Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 15.2021
2021.04.12 — 2021.04.18
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Keynote Address by Shri Sanjay Bhattacharyya, Secretary (CPV & OIA) at launch of BRICS Academic Process 2021 (April 14, 2021) (Основное выступление Шри Санджая Бхаттачарьи, секретаря (CPV & OIA) при запуске Академического процесса БРИКС 2021 (14 апреля 2021 г.)) / India, April, 2021
Keywords: top_level_meeting, speech

Friends from the BRICS Community, Namaskar

Greetings on the occasion of the Lunar new year, which is being celebrated across my country.

It gives me immense pleasure to join you at the launch of the BRICS Academic Process in 2021. I look forward to hear your perspectives on initiatives and priorities for BRICS as we look to the future. They say investment in knowledge pays the best interest.

We shall lean on you for your brilliant ideas which could blossom as BRICS initiatives. I am told the idea of the New Development Bank, a shining example of our endeavours, was germinated in the portals of the BRICS Academic Process.

The year 2021, coming after dark Covid clouds, offers promise in the form of vaccines, economic recovery and hopes of return to a new normal. We are at unique cross roads of history, with the deadly pandemic having introduced new modes of thinking, working and living, for each of us, individually and collectively. This is an important year to reflect where we are and how we would like the world to be for our children. I am optimistic by nature and would wish to look through the tunnel at the opportunities ahead.

India, has dealt with the Covid pandemic with science and humanity both for her own citizens and also for the global community. Through the vaccine "Maitri" initiative we have delivered 64 million doses of made in India Covid vaccines to more than 80 countries, demonstrating our willingness and capability to shoulder greater responsibility as a first responder in crisis. India is not only a "pharmacy of the world" for production of essential drugs but also a reliable provider to the world. We do believe that the global community has to work together in such situations.

As India assumes the BRICS Chair in this eventful year, we take note that BRICS is expansive in its agenda, cutting across the three pillars of cooperation- Political and Security, Economic and Finance and Cultural and People to People. We have made great progress as is evident from the number of meetings and formats of interaction that have developed over the years. Many of the initiatives have reached the grassroots and touched the lives of BRICS citizens. What makes the BRICS format of engagement unique is the member driven and yet consensus based character of the group. The absence of a Secretariat adds responsibility on member states and the Chair to ensure robust functioning and coordination of various BRICS mechanisms and institutions. Therefore, consolidation and stocktaking exercise is an important priority for India as BRICS commemorates its 15th Anniversary. We are carrying on the traditions of past Chairs of BRICS and their efforts on this issue.

Our approach is reflected in the theme we have selected for our Chairship- BRICS@15: Intra BRICS Cooperation for Continuity, Consolidation and Consensus.

We have identified four broad priority areas for our Chairship:

(i) Reform of the Multilateral System
(ii) Counter Terrorism Cooperation
(iii) Using Digital and Technological Solutions for the achievement of SDGs and
(iv) Enhancing People to People exchanges.

In order to flush out these priorities and to provide tangible benefits, we have jointly identified the major deliverable we hope to achieve this year:

Adoption of a Joint Statement on the Reform of the Multilateral System at the Foreign Ministerial level
Adoption of the BRICS Counter Terrorism Strategy Action Plan
Adoption of the BRICS Economic Partnership Strategy Action Plan 2021-25
Adoption of the BRICS Agricultural Cooperation Action Plan 2021-24
Adoption of the Innovation Action Plan 2021-24
Cooperation on Disaster Resilience
Cooperation in Digital Health and Traditional Medicine.
Cooperation in Digital Public Goods.

As the world emerges from the Pandemic we proceed on the decade focussed on implementation of SDGs. The experiences, especially in the past year, tell us that use of technology and digital means enables us to reach out to more people and enhances efficiency of delivery and depth of impact. These should be harnessed effectively to aid in our efforts in this endeavour.

We have seen that the current multilateral system is rooted too much in the past. The pandemic has exposed, what recent decades had also revealed, the fault lines inherent in the multilateral architecture. It is undergoing a crisis of credibility stemming from questions regarding its efficacy and representative nature. As five of the largest countries on our continents, representing almost half of humanity, we must rise to the occasion for a meaningful contribution for humanity and the future. Together, we have 41% of the world population, almost 30% of the land area and generate 24% of global GDP and 16% of world trade. Together we have the responsibility to reshape our global institutions and how we look to the future. Those resisting reforms are clinging to an image of the past that is not the reality of the present and certainly not the hope of the future.

I am pleased that all BRICS members have been engaged in discussion regarding the importance of reform in the UN system, Bretton Wood Institutions, WTO, WHO and others. In that context and especially for BRICS, which is a grouping of major countries with global impact, the objective of Reform of the Multilateral System is of highest significance.

India has always given importance to tackling of global issues, such as the menace of terrorism and the perils of climate change; which are also a priority on the BRICS agenda. The Academic Process is one such mechanism.

BRICS has always thrived on people-to-people exchanges. This pillar not only adds flavour and vitality to the movement but also deepens the quality of our relations and interactions.

Our organization has indeed come a long way since the first meeting of our Foreign Ministers on the margins of the UN General Assembly in New York back in 2006. We look forward to giving it new momentum and focus.

