Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 5.2018
2018.01.29— 2018.02.04
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Speaking Notes: Ambassador Anil Sooklal, South Africa's BRICS Sherpa during the BRICS Stakeholder Roundtable on the 29th January 2018 in Pretoria (Тезисы выступления: посол Анил Суклал, шерпа ЮАР в БРИКС во время круглого стола заинтересованных сторон БРИКС 29 января 2018 года в Претории) / South Africa, January, 2018
Keywords: speech, SA_chairmanship, top_level_meeting
South Africa

South Africa has now officially assumed the Chairship of BRICS for 2018 and will initiate the Calendar of Events with the hosting of the First BRICS Sherpa Meeting in Cape Town from 4 – 6 February 2018.

It may be recalled that South Africa first hosted the BRICS Summit in e-Thekwini in 2013. This Summit saw the creation of the BRICS Business Council and also initiated the negotiations for the setting up of the BRICS Bank, which was later established as the primary outcome of the 2014 BRICS Summit in Fortaleza, Brazil under the name "New Development Bank" (NDB).

It will also be recalled that South Africa initiated the BRICS Outreach Mechanism when it hosted, on the margins of the e-Thekwini Summit, a BRICS-African Leaders Dialogue Forum Retreat that was attended by 12 African Leaders, representing the AU, NEPAD and the 8 AU Regional Economic Communities (RECs) of Africa. This model has since been replicated by subsequent hosts and South Africa hopes to build further on this initiative in this current Chairship.

China, the BRICS Chair for 2017, ushered in the second 'Golden Decade' of BRICS cooperation and the 9th BRICS Summit in Xiamen, 3 to 5 September 2017, adopted the Xiamen Declaration and the Xiamen Plan of Action as its outcomes documents. The Declaration was widely perceived as a balanced and reflective document and indicative of a positive spirit of intra-BRICS collaboration.

South Africa has undertaken to closely align its Chairship of the BRICS Forum in 2018 with that of China in 2017 so as to establish maximum synergy and continuity for BRICS endeavours between the successive Summits.

It is envisaged that the 10th BRICS Summit will take place in Johannesburg from 25 – 27 July 2018. Both prior to and following the Summit, South Africa will host meetings in accordance with the 2018 BRICS Calendar of Events. The Calendar comprises meetings scheduled in the three (3) BRICS tracks, notably Track I, which is the Government to Government interaction; Track II, which is the interaction between government affiliated institution, e.g. the state-owned enterprises and business councils; and Track III, which is the interaction with civil society and people-to-people engagement.

The Summit will culminate in the adoption of the "Johannesburg" Declaration that will be negotiated by the Sherpas at the Fourth BRICS Sherpa meeting prior to the Summit.

Other meetings that are scheduled to precede the Johannesburg Summit include: the Second BRICS Sherpa meeting and the Meeting of the BRICS Special Envoys for Middle East and North Africa meeting, both in April, the BRICS Think Tank Council (BTTC) meeting in May, and the meeting of the BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs/International Relations in June 2018.

The 10th BRICS Summit in South Africa also coincides with the centenary celebrations of the first democratically elected President and international icon, Mr Nelson Mandela, and it gives us an opportunity to reflect on the first decade of inter-BRICS cooperation and to chart the way forward for the next decade of BRICS cooperation.

As the 2018 BRICS Summit marks the 10th year of BRICS engagement at the highest diplomatic level, a Retreat with the BRICS Heads of State/Government (only) is also being organised on the margins of the Summit to enable BRICS Leaders to take stock of the past decade of BRICS cooperation and to chart the way forward. We are also considering the BRICS Plus cooperation initiative that was introduced during China's tenure, for the purpose of further enhancing cooperation with the global community, as well as to take forward the relationship with Africa.

