Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 13.2021
2021.03.29 — 2021.04.04
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
How And Why South Africa Emerged As A Global Leader Amidst A Pandemic (Как и почему Южная Африка стала мировым лидером в условиях пандемии) / USA, March, 2021
Keywords: expert_opinion, covid-19, political_issues

This April, South Africa will mark its 27th annual freedom month, under the theme "Promoting Human Rights in the Age of covid-19", with Freedom Day celebrations on April 27th. Indeed, it's hard to speak about freedom anywhere against the backdrop of a more than year-long pandemic, which has taken the lives of more than 50,000 South Africans, and sickened 1.5 million more.

As vaccines begin to roll out across the world, South Africa, too, has begun to plan for post-pandemic normalcy, with an ambitious aim of inoculating the majority of its citizens by the end of 2021. South Africa has also played an important role in vaccine development, where its participation in trials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine exposed the vaccine's weaknesses against the South African variant, demonstrating the importance of conducting vaccine trials worldwide, and beyond wealthier nations. South Africa has also helped COVAX secure 2 billion doses for developing countries, and continues to champion the message that vaccines should be treated as a global public good.

Beyond its own domestic rollout, and as a member of the G20 and of the BRICS group of nations, South Africa has been at the forefront of the movement ensuring that equitable access to vaccines, especially for African nations and the global South, remains on the global agenda.

Indeed, in President Ramaphosa's remarks at the launch of Global Citizen's 'Recover Better Together' campaign, he emphasized the need to "pool resources, capabilities, knowledge and intellectual property" in order to fight the pandemic, and called on world leaders to "support the COVAX facility to ensure rapid and equitable access to covid-19 vaccines for all countries".

I recently had the opportunity to chat with one of South Africa's top diplomats, Ambassador Anil Sooklal, who formerly served as his nation's representative to the G20 and now acts as South Africa's Sherpa to the BRICS' nations. We spoke about vaccine access, what it will take to end this pandemic for everyone, President Macron's call for wealthy nations to donate 5% of their doses to developing nations, and how best to increase global vaccine production.

Overcoming the pandemic must be a global effort, and, as Ambassador Sooklal notes, will be essential to overcoming the triple-challenges of poverty, unemployment, and inequality, which the pandemic has brought to light.

*Please note, this conversation has been lightly edited for brevity.

Michael Sheldrick: South Africa has started its vaccination rollout beginning with Frontline Health Workers. What are the key priorities and focus areas for the country as it works towards returning to a state of normalcy?

Ambassador Anil Sooklal: The key priority for South Africa remains the health and wellbeing of all its citizens and ensuring that everyone is sufficiently immunised to end the pandemic. South Africa has embarked on an ambitious vaccine rollout program and hopes to have vaccinated the majority of its citizens by the end of 2021. It is obvious that South Africa, the African continent and indeed the global community will not be able to return to the so-called state of normalcy anytime soon.

In addition to safeguarding the health and wellbeing of its people, the government of South Africa has launched an intense economic recovery and reconstruction plan. Economic growth and stability will be central to the overall recovery of South Africa, Africa and the world. In addressing challenges [brought about by the pandemic], the opportunities provided by the Fourth Industrial Revolution must be utilised to accelerate development- which should ultimately benefit the poorest in society, whereby internet access and affordable data must be made widely available.

MS: As we look towards getting global herd immunity, we have to ensure that COVAX is capacitated to ensure everyone, everywhere gets vaccinated. Will South Africa be looking at making any further financial commitments to the COVAX facility?

AS: South Africa remains committed to the success of the COVAX facility and will announce any further decisions at the appropriate time. South Africa would also like to see greater commitment from developed nations to ensure vaccines are treated as a global public good. 'Vaccine nationalism' and the hoarding of vaccines remains counterproductive to the global health architecture. It is indeed unfortunate that we find many developed countries adopting a 'me first' and not 'we first' policy. Our global response to the pandemic must encapsulate the policy that no one is safe until everyone is safe.

The securing of 2 billion doses of candidate vaccines by COVAX could not have been achieved without considerable global cooperation. At least 1.3 billion doses are expected to be made available to 92 countries eligible for the COVAX scheme, targeting up to 20% of populations by the end of 2021.

COVAX facility is the best option to ensure that Africa has access. It is unfortunate that thus far the call by French President Macron, for the wealthy nations, to transfer between 3-5% of the covid-19 vaccine supplies to Africa has not gained traction.

