Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 42.2021
2021.10.18 — 2021.10.24
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Minister of State Shri Devusinh Chauhan chairs 7th Meeting of BRICS Communications Ministers (Государственный министр Шри Девусин Чаухан провел 7-ю встречу министров связи стран БРИКС) / India, October, 2021
Keywords: top_level_meeting

India is Committed to bridge the Digital Divide: Shri Devusinh Chauhan

Ministers support advancement in work of the BRICS Partnership on New Industrial Revolution (PartNIR)

Adopt proposal to host Digital BRICS Forum annually to facilitate sharing of information and knowledge, practices, initiatives etc. on agreed cooperation areas

India as the current BRICS Chair convened the 7th Meeting of BRICS Communications Ministers on 22nd October 2021. Minister of State for Communications of the Republic of India, Shri Devusinh Chauhan, chaired the 7th meeting of BRICS Communications Ministers through video conferencing on 22 October 2021.

Mr. Fábio Salustino Mesquita De Faria, Minister of Communications of the Federative Republic of BRAZIL, Ms. Bella Cherkesova, Deputy Minister of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media of the Russian Federation, Mr. Xiao Yaqing, Minister of Industry and Information Technologies of the People's Republic of CHINA, and Ms. Khumbudzo Phophi Silence Ntshavheni, Minister of Communications & Digital Technologies of the Republic of SOUTH AFRICA led their respective delegations.

Shri Devusinh Chauhan while speaking during the meeting stated that the Hon'ble Prime Minister is committed to bridging the digital divide in India. To achieve the same, the Government of India has recently launched historical telecom reforms which will unleash the true potential of the telecom industry besides providing much-needed support to the telecom service providers. He also stated that the Hon'ble Prime Minister of India has launched a flagship scheme of extending optical fibers to all six lakh villages of India which will bridge the digital divide between urban and rural areas.

The Ministers recognized the significant role of ICTs in increasing the effectiveness of BRICS countries' response to the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and assisting in the recovery of economies, business continuity, and minimizing the social and economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Ministers discussed the need to work together to develop multi-pronged approaches and reference models for affordable access to communications services and digital technologies for benefitting people, thereby achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Ministers expressed concerns on the risks and ethical dilemmas related to Artificial Intelligence and encouraged members to work together to deal with such concerns and risks of Artificial Intelligence and its ethical and responsible uses.

Ministers adopted the Terms of References of Digital BRICS Task Force and supported the advancement in work of the BRICS Partnership on New Industrial Revolution (PartNIR) across several Working Groups meeting in 2021. Ministers also appreciated the discussion on the "360-degree approach on New Industrial Revolution" in a seminar during Working Group on ICTs Cooperation and recognized the need of BRICS members to work together for a comprehensive understanding of the New Industrial Revolution, its advantages & disadvantages, and its impacts on the industrial workers, job market among others.

Ministers encouraged continuous cooperation in ICTs activities in international organizations and multilateral forums such as the International Telecommunications Union and other organizations.

Ministers adopted the proposal to host the Digital BRICS Forum annually to facilitate sharing of information and knowledge, practices, initiatives, etc. on agreed cooperation areas.

BRICS Ministers appreciated India's efforts in keeping up the momentum of BRICS cooperation in ICTs. The Ministers looked forward to greater cooperation in these areas.

Cementing BRICS together (Цементирование блоков БРИКС вместе) / China, October, 2021
Keywords: cooperation, expert_opinion

The onus lies on China and India to keep the group of leading developing countries together

The first two decades of the 21st century have witnessed tectonic transformations. Modern technology has resulted in an exponential growth in mutual awareness and empowerment of increasingly interdependent global citizens.

The Westphalian state system of the last 372 years is having to increasingly reckon with the unfolding specter of non-state actors such as transnational organizations (both governmental and non-governmental), multinational corporations and terrorist networks.

