Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 49.2017
2017.11.27— 2017.12.03
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Sustainable Development Goals: BRICS and Russia (Цели устойчивого развития: БРИКС и Россия) / China, December, 2017
Keywords: concluded_agreements, off_docs, sustainable_development, un

The goals of sustainable development for the period 2016-2030 were formulated by the UN in 2015 and are intended for all countries. A key step towards the realization of these goals is their adaptation to the socio-economic particularities of individual countries. The achievement of SDGs depends on the level of human development, society structure, financial opportunities, certain strategic development documents and natural resources of countries.

BRICS countries differ from other emerging countries and from each other as well, in particular their social, economic, educational, financial aspects are different. BRICS countries should inform each other on implementation plans for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development of the UN and support other countries with expertise technologies and finances. During next decades BRICS countries will become more powerful in political and economic aspects; they will enhance the level of human development and try to solve the problem of inequality.

Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) has already been endorsed by the UN as a potential "accelerator and an effective vehicle" to achieve SDGs. Bilateral and multilateral cooperation will boost development in several ways:

· BRI will function as a vehicle for promoting regional cooperation with possible future consolidation of existing bilateral efforts

· BRI will require an optimal strategy for coordination among countries to become efficient

· The Silk Road goes far beyond transportation, and it is probably the biggest continental infrastructural initiative since the Russian Trans-Siberian railroad.

· The Silk Road positive economic impact will gradually expand due to the involvement of wider areas of member states and economic sectors into it.

Official Adaptation of SDG for Russia is still to be developed. But Analytical Center for the Government of the Russian Federation has already made a big report: "UN Sustainable Development Goals and Russia" (2016) where we can see SDGs compared with Russian specifics. Some of SDGs are relevant for Russian social and economic development, others are already achieved (several — at soviet period):

· SDG #3 "Good Health and Well-being" is relevant for Russia. During the last forty years, Russia has fallen in the rating of life expectancy from 82nd place to 137th in the world. It should be noted that increasing life expectancy and quality of life much depends on proper diagnosis and effective disease treatment.

· The significance of quality education (SDG #4) should also be noted. The indicators of education (for example, secondary education is completed by 96% of Russians) are much better than the same rates in the BRICS countries and in the OECD countries.

· As for SDG #9, a very important sector of Russian economy is transport, producing 5.4% of gross domestic product; it is higher than the same meanings of other countries (for instance, BRICS, and even Germany and USA). In addition, Russia has the third longest extent of rail-track in the world (the USA have the 1st and China – the 2nd).

One of important problems in Russian economy is the lack of private investments especially in R&D. Almost 70% of investments in R&D in Russia are state investments.

We should also consider regional inequality while speaking about sustainable development. Looking through the human development index distribution across Russian regions we can see that the Gross regional product per capita differs almost 20 times among Russian regions while education and health development levels are more even.

So there is a lot of work on Sustainable Development in Russia, BRICS and other emerging countries as well. At the same time, we already can see considerable progress in this direction.

BRICS are urged to turn Sept summit into actions (БРИКС призваны начать действовать по договоренностям сентябрьского саммита) / China, November, 2017
Keywords: quotation, xiamen_summit
Author: An Baijie and Feng Zhiwei

Vice-foreign minister hands over gavel to upcoming leader, S. Africa

BRICS countries should try to implement the outcomes and consensus of September's Xiamen Summit to usher in a second "golden decade" of the bloc of emerging markets and developing countries, a senior diplomat said on Monday.

Li Baodong, vice-foreign minister, made the remark while chairing the fifth BRICS Sherpa Meeting held in Changsha, in Central China's Hunan province. Senior diplomats from BRICS member countries - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - who are in charge of coordination are called Sherpas.

"Friendship and cooperation with BRICS countries and other developing countries and emerging markets is part of China's overall diplomatic endeavor," Li said. He pledged to make an open and inclusive world while working with other BRICS members.

Calling the BRICS Summit in coastal Xiamen in early September a "complete success", Li said leaders of the five member countries had in-depth discussions and reached consensus on many important issues.

"After 10 years of development, BRICS has turned into an important force in promoting world economic growth, promoting reform of global governance and safeguarding international peace and stability," he said.

