwards toward a more equitable world order, and this will be one of the items on the agenda during Tuesday's summit.

The answer to that question will depend largely on the twin issues of whether emerging markets generally continue to grow robustly, and whether the trend toward rising income inequality within countries is sustained.

On the first issue, the trajectory of the global economy will very probably continue to shift toward the South, and for the foreseeable future many key emerging markets will probably remain robust.

However, the remarkable wave of emerging-market growth witnessed during the past generation might now decelerate, and the global transformation it has produced in recent years might not be repeated.

On the second issue, it is not set in stone that seemingly ever-growing income inequality within countries will continue, especially if there is political will to address it. However, the debate over what long-term reforms should be undertaken to tackle this problem is contested by the left and right sides of the political spectrum across much of the world.

So while the relevance of BRICS as a coherent political and economic club is increasingly questioned, it has helped drive what could be the first period of sustained movement toward greater global income equality for two centuries.

However, the fragile process could yet slip into reverse post-pandemic, especially if growth in China and India flattens significantly in the coming decade.
Equal Cooperation: BRICS in the Year of the Pandemic (Равное сотрудничество: БРИКС в год пандемии) / Russia, November, 2020
Keywords: top_level_meeting, social_issues, quotation, covid-19

On November 11, the Valdai Club hosted an online discussion, titled "Russia's BRICS Chairmanship in the Year of the COVID-19 Pandemic", which was joined by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov. The discussion was held on the eve of the 12th BRICS Summit, scheduled for November 17.

In his opening remarks, moderator Timofei Bordachev, Programme Director of the Valdai Club, pointed to the innovative nature of the BRICS as an organisation predicated on the equality of the participating countries. Opening the discussion, Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation Sergey Ryabkov described the role and place of the BRICS in the world in the context of the current international situation. In an era of large-scale changes, the principles of international law remain the only reliable foundation for order and security. Against this backdrop, the BRICS – a system with no leaders or followers – is ready to cooperate and looks attractive to many countries, he stressed.

Xu Sitao, Chief Economist and Partner at Deloitte (China), provided a view on BRICS activities from China. Outlining the global trends generated by COVID-19, he analysed the prospects and possible areas of activity of the New Development Bank, created by the BRICS countries.

Philani Mthembu, Executive Director at the Institute for Global Dialogue, South Africa, in turn, noted the success of BRICS in combating the pandemic and expressed hope for continued cooperation within the BRICS to counter possible subsequent pandemics, as well as in the development of resilience in general and strengthening regional supply chains. According to him, institutions such as the New Development Bank are especially important when going beyond, to the level of BRICS+.

Indian expert Akshay Mathur, Director of the Observer Research Foundation, Mumbai, and Head of the ORF Geoeconomics Studies Programme, noted that the BRICS format as a whole suits its initial tasks, but now it is time to go back, to reconsider the direction of development and turn BRICS into a driving new force for globalisation.

In conclusion, Victoria Panova, Managing Director of the National Committee for BRICS Research and Academic Supervisor of the BRICS Russia Organising Committee Expert Council, summed up the results of the year-long Russian presidency, stressing that in this difficult year of the pandemic, BRICS stands favourably against the background of many other formal and informal structures. She paid special attention to cooperation at the level of the expert community.
Russian BRICS Sherpa and Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov's briefing on the main outcomes of Russia's BRICS Chairmanship in 2020 (Брифинг российского шерпа БРИКС и заместителя министра иностранных дел Сергея Рябкова об основных итогах председательства России в БРИКС в 2020 году) / Russia, November, 2020
Keywords: top_level_meeting, chairmanship

On 16 November, at 2 pm Sergei Ryabkov, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Russian Sherpa in BRICS, will hold a briefing at the Rossiya Segodnya International Multimedia Press Centre.

He will speak about the outcomes of the Russian BRICS Chairmanship in 2020 and outline the main themes of the upcoming XII BRICS Summit, to be held via videoconference on 17 November.