South Africa has identified the following as its priorities for 2018:

  1. Establishment of a Virtual Vaccine Research Platform for Collaboration with BRICS vaccine innovation and development partners
  2. Establishment of a BRICS Gender and Women's Forum
  3. Establishment of a Working Group on Peacekeeping and
  4. Leveraging the Strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership as linked to the Fourth Industrial Revolution
In this regard, the relevant line-function Departments were tasked with the drafting of Concept Notes on the respective priority areas, which will be tabled at the BRICS Sherpa / Sous Sherpa meeting in February 2018 for deliberation by the BRICS partners.

Additional agenda items for the Sherpa / Sous Sherpa meeting include a briefing by the South African BRICS Business Council and a session on People-to-People Cooperation that will be presented by Civil Society.

This meeting will set the trend for South Africa's Chairship and I trust that we will, throughout this year, continue to engage one another to ensure positive messaging around BRICS and the hosting of the 10th BRICS Summit.

I Thank You.

South Africa will host the 10th BRICS summit in July (ЮАР проведет 10-й Саммит БРИКС в июле) / South Africa, January, 2018
Keywords: trade_relations, global_governance, SA_chairmanship
South Africa

South Africa, which took over the rotational chairship of the emerging economies grouping Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS), is set to host the 10th summit in July.

The summit, which is scheduled from 25 – 27 July at the Sandton Convention Centre, will see South Africa building on the programme of development and prosperity for partner countries.

South Africa says the summit, which will be attended by Heads of State from the grouping, will be an important milestone towards building stronger solidarity and cooperation among emerging markets.

South Africa to host BRICS counterparts

"BRICS is an important global formation and South Africa is privileged to host the summit the second time around, as we enter the second decade cooperation. We have been meeting in summit form for nine years now and this will be the 10th session.

"The first summit we hosted in 2013 was very successful with very tangible outcomes and the results of that summit are visible in the work of the BRICS and the global community and we are confident that this summit will also follow suit," DIRCO DDG of Asia, Middle East and BRICS Sous-Sherpa, Anil Sooklal, said on Monday.

He was speaking in Tshwane where the GCIS, Dirco and Brand SA hosted a communications roundtable discussion session on awareness around the importance of BRICS to South Africa.

The session was imperative as South Africa assumed the rotational chairship from China from 1 January to 31 December 2018.

Sooklal said the summit will showcase the cooperation that the countries enjoy, as well as its impact globally as they address key challenges faced by emerging countries such as developmental challenges, growing the economy, and addressing poverty and unemployment.

According to Sooklal, within the BRICS context, South Africa has four primary goals which are to see development and inclusive economic growth; promote value-added trade among BRICS countries and to promote investment into the productive sector.

The five BRICS countries account for 26 percent of the world's landmass and are home to 43 percent of the world's population. The bloc is composed of emerging markets and the developing world.

There has been substantive progress achieved since South Africa joined in 2011, as seen for example in the launch of the Africa Regional Centre of the New Development Bank (NDB) in South Africa.

The formation has strengthened its cooperative mechanism for institutional development, most notably witnessed in the creation of the New Development Bank and the recently launched Africa Regional Centre in Johannesburg.

Trade between the countries

In 2015, total intra-BRICS trade amounted to R3.06 trillion.

South Africa's exports to BRICS countries marginally increased from R123 billion in 2011 to R138.2 billion in 2016, while in the same period, imports from these countries also increased from R115 billion to R230 billion.

However, despite the depended relations within BRICS, Sooklal said there needs room for better coordination between countries in other areas.

"We need to get your academics, think tanks, the private sector, and our people to people dimension to work and organise themselves better and embrace the opportunities presented to them by being part of this formation."

Already the South African government has been engaging the BRICS Think Tank Council in order to identify concrete areas of cooperation that South Africa can take forward during the country's BRICS presidency in 2018.

A Network of Smart Manufacturing Hubs has been recommended and it is expected to pool together knowledge, technology and new ideas on the identification of new and interconnected value chains.
SA's Brics summit opportunity (Возможности Саммита БРИКС для ЮАР) / South Africa, February, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, global_governance, SA_chairmanship
South Africa
Author: Shannon Ebrahim

There is no question that Brics is a critical platform for South Africa as it amplifies our voice on the global stage - that is according to South Africa's Brics Sherpa Dr Anil Sooklal.