Moving beyond their historical preoccupation with enhancing the destructive capabilities of their armed forces, states now need to ensure the productivity and prosperity that constitute critical components of national power. National security is inclusive of development. Power is being replaced by influence. The conventional understanding of power-so-called hard power-is being supplemented by soft power, smart power and sharp power; all undergirded by human resources, technologies and financial leverage.

This has changed the global hierarchy, producing new clusters of power in international relations. For example, while the economic rise of the then West Germany and Japan in the 1970s-in the midst of the Cold War-did not make them great powers, the economic rise of China since the 1990s-coinciding with the collapse of the Soviet Union-has given Beijing enormous system-shaping leverages. This explains how emerging economies have come to be as celebrated as a new category of influencers in international decision-making processes and structures.

Early to appreciate these structural changes, Jim O'Neill, former chief economist at Goldman Sachs, published two papers: One in November 2001 titled "The World Needs Better Economic BRICs" and another in 2003 titled "Dreaming with BRICs: The Path to 2050". These papers outlined how the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China promised continued high growth rates, better per-dollar returns for investors and projected their expanding share in global governance.

For the first 10 years of the 21st century, BRIC growth trajectories held true to these projections. This resulted in their coming together after their 2009 Yekaterinburg summit. The fact that this coincided with the onset of global economic slowdown in 2008 and inclusion of South Africa in 2010 to make it BRICS made their continued economic rise even more noticeable.

However, this also witnessed their individual growth trajectories drifting away from prophesied patterns. China stood apart by consistently increasing its lead, while the others, especially Russia and Brazil, have been held back.

More recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has further expanded China's lead over the remaining BRICS members. China's GDP crossed 100 trillion yuan ($15.64 trillion) in 2020 and is now bigger than that of Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom and France combined. It is two-and-half times bigger than that of the rest of the BRICS. But BRICS have so far held together; and their combined GDP of $20.34 trillion is edging past US GDP of $21.43 trillion. The question is: Can BRICS hold together any longer or is it losing shine to other forums such as the Quadrilateral Security Framework of the United States, Japan, Australia and India, which has also become increasingly noticeable.

The onus for keeping BRICS alive and together lies primarily with China and India-the two largest BRICS economies. This makes strong China-India relations a prerequisite for the future of BRICS. What holds promise is that the reverse is equally true: The success of BRICS carries direct positive spinoffs for their relationship. This gives hope for the future of BRICS.

China and India remain economically most engaged in an otherwise disjoined BRICS. Brazil and South Africa are geographically distant, with very different priorities while China, India and Russia have their own divergences and differences. This is why they have evolved a unique strategy for each BRICS summit, preceding each with over 50 pentagonal preparatory meetings among their academics, think tanks, journalists, business and sports persons, advisors, officials and senior ministers. These interactions aim at creating ground level constituencies for an organic evolution of strong foundations for the BRICS forum.

With the pandemic hopefully receding into the background, most economies are today expecting to enter a new phase of Vor U-shaped economic recovery. This period has seen China and India set new records in vaccinating their people, as well as producing and supplying vaccines, medicines, materials and equipment to fight against the virus and provide humanitarian aid around the world. It is also marked by Chinese active pharmaceutical ingredients supporting India as the Pharmacy of the World. This stability in China-India relations promises BRICS coming together to devise innovative strategies to stay on course.

The author is a professor and chairman at the Centre for International Politics, Organization and Disarmament at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

Contact the editor at

Russia and Kazakhstan created a joint platform in the BRICS+ format (Россия и Казахстан создали совместную площадку в формате БРИКС +) / Russia, October, 2021
Keywords: brics+, cooperation