Media representatives will be able to attend the event in the online format after they receive accreditation at

The live streaming of this event will be available on the official website of Russia's BRICS Chairmanship, Rossiya Segodnya website and social media accounts of Russia's BRICS Chairmanship.
International Municipal BRICS Forum participants discuss strengthening respective cooperation among the five countries (Участники Международного муниципального форума БРИКС обсудили укрепление соответствующего сотрудничества между пятью странами) / Russia, November, 2020
Keywords: top_level_meeting, social_issues

On 5-6 November, St Petersburg hosted the II International Municipal BRICS Forum (IMBRICS Forum) under the Russian BRICS Chairmanship. The event was held both in-person and via videoconferencing.

The Forum comprised 18 specialized sessions featuring over 200 speakers from the BRICS countries, including deputy heads of a number of Russian regions. The Forum was co-organised by various Russian ministries and departments.

Sergei Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, and Alexander Beglov, Governor of St Petersburg sent greetings to the participants of the IMBRICS Forum. Mikhail Bryukhanov, Deputy Head of Rossotrudnichestvo, the Consuls General of India and China in St Petersburg, Vice-Mayor of Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Counsellor of the South African Embassy in Moscow joined the meetings via videoconference.

The participants had a detailed discussion on a variety of topics such as modernization of urban passenger transport, urban planning and creating a comfortable urban environment, domestic tourism development, digitalization, as well as youth policy in the five countries. They also covered various aspects of human resources policy at the municipal level, the development of sports infrastructure and the promotion of a healthy lifestyle, civic engagement and public administration, and the role of public associations in the development of international municipal cooperation.

Mikhail Cherepanov, Chairman of the IMBRICS Forum Organizing Committee, commented: "Dialogue at the municipality level is becoming an integral part of diversified cooperation among the BRICS countries. It is difficult to overestimate its contribution to the expansion of the economic, tourist, cultural, and personal ties between the five countries."

The Forum participants approved a Memorandum on cooperation between the cities of Chelyabinsk, Russia, and Guarulhos, Brazil.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov's remarks at the 10th Meeting of BRICS Healthcare Ministers, Moscow, November 11, 2020 (Выступление заместителя Министра иностранных дел Российской Федерации С.А.Рябкова на X Встрече министров здравоохранения стран БРИКС, Москва, 11 ноября 2020 года) / Russia, November, 2020
Keywords: top_level_meeting, speech, mofa


I am delighted to welcome everyone in good health to the 10th BRICS Healthcare Ministers Meeting.

First of all, I would like to express my gratitude to the people who, day after day in recent months, have risked their lives to save other people. This is a real achievement for medical workers. I bow to you for this. I look forward to overcoming this crisis through our joint efforts.

The anniversary meeting of BRICS healthcare ministers is taking place at a difficult time. The global coronavirus pandemic that has swept the world has become a test of strength for humanity. This is also a kind of a test for the ability of the international community to appropriately respond to unforeseen risks. A serious burden is carried not only by the healthcare systems of individual states, but by various international institutions like the World Health Organisation as well.

In this regard, the BRICS countries have a special role to play. Over the years of strategic partnership, our five countries have developed strong immunity to various kinds of crises. COVID-19 is no exception. Our alliance has a role to play in combating the coronavirus pandemic and overcoming its complex fallout. The necessary groundwork was already done when back in 2015, in the Ufa Declaration, our leaders gave us the necessary instructions to develop cooperation in healthcare, with a special emphasis on combating infectious diseases.

In this regard, the South African initiative to establish the BRICS Vaccine Development and Research Centre is notable. It was approved during the Johannesburg Summit in July 2018, but has not yet been implemented.

For Russia as chair, public healthcare has special significance. You are aware of our initiative to create a BRICS Integrated Early Warning System for the Risks of Widespread Infectious Diseases. We hope this will be implemented. In addition, the Russian Health Ministry, in a timely manner, has offered to publish an Overview of the best measures taken by the BRICS countries to counter the spread of the COVID-19 virus. I believe this document will be instrumental for further use not only by our five countries, but for specialists in other countries as well.