Our hosting of the Brics Summit July 25 to 27 is an important opportunity for South Africa to leverage support from Brazil, Russia, China and other partners for the African agenda and our development priorities. Over the past 10 years, Brics has proven to be an important global bloc, and while South Africa may have the smallest economy of the five nations, we are equal partners in decision-making and agreements. The truth be told, Brics is far more relevant now than it has been at any other time since its formation, and that is because the polarisation and increasing protectionism of the traditional global powers are at an all-time high. This trajectory has particularly negative consequences for the developing south, which means the new emerging powers of Brics need to collaborate more effectively to offset the effects of the north pulling up the drawbridges. Brics is not in competition with other global formations dominated by Western countries, but it is a platform to push for greater global equity - both political and economic.

That will be the theme South Africa envisions for the upcoming Brics Summit - working towards a more equitable and inclusive global environment. It will place the reform of the UN high on the summit's agenda. But this has always been a priority of the global south, and concrete discussions on how to implement the reform of UN decision-making has been ongoing for the past two decades.

The key challenge of this summit will be for South Africa to guide the Brics discussions towards how to realise those reforms, particularly given that Russia and China are permanent members of the UN Security Council and should drive a reform agenda. If nothing tangible comes out of such discussions, then talks about furthering global equity will ring hollow.

As host of the summit, South Africa is able to set the agenda, and beyond the focus on multilateralism and UN reform, our four priorities speak directly to Africa's urgent needs. South Africa has prioritised access to medicine for the continent, and developing research opportunities in the health sector. Our tangible proposal is to establish a virtual vaccine research centre, which will capitalise on our collective intellectual knowledge within Brics to devise vaccines to address numerous health challenges. This is arguably the most important of the four identified priorities.

The other three priorities are also innovative and relevant which include: to establish a working group on peacekeeping given that the Brics members are major troop contributing countries; to establish a dedicated Brics women's track to look at empowerment issues; a working group to look at the impact of the fourth industrial revolution.

South Africa last hosted the Brics Summit in 2013, giving it the chance to set the agenda for the group only every five years. It was South Africa that initiated a Brics outreach programme at the last summit it hosted in 2013. This was to ensure that Brics was not a closed shop, and reached out to states wanting to engage on issues impacting the global community. Given the need to reconfigure the political and economic global environment, this engagement is still considered key.

For the upcoming summit, South Africa will revert to the same formula it used in 2013, which is to invite the chairs of the Regional Economic Communities, the chairs of Nepad, the AU, and the AU Commission, as well as leaders from five countries of the global south.

Given China's initiative at the Xiamen summit last year to create "Brics Plus," it may be that the eventual expansion of the group is on the cards. While South Africa would welcome an inclusive approach, a formal expansion of the grouping at some point would mean South Africa's influence in terms of setting the agenda may be diluted. This makes the agenda and outcomes of the upcoming summit all the more important, and we should leverage this opportunity to the maximum in order to push forward the African agenda.

The summit is also an opportunity to further capitalise on track 2 - that being the interaction of the private sector under the aegis of the Brics Business Council chaired by Dr Iqbal Survé.

It is expected that a thousand business people will attend the business forum, and it presents a golden opportunity for South African chief executives to network and establish relations with executives from the Brics countries on their home turf.

In terms of boosting investment in South Africa and increasing our trade volumes with the largest emerging economies, this is an opportunity that South African business should already be preparing for.
There is more for South Africa in BRICS (ЮАР может взять больше от БРИКС) / South Africa, January, 2018
Keywords: SA_chairmanship, quotation, expert_opinion, economic_challenges
South Africa
Author: Thulebona Mhlanga

Since joining BRICS, South Africa has enjoyed both trade and diplomatic benefits both regionally and internationally. However, South African Ambassador to BRICS Anil Sooklal says South Africa can further use the multilateral platform to deal challenges such as unemployment, poverty and inequality.

