Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 38.2017
2017.09.11 — 2017.09.17
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Grimes Interviewed on the Challenges Facing BRICS (Граймс рассказал в интервью о проблемах, стоящих перед БРИКС) / USA, September, 2017
Keywords: expert_opinion
Author: William Grimes

William Grimes, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University, was recently interviewed on the the impact of the BRICS countries on the new international economic order as well as the challenges the BRICS countries currently face.

Grimes was quoted in a September 12, 2017 article by Sina entitled "China Will Become The Leader of the BRICS Mechanism."

From the text of the article:

"I do not think that the BRICS countries as a unit have had much effect on global governance. However, there has clearly been a major expansion of the role of China, India, and (to a lesser extent) Brazil in global governance. This can be seen in their role in international trade agreements, international organizations such as the IMF and World Bank, and greater prominence in the UN system. In the case of China, its efforts in institution-building (including the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralization) as well as its economic and connectivity impact through its trade and investment networks as well as the Belt and Road Initiative are also substantial, and are significantly reshaping the broad regional order."

"China and Brazil are facing the "middle income challenge," in which increases in factors (labor, capital) alone are insufficient to maintain rapid economic growth. However, both have positive growth prospects given their levels of income. For India, Brazil, and South Africa, infrastructure is a major challenge, as is mass education. Both will hamper equitable growth. Russia's challenges are different – they include lack of industrial base, excessive dependence on resource extraction by oligopolistic companies, crony capitalism, and depopulation."

Grimes, who has taught at Boston University since 1996, is a leading scholar of East Asian financial regionalism. His 2008 book Currency and Contest in East Asia: The Great Power Politics of Financial Regionalism won the 2010 Masayoshi Ohira Memorial Prize and received Honorable Mention for the 2009 Asia Society Bernard Schwartz Book Award. More recently, in conjunction with the Pardee School's Global Economic Governance Initiative, he led a research project for the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) to develop a guide to best practices for regional liquidity arrangements.
China and India Pull Back on Doklam, Choosing to Fight Another Day (Китай и Индия отступили от Доклама, решив сразиться в другой день) / USA, September, 2017
Keywords: expert_opinion, India_China, Xiamen_summit
Author: Harsh V Pant

The abrupt hostilities that flared this summer at the tri-border region of Bhutan, China and India were settled peacefully. Harsh V Pant, professor of international relations, credits the BRICS summit meeting – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – for hastening agreement. "It would have been difficult for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to justify his presence at the summit with Indian and Chinese forces facing off each other at the border," he writes. "And for Chinese President Xi Jinping, keen on presenting himself as a global statesman, India's absence would have meant the beginning of the end of BRICS, tarnishing Xi's reputation in the run-up to the critical Communist Party Congress in October." For the long term, China and India have agreed to strengthen border-defense agreements and pursue closer communications between military personnel. Despite peaceful resolution, challenges remain with nationalistic tendencies displayed by leadership of both nations, unresolved border disputes, ongoing disagreement over policies regarding terrorism and Pakistan, and response to unsettling US disengagement from the region. In terms of GDP, China dominates the BRICS grouping. Still, Pant concludes that India relies on BRICS to counter the consequences of China's rise. – YaleGlobal

NEW DELHI: One week can be a long time in inter-state relations. In a week's time, India and China had kissed and made up after their armies stood eyeball to eyeball at the Doklam Plateau for more than two months. The trouble at the India-Bhutan-China tri-junction started June 16, when Indian soldiers detected construction activity on what is considered disputed territory on the Doklam Plateau. Chinese workers seemed to be building a road that would have allowed China to project power further into the territory claimed by Bhutan, thereby giving Beijing an ability to cut India's northeast from the mainland.

India's response was immediate. The government sent troops into Bhutan to halt the roadbuilding, demanding restoration of status quo ante. As the Indian external affairs minister explained in the Indian Parliament: "Our [Indian] concerns emanate from Chinese action on the ground which have implications for the determination of the tri-junction boundary point between India, China and Bhutan and the alignment of India-China boundary in the Sikkim sector." Sushma Swaraj added that "dialogue is the only way out of the Doklam standoff…and this should be seen in the context of the entire bilateral relationship."

China, for its part, demanded that India withdraw unconditionally from Doklam before any meaningful bilateral talks could be held, and state-owned media launched a shrill campaign, at times threatening war and issuing reminders of the 1962 conflict between the two countries and India's humiliating defeat. New Delhi was responsible in handling the crisis – refusing to be drawn into escalation by bellicose rhetoric and not losing its nerve. Tensions continued to rise through August 26 when disengagement was announced and an understanding reached with the withdrawal of Indian troops and cessation of Chinese road construction in the area.

Notwithstanding the spin used by both sides to justify disengagement, the BRICS summit played a key role in the final outcome as representatives of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa headed for Xiamen in early September. It would have been difficult for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to justify his presence at the summit with Indian and Chinese forces facing off each other at the border. And for Chinese President Xi Jinping, keen on presenting himself as a global statesman, India's absence would have meant the beginning of the end of BRICS, tarnishing Xi's reputation in the run-up to the critical Communist Party Congress in October.

As the scene shifted to Xiamen for the BRICS summit, India underscored its dissatisfaction with how BRICS member states dealt with the issue of terrorism during the previous summit in Goa. Despite India making terrorism a priority, China not only blocked India's attempts to include the names of Pakistan-based terror groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad, LeT and JeM, in the 2016 BRICS declaration, but openly defended Pakistan after the summit, saying it opposed linking any country or religion with terror and asked the world community to acknowledge Pakistan's "great sacrifices."

A surprise was in store when this year's BRICS declaration named LeT and JeM along with the East Turkestan Islamic Movement and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, reiterating agreements arrived at during the 2016 Heart of Asia summit. The agreement was not merely an acknowledgment that BRICS member states face common threats in the form of terrorism, but also a tribute to India's consistently strong stand on this issue. China warned Modi not to raise bilateral terrorism-related issues at the BRICS summit, but India made sure to put these on the agenda. By listing Pakistan-based terror organizations for the first time, the Xiamen declaration underlined changing regional realities for Pakistan, accustomed to using China as a shield against global pressure on terror.

Modi and Xi signaled efforts to move away from the bitterness engendered by the short-lived Doklam standoff by managing to present a united front at the BRICS summit. They agreed that Doklam-like situations should not be allowed to recur by charting new mechanisms to strengthen border-defense agreements that have held in the past and identified the need for closer communications between defense and security personnel. Both nations also sought convergence at the global level by underscoring their positions resisting economic protectionism of the kind that the Trump administration has been espousing, and the BRICS countries committed to an "open and inclusive" multilateral trading system.

After the resolution of the Doklam standoff and show of unity at the BRICS summit, a sense of normalcy has returned to Sino-Indian relations. But the underlying forces shaping this relationship – structural, domestic politics and individual – continue to make for a grim prognosis. India and China are two rising powers in the larger Asian strategic landscape which is being reshaped by American disengagement. Both are governed by nationalistic leaders who want to shape global politics to serve their national aspirations. And China, by diplomatically mishandling India, remains bereft of friends in India and continues to reinforce a perception that it is intent on scuttling India's rise. New Delhi will be carefully watching if the BRICS declaration on terrorist groups like LeT and JeM translates into action as early as during October when the issue of designating JeM chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist is likely to come before the United Nations Security Council. China, for its part, has already started back-pedaling by reassuring Pakistan that there is no change in Chinese policy vis-à-vis its close ally.

India's presence may have salvaged the BRICS grouping this year, but the broader agenda inspires little confidence, considering the serious differences among member states on a range of economic issues. At a time when the global economy is passing through a difficult phase, there has hardly been any real reform of the global governance architecture. Apart from China and India, the remaining three member states of BRICS are facing economic decline. No wonder the Chinese president is calling for expansion of BRICS, and as he argued in his keynote speech at the summit's opening ceremony: "We should promote the 'BRICS Plus' cooperation approach and build an open and diversified network of development partnerships to get more emerging market and developing countries involved in our concerted endeavors for cooperation and mutual benefits."

The BRICS declaration also called for greater economic cooperation beyond the five-member bloc, including Egypt, Mexico and Thailand, but there is resistance. Even with five members, the platform struggles in balancing China. China's gross domestic product for 2016 was double that of the other four members combined. By bringing in other countries which it could manage, China's dominance might just be complete.

India could deftly leverage the BRICS summit in resolving the Doklam crisis as well as ensuring that its concerns are not marginalized. BRICS provides India with a platform to keep China engaged multilaterally as well as working with other members on matters of shared concern. In a reversal of sorts, BRICS for India today has become an instrument to manage the externalities – positive and negative – of China's exponential rise. The success and failure of the grouping, therefore, depends on how India and China manage bilateral relations. There is no guarantee that other points on the contested Sino-Indian border would not flare up again if political relations remain strained. And despite the peaceful resolution of the Doklam standoff and success of the BRICS summit, there are few reasons to be optimistic about the future trajectory of relations between Asia's two preeminent powers.

Harsh V Pant is a Distinguished Fellow at Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi, and professor of international relations, King's College London.
BRICS Emerges From Xiamen Summit Stronger and More Inclusive (БРИКС выходит из Сямэньского саммита более сильным и более содержательным) / Germany, September, 2017
Keywords: Xiamen_summit

The recent BRICS Summit, hosted by China and held in the coastal town of Xiamen, showcased a much stronger partnership with greater responsibilities than ever before. There had been much talk prior to the gathering of the demise of the BRICS organization due to the downturn in international trade. And the recent tensions between China and India led some critics to predict that India would not be attending. But they have been proven wrong.

Indeed, it was undoubtedly the solidarity exhibited in the BRICS partnership which allowed the two countries' leaders to put the border dispute aside and to focus on their common interests as the largest developing nations. Both leaders stated after their bilateral meeting that the talks were productive and constructive.

China took the initiative to invite the leaders of five nonBRICS countries to attend the summit and to engage in a Dialogue of Emerging Markets and Developing Countries. The invitees, Egypt, Mexico, Thailand, Tajikistan and Guinea, come from all the major continents. As President Xi pointed out during the event, all emerging market and developing countries have great expectations for the BRICS, as a platform for cooperation.

During the Summit, it was announced that China was contributing $4 million to the project preparation fund of the BRICS New Development Bank for the bank's operation and long-term development. In addition it was setting aside $75 million for economic and technological cooperation and exchanges among BRICS countries. China will also commit $500 million to the Assistance Fund for South-South Cooperation.

The concluding Xiamen Declaration also underlines the long-term goal of the BRICS partnership to introduce a new form of global governance. "We resolve to foster a global economic governance architecture that is more effective and reflective of current global economic landscape, increasing the voice and representation of emerging markets and developing economies."

While the issue of economic development will remain a primary task of the BRICS cooperation platform, the Xiamen Declaration also clearly indicates that BRICS coordination and cooperation will play an even greater role on major security and political issues. In this way BRICS -- and the developing sector generally -- will have the opportunity to exert an even greater influence on how the world is governed.

In his opening statement, Xi Jinping quoted a Chinese proverb to express the importance of solidarity in the group: saying "a partnership forged with the right approach defies geographical distance; it is thicker than glue and stronger than metal and stone."
All Eyes on BRICS (Все взгляды на БРИКС) / China, September, 2017
Keywords: expert_opinion

Editor's Note: From an economic idea to a cooperation platform for major emerging economies, BRICS has drawn worldwide attention over the past decade. During the Ninth BRICS Summit in Xiamen, Beijing Review and China Today interviewed ambassadors and scholars from both China and abroad. The following are edited excerpts of what they had to say about BRICS:

Some say BRICS is just a round table for talks because it has no binding rules for members or mechanism to take unified action as a whole. Some Western media even predict the decline of BRICS. What do you think of BRICS?

Liu Zhiqin, Senior Fellow, Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China: The increasing mutual trust between BRICS members has promoted their cooperation and exchanges. The BRICS group has become a new model of multilateral cooperation on common development.

In Chinese, BRICS is not merely a set of bricks; we Chinese add the adjective "golden" to describe the bricks, which reflects China's positive expectations for cooperation ties. Gold can endure over time. China hopes BRICS cooperation can withstand various difficulties and challenges. Therefore, BRICS countries must maintain unity and be candid to each other. In this way, they can push their common development to a new height and better promote the reform of world economic governance.

As a Chinese saying goes, unity is power. BRICS must maintain a stronger partnership to tackle challenges in a changing world.

He Wenping, Professor and Director of African Studies at Institute of West-Asian and African Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences: BRICS serves as a good platform for major emerging countries to have their say on global economic governance. There have been various views since the cooperation mechanism was established. Media outlets, especially those from the West, take a pessimistic view of the future of BRICS. They overlook BRICS members' efforts to undertake reforms in their domestic economies.

In the face of challenges, BRICS countries have put forward new development strategies. For example, China launched the Belt and Road Initiative to promote broad international cooperation on common development. Russia is building the Eurasian Economic Union. South Africa announced its ocean development strategy. China's Belt and Road Initiative is well received by countries across the Eurasian continent, Southeast Asia and Africa.

