Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 18.2018
2018.04.30 — 2018.05.06
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Russia's Rise in Africa (Рост России в Африке) / Greece, May, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion
Author: Kester Kenn Klomegah

Six African Heads of State will be among global leaders and foreign dignitaries to eye-witness the official ceremony inaugurating the newly elected Russian leader, Vladimir Putin, scheduled to take place on May 7 in Moscow.

The importance of this ceremony is that Putin will continue to keep the symbols of power – the national seal, the national flag and a specially bound copy of the Constitution after taking the oath of office as President.

All eyes will be on this inauguration event as it marks the start of Putin's second six-year presidential term (from 2018 until 2024) within the framework of the constitutional provisions.

Interfax News Agency reported on April 27 that the Russian presidential inauguration would be different from the previous without stating details.

The news agency further quoted Dmitry Peskov, an Official Spokesman of the Kremlin, saying that foreign leaders' presence might extend through May 9, which is Victory Day celebrations, and no special invitations were needed as the doors were open to all interested global leaders.

The African leaders due to arrive this week for the ceremony include South Africa's Cyril Ramaphosa, Egypt's Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Zimbabwe's Emmerson Mnangagwa, Angola's Joao Lourenco, Namibia's Hage Geingob and Sudan's Omar al-Bashir. These six African countries have enjoyed warm bilateral relations dated back to the time of Soviet days.

On 7th May, 2012, when Putin was last sworn in as president, there were few foreign guests, the most notable being Putin's longtime friends Silvio Berlusconi and the former Chancellor of Germany Gerhard Shröder.

A Senior Researcher on foreign policy at the Institute of African Studies under the Russian Academy of Sciences told me by phone that the appearance and participation of African leaders in events in Moscow would be an exceptional timing for their respective countries and Russia.

He, however, acknowledged Africa's rising influence on the international stage and added further that "Russia needs more partners especially during this period of sanctions against the country and, more significantly, at this time when global politics is changing. It wants to raise its profile in Africa now after two decades of low-key engagement."

Yury Ushakov, a Russian Presidential Aide, told the local media here that President Vladimir Putin would use the opportunity to hold a number of bilateral meetings with prominent foreign leaders, among them the visiting African leaders.

Experts on foreign policy issues have said that Putin has a cozy relationship with Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. The relations between Egypt and Russia has been developing deeply and rapidly. Early April, for instance, Putin by phone warmly congratulated Abdel Fattah el-Sisi on his overwhelming victory in the presidential election.

He further reaffirmed Russia's intention to develop mutually beneficial cooperation in many areas, including energy, industry and transport. Russia is currently working on mega projects including nuclear plants construction and on an industrial zone in the country.

For Zimbabwe, strongly despised by the West, it has been looking to China and Russia, both BRICS member states, for investment and much-needed financial assistance to help pull Zimbabwe out of its persistent economic problems.

Quite recently, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov went on an official visit to Harare during which he underlined unreservedly the continuing importance his government's plans to build a $3 billion platinum mine considered will be a driving force in the economy of Zimbabwe.

During the visit, the two countries also agreed on cooperation notably in the spheres of trade, nuclear energy, space, tourism and agriculture.

Zimbabwe will hold a presidential election in July. The long-serving ruler Robert Mugabe resigned in November last year. President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is a strong advocate of the "Look East" policy and has also been wooing interested potential foreign investors since taking office, will contest the election on the ticket of the ruling Zanu-PF party.

On February 13, while meeting with Sergei Ivanov, Chief Executive Officer of Alrosa, a Russian diamond mining company, Putin hinted about the forthcoming state visit of the President of Angola, Joao Lourenco, to Moscow.

During that working discussion Putin hinted: "We are currently discussing the Angolan President's visit to Russia. I think it will happen very soon, this year for certain. It is very likely that we will talk about your business in Angola."