"We are now ten years into the BRICS family, entering a second decade of cooperation and I believe not enough is being done", he said.

South Africa joined the BRICS formation in 2011, becoming the fifth member of the group constituting of Brazil, Russia, India and China.

"We became part of BRICS as of 2011 when China hosted its summit, we then in 2013 hosted the first summit and South Africa was very clear on what we wanted from BRICS, we went into that summit with a clear strategy that was approved by cabinet", he said speaking at the BRICS roundtable held in Pretoria on Monday.

BRICS launched its first institution in 2014, the New Development Bank established to fund developmental projects in BRICS countries.

Sooklal says the geopolitical group also intends to establish its own credit rating agency that will serve the needs of the global south and other emerging economies.

"We are exploring the possibility and its still in its exploratory stage to see a credit rating agency coming from the south, because as you would know all of the established rating agencies are from the north", he told the Mail&Guardian.

The prospective rating agency is said to challenge the three pro-west dominant credit rating agencies Fitch, Moody's and S&P global rating.

He said that at the seventh BRICS summit hosted by Russia in 2014, members shared the sentiment that there should be a rating agency that would look more holistically at some of the challenges emanating from the south.

Ambassador Sooklal said that South Africa was excited to host the 10th BRICS summit which is set to take place in Johannesburg in July this year.

Some of the agenda items expected to be discussed at the summit include advancement of South Africa's national interest, the African Union agenda, deeping south-south relations and how to further deepen geopolitical interests.
Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
Sudan Government to Simplify Procedures for BRICS countries and Turkish Investors (Правительство Судана упростит процедуры для стран БРИКС и турецких инвесторов) / Sudan, February, 2018
Keywords: investments, trade_relations

The Deputy Chairman of the Sudanese National Committee for the Supervision of Relations with BRICS Economic Group, Awad Al-Jaz, stressed the importance of facilitating the procedures related to investors from China, India, Russia, South Africa, Brazil and Turkey and activating and speeding up administrative procedures.

BRICS is the acronym for an association of five major emerging national economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

On Tuesday, while presiding over a meeting of the Committee for Facilitating and Accelerating Transactions with the BRICS countries and Turkey, he called on the representatives of the concerned ministries to facilitate procedures for those coming from these countries, including investors, traders, suppliers and tourists.

He directed the ministry representatives to accelerate the procedures for the transactions of those countries by virtue of its relations in the institution and the development of a system to speed up, and that it establishes a model for those countries and then extend it to other countries.

The meeting discussed the plan of action during the coming period and the role of the deputies of the concerned ministries in facilitating the work related to the BRICS countries and Turkey and the working mechanisms and activating the administrative procedures by working on the single window system.
China's Irresistible Rise (Непреодолимый рост Китая) / Czech Republic, January, 2018
Keywords: economic_challenges, global_governance, expert_opinion
Czech Republic
Author: Jim O'Neill

When China released its official economic data for 2017, many commentators quibbled about the data's reliability. But what they should have been talking about is China's undeniable importance to the global economy, which is becoming increasingly reliant on China's transition from industrial production to domestic consumption.

LONDON – China's recently released GDP data for 2017 confirm it: the country's dramatic rise, with the concomitant increase in its global economic relevance, is not slowing down.

To be sure, there has been fresh media chatter about the reliability of Chinese data, owing to reports that some provinces have been overestimating their economic performance in recent years. But for all we know, other provinces may have been doing the opposite. And in any case, the provinces that have admitted to inflating their data are not large enough to have a significant impact on the national picture.

Moreover, two key points are often lost in the debate about China's official statistics, which the country first starting releasing in the late 1990s. First, the debate is relevant only if China is increasing the degree to which it overestimates its data. Second, China's published data should be considered in the context of its trading partners' own figures, as well as those of major international companies that do business in China. As I have written before, it is telling that China has overtaken both France and the United States to become Germany's top trading partner.

