Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 47.2017
2017.11.13— 2017.11.19
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
No contradiction in blocking BRICS resolution on Masood Azhar: China (Никакого противоречия в блокировании резолюции БРИКС по Масуду Азхару: Китай) / India, November, 2017
Keywords: off_docs, terrorism

A veto-wielding permanent member of the Security Council, China has repeatedly blocked India's move to impose a ban on the JeM chief

China has asserted that there is no contradiction in its policy to block India's bid to designate Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist by the UN, saying the BRICS declaration was against terror groups and not individuals, Pakistani media on Thursday reported.

A veto-wielding permanent member of the Security Council, China has repeatedly blocked India's move to impose a ban on the JeM chief under the Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee of the Council.
The latest technical hold by China came on November 2 when it blocked another proposal by the US, France and the UK to list Azhar as a global terrorist by the UN. Beijing had blocked such a move in February this year.

Speaking to a delegation of Council of Pakistan Newspapers Editors in Beijing this week, Counselor and Asia Division Director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Chen Feng said vetoing a resolution against Azhar after the BRICS declaration against terror outfits did not reflect a contradiction in China's policy as BRICS members have not entered into any such agreement.

The Chinese move was not in contradiction with Chinese policy in the context of BRICS declaration against terrorism, Chen was quoted as saying by the Express Tribune.

Chen clarified that the BRICS summit discussed only banned organisations and not individuals, Pakistan Today reported.

The BRICS nations - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - at a summit in China in September named, for the first time, Pakistan-based groups like the Lashkar-e- Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed and the Haqqani network in a joint declaration condemning terror.

In early November, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said: "we raised a technical hold so as to allow more time for the committee and its members to deliberate on this matter. But there is still absence of consensus on this matter."

Defending the repeated technical holds, Hua said China's actions are meant to ensure and safeguard the authority and effectiveness of the 1267 Committee of the UN Security Council.

China in the past has also asked India to discuss the issue directly with Pakistan to reach an understanding on Azhar's listing.

In the last two years, China has stonewalled efforts by India to declare Azhar as a global terrorist.
The senior Chinese Foreign Ministry official also briefed the Pakistani editors about the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), an ambitious project that is opposed by India as it is passing through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

Chen said Beijing was trying to convince India that the multibillion dollar project is based on economic cooperation and that its main aim is to promote peace and prosperity in the region.

"The CPEC is neither a way to achieve political aims nor to be used in regional conflicts. Basic aim of the economic plan is to expand the mutual relations. China wants to engage other countries in the economic corridor too," Chen said.

He said China had time and again clarified it to India that it had no hegemonic designs in the region.
"We rather view CPEC as a way of forming equal relationships with regional countries and to promote friendship and neighbourhood in the region," he added.

Feng clarified that China was not a party in the Kashmir dispute.

"India's accusation of Chinese occupation on any part of Kashmir is baseless. We have denied such claims in the past as well. Kashmir is a bone of contention between India and Pakistan, peaceful solution of which is the only way to regional peace and prosperity," he was quoted as saying.
Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
BRICS Double Lending to Poor Countries as Foreign Direct Investment Falls to Lowest Point since 2009 Crisis (БРИКС удвоил кредитование бедных стран, когда прямые иностранные инвестиции упали до самого низкого уровня с 2009 года) / USA, November, 2017
Keywords: research, economic_challenges

WASHINGTON, November 14, 2017 – In its latest analysis of global debt and equity flows, the World Bank reports that financial flows to low- and middle-income countries rose in 2016 to $773 billion - three times their 2015 levels, according to International Debt Statistics 2018 (IDS 2018) released today.

However, this trend did not extend to the poorest countries. Among the 59 countries that qualify only for the World Bank's lending program for the world's most impoverished countries, (IDA), net debt inflows fell 34% to $17.6 billion - their lowest level since 2011.