Georgy Toloraya, Professor of Economics, Moscow University of International Relations, Executive Director of Russian National Committee on BRICS Research: All five BRICS countries hope to reform and improve the current global governance. Over the past 10 years, BRICS has signed many documents and action plans. The five countries are implementing cooperation at the level of over 35 governmental departments or sectors.

It needs to be pointed out that BRICS is not a framework for economic integration. BRICS countries are different in national conditions, political systems and geographic environments. They are also in different phases of development. Diversification is one of the most unique features of BRICS. So it is natural that they have different ideas on some issues. But, the key to BRICS' success is that all parties pursue common interests on the basis of dialogue and consultation. Even complicated disputes and contradictions shall not hinder the five members from discussing action plans that are good for all.

What efforts should BRICS states make to enhance their cooperation in the future?

Liu Zhiqin: A sound bilateral relationship will better serve BRICS' growth.

In particular, I believe the China-Russia relationship is an important pillar of BRICS. The two nations should expand their economic and trade cooperation, providing driving force for BRICS' development. In 2016, trade between China and Russia reached nearly $50 billion. Both Chinese and Russian leaders vowed to make the bilateral trade reach $100 billion by 2020. Such an ambitious target shows their strong confidence in bilateral cooperation. This is also a positive signal for BRICS. Closer China-Russia ties have been important for the healthy development of BRICS in past years.

Furthermore, BRICS should strengthen its voice to maintain world economic order, including on the World Trade Organization (WTO) rules for solving trade disputes. Today, some developed countries are inclined to resort to protectionist measures in trade disputes. All BRICS countries have suffered discriminatory policies by the West, which have intensified unfairness in the world trade system. So, BRICS should unite to say no to such unilateral actions.

He Wenping: BRICS countries have respective advantages in deepening industrial and technological cooperation. As we know, China is making rapid progress in nuclear energy, aerospace, computing and manufacturing. Russia is a world power in heavy industry. Brazil is developing its own aircraft manufacturing industry. India is called "the office of the world," famous for abundant IT and management human resources. South Africa is a financial center in Africa. All these five countries consider how they complement each other's advantages. In fact, there are still wide gaps for them to fill even though they have signed many intergovernmental cooperation documents.

Some may be over-optimistic about BRICS cooperation in putting forward the proposal to build an economic union. I think this is too early to consider. Currently, BRICS should work hard to deal with their economic problems first and then explore more ways to improve global governance for the interests of developing countries.

Georgy Toloraya: BRICS now should implement cooperation on the New Development Bank (NDB) and other economic collaboration strategies that they have reached. Currently, the trade between China and the other four countries is much bigger than the trade between the four countries themselves. For the healthy development of BRICS, its members must truly and effectively participate in multilateral cooperation in the future.

The NDB is the first major organization arranged under the BRICS framework. In the aspect of finance, politics or strategy, the NDB is a good attempt to supplement current global financial institutions, as it aims to meet the needs of developing countries.

China has proposed to expand the dialogue between BRICS and other developing countries. What implication does the BRICS Plus proposal have for BRICS? What opportunities does it bring to other developing countries?

Yaroslav Lissovolik, Chief Economist of Eurasian Development Bank: The state leaders of Egypt, Guinea, Mexico, Tajikistan and Thailand were invited to attend the Dialogue of Emerging Market and Developing Countries. In the past, the host nation of the BRICS Summit would invite neighboring countries to a meeting as a means to implement the idea of BRICS expansion. China this time enlarged the circle of friends from the local neighborhood to the whole world.

It is necessary to point out that BRICS Plus doesn't mean the simple expansion of the group's members. BRICS hopes to expand cooperation with more developing countries. The idea of BRICS Plus will help developing countries find new ways to reach international cooperation. The mechanism of BRICS Plus can become a new platform to promote South-South cooperation and dialogues.

Each BRICS member is also a member of other cooperation organizations like the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Eurasian Economic Union, South American Common Market, Southern African Development Community and South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation. All members of these regional organizations could develop widespread partnerships with BRICS. So, BRICS Plus could establish links with other mechanisms and organizations consisting of developing countries and eventually promote South-South cooperation globally.

Furthermore, BRICS Plus is helpful to reconcile regional organizations and multilateral arrangements in world economic affairs. Through expanding its partners, BRICS will boost a new round of globalization and create a new model for the world's multi-polarization and cooperation between civilizations.

Ali Asghar Khaji, Iranian Ambassador to China: Since its founding, the BRICS cooperation mechanism has represented a new cooperation concept and played an important role in raising a voice in the international community on behalf of the developing world. The Iranian Government showed its support for the BRICS Plus proposal when it was first put forward. As an important developing country in the region of North Africa and West Asia, Iran is poised to strengthen its cooperation with China under the frameworks of the Belt and Road Initiative and BRICS Plus. In addition, we also hope China as a leading developing country can play a bigger role in advancing cooperation among developing countries on such aspects as economy, security and social development.

Leela Mani Paudyal, Nepal's Ambassador to China: BRICS, as an economic platform, engages with more and more developing countries that have opportunities to benefit from the economic development of BRICS countries. We're quite optimistic about that. That would provide a good opportunity and prospects for countries like Nepal. We'll find more markets for our products, and we'll benefit from the capabilities that BRICS countries have. We'll see opportunities to share the technological advancements they've made. So, we'll also be able to give our economy the new technology they developed. It would be a new opportunity for countries in the region, particularly developing countries.

Gonzalo Sabate, Vice Ambassador of Argentina to China: For Argentina, it would be a good thing to be involved with BRICS. We're in the G20. We'll organize the G20 Summit next year; China did the G20 last year. We're at the appropriate level of development to be in the BRICS group.

Brussels foreign affairs head calls for EU presence at BRICS meetings (Глава МИД Брюсселя призывает к присутствию ЕС на встречах БРИКС) / China, September, 2017
Keywords: BRICS_EU, expert_opinion
Author: Fu Jing

The European Union should be invited to expand the BRICS partnership and take part in the BRICS+ concept, a senior Belgian official said on Friday in Brussels following last week's BRICS summit in Xiamen, China.

"The Summit in Xiamen added a new dimension to the BRICS+ concept…In my opinion inviting the European Union (in the future gatherings) would certainly make sense," said Anick Van Calster, director general for Bilateral Affairs of Belgium's Federal Public Service of Foreign Affairs at a conference on BRICS countries' global role arranged by the five embassies in Belgium.

Van Calster said she has noticed that this time not only neighboring countries were invited, but the Chinese host also took the initiative to invite Mexico, Egypt, the President of the African Union, Equatorial Guinea, the President of the G77 Thailand and Tajikistan.

They have joined Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa in Xiamen, Fujian province during 4-5 September when China hosted the BRICS annual summit.

"I noted with interest the proposal of Chinese Ambassador to Belgium Qu Xing to devote part of this conference to the relations between the BRICS and the European Union," said Van Calster.

"May I consider this as a hint that the BRICS countries are seriously considering to enrich the BRICS+ concept even further by inviting the European Union to one of their future meetings?"

She said it "makes sense" to invite European Union at the future gatherings.

She added it is inspiring to discuss how to enhance the interaction of the BRICS with the rest of the world in international fora to the benefit of a safer, cleaner and happier world.

Van Calster said that in many statements the BRICS countries underlined their commitment to principles that are also held in high esteem by the European Union and its member states. Van Calster listed strong support to multilateralism and commitments to refrain from protectionism as examples.

"Belgium upholds the same principles and wants to remain a reliable partner for those countries that wish to advance these principles in a multilateral context," said Van Calster.

In their address on Friday, ambassadors of BRICS countries in Belgium have expected that their countries aim to obtain fairer share of saying in evolution of global governance architect and cooperate with European Union to cope with the pressing challenges the world has faced.

Alexander Tokovinin, Russian Ambassador to Belgium said the BRICS countries have contributed greatly to the global economic growth, global peace, stability and multilateral system.

"They could help realize fairer global governance and international democracy by gaining more say," said Tokovinin.

Citing example of the New Development Bank, which is based in Shanghai, Tokovinin said the BRICS countries have already achieved progress in reforming global economic governance architect.

Joining other embassies in organizing the conference themed as the BRICS role in the world, Tokovinin called it as an excellent initiative, which could help Europeans and Belgians better understand the mechanism of BRICS.

Echoing Tokovinin,Chinese Ambassador to Belgium Qu Xing also said the five countries' contribution to global economy is impressive.

Citing numbers, he said since their first summit nine years ago, the BRICS countries' combined GDP has grown by 179 percent and their share in world economy from 12 percent to 23 percent. And the contribution of the BRICS to the global growth rate is up to 50 percent in the past ten years.

"All this has contributed significantly to stabilizing the global economy and returning it to growth and it has delivered tangible benefits to the world," said Qu, who has initiated to make the BRICS to have better presence in Belgium and EU.

"The first decade of the BRICS cooperation is a very fruitful one but the potential is big."

Citing the BRICS leaders' commitments in boosting cooperation and coordination in improving global economic governance to foster a more just and equitable international economic order and safeguard international and regional peace and stability, Qu said the BRICS countries have strong reasons to believe in brighter future in the coming decade.

The five countries have also organized one-week film festival in Brussels on September 4-9.

Implications of the Xiamen BRICS Summit (Последствия саммита БРИКС в Сямэне) / Russia, September, 2017
Keywords: expert_opinion, Xiamen_summit
Author: Feng Shaolei

Counting from the inaugural BRIC Summit in Yekaterinburg in 2009, the BRICS cooperation has gone through eight full years. This year the Xiamen Summit has called people's attention towards both current development and future prospectsof the BRICS. Meanwhile, they are also concerned about the further cooperation among the BRICS and the improvement in global governance promoted by the BRICS cooperation as well.

I. Economic Cooperation and Development: Still the Primary Goal of the BRICS

Since the BRIC concept was first proposed by the Western scholar O'Neill in 2001, the economy of the BRICS once performed prominently early in the new century. Later, due to the impacts of the international financial crisis and problems occurring during the development of the BRICS, the BRICS were frustrated in the past three or four years. However, with the gradual stabilization of European and American economy, in addition to perseverant efforts the BRICS on their own, since the first half of 2017, the economy of the BRICS has generally improved significantly.

In the past ten years, the proportion of the economic aggregate of the BRICS in the world economy increases from 12% to 23%, the proportion of the total trade increases from 11% to 16%, the proportion of foreign investment increases from 7% to 12%, the contribution rate to world economic growth is over 50%. In the first half of 2017, China's imports from the BRICS gained rapid growth, the amount of which is over $70.16 billion, with a growth rate of 33.6%, which is 14.7% higher than that during the same period last year.

As far as China is concerned, since the first half of this year, its economy has grown by 6.9%. In late July, the IMF raised its economic growth forecast for China in 2017 for the third time this year.

Over the past few years, some have said, "The BRICS has faded." Nevertheless, the signing of the Xiamen Declaration and the results of over 40 agreements shows that the BRICS is still an important driving force and source for the recovery, development and cooperation of the world economy. In detail, a series of documents in trade have been formally passed, including the BRICS investment facilitation outline, roadmap of trade cooperation services, economic and technological cooperation framework, e-commerce cooperation initiatives. Meanwhile, in the field of investment, China will formulate the first BRICS economic and technological cooperation exchange plan with a total amount of 500 million RMB, strengthening policy exchanges and pragmatic cooperation in economy and trade.

II. The BRICS Make Efforts to Practice and Optimize the Governance Structure

The BRICS not only endeavors to achieve the due status of emerging countries in the international financial institutions through the reform in shares within the institutes such as the IMF, but also aims to provide a model through establishing creatively the NDB. On the one hand, the BRICS maintains cooperation with such traditional international financial institutions as the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and on the other hand, it tries to establish a financial institutional structure where equalities and differences co-exist, laying foundations for future larger-scale cooperation.

In addition, this summit decides to establish the CRA macroeconomic information exchange mechanism in the field of international finance, as well as to further improve the research capacities of the CRA and to enhance the consensus of a closer cooperation with the IMF. China will contribute $4 million to the preparation funds of the NDB project, supporting the banking operations and long-term development. This summit also supports to establish the first regional office of the NDB, namely the African Regional Center, in South Africa. Besides, it is also supportive to set up a project preparation fund of the NDB and approve the second batch of projects.

III. BRICS-Plus Deepens Regional Cooperation Among Developing Countries

Over years, many emerging economies and developing countries have always been expecting to participate in the BRICS, including Argentina in South America, Indonesia in Southeast Asia, Egypt in the Middle East in and Turkey across Asia and Europe. These countries have basic attributes, i.e., all of them are developing countries with certain regional influences, with rich endowment in resources and great potentials for economic development, and they play indispensable and important roles in international affairs.