As for the annualized 2017 data, most of the media focus has been on China's reported real (inflation-adjusted) GDP growth, which, at 6.9%, represents the first acceleration in a couple of years and an improvement even on the government's soft target rate of 6.5%. But the more important figure is China's nominal GDP growth translated into US dollars. Owing partly to a strengthening renminbi, China's total economic output grew to $12.7 trillion in 2017, representing a massive increase of 13% ($1.5 trillion) in just 12 months.

Clearly, those who have warned that China is following in Japan's footsteps and heading for a long-term deflationary cycle have been far off the mark. To my mind, such simplistic comparisons are never particularly useful. Not only has China averted the risk of deflation; it has done so with an appreciating currency.

When my former Goldman Sachs colleagues and I first started tracking the rise of the BRIC economies (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) in the early 2000s, we figured that it would take until the end of 2015 just for China to catch up to Japan. Yet 2018 has barely started, and already China's economy is two-and-a-half times larger than Japan's, five times larger than India's, six times larger than Brazil's, and eight times larger than Russia's. It is also larger than the entire eurozone.

China's staggering $1.5 trillion expansion in 2017 means that, in nominal terms, it essentially created a new economy the size of South Korea, twice the size of Switzerland, and three times the size of Sweden. The latest data suggest that China could catch up to the US, in nominal terms, sometime around 2027, if not before. Within a decade after that, the BRIC countries collectively could catch up to the G7 economies.

Of course, such an achievement would be driven largely by China. Still, taken together, the remaining BRICs are larger than Japan. And now that Brazil and Russia have put their recent recessions behind them, the BRICs will likely make a large contribution to nominal global GDP in 2018.

One final consideration for the global growth outlook is the Chinese consumer. Many commentators still discuss China as if it were solely an industrial power. But consumption in China has crept up nearly to 40% of GDP. Since 2010, Chinese consumers have added around $2.9 trillion to the world economy. That is bigger than the United Kingdom's entire economy. British trade negotiators should take note: after Brexit, the Chinese market will be more important to the UK economy than ever.

Yet, in addition to its annualized data, China also recently reported its December data, which revealed monthly reported-retail-sales growth of a slightly disappointing 9.4% year on year. One hopes that this is a reflection not of a consumption slowdown, but rather of Chinese policymakers tightening financial conditions in the second half of 2017.

Needless to say, as China becomes increasingly important to the global economy, its upside and downside risks will continue to have far-reaching implications for the rest of the world. And, indeed, a consumption slowdown would be bad not just for China, but also for the rest of the world economy, which is now depending on China's shift from industrial production to domestic consumption.
Russian Investment Fund Plans Partnership With AIIB on 'Belt And Road' Project (Российский инвестиционный фонд планирует партнерство с AIIB по проекту «ОПОП») / Russia, January, 2018
Keywords: obor, investments, economic_challenges

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) plans to cooperate with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) on infrastructure as part of the Belt and Road initiative, the fund's head Kirill Dmitriev told Sputnik.

"We plan partnership with AIIB and we believe that together we will be able to sharply increase infrastructure investment as part of our Belt and Road initiative. We already have partners from Silk Road Fund, China Investment Corporation, China Development Bank," Dmitriev said.

Russia may play a key role in connecting China with Europe through automobile and rail roads, and telecommunications.

The Belt and Road initiative has united 40 percent of the global population, increasing GDP and e-commerce growth, Dmitriev said, adding that projects that are part of the initiative will be very profitable.

The AIIB, headquartered in Beijing, started its operation in early 2016 and currently includes 84 approved members from across the globe. The bank's activities are aimed at investing in sustainable infrastructure and other sectors for the development of countries in Asia.