In Angola, Alrosa's plan is to develop one of the world's largest diamond deposits, in Luaxe, where currently the company is conducting a feasibility study. "We have managed to increase the stock of our subsidiary in Angola to 42 percent. We have met with the President of Angola. Everything is on schedule. I am certain that it will be a significant asset to help us maintain our leadership," CEO Sergei Ivanov told Putin in remarks.

A Sudanese diplomat confirmed by phone that in May a government delegation would visit Moscow. Russia and Sudan are also committed to developing their bilateral relations.

Last December when the two presidents met in Sochi, southern coastal Russian city, Putin stressed investment in infrastructure, offered to explore the vast oil deposits territorially shared with South Sudan, as well as deliver modern weapons and military hard wares to the country.

Interestingly, Omar Al-Bashir has offered to help Russia in Africa. He said that "Sudan has extensive ties in Africa and can help Russia develop relations with African countries. Sudan may become Russian's key to Africa. We are a member of the African Union."

"We have great relations with all African nations and we are ready to help. We are also interested in developing relations with BRICS," he concluded assertively.

As long-term political friends and strategic partners, Russia has recognized the change political change in South Africa. The President of Russia, soon after the leadership change, expressed his appreciation of Cyril Ramaphosa's contribution to fighting apartheid and to promoting the development of a democratic society in South Africa.

According to Kremlin sources, Putin expressed confidence that Ramaphosa's tenure as President will help accelerate the country's movement on the path of progress and prosperity, and confirmed the readiness for constructive dialogue and cooperation with Ramaphosa, including South Africa's BRICS presidency in 2018.

With Ramaphosa coming to Moscow, it gives an excellent chance for both presidents on one-to-one basis to iron out significant issues related to South Africa's chairmanship of BRICS and the final preparations for the 10th edition of the annual BRICS summit on July 25–27, 2018 in Johannesburg.

The BRICS member countries (namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) collectively represent about 26% of the world's geographic area and are home to 42% of the world's population.

BRICS 9th SUMMIT: ISSUES AND CHALLENGES AHEAD / Prof. Dr. BadarAlam Iqbal (9-й Саммит БРИКС: Будущие проблемы и вызовы / Проф. Д-р БадарАлам Икбал) / Switzerland, May, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion ,xiamen_summit
Author: Prof. Dr. BadarAlam Iqbal


By Prof. Dr. BadarAlam Iqbal

Adjunct Professor

School of Economics and Finance

Monarch University

Zug (Switzerland)


Emergence of BRICS as a block on the world map has been recognised a force reckon with. Since its establishment, BRICS has been playing a significant role and contribution in the global economic and political horizons. The 9th BRICS Summit at Xiamen, China is a significant step towards creating consensus for facing and attaining the global THREE most important challenges regarding Peace, Security and sustainable Development. For the first time terrorism is become the part of Summit and every Head of States has shown great concern.It is also true to say that no global issue especially sustainable development could be discussed and solved without taking into confidence, the emerging economies of BRICS.

Key Words: G-20; GDP; G-7; NTS; Multi-polar

Importance of BRICS:

BRICS is the only group along with G-20 on the world map, which could redeem the world economy from its persisting slowdown of growth and development.BRICS as a group has been recognised as a significant force in the world governance and the same is sending a positive signal to the global peace and development [Business Line 2017]. It has been established that BRICS has come up a growing economic block. This could be testified from the fact that it constituted 44 per cent of the global population; 30 per cent of the world total land; 23 per cent of the global economy; 22 per cent of world GDP i.e. more than US $ 16 trillion; 16 per cent of global exports; and 15 per cent of world total imports [Table 1]. The economic block also has per capita GDP amounted to US $ 5,401 or 9 per cent of the world GDP per capita? This all indicates the BRICS countries have been contributing significantly to global world. The group has been playing a strategic role in the global economic order.

The most significant and strategic thing and emerging trend have been that BRICS as a group is being considered as important as G-7 group and G-20 group at global level. When we compared the economic parameters of BRICS with G-7 and G-20 groups, it appears that BRICS is getting stronger and stronger year after year due to closer cooperation among them [Table2].