MS: Just 10 countries have administered 75% of all covid-19 vaccines and more than 100 countries have not yet received a single dose. South Africa has been pushing for a TRIPS waiver to curb this inequality. Is there any concern that even if TRIPS were waived, countries would still struggle to get critical information to be able to produce the vaccine?

AS: South Africa and India have been at the forefront in calling for a temporary waiver of the TRIPS with regards to the production of vaccines as a global public good. On 4 February 2021, many of the developed countries and industrialised nations including the US, Britain, the European Union, Brazil, Japan and others rejected further moratoriums on the intellectual property on vaccines.

They argued that these would only stifle innovation at pharmaceutical companies further stating that the incentive lies in R&D into drugs which need large investments into R&D. With a mutating virus, the developed nations felt that such decisions would not be helpful.

The majority of WTO members including developing, least-developed countries and NGOs, were clear that the WTO's IP rules were acting as a barrier to faster production of vaccines and other much needed medical equipment in poor countries. This attitude further reinforces the view that the wealthier countries and multinationals are more driven by profit and maintain control over vaccine supply chains rather than caring about the wellbeing of the global community.

South Africa, India and a large number of WTO members are of the view that the IP waiver will allow drug makers in poor countries to start production of effective vaccines sooner without having to wait on an already congested global supply chain, thereby ensuring that vaccines are available to the most vulnerable and poor states in the world.

South Africa, India and other developing countries are already producing vaccines, not just for domestic consumption but for the global market. From any perspective one would conclude that this is simply unfair and morally wrong.

(Note: in last week's post, I made the case for why the US and other wealthy nations should support a significant scaling up globally in vaccine production, licensing agreements and manufacturing capacity, including on the African continent).

MS: What else needs to be done to achieve global access to the vaccine and end the pandemic once and for all? Do you think President Macron's proposal on donating vaccine doses as of now, especially to prioritize the vaccination of frontline health workers in Africa, is the right one?

AS: President Emmanuel Macron had proposed that rich countries transfer between three-to-five percent of their covid-19 vaccines to Africa. It is unfortunate that to date this call has not materialized practically and Africa continues to struggle to get adequate access to vaccines. India and China have already distributed millions of doses of the vaccine globally especially to countries of the South including Africa.

The mass production of vaccines by China, India and Russia as members of the BRICS countries for the global market has also demonstrated the rise of the BRICS as it positively impacts on global supply chains. South Africa, with J&J and South Africa's Aspen Pharmaceuticals have also partnered to produce the J&J vaccines.

It is hoped that the call by President Macron will be heard and positively responded to by the developed nations.

MS: Why are partnerships with organizations like Global Citizen, and civil society engagement so critical for the South African government?

AS: South Africa is a constitutional democracy, the state and government is required to create an environment in which all citizens can realize their maximum potential. Civil society formations are an integral element, and an important dynamic stakeholder in decision-making processes, who often articulate the concerns and interests of the people and often lead domestic and global discussions. South Africa encourages a healthy partnership with Civil Society as each compliment the other in addressing the needs and interests of people. Partnership with domestic and global organisations such as Global Citizen is essential in today's globalised and interconnected world. It is through such partnerships that we can build an inclusive and equitable global society where no one is left behind.

MS: The G20 has the potential to drastically contribute to the development of Africa mainly through its Development Working Group. Things such as international tax reform, streamlining and reducing the costs of the transfer of remittances to developing countries, and helping developing countries mobilise revenues domestically. Is South Africa looking at charting the way to ensure that it gets more from the G20 in terms of the developmental agenda of the continent as the only African country on the G20?

AS: South Africa is privileged to be a permanent co-chair of the G20 Development Working Group (DWG). It sees the G20 as being an important platform in addressing the developmental challenges, especially of Africa and the global South. South Africa has ensured through its active participation within the G20 ensured that the development agenda is an integral part of the G20's focus.

The G20 is an important platform whereby the economic, health and developmental challenges that has been seriously and negatively impacted by the covid-19 pandemic is addressed within the G20. This must become an important deliverable of this year's summit. It will be necessary for the G20 to identify key interventions and concerted actions in positively addressing these challenges especially amongst the most vulnerable in the world.

The G20 has in place the Compact with Africa (CWA). It comprises twelve African participants: Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Egypt, Ethiopia, Morocco, Rwanda, Senegal, Togo and Tunisia.

