Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 17.2018
2018.04.23 — 2018.04.29
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
It's BRI against Indo-Pacific all over again (БРИ снова против Индо-Тихоокеанского региона) / China, April, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion
Author: Pepe Escobar

All bets are off on the outcome of India Prime Minister Narendra Modi's potentially ground-breaking meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping this Friday and Saturday in Wuhan.

Things have not exactly started in auspicious mode.

After a meeting in Beijing of foreign ministers represented at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), India, once again refused to support the New Silk Roads, known as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in the final communiqué.

Every other SCO member – represented by the foreign ministers of Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Pakistan – did.

So here we go again – back to the interminable, intractable India-Pakistan soap opera.

Both India and Pakistan were admitted as full members of the SCO in 2017. The SCO, led by China and Russia, is the premier Eurasian mechanism dealing not only with security matters but also expanding, in these past few years, towards economic cooperation.

New Delhi though argues that one of BRI's key connectivity projects – the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) – runs through sections of Kashmir that it considers occupied territory.

Still, the Chinese Foreign Ministry is putting out the best PR possible on the informal Modi-Xi meeting. They're bound to discuss CPEC in detail. Formally, any breakthrough may be announced at the next SCO summit in June, in Qingdao, China.

Don't touch the Iran nuclear deal

This key China-India rift inside the SCO actually mirrors the much bigger clash between BRI and the so-called "Indo-Pacific" strategy pushed by Washington in conjunction with India, Japan and Australia. New Delhi seems to consider BRI and Indo-Pacific mutually exclusive.

BRI though is a vast pan-Eurasian economic integration project while Indo-Pacific is essentially a vehicle for military containment of China.

Economically, New Delhi is concentrating on the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) – which aims to link Russia with India via Iran. Additionally, India's investment in Chabahar port in Iran aims to configure its own New Silk Road to Afghanistan and Central Asia, bypassing Pakistan.

And that brings us to a crucial SCO subplot. Every member-nation – with special relevance in the case of BRICS members China, Russia and India – supports the JCPOA, or the Iran nuclear deal. Iran, currently an observer, is bound to be admitted as a full SCO member by 2019.

When it comes to the classic SCO staple of fighting terrorism, Iran also fits (heavily supported by the three BRICS). Tehran is actively fighting Daesh in both Iraq and Syria, as well as all forms of jihadism in Afghanistan. All these key players – the three BRICS plus Iran – favor a SCO-led solution for Afghanistan.

On top of it, earlier this week Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signed an agreement to set up a free trade zone between Iran and the Russian-led Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU).

So Iran is a key hub of BRI; a partner of India in the INSTC; an imminent member of the SCO; and it's now linked to the EAEU. This acronym-fest spells out Eurasia integration – and fits, economically, into the "extensive contingency plans" evoked by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in case the Trump administration abandons the JCPOA.

China, Russia and India have clearly identified how Iran relinquished practically 90% of its nuclear program and in the end was "rewarded" by increased US sanctions. As for Iran's ballistic missile program – which was never part of the JCPOA – that's much less advanced compared to Russia, India or Pakistan for that matter. The message by the three BRICS/SCO member nations is clear; the JCPOA is untouchable.

And the winner in the South China sea is…

As for India relying on the non-SCO "Indo-Pacific" club as a counterpunch to BRI, seems like New Delhi has not read the fine print.

So it's quite enlightening to examine the extensive questions posed by the US Senate to Admiral Philip Davidson, the expected nominee to lead the US Pacific Command (PACOM).

To sum it all up, here's Davidson's Top Three:

  1. "China is pursuing advanced capabilities (e.g., hypersonic missiles) which the United States has no current defense against. As China pursues these advanced weapons systems, US forces across the Indo-Pacific will be placed increasingly at risk."
  2. "China is undermining the rules-based international order."
  3. "In short, China is now capable of controlling the South China Sea in all scenarios short of war with the United States."
That unveils Indo-Pacific as essentially a strategy of containment applied to the South China Sea – even as Beijing is also very much implicated in consolidating the Maritime Silk Road across the Indian Ocean.

It's unrealistic to expect India to come up with a far-reaching pan-Eurasia economic integration project that even barely matches BRI. New Delhi's best bet is to fight jihadism in conjunction with the SCO while economically investing in the INSTC. No BRI? That's India's choice.

Why India needs to play a larger role in the Commonwealth (Почему Индия должна играть более значительную роль в Содружестве) / India, April, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion

Apart from its bilateral aspect, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the UK was also significant in the context of Britain urging India to play a larger role in the Commonwealth (CW) and India's receptiveness to the idea.

Little attention

The CW gets very little attention internationally and India too has neglected it in recent years, with the Indian prime minister absenting himself from the last few summits.

India gives new forums like BRICS and now the SCO far more political attention. The UK itself has discounted the CW after joining the European Union (EU).

Now that it has decided to untether itself from the EU, it needs other platforms and partners, and India stands out prominently.

If other countries such as Japan and the US are seeking to build partnerships with India in Africa because of its positive image there and good understanding of Africa's developmental needs, the UK would also have reason to work more closely with India in Africa.

But should India assume a more prominent role in the CW and to what end? India has built strong ties with African countries independently of its CW membership.

It has significant bilateral assistance programmes including in West African francophone countries, in areas such as education, health, IT, human resource development, capacity building using Indian expertise and so on.

Strong energy ties with African countries covering oil, natural gas as well as uranium have been built. The India-Africa Summit Forum in October 2015 gathered 51 leaders including 42 heads of state and government. Our total trade with Africa has reached $70 billion (Rs 464 thousand crore) and major expansion is possible because of rising economic graphs on both sides.

Many CW countries have large populations of Indian origin as a legacy of the British empire, of course. But India traditionally underplayed this community link with these countries. Today, India cultivates the diaspora assiduously for economic and cultural reasons. The annual Pravasi Bharatiya Divas testifies to the value we place on this connection.

With the "white" CW countries such as the UK, Canada or Australia the robust expansion of our ties has not needed the CW platform either. Indeed, the CW bond did not alleviate past difficulties with these countries over non-proliferation or human rights questions. It is because of India's economic rise and its growing international status that partnership with India has gained value in their eyes.

The argument that the absence of China from the CW gives India a congenial platform to gain more influence on the international stage, is thin. China has made major strides in Africa very rapidly, with its trade volume with it at $200 billion (Rs 13,28,000 crore) far surpassing that of India.

It has its own China-Africa Cooperation Forum. South Africa is China's largest economic partner, and it was China that pushed for South Africa's membership of BRICS. China is engaged in massive infrastructure projects in Africa; it is very active in the Pacific.

Chinese challenge

Its economic relationship with countries like Australia and Canada outclasses ours. If, however, the argument of shared values and democracy now gets play in our dialogue with the West it is because of China's aggressive rise, its repudiation of Western values and democracy and its offer of China's authoritarian and state-controlled political and economic governance as an alternative model for developing countries to follow.

We should evaluate our future role in the CW keeping in mind the total picture. The CW has transcended its colonial moorings — countries like Mozambique, Cameroon, Namibia, Sierra Leone and Rwanda were never part of the British empire.

India's bilateral cooperation with CW countries will not be hindered by our stepped-up role in the organisation; it can actually be supplemented. Our ambition to be a leading power can only be facilitated by leveraging diverse multilateral platforms. A large number of CW countries are members of the International Solar Alliance, in the building of which we have played a leadership role.

Common concern

Climate change issues are a common concern, and so are the mounting threats of religious radicalism and international terrorism. The international situation is becoming more uncertain because of anti-globalisation and protectionist trends.

The WTO's developmental agenda has been discarded; indeed, the WTO itself is being sought to be weakened as the cornerstone of international trade governance.

The CW consists of 30 small states that could benefit from the guidance and help India can provide in finding solutions to their problems in the area of clean energy, digital solutions, building trade capacity, broadband connectivity and so on. We are already giving lines of credit to 10 of these states.

The challenge is how to prepare these states for the 21st century. The world is getting more complicated and competitive and India needs to be active on all international platforms and build supportive relationships. More engagement with the CW could help in this.

Our aim should be to put together a package for the small states and work through the CW to achieve our bilateral objectives with them. The India-UK joint statement commits the two countries to reinvigorate the CW and increase its relevance to small and vulnerable states.

Building cybersecurity capacity and help member states to implement the WTO's Trade Facilitation Agreement by providing technical assistance have been identified as priorities. For India to play an enhanced role, its institutional position in the CW has to be upgraded, and it is expected it will.
South African Mainstream Media Published an Article by H.E. Ambassador Lin Songtian (Одно из ведущих СМИ ЮАР опубликовало статью г-на посла Линь Сонгтяня) / South Africa, April, 2018
Keywords: mofa, quotation, expert_opinion
South Africa
Author: H.E. Ambassador Lin Songtian

On 26 April, Independent Media published an article by H.E. Ambassador Lin Songtian titled BRICS Cooperation Ushering into the Second Golden Decade. The full text is as follow:

In July this year, South Africa will host the 10th BRICS Summit in Johannesburg. Once again, after South Africa hosting the BRICS Durban Summit in 2013, the ship of BRICS cooperation will sail into the rainbow nation of South Africa and sail towards the Second Golden Decade of the BRICS.

BRICS cooperation was established as a response to the 2008 international financial storm. South Africa joined the BRICS in 2010. Since its establishment, the BRICS has associated itself with Africa, the continent with the largest number of developing countries, and has become an emerging powers cooperation mechanism that reaches across Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe. After 10 years of development, BRICS cooperation has left far behind the outdated practices of political and military alliance, and has established a new type of relations of partnership instead of alliance. BRICS cooperation has transcended the old mentality of drawing lines according to ideology, and has walked a path of mutual respect and common progress. BRICS cooperation has transcended the old idea of zero-sum game and the winner takes all, and has implemented the new concept of win-win cooperation for common development. Today, BRICS has already established itself as a major force in shaping the modernization of international governance.

BRICS cooperation has become the main engine driving world economic growth. The combined population of China, South Africa, Russia, India and Brazil accounts for 40% of world's total, and from 2006 to 2016, the share of the BRICS aggregate economy in the global total has increased from 12% to 23%, trade volume from 11% to 16%, and foreign direct investment from 7% to 12%. Together, BRICS countries contribute to over 50% of world economic growth, which exceeds the contribution of all developed countries combined. BRICS countries voting share in the World Bank and the share quota in the IMF have respectively increased to 13.19% and 14.84%.