Regarding the issue whether the BRICS should enlarge or not, some members hold that, there is no hurry to expand but should instead advance it in depth, focusing on implementing the existing agreements. While others argue that, the BRICS should gain victories through scale effects and enroll new members in time. Although BRICS has not expanded during this summit, some of these key countries are invited as participants, which paves the way for the further development of the future BRICS cooperation.

In addition, the BRICS members are all regional major countries. Therefore, since the Durban Summit in 2013, whenever the annual BRICS summit was held, there was also a dialogue with the leaders of the regional cooperation organization where the host country is located, to highlight the leading and coordinating role of the five BRICS members as major countries within that region.

For instance, the BRICS dialogue with leaders of South American countries was held during the Fortaleza Summit in Brazil. Russia's Ufa Summit witnessed the dialogue between leaders of the BRICS and the Eurasian Economic Union Member States. During the Durban Summit in South Africa, there was a dialogue between the leaders of the BRICS and African leaders. A dialogue was held between the BRICS leaders and leaders of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation during the Goa Summit in India. Obviously, this mechanism will continue during the following summits.

IV. Strengthening Humanities and Security Cooperation, Laying Solid Foundations for the BRICS Cooperation

One of the most valuable experiences of international multilateral cooperation is that we should strengthen the links between humanities and cultural exchanges, advancing the mutual understanding of the BRICS members. This summit not only established the BRICS University League, signed sports exchange memos, agreed to promote the medical cooperation projects, but also began to plan the establishment of the BRICS cultural exchange funds.

It is noteworthy that the Xiamen Declaration attaches great importance to international security issues. According to this summit, not only the annual meeting of foreign ministers will become a formal mechanism, but also the meetings among senior representatives of the BRICS security issues will be held at the same time. This summit also criticized seriously terrorism, the spread of drugs, all kinds of destruction activities against public order and the nuclear test of North Korea as well.

The recent good development momentum of the BRICS does not necessarily mean that the BRICS have already overcome in-depth problems in economic structures, market foundation, innovation abilities and many other aspects. Furthermore, it also does not mean that there does not exist cognitive differences or collision of interest, including border turmoil and many other pressing issues.

However, the progress clearly demonstrates that the future of the BRICS cooperation is bright. First, the great economic complementarities between the BRICS promotes the deepening of their internal trade and investment. It will lay foundations for the connectivity between the BRICS cooperation with the One Belt, One Road Initiative. Second, through economic cooperation, it adopts non-alignment and non-confrontational ways to provide basis and paths to solve global and regional security issues. Third, it strengthens the existing basis for the BRICS cooperation, further exploring the mechanism construction of the BRICS cooperation and providing effective pragmatic paths and concrete experience for the future regional and international order.
W.P.S. Sidhu / BRICS: From a big bang to a whimper (В.П.С. Сидху / БРИКС: от большого взрыва до хныка) / India, September, 2017
Keywords: expert_opinion
Author: W.P.S. Sidhu

Given the internal contradictions, the past of the BRICS might be more noteworthy than its future.

The 9th Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit in Xiamen began dramatically with a big bang, but it was not the kind of noise that host China would have wanted: the unannounced sixth and biggest nuclear test by China's enfant terrible ally, North Korea. This test literally and politically stole the thunder from China's grandiosely titled "Brics: Stronger Partnership for a Brighter Future" summit.

Having barely worked out a face-saving disengagement with India at Doklam, which paved the way for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to attend the summit, Beijing was clearly expecting to use the occasion to advance its national, regional and global interests. Instead it had to contend with US President Donald Trump's "twiplomocy" following the North Korean test, where he chided that Beijing's closest ally "has become a great threat and embarrassment to China, which is trying to help but with little success". At best this tweet makes China looks ineffectual and at worst conniving.

This not only marred the carefully choreographed summit but also highlighted a fundamental question about the raison d'etre of the group: Can the Brics advance their collective development and political agenda without resolving some of their internal and intra-group ideological differences, political tensions, and economic contradictions? The answer, despite China's best efforts to push for a stronger partnership, has to be "no".

In a background document titled Theme And Cooperation Priorities Of 2017 BRICS Summit, published in January, a "partnership dedicated to improved global economic governance" was stressed without any similar emphasis on improving global political governance. Instead, there was merely a plea for a "partnership that upholds world peace". Even here, the document candidly acknowledged— months before the Doklam confrontation between China and India—the "need to further enhance strategic mutual trust" especially in "preserving international and regional peace and stability".

Herein lies a key contradiction: can countries like India, Brazil, and South Africa (Ibsa), uphold world peace without being part of the global peace and security decision-making process centered in the UN Security Council (UNSC)? The answer is obvious. Similarly, the absence of regular consultations between the two Brics members on the UNSC and the three aspirants to it reveals that China and Russia merely want the support of the Ibsa countries for the positions the duo take in the council without providing the Ibsa members a voice, let alone push for their permanent membership.

This duality is evident in the Xiamen summit declaration on reform of the UNSC, which remains a cut-and-paste section from previous versions. The section, like that of previous summit declarations, merely states: "China and Russia reiterate the importance they attach to the status and role of Brazil, India and South Africa in international affairs and support their aspiration to play a greater role in the UN."

Similar political contradictions abound in the Xiamen declaration. For instance, the call for "upholding a fair and equitable international order based on the central role of the United Nations... and respect for international law, promoting democracy and the rule of law in international relations" sounds patently hollow, especially given host China's blatant disregard for the Law of the Sea Convention and its cursory dismissal of the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague on the South China Sea dispute.

Additionally, while the declaration makes a pitch for promoting nuclear energy and "predictability in accessing technology and finance for expansion of civil nuclear energy capacity", any such efforts are likely to be ineffective until China supports India's entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), which is a crucial forum to ensure this "predictability". Today India is the only Brics country which is still not a member of the NSG on account of host China's intransigence. Thus, the declaration is making a collective promise that host China is committed to scuttle.

Moreover, for the first time the declaration also lists several terrorist organizations, including the Taliban, Islamic State, Al-Qaida, the Haqqani network, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad. Normally, this should expectedly lead to a collective effort to ban and target leaders and individuals of these organizations. Yet China is unlikely to retract its technical hold on designating Masood Azhar, the Jaish-e-Mohammad chief, as a terrorist at the UN.

Finally, although the declaration deplores the test conducted by North Korea, it emphasizes a peaceful settlement through a "direct dialogue of all parties concerned". Yet, curiously, for a group with two UNSC members, the declaration offers no initiatives that China and Russia or the Brics might collectively undertake to break the dangerous escalation on the Korean peninsula.

To be fair, the summit did have a series of promising initiatives related to sustainable development in Africa, promoting green development and low-carbon economy, a no first placement of weapons in outer space, and even a Brics Remote Sensing Satellite Constellation. However, all of these will come to naught until the members, especially China and India, can resolve their political differences.

As a host, China might have wanted to set the group on a path towards a brighter future. However, given the internal contradictions, the past of the Brics might be more noteworthy than its future.

W.P.S. Sidhu is visiting professor at New York University's Center for Global Affairs and associate fellow at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy.
Evgeniya Drozhashchikh / Space Platform for BRICS Cooperation (Евгения Дрожащих / Космическая платформа для сотрудничества БРИКС) / Russia, September, 2017
Keywords: expert_opinion, Xiamen_declaration, space
Author: Evgeniya Drozhashchikh

Not so long ago BRICS countries proclaimed the idea of creating an informal block that would serve as an alternative to already existing institutions of the global governance system. And it did not take long before "the bricks" started to work out — multidimensional cooperation took place. To expand the progress, BRICS may apply to outer space as one of the platforms of mutual interest. Like in the case of struggling against the bipolar order of the Cold War in political and economic contexts, now the BRICS nations are able to confront the imperfect system of regulating space. It is believed that since 2003-2004 the world has stepped into the era of the "second space race" which marks high time for the members of BRICS to achieve their top ambitions. [1]

BRICS Leaders Xiamen Declaration 2017 supports the statement raising the issue of peaceful and secured outer space in points 26, 58, 59. For us to assess feasibility of these provisions it is necessary to check whether the BRICS member-states have a firm ground regarding the level of space exploration or not, whether they have sufficient space assets to jointly stand for a multipolar world or lack them. Description of national space programs of the BRICS countries given below is to enhance better understanding.


Brazil may be said to have started positioning itself as a spacefaring nation in 1961 when its government, being supported by the USA, first initiated the program of space exploration and organized the special National commission, successfully transformed into National Institute for Space Research (INPE) in 1971.

The 1960s marked a "golden age" for Brazil: rocketry and space exploration firmly occupied a certain niche in the development and strategic planning of the state due to the country's geography. The size of the country, its prolonged coastline, tropical regions, extensive natural resources as well as the fact of being crossed by the equator-line (letting it take additional advantage of the Earth's spin such as fuel savings and cheaper launches) [2] enhance chances of realizing national ambitions with the help of space technologies. NASA benefited from this peculiarity till 1977 when the state launched its own rocket program undermining dependence on cooperation with the American state. [3]

Since creation of the Brazilian Space Agency (AEB, 1994) the country stimulated independent outer space research through fostered cooperation between institutions comprising the so called National System for the Development of Space Activities (SINDAE) [4]. Brazil also set up partnership with the International Space Agency while focusing on maintenance of test facilities, control centers, research laboratories. Ground stations laid the foundation for further improvement and supplementation of the national space program.

Today AEB has several active imagery intelligence satellites in orbit, including reconnaissance and earth observation satellites and develops those to provide low cost communications around the equator. In 2004 Brazil successfully launched its first rocket into space.

Strategic goals set by the country are described in the National Program of Space Activities 2012–2021 (PNAE 2012–2021). Brazil strives for developing space technology in order to raise the quality of society's life, implement efficient public policies and confront national problems in the spheres of meteorology, communications and a number of "Earth observation" questions. Space activities stimulate innovation that will consequently influence industry and citizens, while mutual cooperation is seen as the instrument of promoting advancement.


Russia's current period of dealing with issues of outer space can be described as "resurrection" — an association that deservedly comes up to the minds of experts when they analyze the "freefall" Russia right after the collapse of the USSR. The very split of an earlier powerful "machine" had a tremendous impact on the branch. On the one hand, it was caused by the necessity to adjust to new rules of "managing business" (during the Soviet years there were no central executive agencies — therefore, a task of organizing an own institution from scratch was posed) [5] ; on the other hand, the conditions for retaining a clear lead in space were intertwined with financial problems — the most reliable way to keep afloat was to launch commercial satellites and engage in space tourism (profitable but lacking opportunities for self-development).

This unfortunate position could hardly be heartily welcomed after a giant leap forward during the first space race with the USA. The former Soviet Union sweepingly burst through difficulties on its way using intellectual and material potential possessed. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries a pioneer of space exploration Konstantin Tsiolkovsky shared his concept of the future of multistaged rocketry. His followers made his theoretical developments come true to life. From then on the country served as the locomotive of technological advancements, the most notable of them being first launched satellite (1957), first probe to impact the Moon (1959), first man in space (1961) and a number of other "firsts".

Crisis years, in particular, early 1990-s, prevented Russia from following the rising trend. Although already up to 2005-2006 it felt more determined to recur putting an additional accent (plus spending) on the new Angara rocket family (along with the Soviet-designed Soyuz) and the GLONASS global navigation satellite system. Meanwhile it continued to be one of the main partners in the International Space Station program to deliver expedition crews and to resupply the space station with its transporters. It owns a series of diverse satellites for commercial use but still faces a lack of capacity to ensure development of national scientific cosmonautics.

Hitches with launching an unmanned Soyuz-2.1 a rocket from the recently-constructed Vostochny cosmodrome as well as the failure to launch the Phobos-Grunt probe in 2011 undermine the trend of Russia following "the lucky path". Sanctions pressing the country somehow aggravate the situation, making the matters worse by causing cuts in funding of the 10-year space program. [6]

Whatever the case, the political will and persistence are likely to overcome these troubles and let Russia fulfill the plan of conducting a full-scale lunar program up to 2025 and landing a man on the Moon by 2030. Amid the country's broad space background and capacity for possessing all the space technologies known by the time, it makes Russia alluring as the potential "teacher" for space "newcomers".


The first and prior goals of the Indian space program are to preserve Common Heritage of Mankind (through unambiguous support for the points of the Moon Treaty) [7] and to use space groundwork for the sake of domestic interests. Following these goals India almost managed to catch up with notable successes achieved by the locomotives of the first space race — the Soviet Union and the United States of America.

First, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) started to elaborate its program as applications-oriented (in cooperation with the USSR). Multipurpose satellites aimed at providing telecommunications, remote sensing, ground operations and meteorological payloads were a key focus for almost four decades. Then the country determined to draw a more precise attention to dedicated scientific satellite missions. As a result, its Mars orbiter mission called Mangalyaan undertaken in 2014 made the world look at the country from the new lens.