On October 7, 2021, within the framework of the VII Eurasian Antimonopoly Forum, an agreement on strategic partnership of the BRICS Competition Law and Policy Centre of the National Research University Higher School of Economics was signed with the International Center for Competition Law, Innovation and Policy of the Republic of Kazakhstan. By the signing of the agreement, the parties agreed that the expert centers of Russia and Kazakhstan will form and will maintain a permanent expert and analytical platform on the development and protection of competition in the Eurasian economic space, conduct scientific research in the field of antitrust regulation in high-tech markets, as well as other markets with special importance. In addition, researchers from both countries will conduct a joint analysis of the impact of mergers and acquisitions and advise the competition authorities on these decisions as part of the control of economic concentration. Also among the important areas of joint work is participation in the development of draft laws aimed at improving regulation in the field of competition protection. The decision on cooperation was made in June this year at a trilateral meeting in Moscow of the Chairman of the Agency for the Protection and Development of Competition of Kazakhstan Serik Zhumangarin, Head of the FAS Russia Maxim Shaskolsky and the Director of the BRICS Competition Law and Policy Centre Alexey Ivanov.

"The Agency for the Protection and Development of Competition of Kazakhstan is interested in developing cooperation within the perimeter of the BRICS countries. The signing of the agreement between the BRICS Competition Law and Policy Centre and the International Center for Competition Law, Innovation and Policy of Kazakhstan is an important step towards strengthening and intensifying our work with the expert community formed on the platform of the BRICS Center in terms of the development of competition law and policy in the digital economy ", - noted at the signing ceremony the chairman of the Agency for the Protection and Development of Competition Serik Zhumangarin.

"We see an opportunity to significantly expand BRICS antitrust cooperation and add more meaning to it by including country partners, as well as more closely integrate competition authorities and the academic community. With Kazakhstan, constructive work has long been built to protect competition in a single Eurasian space as with one of the key participants in the EAEU. The "BRICS +" format, which ensures the integration of the EAEU and the BRICS, makes it possible to strengthen the positions of states with similar interests and in a coordinated and joint effort to promote the development agenda and overcome the imbalances in the world economy with instruments of antitrust regulation, "said the director of the BRICS Competition Law and Policy Centre Alexey Ivanov. "I am sure that today's signing of the Agreement will be another effective step in the development of integration processes, will contribute to the development of science and the synchronization of policies on antitrust law issues," said Kambar Omarov, head of the International Center for Competition Law, Innovation and Policy.

Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
The Brics never lived up to their promise – but is now the time to buy? (БРИКС так и не выполнила свои обещания - но сейчас время покупать?) / United Kingdom, October, 2021
Keywords: expert_opinion
United Kingdom

Twenty years ago hopes were high for Brazil, Russia, India and China – the "Brics" emerging-market economies. But only China has beaten expectations. Max King explains why and asks if now is the time to buy.

Hopes for emerging economies and their markets were high when Goldman Sachs first published "the Brics dream" in 2001.

But the reality hasn't lived up to expectations: China's economic progress has beaten expectations, India's is broadly in-line, but Brazil and Russia have lagged badly.

In Goldman Sachs' "Next 11", only Vietnam and South Korea are unquestionably on track.

Can they recover their early promise? And what might that mean for your portfolio?

Why emerging markets have yet to live up to their promise

With the exception of the renminbi, emerging market currencies have been weaker than expected in the early days of the millennium, while stockmarkets have significantly under-performed forecasts.

Only China has done well – yet its market is 30% below its January high and doubts about the future are growing.

Meanwhile, emerging markets account for just 11.6% of the MSCI All Countries World index, which covers 85% of global investable equities. This proportion falls to 8.4% if Taiwan and South Korea (which should now be regarded as developed), are excluded.

Yet emerging economies account for 37% of world GDP at current exchange rates and comfortably over 80% of the world's population. China alone accounts for 15% of world GDP and nearly 20% of the world's population.

So why are emerging markets so under-represented in world stockmarkets?

Part of the reason is that less economic activity is represented by stockmarkets in emerging economies than in developed ones. Developed market companies have a much larger presence in emerging economies than vice versa.

The determination of the well-off in emerging economies to convert their savings into hard currency and, preferably, put them in an offshore bank or investment account should never be underestimated.

Emerging markets have also been crowded out, as have all other markets, by the growing dominance of the US, which now accounts for 60% of the MSCI index.

But a key reason for their markets lagging is simply that emerging economies have not lived up to the promise of 15 years ago.