The BRICS unity and cooperation has helped strengthen the force for fairness and justice in the international community. BRICS countries have held high the banner of peace, development, cooperation and win-win, maintained effective coordination and collaboration in the United Nations, G20 and other major international fora. BRICS countries have worked actively towards the implementation of the UN Millennium Development Goals and the Sustainable Development Goals. On hotspot issues and major global challenges such as the climate change, the five countries have demonstrated BRICS wisdom, contributed BRICS plans, and expressed BRICS voices, upholding the fundamental principles and authority of the United Nations and the international laws, effectively safeguarding the common interest of all developing countries. The BRICS+ initiative proposed during last year's BRICS Xiamen Summit has opened up a new prospect of broadening the BRICS' circle of friends, and has gained extensive attention and popular support.

BRICS cooperation has produced remarkable results and brought concrete benefits to the peoples of BRICS member states. Over the past 10 years, BRICS' total GDP has grown by 179%, trade expanded by 94%, and urban population increased by 28%, bringing the sense of achievement to over 3 billion population across the member states. With the further progress in the Strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership, BRICS mutually beneficial economic cooperation is expected to produce more fruitful results. The New Development Bank established in 2015 with an initial capitalization of 100 billion US dollars has already reserved sufficient capital to support member states in infrastructure development and production cooperation. The BRICS contingency reserve with 100 billion US dollars offers member states a robust line of defence against financial risks. These milestone efforts mark major steps of emerging countries to jointly tackle global challenges through the establishment of a collective financial safety net. By doing so, the BRICS mechanism has been operating in a fundamentally different way with the global financial system long held by the West, and has offered a new choice for all the developing countries in their pursuit of self-sustainable development. Unlike the World Bank and the IMF, the capitalisation of the New Development Bank are equally shared among 5 BRICS countries and accordingly, the decisions of the Bank are based on consultation on an equal footing and based on the rules of the market. Consistent with the trend of times, the New Development Bank fully encapsulates the principle of equal partnership, mutual benefit, and win-win, and has become an accelerator and an engine for the financial stability of the BRICS countries and of the whole world.

For the BRICS, South Africa is a major participant, contributor and beneficiary. More importantly, South Africa is a leader and a bridge in connecting BRICS' development cooperation with Africa. From 2011 to 2016, South Africa's trade with other BRICS partners has increased 54.7%. As South Africa's strongest BRICS partner, Chinese investment in South Africa has grown significantly over the years, and has reached 25 billion dollars on accumulative terms, creating hundreds of thousands of local jobs in South Africa. In 2017, bilateral trade between China and South Africa increased by 15.4% year-on-year and registered 39.17 billion dollars. Today, China is South Africa's largest trading partner and a major source of foreign investment and overseas tourists.

In 2017, the New Development Bank opened its Africa Regional Center in Johannesburg and committed to approve 1.5 billion dollars of loans within 18 months of its opening. It is certain that BRICS cooperation will create more strength for the development of South Africa and Africa, and will generate more opportunities for Africa to realize self-sustainable development.

The 5 BRICS member states are like the five fingers of hand, each one is different, but they all complement each other. The shared strategic interests of the BRICS offers us robust and constant strengths of cohesion, making us 5 countries move like a well-coordinated and flexible hand. The world has been going through profound changes in terms of the global structure and shifting strengths between the north and the south. As protectionism and exclusivism makes its way into certain major powers, the world is increasingly confronted with the willful acts of trade war, challenges against economic globalization and multilateral regime, and increasing instabilities and uncertainties in international political, economic and security domains. Against such complicated and acute challenges, stronger unity and cooperation among the BRICS and the developing countries is the inevitable and the only correct path forward.

As the chair for this year's BRICS, South Africa, after closely examining the new developments in the international situations and the new characteristics of BRICS cooperation, has proposed the 4th industrial revolution and inclusive growth as priorities for this year's Summit among others, and has proposed concrete measures to deepen BRICS+ cooperation, which have been warmly welcomed and actively supported by China and other BRICS partners. China will give its full support to South Africa for a successful BRICS Summit, and will work together to inject new momentum into fully deepening BRICS strategic partnership, and create a new chapter for BRICS cooperation.

This year marks the centenary of former South African President Nelson Mandela. The BRICS' open, inclusive, cooperative and win-win spirit is highly consistent with the Mandela spirit. It is also the long-cherished wish of President Mandela and all other previous generations of the ANC revolutionary leaders to fight for a more fair, just, and equitable international order. We are fully convinced that, as long as the BRICS countries strengthen our unity and committed ourselves to win-win cooperation for common development, BRICS cooperation will embrace new vigor and dynamism in the second Golden Decade, and be even more productive in delivering benefits to the peoples of Africa, the developing countries, and the world, and will become a model and make new contribution to the establishment of a new type of international relations featuring win-win cooperation and a community with a shared future for mankind.
Xi says he's looking forward to planning China-Russia ties with Putin in new era (Си говорит, что он с нетерпением ждет планирования китайско-российских связей с Путиным в новой эре) / China, April, 2018
Keywords: top_level_meeting, vladimir_putin, xi_jinping, quotation

Xi made the remarks when meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

Xi said he is looking forward to President Putin's China visit in June and his attendance at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in the eastern Chinese coastal city of Qingdao.

He said he hopes to boost friendship with President Putin, jointly plan China-Russia ties in a new era, and discuss the future development of the SCO together with the leaders of other SCO member countries.

Calling a high-level bilateral relationship "precious wealth of both countries," Xi said the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination has maintained positive development momentum.

China and Russia need to continue to give play to the guiding role of high-level exchanges in the development of bilateral ties, fully implement the consensus reached by the two heads of state, and synergize the Belt and Road Initiative and the Eurasia Economic Union, Xi said.

He also called on the two sides to enhance mutual support in international affairs, jointly uphold international law and universally recognized norms of international relations, and strengthen cooperation within the SCO, BRICS, G20 and other frameworks so as to build a new type of international relations and a community with a shared future for humanity.

"I believe that with the efforts of both sides, China-Russia ties will make new achievements," said Xi.

Lavrov said President Putin looks forward to visiting China and attending the SCO Qingdao summit.

Russia has attached great importance to the comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination with China and stands ready to further strengthen bilateral cooperation, he said.

Both Russia and China respect international law and the UN Charter, said Lavrov, adding that his country agrees that the two nations need to further enhance coordination within multilateral frameworks.
Xi-Modi meeting significant for bilateral ties, regional cooperation (Встреча Си и Моди имеет важное значение для двусторонних связей, регионального сотрудничества) / China, April, 2018
Keywords: top_level_meeting, xi_jinping, narendra_modi

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi began a two-day informal meeting in central China Friday, pledging to open a new chapter in bilateral ties.

In China's central city of Wuhan, Xi said China stands ready to work with India to establish a closer partnership of development, so as to promote all-round progress in exchanges and cooperation between the two countries in various sectors.

Xi said both sides should look at the complete picture of Sino-Indian ties from a strategic perspective, so as to ensure that bilateral relations always proceed in the right direction.

"The great cooperation between our two great countries can influence the world," Xi said.

Modi said that the meeting has a historic significance.

Modi called on the two sides to increase mutual understanding, and work together to deal with global issues and challenges using the wisdom of the two countries.

Calling Xi-Modi meeting "one of the most significant events in the region this year," Mushtaq Rahim, an Afghan analyst and founding member of the Kabul-based think tank Afghanistan Diplomacy Studies Organization, told Xinhua that the meeting is not only of direct significance for Beijing and Delhi, but also paves the way for broader regional economic and security cooperation.

Rahim said the improvement of relations between China and India can help countries in the region build consensus and create more opportunities for economic cooperation.

Muhammad Faruk Khan, presidium member of Bangladesh's ruling Awami League, told Xinhua that the deepening of understanding between China and India will undoubtedly benefit both of them and the region at large.

"We welcome this meeting and the meeting to be held between them in June during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting in China," said Khan, who was also former Bangladeshi commerce minister.

The bilateral tete-a-tete has attracted worldwide attention, said Gerrishon Ikiara, a senior lecturer at the University of Nairobi.

While political and economic ties between China and India have been rapidly growing in recent years in a wide range of dimensions, the meeting between the leaders of the two most populous countries in the world signals closer economic and diplomatic cooperation between the emerging economies in Asia.

Stephen Ndegwa, professor from the Nairobi-based United States International University, said that as leading emerging global economies under BRICS, China and India will help change any skewed trade rules in favor of developing economies.

"The meeting will entrench Asia's pivotal role in global trade and diplomacy. This is expected to create a more balanced relationship in how countries trade in the world for mutual benefit," Ndegwa said.

Sudheendra Kulkarni, chairman of Mumbai-based think-tank Observer Research Foundation, said the Wuhan meeting provides an opportunity for the two leaders to address core concerns and identify areas where India-China relations can be ambitiously expanded and deepened.

Comprehensive connectivity in South Asia should be a big idea for the two heads of state, Kulkarni said. With mutual trust and comprehensive cooperation, India and China can positively influence peace, stability and progress in Asia and around the world.

Feature: Palestinian refugee children fear to play outdoors as tear gas lingers on (Статья: дети палестинских беженцев боятся играть на открытом воздухе, пока остается в памяти слезоточивый газ) / China, April, 2018
Keywords: social_issues

BETHLEHEM, West Bank, April 29 (Xinhua) -- Only a few children went outdoors to the only playground available in the Aida refugee camp in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, where the tear gas thrown by the Israeli forces still lingers on around the tiny camp.

Aida refugee camp, hosting around 3,150 Palestinian refugees, is backed by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), and is surrounded by the Israeli-built wall and six watch towers.

It is located between Bethlehem and Jerusalem and is close to two large Israeli settlements, leaving it vulnerable to the constant clashes between the Palestinians and the Israeli soldiers.

According to a study published by the U.S. Berkeley University, all the refugees in the camp are exposed to tear gas that is thrown by Israeli soldiers towards the camp two to three times a week, without a direct correlation to security tensions or demonstrations in the camp.

The research raised serious concerns over the physical and psychological impact of the gas used against Palestinians.

"What we see is that tear gas sometimes lingers for two to three days after an event and we are worried about the long-term chronic health impact this could have on the residents of the camp," said UNRWA's Director of Operations Scott Anderson.

The only playground in the camp was set up and funded by the UNRWA year ago, to provide the refugee children with a place to develop their interests and have fun.

"We found that for so many times, some children do not feel safe to come to the playground because the soldiers often throw tear gas at them," said Isra' Abu Sroor, who is in charge of the center's financial and administrative affairs.

Two years ago, a child was killed near the camp, after which many parents stopped sending their children to the playground due to safety concerns, added Sroor.

According to the U.S. study, tear gas may cause health risks as well as psychological impacts such as post-traumatic stress disorder, sleep disruption, acute stress responses, hyper arousal and a general feeling of lack of safety.