Before this emerging trend India successively conquered the following heights of space exploration. In 1975 India launched its first satellite called Aryabhata with the purpose of gaining experience in building and operating a satellite in space. In 2008 the country carried out its first lunar mission encouraged by the opportunity of utilizing extra-terrestrial resources. Though to some extent dependent on the US support the Mars Orbiter Mission (2014) was successfully deployed. Despite the fact that it was criticized for inability to deliver more payloads, the Mangalyaan spacecraft made India the 1st Asian country to reach Mars and the 4th one (after the US, Russia, the European Space Agency) to land on the Red Planet in general. The probe, devised thanks to cooperation between ISRO (responsible for launch vehicle, payloads and the craft) and separate industries/ scientific community (to work on separate needs for serving the launch), demonstrated a well-functioning mechanism of public-private partnership. It is also noteworthy that the launch was a really "high-profile venture": it came at a very low cost. The mission was admitted to be the least expensive inter-planetary one ever, thus, laying the ground for positioning India as the competitive provider of low-cost services. India attracts other actors to participate in the process of enhancing its capabilities: France to jointly launch heavy-payload satellites; Israel to improve parameters of reconnaissance satellites. In 2016 India launched its reusable launch vehicle (RLV-TD) enabling deeper analysis of autonomous navigation, hypersonic speed and the re-entry process to resort to in future decades.

Prospects for development include realization of the human spaceflight program; increasing the number of flights to the geostationary orbit [8], satellite launch facilities, lunar and other missions and development of reusable vehicles.


Beijing is obviously one of the most passionate investigators advancing interests in the outer space. In the interview to CNBC James Andrew Lewis, a senior fellow and director of the Strategic Technologies Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said that the Chinese demonstrate that sort of persistence that would allow them get to the Moon earlier than the Americans will during the ongoing space race. We may assume that this refers to the whole list of projects declared by the China National Space Administration [9] involving establishment of a national crewed space station, landing a rover on the far side of the moon around 2018, launch of the first Mars probe by 2020, and construction of space-based solar power station reiterated by Lt. General Zhang Yulin, deputy chief of the Armament Development Department of the Central Military Commission, in 2016.

Right after the Sino-Soviet split China submerged into deploying a full-fledged space program to have ever-lasting consequences. Before moving to the "S&T" priority (like India) China set a prominent margin: today it possesses four space launch facilities (Jiuquan, Taiyuan, Xichang) and Wenchang Satellite Launch Centrefinally constructed on Hainan Island in 2016 — these serving as the bases for launching satellites into all-level orbits (low, middle, geosynchronous) while benefiting from having completely Chinese-manufactured Long March family of launch vehicles. A range of satellites is extensive. Chinese satellites today span the gamut [10] from weather (Fengyun) and navigation platforms (Beidou/Compass system) to earth observation and reconnaissance satellites (Ziyuan, a product of CBERS), from civil and military communications satellites (Shentong and Fenghuo) to an array of small satellites. The mentioned Beidou system made China the third country to arrange transmission of the user's location.

The immensity and diversity of efforts mounted by the PRC also led to China becoming the third nation to achieve manned space travel: China sent its first astronaut into space in 2003, then making a first space walk in 2008 (with astronauts aboard Shenzhou-7). In late 2013 the state completed the first since 1976 "lunar soft landing" with the Chang'e-3 craft and its Jade Rabbit rover. In 2014 it sent a probe around the Moon — the first such mission since the 1970s.

Consecutive and dynamic development of the country's space program leaves no doubt that China is a leading spacefaring nation today. And though spending 4 times less (OECD, 2013) than NASA on its technological perfection it seems to be able to cut this gap: whether it be a plan for a manned space station to be built up to 2020 (an urgent need for the country that was barred from participating in the International Space Station and already demonstrated a capability of docking — the basics for maintaining a station) a manned mission to the Moon by 2030 or (un)crewed Mars exploration (2015-2060).

Enumerated ambitious projects cannot but cause debates in the international arena. While the USAblames China for growing not only peaceful but counterspace investments [11], China continues to push the boundaries of innovation and, nonetheless, gets offers to fortify US-China-EU Strategic Space Partnership by creating a space development investment bank or launching a joint Mars investigation program.

To sum up, China has proved to have a considerable positive experience on the agenda and is free to choose its either cooperative or independent path — anyway, it is able to contribute internationally while pursuing an explicit political goal of "the great revival of the Chinese nation".

South Africa

The period of 1963-1993 laid the basis for initiating the state's own space program. [12] Since 1980 the South African Government has worked on the space launcher and eventually managed to build test range infrastructure which let conduct its test firing of the first stage in 1989. After 1994 South Africa established a range of scientific centers to let academia (along with industry representatives) contribute to the "advancement of space arena" (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, The Institute of Satellite and Software Applications, The Overberg Test Range, The South African Air Force's Test Flight and Development Centre) to develop its independent space program. It signed up all the documents comprising the "space constitution". [13] In 1999 it launched its first satellite Sunsat-1 Vandenberg Air Force Base, which successfully operated then during two years in the low earth orbit and resulted in creation of the company with the same name. The second satellite (SumbandilaSat) was launched in 2009 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The launch was carried out as a part of of a three-year program aimed at completing a full-aspect space mission, though its main merit is more referred to investing in human capital in scientific, regulatory and policy spheres rather than simply a technical one.

The future goals proclaimed in the National space strategy make us aware of ambitious points set by the country as prior: it strives for having a fully established space program with full-range space application services and products to be resorted to by both local and international users. This involves manufacturing satellite sensors and data processing, carrying out Earth observation, these working for priority areas such as food security, disaster management and land-cover mapping.

What else does South Africa care about when developing a new segment of activities? The national space policy launched in 2009 put it clear: South Africa is committed to utilize outer space for the peaceful purposes and welfare of the whole humankind. It wants to benefit from entering global aerospace supply chains, participating in knowledge-economy, resorting to space-related products of the "common space".

All in all, existing infrastructure of the country and experience gained along with profound workforce allow South Africa to designate itself as the regional hub of space science and technology which may be used in the context of strengthening ties with space-faring nations.

Cooperation between the five in space sphere

Unfortunately, at the moment the cooperation of five states in outer space is not too active. The countries are rather examining each other's capabilities in order to formulate the future logic of forging ties, doing this against the background of proclamations voiced during Summits and then recorded in the final Declarations.

The BRICS leaders express willingness [14] to prevent arms race in space and renew negotiations on non-deployment of weapons and non-militarization. The BRICS representatives stand for peaceful joint activities connected with the effective common use of space technologies. Since the mid-2000s Russia and China have persistently sought for devising confidence-building measures in outer space to provide collective security and prevent space militarization/weaponization and presented their position during the UN sessions.[1] The most determined attempts to persuade the UN members in the necessity to regulate space activities were demonstrated in 2000 and 2005 (when the Russian delegation offered a draft document providing "collective security" in space and prohibiting deployment of conventional weapons in space). These endeavors were repeated in 2007 when Russia and China simultaneouslysuggested concluding a new agreement on space non-militarization. But political motives of the USA didn't let the world community accept any of the drafts that would imply obligatory implementation. However, today the balance of powers is shifting which means the BRICS nations may lobby their interests louder and achieve global goals.

But proclamations shall be supplemented by something ponderable — real cooperation. By now the list of common projects is as follows:

1. Russia's Global Navigation Satellite System has a ground control station in Brasilia (Brazil) while Brazil is currently developing the second launcher family with the help of Russian partners.

2. In 1988 China and Brazil concluded an agreement on cooperation in S&T sphere followed by initiating China Brazil Earth Resources Satellite (CBERS) program — a long-term driver of joint cooperation. Remote sensing satellites are a prerogative of bilateral collaboration. Images generated by CBERS satellites are used in such areas as deforestation control and environmental monitoring, water resources monitoring, urban growth, soil occupation, education and other applications.

3. In 2011 Russia and India launched a scientific-educational satellite called YouthSat to study solar flares and their influence on the Earth.

4. The IBSA trilateral alliance (India, Brazil, South Africa), formalized in 2003, stands for reciprocal exchange of knowledge in S&T sphere in space domain.

5. Surprisingly, in this "adult" realm youth dimension has its voice: in the wake of the first Youth BRICS Summit (2015) Ministers of the Youth Affairs suggested creating a common space station (that would be required after expiration of ISS operating time in 2024), taking into account debates provoked by young delegates.

Sino-Russian relations deserve an additional remark. The Chinese boost in the 1990-s depended largely on the Russian sponsorship and technologies. The intergovernmental agreement on scientific cooperation and peaceful use of outer space concluded in 1992 paved the way for 93 deals including traineeships for taikonauts (the Chinese cosmonauts) in the Russian center named after Yury Gagarin. As soon as sanctions on Russia were imposed in 2014 negotiations between the countries got a new breath: Russia had to search for someone to replace American supplies of electronic components used in build-up of satellites. China came to the fore. Balance of interests was found and states started complementing each other's space programs (Russia provides engines for acquiring micro radio electronics).

Thus, all five BRICS countries have already been involved in exploration of outer space regardless of the goals pursued. Though usually the latter do interlace at the point of willingness to use modern technologies to secure sovereignty and be able to struggle against either anthropologically or naturally caused problems. In addition, being regional leaders members of BRICS reckon on new achievements to fortify their leadership and in such a way justify their high ambitions to re-construct the world order and add new poles to the present system of distributing power. It becomes even more desirable and probable due to the calculations showing that Russia, India and China carried out 62% of the latest orbiter launches.

It is to be admitted that there is a sharp difference in the history (duration, directions) of space programs of the BRICS members. Nonetheless, it shall not be a hindrance to overcome — it may be apprehended as the time to recognize advantages and use them to their best interests (keeping in mind the "complementarity principle"). It applies to geographical characteristics, established infrastructure, volume of scientific research, practices in public-private partnership — everything that may help to reduce the time for going through all the stages of undertaking space missions. It is sensible to work out co-ordinate strategies to prevent duplication of space technologies and concentrate resources on dealing with fundamentally urgent problems and, eventually, winning outright. Expressed readiness for multilateral cooperation is an advantage.

Brics is obsolete. It has been overtaken by events (БРИКС устарел. Он отменен в связи с обстоятельствами) / UAE, September, 2017
Keywords: Expert_opinion, Xiamen_summit
Author: David Rothkopf

What we really are seeing is the emergence of the ChIPs, which stands for China and India Plus, writes David Rothkopf

Last week in Xiamen, China, the Chinese government rolled out the red carpet for the leaders of the Brics countries. There were banquets and musical galas and a host of announcements of new cooperation between Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. A special focus was put on efforts to smooth over tensions between China and India that had recently flared in the Doklam region in the Himalayas along the border between the two countries. A statement was issued following the meeting between Chinese president Xi Jinping and India's prime minister Narendra Modi, underscoring both sides agreement that the relationship was important and that every effort should be made to improve it. Importantly, the meeting ended with a joint statement condemning terrorism that, in a victory for the Indians, specifically called out several Pakistani-based terrorist organizations.

But beneath the shiny surface of the event, beyond the photo ops and the carefully worded communiques, there was another question hanging over the meeting, one that asked what the group must look like and how it must adapt if it was to remain relevant.

This was the ninth official summit of the Brics group, following a decision to begin high-level collaboration among these top emerging powers in 2008 on the periphery of the UN General Assembly. The group originally included just Brazil, Russia, India and China, consistent with the original formulation of the idea of BRICs, which was floated in 2001 by Jim O'Neill of Goldman Sachs. South Africa joined the group in 2010. More recently, the meetings of the Brics have included the involvement of other observer emerging countries as the group has sought to increase its influence as the voice of the rising powers of the world. This year, the Chinese invited Thailand, Tajikistan, Mexico, Kenya and Egypt as guests. Mr Xi said at the meeting: "We should get more emerging market and developing countries involved in our concerted endeavors for cooperation and mutual benefits."

Clearly, part of the motivation behind the Chinese effort (and similar efforts at past meetings) was to turn the Brics meeting into a kind of a successor to the non-aligned movement of half a century ago. The underlying idea that the global south and more broadly those nations who were not the big developed powers in the international system, would have more clout if they were organised and lining up behind the most influential emerging powers seemed a good organizing principle around which to create such a successor network. That Russia was one of the world's two super-powers during the Cold War era or that China or India have long histories as major global powers seems to compromise the "purity" of this concept a bit, but geopolitical pragmatism has a tendency to forgive the bending of definitions when it suits the players.

The bigger problem with the idea is this. Things did not exactly pan out as Jim O'Neill envisioned, which he first framed the Brics as the world's most important emerging markets. Brazil, after a growth spike and raised hopes that it had finally turned a corner, crashed economically and is now embroiled in a web of political scandals that has caught up its two most recent presidents and literally scores of leaders from the Brazilian political and business communities. Its trajectory is no longer upward by any stretch of the imagination. Russia has struggled economically. Analysts expect growth this year of around 1.7 per cent and is not seen as a major economic force of tomorrow by any analyst anywhere. And South Africa, invited to join the group to ensure there was a player in Africa, never belonged in the mix anyway. I have just returned from that country – and it is a beautiful place with extraordinary people – but its 2017 growth rate estimates have been cut to around 0.5 per cent, its debt was cut to junk ratings earlier this year by Fitch Ratings and the economy is widely regarded to be in deep need of structural reforms.