Noting that 64 high-quality outcomes of documents were produced from some 100 meetings and events throughout the year, Li said BRICS economic cooperation has been further strengthened during China's presidency this year.

The leaders have "mapped out new blueprints for strengthening the BRICS partnership and deepening practical cooperation in various fields", he said.

Li also introduced the outcomes of the 19th CPC National Congress, which blueprinted China's development in all areas for the next decades.

China will strengthen friendship and cooperation with other countries to forge a new form of international relations and build a community of shared future for mankind "in the new era", he said.

After the meeting, Li hosted a ceremony to hand over a gavel symbolizing the BRICS presidency to Anil Sooklal, deputy director of Asia and the Middle East at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa. South Africa will hold the presidency of BRICS next year.

Wang Xiaolong, China's special envoy to BRICS, said at the meeting that the BRICS agenda for this year has been "successfully accomplished".

At the Xiamen Summit, President Xi Jinping pledged to set aside 500 million yuan ($76.61 million) for economic and technological cooperation and exchanges among BRICS countries.

China also announced at the summit the injection of $4 million into the project preparation fund of the BRICS-led New Development Bank for the bank's operation and long-term development.
The Fifth BRICS Sherpa Meeting Successfully Held (Успешно прошла пятая встреча шерп БРИКС) / China, November, 2017
Keywords: sherpa_meeting

On 27 November, the Fifth BRICS Sherpa Meeting was held in Changsha, Hunan Province. The meeting was chaired by H.E. Li Baodong, Sherpa for BRICS affairs and Vice Foreign Minister of China, and attended by Sherpas of BRICS countries and representatives from the New Development Bank.

During the meeting, Sherpas conducted systematic review of BRICS cooperation in 2017 and the progress achieved in economic cooperation, political and security cooperation and people-to-people and cultural exchanges, held in-depth discussions on the implementation of outcomes of the Xiamen Summit, and agreed to formulate specific working plans so as to usher in the second Golden Decade of BRICS cooperation. Sherpas also exchanged views on BRICS institutional development and achieved broad consensus.

Delegates of BRICS countries and the New Development Bank congratulated China again on the full success of the Xiamen Summit as it marked a new milestone of BRICS cooperation and spoke highly of China's outstanding work as the BRICS Chairmanship this year. They all recognized the importance of 2017 in bridging the past and the future of BRICS cooperation, and believed that BRICS cooperation is heading towards a brighter future. Vice Minister Li Baodong extended gratitude to his counterparts for their assistance and support to China and reaffirmed that China would continue to participate in BRICS cooperation in an all-round and active manner in an effort to jointly promote a new type of international relations and build a community of a shared future for mankind.

Before the conclusion of the meeting, a brief handover ceremony was also held between China and South Africa, the BRICS Chairmanship of 2018.

China is the BRICS Chair in 2017 and successfully held the BRICS Xiamen Summit on September 3 to 5. The Fifth Sherpa Meeting, as the last Sherpa Meeting under China's Chairmanship, represents a perfect conclusion of BRICS "Chinese year".
Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
BRICS countries to set up a working group on legal regulation of crypto currencies (Страны БРИКС создадут рабочую группу по правовому регулированию криптовалют) / Russia, December, 2017
Keywords: digital, economic_challenges, quotation

At the moment there are about 3,000 different crypto currencies and there is no common understanding of how to regulate their turnover

MOSCOW, November 30. /TASS/. The participants in the 4th BRICS Legal Forum (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) have agreed to form a working group that will deal with the legal regulation of crypto currencies, Vladimir Gruzdev, Chairman of the board of the Association of Lawyers of Russia, told TASS on the sidelines of the forum on Thursday.

"We are creating an international working group that will develop common approaches to the legal regulation of the digital economy in the BRICS countries," Gruzdev said.

He noted that at the moment there are about 3,000 different crypto currencies and there is no common understanding of how to regulate their turnover. The status of exchanges, where these crypto-currencies are sold and bought, is yet to be defined, he added.

"The question about taxation emerges, it is necessary to define what a crypto currency is. Is it a service, a means of payment, a commodity? Everybody wants to use it, but the legal regime is not clear," he said.