While the issue is becoming a growing concern for UNRWA, the agency is still suffering a serious financial gap of nearly 200 million U.S. dollars, which threatens the fundamental services it offers to the refugees.

Anderson warned of the lack of fundings to the UNRWA that were used to provide daily basic services that refugees depend on, including education and healthcare.

"The global support to our operation is deeply encouraging, including the recent unprecedented support from the Gulf countries... and the increasing support we get from the BRICS (China, India, Russia, Brazil and South Africa)," said UNRWA Spokesperson Christopher Gunness.

"We hope China will become a strategic ally of UNRWA," he said. "Given China's rapid development and its experience in lifting so many of its people out of poverty, the agency feels there is much we can learn from a partnership with China."

China contributed 350,000 U.S. dollars to the UNRWA in 2015, according to figures provided by the agency.

The UNRWA has over 700 schools hosting almost 525,000 children and offer healthcare to some 3.5 million refugees through a network of 150 clinics.

In addition, the agency's food and cash assistance program offers some 1.7 million U.S. dollars to extremely vulnerable refugees.

Throughout the region, UNRWA serves a total of some 5.3 million Palestinian refugees.

In the beginning of this year, the United States cut down its funding to UNRWA from 125 million dollars to 65 million dollars.

Palestinian officials said that the U.S. move to reduce its aid to UNRWA was in line with the new policy of U.S. President Donald Trump to ignore the final issues of the peace process, which is reflected by his removal of the issues of Jerusalem and the refugees "off the table." Enditem

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's remarks and answer to a media question at a joint news conference following talks with State Councillor and Foreign Minister of China Wang Yi, Beijing, April 23, 2018 (Выступление и ответ на вопрос СМИ Министра иностранных дел России С.В.Лаврова в ходе совместной пресс-конференции по итогам переговоров с членом Государственного совета, Министром иностранных дел КНР Ван И, Пекин, 23 апреля 2018 года) / Russia, April, 2018
Keywords: sergey_lavrov, quotation, mofa, top_level_meeting

Ladies and gentlemen,

We have held very meaningful and useful talks, which were a logical succession of a meeting we had during a recent visit by State Councillor and Foreign Minister of China Wang Yi to Moscow.

Today we focused on the preparations for the visit of President of Russia Vladimir Putin to China scheduled for June, when a meeting of the SCO Council of Heads of State will be held in Qingdao.

We pointed out the unprecedented level of Russian-Chinese relations, which can be described, with good reason, as a comprehensive partnership and strategic interaction. We held a detailed discussion of the current state of bilateral relations, including a host of practical questions, and their further development.

You attended the signing of the annual plan of consultations between our foreign ministries, which stipulates numerous meetings between our deputy foreign ministers and directors of the concerned departments to discuss a wide range of current global and regional matters.

We also talked about a meeting of the SCO Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, which will be held tomorrow. We spoke at length about the SCO's activities in general and agreed that its role in international affairs had increased following the organisation's expansion through the admission of India and Pakistan in the capacity of full members. We praised the high standards of Russian-Chinese interaction within the SCO.

We also brought up the subject of the further development of BRICS and RIC.

We held in-depth discussions on the situation concerning the Korean Peninsula, where positive changes have been reported in the past few months. Russia and China believe that this advancement is largely in keeping with the provisions of the Russian-Chinese roadmap for a Korean settlement. We believe it is necessary for all the parties involved to take simultaneous steps towards one another and to refrain from any provocative action. We have agreed to do our best to facilitate these developments.

We exchanged opinions on the situation in Syria. Both parties agree that the missile strike on Syria delivered by the United States and its allies was a flagrant violation of international law. We called for the OPCW to conduct a thorough and objective investigation of the alleged chemical attack in Douma without any foreign pressure. We pointed out that there is no alternative to a political and diplomatic settlement of the Syrian crisis. We agreed to more closely coordinate our positions on this matter, including at the UN Security Council.

We exchanged views on the situation with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action concerning Iran's nuclear programme. We agree on the vital significance of preserving the agreements that have been sealed by UN Security Council Resolution 2231. We are against their revision. We consider the attempts to cancel the results of the years-long efforts of the P5+1 countries and Iran counterproductive. We will do our best to preclude any attempt to undermine these agreements.

Overall, the results of our talks have confirmed our mutual resolve to strengthen Russian-Chinese foreign policy cooperation. I would like to express our gratitude to State Councillor and Foreign Minister of China Wang Yi and all our Chinese friends for their hospitality.

Question: How are the participants in Beijing affected by the current developments in the world? Things are heating up in Syria, and the United States will probably pull out of the Iranian nuclear deal unilaterally. What effect does this have on the SCO and some of its members?

Sergey Lavrov: Your question is too broad. The overall situation in the world is unsettling. As my colleague has said and we have repeatedly mentioned, there are attempts to undermine the stability of the international order which is based on the UN Charter, as well as attempts to hold court, investigations and pronounce sentence ignoring the UN Charter. This is unacceptable. We clearly stated this together with China at the Security Council where we voted on corresponding drafts of the resolution. Our representatives also made such statements in a national capacity as well.

We are very much concerned about the developments in Syria. Right at the moment when not only ISIS but the remaining terrorists were at a breaking point, when the large Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta was liberated from extremists and, critically, when real opportunities were appearing to soon start the work of the constitutional commission in accordance with the decisions of the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi, a provocation was carried out under false pretext of chemical weapons use.

Before OPCW inspectors arrived at the site, amidst plentiful evidence that it was staged, air strikes were made. It must be obvious for all unbiased observers that it was done to scuttle the investigation by OPCW inspectors and undermine positive trends in the Syrian settlement process that were growing stronger largely due to the initiative of the guarantor countries of the Astana process (Russia, Iran and Turkey). I am confident that the truth will out. Even the countries that voiced support for the absolutely unlawful action taken by the United States, Great Britain and France, were forced to do so.

The majority of them are well aware that this is an unacceptable way of solving serious international crises. The most immediate task is to create conditions for OPCW inspectors to finish their work without any external pressure, or rather, not giving way to this pressure exerted on them. We will insist that the inspectors visit all sites connected to the so called 'news' on the alleged chemical attack, including the place where an infamous video was filmed in which water was poured on boys who were later shown to the global public to be healthy and in fine spirits. OPCW inspectors have not yet visited this place, as well as the hospital and laboratories, liberated by the Syrian troops with our assistance, where militants were preparing to launch chemical attacks right until the moment they left Eastern Ghouta. All this must be under the radar of OPCW inspectors. We will work to make this happen.

As regards the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran's nuclear programme, as I said, we have the same position as China on this. This document was approved by the supreme body responsible for supporting peace and security – the UN Security Council. It is unacceptable to revise such agreements, which would mean revising one of the greatest recent achievements of world diplomacy. Russia and China will make every effort to prevent such a highly dangerous turn of events.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's remarks and answers to media questions following a meeting of the SCO Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Beijing, April 24, 2018 (Выступление и ответы на вопросы СМИ Министра иностранных дел России С.В.Лаврова по итогам заседания СМИД ШОС, Пекин, 24 апреля 2018 года) / Russia, April, 2018
Keywords: sergey_lavrov, top_level_meeting, quotation, ndb

The meeting of the SCO Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs has come to a close. We focused our attention on preparations for the upcoming SCO summit meeting, which will be held in Qingdao, China, on June 9 and 10. It will be the first SCO summit meeting that will be attended by the leaders of eight member states following the accession of Pakistan and India. They received the status of full members at last year's summit in Astana, and the summit in Qingdao will be the first SCO summit they will attend as full members.

We pointed out that the SCO expansion and the involvement of our Indian and Pakistani colleagues in our joint efforts are proceeding very well. Much is yet to be done, but we see that our new colleagues are adjusting to new rules quite well.

The agenda for the Qingdao summit was another issue we discussed. We have approved in principle the key documents of the upcoming summit, primarily the SCO declaration, which will cover the main spheres of our practical cooperation and key international issues. The draft declaration highlights the SCO's international efforts to promote respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity, non-interference in the internal affairs of others and a peaceful settlement of crises and conflicts. All of this is especially important in light of the attempts by the US and its allies to hinder the development of a polycentric democratic world order. The latest example of this is the aggressive action taken against the Syrian Arab Republic. The communique we have adopted at today's meeting of the SCO foreign ministers offers our assessment of that action.

We also discussed new measures the SCO could take against new challenges and threats. We have prepared an action programme against terrorism, separatism and extremism for 2019-2021, to be approved by the heads of state in Qingdao. The drafting of the SCO anti-drug strategy has reached the final stage. Today we have spoken out in support of revitalising the SCO's Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure, which is working very well as it is.

Our discussions on combatting extremism and drug trafficking focused on the situation in Afghanistan and around it. All of us are concerned about the strengthening of extremists, primarily from the so-called Islamic State, who enter Afghanistan via Iraq and Syria and are becoming entrenched in Afghanistan's northern provinces, which border on our allies in the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO). This certainly means that we must redouble our efforts to preclude the proliferation of conflicts from Afghanistan and to promote a political settlement of the Afghan crisis.

We expressed our support for the results of the Tashkent conference on Afghanistan, which was held in the capital of Uzbekistan in late March. All those who participated in that conference supported the launch of direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban movement while preventing ISIS from recruiting Taliban members.

We reaffirmed our resolve to promote an active involvement of all Afghanistan's neighbours in these efforts. We advocated this policy during the Moscow format meetings. The SCO is a convenient natural platform for promoting a settlement in Afghanistan, because Afghanistan and all its neighbours have either full membership or observer status in this organisation. In light of this, the participants in our discussions today welcomed the resumption of the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group. Its previous meeting was held in Moscow last autumn, and its next meeting is scheduled to be held in Beijing in mid-May.

At this stage, we are paying special attention to our economic cooperation. We plan to sign a cooperation agreement of the EAEU and its member states with the People's Republic of China soon as part of the concept for promoting the alignment of Eurasian economic integration with China's Belt and Road Initiative. Broadly speaking, we are considering a Greater Eurasia project, about which President of Russia Vladimir Putin spoke at the ASEAN-Russia summit in 2016.

The SCO is expanding and strengthening its international ties. The SCO Secretariat has signed documents on the development of a working relationship with the UN, ASEAN, the CSTO and the CIS. We are planning to sign a memorandum on cooperation with UNESCO soon and a roadmap on strengthening the SCO-ASEAN partnership.

The main results of our meeting today have been formulated as an information statement, which is being circulated, as far as I know.

Question: Does the SCO play a role in containing the West economically and politically? Is it possible that cooperation between the SCO member states will expand or transit to the military level?