China remains an economic leviathan, even when it falters. And while having an economy one-fifth the size of China's, India – soon to be the world's most populous country and the planet's largest democracy – is still growing at a fairly respectable rate of around 6 per cent a year. They belong in a grouping of the world's most important emerging economies. But everyone else's membership in the group is compromised by the facts of their struggles.

In fact, while Mr Xi promoted the idea of Brics Plus in Xiamen, the reality is that the idea of the group has become obsolete, overtaken by events. What we really are seeing is the emergence of the ChIPs – which stands for China and India Plus. Those two states are and will be the dominant factors among the nations of the emerging world and uncomfortable though they may sometimes be in that partnership, it will likely be their destiny to increasingly play a leading role among all states both in their own right and as leaders of the rising powers of tomorrow.

David Rothkopf is CEO of The Rothkopf Group, a columnist for the Washington Post, a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and most recently author of The Great Questions of Tomorrow
Could Egypt become the next member of the BRICS? (Мог бы Египет стать очередным членом БРИКС?) / China, September, 2017
Keywords: BRICS_Egypt, expert_opinion
Author: He Wenping and Hisham Abu Bakr Metwally

African countries see the emergence of the BRICS as a symbol of hope for a better life. Despite all the problems faced by countries such as China, India and Brazil, these countries have been able to overcome their difficulties and create their own model of growth and progress. This gives hope to the African continent that change and progress can occur in a timely manner if there is the will and good planning.

African countries also see the extent to which the US controls economic policies and the imposition of its interests, especially in the dominance of the dollar. This increases the importance of the BRICS. The strength of the BRICS bloc qualifies them to have a direct impact in the international arena. African countries believe that the BRICS can stop the depletion of Africa's wealth by developed countries and give them a real opportunity to participate in production and growth.

The emergence of the BRICS as major global players has raised hopes that a win-win partnership could foster the development of the continent. With the gradual demise of the "Global North," the BRICS bloc appears increasingly confident to challenge the market-led economic paradigm, and push forward forms of capitalism led by the state. By 2020 the BRICS will, combined, account for nearly half of global GDP growth. There is little doubt that they are well-placed to change the global, and local, dynamics of international development assistance.

China invited Egypt, Guinea, Tajikistan, Mexico and Thailand as guest countries at the Xiamen BRICS summit, albeit with the clarification that the invitation was not an attempt to expand the group under the "BRICS Plus" approach. China welcomes countries from all around the world that are interested in the BRICS mechanism, meeting the common aspirations of emerging markets and developing countries, although it is clear that the five countries may not always be invited to BRICS meetings in future.

The BRICS are attracted by the benefits of diversification in African economies as well as the possibility to enter into a large untapped market of 1 billion African consumers. Over the years, the BRICS countries have accumulated large amounts of reserves, which have been invested mainly in the developed world. The persistence of the global financial crisis, which has hit developed countries particularly hard, is motivating the BRICS to shift a portion of their investments toward emerging economies in order to maximize returns while reducing risks. Hence, Africa may offer the BRICS the opportunity to diversify toward new frontier markets. In recent years, sectors such as telecommunications, financial services and retail have recorded high rates of growth in most African countries due to high demand from Africa's growing middle class.

Egypt is a large and central country in the Middle East and Africa, giving it an advantageous geographical location, and Egypt also has huge human capacity. It is one of the largest markets in Africa with a population of 93 million. The economy is gradually improving, with annual rates of GDP growth reaching 4.3 percent in 2015/2016. The exchange rate has displayed some volatility, but has started to strengthen, notably with the strong foreign investor demand for local debt instruments.

Egypt has been working hard to create a good climate for investment. It has succeeded in developing important new policies through the issuance of the new investment law. The law granting operating licenses to factories, which allows for granting the license within seven days for non-hazardous activities, is a great qualitative leap.

Egypt has shown consistent financial stability and has a strong banking sector and developed infrastructure, as well as qualified labor at relatively low prices.

Egypt's volume of trade with the five-nation BRICS bloc was nearly $20 billion during 2016. Egypt recently signed a memo of understanding with China worth about $739 million for an electric railway line. The two countries have also signed an agreement for Egypt's second satellite - "EgyptSat-2" - with a Chinese grant of 300 million yuan ($45 million).

Egypt also has long-standing economic relations with India, and has various investments in the country. More than 50 Indian companies operate in Egypt in various areas including medicine, textiles, plastics and engineering. Indian investments are on track and serious negotiations are under way to increase them to $6 billion dollars. India also plans to operate an industrial zone in the Suez Canal axis for small and medium enterprises.

The BRICS bloc is well aware of the importance of Egypt and its potential. This is evident in the large number of invitations received by Egypt to attend the meetings of the BRICS as well as the intensity of meetings and the depth of relations between Egypt and all the countries of the BRICS.

We are hoping the BRICS will one day become the E-BRICS, where E stands for Egypt.
Will anything really change, post-BRICS? (Будет ли действительно что-то меняться после саммита БРИКС?) / India, September, 2017
Keywords: Xiamen_summit, expert_opinion, India_China, BRICS_Pakistan
Author: Harsha Kakar

There were immense expectations from the BRICS summit, especially since it was to result in the first meeting between Prime Minister Modi and President Xi Jinping after the stand down at Doklam. The summit statement was, as claimed by many, a win for Indian diplomacy as it contained direct reference to terror groups operating from Pakistan's soil, though it did not name Pakistan. The meeting between Modi and Xi was also up to expectations.

It was termed as 'forward looking' implying the nations were moving ahead, leaving Doklam in the past. The summit joint statement naming terror groups operating from Pakistan did come as a pleasant surprise, as the same BRICS leaders had refused to include them in the last summit in Goa.

However, its impact remains in doubt. The statement mentioned Taliban, al Qaeda, ISIS, Haqqani network, LeT and JeM, all of which operate from Pakistani soil and are supported by the deep state. It also mentioned the TTP and Hizb ut-Tahrir, which operate from Afghanistan and target Pakistan alongside groups operating in Xinjiang and Uzbekistan. Pakistan, as expected, reacted immediately and rejected the BRICS statement.

In the same breath, it welcomed the mention of the TTP and Hizb ut-Tahrir, as it targets them. Interestingly, these contradictions indicated their own divided house and launched an internal debate.

They stated that no anti-Afghan terror groups operate on their soil, but are based in Afghanistan with only remnants in Pakistan. There was no immediate statement about the LeT and JeM, which was proof enough that they do exist on Pakistani soil. Subsequently, their defence minister did state that Pakistan should do more to restrict their activities.

An irony of the times for Pakistan is that the nations which signed the declaration include Russia and China, the two priority nations in the agenda of visits by their foreign minister as he seeks to counter US pressures.

He did visit China and the joint statement made no reference to terror groups, but supported Pakistan's fight on terror, which was a typical diplomatic statement, implying nothing. Pakistan is already in US cross hairs and the BRICS statement further dilutes its position. Pakistan also would have wondered how its supporters, China and Russia, agreed to Indian demands to tag it as a terrorsupporting state. Possibly, China was seeking a successful summit and under pressure from majority members was compelled to agree.

The declaration is in no way binding on other nations, however it conveys a message. It is unknown whether China would pressurize Pakistan to reduce support to terror groups post this statement, though India would hope so. LeT and JeM are already internationally designated terror groups by the United Nations, hence adding them in the BRICS statement may not be anything new or surprising. Similarly, China changing its stance on Masood Azar, when the case comes up again in end October, for his being nominated a global terrorist by the UN security council is unlikely.

The two cases are entirely different, though Indians would clamour, if China extends the technical ban, that this displays Chinese double standards. But in international relations, it is national interests first. Hence, we should not have high hopes in this regard.

More important for India was the meeting between PM Modi and Xi Jinping. It pushed Doklam to the backburner and a decision to move forward, cooperating in other fields, came to the forefront. There was no discussion on India's membership into the NSG.

A decision to enhance military-to-military interaction and cooperation was suggested, as the means to avoid future standoffs. Positive statements, no doubt, but would they prevent further clashes, standoffs and intrusions? It is unlikely. There are varying perceptions of claims between the two nations which talks have failed to remove for decades. Neither nation is willing to surrender its claims nor ignore any offensive movement of the other. Despite tall claims and diplomatic statements, the situation on the ground is unlikely to change.

Troops from both sides would continue seeking to dominate regions they consider their own, hence standoffs are very likely to be a part of the routine. However they may be less damaging than Doklam. This was also stated by the army chief in a seminar recently, when he mentioned Chinese salami slicing would continue, which drew criticism from China.

It is most important to enlarge the levels of interaction between the two militaries by establishing hotlines at different levels. China has offset this by stating it needs notice before activating its side of the hotline, defeating its very purpose, as also indicating its intentions of not seeking immediate resolutions to any crises in the future too. Another important aspect is enhanced military-to-military deliberations to find methods to eliminate physical contact as occurred in Doklam and Pangong lake in Ladakh. Jostling may have happened earlier, but use of stones and sticks and posting the same on social media is a new trend which needs to be curbed. Further, physical violence could escalate, which neither side desires.

Hence, the importance of hotlines to immediately bring the situation under control. India achieved more than it expected in Xiamen. It managed to push Pakistan on the backfoot, compelling China to accept the fact that it is a terror-supporting nation. It reduced the impact which Pakistan hoped to gain by seeking support against US threats, from Russia and China. More importantly, India and China pushed the Doklam standoff to the backburner and decided to take the relationship forward in other fields including economic.

The joint decision to enhance military-to-military cooperation would go a long way in reducing border tensions and standoffs, if correctly implemented. Border incidents would continue as China seeks to be proactive on its claim lines.

Expecting China to lift its technical ban on Masood Azar or support Indian entry into the NSG or even to ask Pakistan to control terror groups in the near term, is unlikely. Despite normalising relations with India, China would first consider its own national interests, which lie in supporting Pakistan.

(The writer is a retired Major-General of the Indian Army)

Second wind (Второе дыхание) / China, September, 2017
Keywords: Xiamen_summit, expert_opinion
Author: Andrew Moody and Zhong Nan

At Xiamen summit, BRICS nations commit to building on the achievements of the past decade and call for a commitment to globalization

BRICS — the grouping of leading emerging nations — should "set sail from Xiamen" into its second "golden decade", President Xi Jinping has said.

The president delivered the message in his address to the plenary session of the ninth BRICS Summit in Xiamen off China's southeastern coast, which concluded on Sept 5.

As chairman of the summit, Xi made clear China's commitment to the organization, which was originally formed in 2006 and whose membership now comprises Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa as well as China.

"BRICS cooperation is set to achieve greater development and play an even bigger role in international affairs," he said. "Let us set sail from Xiamen and join hands to usher in the second 'golden decade' of BRICS cooperation and deliver greater benefits to the people and our five countries and around the world."

The meeting, which was held under the theme "BRICS: Stronger Partnership for a Brighter Future", was attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin, South African President Jacob Zuma, Brazilian President Michel Temer and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

It was also attended by the leaders of the BRICS Plus nations of Egypt, Mexico, Thailand, Guinea and Tajikistan as part of efforts to extend cooperation to other emerging and developing nations.

The BRICS Business Forum held on Sept 3 was attended by 1,200 business leaders from 630 companies in China and around the world.

Observers at the summit in the Fujian province city and beyond were looking for indications as to where BRICS was headed to next.

Its main achievements so far have been the creation of the New Development Bank, the so-called BRICS bank, based in Shanghai, which issued its first loans last year; and the Contingent Reserve Arrangement, a stabilizing mechanism designed to protect the currencies of the members.

The declaration issued at the close of the summit reaffirmed BRICS nations' commitment to globalization, calling for vigilance "in guarding against inward-looking policies".

It also called for the global economic governance architecture to give an increasing voice and representation to emerging market and developing economies.

Greater trade and economic cooperation between the BRICS members themselves was also prioritized. Only 5.7 percent of the outbound investment of the BRICS members in 2016 was within the five countries themselves.

The declaration also highlighted security concerns, and its members promised to work together to deal with global security challenges.

It also reaffirmed the commitment of its members to fully implement the United Nations' 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

There was also recognition of the importance of Africa with support for the African Union's Agenda 2063 to foster greater development on the continent.

China also made its own specific financial commitments to BRICS. President Xi announced that China will commit 500 million yuan ($77 million) toward a plan to create greater economic and trade cooperation between the members. He also announced $4 million of extra funding to the New Development Bank to support its long-term development.

On the final day of the summit, Xi also pledged $500 million in aid for developing nations to address issues such as famine, refugee crises, climate change and public health.