This fall came as tighter market conditions and credit rating downgrades blunted access to private capital, and as inflows from bilateral creditors dropped. Activity from the BRICs suggest that this trend may be temporary, with new loan commitments to low- and middle-income countries more than doubling in 2016 to $84 billion.

Amid the rise in net financial flows, foreign direct investment (FDI) fell 11 percent in 2016 to $481 billion, a level not seen since 2009. The drop in FDI, traditionally the largest and least volatile of external financial flows to low- and middle-income countries, reflected the fragility of the global economy, sluggish growth in some commodity-exporting countries and a slump in profits earned by multilateral enterprises.

"These international debt statistics are a vital input for debt managers, policymakers and researchers working to improve the management of global capital flows. Expanding the scope of the online data and making them available at the earliest opportunity is an important goal of the Bank's commitment to Open Data", says Haishan Fu, Director of the Bank's Development Data Group which produces the report and database.

International Debt Statistics 2018 presents further analysis of key trends and developments in debt and equity flows in 2016. Some highlights include:

  • Net financial (debt and equity) flows to low- and middle-income countries rebounded in 2016 to $773 billion. Renewed net long-term debt inflows (loan disbursements minus principal payments), which climbed to $264 billion, and a reversal in short-term debt flows drove the rebound and offset a 7 percent fall in net equity inflows.
  • External debt stocks rose 4.1 percent in 2016 but external debt ratios deteriorated. The average ratio of external debt-to-GNI (26 percent) and to export earnings (107 percent) remains moderate but 25 percent of low- and middle-income countries had a ratio of external debt-to-GNI above 60 percent at end 2016 and 44 percent of countries a debt-to-exports ratio above 150 percent.
  • The rebound in net debt inflows to low and middle-income countries in 2016 did not extend to the world's poorest countries. Net debt inflows to IDA-only countries fell 34 percent in 2016 to $17.6 billion their lowest level since 2011, driven by a downturn in inflows from official sources and collapse in inflows from private creditors.
  • New loan commitments from bilateral creditors more than doubled in 2016 to $84 billion driven by new financing from other low- and middle-income countries, primarily the BRICs and notably China, in the context of the 'One Belt One Road' initiative launched in 2013.
International Debt Statistics 2018 presents statistics and analysis of external debt and financial flows (debt and equity) of low- and middle-income countries for 2016. This year's edition provides a short overview and summary tables, complemented by a fuller, expanded dataset available online.

The World Bank's Debtor Reporting System (DRS), the primary source for the data on the external debt of low- and middle-income countries presented in International Debt Statistics was established in 1951.

India moves up one notch to 126 in GDP per capita terms: IMF (Индия поднялась на одну ступень до 126 в ВВП на душу населения: МВФ) / India, November, 2017
Keywords: rating

India has moved up one position to 126th in terms of GDP per capita of countries, still ranked lower than all its BRICS peers, while Qatar remains the world's richest on this parameter, as per IMF data.

The data, which forms part of the latest World Economic Outlook report of the International Monetary Fund, ranks over 200 countries in terms of per capita GDP based on purchasing power parity (PPP).

PPP between two countries is the rate at which the currency of one country needs to be converted into that of a second country to ensure that a given amount of the first country's currency will purchase the same volume of goods and services in the second country as it does in the first.

India has seen its per capita GDP rise to USD 7,170 in 2017, from USD 6,690 last year, helping improve its rank by a position to 126th.

Qatar remains top-ranked with per capita GDP of USD 1,24,930, followed by Macao at the second position with USD 1,14,430 and Luxembourg third with USD 1,09,190.

Among BRICS countries, India has the lowest per capita GDP. Russia boasts of a GDP per capita of USD 27,900, while for China, it stood at USD 16,620, Brazil at USD 15,500 and South Africa at USD 13,400.

Interestingly, as per a recent Credit Suisse report, India is home to 2.45 lakh millionaires with a total household wealth of USD 5 trillion.