The phenomenal and unexpected pace of technological transformation has favoured not just the direct technology sector but also healthcare, consumer services, vehicle manufacturing and media. US companies have proved to be the world's best innovators; China has built a significant presence – helped by protection, the Chinese language and script, culture and politics – but successful companies elsewhere are comparatively few.

Fifteen years ago, emerging markets were well represented among the world's leading commodities companies, but they have failed to live up to their promise. Many emerging market companies have performed well but markets have lacked the tailwind from economic growth and currency appreciation that Goldman Sachs forecast 20 years ago.
Political Events
Political events in the public life of BRICS
South Africa celebrates 10 years of inclusion in BRICS (ЮАР отмечает 10-летие включения в БРИКС) / South Africa, October, 2021
Keywords: cooperation
South Africa

2021 marks 10 years of South Africa's inclusion in BRICS, this milestone is important in what is a historic position and aim for the ANC and all progressives who have long defined the relevance, strategic outlook and value of deepening South - South relations.

We have over the past decade seen greater policy certainty around our posture as it relates to the long held view of a necessary leaning toward the South and the consolidation of developing nations around the world. In determining its earliest foreign policy immediately following the abolition of apartheid, the African National Congress (ANC) openly adopted a posture and line that favoured links with the South.

South Africa's foreign policy has long been directed both by the universal foreign policy principle and the strengthening of relations with all countries, even in light of this the natural priority was given to African countries and those countries of the South with whom the apartheid government had strained relations with.

There were many factors that precipitated the proactive approach of SA in its drive to strengthen and foster South- South relations, part amongst these factors was the need to forge strategic partnerships that would lay the foundation for much needed investment and aid for our fledgling state. This would later position South Africa as a country of the South and a leading proponent of the necessity for South-South relations. This key objective remained central in successive administrations and found maturity in the later inclusion of South Africa in BRIC.

Because we had taken a central role in the continent as a proponent for strong continental relations and deepening South-South relations, South Africa's foreign policy had to be far more strategic in its drive to foster closer engagement with emerging economic powerhouses such as Brazil and a strengthening of the soft relations that had been maintained with India and China

With the wall street crash of the global recession of 2008, there was a renewed energy around the need to co-ordinate the global South. This new focus resulted in South Africa increasingly joining bodies and groups that bring developing countries together, with South Africa actively seeking to play a leadership role in these groupings. South Africa's participation in other emerging country coalitions such as BASIC provided an opportunity to share and develop synergy and commonality around various globally contentious issues and also presented the opportunity for South Africa to promote and lobby for its candidacy in BRIC.

When the first BRIC summit sat in 2009 at Yekaterinburg, Russia, the South African minister of international relations (DIRCO) at the time wrote a letter to the various heads of states expressing the country's wish to get involved in the forum, this action marked the launch of a robust diplomatic lobbying campaign. As part of the campaign various government departments worked tirelessly to ensure that we run an effective campaign.

The Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of International Relations went all out to mobilise historic diplomatic allies, in favour of South Africa's candidature with the four BRIC countries. Interactions with Brazil and India in the context of the IBSA forum provided an opportunity for South Africa to submit its candidature and express its motivations to these two emerging countries.

Our efforts to gain inclusion in BRICS, as a progress forum for emerging countries and platform to deepen the aspirations for a united global South matured in the December 2010 invitation of South Africa to the third BRIC summit in 2011 to be held in Sanya, China.

South Africa officially became a member of BRIC at this summit. BRICS, as it would be known from that day, would be a vital determinant of our priorities and foreign policy interests and allowed South Africa to project its identity as an emerging international player beyond being an accepted regional powerhouse in its immediate subregion.

In 2013 we hosted our first summit which not only cemented our role, not only as a continental political leader for the BRICS agenda, but also cemented our stature and status as a global driving force. South Africa had already had some esteem as the only African member country part of the G20 and having played a leading role in the formation of NEPAD and as a critical role player in shaping the posture and trajectory of the African Union.