I convey my best wished to the academic process and its interactions this year, such that you debate, deliberate and arrive at innovative ideas to carry forward the BRICS dreams and to strengthen its global impact and relevance.
Inaugural Address at BRICS Civil Forum 2021 by Secretary (CPV&OIA) and BRICS Sherpa (Инаугурационная речь на Гражданском форуме БРИКС в 2021 году секретаря (CPV & OIA) и шерпа БРИКС) / India, April, 2021
Keywords: top_level_meeting, speech

Excellencies, Friends, from the BRICS Community

1. Thank you for this invitation to join you at the BRICS Civil Forum today. I look forward to hear your perspectives on some of the issues that are important to civil society. In this era of transformation, your interactions will be sign posts for BRICS as it forges ahead.

2. The dark Covid clouds have not gone away but we do see light ahead. There is promise in the form of vaccines, economic recovery and hopes of return to a new normal. We are at unique cross roads of history, with the deadly pandemic having introduced new modes of working and living, individually and collectively. Even before Covid struck, we were grappling with economic slowdown and technological changes that were transforming the world around us. This is an important year to reflect where we are and how we would like the world to be for our children. I am optimistic by nature and would wish to look through the tunnel at the opportunities ahead.

3. India, has dealt with the Covid pandemic with science and humanity both for her own citizens and also for the global community. Through the Vaccine Maitri initiative we have delivered 64 million doses of made in India Covid vaccines to more than 80 countries, demonstrating our willingness and capability to shoulder greater responsibility as a first responder in times of crisis. India has demonstrated that she is not only a pharmacy of the world for production of essential drugs but also a reliable provider to the world. We do believe that the global community has to work together in such situations.

4. Multilateralism, which had already been under pressure for not being able to represent the current realities of our times, again failed to rise to the occasion in handling the pandemic or its impact. While efforts have been made towards equitable vaccine distribution by the Covax facility, it has not been able to prevent the vaccine nationalism. While people in developing countries risk succumbing to the pandemic, some countries are finding reasons for not sharing the vaccines or their Intellectual Property Rights, so as to maximize their profits from vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics for the pandemic. India and South Africa, repeatedly made submissions to WTO to provide waivers to TRIPS for supply of Covid vaccines to the global community. These appeals did not go through, despite wide support from developing countries. Science provided vaccines, humanity prevented its distribution.

5. The multilateral system, aimed at promoting development and maintaining security did yoeman service in the early years after WWII. But over time, its inability to reform and adjust to evolving developments, exposed its fault lines, both on scope and efficacy of its decisions and delivery and also on its representative nature. Together we have the responsibility to reshape our global institutions and how we look to the future. Those resisting reforms are clinging to an image of the past that is not the reality of the present and certainly not the hope of the future.

6. Recent developments demonstrate that multilateralism is not just relevant but also the need of the hour. It is the basis for any long term solution to the challenges faced by the global community, current or future, solutions that benefit all. Multilateralism is a form of global governance based on common rules accepted by multiple stakeholders for our common good.

7. BRICS brings together five major emerging economies, comprising 41% of the world population, almost 30% of the land area, 24% of global GDP and 16% of world trade. BRICS as a grouping has found a life of its own, determined its directions and is now starting to show its promise in various domains. NDB, a Bank founded by BRICS countries, is now fully functional. The Bank, true to the BRICS philosophy stepped forward in the fight against Covid-19 and offered emergency assistance to member countries in 2020. I am pleased that all BRICS members have been engaged in discussion regarding the importance of reform in the UN system, Bretton Wood Institutions, WTO, WHO and others.

8. BRICS has come a long way since it began as an economic grouping fifteen years ago. The rapid changes in economic organisation, technologies, use of data and digital technologies and more importantly, in the nature of work itself has altered the socio economic landscape. The balance of this landscape rests on the nature of our response to this transformation. In this period of turmoil, BRICS has been upto the task. It has not only been undaunted in the face of new challenges such asclimate change, challenges encountered by multilateral trading system, demographic-shifts, changing character of production and employment, technology-induced transformations etc, it is also adapting itself to the times. We wish to see a BRICS that seeks to put the citizen in the centre and evolve mechanisms that provide benefit to all BRICS citizens and indeed to the global community around us.

9. India's approach during the Chairship of BRICS is reflected in the theme we have selected BRICS@15: Intra BRICS Cooperation for Continuity, Consolidation and Consensus. We have also identified four broad priority areas: (i) Reform of the Multilateral System (ii) Counter Terrorism Cooperation (iii) Using Digital and Technological Solutions for the achievement of SDGs and (iv) Enhancing People to People exchanges. In terms of deliverables, we hope to put forward a number of action plans on the key priority areas such that the impact and relevance of BRICS experience is expanded for her citizens and to the global community. The experiences, especially in the past year, tell us that use of technology and digital means enables us to reach out to more people and enhances efficiency of delivery and depth of impact. These should be harnessed effectively to aid in our efforts in the endeavour to implement SDGs.

10. Civil Societies represent the collective conscience of our peoples. In these difficult times the role of our Civil Societies assumes greater relevance to raise the voice of the people and also to direct multilateralism in the right direction. In order to advance the objective of building an international order in which no one is left behind, participation of every actor, including individuals, civil society, states and multilateral fora, is required. It is in this context, that BRICS Civil Society Forumassumes importance.

11. The BRICS Civil Forum which was initiated in 2015 with the aim of fostering constructive dialogue between Civil Society Organizations in BRICS countries, academia and businesses on a wide range of socio-economic issues, has the responsibility to ensure that the BRICS grouping does not lose its focus on people and development. You have made great progress in connecting civil society across BRICS partners and coming forth as the voice of the people. Your mission in these challenging times acquires even greater significance.