As per the IMF data, the richest 10 countries in the world in per capita GDP terms also include Singapore (4th, USD 90,530), Brunei (5th, USD 76,740), Ireland (6th, USD 72,630), Norway (7th, USD 70,590), Kuwait (8th, USD 69,670), United Arab Emirates (9th, USD 68,250) and Switzerland (10th, USD 61,360).

The US has failed to make it to the top 10 and is ranked 13th with a GDP per capita of USD 59,500 while the UK is ranked even lower.

According to a Fortune magazine report based on the IMF data, several top-ranking countries such as Qatar and Brunei "have fuel and oil propelling their economies", while investment and strong banking systems have helped propel economic growth in other countries like Iceland and Ireland.
Forget the BRICs, in fintech it's the BRAT pack - CITI (Забудьте про БРИКС, в финтехе это BRAT - Citi) / United Kingdom, November, 2017
Keywords: expert_opinion

LONDON (Reuters) - Blossoming fintech growth in Brazil, Russia, across Africa and in Turkey looks so promising in the view of analysts at U.S. bank Citi that they have given them their very own acronym - the "BRATs".

It is the latest twist on the BRICs label coined in the early 2000s, but with Brazilians and South Africans among the world's most voracious internet users and smartphone sales booming across 'BRAT' countries, they may deserve their own tag.

BRATs also have lower-than-average dependence on cash, which helps the adoption of digital payment options, while there's the simple fact that Brazil and Russia alone have populations of more than 200 million and 144 million respectively, making the potential growth huge.

Venture capital FinTech investments across Latin America rose more than 30 percent last year to around $200 million, with Brazil having the largest number of startups across payments, financial management, lending and investment.

Though smaller, Turkey's young population and proximity to Europe and Asia give it an edge in terms of new tech adoption. Turkey's total population is around 80 million.

South Africa's speciality, Citi says, is micropayments - platforms for very small transactions.

Around 60 to 70 percent of the population in the BRATs already has some form of banking relationship, according to World Bank figures, in sharp contrast to other heavily populated emerging markets such as the Philippines and Indonesia, where the share remains tiny.

"This provides fintechs with a fertile ground as customers often just need to be converted to a more competitive product as opposed to being taught the broad array of financial products," Citi analysts wrote.

These markets also have highly concentrated banking systems, making them ripe for disruption by newcomers such as Kenya's mobile financial services firm M-Pesa, which has revolutionised payment systems in the country.
Political Events
Political events in the public life of BRICS
BRICS is One of Russia Key Platforms for Global Dialogue — Expert (БРИКС для России - одна из ключевых платформ для глобального диалога) / Russia, November, 2017
Keywords: expert_opinion

Russia uses the BRICS platform to promote the idea that Africa is a fast-growing center of power in international relations and global economy, Olga Kulkova, Research Fellow at the Center for Studies of Russian-African Relations, the Institute for African Studies in Moscow, told TASS.

"I think that BRICS is one of the main platforms for global dialogues for Russia. We get access to the African population through the framework of BRICS, to which the Republic of South Africa belongs, and develop projects together with our partners within the organization. As of today more than 30 biggest Russian companies already operate in Africa, though in my view Russia still lacks a full-fledged strategy for developing relations with all African countries," she said.

"However, we have stable bilateral relations with a number of African states. Russia has had long-standing partners since the struggle for independence in African countries. Morocco is one of those important partners. Amid sanctions and counter-sanctions the Russian economy needs new partners, it is necessary to tap new African markets and keep relations with long-standing partners, expand them in new areas," the expert added.

According to Kulkova, "the visit of Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev to Morocco in October once again proved that the relations with the kingdom are of a strategic partnership, which concerns various fields, including agriculture, energy, new technologies and more." "Russia has much to offer to Morocco, and we appreciate the kingdom's friendly attitude to Russian business and Russian initiatives," she said.