Political Events
Political events in the public life of BRICS
Dlamini-Zuma warns on fundaraising Brics scam (Дламини-Зума предупреждает о мошенничестве, связанном со сбором пожертвований в БРИКС) / South Africa, February, 2018
Keywords: ndb, quotation
South Africa

CAPE TOWN - The former African Union Commission chair, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma says she's not part of the scam doing rounds on social media and other platforms, which purports to be a fundraising scheme for the Brics's New Development Bank.

A statement issued on behalf of Dlamini-Zuma said, "Dr. Dlamini Zuma would like the public to be vigilant and be aware that she is not part of such a scheme and that the public should not contribute or support this scam".

It has come to my attention that there is scam asking people to donate money in my name towards what is purported to be a fundraising drive for the BRICS Bank. I am not involved in the purported venture. Please DO NOT contribute to this scam.

"Also on the social media platforms a rumour has emerged that Dr Dlamini Zuma is advancing a cause of a new political party. Dr. Dlamini Zuma remains a committed and disciplined member of the African National Congress," the statement read.

In April 2017, Dlamini-Zuma refuted a tweet believed to have come from her verified account, criticising anti-Zuma protests.

"I am aware of a fake tweet doing rounds purportedly coming from my account. The source of this is currently being investigated," She said.

Dlamini-Zuma was rallying along Cyril Ramaphosa before the ANC's Elective Conference in December 2017. The 'Cyril effect' couldn't allow her to rule the party and Ramaphosa reined as the African National Congress.
Team South Africa syncing its act to host BRICS 10th summit (Различные секторы ЮАР синхронизируют свои действия, чтобы провести 10-й саммит БРИКС) / South Africa, January, 2018
Keywords: quotation, SA_chairmanship, business_council
South Africa

PRETORIA - Different South African sectors are synchronising their act on Monday, as Pretoria prepares to host the highly anticipated 10th summit of the Brics bloc -- which groups Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa -- to be held in July.

"One of the things we did last year is that we found that think-tank and academic forum is working in one compartment, and our business [sector] was working in another compartment, and government in another compartment," Ambassador Anil Sooklal, the department of international relations' Deputy Director General responsible for Asia and Middle East said at a stakeholders workshop in Pretoria.

"So we took the initiative to bring them all together. We said they must interact. I called Prof. Ari Sitas who leads that process [the SA BRICS Think Tank], and I called Dr [Iqbal] Surve who leads the [SA] Brics Business Council, and the department of trade was also there.

"We had a workshop and we agreed that there must be synergy between what we are doing. We agreed that we need to interface more closely between each other so that we don't work in compartments and we all suffer as a result. We had that first workshop, and we will have a second workshop next Friday with all these entities."

Ahead of the 10th summit, Sooklal said "the movers and shakers" will be jetting into South Africa often, as preparations intensify.

"The Business Council is working fairly well. Each country has its focus area and we have various working groups. I must say I'm very pleased when I interact with the Business Council that is moving very well. You can see annually when the leaders meet, and on the margins of that you have the business forum, it's quite a vibrant forum. All your movers and shakers from all of these countries, the big business that matter will be descending here in South Africa," said Sooklal.

"What we do in terms of our private sector preparedness in interacting to them and leveraging opportunities is left up to us. How we maximise that opportunity, again, depends on the preparations we make between now and the summit July. In terms of our preparation, we are quite well on board. We have our first Sherpa meeting on the 4th to 6th of February in Cape Town. All the Brics country Sherpas will be there."

A Sherpa is a civil servant, or diplomat who undertakes preparatory work prior to a high level summit or conference.

The 9th Brics summit was hosted in Xiamen City, southeast China, in September. Last year, the Presidency in South Africa said trade between Pretoria and the other Brics countries reached 31.2 billion U.S. dollars in 2016.

World of work
Social policy, trade unions, actions
Over $46 billion lost to premature cancer deaths in BRICS economies, UN research finds (Расследование ООН: Страны БРИКС потеряли более 46 млрд долларов США из-за преждевременных смертей от рака) / USA, January, 2018
Keywords: social_issues, research, UN

31 January 2018 – Premature deaths as a result of cancer is costing major emerging economies tens of billions of dollars a year, a new United Nations health study has found, underlining the need for context-specific strategies for both prevention as well as treatment for those suffering from the disease.