12. This forum also serves as an ideas bank for BRICS and offers essential inputs on relevant international economic issues. Since its inception, the forum has helped BRICS to arrive at concrete policy measures and must be commended for the significat contributions over the years. We look forward to the BRICS Civil Forum coming up with innovative ideas and suggestions for BRICS Leaders. I wish you a very successful and productive year and look forward to receiving valuable suggestions from the Civil Forum.
Celso Amorim: Lula is Gigantic Force in Brazil, Can Boost BRICS, Facilitate S America's Integration(Селсу Аморим: Лула - гигантская сила в Бразилии, может способствовать развитию БРИКС, облегчить интеграцию Южной Америки) / Russia, April, 2021
Keywords: expert_opinion, political_issues

Former president Lula will overhaul the present Brazilian politics if he runs and wins, starting with reinvigorating the country's healthcare system and fighting inequality, reinforcing BRICS, switching to national currencies in trade, and spearheading South America's re-integration, says former Brazilian foreign minister Celso Amorim.

In a 2 April interview with the Portuguese television station RTP, former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, 75, noted that he would run for the presidency of Brazil in 2022 if "necessary". The March verdict by Brazil's Supreme Court invalidating the former president's conviction has become a big game changer in the country's politics by opening the door for Lula to potentially run for re-election.

This has sounded alarm bells for President Jair Bolsonaro and his powerful supporters. However, it's unlikely that the military, who endorsed Bolsonaro in 2018, will try to hinder Lula's campaign if he runs, says Brazilian diplomat and politician Celso Luiz Nunes Amorim, who twice held the position of foreign affairs minister between 1993 and 1994 under President Itamar Franco and then between 2003 and 2010 under President Lula da Silva. But what if Washington and multinational corporations try to throw a spanner in Lula's works?

Sputnik: What are Lula's chances of winning the race?

Celso Amorim: Lula as many others, as many of us, - I say that because I feel personally linked to him, also - we are now concentrated on what can be done to improve the life of the Brazilians because of the pandemic. Brazil has a record number of deaths per day. It's a country that holds the greatest number in the world. This, of course, is accompanied by recession, unemployment, and a lack of income for the poor. So all these things now have concentrated his attention. Of course, if you ask the question, he'll say "Well, I may run," I don't know exactly what he said to [Portuguese] television, but I have heard him some other time saying: "Well, if there is a request from my party and from the progressive forces, the ones that are more linked to social ideals in Brazil with more independence in foreign policy, if these forces ask, I'll run." But as I've said, it's a bit early.

Of course, Lula is a gigantic force in Brazilian politics, so he'll have a great influence anyhow. And of course, many people, like myself, hope that he'll run. But, of course, as I say we are a little far away, and we are in the midst of the pandemic, a big health crisis, a big economic crisis, a big potential social crisis, also. So it's a bit too difficult to make a precise forecast.

Sputnik: What reaction can Lula expect from Washington, given that the Biden administration is at odds with the Bolsonaro cabinet? Will Washington try to meddle in the Lula campaign?

Celso Amorim: Washington is not such a simple concept. There are different forces in the United States that act in different ways. Certainly, if you had the Trump administration, they would support Bolsonaro. With the Biden administration – we don't know yet. So far, his policies toward Latin America have not shown much progress. But you know, when Lula was president we had good relations, and that was with President Bush and President Obama. Of course, there may be interests of American companies in Brazil. There may be some other strategic interests. But, it's no longer what used to happen in the 1960s or the 1970s.

Even the kind of meddling is different: I think if it happens it will happen by means of the Brazilian media, of the Brazilian economic elite. And the Brazilian economic elite, they are now a bit disconcerted because, of course, they supported Bolsonaro and now, at least, a lot of them regret it.

So, I don't see really why they would try to do anything to block Lula's campaign, because actually Lula has always been a person who was open to dialogue, even in relations with difficult questions like Venezuela, to speak about a regional aspect here.

Sputnik: Could multinational corporations try to hinder Lula's campaign, given that he is opposing more privatisation?

Celso Amorim: Certainly, there are, in Brazil, forces who are more linked to let us say this neo-liberalism that want to privatise and they can gain from this process also, in Brazil. And, of course, there may be other international companies that may be interested in Brazil but they don't have dominance. They may have some support, internationally speaking, that will oppose Lula because they want to have more privatisation, more space to make gains, immediate gains.

On the other hand, even because of the pandemic, because of the high unemployment, because of the policies that have to do with the price of oil, there is a growing sense in Brazil - which goes beyond traditional progressive forces - that we need a presence of the Brazilian state in the economy in order to re-launch the economy. This is happening even in the United States. What Biden is doing now in the United States is something that has not happened since FDR, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, at the time of the [Great] Depression, in the way he is injecting money including by increasing taxes, taxes on the rich, taxes on the corporations.

So, the world is changing a little bit. We can't think only through the models that we had, even the models that we had until ten years ago, they became already, in a way, overcome, surpassed. So, there's a new world. I think that the fact that we have BRICS for instance, we have the possibility, Russia has just proposed, I saw my good friend [Russian Foreign Minister Sergei] Lavrov, with whom I interacted for many years as foreign minister and before as ambassador to the UN, proposing that Russia could abandon the dollar.

I don't know if Brazil can abandon the dollar, but we could have our trade among BRICS countries with our currencies. So I think it's very important to reinforce BRICS.

I think Brazil has to work within the groups like BRICS and, of course, to have normal relations with the United States, as well. It's not easy because Latin America is seen by many people in the US as their backyard, as somehow was implied in your question. But I think also this is changing: we have progressive governments in Mexico, in Argentina, in Bolivia. So, if Lula is elected... and I think if he runs, he has a big chance of being elected, and almost certain that he would be. If he is elected we'll be able to work both with the integration of South America and with groups like BRICS, and also with the United States, and also with the European Union.