"I think that Russia uses BRICS to promote the understanding that Africa is a fast-growing center of power in international relations and global economy. As of today not a single big global power can do without building relations with the African continent, (no one) can ignore it," Kulkova said.

"There is a number of emerging economies in Africa, such as Nigeria, Egypt, Kenia, Rwanda, which demonstrate high economic growth rates and have huge demographic potential. BRICS is an open framework, not a closed club, which is why I think that one or several African countries may well become members of this integration in the future," she said.

According to the expert, "the BRICS countries will be increasingly interested in expanding cooperation with Africa in various formats, which may result in providing other African countries with an opportunity to be represented in BRICS.".

World of work
Social policy, trade unions, actions
Dismal expenditure (Ужасные расходы) / India, November, 2017
Keywords: healthcare, social_issues, economic_challenges
Author: Arun Mitra

Inappropriate and misplaced priorities cannot improve health of our people.
There was much hope that the National Health Policy 2017 (NHP) would give a new impetus to the healthcare delivery system in our country. The Health Policy is a document for assessment of the contemporary health situation, the issues involved and the way forward to ameliorate the prevailing problems so that citizens get the required health care. The NHP 2017 has to be analysed in that context.

The vast majority of our people are devoid of basic healthcare, what to talk about advanced quality tertiary care. The government of India has been a signatory to the Alma Ata declaration whereby we had committed to providing healthcare to all by the end of the century. It is 17 years since the dawn of the new century, but healthcare to all remains a dream for our people. Our public healthcare expenditure is the lowest among the BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). Our public health spending is around 1.1 per cent of the GDP. In comparison, other members of BRICS spend much higher. South Africa spends around 8.8 per cent, Brazil spends 8.3 per cent and the Russia allocates 7.1 per cent of GDP on health. Even the SAARC countries spend more than us. Maldives spends 13.7 per cent, Afghanistan 8.2 per cent and Nepal 5.8 per cent of its GDP on health. This has caused large scale disparities and inequity on access to healthcare. In many ways our health indicators are lower than other SAARC countries barring Pakistan. But should we always take satisfaction by declaring that we are better than Pakistan on several counts? This at a time when we aspire to be a world leader in economic performance while Pakistan is nowhere near.

The NHP 2017 document admits that our public health spending is very low and talks of increasing it to 2.5 per cent. Various expert groups on health have been demanding that public health spending should be increased to minimum of 5 per cent if we want to achieve at least minimum healthcare facilities for our citizens. Worldwide experience has shown that the countries with higher public health spending have better health indicators. This is because private health sector is profit-based and by its very nature does not have a priority to look after the basic healthcare needs of the lowest strata of the society. Whereas the NHP document analyses the problems in the correct perspective, its approach lacks orientation of comprehensive health care. It harps on public-private partnership to meet the end and talks of medical tourism with an aim to draw in money from patients from outside India. Such advise has been given by the "policy framework for reforms in healthcare, which have been drafted by the Prime Minister's advisory council on trade and industry headed by Mukesh Ambani and Kumaramangalam Birla". This is a totally corporate-driven approach, which considers health as an industry instead of an asset and a social welfare subject.

Encouragement of insurance coverage in the Health policy is in complete variance to the concept of universal healthcare. Insurance is a premium-based system, where one gets facilities based on the premium paid. Therefore, the affluent become entitled to better healthcare facilities. The government's schemes to pay premium for the poor is not based on the actual healthcare needs. Most of these schemes cover very little amount, which hardly serves any purpose in the event of serious illness. Cost of healthcare in the corporate sector hospitals is very high as compared to the government sector. To expect the poor to get care from state sector alone while the economically better off section avails of healthcare from the private sector is not correct. This is particularly so when most of the healthcare, nearly 80 per cent, is provided by the private sector.