According to Gruzdev, it is assumed that he will lead the working group. This will allow Russia to be "in the forefront of the legal process," he said.

He also said that the initiative to establish an arbitration court of BRICS was supported at the forum. Gruzdev expressed hope that arbitration court will be located in Russia.
BRICS Gold Trading System Poised to Reduce US Dollar Dominance - Gold Trader (Система торговли золотом БРИКС направлена на снижение доминирования доллара США - торговец золотом) / Russia, November, 2017
Keywords: expert_opinion, trade_relations, economic_challenges

First deputy chairman of Russia's Central Bank – Sergey Shvetsov has recently announced that BRICS countries are mulling the creation of a unified gold trading system. And as David Gibson, Managing Director at GoldVu Investment Company, told Radio Sputnik, this new system may allow BRICS to become more independent of the US trade influence.

Radio Sputnik: How realistic are the plans to create a unifying system for gold trade within the BRICS region?

David Gibson: I think it's very realistic. I mean, even there were no detailed plans announced, there's no reason why it can't be done, as gold has been used historically as an instrument of trade for centuries. So it's just a case of waiting to hear the details, but it's very achievable.

Radio Sputnik: And how will this new unifying system work? Will this system be dependent on other trade hubs?

David Gibson: I think it's very likely that the system will run in parallel with the other trade hubs, but it's also likely to be launched and restricted at the start to specific commodities. For example, it has been reported that both Russia and China have been preparing to launch oil futures markets in St. Petersburg and Shanghai, with oil being priced in rubles and yuan, it's a suggestion that such future transactions being linked to gold. And that would work would be if currency exports oil to China, to the largest oil refinery in the world, and accepts yuan in exchange. And it may be possible for the country to sort the yuan-oil sales into gold.

Radio Sputnik: And how will this initiative affect all the other global financial markets, namely American and European ones; and what about the world economy, is it going to affect that? What's your assessment of that?

David Gibson: It's going to affect (them) in a couple of ways. First, it's going to reduce the US Dollar dominance in world trade; second, it will increase the price of gold on the world markets in general; third point, it'll probably make the BRICS more independent of the US influence in regards of trade. However, nothing dramatic will happen to the market as a whole. Such an initiative will signal an important fundamental change and it benefits BRICS in general, for sure, in the long run; and it also puts pressure on the West to follow suit or lose out economically.
BRICS Gold Trade Settlement To Begin in 2018? - Rory Hall (В 2018 году начнется строительство торговой зоны золотом БРИКС? - Рори Холл) / USA, November, 2017
Keywords: expert_opinion, trade_relations, economic_challenges
Author: Rory Hall

My guess is it will take Russia and China and the other BRICS nations most of 2018 to get all the nuances worked out and the gold trade settlement contracts will not actually come to the table until 2019 or possibly even 2020. We say this in light of what happened with the Shanghai Gold Exchange (SGE) bringing their gold settlement mechanism online back in April 2016. The SGE was supposed to bring this online in October 2015, but was unable to make it happen as they wished to avoid any major mishaps when launching. Anyone that has dealt with the launch of a new computer system or an "upgrade" to a computer system understands there are usually massive problems to begin with, as going from a virtual world to real world can sometimes be quite different than originally anticipated.

We have been reluctantly reporting on the "gold backed oil contract" supposedly coming out of China sometime in the future. We can say with 100% certainty there will be a yuan backed oil contract launched in the very near future, as that has been officially announced and an actual contract exists. The gold backed portion is still a little sketchy at this point as there has been no official announcement, no Chinese official discussing, nor does any contract exist that is tied to the yuan backed oil contract.

What we just learned "First Deputy Chairman of Russia's Central Bank Sergey Shvetsov said Friday", Russia and China are discussing a "single (system of) gold trade both within BRICS and at the level of bilateral contacts."

Is this the reason for the two recent attempts at beating gold down the line? Neither attempt, in my opinion, was very successful except in the very, very short term as both attempts were greeted with equal amount of contracts on the acquiring side of the trade. The gold bugs were waiting to pull the trigger on these smashes and as soon as the gold chart dropped, it reversed, and most of the "losses" were regained within 48 hours or less.