Sputnik: Which domestic issues will Lula address right away if he wins the presidency? What changes in foreign policy might one expect if Lula wins?

Celso Amorim: The immediate issue that he is addressing now [is the pandemic], because Lula is a big figure in Brazil, what he says and does has an influence. Even, for instance, when Lula criticised the minister of health, Bolsonaro sacked his minister of health. He did not criticise the minister, he criticised the policy, and the minister was sacked some days later. Bolsonaro had never used a mask, and when Lula spoke about these things, he started using it, because he knows that Lula has great influence and he wants to preempt him. Brazil has a fantastic health system, one of the best in the world - it was not properly used by Bolsonaro, by the present government, - but thanks to that, the situation is not even worse. It's more or less like the National Health [Service] in Britain. Of course, we are a developing country and don't have the same kind of resources, but it permeates the society.

In terms of foreign policy: well, of course, the world changes, so I can't say that he will do exactly the same things as he did 10 years ago when he was in power. But certainly, we'll try to work along two or three lines, I've just mentioned it: to have a more multi-polar world, reinforcing groups like BRICS, that's essential for Brazil and I think it's essential for the other member groups. We'll work on integration in South America and we'll develop multi-polar relations with all the world, with great emphasis in Africa because Africa is very near to Brazil.

Joint Meeting of Foreign Ministries and Space Agencies (Совместное заседание министерств иностранных дел и космических агентств) / India, April, 2021
Keywords: top_level_meeting, space

The Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India hosted a virtual Joint Meeting of BRICS Foreign Ministries and Space Agencies on 13 April 2021. This was the first time that such a meeting has been organized under the BRICS format. The meeting was inaugurated by Additional Secretary Economic Relations and India's BRICS Sous Sherpa, Mr. P Harish. The meeting was chaired by Ms. Eenam Gambhir, Director, Multilateral Economic Relations and was also attended by Joint Secretary, Disarmament and International Security Affairs, Mr. Sandeep Arya, and Dr. D Gowrishankar, Director International Cooperation, ISRO.

The meeting was also attended by Brazil's Mr. Benhur Peruch Viana, Head of the Division of Sea, Antarctica and Space - Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Mr. Alessandro José Ferreira Carvalho, Head of International Cooperation - Brazilian Space Agency; China's Ms. CAI Yue, Deputy Director, Department of International Economic Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ms. JIANG Hui, Director, International Cooperation Department, China National Space Administration; Russia's Mr. Pavel KNYAZEV, Russian Sous-Sherpa in BRICS, Ambassador-atLarge, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Mr. Vasily GUDNOV, Head of division, State Space Corporation Roscosmos; and South Africa's Mr. Ben Joubert, Acting Chief Director: Regional Organisations, Department of International Relations and Cooperation and Dr Humbulani Mudau, Chief Director: Space Science and Technology, Department of Science and Innovation.

Russia congratulated India for the thoughtfully selected date of the meeting, which followed closely on the heels of the 60th anniversary of Soviet astronaut, Yuri Gagarin's, foray into outer space on 12 April 1961.

The delegates negotiated the Draft BRICS Remote Sensing Satellite Constellation Agreement. Addressing the delegates, Mr. P Harish, stressed the importance of the document for strengthening and enhancing BRICS cooperation in the peaceful use of outer space with applications across an array of sectors such as agriculture and food security, disaster management and water resource management amongst others. He also thanked delegates for agreeing to meet in this new format to help expedite outstanding negotiations.

The participants held an in-depth discussion on the outcomes of the document and at the conclusion of the meeting, expressed their support for India's suggestion to finalize the document at the earliest given to its importance for all BRICS partners.
BRICS Seminar on Misuse of Internet for Terrorist Purposes and the Role of Digital Forensics in Terrorist Investigation (Семинар БРИКС по неправомерному использованию Интернета в террористических целях и роли цифровой криминалистики в расследовании террористических актов) / India, April, 2021
Keywords: digital, terrorism, cooperation

National Investigation Agency (NIA) organised a two-day virtual Brazil, Russia, India, China & South Africa (BRICS) Seminar on the "Misuse of Internet for Terrorist Purposes and Role of Digital Forensics in Terrorist Investigations" on 13-14 April 2021.

The seminar was inaugurated by Union Home Secretary Shri Ajay Kumar Bhalla on 13 April 2021.

BRICS countries during the 3rd Counter Terrorism Working Group (CTWG) at White River, South Africa had agreed to establish five sub working groups dedicated to enhancing debates over specific challenges on counter-terrorism front. Thereafter, at the 4th CTWG meeting in Brazil, India was given the Presidency of the sub-working group on "Misuse of Internet for Terrorist Purposes" for one year.

During the seminar, 40 experts from the five BRICS countries deliberated upon technical sessions including 'Exploitation of Social Media as an Arsenal', 'Dark Web and Anonymizers', 'Emerging Technologies and Artificial Intelligence', 'Cryptocurrency and Virtual Assets: Vulnerability of Privacy and Online Stealth', 'Equipping Law Enforcement Agencies: CT Investigations' and 'Digital Forensics' to deal with such challenges. In addition, two panel discussions on engaging multiple stakeholders from both public and private sectors to tackle the misuse of internet and enhancing international co-operation to effectively tackle the exploitation of the Internet by terrorists for their nefarious activities, were also held.