If an analysis is made out of table 2, it is evident that BRICS block occupies a significant place in terms of economic indicators in relation of G-7 and G-20 countries. If BRICS countries keep pace with G7 and G-20 economies, the group itself will contribute positively and constructively in the growth and development of the global economy [Times Business 2017]. If we compare BRICS with G-7 countries; the basic difference is that BRICS is a group of emerging economies while G-7 is forum of developed or industrialised countries. The G-20 is comprised of both developed and emerging economies.

During the last 10 years, trade volume has increased from 11 per cent to 16 per cent. During the same decade, FDI volume has gone up from 7 per cent to 12 per cent. The economic transformation in BRICS countries have elevated the member nations not only in economic terms, but also provided platform to influence the outcome world issues. There is no doubt that no world economic and political issue cannot be solved or discussed without the emerging economies of BRICS.

Macro statistics reveal that G-7 is the most sound and strong group when it formed just 10 per cent of the global populations but constituted 46 per cent of the world GDP and therefore, its per capita GDP is as large as US $ 45,453. Hence, this group is popularly known as "Rich men or nations Club". On the other side of it, BRICS has 42 per cent of the world population but its GDP is just 22 per cent of the global GDP and hence, the per capita GDP is the lowest among these two groups The G-20 group is the largest group in the context of population and GDP. However, it is between G-7 and BRICS in regard to per capita GDP.

Evolution of G-7:

The G-7 was created due to the Oil Crisis of 173 and came into operation in 1975. This group is comprised of developed economies namely-US, UK, Germany, France, Italy and Japan. Later on Canada had joined the group and the group emerged out as G-7. The very purpose of creating this group was to discuss the major global issues and explore the ways and means to solve them [Indian Express 2017].

Origin of G-20:

After evolution of G-7 in 1975, the most significant group which had come up is G-20 after Asian Financial Crisis in 1997. Its first meeting was held in 1999. The group is of Governments and Central banks Governors of developed and developing countries. The main aim of this strong group was to discuss at length the major problems of the world economy taking together the G-8 and BRICS blocks.

Creation of BRICS:

The concept of "BRIC" for the first time was evolved by the Jin O'Neill who was the chief economist of the global group known as Goldman Sachs as he had identified four major emerging economies of the world namely-Brazil, Russia, India and China in terms of investment potential and opportunities in these economies. Later on in 2003 a report was released by the firm when in it was opined that in coming times this group will be emerging out the biggest financial group on the global map and as a result, the dominance of the Western world would be reduced to a minimal level [Times Global 2017].

Evolution of BRICS Summits:

The very first BRIC summit was held as back as 2006 under auspices of 61st UN General Assembly session where in the general issues were discussed at length. The first independent/specific summit was held in 2009 in Russia and thereafter the summit has become an annual feature. In 2010 China hosted the summit and there in South Africa had become the fifth member of BRICS and the block has been transformed from "BRIC" to "BRICS". This is how the transformation of BRICS becomes a reality.

The existing triangle comprising of China, Russia and India has a greater influence on the economic policies as compared to other two members of the group Brazil and South Africa. These two economies are also lagging behind China, Russia and India in terms of major economic or macroeconomic indicators [Sunday Express 2017]. Accordingly, the internal changes with the group and external economic environment have greatly changed the dynamics of the group especially for India.

In 2016, when India got presidency of BRICS, India had tried hard to initiate for increasing cooperation among members of the groups in the areas of services and also to deal with non-tariffs steps [Mohan 2017]. Two seminars was organised were organised wherein senior officials from all five member countries were invited to identify areas of NTS one hand and on the other hand to explore how the five nations would cooperate in enhancing trade in services and addressed NTSs namely- onerous standards and procedures.

In the area of services the BRICS countries have to intensifying cooperation in different mutually beneficial sectors like education, travel and tourism and health.