With this announcement hitting the wire on Friday, November 24, it would make sense these recent smashes were the type of attempt to push even more people out of the gold market (and into bitcoin) to keep them away from real, tangible money. This also happens to coincide with the official gold holdings monthly announcement showing Russia, once again, increased her share of physical gold at the Russian Central Bank.

Russia has made it very clear that the Federal Reserve Note is a threat to Russian sovereignty and the Russian economy. Russia has also made it crystal clear that she will be making moves away from the Federal Reserve Note, US dollar.

The Russian news service, TASS, is reporting

"The traditional (trade) system based in London and partially in Swiss cities is becoming less relevant as new trade hubs are emerging, first of all in India, China and South Africa. We are discussing the possibility to establish a single (system of) gold trade both within BRICS and at the level of bilateral contacts," he said, adding that this system may serve as a basis for further creation of new benchmarks.
According to Shvetsov, the Bank of Russia has already signed a memorandum on development of bilateral gold trade with Chinese colleagues. The regulator plans to take first steps towards formation of a single trade system with the People's Republic of China in 2018, he added.

"We assume that trade and clearing links should be established. The point is that gold buyers should decide on the place of purchase," the official said, adding that trade links would enable market participants to make deals on international exchanges via the central counter-party. Source
It sounds like our 2018 forecast seeing the beginning stages of the run up to $1,700+ are now getting secondary support from an actual gold market using physical gold. Russia and China have been making subtle moves with gold over the past several years, and this announcement seems to be the next step in the evolving gold as money story. We will see gold come back to the table as trade settlement. What form it takes has been one of the remaining questions and now we are seeing that conversation begin to unfold. Got physical?

Russia, China and BRICS: A New Gold Trading Network (Россия, Китай и БРИКС: новая торговая сеть золотом) / Singapore, December, 2017
Keywords: economic_challenges, trade_relations, Sergey_Shvetsov
Author: Ronan Manly

One of the most notable events in Russia's precious metals market calendar is the annual "Russian Bullion Market" conference. Formerly known as the Russian Bullion Awards, this conference, now in its 10th year, took place this year on Friday 24 November in Moscow. Among the speakers lined up, the most notable inclusion was probably Sergey Shvetsov, First Deputy Chairman of Russia's central bank, the Bank of Russia.

In his speech, Shvetsov provided an update on an important development involving the Russian central bank in the worldwide gold market, and gave further insight into the continued importance of physical gold to the long term economic and strategic interests of the Russian Federation.

Firstly, in his speech Shvetsov confirmed that the BRICS group of countries are now in discussions to establish their own gold trading system. As a reminder, the 5 BRICS countries comprise the Russian Federation, China, India, South Africa and Brazil.

Four of these nations are among the world's major gold producers, namely, China, Russia, South Africa and Brazil. Furthermore, two of these nations are the world's two largest importers and consumers of physical gold, namely, China and Russia. So what these economies have in common is that they all major players in the global physical gold market.

Shvetsov envisages the new gold trading system evolving via bilateral connections between the BRICS member countries, and as a first step Shvetsov reaffirmed that the Bank of Russia has now signed a Memorandum of Understanding with China (see below) on developing a joint trading system for gold, and that the first implementation steps in this project will begin in 2018.

Interestingly, the Bank of Russia first deputy chairman also discounted the traditional dominance of London and Switzerland in the gold market, saying that London and the Swiss trading operations are becoming less relevant in today's world. He also alluded to new gold pricing benchmarks arising out of this BRICS gold trading cooperation.

BRICS cooperation in the gold market, especially between Russia and China, is not exactly a surprise, because it was first announced in April 2016 by Shvetsov himself when he was on a visit to China.

At the time Shvetsov, as reported by TASS in Russian, and translated here, said:

"We (the Central Bank of the Russian Federation and the People's Bank of China) discussed gold trading. The BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) are major economies with large reserves of gold and an impressive volume of production and consumption of the precious metal. In China, gold is traded in Shanghai, and in Russia in Moscow. Our idea is to create a link between these cities so as to intensify gold trading between our markets."