The economic impact of cancer in fast-developing economies not only underlines the high cost of the disease in terms of the lives it claims and the impact on the economy, but also highlights the "urgency of tackling preventable cancers in these countries," said the study's lead author, Alison Pearce.

Published in the medical journal Cancer Epidemiology, the study led by the World Health Organization (WHO) cancer research centre reveals that the total cost of lost productivity because of premature cancer mortality for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – collectively known as BRICS countries – was $46.3 billion in 2012 (the most recent year for which cancer data was available for all these countries).

These countries together account for more than 40 per cent the world's population and a quarter of the global Gross Domestic Product (GDP). However, these countries are also home to 42 per cent of the global cancer deaths.

Each of the BRICS countries has a distinct cancer profile, and therefore a tailored approach to national cancer control policy is requiredWHO IARC "Although they have diverse levels of wealth, and health indicators, the BRICS countries have all undergone particularly rapid demographic and economic growth," noted the WHO International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in a news release announcing the findings.

These countries are all affected by infection-related cancers as well as cancers associated with changing lifestyles such as changes in diet, lack of physical activity, obesity and reproductive patterns.

"Yet each of these countries has a distinct cancer profile, and therefore a tailored approach to national cancer control policy is required," added IARC.

The largest productivity loss at $28 billion was recorded in China, a country particularly affected by liver cancer, with hepatitis B virus infections and exposure to aflatoxins primary factors for the loss.

Lifestyle-related risk factors in Russia, South Africa and Brazil – high consumption of alcohol, smoking and rapidly increasing obesity, respectively, added to the factors causing losses, noted the study.

Focusing on tobacco control, vaccination programmes, and cancer screening, combined with access to adequate cancer treatment, would yield significant health and economic gains for BRICS countries Director of WHO IARC In India, the use of chewing tobacco was a leading cause of economic loss due to premature mortality from cancers of the lip and oral cavity.

Policies to influence lifestyle changes and reduce cancer risk are, therefore, critical, highlights IARC.

"The study demonstrates the economic importance of targeted primary prevention activities embedded in national cancer control policies. Focusing on tobacco control, vaccination programmes, and cancer screening, combined with access to adequate cancer treatment, would yield significant health and economic gains for the BRICS countries," said Christopher Wild, the Director of IARC.

"Investing in evidence-based preventive interventions as a part of national cancer control plans is not only cost-effective and life-saving but also a powerful lever for sustainable economic development."
2017 Intergovernmental Key R&D Program – BRICS Cooperation Projects Launched for Implementation (2017 Межправительственная ключевая программа исследований и разработок - Проекты сотрудничества БРИКС, запущенные для реализации) / China, January, 2018
Keywords: research, innovations

Cooperation between the BRICS countries is an important mechanism for cooperation between emerging economies and developing countries. To promote pragmatic cooperation in science and technology innovation (STI) between the BRICS countries, the five BRICS countries established a working group of financial sponsors for STI in 2016, signed the BRICS STI Framework Program and its Implementation Plan and made the decision to jointly solicit multilateral R&D projects within the framework so as to support and promote S&T cooperation among the BRICS countries.

Following a series of processes including solicitation, acceptance, review and approval, the Key Intergovernmental Projects of the 2017 National Key Development Program – BRICS Cooperation Projects – were recently officially launched for implementation. The projects are the first group of multilateral R&D cooperation projects funded by the BRICS within the framework of the BRICS STI Framework Program. Among them, there are 8 projects selected by the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) for participation on behalf of the Chinese side, involving five fields of natural disaster management, geographic spatial technology and applications, new energy, renewable energy and energy efficiency, information technology and high-performance computing, and optoelectronics. The total amount of funding in 2017 is RMB15 million. More than 190 researchers from 38 research institutions and enterprises from the BRICS countries participated in the cooperation projects.