9th BRICS Summit:

The 9th BRICS summit was held in China on 4th and 5th of September 2017 at Xiamen to explore new ways and means for attaining two most needed pillars i.e. peace and growth and sustainable development of the members' countries of the group. The much emphasis was on how to create win-win cooperation. The five nations group must shoulder the needed responsibilities to maintain global peace and development two faces of a coin. The Head of five nations were also of the opinion that this is not the time of conflict or confrontation among the group countries.

Russian View Point:

The Russian President had pointed out that BRICS countries are moving towards new horizons of strategic partnership since-quo-non fort peace and development and it is heartening to note here that the group of five nations has greatly and positively strengthened its global standing. The main pillars of Russian President [Putin 2017] in his speech were as under:-

  1. BRICS nations operations are based on the natural principle of equality and respect for each nation among the group;
  2. The group of five nations must believe in terms of multi-polar world order on the one hand and on the other must each member of the group must also create multi-faceted cooperation which is the need of the day;
  3. There is also an increasing need of promoting interaction among the group countries in the vital and strategic area of world information security; What is immediately needed is signing of an inter-governmental BRICS treaty in the field of global information security which is highly exposed to risk;
  4. In 2015 summit at Ufa; Russia had initiated a BRICS Strategy for Economic Partnership and it is heartening to point out here that the initiative is successfully
working. Now what is need is to explore news areas of further cooperation in the areas of trade; investment and industrial collaboration;

  1. The BRICS nations must come forward with a comprehensive plan for meeting the challenges unfairness of words financial and economic structure and systems. The existing financial and economic structure does not provide due weight age to emerging economies
  2. There is an urgent need for calling reforms in the global institutions namely IMF and IBRD in-terms of quota and voting rights. There is further need for global financial regulations reforms; and
  3. The BRICS nations must consolidate their global position for facing increasing challenges of protectionism and newly created barriers in world trade.
Chinese Point of View:

The Chinese President has also underlined the following during 9th BRICS Summit:-

  1. There is a need for evolving and developing consensus on the very issue among the five members. Each nations must respect development model of every BRICS country and take care of concern of each other while enhancing strategic communication and mutual trust;
  2. As there is heterogeneity in terms of nations conditions, history and culture, which always stood in the way of increasing cooperation; there is a need for keeping strong faith in cooperation and collaborations; There should be consistent and continued efforts among BRICS nations to increase the existing level of cooperation and collaborations;
  3. Chinese President also emphasised on the two pillars of success such as peace and development and win-win cooperation must be shared by all the five countries of the group;
  4. The ongoing and following the guiding principles of dialogue without conflict and collaboration without alliance must be strengthened among the group nations. Total adherence on these guiding principles will boost confidence among BRICS nations on one hand and on the other hand the five countries will come closer.
  5. There is an urgent need to evolve an effective and meaningful strategy or action plan for fighting the increasing level of terrorism or "hotspots "as these are the biggest hinders in the promotion of peace and development in BRICS nations in particular and world in general.
  6. The Chinese President has also opined that the persisting confrontation in different parts of the globe has direct bearing on the process of bringing peace which has direct impact on the growth and development of global economy in general and BRICS group in particular; and
  7. The Chinese authorities have further emphasised on attaining success on Belt-Road-Initiative (BRI) and asked the members of the group to do concerted efforts in this direction as this initiative may go a long way in bringing speedy growth and development in the region.
  8. The group of five must work together with other members of global community for the attainment of world economic stability with growth;
  9. TH BRICS nations must be committed to adhere on the basic principle of UN Charter and International Law;
India's Angle:

In the concluding part of the Summit, India has also played a significant role especially in the context of cross-border terrorism. The following were the main issues raised by Indian Prime Minister:-