Also as a reminder, earlier this year in March, the Bank of Russia opened its first foreign representative office, choosing the location as Beijing in China. At the time, the Bank of Russia portrayed the move as a step towards greater cooperation between Russia and China on all manner of financial issues, as well as being a strategic partnership between the Bank of Russia and the People's bank of China.

The Memorandum of Understanding on gold trading between the Bank of Russia and the People's Bank of China that Shvetsov referred to was actually signed in September of this year when deputy governors of the two central banks jointly chaired an inter-country meeting on financial cooperation in the Russian city of Sochi, location of the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Deputy Governors of the People's Bank of China and Bank of Russia sign Memorandum on Gold Trading, Sochi, September 2017. Photo: Bank of Russia National Security and Financial Terrorism

At the Moscow bullion market conference last week, Shvetsov also explained that the Russian State's continued accumulation of official gold reserves fulfills the goal of boosting the Russian Federation's national security. Given this statement, there should really be no doubt that the Russian State views gold as both as an important monetary asset and as a strategic geopolitical asset which provides a source of wealth and monetary power to the Russian Federation independent of external financial markets and systems.

And in what could either be a complete coincidence, or a coordinated update from another branch of the Russian monetary authorities, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov also appeared in public last weekend, this time on Sunday night on a discussion program on Russian TV channel "Russia 1".

Siluanov's discussion covered the Russian government budget and sanctions against the Russian Federation, but he also pronounced on what would happen in a situation where a foreign power attempted to seize Russian gold and foreign exchange reserves. According to Interfax, and translated here into English, Siluanov said that:

"If our gold and foreign currency reserves were ever seized, even if it was just an intention to do so, that would amount to financial terrorism. It would amount to a declaration of financial war between Russia and the party attempting to seize the assets."

As to whether the Bank of Russia holds any of its gold abroad is debatable, because officially two-thirds of Russia's gold is stored in a vault in Moscow, with the remaining one third stored in St Petersburg. But Silanov's comment underlines the importance of the official gold reserves to the Russian State, and underscores why the Russian central bank is in the midst of one of the world's largest gold accumulation exercises.

1800 Tonnes and Counting

From 2000 until the middle of 2007, the Bank of Russia held around 400 tonnes of gold in its official reserves and these holdings were relatively constant. But beginning in the third quarter 2007, the bank's gold policy shifted to one of aggressive accumulation. By early 2011, Russian gold reserves had reached over 800 tonnes, by the end of 2014 the central bank held over 1200 tonnes, and by the end of 2016 the Russians claimed to have more than 1600 tonnes of gold.

Although the Russian Federation's gold reserves are managed by the Bank of Russia, the central bank is under federal ownership, so the gold reserves can be viewed as belonging to the Russian Federation. It can therefore be viewed as strategic policy of the Russian Federation to have embarked on this gold accumulation strategy from late 2007, a period that coincides with the advent of the global financial market crisis.

According to latest figures, during October 2017 the Bank of Russia added 21.8 tonnes to its official gold reserves, bringing its current total gold holdings to 1801 tonnes. For the year to date, the Russian Federation, through the Bank of Russia, has now announced additions of 186 tonnes of gold to its official reserves, which is close to its target of adding 200 tonnes of gold to the reserves this year.

With the Chinese central bank still officially claiming to hold 1842 tonnes of gold in its national gold reserves, its looks like the Bank of Russia, as soon as the first quarter 2018, will have the distinction of holding more gold than the Chinese. That is of course if the Chinese sit back and don't announce any additions to their gold reserves themselves.

The Bank of Russia now has 1801 tonnes of gold in its official reserves A threat to the London Gold Market

The new gold pricing benchmarks that the Bank of Russia's Shvetsov signalled may evolve as part of a BRICS gold trading system are particularly interesting. Given that the BRICS members are all either large producers or consumers of gold, or both, it would seem likely that the gold trading system itself will be one of trading physical gold. Therefore the gold pricing benchmarks from such a system would be based on physical gold transactions, which is a departure from how the international gold price is currently discovered.

Currently the international gold price is established (discovered) by a combination of the London Over-the-Counter (OTC) gold market trading and US-centric COMEX gold futures exchange.