Sergey Lavrov: We do not contain anyone; our role is to uphold the principles of international law in the political, military-political and economic areas. As I have said, these principles include unconditional respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries, non-interference in their affairs and the focus on the exclusively peaceful settlement of any disputes and conflicts.

The SCO countries also maintain military cooperation. As you know, the meeting of the SCO Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, which I attended, was accompanied by a meeting of the SCO Council of Defence Ministers, in which Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu participated. Our military colleagues, working in close coordination with us and under the guidance of their national leaders, highlighted the need to enhance the SCO's and its member states' readiness to repel terrorist, extremist and other threats to the territorial integrity, sovereignty and legitimate interests of their countries. Everything necessary is being done to make these preparations as effective as possible. I am sure that additional efforts will be taken towards this end.

Question: Did you discuss the coordination of the SCO countries' efforts for the post-war restoration of Syria? It has been proposed to co-finance Syria's reconstruction through the BRICS New Development Bank.

Sergey Lavrov: I have no information about the BRICS New Development Bank considering such projects. We do know, though, that the Syrian delegation at the recent Yalta International Economic Forum presented the country's restoration requirements in terms of foreign assistance and possible involvement. However, as far as I know, conditions are not available yet for a practical discussion of these tasks. First we need to complete our anti-terrorist efforts in support of the Syrian government on Syrian territory, first of all addressing humanitarian problems and rebuilding the key infrastructure facilities.

As for the economic reconstruction, it will take time. I am sure that all of us must act in the interests of the Syrian people and with full respect for Syria's sovereignty and territorial integrity. I am saying this now because several countries have openly adopted a policy of Syria's disintegration. The United States assured us, as I said more than once, that its only goal in Syria was to drive terrorists out and defeat ISIS. Contrary to such statements, including those made by US President Donald Trump, the US is becoming established on the eastern bank of the Euphrates and is not planning to leave the area, where it is creating local governments. By the way, the French president is encouraging the US to do so. He has said recently that the US must keep troops in Syria and that the US-led coalition must remain there as long as necessary to create an order that will suit Western countries. This clearly amounts to interference in internal affairs in violation of all the norms of international law and propriety. I hope very much that talks with our French colleagues will help us find a form of interaction on the Syrian settlement that will be in keeping with all the rules and norms of international law and the UN Charter.

As you know, the presidents of Russia and France had a telephone conversation yesterday, during which President Putin put forth our positions and reaffirmed our readiness to coordinate our positions with our French partners. We are open to cooperation.

As for the restoration of Syria, we are alarmed by the Western statements on denying assistance to government-controlled regions. The litmus test will be the conference on support and assistance to Syria, which will be held in Brussels this week. We want to see what position the conference organisers and participants, primarily the EU and other Western countries, will assume on the restoration of Syria and its economy.

Question: Toronto hosted a G7 foreign ministers' summit, which again announced that new anti-Russia sanctions were possible and established a special group to investigate Russia's behaviour. What is your comment?

Sergey Lavrov: In all evidence, they have no serious problems left on the agenda, which they could address among themselves. The main issues that affect and are of importance for international economic life and the international community as a whole are discussed in other formats. Political issues and military-political issues are discussed at the UN Security Council and the UN at large. Economic issues, of course, cannot be decided outside the G20, which involves, along with the G7, all the BRICS countries and many of our friends.

As far as the results of the foreign ministers' meeting in Toronto are concerned, its anti-Russian underpinnings are clear. Regrettably, this anti-Russian and very slippery line has been followed even by those G7 countries which assure us that they do not share the attempts to isolate Russia.

We will uphold our positions and wait patiently for our partners to realise that these actions are an absolute dead end and lack any prospects.

Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
New association aims to raise level of debate on energy economics in South Africa (Новая ассоциация нацелена на повышение уровня дебатов по экономике энергетики в Южной Африке) / South Africa, April, 2018
Keywords: economic_challenges, sustainable_development
South Africa

A new independent professional organisation was launched in Pretoria on Thursday with the aim of raising the level of research and debate on energy economics in South Africa, where policy and regulatory uncertainty remain a major constraint to investment.

Named the South African Association for Energy Economics (SAAEE), the organisation is also the thirtieth affiliate of the International Association for Energy Economics (IAEE), an interdisciplinary forum for the exchange of ideas, experience and issues among professionals interested in energyeconomics.

The IAEE has more than 4 100 members in over 110 countries.

SAAEE president Professor Roula Inglesi-Lotz said that, while South Africa had significant energy skills, technologyand resources, progress in the sector was being hampered by ongoing policy uncertainty, as well as a lack of innovation in devising solutions to some of the critical problems that had arisen in the sector in recent years.

"The aim is to stimulate high-quality, informed, scientific and evidence-based research and dialogue to contribute towards an improvement of public policy in the energy sector," Inglesi-Lotz said.

IAEE president Professor David Knapp and president-elect Professor Christophe Bonnery were both present at the launch of SAAEE and pledged their support to the association's future growth and development.

IAEE executive director David Williams, who was also present, encouraged South African participation in the international body's various conferences and networks, while highlighting the potential for South African researchers to contribute to its two peer reviewed journals, The Energy Journal and the Economics of Energy & EnvironmentalPolicy journal.

Speaking on behalf of the Department of Energy, the South African National Energy Development Institute's (Sanedi's) Barry Bredenkamp described the launch of the SAAEE as "long overdue" and expressed the hope that it would help raise the quality of the South African debate on energyeconomics.

"South Africa has no shortage of technical skills, no shortage of engineers that can provide technical solutions to the challenges we are facing and the technologies are available. Everything seems to be in place, but we are not getting the economics right," Bredenkamp lamented.

As evidence, he pointed to the consistent failure of government to deliver an updated Integrated Resource Plan for electricity, as well as Eskom's application to the National Energy Regulator of South Africa to recoup foregone revenue and costs of more than R66-billion.

He also urged both the SAAEE and the IAEE to provide input into the energy working group of the Brics bloc of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, which was currently being hosted by South Africa.

One of the issues on the agenda was the possible hosting, within Sanedi, of an energy economic bureau to collaborate with the other Brics countries. "Sanedi does not have those skills or resources and if such a bureau is established, we will be relying heavily on the SAAEE."
Iran Starts Ditching the Fiat Dollar, Turkey Repatriating Gold from US (Иран начинает отказываться от фидуциарных долларов, Турция репатрирует золото из США) / Philippines, April, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, economic_challenges, quotation, trade_relations

In the early years of the global effort to defeat the belligerent faction of the Western Deep State, the BRICS Alliance had sought to do it in a manner that would have the least negative impact on the population of the West. More than a decade since, and the West has not changed much. They are still in the stage of talking about the true nature of the problem with utmost eloquence.

Some are pinning their hopes on the Q thing. Why these people can't do the necessary action by themselves, we keep on asking. They are still waiting for others to do it for themselves. They have not realized it yet that all that has happened before, and those that will happen in the future, will be done only by a few committed people wanting real change. The mind control hero redeemer worship is really that effective.

So, the BRICS has no other recourse but to officially start the planned global financial reset by dumping the fiat dollar from their system. On top of the recently inaugurated Chinese energy stock exchange, Iran and other allies are taking measures to end the dollar dominance in the market.

Oil Exporters Ditching Dollar, Switching to Other Currencies

Iran has decided to replace the dollar with the euro in foreign trade, thus joining an informal club of states, seeking to reduce reliance on the US currency in the oil industry.

Iranian government bodies and companies are being encouraged to use the euro as the main currency in their reports, statistics, publications and financial data.

"The dollar in Iran has no place in our transactions today, with traders preferring alternative currencies for their transactions. There's no longer any need to continue using dollar-based invoices," said Mehdi Kasraeipour, the Central Bank's Director of Foreign Exchange Rules and Policies Affairs.

Tehran has responded to the US' and its allies' decision to extend anti-Iranian sanctions in March, which the Islamic Republic describes as "US-led economic collusion."

"This is a politically motivated decision. Transactions in dollars go through American banks, which pose certain risks to Iran. There are no such risks in transactions in euros," said Alexander Razuvaev, director of the analytical department at Alpari.

Iran remains the largest manufacturer and exporter of hydrocarbon raw materials in the world, with EU member-states and China being its major beneficiaries. According to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, Tehran reaps some $70 billion dollars annually from sales of oil. The American dollar is often indicated as the deal currency between the country-exporter and the buyer, with reference oil being rated high even at stock exchanges in London and New York, which makes the dollar so special, granting it the status of the world's most popular reserve currency.

Experts believe that the US should sound the alarm as Iran has shifted to the euro in its oil dealings; many oil exporters and importers are dissatisfied with the heavy dependence on the American currency. The world is trending to a so-called de-dollarization of the world energy market: such countries as Russia, China, Venezuela, and now Iran, are already on the list.

Since 2016, the St. Petersburg International Mercantile Exchange has been trading for Russian crude in rubles, Venezuela stopped accepting dollars for oil transactions last year, demanding the euro instead, while the Shanghai Exchange launched China's first yuan-based crude oil futures last month.

Alexey Kalachev, analyst at the company Finama investment, stated that there were no restrictions in bilateral trade transactions in national currencies, which would become a means for Russia, Iran and Venezuela to bypass the risks of dollar transactions being blocked.

"A national currency must be easily convertible and be on the list of reserve currencies in order to become an alternative to dollar in energy transactions globally. China, which has launched yuan-based oil futures contracts, is the closest to the goal," Kalachev said.

Last week, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei held "foreign intelligence" accountable for the "recent issues on the currency market," asking the country's secret services to "defuse the plots against the Islamic Republic."

The Iranian rial has weakened as US President Donald Trump's administration approaches a May 12 deadline to stay in or unilaterally pull out of the 2015 nuclear deal that eased the lion's share of sanctions on Tehran. Despite the implementation of the accord, the risk of further restrictions and penalties has forced multiple companies to avoid or strictly limit their trade and investment in Iran.

Turkey's Gold Repatriation 'Sign of Coming End' of US-Dominated Monetary System

The Turkish Central Bank has decided to bring its 220 tons-worth of gold home from the US. The country's largest commercial banks have followed suit. Claudio Grass, a Mises Institute ambassador and consultant at Switzerland's Precious Metal Advisory, explained why the move is a sign of the impending return to global financial multipolarity.

Sputnik: What do you think prompted Ankara to begin transferring its gold reserves out of the US Federal Reserve system?