The delegates of the seminar appreciated the fact that in the current milieu of breakneck technological innovations and ever evolving digital landscape, the challenges pertaining to prevention, control and prosecution of the terrorist misuse of internet are immense. It was emphasised that it is only through expedient international co-operation and seamless sharing of good practices in tackling this menace that we can create a safer and secure environment for the citizens of BRICS countries as well as the whole world.
3rd Meeting of the Joint Task Force for Disaster Management of BRICS Member Countries (3-е заседание Совместной рабочей группы по управлению стихийными бедствиями стран БРИКС) / India, April, 2021
Keywords: top_level_meeting, chairmanship

National Disaster Management Authority, Government of Republic of India, organized the 3rd Meeting of the Joint Task Force for Disaster Management of the BRICS Member Countries on 16th April 2021. This was the first meeting on the Disaster Management by Republic of India under its BRICS Chairship during 2021.

The meeting was chaired by Shri Sanjeeva Kumar, Member Secretary, National Disaster Management Authority. In his opening remark he briefed about the importance of the themes – Multi Hazard Early Warning Systems, Volunteerism in Disaster Management and Disaster Resilient Infrastructure – for this Joint Task Force Meeting. He urged all the participants from BRICS Member Countries to join hands together to develop a common platform for information and data sharing and chalk out some of the exchange programmes.

Mr. Wei Min Liu, Director General, Department of International Cooperation, Ministry of Emergency Management from People's Republic of China appreciated the efforts of India for organizing this Joint Task Force Meeting and stated for initiating policy dialogue and joint research 2 for cooperation in sustainable development and implementation of SFDRR and UN Sustainable Goals.

Dr. Mmaphaka Tau, from National Disaster Management Centre, Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Republic of South Africa stressed upon the importance of investing in planning for resilience for local risk reduction and data information sharing.

Mr. Paulo Falcao, Director, Protection and Civil Defence, Ministry of Regional Development, Federal Republic of Brazil welcomed the initiative of India and expressed cooperation from Federal Republic of Brazil.

Mr. Oleg Manuilo, Director, Department of Civil Defence and Population Protection, EMERCOM of Federation of Russia emphasized upon the need of cooperation for not only present risks but also to prevent future risk.

During the technical sessions, presentations were made by all the Member Countries on the three themes of this meeting.

Dr. Mrityunjay Mohapatra, Director General of Meteorology, India Meteorological Department gave a presentation on Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems in India; Shri Rajendra Singh, Member, NDMA talked about the importance of volunteerism in disaster management and highlighted the contributions by volunteers in managing the COVID-19. Shri Kamal Kishore, Member, NDMA reflected the importance of Disaster Resilient Infrastructure for BRICS Countries. Lt. Gen (Retd) Syed Ata Hasnain, Member, NDMA delivered the concluding remarks and highlighted the importance of collaborative efforts for managing the disasters in all the Member Countries.

The meeting concluded on a positive note and all the Member Countries expressed cooperation in the field of disaster management.
The Relations Between South Africa and Russia During the Fight Against the Consequences of the Pandemic (Отношения между ЮАР и Россией в период борьбы с последствиями пандемии) / South Africa, April, 2021
Keywords: covid-19, political_issues, expert_opinion
South Africa

South Africa has the highest number of infections in the continent, reporting over 1.5 million cases and over 50,000 deaths. It has so far vaccinated tens of thousands of health care workers and will soon start vaccinating its population.

After a new study revealed the AstraZeneca vaccine was less effective against the South African variant of the virus, South African government refuse this vaccine. This led to the need to consider another option for vaccination of the population. This failure of the vaccine, offered by the European countries, shows the growing need for the partnership diversification for the South Africa.

One of the options for Pretoria is further strengthening ties with the Russian Federation, but it takes efforts from the both sides and the Foreign Ministry of Russia probably should lead in this process.

In February this year, Russia delivered 300 million doses of Sputnik V to the African continent through the African Union (AU). The vaccine is available to all AU member countries. According to the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), Sputnik V is one of the world's top three coronavirus vaccines in terms of the number of approvals issued by government regulators.

Sputnik V had been approved in Russia, Belarus, Argentina, Bolivia, Serbia, Algeria, Palestine, Venezuela, Paraguay, Turkmenistan, Hungary, UAE, Iran, Republic of Guinea, Tunisia, Armenia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Republika Srpska (entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina), Lebanon, Myanmar, Pakistan, Mongolia, Bahrain, Montenegro, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Gabon and San Marino.

As members of the BRICS, South Africa and Russia have a wide range of areas of mutual interest. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic growth of such a rapidly developing country as South Africa has subsided. According to the International Institute for Food Policy Research, the persistent effects of Covid-19 will lead to even worse outcomes for GDP under the "Slow" and" Long " recovery scenarios.

On July 8, 2020 Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held talks via videoconference with three of his counterparts: South African Naledi Pandor, Egyptian Sameh Choukry and Congo's Marie Ntumba Nzeza, whose countries form the African Union "troika". On the menu for their discussion were the roadmap for the second Russia-Africa, Covid-19 and nuclear sector.

We shouldn't forget, that the goals of the BRICS, as set out by the members, are cooperation between states in the spheres of trade, climate and security. During the BRICS Summit of 2020, the leaders of the member states discussed ways to help foster better living standards and quality of life for each countries people, focusing on peace, economies, and cultural societal issues. The Russian Foreign Ministry showed intererst in further deepening of the relations between South Africa and Russia.

In hard times for South Africa, Russian diplomats could make the delivery of the vaccine within the BRICS. However, since the Sputnik V vaccine conference, which was held on October 8, 2020, the situation has not seen development. The parties expressed satisfaction with the conversation during the conference and agreed to continue discussing the possibility of using the Russian vaccine to combat the spread of coronavirus infection in South Africa.