  1. India has emphasised on the need of creating "multi-polar" world and the role of BRICS countries in creating the multi-polar world. India further opined that BRICS is a major forum and the same must pursuit for the objective of multi-polar world rather than "uni-polar globe;
  2. India wanted a "multi-polar Asia" and this should be based on guiding principles of equality and natural justice. This does require India's engagement with other BRICS countries;
  3. India also want to stand up to China where essential and collaborating with it where ever possible;
  4. Indian Prime Minister has also showed concern on security of the region and globe. He also supported the agenda of stronger BRICS partnership;
  5. India attached greater significance to the role and contribution of BRICS as a forum, as this forum may play an increasing role in facing the global challenges and up holding world peace;
  6. India also want to engage with leaders of nine other nations including BRICS partners in an Emerging Markets and developing economies
Brazilian Point of View:

During the 9th BRICS summit, at Xiamen city; China; the Brazilian President has stated and emphasised on the following issues:

  1. To enhance strategic partnership with other member countries of the group;
  2. Identified the areas of strategic partnership namely- industrial capacity; E-commerce; electricity; tourism and health care;
  3. Making efforts for increasing cooperation with developing countries in general and emerging economies in particular;
  4. Exploring the possibility of creating Second Golden Decade for BRICS cooperation
  5. Emphasised on holding dialogue between emerging countries and developing; economies under central theme of "Promoting Mutually Beneficial Cooperation for Common Development which is the need of the hour;
  6. Strengthening the south and cooperation for sustainable development, which is the sine-quo-non for the survival of the global economy in general and BRICS nations in particular;
South Africa's View Point:

The fifth member country of BRICS group i.e. South Africa, its president has given the following observations during the 9th Summit at Xiamen city, China:

  1. Since joining the BRIC in 2011 to become five countries group, South Africa has witnessed an appreciable progress on economic and social horizons;
  2. There has been an institutional framework and cooperative mechanism for promoting growth and development in the different parts of the South Africa;
  3. Through cooperative efforts of BRICS countries, African Regional Centre has become the reality and see the light of the day;
  4. The BRICS Submitted has deepened BRICS cooperation and collaboration in terms of common development, global governance; people-t-people exchanges and building broader partnership;
  5. Pursuing likeminded countries for exploring new approaches of innovation and meaningful and effective solution for the most burning and identified problems of poverty eradication; employment generation and increasing inequalities of income and consumption as well as global south development;
  6. Formulation of an effective and efficient action plan or strategy for meeting the most burning challenges in regard to global governance mechanism or system; reforms in UN and Britten Woods institutions in respect of quota; voting rights and governance;
  7. Increasing efforts for an effective institutional building mechanism and agenda for better collaboration among member countries of the group;
  8. Strengthening economic relations between and among BRICS countries i.e. enhancing inter-BRICS economic ties and intra-BRICS nations through effective implantation of BRICS Economic Partnership created in 2015 Summit at Ufa, Russia;
  9. Focussing at investment and industrialization issue sin-quo-non for speedy growth and development to solve the most significant issues confronted with the BRICS countries namely-poverty, unemployment and inequalities of income, consumption and standard of living;
BRICS Business Forum at 9th Summit:

Since its establishment in 2010, BRICS forum has been paying a significant role in enhancing the required level of confidence among the business community in BRICS countries. It is side-event which every country holding BRICS summit has to organise, to provide an effective platform for business leaders to discuss major issues of concern, also building up consensus and provide policy suggestions for the next BRICS summit which is to be held every year.

During the 9th BRICS Summit at Xiamen, China more than 1200 business leader gathered from BRICS economies; 80 from Fortune list and 500 multinationals firms. There were nearly 600 enterprises belonging to both traditional industries namely-engineering and infrastructure and newly emerging industries like biological and internet companies. The very purpose of the business forum was to focus on trade, investment, financial cooperation, connectivity and the blue economy. The business forum has bolstered the needed business circle confidence for expanding collaborations and further strengthens their communication to extend required valuable advice for policy makers in BRICS economies [Times Nation 2017].