All twenty G20 countries participate in the CWA with the African Development Bank Group (AfDB), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Bank Group (WBG) coordinate the initiative and enjoy an observer status.

The CWA has a fully operational governance structure in place. This is managed through the G20 Africa Advisory Group (AAG), co-chaired by Germany and South Africa. The UN Economic Commission on Africa, the African Center for Economic Transformation (ACET) and the OECD also participate in the CWA. G20 Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) are encouraged to maximize their investment impact in CWA countries through closer cooperation in project implementation to reap synergies and enhance peer-learning.

The Think 20 (T20) African Standing Committee advocates in particular for Africa, and under that umbrella has a working group on CWA.

Ultimately, life cannot return to normal anywhere unless we all work together to demand a better, fairer world for all those that live in it. At the moment, vaccine equity is at the core of this mission – we are not safe until we have all been vaccinated, and it is this message that is at the heart of initiatives like COVAX – something more wealthy countries need to stand behind if we are to move beyond this pandemic.

In the end, freedom is possible, and life will return to normal, but to do so we will have to work together in ensuring that no one is left behind.
Lula Back in Political Game in Brazil, But What Are the Implications? (Лула снова в политической игре в Бразилии, но каковы последствия?) / Brazil, March, 2021
Keywords: political_issues, expert_opinion

Uriel Araujo, researcher with a focus on international and ethnic conflicts.

Last Friday, in yet another judicial victory for the Brazilian former president Luis Inacio "Lula" da Silva, better known as simply "Lula", a Brazilian court ruling decided that Lula's family in fact never owned a Triplex seaside apartment which had been the pivot of a political scandal. In 2018, Brazilian judge Sergio Moro nevertheless convicted Lula of "indeterminate acts of corruption" and as a result of that, he was imprisoned for 480 days and this removed him for the 2018 election race.

Last week, a Brazilian Supreme Court ruling had already found that Judge Sergio Moro was "biased" in convicting Lula (when overseeing the probe known as Operation Car Wash). The whole set of evidences pertaining to the corruption probe was thus tossed out by the five-judge panel; this has made Lula eligible for being a candidate again

The Car Wash Operation had a great impact on the Brazilian political landscape and on its economy - there were also geopolitical implications. It put an end to the presidency of Dilma Roussef herself (2011-2016), Lula's ally and successor. It arrested former president Lula, major construction businessmen and politicians. It also targeted petroleum company Petrobras, the most important state-controlled company in Brazil, and the private construction conglomerate Odebrecht – often described as an icon of Brazilian soft power. From several investments in Africa (especially Angola and Mozambique) to building what would have been the first Brazilian nuclear submarine, Odebrecht was everywhere.

If, following the precedent of the decision on Lula, other Car Wash convictions are annulled, this would certainly rock the economic and political landscape in Brazil. However, it is still too soon to predict whether this could happen.

A series of investigative pieces from the Intercept – published in March, 2020 – revealed leaked conversations between Brazilian officials and authorities from the US Department of Justice. They show the collaboration took place in such a way and to such extent that might have violated Brazilian laws and it also shows the US might have had their own geopolitical interests in the operation.

Brazil is very much isolated internationally today and has been described as a threat to global health and environment due to current president Jair Bolsonaro handling of the pandemics and of the environmental crisis in the Amazon rainforest.

During the age of the Brazilian Labor Party (PT) two consecutive administrations – 2003-2016 – especially during Lula's years (2003-2011), under Chancellor Celso Amorim, Brazil emerged as a kind of rising power in the eyes of international media. It expanded its role in the BRICS as well as Mercosur, Unasul, and IBSA. For example, in 2010, Lula, together with then Turkish prime minister Tayyip Erdogan (today he serves as President) sealed a deal on Iran nuclear fuel swap which could have helped end the Iranian standoff with the West over its nuclear programme. Brazil then was a strong supporter of Iran's right to conduct its nuclear research (for peaceful purposes).

Brazilian foreign policy and its international status has now changed dramatically to the point of it becoming almost a new pariah. In 2019, for example, Bolsonaro cancelled the BRICS outreach (a parallel summit) over its invitation of Venezuela's Juan Guaidó – whom none of the other BRICS member recognized as president of Venezuela.