Our healthcare ministries have a particular responsibility as the pandemic continues unabated. You are the ones who are expected to come up with decisions and initiatives which will help everyone quickly return to life as it was before the crisis. You are aware of the work carried out by Russian researchers to create an effective vaccine against the coronavirus. I will not delve into the matter with this professional audience. I would only like to note the importance of coordination for the five states on the key tracks of anti-pandemic interaction. Hence, the title of your meeting today, "The COVID-19 Era: Global BRICS Solidarity to Preserve Health."

Our colleagues from the Health Ministry did a great job making this ministerial meeting possible. They have circulated, in advance, the documents that you will discuss and approve.

We count on your support. On the eve of the 12th BRICS Summit to be held on November 17 via videoconference, this is a good reason to report to the heads of our states and governments on our work.

Colleagues, the trajectory of cooperation between our countries in healthcare depends on the outcome of your meeting. I wish you every success and productive work. I look forward to your constructive approach to upcoming discussions.
Thank you.
Russia in Close Cooperation with BRICS on COVID-19 Vaccine Development - Foreign Ministry (Россия в тесном сотрудничестве с БРИКС по разработке вакцины против COVID-19 - МИД) / Russia, November, 2020
Keywords: covid-19, mofa, quotation

Russia maintains a close cooperation with all the member countries of BRICS, India and Brazil in particular, on the development of a vaccine against COVID-19, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said at an online BRICS event, held by the Valdai Club.

"This work is being done both collectively and on a bilateral basis with the BRICS member countries on the development, registration and launch of the required volumes of production. We have serious agreements with Brazil and India on this matter, with China we have been maintaining a very deep cooperation since the outbreak of the pandemic, "Ryabkov said.

The BRICS member countries are currently working on the framework for the creation of a joint center for vaccine development, proposed by South Africa in 2018, the deputy foreign minister noted.

In August, Russia became the first country in the world to register a vaccine against the coronavirus, dubbed Sputnik V, and developed by the Gamaleya research institute. The vaccine is now nearing the end of phase 3 clinical trials. Many foreign countries have already signed agreements with Russia on the supplies of Sputnik V vaccine.

Last week, Rinat Maksyutov, the head of the Russian State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology Vector, announced that mass vaccination against COVID-19 with Russia's second coronavirus vaccine, EpiVacCorona, would start in 2021.
Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
BRICS: Time to expand the New Development Bank membership (БРИКС: пора расширять состав Нового банка развития) / India, November, 2020
Keywords: ndb, expert_opinion

Expansion of the membership of the New Development Bank (NDB)will again be on the agenda of the 12th summit of the BRICS, scheduled online for 17 November 2020. Terms and conditions for new membership are ready for years; there is however no agreement on procedure.

At their second annual meeting in 2017, the Board of Governors (BOG) had agreed to "prepare a list of targeted countries to be invited for admission to the NDB". Norms were laid down: new member will appoint one governor and one alternate; also elect directors and alternates but the number of directors will not exceed ten. A director could represent more than one country; rotational representation will allow more countries from the 'Global South' on the Board. A new member will submit an instrument of accession to the Brazilian government affirming that accession is in conformity with its domestic law. BRICS will not dilute their shareholding below 55 per cent; developed countries' share cannot go beyond 20 per cent. This leaves 25 per cent for other emerging economies and developing countries. The voting right of a new member will not exceed 7 per cent.

Who should be invited? Foremost those who "fit in the aspirations" the Bank was set up with. This makes Global South an attractive choice. N.K. Kamathsettled another matter: "membership will be expanded gradually." The outgoing president of NDB submitted a report on the new members to the 11th BRICS summit in Brasilia last year. He declined to divulge the names of 'dozens of countries' reportedly eager to join the Bank. It would be "premature" without first the procedure being in place.

A regionalist approach is doing the rounds for years. A core BRICS country identifies its neighbours for infrastructure integration, and NDB takes the regional banks/funds on board for co-financing. New membership thus envisions funding infrastructure that integrates a region with the core BRICS country. NDB's regional offices would monitor the projects. Africa Regional Centre in Johannesburg and Americas Regional Office in Sao Paulo has become functional; the Eurasian Regional Centre in Moscow is scheduled for 2020. Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged the Brasilia summit to set up early NDB's India office. India supports the membership expansion but with regional balance.