The most noteworthy feature of 9th BRICS summit was to invite other emerging economies and developing countries to engage in dialogue with BRICS nations. These countries were Egypt, Guinea, Mexico, Thailand, and Tajikistan

Outcome of 9th BRICS Summit:

After the hectic deliberations during the summit, the BRICS countries have developed consensus on different issues for the ultimate mutual beneficial for the group. The major issues agreed upon are as under:-

  1. There is an urgent need for working together for the purpose of peace, security, development and cooperation;
  2. Concerted efforts are required for enhancing multidimensional and multi-layered cooperation among BRICS nations as well world economy;
  3. The group must work for effective mechanism of multilateralism to avoid the fear or threat of new concept "new regionalism:;
  4. Efforts and collaborations must be made out for the attainment of "an open world economy" based upon openness and inclusiveness.
  5. Enhancing the resources for New Development Bank and Contingent Reserve Arrangement for better and improved working of these two initiatives;
  6. Need for full commitment and confidence in the future of BRICS as a group;
  7. Giving much required support for multilateralism and effective role of UN in international matters;
  8. Productive and meaningful steps must be taken in regard to implementation of 20130 agenda for sustainable development;
  9. 9. To commit for promoting a needed long-term and balance demographic growth and development by emphasising on increasing cooperation in respect of population related matters in the light of the Agenda for BRICS Cooperation on Population Matters for 2015-20.

The growth and development in emerging economies (BRICS) and developing economies is not intended to have cheese from any nation, instead to make these nations the pie of the world economy. There is an urgent need to have 'internal optimism and external confidence among BRICS nations. It is imperative that BRICS nations must have a collective policy and strategy against protectionism and new barriers in world trade that must allow the emerging economies for having more consistently say for an open, equal and mutually beneficial multilateral trading system and to make WTO more strongwhich is main regulator of world trade.


Business Line (2016); India to Push for BRICS Cooperation in Services; New Delhi; February 11; P.4.

Indian Express (2017; Xi Sets Stage: Need Peace and Cooperation, not Confrontation; New Delhi; September 4; P. 1 and 2.

Mohan,CR (2017); Rearranging the BRICS; Indian Express; New Delhi; September 5, P.9.

Putin,V (2017); BRICS: Towards New Horizons of Strategic Partnership; September 1; P.12.

Sunday Express (2017);BRICS Business Forum Meet; New Delhi; September 3; P. 14.

Times Business (2017); Developing Nations Engine of Growth; New Delhi; September 6, P 17.

Times Global (2017); BRICS Represent 42 % World's Population; New Delhi; September 4; P. 16.

Times Nations (2017); BRICS: PM Hopes for Positive Outcome; New Delhi; September 3, P.5.

Table 1. Facts and Figures about BRICS in 2015-16
Source: Prepared by the author from World Bank, Washington, USA, 20116.
Table 2. Comparative Figures of G-7, G-20 and BRICS in 2015-16
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's interview with Italy's Panorama magazine, published on May 3, 2018 (Интервью Министра иностранных дел России С.В.Лаврова итальянскому журналу «Панорама», опубликованное 3 мая 2018 года) / Russia, May, 2018
Keywords: sergey_lavrov, quotation, global_governance

Question: Can an armed confrontation flare up between Russia and Western countries?

Sergey Lavrov: Unfortunately, the global situation is becoming more tense and less predictable. We have repeatedly noted that this situation is, first of all, the result of never-ending unilateral US actions and those Western countries that have been subjugated by the United States. This is a small group of countries, which account for an insignificant share of the world's population but which are trying to preserve medieval-style domination in global affairs. They are hampering the objective process of establishing a polycentric system of international relations.

They are inciting a confrontation, creating an atmosphere of mistrust and strategic uncertainty, and freezing the channels for dialogue. They are creating situations when the price of a bluff or a mistake can assume global proportions.

Russia would like to hope that common sense will prevail on the other side. Despite our different positions, we are jointly responsible for the future wellbeing of the entire human race and for the effective resolution of key issues facing the world today.

But common sense implies the ability of the Western leaders to act responsibly and predictably, to unfailingly honour international law while relying on the UN Charter. We have been increasingly forced to question this ability recently.

Question: What Western leaders does Russia perceive as its worst partners?