The NHP is silent on the drug policy. Expenditure on drugs is around 67 per cent of the total healthcare cost to a person. This cost has to be brought down substantially to make these within the reach of common man. Indian drug companies had made and supplied cheap drugs not only to our population but also to other countries, including some developed countries. The foundation of cheap bulk drugs was laid by our first Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru, who laid stress on the production of drugs by public sector companies. He was of the opinion that drugs cannot be left to private concerns because their sole motive is profit and it will affect affordability by a vast majority of population. This approach led to the opening up of prestigious units like the Indian Drugs and Pharmaceutical (IDPL), which supplied drugs for national health programmes and during national calamities. It is unfortunate that the present government is out to close the public sector pharmaceutical units. Drug prices, particularly of the newer drugs, have already been hit after the WTO regime came into force and product patent became the rule. With the closure of pharmaceutical public sector units (PSU), there will be a total reversal of policies making the task of universal health care even more difficult.

(Dr. Arun Mitra is senior Vice President Indian Doctors for Peace and Development, Former Chairman Ethical Committee Punjab Medical Council & Member core committee ADEH. Views are strictly personal.)
BRICS scientists plan nanotheranostics for simultaneous cancer diagnosis, treatment (Ученые БРИКС планируют использовать нанотерапию для одновременной диагностики и лечения рака) / Russia, November, 2017
Keywords: healthcare

Cancer therapy a la paintball? Three teams from BRICS countries, including Russia and India, plan to embark on a project that uses the benefits of nanotechnology to simultaneously bundle both diagnostics and therapy into one package for treating cancer just like paintball activity.

Dubbed nananotheranostics' (abridged from therapy-diagnostic), this emerging advanced nano-medicine helps customising treatment for the patient and also shorten time between diagnosis and therapy of a disease, all with one pharmaceutical agent.

Like those James Bond-style GPS tracking devices, nanotheranostics allows monitoring drug delivery, movement of drug and therapeutic responses, enabling treatment strategies to be modified according to changing needs of the patient.

As tackling cancer is not a one-size-fits-all scenario, nanotechnology provides the means for more precise and earlier tumour localisation and more efficient treatment with less secondary effects.

Countries such as the US, UK, France and Germany are leading in nanotheranostics for personalised medicine.

To tackle cancer burden in the BRICS bloc, three teams representing Brazil, India and Russia have framed the "Development, Characterisation and Evaluation of Nanoradiopharmaceuticals for Breast and Prostate Cancer Imaging, Diagnostics and Treatment" project (DCEN-4-BRICS).

"Nanotheranostics may help to save millions of lives, ensure earlier diagnosis, cheaper treatment and better quality of life of the patients," Igor Nabiev, Laboratory of Nano-Bioengineering, National Research Nuclear University MEPhI (Moscow Engineering Physics Institute), the project's Russian co-ordinator, told IANS here in an interview.

Nabiev said the idea is to develop biodegradable nano-sized vehicles which would be loaded with anti-cancer drugs and/or radioisotopes used for cancer imaging (through SPECT and PET) and treatment.

Imaging techniques "methods of producing pictures of the body" are important element of early detection for many cancers and are also important for determining the stage (telling how advanced the cancer is) and the precise locations of cancer.

In addition to the cargo of drugs and radioisotope, these nano carriers would also be labelled with fluorescent quantum dots (QDs) to make them visible and tagged with single-domain antibodies for cancer specific recognition.

"These nano carriers will recognise and bind specifically to the tumours," Nabiev said.

Due to the QDs, the tumours can be seen optically and courtesy the radioisotopes, they can be visualised through imaging techniques (SPECT, PET) once these nano scale structures stick to the tumour.

And ultimately, on attaching themselves to the tumours, these drug-loaded nano carriers can release the drug to the tumour site and kick-off treatment.

All in one go.

Nabiev believes scaling of multifunctional carriers production will certainly make them much cheaper than existing drug delivery systems.

The three-year long project is in the final stage of submission.