The regional path to organise the Global South reveals the geopolitical underlings of the Bank. New membership means more resources to integrate the neighbourhood with the respective BRICS. Significantly, the regional path could eventually set the trails for BRICS+ format too.

NDB is India's brainchild; India had also insisted that an Indian should shepherd the Bank in its formative years. Kamath has steered the Shanghai-based multilateral bank from its start-up phase to its present steady state. NDB has approved $18.3 billion loans to 56 projects; including 14 projects in India for around $4.2 billion. Green projects and funding in local currency are two of his principal contributions. NDB projects are subject to local oversight. It may not have its own environmental and social standards; no one, however, can criticise the Bank for being intrusive.

Kamath also expanded the products beyond a loan to include equity, guarantees and credit enhancement. NDB approved its first loan of $300 million to the private sector Vale, the Brazilian mining firm, to upgrade infrastructure in the states of Para and Maranhao. NDB has also begun co-financing projects funded by other MDBs. It launched the $10 billion Emergency Assistance Programme to help the BRICS contain the Covid-19 pandemic through 2020. India received the full allocation of $1 billion within weeks of the outbreak of the pandemic.

NDB has entered the second stage of growth with Marcos Troyjo of Brazil taking over the presidency in July 2020. The expansion will help improve the subscribed capital beyond the US$50 billion and AA+ credit rating of the Bank. There are other considerations: NDB membership is one way to defer the more contentious issue of the expansion of BRICS' membership itself. Membership will also set the pattern of BRICS+ cooperation with developed countries and other emerging economies and developing countries.
BRICS banks to discuss responsible financing & support measures during Covid-19 crisis (Банки БРИКС обсудят вопросы ответственного финансирования и мер поддержки во время кризиса Covid-19) / Russia, November, 2020
Keywords: economic_challenges, covid-19

The development banks of the BRICS trade bloc will meet on Monday to adopt joint principles for responsible financing and to discuss measures for combatting the global coronavirus pandemic.
The annual joint Financial Forum of the BRICS Interbank Cooperation Mechanism and the New Development Bank (NDB) will be held in Moscow at 2:00pm GMT via videoconference.

The chairman of Russian bank VEB.RF, Igor Shuvalov, will be joined by the president of the NDB, Marcos Troyjo; the president of China Development Bank, Ouyang Weimin; the president of the Brazilian Development Bank, Gustavo Montezano; the chairman of Development Bank of South Africa, Enoch Godongwana; and the managing director of India's Export-Import Bank, David Rasquinha.

The member-banks are expected to sign the jointly developed principles for responsible financing based on the world's best practices and OECD standards. Among those are the integration of economic, environmental and social progress in the assessment of investment projects, plus more attention to initiatives that help to develop local communities, promote inclusive economic models, and so on. The participants will also discuss green financing, public-private partnership projects, and innovation policies.

ALSO ON RT.COMBRICS bank provides member nations with over $10 BILLION in emergency assistance to fight pandemic The Shanghai-based NDB, which was established in 2014, provides funding for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in emerging economies. With capital of up to $100 billion, it aims to continue issuing financial products denominated in the local currencies of its member countries – China, Russia, Brazil, India, and South Africa.

In April, the bank established the Emergency Assistance Facility to meet the needs of its member countries. Emergency loans could be used to finance direct expenses related to the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, or to provide support for government measures contributing to economic recovery.
BRICS Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors review the outcomes of theRussian BRICS Сhairmanship in 2020 in the relevant areas (Министры финансов и руководители центральных банков БРИКС рассмотрели итоги председательства России в БРИКС в 2020 году в соответствующих областях) / Russia, November, 2020
Keywords: top_level_meeting, chairmanship, economic_challenges

On 9 November, a Meeting of BRICS Ministers of Finance and Central Bank Governors as well as a Meeting of the BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) Standing Committee took place via videoconference. One of the most substantive outcomes of the Russian BRICS Chairmanship on the financial track was the initiative to elaborate a joint Digital Platform (Data Room) to Encourage Infrastructure Investments in the BRICS countries as well as the progress made on the issue of the New Development Bank (NDB) membership expansion. The meeting participants also exchanged views on the current G20 agenda (overcoming the economic consequences of the novel coronavirus infection, implementation of debt initiatives, digital economy taxation).