However, 'gold' trading in London and on COMEX is really trading of very large quantities of synthetic derivatives on gold, which are completely detached from the physical gold market. In London, the derivative is fractionally-backed unallocated gold positions which are predominantly cash-settled, in New York the derivative is exchange-traded gold future contracts which are predominantly cash-settled and again are backed by very little real gold.

While the London and New York gold markets together trade virtually 24 hours, they interplay with the current status quo gold reference rate in the form of the LBMA Gold Price benchmark. This benchmark is derived twice daily during auctions held in London at 10:30 am and 3:00 pm between a handful of London-based bullion banks. These auctions are also for unallocated gold positions which are only fractionally-backed by real physical gold. Therefore, the de facto world-wide gold price benchmark generated by the LBMA Gold Price auctions has very little to do with physical gold trading.


It seems that slowly and surely, the major gold producing nations of Russia, China and other BRICS nations are becoming tired of the dominance of an international gold price which is determined in a synthetic trading environment which has very little to do with the physical gold market.

The Shanghai Gold Exchange's Shanghai Gold Price Benchmark which was launched in April 2016 is already a move towards physical gold price discovery, and while it does not yet influence prices in the international market, it has the infrastructure in place to do so.

When the First Deputy Chairman of the Bank of Russia points to London and Switzerland as having less relevance, while spearheading a new BRICS cross-border gold trading system involving China and Russia and other "major economies with large reserves of gold and an impressive volume of production and consumption of the precious metal", it becomes clear that moves are afoot by Russia, China and other nations to bring gold price discovery back to the realm of the physical gold markets. The icing on the cake in all this may be gold price benchmarks based on international physical gold trading.

Russia & China could set international gold price based on physical gold trading (Россия и Китай могут установить международную цену на золото на основе торговли физическим золотом) / Russia, December, 2017
Keywords: economic_challenges, trade_relations

Since Russia, China, India, Brazil & South Africa are all either large producers or consumers of gold, or both, it is highly likely that the BRICS bloc they constitute could focus its cross-border gold trading network on trading physical gold.

Gold pricing benchmarks from such a system would be based on physical gold transactions, which is a departure from the way the international gold price is currently established.

Such a system would also be a threat to "gold" trading markets in London and New York. The London Over-the-Counter (OTC) and the New York COMEX futures exchange currently set the international gold price.

OTC and COMEX are really trading synthetic derivatives on gold, and are completely detached from the physical gold market. In London, the derivative is fractionally-backed unallocated gold positions which are predominantly cash-settled. In New York the derivative is exchange-traded gold future contracts which are predominantly cash-settled and backed by very little real gold.

The major gold producers Russia, China and other BRICS nations could change the way the international gold prices are set currently - in a synthetic trading environment which has very little to do with the physical gold market.

BRICS cooperation in the gold market was first unveiled in April by the First Deputy Chairman of Russia's Central Bank, Sergey Shevtsov, during a visit to China.

"We (the Central Bank of the Russian Federation and the People's Bank of China) discussed gold trading," he said. "The BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) are major economies with large reserves of gold and an impressive volume of production and consumption of the precious metal. In China, gold is traded in Shanghai, and in Russia in Moscow. Our idea is to create a link between these cities so as to intensify gold trading between our markets."
World of work
Social policy, trade unions, actions
BRICS Legal Forum Could Create Arbitration Body Focused on Group (Юридический форум БРИКС может создать арбитражный орган, ориентированный на группу) / Russia, December, 2017
Keywords: quotation, legal_forum

The chairman of one of the committees at the International BRICS Legal Forum says that the bloc's mechanism for arbitrating commercial disputes could be based on upholding the principle of neutrality, which should be ensured through an inclusive arbitration board.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The fourth International BRICS Legal Forum, ongoing in Russia, could create an arbitration structure that would specialize in settlement of the commercial disputes within this group of states, the chairman of one of the legal forum's committees told Sputnik on Thursday.

"So this is the way we are thinking, that at the BRICS Legal Forum we can actually practically fill in the gaps and create new and more participatory regulative structures… Right now what we are looking at, is the countries will continue to have their individual arbitration centers, but when a BRICS dispute comes, it is a BRICS governing board and the common set of rules of arbitration, which will govern the dispute," Prashant Kumar, who is also the president-elect of the Bar Association of India, said.