"It has just been submitted in India, it will be submitted on November 28 to BRICS secretariat and Brazilian funding body, and by November 30 deadline to Russian Foundation for Basic Research," informed Nabiev .

"The total cost for this first stage of the three-year-long project which should demonstrate the proof-of-proposed-principle is nearly 150,000 USD per year."

The project aims to harness the Brazilian co-ordinator's expertise in cancer radioisotopes imaging and treatment (Ralph Santos-Oliveira, Nuclear Engineering Institute, Brazilian Nuclear Energy Commission), Nabiev's lab's prowess in QD development for cancer optical imaging and advanced cancer recognition molecules, and Indian coordinator's (Umesh Gupta, School of Chemical Science and Pharmacy, Central University of Rajasthan) specialisation in biodegradable polymeric capsules/carriers.

"Furthermore, we expect that the DCEN-4-BRICS project will create not only a solid Brazil-Russia-India collaboration background, but also a synergy for wider collaboration and nano medicine network involving the other BRICS countries," Nabiev said.

The BRICS bloc has been recognised for its potential to influence global health, with the Director General of the WHO, Margaret Chan, commenting in 2011 that "BRICS represents a block of countries with a great potential to move global public health in the right direction towards reducing the current vast gaps in health outcomes and introducing greater fairness in the way the benefits of medical and scientific progress are distributed".

Finally, this project will include student exchange programmes for drug delivery system development.

"Doing this, we will promote nanomedicine and nanoradiopharmacy and offer new undergraduate and graduate programs, thus providing unique impetus to the careers of young researchers for all collaborating partners," he added.

Comprehensive reports, BRICS research materials
The Varieties of Collective Financial Statecraft: The BRICS and China (Разновидности коллективного финансового управления: БРИКС и Китай) / USA, November, 2017
Keywords: research, economic_challenges

SAORI N. KATADA, CYNTHIA ROBERTS, and LESLIE ELLIOTT ARMIJO examine the collective financial statecraft initiatives implemented by the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), five emerging powers important internationally and in their respective regions. They argue that BRICS cooperation has been surprisingly successful thus far.
Brazil, Russia, India, and China: Payment Developments in the BRIC Countries (Бразилия, Россия, Индия и Китай: платежное развитие в странах БРИКС) / USA, November, 2017
Keywords: research, economic_challenges

When the acronym "BRIC" was coined in 2001, the BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) were the darlings of world economists, who projected that the four developing economies would mature during the 21st century and surpass the economic output of many developed markets. Growth has been uneven, however, and China now dominates this economic grouping in terms of economic growth, income per capita, and payments implementation. China's point-of-sale terminal installations and cards outstanding are now more than double U.S. deployment. India, though similar in size, lags China. Inflation and shortfalls in growth of gross domestic product have had a particularly strong impact on Brazil and Russia. India is well intentioned but the process is moving slowly.

A new research report, Brazil, Russia, India and China: Payment Developments in the BRIC Countries, discusses how the BRIC nations, while similar in their long-term potential, face unique challenges based on economic, political, and social issues. The report also identifies how each country, in its own ways, is moving toward a more country-driven payments model rather than just integrating the universal branded payments scheme.

"In about 15 years, China UnionPay has built out a payments function that dwarfs the U.S. market in terms of deployed credit and debit cards, plus terminal installations," commented Brian Riley, Director Credit Advisory Service and author of the report. "Another interesting facet of the BRIC markets is their use of domestic payment schemes, such as ELO in Brazil, Mir Card in Russia, RuPay in India, and UnionPay in China. These will not eliminate the need for international payment cards, but they will certainly divert transaction volume."

Highlights of the research report include:

  • Key economic indicators in the BRIC markets
  • Projected credit and debit card volumes
  • The implications of indigenous payment networks that run outside or in tandem with global payment systems
  • Discussion of why China payments flourish and India payments languish
  • Long-range implications to the payments industry.
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