In his speech to the BRICS Business Forum on Sept 3, Xi said the BRICS nations had played a major role in steadying the world's economy after the global financial crisis of 2008. He pointed out that over the past 10 years, the GDP of the BRICS nations had increased by 179 percent and their trade by 94 percent, with their urban populations growing by 28 percent.

"In the past decade, we BRICS countries have surged ahead and become a bright spot in the global economy. The past decade has seen the BRICS countries making headway in pursuing common development," he said.

"The sudden outbreak of the 2008 global financial crisis left the world reeling, which is yet to fully recover. Facing the external shock, our five countries have held the ground by strengthening their domestic economies, boosting growth and improving people's livelihoods," he said.

The president also said the BRICS nations and other emerging and developing nations had an increasing role to play in a world no longer dominated by developed nations.

"Our world today is becoming increasingly multipolar, the economy has become globalized; there is growing cultural diversity; and society has become digitalized. The law of the jungle where the strong prey on the weak and the zero-sum game are rejected, and peace, development and win-win cooperation have become the shared aspirations of all peoples."

Xi also made reference to his early political career in Fujian province in the 1980s and Xiamen's role in China's opening-up to the rest of the world, with it being one of the country's first special economic zones, which kickstarted China's economic transformation.

"Xiamen's success is a good example demonstrating the perseverance of the 1.3 billion-plus Chinese people. In close to 40 years of reform and opening-up under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, we Chinese have forged ahead, fearless and determined."

Jeremy Stevens, Beijing-based China economist of Standard Bank, Africa's largest bank, said that by placing emphasis in his speech on next year's 40th anniversary of reform and opening-up, in which Xiamen played a significant part, Xi was sending an important message about the importance of globalization.

"It was an interesting reminder of the importance of opening-up to the world. As with his Davos speech in January, he was making clear his and China's commitment to globalization in marked contrast to the lurch to protectionism in the West," he says.

Wang Huiyao, president of the Center for China and Globalization, one of China's leading independent think tanks, agrees that this was another Davos moment, with Xi reaffirming China's, and also the BRICS nations', commitment to open trade.

"The BRICS nations have firmly rejected the protectionist position being taken by the US and fully support open trade. This is a very important message," he says.

Peter Frankopan, professor of global history at Oxford University, says Xi clearly sees engagement and openness as important.

"It is a very consistent message, which he also has demonstrated with the Belt and Road Initiative, to want to achieve greater cooperation, more trade, stability, greater prosperity and win-win outcomes," he says.

The historian, who is also the author of the international best-selling book The Silk Roads: A New History of the World, says it is in marked contrast to the message of protectionism currently being delivered by US President Donald Trump.

"You can become isolationist if you close all the windows and all the doors. China is, however, talking big in every way and you can see this with the massive economic change in the country," he says.

Kerry Brown, professor of Chinese studies and director of the Lau Institute at King's College London, says the summit declaration was right to highlight reform of the global financial architecture away from just the Washington-based Bretton Woods system that has prevailed since the end of World War II. Xi called for a more "just and equitable" international order in his address.

"It (BRICS) is part of a diversification of the international financial infrastructure and has given people the opportunity to think about how other partners beyond the traditional ones can play a role. So from that point of view, it is a very useful idea.

Rana Mitter, director of Oxford University's Dickson Poon China Centre, says, however, that it will be difficult for BRICS to challenge the global financial order, at least in the short term.

"At the moment, one of the obstacles is the pool of capital they have. It doesn't really match what you get now in the major financial centers. Within the grouping you can count Hong Kong (as a global financial center) obviously, but really the game is still happening in New York and London."

The focus in the summit declaration on fostering greater trade and investment within the BRICS bloc was widely welcomed by many attending the forum.

Sunil Geness, chairperson of the Deregulation Working Group of South Africa's BRICS Business Council, says greater economic integration should now be a priority for the organization. "Traditionally, if you look at these countries they have been trading with partners that are developed, the West and, in particular, Europe. This is where the original opportunities have stemmed from," he says.

"The challenge is for the companies within BRICS themselves to come up to a level where the products they produce match the standards that are available in the rest of the world. In many of these countries we are looking at technology products, which relate specifically to agriculture."

One area where there could be greater trade is in e-commerce, with the BRICS nations looking to set up a common e-commerce platform.

The initiative was outlined at the 7th meeting of the BRICS trade ministers in Shanghai in August, and the BRICS E-Port Network will initially operate on a voluntary basis.

"This really has huge potential and is an opportunity to create significant cross border e-commerce trade within the nations. It also demonstrates how important BRICS can be in practice," says Wang, who is also a counselor to the State Council.

"If such an e-commerce platform is successful, it could then be adopted by all the 160 or so World Trade Organization members, something that would be difficult if it hadn't been trialed by the BRICS nations first."

Naina Lal Kidwai, a former president of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and one of five BRICS business council members who attended the summit from India, says the emphasis on green development at the summit was the right way forward for the BRICS nations, particularly linking its agenda to the United Nations' 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

She says one of the priorities has to be building sustainable infrastructure that does not repeat the mistakes of developed countries and avoids destroying the environment.

"Two-thirds of the infrastructure now needed is going to be in the global south, not just in the BRICS countries but other emerging markets as well. India alone needs $1 trillion of investment in the next five years," she says.

"There is an opportunity to build the right spaces for ourselves and not replicate what the rest of the world did and not see all the congestion and the pollution we have seen in the past."

Kidwai, previously group general manager of HSBC in India, is focused on developing green financing models that will lead to higher environmental standards.

"The rules and regulations for this are still very much a work in progress within the BRICS countries, but we seem to be pushing on an open door," she says.

"We must move toward a system where the actual certification of a project being green is not merely constrained to something that is obviously renewable but needs to include projects that are energy efficient and benefit the environment in other ways."

Some had suggested that with the launch of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank at the beginning of last year, China was no longer as committed to the Shanghai-based New Development Bank, which also has a similar infrastructure focus and is seen as one of BRICS' major achievements.

Xi's announcement of an injection of new funds into the bank during the summit reaffirms China's support for the fledgling financial institution.

Larissa Wachholz, director of Vallya, a business and investment consulting firm based in Brasilia, Brazil, says it is good news for the bank, which issued its first loan at the end of last year.

"What will define the role of the BRICS in the upcoming decade will be its ability to get the New Development Bank to work and accomplish the mission for which it was established, which is to implement the expensive infrastructure projects which will guarantee mid- to long-term economic growth. That is key for us," she says.

Whereas many emerging market economies have had turbocharged growth over the past three decades, there was emphasis on the quality of future growth at the summit.

Many of the BRICS economies can no longer rely on old manufacturing-exporting models and now must restructure if they are to survive.

President Xi said in his speech to the business forum that although this model had taken BRICS economies to the current level, they now need to embrace new technology.

After Xiamen, a stronger BRICS? (Более сильный БРИКС после Сямэня?) / India, September, 2017
Keywords: Expert_opinion, Xiamen_summit
Author: Rajiv Bhatia

The ninth BRICS summit represented the victory of pragmatism over narrow nationalistic impulses. All BRICS members are likely to craft the grouping's future script as it enters its second decade, but more crucially, the Big Three will have to show a large dose of statesmanship

That the BRICS holds value as an instrument for managing vexed bilateral relationships among the grouping's member-states was amply demonstrated at the ninth summit held at Xiamen last week (4 September 2017).

The diplomatic establishments of Russia, Brazil and South Africa remained transfixed by Doklam in the run-up to the event, wondering if the shadows of the India-China border stand-off would wreck the summit. The link between Doklam and Xiamen became clear when, within hours of the two countries reaching agreement to defuse the crisis, India formally confirmed Prime Minister Narendra Modi's participation in the summit.

The day after the summit concluded, Xi Jinping and Modi held an important bilateral where they decided to cooperate on improving ties, trust and strategic communication between Beijing and New Delhi.

If BRICS served here as conciliator, its political role in the multilateral context stood strengthened when agreement was secured on the specific mention of at least 10 terrorist organisations that caused violence in the region. India's insistence on the inclusion of the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed helped bridge differences between the Indian and Chinese sides: cooperation–or the lack of it–on counter-terrorism measures had somewhat marred last year's summit in Goa.

While expressing "full confidence in the future of BRICS", the leaders spelt out the key priorities clearly.[1] They were: energise practical cooperation; enhance communication and coordination in improving global economic governance; cooperate to safeguard international and regional peace and security; and embrace cultural diversity and promote people-to-people exchanges to garner greater popular support for the idea and cause of BRICS.

Its political stand apart, the heart of BRICS' cooperation in practical terms lies in the economic realm—and the Xiamen Declaration held enough indication of where the grouping was headed in the future even as it upheld past achievements, such as the New Development Bank (NDB) and the Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA). The broad ambition is to deploy "all policy tools" and adopt "innovation-driven development strategies" to enhance the resilience and potential of BRICS economies and contribute to the global economy.[2]

From the Indian perspective, BRICS' failure to launch the new credit rating agency and support the International Solar Alliance may have been disappointing, but the issues remain on the table.

It is also worth noting that China could not secure endorsement of its Belt and Road (BRI) initiative. The four agreements, signed at Xiamen, indicated future directions. They related to economic and trade cooperation, action plan for innovation cooperation, framework for customs cooperation, and arrangements of strategic collaboration between the NDB and the BRICS Business Council.

The central feature of BRICS remains unchanged: despite China's overwhelming dominance in economic strength and resources, the other four members matter, because it is a grouping of equal sovereign nations. In reality, they are not equal, of course, with the three Eurasian powers, Russia, China and India, playing a more assertive role than the two smaller members, South Africa and Brazil. Diversity and difference keep them apart, but they are slowly learning to recognise that their agreements and shared interests are more important than what divides them. Xiamen represented the victory of pragmatism over narrow nationalistic impulses. If this orientation continues, BRICS should have a promising future.

The BRICS leaders, flying in the face of skeptics, endorsed strengthening people-to-people exchanges as a means to empower BRICS. The grouping has facilitated an impressive series of dialogues, meetings and other activities involving stakeholders in culture, education, science and technology, sports and health, and involved media organisations, local governments, political parties and think tanks. This is designed to create a strong constituency in each of the five countries in support of what BRICS stands for.

A word may be added here about 'BRICS Plus' on which much obfuscation was created in the months leading up to the summit. Did the Chinese really want to expand the membership of BRICS or did media reporting on the subject misinform? A clear answer is not available, but this turned out to be yet another outreach meeting, which has been a regular feature since 2013. This involved not China's immediate neighbours, but a medley of its friends from different regions. The presence of leaders of Mexico, Egypt, Guinea, Tajikistan and Thailand seemed to have made little impact.

BRICS governments will need to pay closer attention to those who argue that BRICS' development financing should now be extended gradually to its partners, the outreach countries, before they begin to take the grouping seriously. NDB's future decisions on grant of loans will, therefore, be under scrutiny.

BRICS has a fairly decent record of progress to show in its first decade (2006-16). Will it advance into a second "Golden Decade?" China, the host nation, exuded much confidence.[3] Russia shared this sentiment.[4] India too was optimistic, but cautious.[5]

All BRICS members are likely to craft BRICS' future script, but a large dose of statesmanship on the part of the Big Three will be crucial.
Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
India at 103 rank on Global Human Capital Index, lowest among BRICS nations (Индия на 103-м месте в ранге по индексу глобального человеческого капитала, самом низком среди стран БРИКС) / India, September, 2017
Keywords: Global_Human_Capital_Index, BRICS_India, statistics

India has been placed at a low 103 rank, the lowest among BRICS economies, on the World Economic Forum's (WEF's) Global Human Capital Index, which has been topped by Norway.

India also ranks "among the lowest in the world" when it comes to the employment gender gap, but has fared well when it comes to development of skills needed for the future with a rank of 65 out of total 130 countries surveyed.

The list compiled by Geneva-based World Economic Forum (WEF) takes into account "the knowledge and skills people possess that enable them to create value in the global economic system" to measure the 'human capital' rank of a country.

India was ranked 105th on this list last year, while Finland was on the top which has pushed by Norway to second place this year.

The WEF said India is ranked lower than its BRICS peers, with Russian Federation placed as high as 16th place, followed by China at 34th, Brazil at 77th and South Africa at 87th place.

Among the South Asian countries also, India was ranked lower than Sri Lanka and Nepal, although higher than neighbouring Bangladesh and Pakistan.

"India is held back by a number of factors, including low educational attainment (primary education attainment among 25 -54 year olds is 110th for example) and low deployment of its human capital, meaning the skills available are not getting put to good use," WEF said.

Giving examples, WEF said India ranks 118 for labour force participation among the key 35-54 year old demographic, suggesting far too many Indians are engaged in informal or subsistent employment.

"However there is a modern India rising. When it comes to development of skills needed for the future, the country fares strongly, ranking 65 out of 130," it said adding the country also performed well in the know-how parameter that measures the use of specialised skills at work.

"India faces a number of challenges but looks to be moving in the right direction," WEF noted.

The overall list was topped by Norway, followed by Finland and Switzerland in the second and third place respectively.