What Opportunities for Russia Brings China's Economic Development (Какие возможности для России открывает экономическое развитие Китая) / China, April, 2021
Keywords: expert_opinion, cooperation, economic_challenges

Sheng FengLin, Intern at the Russian National Committee on BRICS Research – special for InfoBRICS

With the development and evolution of the world structure, the relations between China and Russia are getting closer. China and Russia are in the best period in history, and the economic and trade relations between the two countries are also developing in depth. There are different degrees of cooperation in many fields such as energy, science and technology, agriculture, and tourism. As an important country on the Eurasian continent and at the same time as an important country on the "One Belt and One Road" construction, Russia will surely promote economic cooperation between China and Russia.

Expand the scope of bilateral trade and optimize the industrial structure

China and Russia are both one of the largest developing countries in the world. China is the most populous country in the world. Each person has a relatively small amount of resources, but the per capita demand and consumption are large. Russia is the largest country in the world. It is rich in various resources such as coal, oil, and natural gas, and has a relatively high per capita resource. Therefore, China and Russia are highly complementary in the resource industry structure. As China and Russia joined the WTO successively in the 21st century, the scale of bilateral trade between China and Russia has continued to expand. In addition, bilateral trade will be promoted through the continuously strengthened bilateral economic and trade joint committee and bilateral free trade zone negotiations. At the same time, many expos between the two countries will also promote the increase of bilateral trade.

The expansion of the scale of Sino-Russian bilateral trade is not only reflected in the continuous increase in the total trade volume, but also in the expansion of the scope of Sino-Russian trade cooperation projects. For now, the types of imports and exports between China and Russia continue to expand. Energy cooperation includes oil, natural gas, electric power, coal, nuclear energy, power equipment and other cooperation projects. The field of economic and trade cooperation has also expanded from the original trade in goods and services to multiple fields such as logistics, transportation, tourism, science and technology, military, environmental protection, and infrastructure. There is huge potential for bilateral trade cooperation between China and Russia. Through the in-depth development of their respective resource comparative advantages, they can not only provide each other with most-favored-nation treatment, but also promote the smooth development of bilateral trade, so as to achieve the common goal of mutual benefit.

The expansion of the scope of trade cooperation is closely related to the complementary status of China's bilateral trade structure. In the bilateral import and export trade between the two countries, China's exports to Russia are mainly concentrated in labor-intensive products such as textiles and raw materials, mechanical and electrical products, and metal products. Most of them are industrial products, accounting for about 90% of the total export trade commodities. As a major energy country, Russia has abundant fossil fuel resources such as petroleum, coal, and natural gas. Its main foreign trade export products are also biased towards energy, such as mineral products and chemical products. In the Sino-Russian bilateral trade, the top three types of products that account for the proportion are mineral products, wooden products and chemical products and other resource-intensive products. Among the top ten commodities in export trade, energy products account for about 80% of the total export commodities. The above shows that China's exports to Russia are mainly industrial products including technology-intensive and labor-intensive products, while Russia's exports to China are resource-intensive products. The complementary features of the trade structure have laid the foundation for the expansion of the scope of trade cooperation between the two countries.

With the construction of the "One Belt One Road" strategy, on the basis of industrial complementary advantages, it will not only expand the scope of bilateral trade, but also optimize the industrial structure. The adjustment of industrial structure is an important issue in economic development. Optimizing the industrial structure can better allocate the available resources of the entire society, thereby playing a greater role and promoting the economic development of the entire society. Under the "Belt and Road" initiative, the cooperation between China and Russia has been continuously strengthened, and the scale of intra-industry and out-of-industry trade has continued to expand. The resulting economies of scale and the improvement of technological levels have formed the necessary conditions for promoting industrial upgrading. Trade cooperation continues to deepen, international exchanges of the same type of products are growing rapidly, multinational companies continue to be established, foreign products continue to enter the local market, and domestic enterprises are encouraged to learn advanced technologies and innovate existing technologies, improve their own technological level, and increase the country's technological stock. Ultimately lay the foundation for the upgrading of industrial structure. On the other hand, a large number of foreign products enter the domestic market, which will bring a certain degree of impact to local products. Some commodity markets with relatively backward technology are facing huge competitive pressure. This will encourage domestic enterprises to improve their production technology and optimize the industrial structure, thereby ultimately improving product quality and enhancing international competitiveness.

Financial Innovation

The implementation of the "Belt and Road" strategy is inseparable from sufficient funds, which will promote the continuous strengthening of financial cooperation between China and Russia. In terms of the data on China's direct investment in Russia released by China's National Development and Reform Commission, China invested more than US$700 million in Russia in 2014. In 2015, China's direct investment in Russia reached US$2.961 billion, a year-on-year growth rate of 367.3%. As of 2015, the stock of Chinese investment in Russia was about 33 billion U.S. dollars. The investment industry accounted for the following ratios: mining industry accounted for 47.6%, financial industry accounted for 25.9%, agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry and fishery accounted for 11.7%, and manufacturing industry accounted for 9.3%. During Premier Li Keqiang's visit to Russia in 2013, in order to achieve the purpose of promoting trade exchanges, the central banks of China and Russia signed a RMB and ruble swap agreement with an amount of RMB 150 billion. Since the signing of the agreement, the cross-border RMB settlement volume has increased sharply. According to statistics from relevant departments, the Bank of China in Russia handled 13.3 billion yuan in cross-border RMB settlements in 2014 alone, which is a five-fold increase over the original business volume. In the first quarter of 2015, the exchange volume between the ruble and the renminbi increased by more than five times, and the number of companies opening renminbi accounts in Russia also increased sharply.