Claudio Grass: I think there are several reasons for this, but the main might be that Erdogan's former brother in arms Fethullah Gulen is living in Pennsylvania under the protection of the US government. Erdogan claims that Fethullah [is working with] the deep state in Turkey, which is trying to overthrow his position. So he claims that Gullen stands behind the coup attempt which took place a year and a half ago. Therefore, I think Erdogan does not trust Gullen, and also not the Americans any longer…

On the other hand, the economy is in trouble, and the Turkish lira for a long time has been facing pressure…

On the other side, Erdogan and the Muslim Brotherhood have some power ambitions to bring back a kind of 'Ottoman Empire 2.0'. He also seems to understand that gold is money, especially given the status of gold in the Muslim world…and its historical status of real money. So by bringing back the gold reserves, he's showing that he does not count on the US as a partner any longer.

Also, Turkey is still a NATO ally, but it seems Erdogan wants to go his own way, and gold allows him to finance and trade in a currency which doesn't need to go through the international banking system.

A tank moves into position as Turkish people attempt to stop them, in Ankara, Turkey, early Saturday, July 16, 2016

Sputnik: What impact could this move have on the financial situation in the US? Only last week the Chinese declared that they were introducing the petro-yuan. That's obviously going to take years to get traction. But it's all looking as though they're trying to change the status quo. What's your feeling about that?

Claudio Grass: Yes, the Chinese are starting to trade in renminbi backed by gold; at the same time they're planning BRICS trading based on gold. And I think it just shows that gold is becoming part of the system again, and that the East is trying to diversify their risks when it comes to fiat money into gold, which basically is insurance against all the risks which are linked with our current fake monetary system.

An employee counts 100-yuan (15 USD) banknotes at a bank in Lianyungang, in eastern China's Jiangsu province on January 7, 2016

Sputnik: How likely are other nations to follow Turkey?

Claudio Grass: I think that's something we can see. The trend that central banks are withdrawing their gold reserves started a few years ago. It shows that nations understand that it's much wiser to have their gold reserves in their own countries. At the same time, why would they repatriate their gold if they don't believe that gold is money? We have seen central banks in the West such as Germany, the Netherlands and Hungary bring their gold home, which basically shows that they're trying to seek a diversification of their own risks when it comes to the US dollar as a world reserve currency.

Sputnik: What is the cause of the tendency to purchase gold and withdraw it from the US? Is it related in some way to the current geopolitical environment since President Trump has come to power?

Claudio Grass: We used to live under the American empire which basically took over after the Second World War; during the last 60 years it has basically just piled up a gigantic amount of debt. The world currency itself has always been the US dollar; even today, roughly sixty percent of all the reserves of the central banks are held in US dollars. At the same time, when it comes to international trade, the US dollar is the dominant currency.

© AP Photo / Mike Groll, File

But [the purchase of gold and its withdrawal from the US] are all signs of disintegration. They are all signs that we are going away from a unipolar world to a multipolar world again.

We are at the end of a long term debt cycle. Everything operates in cycles. We have printed money out of thin air, created it out of nothing for almost 50 years, basically since Nixon went off the gold standard. Since then, the US dollar has been the predominant currency. But everything comes to an end. We cannot fight a debt crisis by piling up more debt, and I think all the currency wars we have seen over the last ten years are signs that the world is changing, and that the world that we know is basically falling apart.

Sputnik: Are the economic consequences of this trend going to speed the end of the American empire, or is it going to take 15-20 years as some people are saying, before China catches up and takes over?

Claudio Grass: If we look into history, all empires ultimately collapse after a certain period of time. At the same time, what all these empires over the last few thousand years had in common was that they collapsed when they debased their currency, diluted their currency completely…I think that's also what we are seeing today. In 2008 we took out a credit of roughly $140 trillion; today we are standing at $230 trillion. So what we have gone through over the last ten years is unprecedented in history. One day, we will have to pay back the debt, and I think that day is coming closer.

How to Grow the Economy While Reducing Inequality (Как поднять экономику при сокращении неравенства) / United States, April, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, research, economic_challenges, social_issues
United States
Author: Arjun Jayadev

For the BRICS countries to not just grow their economies but also raise the standard of living of their people, inclusive growth that prioritizes poverty reduction is a must

This post is part of an INET series on BRICS and the global economy. The series is written by authors of the New Development Bank's report, "The Role of BRICS in the World Economy & International Development." About three years ago, the global development community adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as benchmarks to achieve by 2030. They replaced the Millennium Development Goals and emphasized several features—notably, a more universal consideration of development goals that doesn't limit concerns or responsibilities to developing countries only. Development involves the expansion of effective human freedoms, including the capacity to avoid poverty, to be healthy, and to be equipped to participate in the life of one's society. In the last 40 years, the collection and availability of survey data has allowed researchers to have a much better sense of trends in global poverty and inequality. In this short piece, I examine trends in inequality and poverty and the contribution of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries to reducing global poverty and inequality[1]. To do so, I use data from the Global Consumption and Income Project.

At the outset, it is useful to recognize the massive reduction in global poverty over the last 30 years. Figure 1 below shows the dramatic reduction in poverty across the world in the recent past. In 2000, 33% of the world was considered poor by this standard. By 2013, only 15% lived below this level. Most of this striking decline in global poverty has been due to the rapid economic growth in China and, more recently, India. Given their populations, these two BRICS countries have accounted for most of the decline in the global poverty headcount. Poverty (as defined by the $1.25 2005 PPP poverty line) in China declined between 1990 and 2013 by 68 percentage points, in India by 32 percentage points, and in the world as a whole by 25 percentage points. In absolute terms, the number of individuals deemed as poor declined from 805 million to 40 million in China and from 565 million to 422 million in India. The number of poor in the world declined by 1.04 billion (from 2.11 to 1.07 billion). Out of the 1040 million fewer poor, 908 million came from China and India together.

Table 1 shows the total number of and population share of people living below the poverty line in the BRICS countries in 2013 (the most recent year for which we can make a common estimate for the five countries and for the world as a whole based on the same poverty line). 477 million people or 15% of the population are still poor in the BRICS countries, accounting for 45% of global poverty. It is clear from this statistic that a very large share of the responsibility for continued global poverty reduction still rests with the BRICS. In the rest of the world, the share of people living below the poverty line was also 15% with 573 million individuals living in poverty.

The remarkable economic growth in BRICS countries in the last few decades has meant that they now have many fewer people living in poverty. But is this sufficient to achieve a world of zero global poverty by 2030? Clearly this is dependent both on the expected rate of growth and the chosen poverty line. Researchers have argued that the $1.25 poverty line is a very stringent one. As a result, poverty levels are negligible in many countries when using the $1.25 line, including Brazil and Russia, but are notably higher when other slightly higher lines are applied). Researchers therefore have argued for the adoption of a higher, more plausible poverty line or for alternative approaches to identifying the poor (see, for example, Reddy and Lahoti 2016, Reddy and Pogge 2003). In recognition of these concerns, one can examine how much growth would be required to achieve zero global poverty in different regions using the $1.25 PPP line as well as a more expansive $2.50 per day (2005 PPP) poverty line for moderate poverty and a $4.16 per day (2005 PPP) standard based on the amount that would be needed to have sufficient resources for nutritionally adequate food intake using US market prices.

Table 3 gives the survey mean growth rates in per-capita consumption required to get to zero poverty as defined by these various poverty lines by the year 2030.[2]

The required growth rates to eradicate poverty in some cases are implausibly large when compared to historical and recent growth rates, especially but not only for sub-Saharan Africa. An important caveat is that survey-mean growth rates (on which poverty estimates and middle class estimates are based) have been historically far lower (on average half) of national income accounts growth rates. In Table 3, we have assumed that growth rates of consumption in the surveys from which distributional and poverty data are collected will be the same as the projected growth rate, corresponding to consumption per capita in the national income accounts[3]. However, even so, the projected growth rates, when applied to an unchanging distribution, will not suffice to eradicate poverty by 2030.

Therefore, while growth is essential, it will nevertheless be insufficient to eradicate global poverty by 2030. A more fruitful way of achieving poverty eradication and serious reductions in deprivation is to foster more inclusive growth (interpreted here as growth that raises the incomes of the less affluent more). Growth processes that distribute the gains very broadly may emerge in different ways. For example, ensuring that steps that improve the education and human capacities of the poor or increase access to markets through better infrastructure are pre-market measures that facilitate meeting the market on more advantageous terms. And, steps that ensure that market transactions happen on equitable terms or that surpluses from production activities are equitably shared are in-market measures. Post-market measures are transfer mechanisms based on taxation and supplementation of earned incomes. These may have a role in ensuring that growth processes are able more rapidly to reduce poverty and deprivations and contribute to shared prosperity. Even rapid growth will need to be complemented by suitable sharing of gains to achieve global development goals.

Ensuring lower relative inequality is also in and of itself a Sustainable Development Goal recognized in the 2030 Agenda. BRICS countries have played a prominent role in imagining a path towards more widespread prosperity. Official attention to the ideas of inclusive growth and development in India and that of a harmonious society in China over the last fifteen years reflect this recognition.

One of the SDG inequality indicators is the growth of the bottom 40% of the income distribution as compared to the national average. Figure 2 provides an indication of the growth of the bottom 40% relative to the national average in all the BRICS countries and across the world between 1990 and 2013. Apart from Brazil, the growth rate of the bottom 40% in the BRICS countries has been substantially lower than that of the mean. That noted, in the world overall, the large growth in the average incomes of China and India has meant that the growth of the bottom 40% worldwide was higher than the mean. The figures reported are for growth rates of survey incomes and therefore are different from national income per capita growth rates as reported from national accounts.[4]

Another way of putting this is that the relatively rapid growth of China and India has meant that global inequality has been falling in the last two decades due to decreasing inter-country relative differences. As a result, a greater proportion of global interpersonal inequality is now due to differences within countries than in the past. In 1980 about 78% of global consumption inequality derived from the differences between countries rather than from differences within countries. By 2010, inequality derived from differences between countries had declined to about 56%.[5] Between 1990 and 2013 mean per capita consumption growth in BRICS countries[6] substantially outstripped both that in developed countries and in the world. Continued BRICS growth (most dramatically in China and India) will further reduce global inequality, but we should also note that the gap between the better performing emerging markets and developing countries, or EMDCs (such as China), and the poorest is widening because of their differential growth rates. China's per capita income from survey measures has increased from 1.18 times that of sub-Saharan Africa in 2000 to 3 times that in 2015. Although the BRICS' primary contribution to reducing global inequalities is through their own development, this also suggests a need and rationale for BRICS to support development elsewhere, and in poorer developing countries.