Its importance has often been question, but, for a number of reasons, the BRICS grouping remain very relevant. The theme of vaccines (and vaccine global inequality) too has a whole geopolitical aspect of its own. In fact, all Brazilian potential presidential candidates (including now Lula) have taken sides, so to speak, regarding vaccines.

In an interview to the German Der Spiegel weekly, Lula described the deaths from COVID-19 in Brazil (over 300,000) as the "largest genocide" in the history of the country. Bolsonaro has ben a virus-sceptical president and has described it as nothing more than "a little flu".

Lula, in its turn, has been putting a lot of effort in his "parallel diplomacy". For instance, on March 17, he urged President Biden to call a G20 meeting to ensure a proper vaccine distribution globally – especially for Brazil and poorer countries. He also asked Biden to donate the extra vaccines the US have. Such proposal was a very clever move, for it would go perfectly in line with Biden's "humanitarian" approach.

Two weeks ago it was revealed that in November 2020, Lula also had a meeting with the representative of the Russian fund responsible for promoting COVID-19 vaccine Sputnik V – in fact, the Russian fund had been in contact with the Brazilian Ministry of Health since June 2020, but negotiations were being blocked from above: documents released by American journalist John McEvoy revealed that Bolsonaro had been pressured by then US President Donald Trump to not purchase the "evil" Sputnik V.

Also, in another move of backchannel diplomacy of his own, Lula wrote a letter to the Chinese president Xi Jinping, apologizing for recent Brazilian government attacks against China in the context of a US-China trade war.

Currently, every poll shows Lula defeating Bolsonaro in a runoff contest. This event could further strength Brazilian bilateral ties with both Russia and China and put Brazil closer to Iran, Venezuela and Syria - considering Lula's foreign policy record of promoting multipolarity and focusing on the developing nations of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

Rebalancing the global order (Восстановление баланса в мировом порядке) / China, March, 2021
Keywords: global_governance, expert_opinion

Major emerging economies should institutionalize their cooperation to strengthen their say in global affairs

Global issues and problems have arisen one after another in the era of globalization. But the United Nations, instead of seeing its central role reinforced, has often been challenged by the United States, which, as the world's sole superpower and placing its own interests above those of the global community, is unwilling to contribute to global governance. Especially in recent years, its hegemonism, bullying, unilateralism and protectionism have greatly undermined the international order with the UN Charter at the core.

Against this backdrop, emerging economies, all beneficiaries of globalization and the biggest victims of the anti-globalization tide, should strengthen their cooperation for a greater role in global governance and international affairs.

Among the G20, members - China, Argentina, Brazil, India, Indonesia, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Turkey - are major emerging economies. To release their huge development potential, they should work together in support of globalization and against anti-globalization, while ensuring that more people share the fruits of globalization.

Cooperation among emerging countries helps improve international rules. As the norms governing the behavior of all countries, international rules should be nondiscriminatory. However, developed countries, based on their composite national strength, have formulated many rules that work for them and against developing nations. When improving international rules, emerging nations should voice their opinions louder and gain more representation to safeguard their common interests.

So how do emerging nations cooperate? First and foremost by eliminating the trust deficits. As the foundation for peaceful coexistence between countries, trust is a prerequisite for emerging economies to increase their cooperation. Though there is strong desire for cooperation, they find it hard to reach consensus and speak with one voice when it comes to vital issues that concern their immediate interests, thus affecting the extent to which they can cooperate.

To reduce the trust deficits, developing countries must seek common ground while reserving differences by enhancing dialogue and consultation based on mutual respect, rejecting ideological prejudice and the Cold War mentality, and reducing suspicion. They must pursue the greater good and shared interests while expanding their converging interests. They must honor commitments and abide by international rules. They must stay alert to those countries trying to sow discord among them.

For now and in the foreseeable future, there are two ways for developing countries to cooperate: multilateral cooperation based on an umbrella organization and non-institutional bilateral cooperation.

Multilateral cooperation based on an umbrella organization can be either institutionalized or non-institutionalized. Institutionalized, the organization has a charter embodying its mission and a permanent secretariat for operational matters. Non-institutional cooperation has neither. A case in point being BRICS.

Non-institutional bilateral cooperation refers to the cooperation between two emerging countries, which is broad in scope, simple in format, and cost-effective institution-wise. Such cooperation has a long history and fruitful results in the fields of politics, economy, trade and people-to-people exchanges.