Some of the achievements that followed the 2013 Summit hosted in our country are, amongst others, BRICS launching its first institution in 2014- the BRICS New Development Bank established to fund developmental projects in BRICS countries. A heightened discussion regarding the establishment of a credit rating agency coming from the south.

A credit rating agency would be a critical step at moving towards financial sovereignty and having the ability to attract much needed progressive investment to Africa. The prospective rating agency would contend the three pro-west dominant credit rating agencies Fitch, Moody's and S&P global rating. This would also come with a deep discussion of the issuer-pay model that has been an obstacle for the establishment of other rating agencies in the past.

The BRICS Development Bank as espoused at the 2013 Durban forum was to be a vital institution to spear-head and co-ordinate the much needed infrastructure development in Asia and Africa. When South Africa proposed the establishment of the Bank, which was established two years later in 2015, it was seen as a means of sourcing additional finance for sustainable infrastructure and development projects in Africa.

The second main financial institution—a contingent reserve agreement—which was to act as a precautionary reserve fund to tackle the volatility of our local currencies was also formed with an authorized capital of $100 billion.

The inclusion of South Africa in BRICS permitted two key South African agencies for economic diplomacy, namely the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), to gain direct access, together with their counterpart agencies, to BRICS markets, and makes it possible collectively to raise funds and to form bilateral financial partnerships with them

The past 10 years have been a testing period in our country, our resolve has been tested, our relations and relationships have been tested and perspectives have been tested. The beauty of BRICS has always been its noble vision to systemically claw back the ability for our country to act, with candour and without reservations that must pander to what at times are nefarious global interests. It will be the crystalisation of a country that has the real ability to act in the best interest of the people. It is and has always been about sharing a common strategic outlook that contends substantively the unipolarism we have seen stifling our ability to act fully in the best interest of our people. BRICS must remain strong, with a clear agenda. Clear vision and unrelenting conviction.

As the gye widens and the beast approaches Bethlehem, may the center hold, the falcon hear the falconer and nothing fall apart.

As global contradictions sharpen and our cities and provinces become fodder for nefarious powers that have agendas other than collective human progression. May we all remain resolute, conscious of the ultimate goal. A future which belongs to all of us, the former pygmy of the world.
World of Work
WHO country presence in Brazil, the Russian Federation, India, China and South Africa (BRICS), 2021 (Страновое присутствие ВОЗ в Бразилии, Российской Федерации, Индии, Китае и Южной Африке (БРИКС), 2021 г.) / Switzerland, October, 2021
Keywords: un, research, rating

The term BRIC was first coined in 2001 to designate four major emerging economies which were regarded as being at similar stages of economic development: Brazil, the Russian Federation, India and China. Nine years later, BRIC was updated to BRICS to include South Africa. Together, these countries represent approximately 41% of the world's population living on 30% of its land area, and accounting for 24% of global GDP and 18% of global trade.1 The BRICS bloc is recognized for its respective regional spheres of influence, as well as its potential to influence global health.2,3 BRICS summits have been held annually since 2009 while BRICS health ministers' meetings have been held since 2011. In 2016, the Goa Declaration further cemented the group's commitment to work together to promote and improve health.4 Since the beginning of the dialogue in 2006, BRICS have sought to establish fairer international governance and governance more suited to their respective national interests. They have achieved this, for instance, by reforming the quota system of the International Monetary Fund to include BRICS countries amongst the ten largest shareholders for the first time.

Throughout its first decade, BRICS developed cooperation in different areas including energy, health, education, trade, science and technology, innovation and the fight against transnational crime. An example of a cooperative effort is the BRICS Tuberculosis Research Network, which was "set against the backdrop of a TB epidemic where, in 2016, there were an estimated 10.4 million new TB cases globally, with BRICS accounting for 40% of the global TB disease burden and mortality, and at least 50% of the global multidrug-resistant TB cases."5 Since then, the BRICS-led TB Research Network has grown into an international platform for collaboration to end TB.
India Organizes Special Screenings of Films from BRICS Countries (Индия организует специальные показы фильмов из стран БРИКС) / Russia, October, 2021
Keywords: movie

Documentary films by filmmakers from Brazil, China, Russia and South Africa were presented at the 4th International Innovative Film Festival in Bangalore. The program was presented by the information partner of the film forum, the international network TV BRICS.