The need to reduce poverty and promote more inclusive growth requires a two-pronged effort on the part of the BRICS. First it requires suitable internal social and economic policies aimed at the broad sharing of future gains in prosperity. Second it requires external engagement by the BRICS individually and collectively. This can take the form of supporting EMDCs, especially those which are poorer or have more limited technical capabilities, in their development paths, through mechanisms including development assistance, the transfer of ideas and knowhow through technical cooperation, FDI and other means. The BRICS also have an important role to play in actively creating a world more supportive of development. Such measures can simultaneously benefit the people of the BRICS countries and of EMDCs generally. Addressing structural inequalities in the world system is itself an important contribution to global development goals.

Inclusive growth and development can, as noted already, be achieved through pre-market, in-market and post-market measures. While social programs to ensure widespread sharing of the fruits of growth are important, inclusive growth and development is likely to require measures that allow market processes to generate more inclusive outcomes. Secure employment opportunities are less widespread, both geographically and sectorally, than is desirable. Informality of labour markets, large-scale migration, and other phenomena reflect this reality. The International Labour Organization (ILO) reports that 670 million jobs will need to be created by 2030 to keep pace with the growth of the working-age population.[7] This is a major concern, as the ills of premature deindustrialization, combined with jobless growth, have been widely reported and analyzed (see e.g. Rodrik 2015). There is growing apprehension that the traditionally conceived structural transformation in the form of a shift from agriculture to higher productivity sectors (typically in manufacturing) is no longer very much evident in many countries. Across the world, agriculture is shrinking and urbanization is taking place, but the service sector rather than the manufacturing sector is growing. Moreover, much of the growth in the service sector is in lower value-added forms of employment.[8]

Many middle- and low-income countries, including Brazil, South Africa and India, have been experiencing a weak link between output and employment increases. Others are in danger of experiencing a deindustrialization that again increases reliance on primary exports (see Castillo and Martins 2016 and Rodrik 2015). If manufacturing shrinks without a corresponding rise in high productivity service employment, informality and "precarity" increase and economy-wide productivity is reduced. There is evidence of such shifts both in Latin America and Africa (see McMillan and Rodrik 2011). The prevalence of large labour pools facing poor employment prospects, low job quality and limited socio-economic mobility is a weakness in many EMDCs and may play a role in deepening inequality worldwide. There are likely to be considerable gender disparities as well, since women are often more marginalized than men in labour markets. There is an urgent need to reorient growth to support just, desirable, secure and reasonably paid employment.

Within their announced commitment to inclusive and widespread growth, the BRICS have explicitly included respect for environmental boundaries and constraints. Understandably, the major focus of the BRICS over the last few decades has been to ensure relatively fast growth to reduce deprivation. There is now, however, the increasing recognition that the current global growth patterns have resulted in widespread environmental degradation in the form of water shortages, inadequate sanitation, deforestation, air pollution and carbon emissions that contribute to global warming among many other difficulties. Development is likely to continue to have a heavy impact on the physical limits sustaining the Earth as an ecological system. Catastrophic environmental threats generated by this impact are not only bad for future generations but have an adverse effect on current output through such effects as extreme weather and social dislocation. All of this requires conscious and concerted responses in terms of national policies and investments, which must in turn be supported by global efforts.


Banerjee, Abhijit V., and Esther Duflo. 2008. 'What Is Middle Class About the Middle Classes Around the World?' Journal of Economic Perspectives 22(2): 3-28.

Castillo, Mario, and Antonio Martins. 2016. 'Premature Deindustrialization in Latin America.' UN: Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean,…

Jayadev, Arjun, Rahul Lahoti, and Sanjay G. Reddy. 2017. 'The Middle Muddle: Conceptualizing and Measuring the Global Middle Class'. Forthcoming in A Just World: Essays in Honor of Joseph E Stiglitz. New York: Columbia University Press.

Jayadev, Arjun, Rahul Lahoti, and Sanjay G. Reddy. 2015. 'Who Got What, Then and Now: A Fifty-Year Overview from the Global Consumption and Income Project'. A Working Paper from the Department of Economics. The New School for Social Research, New York. Available at SSRN:

McMillan, M. S., and D. Rodrik. 2011. 'Globalization, Structural Change and Productivity Growth'. Working Paper 17143, National Bureau of Economic Research, Washington, DC.

Milanovic, B., and Shlomo Yitzhaki. 2002. 'Decomposing World Income Distribution: Does the World Have a Middle Class?' Series 48, Number 2, 155-178. Research Department, World Bank, Washington, DC.

Reddy, Sanjay, and Rahul Lahoti. 2016. '$1.90 a Day: What Does It Say? The New International Poverty Line'. New Left Review 97: 106-127.

Reddy, Sanjay G., and Thomas W. Pogge. 2003. 'How Not to Count the Poor, Version 4.5.' In: Sudhir, Anand, Paul Segal, and Joseph Stieglitz, eds. 2010. Debates on the Measurement of Global Poverty. New York: Oxford University Press.

Rodrik, D. 2015. 'Premature Deindustrialization'. Working Paper 20935, National Bureau of Economic Research, Washington, DC.

Stiglitz, Joseph E., and Bruce Greenwald. 2015. Creating a Learning Society: A New Approach to Growth, Development, and Social Progress. New York: Columbia University Press.

United Nations. 2017. 'Progress Towards the Sustainable Development Goals', Sustainable Development Goals Report, Department of Economic and Social Affairs,…


[1] This essay extracts heavily from a background report to the New Development Bank in 2017.

[2] Due to the previously noted discrepancy between national income and survey income growth rates, the per capita growth rates required to eliminate poverty will likely have to be even higher than estimated in Table 3.

[3] If the discrepancies between survey mean growth rates and national income accounts continue to be at their historical levels over the last three decades, the improvements in income levels and in poverty reduction as reported in the tables will be too optimistic.

[4] In particular, starting from the 1990 base, Russia has a steeper rate of growth of per capita consumption from surveys over the period than it did of GDP per capita as measured by national accounts, whereas the opposite is true for India.

[5] Calculation from Jayadev et al (2017) using the Theil index and based on Global Consumption and Income Project data.

[6] This is the case for the BRICS overall and for four out of five of the individual countries. The BRICS overall and two of the five individual countries also outstripped world median per capita consumption growth.


[8] See among others, Stiglitz and Greenwald (2014) on such transitions.
Figure 1: Global Poverty Headcount Ratios at $1.25 Poverty Line (2005 $ PPP)
Source: Global Consumption and Income Project (see Lahoti et al., 2016)
Table 1: Poverty in BRICS Countries in 2013 According to the $1.25 2005 PPP Poverty Line
Table 3: Annual Per-Capita Consumption Growth Rates (percentages) of Survey Growth Rates Required to Eliminate Poverty by 2030 for Different Poverty Lines
Figure 2: Annualized Compound Growth Rates (%) of Survey Mean Income and Income of Bottom 40% from 1990 to 2013
Post-Brexit Trade with the BRICs Might Not Help UK (Торговля с БРИКС после Брекзита не поможет Великобритании) / United Kingdom, April, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, trade_relations
United Kingdom
Author: Marcus Jones

With Britain scheduled to leave the EU on March 29th, 2019, the realisation of Brexit is now less than a year away. Whether you see this as good or bad news, there's no doubt that the UK has a huge amount of work to do if it is to maintain viable access to the single market and seek out lucrative trade arrangements with other countries.

With the latter point in mind, the UK government may be tempted to prioritise the cultivation of deals with the so-called BRIC nations. This acronym refers to the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China, which have experienced exponential growth since the turn of the century and are poised to become the world's dominant suppliers of manufactured goods and services by the year 2050.

With this in mind, it appears as though Brexit offers a unique opportunity to pursue lucrative trade deals with these independent nations. This may be a little more complicated than anticipated.

A New World Order – Opportunity or Competition for the UK?

There is no doubt that the rise of the BRICs bloc is indicative of a new world order, and one that has its origins in the Great Recession. Make no mistake; the global financial crisis triggered a seismic power shift and one that destabilised traditional economic powerhouses while empowering emerging nations.

BRIC members are certainly performing well, as together they encompass more than 25% of the world's land area and 40% of the global population. They also boast a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of $18.5trn, equipping them with the natural resources, manpower and finances to thrive on the world stage.

From a UK perspective, having the potential to tap into these economies post-Brexit is something to be celebrated. However, we should not forget that the UK is established as one of the economic powerhouses that the BRICs bloc is expected to supersede over time, and this arguably pits Britain in direct competition with nations that it aspires to treat as future trade partners.

While trade deals can still be sought, the UK would certainly not enter any negotiations in a dominant position. Similarly, the UK has also seen its projected economic growth reduced in recent times, having been overtaken by France and replace as the world's fifth largest economy, partially as a result of the nation's proposed withdrawal from a single market that is home to around 500m customers.

There are also questions surrounding the value that the UK would bring to the BRICs nations, with Britain reliant on financial services for around 79% of its exports. While the government may look to sell these services as part of any future negotiations, Brexit still has the potential to decimate the service industry in the UK while resource-rich nations like India and Russia will continue to offer tangible value in the form of goods, commodities and manufacturing services.

So, while northern locations such as Hull emerge as key players in the lucrative energy sector, it is hard to determine what the UK will be able to bring to the table when negotiating with the BRIC bloc.

The Last Word

At first glance, the notion of trading freely with independent BRIC nations is extremely appealing, and it seems like precisely the type of opportunity that Brexit was designed to empower.

With an ailing economy that is reliant on the retention of lucrative financial services, however, the UK may struggle to negotiate a competitive deal with nations such as Russia and China. Not only this, but these countries are also in a position to compete aggressively with the UK in the export market, which could theoretically drive further economic contraction post-Brexit.

In the worst case scenario, these countries may also look to claim some of the UK's financial services market share post-Brexit, which in turn means that they would be more inclined to compete with Britain rather than extend beneficial trade arrangements.

A look at BRICS derivatives and alter egos (Взгляд на производные БРИКС и альтер-эго) / Russia, April, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion,economic_challenges
Author: Yaroslav Lissovolik

The BRICS grouping was originally advanced largely as an investment benchmark of emerging markets with the highest growth potential. The emergence of BRICS funds targeting asset allocation in the respective economies experienced all the possible highs and lows in the past decade, with recent periods eliciting a moderation in investor appetite for the asset class on the back of the mounting geopolitical risks (particularly with respect to Russia and China) and the lack of growth vigour in the majority of BRICS economies. In seeking higher returns and high growth performance economies a number of groups alternative to BRICS have been proposed, including the MINT, "the next eleven", etc. But perhaps another venue to explore could be to look at BRICS regional partners and their economic blocks as a source for alternative or complementary investment strategies and country groupings.