The following ways might be considered for better cooperation among developing countries.

First, an organization may be set up to enable all developing countries to participate in multilateral cooperation based on institutional arrangements. The 11 emerging economies in the G20 may create a G11 and proceed step by step toward institutionalization. As the first step, a permanent secretariat might be in order.

A G11 would not only enable these nations to participate in institutionalized multilateral cooperation, but also coordinate their positions within the G20 by speaking with one voice in dealing with developed nations to safeguard their legitimate rights and interests.

Second, elevate BRICS cooperation to a new level. BRICS has been an effective platform for cooperation among the five members - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - since its establishment 14 years ago. However, the cooperation outcomes are not so satisfactory considering the enormous diplomatic resources invested and the high expectations, which might be attributed to the following factors. First, it is impossible for the BRICS countries form a free trade zone for better cooperation in economic and trade fields, since Brazil is a member of the Southern Common Market and India opposes free trade. Second, previous BRICS summits declarations show that there are actually too many areas of cooperation, which has led to fragmentation in results. Third, BRICS countries have yet to reach a high degree of strategic consensus on major issues, such as UN reform, counterterrorism and global economic governance.

It is thus urgent that BRICS countries further expand economic and trade cooperation and push for global governance reform. Although they should refrain from being too ambitious, and maximize strategic political consensus.

Besides, the BRICS members could also establish a permanent secretariat to make it more organized and institutional and consider including more emerging economies. Third, remove obstacles to bilateral cooperation. In theory, such cooperation is actionable and productive, but it is inevitably affected by old and new problems in bilateral relations. For instance, China and India, both emerging countries and BRICS members, still have border issues that remain unresolved. As neighbors, good relations are in the fundamental interests of the two countries and their peoples. To this end, they need to make joint efforts to manage their border dispute. In compliance with bilateral agreements, China is committed to resolving border issues through negotiation and consultation and maintaining peace and stability in the border areas.

The author is a distinguished Professor at Shanghai University. The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
NDB Board of Directors approved USD 1 billion equivalent COVID-19 Emergency Program Loan to Russia for supporting frontline health workers (Совет директоров NDB утвердил заем для России по программе чрезвычайной помощи в связи с COVID-19, эквивалентный 1 млрд долларов США, для поддержки медицинских работников) / China, March, 2021
Keywords: ndb, covid-19, investments

On March 25, 2021, the Board of Directors of the New Development Bank (NDB) approved a COVID-19 Emergency Program Loan of up to USD 1 billion equivalent to the Russian Federation for financing its healthcare response to the pandemic (the Loan). The Loan will be used for supporting frontline health workers, including doctors, nurses and junior medical staff, who provide medical care for the diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19.

The Loan will provide financial resources to address one of the most critical needs in Russia's healthcare response to the COVID-19 outbreak and improve the capacity and resilience of the country's public health sector. The Loan will support incentive payments, including previously made, to healthcare personnel directly engaged in response to the pandemic, which represents part of a larger governmental plan to fight COVID-19.

The Loan will be provided by the NDB within Fast-Track COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Response Facility of USD 10 billion and in accordance with the Policy on Fast-track Emergency Response to COVID-19. The Loan is aligned with the NDB's General Strategy: 2017 – 2021, which, in addition to the Bank's Articles of Agreement, provides an effective framework within which the NDB can provide rapid support to its member countries to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and its adverse impacts on social and economic development.

Background Information

The NDB established the Emergency Assistance Facility in April 2020, to provide up to USD 10 billion in crisis-related assistance to its member countries, including USD 5 billion for financing healthcare and social safety-related expenditures, as well as USD 5 billion for supporting economic recovery efforts. In total, the NDB Board of Directors so far has approved eight COVID-19 related emergency assistance programs with a total amount of around USD 8 billion.

The NDB was established by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa to mobilize resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging economies and developing countries.

NDB Board of Directors held 30th Meeting (Состоялось 30-е заседание Совета директоров НБР) / China, March, 2021
Keywords: ndb, top_level_meeting

The Board of Directors (Board) of the New Development Bank (NDB) held its 30th Meeting in a virtual format on March 29, 2021.

The Board approved a loan of USD 153 million to the State of Pará, Federative Republic of Brazil. The Pará II – Transport Infrastructure for Regional Development Project will support the development of the state's road infrastructure through upgrading approximately 475 km of existing unpaved roads in five regions. The Project will contribute to the reduction of travel time and logistics cost, and to interconnecting the municipalities that are currently isolated, thereby promoting these municipalities' economic integration and sustainable development.