The program of screenings of the 4th International Innovative Film Festival includes over 100 films from more than 30 countries of the world. Festival events took place from October 14 to October 17.

For the third year in a row, TV BRICS offered guests and participants of the International Innovative Film Festival in Bangalore a program of screenings of documentary films from BRICS countries. This year it included films from directors from China and Brazil.

TV BRICS's partner in China, Chengdu Radio and Television Station CDRTV offered 4 films to Indian viewers. Director Zeng Yinyin told the story of an Italian student who came to study at Sichuan University (Walking in China — Experiencing a Day of a Student of Medical School, Sichuan University, 2020, CDRTV). Journalist Ma Qixiao created a film portrait of the famous Chinese photographer Zhou Mengqi, who had been taking pictures of giant pandas for 30 years. He held his photo exhibitions in different countries of the world, among which are Switzerland, Japan, the USA, France and other countries, to draw people's attention to these rare animals and invite people from all over the world to come to Sichuan province, the homeland of giant pandas (Giant Panda, 2020, CDRTV).

Two more films told the stories of various foreigners who had moved to Chengdu: a French flight attendant working on domestic flights in China (Flying between 2 cities, 2020, CDRTV), and a German designer studying Chinese culture in Sichuan province (Frank Vollebregt, a Dutch Designer, 2020, CDRTV). Screenings of Chinese films were held on October 16 and 17 at the festival site.

Brazilian director Fernando Honesko offered Indian audiences a saga about his country's capital, Brasilia (Brasília - A Thousand Days Saga, 2017, Cine Group & History Channel). Director Fernando Honesko is known for his documentaries for the History Channel, Discovery Channel, Cinemax. In 2019, Fernando won the Grand Prix of the Brazilian Cinema Award. The film presented at the festival in India, told the story of the capital of Brazil Brasilia, which was ordered to be built in 1000 days. In 1955, presidential candidate Juscelino Kubitschek vowed that, if elected, he would build a new capital city for Brazil before his five-year presidential term expired. In April 1956, Kubitschek was elected president. Three years later, an army of builders built a new city, Brasilia. The film was screened at the 4th International Innovative Film Festival on October 16.

The screenings took place in the cinema city, a special Innovation multiplex specially equipped for making films and television content. It is the thematic complex at the Film Academy of one of the leading universities in India, Bangalore University. The festival had been held on the territory of the cinema city for the fourth year with the support of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting of India.

Opportunities for Scientific Cooperation Between Developing Countries in the BRICS + Global South Format (Возможности научного сотрудничества между развивающимися странами в формате БРИКС + Глобальный Юг) / United Kingdom, October, 2021
Keywords: brics+, social_issues, think_tank_council
United Kingdom

Volume of R&D funding and number of Scopus-indexed publications of the BRICS countries in total already exceed those of the EU-total and the United States. These metrics have opportunity for further growth if the five developing countries strengthen scientific cooperation with other countries from Global South that have significant growth potential. Researchers from the Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge Alexander Sokolov, Sergey Shashnov, and Maxim Kotsemir analyzed the opportunities for research collaboration within these clusters of countries along with the obstacles standing in the way of greater cooperation. The researchers presented their findings in the article 'From BRICS to BRICS Plus: Selecting Promising Areas of S&T Cooperation with Developing Countries', published in Scientometrics.

While speaking at a press conference for the fifth session of the 12th National People's Congress in Beijing in March 2017, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi suggested that the concept of BRICS Plus can be considered as a possible platform for expanding cooperation between the BRICS countries with other major developing countries in 'South—South' direction.