In 2015, the Export-Import Bank of China and the China Development Bank signed loan agreements with many financial institutions such as the Russian Federal Reserve Bank, the Russian Foreign Economic Bank, and the Russian Foreign Trade Bank. The main purpose of the agreement is to support the development of large-scale projects. This is also the first time that renminbi loans have been used in a Russian construction project, marking a new stage of China-Russia financial cooperation. In October 2015, the second China-Russia Expo "Sino-Russian Financial Cooperation Conference" was successfully held in Harbin. This meeting marked the official establishment of the China-Russia Financial Alliance. The establishment of the alliance not only promotes the construction of the China-Russia Economic Corridor, but also benefits the development of the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries. In the context of the in-depth implementation of the "Belt and Road" initiative, the financial cooperation between China and Russia will surely be continuously strengthened.

In addition, China's economic and trade investment environment has gradually improved. China and China are both important members of the World Trade Organization and the two major BRIC countries. They should strengthen their role in maintaining trade order, accelerating national economic transformation, and promoting economic development. China and Russia are adjacent to each other geographically, and the bilateral economic and trade cooperation between the two countries has gradually deepened in recent years.At this stage, there are more than 600 border trade cooperation projects implemented by China and Russia. China has gradually realized the importance of establishing border trade with Russia's Far East, Eastern Siberia and other places. By establishing border trade with these areas, the trade volume has reached more than US$5 billion, accounting for more than 1/6 of the total bilateral trade between the two countries.

Due to the implementation of the "One Belt One Road" strategy, in addition to deepening financial cooperation methods, it is also necessary to attract more funds to support construction, which will promote the continuous innovation of financial cooperation methods between China and Russia. According to the forecast of the Asian Development Bank, the construction of infrastructure in Asia will require an investment of US$8 trillion from 2010 to 2020, and an average annual increase of US$800 billion will be required. However, the annual quota of development funds provided by the World Bank and the IMF for Asia is far from reaching the standard, and it is completely unable to meet the social and economic development needs of the participating countries of the "Belt and Road". The huge funding gap requires China and Russia to broaden financing channels, innovate cooperation models, and continuously promote higher-level financial cooperation. Therefore, continuously innovating financial products and financial mechanisms will become a major trend in the future. The issuance of various securities, the establishment of various funds and financing products will bring rich dividends and opportunities. China and Russia can also use the Internet financial platform to actively guide private funds from China and Russia to participate in the construction of the "Belt and Road". Governments of various countries vigorously support financial institutions, accelerate the construction of online financial institutions, and increase strategic support in the form of syndicated loans and cross-border M&A loans, so as to create the world's leading online financial transactions. At the same time, the innovative financial cooperation between the two countries can focus on the use of social idle funds for investment, thereby effectively using insurance funds, social security funds, pension funds and other civil society capitals with long investment periods and low returns to invest in the construction of the "Belt and Road".

Energy cooperation

As the most important source of energy consumption in the world today, oil production and reserves have a great influence on the energy situation. At present, as far as each country is concerned, oil energy reserves are sufficient, and oil production is rising steadily. Both China and Russia are major oil producers, but the gap between reserves and production values is relatively large. Russia is a truly big oil country with abundant oil resources. On the basis of meeting domestic oil demand, Russia can also earn foreign exchange through exports to other countries. The general distribution of natural gas reserves is similar to that of oil. Russia and the Middle East account for most of the world's reserves. China is short of natural gas and Russia is abundant. Importing natural gas from Russia is a good choice. Regarding coal output, China is the world's largest coal producer. In 2015, it produced 1.92 billion tons, accounting for 50% of the world's total output. Russia's coal resource output is not so impressive. Energy trade between the two countries can effectively solve this problem.

In short, Russia's energy output is far greater than domestic consumption, and coal, oil, and natural gas are Russia's main sources of foreign exchange earnings. Due to its large population and low per capita resources, China has long been a major energy importer and consumer country, and has been an importer of coal, oil and natural gas. Russia is rich in energy and can be exported to China. China's domestic energy demand is strong. In turn, it needs to import large-scale primary energy such as oil, natural gas and coal from Russia. The complementary energy structure of China and Russia provides the material basis for cooperation between the two countries.

With the strengthening of energy cooperation under the "One Belt, One Road" strategy and the lack of clarity in the existing energy cooperation mechanism, this will inevitably promote the overall planning and consideration of China and Russia in the process of advancing energy cooperation. At the same time, it will formulate comprehensive policies and mechanisms for cooperation in trade, investment, infrastructure construction and other fields, including strategic plans for energy cooperation, and issue a series of clear programmatic documents and laws and regulations. This will determine the strategic direction, focus and methods of energy cooperation between China and Russia, enhance energy cooperation, and expand areas of cooperation. It is an inevitable trend to strengthen the construction of legal systems in the field of energy cooperation, and actively promote the construction of related legal systems in energy trade, technical cooperation, investment and dispute settlement. Then further coordinate the interests and disputes in the Sino-Russian energy cooperation to ensure the smooth development of this mutually beneficial and win-win cooperation.