The idea of using the pool of regional partners to construct alternative investment strategies is predicated on the fact that all BRICS economies have a region and a regional economic block where they play a leading role – for Brazil this is South America and Mercosur, for Russia this is the CIS and the Eurasian Economic Union, for South Africa this is Africa and the African Union as well as the South African Customs Union (SACU), for India this is South Asia and the SAARC, for China it is East Asia and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the prospective Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). In each of these regional groups one may rank its member economies by economy size, level of development of financial markets, etc.

Accordingly, the alter egos or the "first derivatives" of the BRICS would be their partners in key regional blocks or continental alliances with a substantial size of the financial market/economy and scope for playing catch-up to the BRICS core: Argentina in South America, Kazakhstan in the CIS, Pakistan in South Asia, Egypt in Africa, Indonesia in East Asia. The unifying acronym for this group of countries is InPEAKs - the countries in this group may be viewed as the "second generation" of BRICS countries coming from the same regions as the BRICS themselves. A moderate variation of the composition of this group would involve the selection of the largest economies by GDP in the respective regions: Egypt in Africa, South Korea in East Asia, as well as Pakistan in South Asia, Argentina in South America, and Kazakhstan in the Eurasian Economic Union. The resulting acronym – PEAKS – is suggestive of a strategy of portfolio allocation in EM and frontier markets that targets an optimal derivative set of countries from the main regions/continents of the developing world.

The value of deriving a grouping such as PEAKS/InPEAKs lies in the expansion of the BRICS investment domain to include more markets, resulting in superior optionality, longer investment horizons and risk diversification. The latter is particularly important given the high correlation of some of the BRICS markets to each other via the commodity price cycle. Most importantly, however, a set of regional BRICS proxies may be a useful instrument for episodes when BRICS are hit with geopolitical risk. A case in point is the most recent escalation of sanctions and risk vis-à-vis Russia, which led portfolio investor to redirect part of their funds into Kazakh Tenge assets (high yield with lower geopolitical risk). Finally, a regional derivation of BRICS' alter egos may be motivated by financial integration pursued by BRICS economies in their respective regions – in particular, Russia together with Kazakhstan and other economies of the Eurasian Economic Union is targeting the creation of a common financial market platform by 2025.

The performance of PEAKS compared to BRICS economies in 2017 has been superior in many cases (most notably in terms of stock market performance on the back of the strong showing of such markets as Kazakhstan and Argentina), though it would of course be more informative to trace the relative performance of the two country groups over a sufficiently long period as well as to compare their long-term growth potential (which is beyond the scope of this short essay). The point to make, however, is that the set of alter egos or regional derivatives of BRICS economies is not necessarily confined to the PEAKS basket, but may be varied on the basis of the enlarged BRICS+ framework (that incorporates all the main regional integration arrangements in which BRICS countries play a leading role) depending on the underlying criteria.

Admittedly, the scope of regional derivatives for BRICS is still narrow, but the whole purpose of such an extended BRICS+ approach to selecting the next generation of BRICS markets is to foster the development of new emerging markets and allow for the regional partners of the BRICS core to use the advances of BRICS in reaching their modernization goals. Such a paradigm implies that the advancement of new emerging markets will need to rely in part on the creation of favourable regional conditions and spillovers from increasing financial activity and integration of neighbouring partners. Fostering "new BRICS" will need to rely on the cooperation of emerging markets in regional alliances, while elements of regional competition/cooperation in terms of building new financial centers could also play a role in enabling EMs attain global-level heights. And while the composition of the "PEAKS" as the optimal set of emerging markets may change, the approach that expands the possibility set for investment beyond the BRICS core to cover varying BRICS+ alternatives may prove to be a fruitful way to look at the longer term evolution of the emerging markets assets class.

Incidentally, China's decision to invite representatives of Tajikistan, Guinea, Egypt, Mexico and Thailand to the BRICS+ summit in Xiamen in 2017 may be viewed as the first effort in implementing such an approach to exploring the modalities of building the new generations of BRICS frontier and emerging markets from across the globe. In this respect it is noteworthy that shortly after the spotlight of the BRICS+ summit in Xiamen Tajikistan placed a Eurobond on favourable conditions and obtained its first sovereign credit rating from major international rating agencies. Going forward in the future the annual BRICS summits could perhaps feature not only the traditional regional partners of the hosting country and the BRICS+ circle of heads of regional integration groups, but also representatives of those frontier and emerging markets that via cooperation with the BRICS may significantly improve their standing in global markets and the world economy.

In the end, there is no single and definitive code for EM – it is neither the BRICS, nor any other acronym or country subset. Rather there may be an algorithm, an approach to discerning the economies that are set to succeed and outperform. There hence may be a case for a broader "PEAKS" approach/algorythm that takes into account the varying regions of EM (selecting the best from the main regions of EM, most notably the 5 regions of BRICS economies), creating the possibilities for risk diversification and for regional integration synergies to be exploited – in this respect the BRICS+ platform offers a sufficiently wide scale of varying geographies for pursuing such an approach. In fact there is perhaps too much obsession with issues concerning the formal expansion of BRICS core membership, when in reality the key issue is to foster the development of "new BRICS" and the financial systems of other developing nations. As noted by Bernstein, "the final goal, whatever it may be, is nothing; the movement is everything."
BNDES, BRICS Bank Give USD 67m for 6 Wind Farms in Brazil (BNDES и НБР предоставит 67 млн долларов США для 6 ветровых ферм в Бразилии) / Brazil, April, 2018
Keywords: investments, ndb, sustainable_development

The Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES) and the New Development Bank (NDB) said USD 67.3 million (EUR 54.4m) have been disbursed to support six wind projects in Brazil.

This is the first loan after last year's signing of an agreement between NBD and BNDES for USD 300 million in financing to support wind, solar, hydro and bioenergy projects in Brazil. Currently, more than 60% of the country's generation comes from hydropower and the partnership seeks to bring greater diversity of supply, BNDES noted.

The first disbursement will help finance parts of local firm Casa dos Ventos' 358-MW Araripe 3 wind complex, comprised of 14 wind farms in total in the states of Piaui and Pernambuco.

Overall, the banks estimate that around 600 MW of renewables capacity would be added to the Brazilian mix thanks to their cooperation agreement.

NDB was created by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) to support infrastructure projects and sustainable development in emerging economies.
When the dragon and the tiger work together… (Когда дракон и тигр работают вместе ...) / China, April, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, economic_challenges, global_governance, ndb

The dragon and the tiger are two ancient Asian symbols that express dynamism and strength in both China and India. The ancient Chinese science of geomancy or feng shui always necessitated having dragon and tiger elements in balance and synergy to assure both prosperity and peace. According to Hindu tradition, the god Vishnu assures maintenance, sustainability and prosperity of all existence, by floating dreamlike upon a bed of entangled Naga or serpent dragons.

Such symbolic innuendo will not be lost among the leaders of two nations that share over five thousand years of unbroken history, cultural and economic exchange among themselves, having both served as main sources of our world's heritage and culture. As China's President Xi jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi meet in Wuhan on April 28-29, 2018, it potentially heralds a re-start of the ancient Silk Road.

For millennia the Silk Road network of trade and commerce represented the economic order of our planet. From the historical perspective of both China and India, the two-hundred plus years of colonial, post-colonial and neo-liberal eras that sidelined these traditional exchange routes, marked only a very brief disruption in the overarching sequence of their shared history. Now it is time, to bring it all back. As President Xi and Prime Minister Modi shake hands in Wuhan this weekend, it could represent a historic moment. Yes, an ancient yet new strategic alliance that could prove a global game changer.

These two powers through policy coordination could implode a regional mega-trend of smart infrastructure integration, enhanced through technology, telecommunications, and digital finance. Today China stands as the largest single global investor in artificial intelligence and quantum communications. India is the world leader in software outsourcing and IT consulting. Both nations are the largest innovators and users of digital financing networks and cell phone banking systems, pioneering financial empowerment into the most isolated villages where their low-cost smart phone penetration is already strong. The future of innovation is no longer in Silicon Valley, but rather in the arc spreading from China's Great Bay (Shenzhen-Hong Kong) to India's Bangalore. The question now, is how to better integrate it.

China's Belt and Road offers a blueprint for integration. So does India's Act East policy. For consecutive years, the Himalayan Consensus Summit held annually in Kathmandu has called for both policies to become integral and synergistic rather than viewed as separate and isolated from each other. To say that India is not a participant in China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is to ignore the fact that alongside China, India is the second largest investor in both the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the (BRICS) New Development Bank. Both serve as the leading financial institutions for the BRI. In the area of infrastructure and communications, both nations will only gain from coordinating and synergizing their respective development policies. Such new infrastructure will need to be smart, green and blue. Certainly China and India are now leaders in scaling renewable energy innovations as viable commercial solutions.

Environment and climate change are the most critical issues requiring information and policy coordination. Both nations are the treasurers of our planet's vital resource, the Himalayan glaciers. River systems from shared glaciers are the main water source for one quarter of the world's population stretching across Central, South and Southeast Asia. Thousands of trans-boundary river systems pose challenges of both water supply and sanitation. As the two leading regional powers, both China and India must act together in averting imminent water crisis that could pose unprecedented costs of water, food and health security along with natural disasters, migration, and regional instability.

For this very reason, Professor Mahendra Lama, one of India's Eminent Persons and member of Himalayan Consensus board, proposed at the 2016 Himalayan Consensus Summit that an alternative people-to-people and think tank mechanism should be established to mitigate crisis and avert conflict by addressing root causes rather than effects. At the 2018 Himalayan Consensus Summit, Nicholas Rosselini UN China Regional Coordinator announced the launch of the UNDP-Himalayan Consensus "Silk Road Dialogues" focusing its 2018 agenda on environmental and technology discussions aimed at improving China-India relations. Nirupama Rao, former Indian Foreign Secretary and member of Himalayan Consensus board, called for a Himalayan Charter for the establishment of a Himalayan Council where regional governments can convene on climate concerns as proposed by ICIMOD Director General, David Molden, also Himalayan Consensus board member.

In this time of global volatility, when western leaders and policy makers are lost amidst political myopia, disregard of both long-term climate and human dignity in favor of short-term greed, our planet is in search of a new direction to avert climate crisis and war. That voice of sanity may very well come from two ancient nations who have historically offered the world some of its deepest philosophical foundations. Europe may need to think about rebalance. Africa, whose largest inbound investors are China and India, can see the equation clearly. South America may be thinking along the same lines.

This is a time when no nation can put itself first, and everyone must coordinate and work together for the sustainability if not existence of our planet. It is time to realize a "community of shared future for mankind" as a vision to shared among us all. Maybe now is time to "act East" and not look west.