The Board approved the revised sovereign lending rates in USD and EUR, applicable to all sovereign loans and loans with sovereign guarantee which are approved by the Board on or after July 1, 2021. The Board also approved the Guiding Principles for Using Country Systems.

The Board provided guidance for the 2021 project pipeline, the General Strategy 2022-2026, the Integrated Digital Platform and membership expansion.

On the same day, the 18th Audit, Risk and Compliance Committee Meeting and the 14th Budget, Human Resources and Compensation Committee Meeting of the Board of Directors took place virtually.

Background Information

The NDB was established by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa to mobilize resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging economies and developing countries, complementing the existing efforts of multilateral and regional financial institutions for global growth and development. According to the NDB's General Strategy, sustainable infrastructure development is at the core of the Bank's operational strategy for 2017-2021. The NDB received AA+ long-term issuer credit ratings from S&P and Fitch and AAA foreign currency long-term issuer rating from Japan Credit Rating Agency (JCR) and Analytical Credit Rating Agency (ACRA).

NDB Board of Governors held its 6th Annual Meeting online (Совет управляющих НБР провел 6-е ежегодное собрание онлайн) / China, March, 2021
Keywords: ndb, top_level_meeting

On March 30, 2021, the Board of Governors (the Board) of the New Development Bank (NDB) held its Sixth Annual Meeting.

The theme of the 6th Board of Governors Annual Meeting was New Development Paradigms: The Evolution of Infrastructure. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and the unprecedented global environment, the Board Governors meeting took place virtually.

The crucial role played by NDB in the past year and in particular in the implementation of the Emergency Assistance Fund was welcomed by all Governors. In total, the NDB Board of Directors so far has approved eight COVID-19 related emergency assistance programs with a total amount of around USD 8 billion.

"Addressing the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, the New Development Bank is effectively supporting economic recovery in its member countries," said Mr. Anton Siluanov, Minister of Finance of the Russian Federation, Chairperson of the NDB Board of Governors.

"Further transformation of the NDB into a full-fledged practical platform for expanding economic cooperation between the BRICS economies should become one of the Bank's key goals for the next five years," said Mr. Anton Siluanov.

The Meeting of the Board of Governors served as an important moment to not only celebrate the success story of NDB but also to reflect on new paradigms for development and the New Development Bank's role therein.

Mr. Marcos Troyjo, NDB President, delivered a presentation to the Board on the Bank's progress and further development. "Our duty is to maximize the development impact," said Mr. Marcos Troyjo. "As the world battles COVID, both long-standing and unprecedented development needs abound." "For the NDB, cooperation is both a value and a method – and improving peoples' lives, our highest priority."

An update on the formal negotiations with potential new members was delivered to the Board of Governors. It was highlighted that the expansion of the Bank's membership will continue to be a priority for the NDB. The Board welcomed the progress made in negotiations with potential new members and encouraged Management to continue pursuing the expansion of membership in a gradual and balanced way.

The Board of Governors was briefed on the process of preparing the Bank's second General Strategy for the period of 2022-2026. It was noted that going forward, NDB will continue to support their member countries in achieving their sustainable development priorities and climate-related goals.

During the meeting, Governors welcomed NDB's new focus areas of social and digital infrastructure and encouraged the Bank to enhance its capacity to mobilize private sector resources and engage in co-financing with peer institutions. The Board also discussed the setting up of an Integrated BRICS Digital Platform and approved the Annual Financial Accounts of the Bank for 2020.

In accordance with the Rules of Procedures of Board of Governors of the New Development Bank, Mrs. Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of Finance of the Republic of India, was elected as the Chairperson of the Board of Governors. Mr. Kun Liu, Minister of Finance of the People's Republic of China, was elected as the Vice-Chairperson of the Board of Governors. Mrs. Nirmala Sitharaman and Mr. Kun Liu will serve in these positions until the end of the next Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors.

The Board of Governors decided that the next Annual Meeting of the Board will be hosted by India in 2022.

Background Information

The NDB was established by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa to mobilize resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging economies and developing countries, complementing the existing efforts of multilateral and regional financial institutions for global growth and development.