One of the main priorities of the Russian BRICS Chairmanship in the field of central banks cooperation was to improve the BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement mechanism and to strengthen its research potential. The meeting approved the first BRICS Economic Bulletin, which highlights the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the BRICS economies and reviews the outcome of the third testing of the CRA mechanism.

The participants also discussed cooperation in the field of information security in the financial sector, in particular, establishing a BRICS Rapid Information Security Channel – a special direct communication channel between the BRICS Central Banks for exchanging information on cyberattacks and cyber threats.

Another important area was the promotion of cooperation in payment systems. The meeting also approved the research by BRICS Payments Task Force on cross-border payments infrastructure development and the prospects of interaction between the BRICS national payment cards systems.
NDB President Joins BRICS Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting (Президент НБР принял участие во встрече министров финансов и управляющих центральных банков БРИКС) / China, November, 2020
Keywords: ndb, top_level_meeting

On November 9, 2020, Mr. Marcos Troyjo, President of the New Development Bank (NDB) participated in the BRICS Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Virtual Meeting held under the Russian BRICS Chairmanship. The agenda included discussions on the outcomes of G20 Saudi Presidency in 2020, a joint digital platform to encourage infrastructure investment and expansion of the membership of the NDB.

In his remarks, Mr. Troyjo commended the Public-Private Partnership Taskforce for the progress made on the joint digital platform aimed at fostering private and institutional investments in infrastructure projects in BRICS. "Crowding-in infrastructure investment is an essential objective in today's world. A Digital Platform can better help us attain that goal," said the NDB President.

Mr. Troyjo provided an update on the Bank's operations, highlighting that NDB has approved 65 infrastructure and sustainable development projects worth USD 21 billion across all member countries of the Bank in the past five years. "We are addressing core development needs in our member countries. NDB projects range from urban development to water sanitation; from clean energy to smart cities", he added.

The NDB is also providing up to USD 10 billion in crisis-related assistance and economy recovery projects through the Emergency COVID-19 Response Programme, said Mr. Troyjo.

During the Meeting, all member countries expressed their support for NDB's membership expansion. Mr. Troyjo also laid out NDB's priorities for the next five years, which include progress in membership expansion, a leading role in the conversation on development policymaking in the 21st century, the complexity and outreach of the Bank's operations, making NDB a talent-intensive institution and strengthening the Bank as a platform for international cooperation.

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. The NDB received 'AA+' long-term issuer credit ratings from S&P and Fitch and 'AAA' foreign currency long-term issuer rating from Japan Credit Rating Agency (JCR) and Analytical Credit Rating Agency (ACRA).
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The Five-Nation BRICS Finds Unity in Cultural Diversity (БРИКС, состоящий из пяти стран, обретает единство в культурном разнообразии) / Germany, November, 2020
Keywords: social_issues

MOSCOW (IDN) – Under the Russian Chairmanship of BRICS 2020, Moscow has organised and hosted a series of corporate conferences, business forums and other important events. For example, the Roundtable discussion on the theme "International Cultural Cooperation for Strengthening BRICS Unity" brought high-profiled participants from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. It was part of efforts at broadening the scope of cooperation in different directions, and steps toward attaining an admirably influential position and becoming active on the global stage.

Ms Jane Mufamadi, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Freedom Park Memorial Museum Complex in Pretoria, South Africa, participated in the discussions of the BRICS Working Group on Cultural Cooperation moderated from Moscow. In this IDN interview, Jane Mufamadi sampled and highlighted (language, culture and tourism) some of the most salient issues that were discussed during the last meeting. Here are excerpts from the interview:

IDN: What aspects of cooperation strike you most during online roundtable discussions on "International Cultural Cooperation for Strengthening BRICS Unity" moderated from Moscow?

Jane Mufamadi (JM): I was highly impressed by the depth of the presentations and many ideas from various countries. The purpose is to strengthen BRICS and its programmes. The roundtable provided an opportunity to learn, share experiences as well as interact with peers and colleagues. The host, Russia, also did a wonderful job in assembling a relevant team of speakers who are knowledgeable and committed to the success of BRICS.