Kumar added that the BRICS mechanism for arbitrating commercial disputes would be based on upholding the principle of neutrality, which should be ensured through an inclusive arbitration board.

The Legal Forum of the BRICS states, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, started in Moscow on Thursday. The two-day event is being hosted by the Association of Lawyers of Russia, and attended by the Brazilian Bar Association, Bar Association of India, China Law Society, East China University of Political Science and Law, Law Society of South Africa and University of Cape Town.

The discussions at the forum are dedicated to various issues, including the compatibility of legal and judicial systems of the participating countries. These talks also center around the possibility of unifying these processes with the goal of eliminating future barriers for effective international cooperation within the association.
Russia to launch 'independent internet' for BRICS nations - report (Россия запускает «независимый интернет» для стран БРИКС - отчет) / Russia, November, 2017
Keywords: digital, national_security

The Russian Security Council has asked the country's government to develop an independent internet infrastructure for BRICS nations, which would continue to work in the event of global internet malfunctions.

The initiative was discussed at the October meeting of the Security Council, which is Russia's top consultative body on national security. President Vladimir Putin personally set a deadline of August 1, 2018 for the completion of the task, the RBC news agency reported.

While discussing the issue, members of the council noted that "the increased capabilities of western nations to conduct offensive operations in the informational space as well as the increased readiness to exercise these capabilities pose a serious threat to Russia's security."

They decided that the problem should be addressed by creating a separate backup system of Domain Name Servers (DNS), which would not be subject to control by international organizations. This system would be used by countries of the BRICS bloc – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

The issue of excessive dependency on global DNS has previously been addressed by Russia. In 2014, the Russian Communications Ministry conducted a major exercise in which it simulated the "switching off" of global internet services and used a Russian backup system to successfully support web operations inside the country.

However, when reporters asked Vladimir Putin's Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov if the country's authorities had been considering disconnecting from the global internet in 2014, Peskov dismissed these allegations as false.

"Russia's disconnection from the global internet is of course out of the question," Peskov told the Interfax news agency. However, the official also emphasized that "recently, a fair share of unpredictability is present in the actions of our partners both in the US and the EU, and we [Russia] must be prepared for any turn of events."

"We all know who the chief administrator of the global internet is. And due to its volatility, we have to think about how to ensure our national security," said Peskov. It's not about disconnecting Russia from the World Wide Web, he added, but about "protecting it from possible external influence."
Association Of Lawyers Of Russia Proposes To Set Up BRICS Commercial Court (Ассоциация юристов России предлагает создать торговый суд БРИКС) / Malaysia, November, 2017
Keywords: association_of_lawyers, quote

MOSCOW, Nov 29 -- The Association of Lawyers of Russia proposes to set up a commercial court of BRICS states (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), which could take legally binding decisions, particularly for protecting investments, Russia's TASS news agency reported Chairman of the Board of the Association Vladimir Gruzdev as saying in an interview.

The Association of Lawyers of Russia is the organiser of the fourth BRICS Legal Forum due in Moscow on Nov 30 to Dec 1.

The forum is an open platform for cooperation and change of experience and ideas between lawyers of BRICS countries, promotion of 'legal diplomacy', alignment of professional communities, and exchange of legal theory and practice.

"It is necessary to set up a commercial court of BRICS states, which would take legally binding decisions for countries in case of disputable situations," Gruzdev said, adding that he means a commercial, not arbitrary tribunal.

According to Chairman, the level of the court may be defined by heads of BRICS members.

"The authority of setting up such a court lies with (participants - TASS) of BRICS summit as all national interests should be ensured and all national associations should join the process of its creation," he said.

Among the arguments for evidence that the initiative is relevant, Gruzdev mentioned a situation when an Indian company, in which Russia's telecom operator MTS had invested hundreds of millions of dollars, was deprived of license due to law violations of previous owners.

"As a result, (MTS) received no compensation, while the issue was raised at the level of the intergovernmental commission, which admits this is a mistake," he said, adding that "since the national legislation of India prevailed, the creation of a commercial court of BRICS countries would be one of possible solutions."
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