Rebuild S Africa's Manufacturing Strength to Benefit from BRICS: Trade Minister (Восстановите производственную мощь Южной Африки, чтобы получить выгоду от БРИКС: министр торговли) / India, March, 2021
Keywords: quotation, trade_relations

South Africa''s Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel has called for local companies to rebuild the country''s manufacturing strength to be able to fully benefit from the opportunities in the BRICS markets.

Addressing small and large industrialists at a hybrid conference, Patel suggested several steps for the local manufacturing sector to exploit opportunities in the BRICS countries.

These included producing detailed export - opportunity studies for each BRICS country; using manufacturing networking to address issues of technology innovation and marketing; and identifying new opportunities where South Africa may not yet have capacity, but for which there are significant markets in BRICS countries.

BRICS is an acronym of five major emerging economies- Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.

"Over a number of years, manufacturing was seen as a sunset industry, a relic of an age that was passing, and policy-makers were urged to abandon efforts to support the industry and seek opportunity in other sectors of the economy," the minister said.

Highlighting the crucial role of manufacturing in strong and dynamic economies, Patel said, "manufacturing is a big driver of employment with the strongest employment multiplier.

Patel said research by the Industrial Development Corporation had shown that for every one manufacturing job, another three jobs were created across the economy, in both supplier industries and services sectors.

"It is an earner of foreign exchange and a driver of innovation, of research and development; and in times like the COVID-19 crisis, countries with capacity relied on their industries to produce food, personal protective equipment and medical supplies," he said.

"In the case of South Africa, the country rapidly opened its trade-exposed sectors to what was described as the bracing effects of global competition, but without supporting local firms to become stronger and more dynamic. The results were painful to see – we lost critical manufacturing capacity," Patel added.

Over the past two decades, several once-thriving manufacturing sectors such as textiles, footwear and apparel were reduced to almost nothing as cheaper imports from the East, especially China, took hold in South Africa.

This also led to supply chains from small-scale industries being shut down.

"Our localisation project is about working with the business community to rebuild the foundations of manufacturing, to strengthen industrial capacity that can supply both the domestic and export markets," Patel said.

World of Work
Dialogue on 'BRICS Civil Forum 2021' Was Held in New Delhi (В Нью-Дели прошел диалог на тему «Гражданский форум БРИКС-2021») / India, March, 2021
Keywords: social_issues, chairmanship

A Dialogue on 'BRICS Civil Forum 2021' was held on the sidelines of the Forum for Indian Development Cooperation (FIDC) first Annual Symposium in New Delhi. This dialogue brought together representatives from government, civil society, academia and research to deliberate, share and experience, prior to the formal launch of the process in April 2021. The Dialogue comprised the inaugural session followed by two technical sessions on 'Perspectives on Economy, Trade and Development' and 'Role of Civil Society Partnership', respectively.

The inaugural session began with the welcome remarks by Prof. Sachin Chaturvedi, Director General, RIS. Prof. Chaturvedi highlighted the rise of P2P as an important pillar in global engagements and global agenda setting. Dr. Rajesh Tandon, Chairperson, FIDC and President, PRIA gave special remark.

Shri P. Harish, India's BRICS Sous Sherpa and Additional Secretary (ER), Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India delivered the inaugural address. The Sous Sherpa in his address elaborated India's priorities for its BRICS Chairship in 2021 under the theme - "BRICS@15: Intra BRICS Cooperation for Continuity, Consolidation and Consensus" with the focus on four main areas—reform of multilateral system, counter terrorism cooperation, digital and technological solutions for attaining SDGs and enhancing people to people exchange.

He highlighted the uniqueness of BRICS in terms of decision-making based on consensus. He hoped for achieving greater cooperation among BRICS countries on reformed multilateralism. Shri Harish stressed on India's development approach as an integrated and aligned with 'Decade of Action' for success of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). He stated that since the onset of pandemic, there has been an increasing trend towards digitalization and India has successfully used digital technologies to deliver products and services in health, education, and banking & finance. He also underlined on Global Digital Public Goods while arguing India's stand on "data for development". He emphasized on the importance of the Civil Forum as a platform to strengthen P2P connect.

In the two technical sessions, the civil society representatives shared their experience and discussed the effective role of civil society organizations in BRICS. The major issues deliberated include trade, gender, peace-building, food security, financial inclusion, social entrepreneurships, skill development, urban planning, biodiversity, water conservation, etc.

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