Other countries in the top 10 include, the United States (4th), Denmark (5th), Germany (6th), New Zealand (7th), Sweden (8th), Slovenia (9th) and Austria (10th).

The report measures 130 countries against four key areas of human capital development; Capacity (determined by past investment in formal education), Deployment (accumulation of skills through work), Development (continued upskilling and reskilling of existing workers) and Know-how (specialised skills-use at work).

According to the report, 62 per cent of human capital has now been developed globally.

"The Fourth Industrial Revolution does not just disrupt employment, it creates a shortfall of newly required skills. Therefore, we are facing a global talent crisis," said Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum.

Schwab further noted that "we need a new mind-set and a true revolution to adapt our educational systems to the education needed for the future work force".
South Africa: Brics Summit an Important Milestone to Building Cooperation (ЮАР: саммит БРИКС - важный этап в развитии сотрудничества) / South Africa, September, 2017
Keywords: Xiamen_summit, BRICS_SA, trade_relations
South Africa

Cabinet says the recent 9th Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) Summit has set an important milestone towards building stronger solidarity and cooperation among emerging markets.

"The summit sets an important milestone towards building stronger solidarity and cooperation among emerging markets and developing countries to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development," said Cabinet in a statement following its fortnightly meeting in Cape Town.

The summit was held in Xiamen, China, from 3 to 5 September 2017 under the theme: "BRICS: Stronger Partnership for a Brighter Future".

In its statement on Thursday, Cabinet said South Africa's partnership in BRICS is premised on advancing the country's national interests, promoting regional integration and advocating a more inclusive global governance system.

President Jacob Zuma attended the summit accompanied by several Cabinet Ministers including International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba, State Security Minister David Mahlobo and Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu, among others.

Cabinet said total bilateral trade between South Africa and other BRICS countries amounted to US$29 billion last year.

Meanwhile, South Africa's biggest export destination within BRICS remains China, followed by India, Brazil and Russia.

"The same pattern is also evident in imports, with China remaining the biggest source of South African imports. Even though South Africa has abundant natural resources, it is critical to implement beneficiation programmes to support our industrialisation policy," it said.

Cabinet said the adoption of the BRICS Xiamen Declaration and Action Plan highlighted the strong foundation that BRICS has made in terms of establishing institutional mechanisms for tangible cooperation.

"Cabinet is honoured that South Africa is the incoming Chair of BRICS and entrenches its aim at the forefront to build on the BRICS programme of development and prosperity for partner countries, as it prepares to host the 10th BRICS Summit in 2018."

SA, Russia agreement

Cabinet welcomed the agreement signed between South Africa and Russia at the summit which will yield US$400 million being invested in the development of South Africa's oil and gas sector.

The country's national oil company, PetroSA, and the Russian Federation geological exploration company, Rosgeo, have agreed to develop the exploration areas of blocks 9 and 11a off the south coast of South Africa.

"The search for oil and gas resources in South Africa is highly strategic for the country's energy security."

South African export markets

Cabinet further congratulated the Department of Trade and Industry in leading a group of 20 South African companies to the World Food Moscow 2017 exhibition. The exhibition is expected to conclude today.

"While promoting South Africa's agro-processing industry, the participation of these local companies from the agro-processing sector, consolidates and establishes market presence of South Africa in Russia," said Cabinet.

The companies' participation in the exhibition was made possible through the department's Export Marketing and Investment Assistance Scheme. The scheme is instrumental in developing export markets for South African products and services, as well as recruiting new foreign direct investment into the country.

Trade between South Africa and Russia increased significantly from R5 billion in 2012 to almost R8 billion in 2016. Major South African exports include fruits and nuts, manganese ores, beverages, spirits and vinegar, wine, electrical machinery and equipment.
BRICS a growing market for SA agricultural exports (БРИКС - растущий рынок экспорта сельскохозяйственной продукции ЮАР) / South Africa, September, 2017
Keywords: agriculture, BRICS_SA, trade_relations
South Africa

BRICS countries held their 9th summit from 3 September in Xiamen, China under the theme of stronger partnership for a bright future. The BRICS vision to deepen cooperation and trade for common development was boosted this year by the extension of the invitation to five non-members – Tajikistan, Mexico, Thailand, Egypt and Kenya.

South Africa joined BRICS in 2011 and the impact is visible in terms of growing agricultural exports. Also evident is the increasing access to funding sources for infrastructure projects through the newly launched branch of the BRICS New Development Bank called Africa Regional Centre in Johannesburg.

South African exports to BRICS increased by an average of 20% per annum since the country joined the block, stimulating the export value to nearly R8.5 billion in 2016, up from R3.2 billion in 2011. The share of BRICS market to total South Africa agricultural exports increased to 7%in 2016. Major products exported to BRICS are fruits, beverages, oil seeds and food residues, accounting for over 80% of South African export to this market.

Looking ahead, the strengthening cooperation and growing food demand in the BRICS block will act as a pull factor for South African agricultural exports to this market and present opportunities for producers and exporters in the horticulture and field crops industries. – Sifiso Ntombela, Agbiz

BRICS development offers Hong Kong many opportunities (Развитие БРИКС предлагает Гонконгу множество возможностей) / China, September, 2017
Keywords: BRICS_HK, expert_opinion
Author: Cheung Sze-wing

Cheung Sze-wing writes that key emerging markets will create demand for professional services in the city

On Sept 4 President Xi Jinping presided over the ninth summit of BRICS leaders in Xiamen, where he delivered a speech. The main goal of this year's summit was to achieve "stronger partnership for a brighter future". The summit was successful in the sense that it created a roadmap for facilitating economic governance reforms and strengthening win-win cooperation among the five key emerging economies - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. When the new roadmap rolls out as scheduled, Hong Kong's economy as a whole, and the financial sector in particular, stand to benefit greatly by providing the necessary professional services and financial products.

In order to meet the strong demand for professional services and financial products arising from rapid growth of trade and investment among these five emerging economies, it is widely believed that the BRICS economies will promote financial market integration by expanding the network of financial institutions and coverage of financial services within BRICS countries. For example, BRICS leaders have agreed to explore and promote the convergence of auditing regulations and accounting standards on bond issuance to lay the foundation for bond-market connectivity among the five emerging economies. Hong Kong's advantageous position arising from its relationship with the Chinese mainland and its prominent role as a global financial and trading center are among the favorable factors to entice more companies from BRICS countries to set up operations and invest in Hong Kong. The numerous international financial institutions operating in the city offer a wide range of services, including fundraising and financing, fund and asset management, loan syndication, foreign-exchange trading and international insurance.

Based on BRICS countries' existing regulatory frameworks and World Trade Organization obligations, BRICS countries have also agreed to implement international standards on combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism and its proliferation under the Financial Action Task Force framework. Hong Kong has a robust legal system with an independent judiciary. The city's dynamic cluster of local and international law firms, as well as management consultants, offer a wide range of professional services to a variety of business sectors, including trade, finance and investment. These professionals have gained insight into international arbitration expertise and provide practical advice on legal and risk matters. Hong Kong's project financiers and practitioners are skilled at advising, arranging and underwriting financing in a number of different currencies and disciplines including renminbi bonds and Islamic bonds. They are capable of providing prominent and professional services, as well as the expertise in banking and financial regulations, legal systems, international accounting standards, fintech policies, logistics services and emerging industries such as innovation and technology sectors.

The BRICS summit is expected to help accelerate the rollout of the Belt and Road Initiative. BRICS countries, particularly South Africa, Brazil and Russia, strongly support the Belt and Road Initiative. It is generally believed that China's massive investment in and trade with the Belt and Road countries will help speed up the globalization of renminbi. Hong Kong possesses unique competitive advantages in promoting renminbi business globally. The city has the world's largest offshore pool of renminbi liquidity and its renminbi bond market is the largest outside the mainland. These factors will help strengthen Hong Kong's position as the premier offshore renminbi business center and its significant role in helping renminbi become a fully convertible global currency. The city's robust renminbi business in turn will help maintain its competitiveness and strengthen its position as a major international financial center.

Moreover, BRICS economies will strive to seize opportunities brought by the multilateral trading regime favored by the Belt and Road Initiative, which encourages exploration of new models for practical cooperation. The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong (SEHK) was the top initial public offering fundraising exchange last year. SEHK has positioned itself as one of the key global financial exchange centers, supported by well-thought policies and a sophisticated regulatory system. SEHK's listing platform has attracted numerous mainland companies and is likely to attract companies from other BRICS economies. It provides a good channel for international investors, including those from Belt and Road countries, to invest indirectly in the various industries of the mainland by trading shares of locally listed Hong Kong and mainland companies. The large demand for funding and financial services would help boost the development of Hong Kong's banking industry: More global banks and those from other BRICS economies are likely to be enticed to operate in Hong Kong.

Cooperation among BRICS countries is set to create many economic opportunities for each and help safeguard the common interests. And Hong Kong can also benefit from closer economic ties among BRICS countries by leveraging its competitive advantages in facilitating connectivity in trade, investment, professionals and finance.

Cooperation in agriculture sector will boost trade among BRICS nations, says expert (Сотрудничество в сфере сельского хозяйства будет способствовать развитию торговли между странами БРИКС, считает эксперт) / India, September, 2017
Keywords: agriculture, trade_relations, expert_opinion
Author: VS Sahney

VS Sahney, chairperson of the BRICS agricultural business forum, said cooperation in the agricultural field will also positively impact climate change

Sharing best practises in agriculture among the five BRICS countries can address the issue of food security, a leading Indian expert in the sector has said.

Increased cooperation in the sector will also increase trade between Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, the five members of the group, VS Sahney, chairperson of the BRICS agricultural business forum said.

Sahney, who attended the recently concluded 9th BRICS summit in the coastal city of Xiamen in southeastern China, said cooperation in agriculture will also positively impact climate change.

The five countries should work to harmonise "quality parameters" and "quarantine restrictions", Sahney, chairperson of the Sun Group, said.

Agriculture was one of the highlighted issues in the Xiamen Declaration, released after the BRICS plenary session last week.

The BRICS nations' leaders agreed to enhance cooperation in the field of food security, trade in agricultural products and investment in this sector.

"Noting the fruitful agricultural cooperation over the past years, we recognise the unique characteristics and complementarity of BRICS countries in agricultural development and vast cooperation potential in this area," the declaration said.

It added: "In this connection, we agree to deepen cooperation in the five priority areas such as food security and nutrition, adaptation of agriculture to climate change, agricultural technology cooperation and innovation, agricultural trade and investment."

The BRICS member states' heads have welcomed the "establishment of a Coordination Centre for the BRICS Agriculture Research Platform in India which should contribute to the implementation of the above-mentioned goals."
Have BRICS Been Overshadowed by the Rest of the EM Pack? (Не отбрасывают ли остальные развивающиеся рынки тень на БРИКС?) / United Kingdom, September, 2017
Keywords: emerging_market, expert_opinion
United Kingdom

Heads of state of the BRICS countries descended upon Xiamen, China earlier this month to discuss how to propel the bloc's trade and commercial links forward. But with most of the organisation's leading members knee-deep in political or economic mud, analysts are left wondering whether they have been overshadowed by the rest of the emerging market pack.

When the BRICS economies – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – created the formal trade organisation in 2006, they were viewed by analysts, economists and political leaders alike as a beacon for emerging markets. All of these economies were growing at enviable rates before the financial crisis in 2007; even today, they account for 45% of the increase in global growth since 2009 – bolstered mainly by China and India. They also account for 30% of the world GDP. A Goldman Sachs report from 2003 estimated that by 2050, Brazil, Russia, India and China would be wealthier than most of the western super powers.

The purpose for which the bloc was founded was to not only create stronger trade relationships between these nations, but to act as a countervailing force to western-led organizations like the IMF.

Fast forward a decade later, when BRICS leaders met in Xiamen for the ninth meeting of the group; one can't help but get the sense that for all its promise, the bloc has fallen short – with many of the bloc's namesake members mired in political scandal and bogged down by anaemic growth.

"We all heard how BRICS would shape the EM universe, but today it is the other way around – EM as whole has taken over," Anders Faergemann, a Senior Portfolio Manager at PineBridge Invesment, explains.

Part of the challenge, Faergemann argues, is that China has far outpaced many of the bloc's members. "Among the biggest problems for BRICS is, perhaps counterintuitively, the growth coming out of China. How can you continue when China is so much bigger than the other economies?", Faergemann said.

China's economy has dwarfed that of its BRICS peers; the Asian giant has roughly enough international reserves to equal the economic output of Brazil (USD1.7tn), Russia (USD1.3tn) and South Africa (USD295bn) – combined.

Even if Brazil, Russia and India have become significant players in their own right, China is simply more important to the global economy than all the other countries put together, resulting partly in China's domination of the BRICS agenda and raising questions about the group's credibility.

Removing the Debt Problem, BRIC by BRIC

The other significant issue these economies have encountered is their considerable debt stocks. As the commodity boom ended significant pressure was placed on almost every BRICS country because their economies are mostly export driven.