ISSEK researchers examined the potential for scientific cooperation of the BRICS countries with a group of 21 countries that belong mainly to the so-called Global South. The sample of the BRICS Plus states in this paper was determined based on the criteria of population, economic and scientific potential, etc.

Promising topics for scientific cooperation between the BRICS and BRICS Plus countries were identified using Scopus data for 2000-2018. The analysis shows a significant increase in publication activity both in the BRICS countries and those in the Global South.

Gross expenditures on research and development, as well as the number of publications indexed in Scopus, of all BRICS countries exceed those for the EU (in total) and the USA. In 2018, China ranked first in the total number of Scopus-indexed publications, slightly ahead of the United States, and was the global leader in 12 Scopus subject areas (the United States leads in the remaining 15 areas). Other BRICS countries have also significantly increased their presence among the leaders in a number of subject areas.

Among the BRICS Plus countries, Iran, Turkey, Indonesia, Malaysia and Mexico entered global top-30 countries by number of publications in Scopus in 2018.

Iran demonstrated 30.4 times growth in number of publications in 2000-2018 and jumped from 48th to 15th place in the global ranking of countries.. Malaysia, Pakistan and Vietnam increased their number of publications indexed in Scopus by more than 16 times.

The authors also calculated the thematic structure of publications of BRICS and BRICS Plus countries for 2014-2018 by 27 Scopus subject areas. The results show that the main subject area for China in Scopus is Enginnering. The thematic structure of Russian publications is dominated mainly by physical, chemical and technical sciences. That said, the topics covered by Russian publications has not changed significantly since the Soviet period. India specializes mainly in Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceuticals, and Computer Sciences subject areas. For Brazil, the most important subject areas are Medicine and Agricultural and Biological Sciences. South Africa shows quite strong bias toward social sciences and humanities in the thematic structure of Scopus-indexed publications.

For the BRICS Plus countries in genral, the main subject areas are are Medicine, Engineering, Computer Science, and Agricultural and Biological Sciences, but each country has its own thematic prifile . For example, Kenya, Nigeria and Ethiopia specialize in Agricultural and Biological Sciences and Medicine, while Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam (and Thailand to a lesser extent) specialize in Engineering and Computer Science.

The BRICS and BRICS Plus countries differ significantly in the level of research and technological development. An analysis of the joint publications of these two groups in Scopus shows that the BRICS Plus countries are not yet among the most important scientific partners of BRICS countries. However, the fields of cooperation within the BRICS and the BRICS Plus group are very similar, which is a promising factor for intensifying cooperation among the countries in these two groups.

Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Chile, Thailand, Iran and Egypt are the most promising candidates for joining the hypothetical BRICS Plus platform in terms of their research collaboration with the BRICS countries.

Each of the BRICS countries has its own list of potential partners from BRICS Plus.

The researchers conducted a special bibliometric analysis for 14 priority areas of scientific and technological development of the BRICS countries and, in relation to these areas, calculated the scientific specialization index of the BRICS and BRICS Plus countries for 2014-2018.

The index value exceeded 1.00 for 16 of the 21 BRICS+ countries in three priority areas: Climate Change, Environmental Protection and Disaster Management, Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture, and Renewable Energy Sources. This means that joint high-tech projects aimed at solving problems relevant to the developing world can be initiated in these areas, which determine the current focus of scientific specialization for most BRICS Plus countries.

Several policy measures could be appropriate for supporting cooperation in relevant areas including research mobility, joint projects, and joint competitions of BRICS engaging partners from the BRICS Plus countries. When developing them, one should consider both the existing collaboration links and their potential in the most promising scientific and technological areas.

Further studies could be focused on more detailed analysis of collaboration between BRICS and BRICS Plus countries with the use of a wider set of metrics. The index of relative intensity of intra-BRICS collaboration (RIIC index) proposed in (Shashnov and Kotsemir, 2019) can be applied here to detect thematic areas with the highest (and lowest) intensity of intra-BRICS (and intra-BRICS Plus) research collaboration.

National Research University Higher School of Economics
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