Laurence Brahm is Founding Director of Himalayan Consensus, an environmental think tank, and International Research Fellow with the China Center for Globalization.
India and South Africa to Increase Trade Relations (Индия и Южная Африка активизируют торговые отношения) / Russia, April, 2018
Keywords: trade_relations

India's High Commissioner Ruchira Kamboj said the two would exploit the trade through trade and investment opportunities in the health and pharmaceuticals, automotive, information technology, diamond cutting and polishing as well as future skills sectors to boost the trade.

Kamboj said the sectors would enable both countries to double the trade that is currently estimated at US$10bn. India and South Africa are members of the Brics association of five major emerging national economies that include Brazil, Russia and China.

It was aimed at setting the tone for the upcoming inaugural India-South Africa Business Summit, to be held at the Sandton Convention Centre from April 29 to April 30, seeking to maximise the potential of economic and commercial partnership between the two nations.

Kamboj said India was now as one of the world's fastest-growing economies in a rate of between 5 percent and 8 percent per annum. "We are convinced the two countries will step into the future … of shared prosperity.," Kamboj. "The entire focus is to maximise the potential of economic relations and double the trade figures in the next coming years. There is a potential to double the figure."

South Africa will host the inaugural India-South Africa Business Summit at the Sandton Convention Centre from April 29 to April 30. The summit would be attended by captains of industry from both countries, including representatives from Tata, Mahindra, Sigma Capital, and enterprise development incubation organisations.'

Indian companies in South Africa employ about 18000 South Africans, injecting about US$8bn into the economy.

Local companies in India doing business in India include Sanlam, FNB, Old Mutual and Life Healthcare with an investment of about US$1bn. The department of trade and industry's Asia bilateral trade relations director Madileke Ramushu said South Africa was looking forward to hosting a successful summit.

"In terms of investments the statistics look okay. There are 130 companies from India who are investing in South Africa. We feel there is more that we can do in this area of investment," said Ramushu.
Independent rater? There are flaws with how Big Three rate Emerging Market Economies (Независимый оценщик? Есть недостатки в том, как «Большая тройка» оценивает страны с формирующимся рынком) / India, April, 2018
Keywords: economic_challenges, rating, emerging_market

There are flaws with how the Big Three rate EMEs. But a BRCIS ratings agency is not the answer

India has again raised the proposal for a BRICS credit ratings agency, this time at the meeting of BRICS finance ministers and central bank governors. The three top ratings agencies, S&P, Moody's and Fitch together make for 90% of the global market. India has, on various occasions, viewed their ratings action as biased, especially their fastidious assessment of emerging markets which are mostly non-Western economies juxtaposed against their glossing over of weaknesses of Western economies, particularly the US.

For instance, they have said in the past that they kept India's ratings just above investment grade for years, despite its sound fundamentals, because of its high debt-GDP ratio. Experts argue that it is the composition of government debt to GDP that should matter—given India's public debt is mostly internal, the Big Three could have relooked their ratings. At the same time, they held on to their high rating of the US during the last presidential elections citing the effect of the fiscal stimulus plan under the Donald Trump administration while they overlooked the consequent increase in the country's debt.

A BRICS ratings agency might make sense in such a context. However, a government-promoted ratings agency will always face questions on its credibility, much as the Big Three do in the context of corporate clients that they charge to rate—indeed, their role in the 2008 financial crisis, thanks to holding on to high ratings for companies that were already toxic by then, invited heavy penalties from the US. A BRICS-funded BRICS rater runs the same risk. Moreover, the other concern of the Big Three, that relates to the severe lack of timely and comprehensive data, is one that will also plague a BRICS ratings agency. The BRICS's, and India's, best bet is to encourage private ratings agencies in their dealings with each other and non-Western economies, and provide updated and high-quality data.
Brazil GDP growth in 2018 to reach 2.3% – IMF (Рост ВВП Бразилии в 2018 году достигнет 2,3% - МВФ) / United Kingdom, April, 2018
Keywords: economic_challenges, rating, imf
United Kingdom

Brazilian markets are cheering the International Monetary Fund's revised growth forecast for their country.

In its April publication of the World Economic Outlook, the IMF said that it had revised its growth projects for Brazil among a slew of other emerging economies.

It now says that Brazil's GDP growth in 2018 will reach 2.3 per cent, higher than most domestic forecasts and clearly a boon for a government that has been besieged by corruption charges amid promises of an economic turnaround.

The previous forecast in October was 1.9 per cent growth. In 2017, GDP growth was at 1.0 per cent.

One of the pivotal instruments in ensuring this turnaround has been a curbing of runaway two-digit inflation, which the IMF says is now "around historical lows in Brazil and Russia, where demand has been recovering from the deep contractions of 2015–16 …"

The IMF report also said that "in emerging market economies, financial conditions since August have generally remained supportive of a pickup in economic activity. Monetary policy was eased further in Brazil and Russia".

The Brazilian Central Bank (Banco Central do Brasil) said this quarter that economic activity has surged in the country, reaching a pace that was both unexpected and the fastest in four years.

The Bank's economic activity index jumped 1.41 per cent on a seasonally adjusted basis, its data showed. This is welcome news to markets which in January received news that the government was abandoning efforts to pass a major reform of the social security system which creditors have cited as necessary to fiscal reform.

Coupled with a surge in consumer spending on the back of lowered interests rates, an inflation rate that has been brought under control within Central Bank limits, and the 1.04 increase in economic activity between 2016 and 2017, Brazil appears to have well emerged out of its three-year recession.

However, continued corruption scandals and the political uncertainty that comes with the upcoming national elections in October could derail market reform efforts which have paid off for the Brazilian economy, the IMF warned.

New Development Bank and India sign project preparation fund contribution agreement (Новый банк развития и Индия подписали соглашение о взносе на финансирование проекта) / China, April, 2018
Keywords: ndb, concluded_agreements, investments

On 19 April 2017, the New Development Bank and the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of India signed Project Preparation Fund (PPF) contribution agreement. The Agreement was signed by Mr. Leslie Maasdorp, NDB Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Mr. Virender Singh, Director (NDB), Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance of the Republic of India on the sidelines of the Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Group.

The Project Preparation Fund will create an enabling environment for project preparation and facilitate the undertaking of feasibility studies. The fund will also leverage local expertise in the member countries of the NDB and optimize resource utilization.

The first PPF contribution agreement was signed by the NDB and China in the city of Xiamen on the sidelines of the 9th BRICS Summit on 4 September 2017.
The second PPF contribution agreement was signed by the NDB and Russia in October 2017.

Background Information

The New Development Bank (NDB) is a multilateral development bank established by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa in 2014. The Bank is mandated to mobilize resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging economies and developing countries, complementing the efforts of multilateral and regional financial institutions for global growth and development.
World of work
Social policy, trade unions, actions
Cab approves signing of pact with BRICS nations for regulation of medical products for human use (Кабмин одобряет подписание пакта с государствами БРИКС для регулирования лекарственных средств для использования человеком) / India, April, 2018
Keywords: social_issues, off_docs, pharmacy

The government today gave its nod to the signing of a pact with medicine regulatory agencies of BRICS nations on cooperation in the field of regulation of medical products for human use.

The approval was given by the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

"The MoU would facilitate better understanding about the regulatory aspects between the parties and could help in increasing India's export of medical products to BRICS countries," according to an official statement.

The cabinet also gave its ex-post facto approval for an Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), signed in March, between India and Sao Tome and Principe for cooperation in the field of Traditional Systems of Medicine and Homoeopathy.

The MoU between India and Sao Tome will enhance bilateral cooperation between the two countries in the area of Traditional Systems of Medicine, the statement said.

"This will be of immense importance to both the countries considering their shared cultural heritage," it said.

The activities between the two sides will start after the receipt of copy of the signed MoU.

The initiatives taken by the countries will be as per the MoU's terms of reference and will be a continuing process till the agreement remains in operation, it said.

The cabinet also gave ex-post facto approval to an MoU between India and Sao Tome and Principe on cooperation in the field of Medicinal Plants.

In another approval, the government has been apprised of the MoU between India and the World Health Organisation, represented by its Regional Office for South-East Asia acting through its India office. The MoU was signed on March 13 here.

"The bilateral MoU shall encourage cooperation between India and WHO. This will facilitate in improving public health status of the people in India," the statement said.
BRICS: High Court orders probe into human rights violations (БРИКС: Верховный суд приказал расследовать нарушения прав человека) / India, April, 2018
Keywords: food_scam, social_issues

PANAJI: The high court of Bombay at Goa on Tuesday directed the state government to submit a report on the alleged violation of human rights of police personnel during the BRICS summit in 2016.
Chief secretary and director general of police filed a petition in the high court challenging the jurisdiction of the Goa Human Rights Commission (GHRC) to order an inquiry into the case.

The commision had passed the order following a complaint lodged by Aires Rodrigues regarding violation of human rights of police personnel deployed during the 2016 BRICS summit in South Goa. Rodrigues, in his complaint, had stated that the government neglected to cater to the basic fundamental human rights where police were expected to work for long hours and where food for them was cooked in unhygienic conditions.

The court directed the commission not to insist on the report from the chief secretary. The court will go through the report and if it finds relevant material for inquiry, it will forward this to the commission for its consideration, Justice N M Jamdar stated.

The court can look into what went wrong and if, in fact, police were deployed for 10 hours, during the BRICS summit and whether there are any suggestions for the future, he stated.

Advocate general Dattaprasad Lawande argued that the commission has recommendatory powers and had no powers to direct the chief secretary of the government to conduct an inquiry into the matter. GHRC should conduct the inquiry and submit a report to the government for consideration, Lawande stated, adding that there was no clarity on whether GHRC is asking for an inquiry or an investigation into the matter.
Guangzhou hosts forum on regional synergy development among BRICS countries (В Гуанчжоу проходит форум по развитию региональной синергии между странами БРИКС) / China, April, 2018
Keywords: BRICS_Think_Tank, sustainable_development

The Wanshou Forum, part of the 2018 BRICS Think Tank International Symposium, was held in Guangzhou on April 23, focusing on the theme "BRICS open, innovative and inclusive development".

Officials and scholars from BRICS member countries and other countries spoke on BRICS-related topics including synergy in regional development strategies, inclusive development through a socially responsive economy, global security challenges facing the BRICS agenda, liberal migration regime, and the construction of regional value chains.

Hosted by the China Council for BRICS Think-tank Cooperation, the symposium was organized by the Guangdong University of Technology, the Guangdong Emerging Economies Society and the Guangdong Belt and Road Institute.

The Wanshou Forum was initiated by the International Department of the Communist Party of the China Central Committee in 2016 as a platform for international exchange and dialogue.
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