IDN: In your opinion and from that of South Africa's position, how important could cultural cooperation strengthen unity among BRICS? Do you agree that there are diversities in culture among the group?

JM: I believe cultural cooperation is the bedrock of BRICS as it offers an opportunity to get to know each other. I agree that there are diversities, but this should strongly be viewed as a source of strength because a variety of perspectives can only enrich us, and we will emerge stronger. In South Africa, we talk about unity in diversity or a rainbow nation. We believe that diverse cultural perspectives can inspire creativity and innovation. Cultural diversity also offers greater opportunities for personal and professional growth.

IDN: Could you highlight some of the initiatives that were presented during the meeting? The initiatives presented by South Africa. The reaction of your colleagues from Brazil, Russia, India and China.

JM: Some of the initiatives included the focus on the role of heritage institutions and museums in the promotion of people-to-people relations (an example of Freedom Park that has names of people from most of the BRICS countries, which highlights the historical connections). Other proposals relate to the involvement of youth in the cultural exchange programmes, establishment of the Program for Professionals and Leaders within the BRICS. The promotion of BRICS Cultural tourism in order to provide direct communication between the countries and solidify the people-to-people relations. The reaction from colleagues was very positive and some countries actually shared similar ideas.

IDN: What challenges are there in promoting civil society, youth and tourism exchanges as part of public diplomacy of BRICS? How did the roundtable meeting participants look at these in practical terms?

JM: The main challenge is support and funding and some of the laws that make it difficult to achieve the goals. The participants made relevant recommendations that will address these challenges, for example, the establishment of the joint Fund for Grant Support for Cultural Projects and Civil Initiatives within BRICS. This will assist in promoting multilateral cooperation between the Alliance member states within the BRICS frameworks.

Another aspect discussed was the idea to simplify visa procedures for the BRICS citizens so that there is easy movement and the cutting of red tape for those who want to travel amongst the BRICS countries.

IDN: What could be the best way to systematise and to combine efforts in implementing all these new initiatives and recommendations arrived at the Civil BRICS 2020? In you view, how do you see the way forward for the Association of NGOs among the BRICS?

JM: Civil societies are very resourceful and if given the opportunity, the Association will make great stride. The first steps should involve improvement of communication infrastructure (take advantage of digital technology) amongst member states whereby it will be easy to share information. It is particularly important to strengthen rural digital infrastructure.

Furthermore, encouraging the promotion of BRICS languages for ease of access (for example, South Africa is already encouraging schools to teach Chinese Mandarin and the department of Tourism has also trained tourist guides from key heritage institutions in South Africa, to learn Mandarin for tours). Initiatives like these can be replicated to learn other BRICS languages and other countries can do same. [IDN-InDepthNews – 13 November 2020]
8th BRICS STI Ministerial Meeting held on Friday (8-я министерская встреча БРИКС в сфере НТИ состоялась в пятницу) / India, November, 2020
Keywords: top_level_meeting, innovations

New Delhi: The Science, Technology and Innovation Ministers of the BRICS grouping (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) met on November 13 evening through a virtual platform to discuss S & T cooperation among the member countries. The Ministry of Science and Higher Education of Russia organized the meeting, Russian Federation being the Chair for 12th BRICS Summit.

Speaking at the meeting, Union Minister for Science & Technology, Earth Sciences and Health & Family Welfare, Dr Harsh Vardhan congratulated the participating dignitaries at the concluding session for, "The BRICS STI Declaration 2020 and Calendar of BRICS STI Activities 2020-21 which will act as a roadmap to take our cooperation forward". The BRICS STI Declaration 2020 was unanimously adopted at the meeting.

During the meeting, Dr. Harsh Vardhan highlighted that "The COVID 19 pandemic has been a test, demonstrating that multilateral cooperation is the key to overcoming such global challenges". He said, "Since we are one of the most affected population from this pandemic, it provides for greater cooperation opportunity among BRICS countries to combat this pandemic".