The volume of energy import and export trade between China and Russia is huge, but the impact on energy prices is very small. China and Russia can expand the scale of energy demand and supply by continuously deepening the energy cooperation mechanism, so that they can directly influence the international energy flow by controlling output or changing the direction of demand, and have a certain right to speak in the international energy pricing. Therefore, China and Russia can deepen energy cooperation through fair energy trading rules and pricing mechanisms, and form and build regional energy cooperation mechanisms. This is not only conducive to enhancing China and Russia's right to speak in world energy issues, but also building a fair, reasonable and efficient international energy order. On the other hand, due to the large number of countries participating in the "Belt and Road" initiative and its large radiation area, it is possible to establish an energy cooperation mechanism between China and Russia and neighboring countries, and use this to build a platform for strategic cooperation on the surrounding international energy. As a result, a unique energy supply sector between China and Russia is formed, which is of great significance to changing the international energy strategy that is seriously imbalanced.

Economic transformation

Russia is at a critical stage of development. The economic development model that relied on exporting oil and natural gas in the past is no longer in line with or suitable for the needs of today's world economic development. Russia urgently needs to change its current economic development model. However, the biggest problem facing Russia's transformation of its economic development model is that the development of infrastructure is seriously lagging behind. With the construction of the "One Belt, One Road" strategy, China and Russia will resolve overcapacity by strengthening bilateral infrastructure cooperation in the Far East and realizing the "going global" of China's equipment manufacturing industry. At present, China and China have successfully launched the West Route Natural Gas Transmission Project and the Sino-Russian Crude Oil Pipeline Project. Cooperation in the construction of high-speed railways and the transformation of the Siberian Railway is also deepening.

Russia needs to strengthen cooperation with China in the "One Belt, One Road" strategy, so that China-Russia infrastructure construction will have broad development prospects, and Chinese investors can promote the development of remote areas in Russia. China's investment cooperation can become a development factor, enhancing the field of China-Russia infrastructure and creating new growth points. In short, there are many large-scale infrastructure construction projects in the Russian Far East. Under such circumstances, continuous strengthening of cooperation with China under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative has become an inevitable choice for Russia. In China, with the continuous changes in market supply and demand, some high-quality excess capacity has been produced, which may happen to maximize economic benefits in Russia and bring huge benefits. With the continuous completion of infrastructure construction, these high-quality production capacity can be landed in Russia, helping Russia to achieve effective economic transformation.

Enhance the image of Chinese companies

China and Russia are two neighboring large developing countries, which provides a geographical advantage for the two countries to expand the "Belt and Road" strategic cooperation. Over the years, China has been actively carrying out technological innovation and continuous development. my country has been at the forefront of international development in high-speed rail, communications, nuclear energy, electric power, highways, ports, telecommunications and other fields. In some key areas, it has followed the pace of the world's same industries and launched simultaneously. In order to create attractive products, insist on product innovation and highlight highlights, so that products are not only high-quality made in China", but also unique "made in China", with great competitiveness in the world. However, Russia is affected by the depreciation of the ruble and the Ukrainian incident. The economic structure has not yet been adjusted, and the development of infrastructure has been seriously lagging behind. There is also a need for transformation and upgrading in all manufacturing industries. Strengthen Sino-Russian economic and trade cooperation under the "One Belt and One Road strategy, and deepen Sino-Russian cooperation in heavy industry, aviation, high-tech, infrastructure, tourism, and shipping. It can promote the effective output of China's independent research and development technology, and solve the problems of the backward development of Russian infrastructure and the lack of technology in certain industries. In addition, due to China's high population density, it has long been exporting labor-intensive products internationally, especially basic manufacturing products, and it has left an impression of "crude" in the international community. However, the export of these high-tech products and technologies will not only open up the international development of Chinese companies, but will also reverse the negative impact of the "cheap quality" of Chinese products in the past, thus establishing a good image for Chinese products and companies.

As two important emerging economies in the world, China and Russia are two important markets for world economic development. And the current stage is an important stage in the reform and development of China and Russia. The proposal of the "One Belt One Road" strategy has strengthened the economic and trade cooperation between China, which is undergoing transformation and upgrading, and Russia, which is undergoing economic recovery. In the new era when the economies of both countries need to develop rapidly, the two sides should continue to strengthen practical cooperation in the fields of economy, energy, science and technology. China and Russia should take the "Belt and Road" strategy as an opportunity to seize new opportunities for economic development on a global scale, and actively work to promote the strategic partnership of cooperation between the two countries, enhance the level of mutual political trust between the two countries, and strengthen economic and trade exchanges between the two countries. In this way, the economic strength and international status of the two countries will be enhanced, and a comprehensive win-win situation will be achieved.

Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
BRICS works to expand New Development Bank membership (БРИКС работает над расширением членского состава Нового банка развития) / Russia, April, 2021
Keywords: ndb

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister and Russia's BRICS Sherpa Sergey Ryabkov said that, despite different culture, history, and development trajectories, all BRICS countries are united by "interest in working on a positive agenda, helping each other to cope with the problems that arise, and together influencing global processes towards their stabilization"

MOSCOW, April 13. /TASS/. BRICS (Russia, Brazil, India, China, South Africa) launches the process of expanding membership in the association's New Development Bank, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister and Russia's BRICS Sherpa Sergey Ryabkov announced on Tuesday.

"We are now launching the process of expanding the membership of the BRICS New Development Bank," he said.

He stressed that, despite different culture, history, and development trajectories, all BRICS countries are united by "interest in working on a positive agenda, helping each other to cope with the problems that arise, and together influencing global processes towards their stabilization." "That is why, it seems to me, other countries are drawn to BRICS," he said.

"BRICS is an association with no hidden agenda. We are happy for everyone who interacts with us," Ryabkov added.

The New Development Bank was established by the BRICS countries on the basis of an intergovernmental agreement signed during the 6th BRICS Summit in Fortaleza in July 2014. The purpose of the bank is to finance infrastructure and sustainable development projects in the BRICS and developing countries.
Made on