Undertaking multilateral R&D projects among the BRICS countries is of great significance to pooling BRICS innovation resources, gathering research forces and pushing forward the development of key fields and technologies. The current BRICS projects were included in the Hangzhou Declaration released at the Fifth BRICS Science, Technology & Innovation (STI) Ministerial Meeting in 2017. The implementation of the projects is a manifestation of the Hangzhou Declaration and the BRICS STI Framework Program. It is of great significance for promoting pragmatic STI cooperation among the BRICS so that they can work together to cope with global challenges and achieve vigorous and sustainable economic development.
Majority of Russians support 'own internet' for BRICS nations (Большинство россиян поддерживает идею "собственного интернета" для стран БРИКС) / Russia, January, 2018
Keywords: digital, national_security, research, rating

More than half of Russian citizens approve of a separate internet for the BRICS economic bloc, saying that the idea could boost the security of users' personal data and help counter hostile propaganda.

According to research released by the state-run polling agency VTSIOM on Monday, the idea of a separate internet for BRICS nations – an economic and political bloc comprised of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – is supported by 58 percent of Russians. Twenty-nine percent of respondents said they were against the idea.

The proponents said that it could help protect ordinary citizens from hack attacks and boost data security in general, and also reduce the amount of harmful foreign propaganda for ordinary Russians. Those who said that they did not like the idea of an independent internet for BRICS said they expected the government to impose excessive restrictions on web content.

At the same time, 23 percent of respondents said that they would back the initiative to launch a separate internet for the Russian Federation alone. Thirty percent of Russians said that their country could have a united internet with Belarus and 24 percent said that the project could include Kazakhstan.

In November last year, Russia's top consultative body on national security, the Security Council, addressed the government with a formal request to develop an independent internet infrastructure for BRICS nations, which would continue to work in the event of global internet malfunctions. In particular, security officials wanted to launch a separate backup system of Domain Name Servers (DNS), which would not be subject to control by international organizations.

According to press reports, President Vladimir Putin has personally set a deadline of August 1, 2018 for the completion of the task.

At the same time, Russian officials have consistently dismissed rumors that they are considering disconnecting the country from the global internet.

In 2014, Putin's press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, said that "Russia's disconnection from the global internet is of course out of the question," but noted that Russian authorities had to be prepared for potential hostile actions of Western governments and special services.

"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," Peskov said. It's not about disconnecting Russia from the world wide web, he added, but about "protecting it from possible external influence."
Rapid urbanization a challenge for BRICS countries (Быстрая урбанизация - проблема для стран БРИКС) / United Kingdom, February, 2018
Keywords: social_issues, expert_opinion, ecology, rating
United Kingdom

The Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur will next week host the Ninth Session of the World Urban Forum to discuss the challenges societies as more people move to the cities.

The forum titled, Cities 2030, Cities for All: Implementing the New Urban Agenda, will focus on the efforts of major countries, such as China, India, and Brazil to overcome the challenges posed by rapid urbanization.

Some of these challenges include the ever-growing income gaps, smog and pollution, and crumbling infrastructure which can no longer support such population growth.

In 2018, about 50 per cent of the global population is living in cities. But the World Bank says that by 2050, 70 per cent of the global population will be living in cities.

In Delhi, for example, the number of residents living in the capital has grown from 9.7 million in 1990 to 25.7 million in 2015.

In fellow BRICS member, China, cities such as Beijing and Shanghai have seen their populations grow from 6.8 million to 20.4 million, and 7.8 million to 23.7 million, respectively, in the same period.

For Brazil, Sao Paulo has witnessed 14.8 to 21.1 million residents in the 25-year period.

For Africa, the greatest urbanization has happened in Cairo, from 9.9 million in 1990 to 18.8 million in 2015.

The rapidly changing climate and regional conflicts which have lately produced tens of millions of refugees further exacerbate the pressures these cities and others face, the World Bank says.
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