The Union Minister informed that "India has initiated an integrated response to overcome this unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. From the development of indigenous vaccines, novel point-of-care diagnostics and therapeutic formulations based on traditional knowledge, to establish research resources and offering services, Indian R&D entities both public and private, are working relentlessly to develop effective interventions for combating the pandemic. Hundreds of projects are being supported. More than 100 startups have developed innovative products for COVID-19".

Pointing out that "Innovation for inclusive development finds significant mention in the Declaration", Dr. Harsh Vardhan said, " We recognize the importance of engaging with BRICS countries in order to foster dialogue and mutual knowledge sharing, capacity building, cross-incubation with a broad view to advancing BRICS systems of innovation".

The BRICS Member leaders applauded India for what Dr. Harsh Vardhan said, "We have recently launched a scheme 'SERB–POWER' (Promoting Opportunities For Women in Exploratory Research) to encourage and support emerging as well as eminent women researchers to undertake R&D activities in frontier areas of science and engineering. We may think of networking BRICS women scientists through a dedicated platform and mechanism".

He reiterated that "India will actively contribute in implementation of BRICS STI Calendar of Activities 2020-21 and supports continuation scientific activities under BRICS MOU on Science, Technology and Innovation".

Participating in the 2nd Session on 'Report of Working Group' Meetings in 2019-2020 (including COVID-19 pandemic coordinated call, results of the BRICS STI Steering Committee activity) and the results of the 5-year implementation of MoU on STI', Professor Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, Department of Science & Technology, India emphasised that "We need to streamline and make BRICS STI initiatives more efficient, focussed and result oriented". He appreciated that "I am glad to know that BRICS countries especially scientific ministries have been quick to join hands for addressing the current global COVID-19 pandemics".

Shri Valery Falkov, Minister of Science and Higher Education, Russian Federation; Shri Marcos Pontes, Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Federative Republic of Brazil; Shri Huang Wei, First Vice Minister of Science and Technology, People's Republic of China; Dr. Bonginkosi Emmanuel Nzimande, Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Republic of South Africa and several other dignitaries from member countries participated in the meeting.
8th BRICS Science, Technology and Innovation Ministerial meeting unanimously adopts BRICS STI Declaration 2020 (8-я встреча министров науки, технологий и инноваций БРИКС единогласно приняла Декларацию БРИКС по НТИ 2020) / India, November, 2020
Keywords: top_level_meeting, innovations

The 8th BRICS Science, Technology and Innovation Ministerial meeting unanimously has adopted BRICS STI Declaration 2020. The meeting was held yesterday through a virtual platform. Science and Technology cooperation among the member countries Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa was discussed in the meeting.

During the meeting, Science and Technology Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan highlighted that the COVID 19 pandemic has been a test, demonstrating that multilateral cooperation is the key to overcoming such global challenges. He informed that India has initiated an integrated response to overcome this pandemic. From the development of indigenous vaccines, novel point-of-care diagnostics and therapeutic formulations based on traditional knowledge, Indian Research and Development are working relentlessly to develop effective interventions for combating the pandemic. The Minister said, more than 100 startups have developed innovative products for COVID-19.
About 2Mln People from BRICS Member States Visited St. Petersburg in 2019 (Около 2 млн человек из стран БРИКС посетили Санкт-Петербург в 2019 году) / Russia, November, 2020
Keywords: social_issues

About 2 million tourists from member states of BRICS have visited Russia's St. Petersburg in 2019, Deputy Chair of the St. Petersburg Committee for Tourism Development Nana Gvichia said at the second International Municipal BRICS Forum.

"Last year has shown that flows between our five countries have begun to increase. Last year, St. Petersburg received more than 4.5 million foreign tourists, of which about 2 million were guests from your countries, which was very important to us," Gvichia said at an online session.

Within the context, the official noted the importance of introducing an electronic visa for foreigners who visit Russia and, in particular, St. Petersburg. Current eight-day e-visas are free of charge and valid for visiting St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region, as well as the Kaliningrad Region and the Far East. However, their issuance has been suspended from March due to the pandemic.

Starting January 1, 2021, a new electronic visa system will be introduced, which will allow citizens of 53 countries to apply for electronic visas for short-term trips to Russia of up to 16 days.
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