Overleveraging and distressed assets have become recurring themes throughout the BRICS universe, and each country has fared differently in their attempts to tackle these intermingling issues.

India's rising stock of distressed debt is a significant issue. Distressed assets have risen to about 17% of the country's total stock loans, the highest levels among all major economies, representing around USD180bn of toxic assets on lenders' books. But the country has managed to implement a series of reforms aimed at quickening default resolution and forcing lenders to offload bad assets.

"India would be at the top, they have done a good job implementing reforms such as a new banking law and stricter non-performing asset rules. Despite the disruptions occurred due to the demonetization process our outlook on India remains positive," Faergemann argued.

After oil prices fell and the rouble collapsed in 2014, many state-owned enterprises – including its crown jewel, Rosneft – and public-sector banks accumulated significant stocks of bad debt. However, due to Russia's financial isolation – many of its domestic institutions remain under US sanctions – it has very low net external debt and its companies remain relatively healthy.

Brazil, which was set to become Latin America's leading economy before the commodity crisis hit, has been battling one of the worst recessions in its history, which have resulted in the accumulation of significant stocks of potentially unserviceable debt, particularly at the state level.

To be able to tackle this ongoing problem, Brazilian President Michel Temer has set an ambitious reform programme which among other things include a public spending cap and an expensive pension system overhaul. Though the Central Bank has managed to control inflation, ongoing corruption scandals have put a dent in Brazil's recovery path.

"Brazil seems to be on the right track, however, political risk could delay the implementation of the reform package," the investor concluded.

According to Faergemann, China's ballooning debt levels are still the most concerning of all – despite protracted attempts among the country's regulators to reign in overborrowing.

Along with its economy, China's debt has grown significantly over the past decade as a result of largely uncontrolled credit being doled out to state-owned companies in the wake of the financial crisis. And, while the government has tried to curb overheating in certain key sectors, analysts believe that by doing so, they could then stall growth.

"China has to adjust to less credit-intensive growth and boost private consumption," the investor mentioned, while adding than to do so, the country may also need to improve its social safety net.

"As long as it keeps growing an average of 5.5% over a five year period, we are not going to see a crisis," Faergmann concluded.

Exerting Greater Influence

Despite their ailments, the BRICS economies are among the most powerful nations in the world. However, if they wish to transform the group into a relevant powerbroker in the global arena and at the same time compete with their western counterparts, they will need to evolve and attract new members to the bloc while exerting greater influence through targeted global investment. This is exactly where the organisation could grow, with associate members of the bloc – like Indonesia, Mexico and Turkey – vying for a more formal, influential role in the group.

It is also one of the drivers behind the formation of the New Development Bank, formally referred to as the BRICS Bank, a multilateral lender focused on developing and deepening the markets of member states. In the week ahead of this year's BRICS meeting, the bank announced loan disbursements for USD1.4bn for sustainable projects in China, Russia and India for the year ahead, and it featured prominently in the initiatives touted by Chinese President Xi Jinping during the summit. Whether the bank becomes another forum through which China can exert its lead over the rest of the BRICS, however, remains to be seen.

"We have launched the African Regional Centre of the New Development Bank (NDB), decided to set up the BRICS Model E-Port Network and reached extensive agreement on taxation, e-commerce, local currency bond, public-private partnership, and the network of financial institutions and services. Our practical cooperation has become more institutionalized and substantive, and delivered more tangible results," Jinping said during his opening remarks, adding that the country will contribute another USD4mn to the NDB Project Preparation Facility to support its business operations.

ICBC, NDB sign memorandum on strategic cooperation (ICBC, NDB подписали меморандум о стратегическом сотрудничестве) / China, September, 2017
Keywords: concluded_agreements, ICBC, NDB, strategic_cooperation

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), one of China's "Big Four" State-owned commercial banks, and the New Development Bank (NDB) recently signed a memorandum of understanding on strategic cooperation.

According to the memorandum, both sides will strengthen cooperation in settlement and clearing, project financing, bond underwriting and investment, trading services of interbank bond and forex markets, internet finance and informatization construction, to provide high-quality services for infrastructure projects of countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative, as well as other emerging economies and developing nations.

The NDB, a multilateral financial institution set up by BRICS, which is made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, formally opened in Shanghai in July 2015. It was created with the objective of financing infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS countries and other emerging economies and developing countries.

ICBC, one of the commercial banks with highest internationalization in China, has established overseas institutions in 44 countries and regions all over the world. It successfully hosted the Belt and Road Bankers Roundtable during this year's Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.
World of work
Social policy, trade unions, actions
Xiamen BRICS Summit With Hindsight Of The Media (Сямэньский саммит БРИКС в ретроспективе СМИ) / China, September, 2017
Keywords: Xiamen_summit, media
Author: Kimeng Hilton Ndukong

The Ninth BRICS economic bloc summit, which held in the southeastern Chinese city of Xiamen from September 3-5, 2017, is now history. History not because the experiences garnered, discussions held and decisions reached at the gathering have already been forgotten. Rather, it was an enriching experience full of discoveries and challenges – especially for journalists.

Glance at Xiamen Summit

The Xiamen summit of 10 world leaders – five from BRICS and five other guests - offered yet another opportunity for journalists to meet colleagues, make friends, share thoughts on a number of professional issues, be interviewed by other media practitioners, discover Xiamen, its cuisine, etc. Though only 10 world leaders were present in Xiamen, compared to almost 30 at the May 14-15, 2017 Belt and Road Forum on International Cooperation in Beijing, it was no less important as the summit was covered by 3,000 journalists from across the globe.

Good Media Facilities

Again, unlike last May's Belt and Road Forum, the BRICS summit in Xiamen had better equipped Media Centre with enough desktop computers and super high-speed Internet connection. Moreover, journalists had unfettered access to the Google search engine and other New Media platforms not often permitted in China. This greatly facilitated their work.

Volunteers, including telecommunications experts, were always present to offer a helping hand when requested. There was abundant food, tea and coffee throughout the summit at the Media Centre. So, everyone ate and drank to their fill. Simultaneous translations of Chinese President Xi Jinping's live speeches were available through headsets from journalists' tables. The special BRICS Xiamen Summit website and the abundant printed literature provided by organizers on the economic bloc were of great help.

Media Coverage Hiccups

However, there were a number of challenges in getting information. Journalists at the media centre found it difficult to know what other leaders – be they BRICS members – said at the summit and various sideline fora. This is because their speeches were not aired on the giant projector screens in the Media Centre. The official website, to my knowledge, did not promptly publish such information. Even President Xi Jinping's speeches often took too long to be published or released to the press.

Moreover, most of the information on the BRICS special website had to do with activities leading up to the summit in Xiamen. The statement issued by BRICS leaders at the end of the summit also took too long to be published on the official website. I do not remember if it was available online by midday of the closing day on September 5, 2017. Again, to my knowledge, the few pictures available on the website were those illustrating articles. Journalists who counted on getting many pictures of onsite summit activities were disappointed. Consequently, most of the pictures I used were taken on the giant projector screens whenever an event was aired.

Personal Coverage Plan

Before leaving for Xiamen, I planned to write at least three stories, given that the event was to last three days and my paper, Cameroon Tribune, is a daily. The first story naturally had to with the opening ceremony and any important announcements made. The second article was to be on events of the second day of the summit, depending on what would be most striking. Finally, my plan was to do the third story on the content of the final communiqué or the concluding press conference.

Implementation Challenges

At the end, things worked out according to plan. I was able to get information either from live projections on the giant screen in the Media Centre, sideline press conferences, BRICS official website, and the Internet in general. This was because speeches of African and other world leaders were not aired in the Media Centre, neither was the information available on the official website.

The situation became even more frustrating when we filed our stories only to be informed late in the evening that an African leader spoke at an event during the day! Imagine your story being published back at home the following day without any mention of what the African leader said. Yet, the international media and presidential press teams of the countries concerned reported this abundantly.

Writing The Final Story

The story on the end of the summit was the most difficult to write and send. This was because we left Xiamen immediately after President Xi Jinping's press briefing. In the mad rush, I forgot my notebook in the hall where the briefing held. We travelled that afternoon to Yinchuan in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region after a transit flight through Xi'an in Shaanxi Province.

I had started writing the article at the venue of the presidential press briefing while waiting for the event to begin. This part of the story concerned what the African Union Chair, President Alpha Condé of Guinea and President Jacob Zuma of South Africa said on the second day of the summit. The information was only available on Guinean and South African websites.

The article was completed at night during the flight from Xiamen to Xi'an. It was while we waited at Xi'an Airport for the connecting flight to Yinchuan that I sent the article at about 10 pm. Fortunately for me, the seven-hour differential between China and my country, Cameroon, played to my advantage as the story arrived on time to be published in the following day's issue.

Looking Into The Future

In order to offer greater visibility to BRICS in Africa, China should in future consider inviting many journalists from the continent to cover summits – no matter where they are held. BRICS is fairly young and not well known in Africa. Because most African media cannot afford to send reporters to cover BRICS summits, the need for China's assistance becomes pressing.

As the 10th BRICS leaders' summit holds in South Africa in 2018, African media coverage of the event will largely concern invited countries. Apart from us – 27 African journalists from 27 countries taking part in the 2017 China-Africa Press Centre, CAPC fellowship programme – the only other journalists from Africa who covered the Xiamen BRICS summit were those accompanying President Jacob Zuma of South Africa as member country of the economic bloc. The others came with the Egyptian and Guinea leaders who were invited to the summit.

In Conclusion

In spite of the foregoing challenges, it could safely be said again that coverage of the Ninth BRICS Summit in Xiamen was an enriching experience for many journalists. They came, saw and reported BRICS' transition into its second "golden decade" – thereby enabling readers and audiences across the world to be kept abreast of what the economic bloc is doing and intends to do in the near future. This information will for long remain fresh in the minds who research on BRICS.

*This evaluation lecture was presented at a media salon on the Ninth BRICS Summit in Xiamen, China, at Renmin University, Beijing, on September 13, 2017. Kimeng Hilton Ndukong is Sub-Editor for World News with Cameroon Tribune bilingual daily newspaper in Cameroon. He is currently a 2017 China-Africa Press Centre, CAPC fellow.

Xiamen holds BRICS cultural festival (Сямэнь проводит фестиваль кульутры) / China, September, 2017
Keywords: cultural_festival

Xiamen, the host city of the ninth BRICS Summit earlier this month, is holding a week-long cultural festival to celebrate BRICS cultural diversity and cultural exchange.

The festival began with a Night of Ballet, featuring dancers from Russia's state academic Bolshoi theater, South Africa's Joburg Ballet and China's National Opera and Dance Drama Theater.

Each performed its most known piece. For China, it was a scene from Red Detachment of Women. For Russia, Swan Lake.

In the week to come, 210 artists from BRICS countries will stage 30 shows of theater performance music, dance, exhibition and cinema in Xiamen.

People-to-people exchange, including the host of joint cultural events, is one of the three pillar cooperation among BRICS countries.

Esther Jean Nasser, head of South Africa's Joburg Ballet, said her ballet has been collaborating with a Chinese troupe on performance.

"Getting together like this with other countries is a very important step for all the BRICS countries to understand each other better," Nasser said.

"I am glad the festival helps the public get to know BRICS countries' cultures. More such events are definitely needed," said Xu Gang, a choreographer from the National Ballet of China.
Comprehensive reports, BRICS research materials
Addressing the global challenge of multimorbidity: Lessons from the BRICS countries (Решение глобальной проблемы с множественной заболеваемостью: уроки стран БРИКС) / United Kingdom, September, 2017
Keywords: healthcare, report, research, social_issues
United Kingdom

The Academy has published a new report, "Addressing the global challenge of multimorbidity: Lessons from the BRICS countries", which can be downloaded from the right hand side of this page.

The report follows a GCRF policy workshop in March 2017, chaired by Professor Stephen MacMahon FMedSci. The workshop considered the burden of multimorbidity in the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries and the UK, and asked how we can achieve a more coherent and consistent approach to defining, researching and addressing multimorbidity.

The workshop brought together experts and evidence from the BRICS countries, the UK and other countries on the prevalence, burden (including cost and health impacts) and determinants of multimorbidity. Participants identified gaps in our knowledge and associated research priorities through a review of the evidence available and considered how health systems are dealing with multimorbidity by discussing key challenges and the costs and financing issues associated with multimorbidity in BRICS countries.

Following the workshop, a written report was produced and disseminated to UK and BRICS stakeholders with key next steps to address multimorbidity in the BRICS countries. The workshop also formed an important part of evidence collection for the Academy to inform its working group on multimorbidity.

To read more about the Academy's wider work on multimorbidity and the challenges posed by this issue, visit our dedicated 'Addressing the global challenge of multimorbidity' policy project page.

This workshop was funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund to support cutting-edge research that addresses the challenges faced by developing countries. To learn more, please visit our dedicated GCRF page.

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