Sergey Lavrov: Russian diplomacy does not view global developments in such terms. Our entire foreign policy philosophy rejects the perception of bilateral relations through the prism of denial.

We are ready to work diligently with everyone in the interests of strengthening international and regional security and stability and advancing a positive bilateral agenda.

Clearly, it is not easy to deal with some of our partners. It is particularly hard to deal with those denying the primacy of international law and opting to use blackmail, threats and provocations instead. This serves to create additional problems in international relations, and opportunities for constructive cooperation are reduced.

International life is a two-way street. It is pointless to play a zero sum game with Russia. We hope that the West, particularly the United States, will realise this sooner or later.

Question: Can you comment on the incidents involving poison chemical agents in Douma, Syria, and Salisbury?

Sergey Lavrov: As for Douma, there was no chemical attack there on April 7. This was yet another underhanded provocation masterminded by those who are not interested in establishing peace in Syria.

We are not asking anyone to take our words for granted. For this reason, right from the start, we have been openly in favour of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons investigating what happened. The investigation could be joined by national experts from the United States and France.

Instead of that, when an OPCW team was already in Beirut and ready to leave for Damascus and then to Douma, an act of aggression was committed against Syria, a sovereign state and a UN member.

We cannot accept the logic that arbitrary punishment is the best proof of guilt. This is nonsense. Subsequent accusations to the effect that the Russian military allegedly delayed the experts' departure on purpose in order to be able to "clean up the location" are absurd as well. Any expert will confirm that it is impossible to clear the residue of a chemical attack in a destroyed neighbourhood because substances penetrate deep into the soil and the walls of buildings.

OPCW experts at last visited Douma on April 21. They took the necessary samples. On April 25, they revisited Douma. We expect an objective and independent investigation following their trip, including visits to all the facilities related to the alleged chemical attack and to the production of poisonous agents by extremists. For our part, we helped the experts in their work as best we could.

We have found eyewitnesses of the provocation and some unwitting participants in the show staged by the White Helmets, including a boy, Hassan Diab, and other Douma residents. During their visit to the OPCW Headquarters on April 26, they described how this fabricated video on the chemical attack had been recorded.

The tragic incident involving Sergey and Yulia Skripal occurred in Great Britain on March 4. London claims that a combat nerve agent was used. Since the moment of this incident, the British side – let me stress, in contravention of its international obligations – has refused to inform us about the aid administered to the victims or the progress of the investigation; they are not allowing consular access, which is required in cases involving Russian citizens.

More than that, London has neglected not only the norms of international law but also elementary ethics and plain common sense. Without providing any evidence or even waiting for Scotland Yard to finish its own investigation and clarify the whole picture, the British government accused Russia and launched a large-scale anti-Russia political and information campaign. Our proposals on a joint investigation and legitimate demands to provide facts, including samples of the substance used, were ignored.

The British authorities' behaviour in this instance raises many questions. Specifically, they are concealing information about the activities of the secret laboratory at Porton Down not far from Salisbury. The victims themselves have been hidden by the British secret services.

Russia is primarily concerned about the state of health and status of the Skripals who were dragged by the British into this provocation. The British authorities' refusal to grant us consular access are grounds to regard the circumstances as an abduction or premeditated isolation. This is absolutely unacceptable.

London has substituted empty claims and "megaphone" diplomacy for a professional expert investigation within the framework of the related international mechanisms.

Once again, we are ready for substantive cooperation with the British side. We call on London to honestly cooperate in criminal proceedings concerning an attempted premeditated murder, which were initiated by Russia's Investigative Committee on March 16, as well as within the framework of the relevant requests sent to the British side by the Prosecutor General's Office of Russia.

Question: Is it possible to say that the war with Ukraine is the "original sin" of sorts that caused all the problems that ensued?

Sergey Lavrov: First of all, I would like to draw your attention to a crucial point for understanding what is going on – Russia is not waging war with Ukraine. The war against their own people was unleashed by the nationalists, who came to power in February 2014 as a result of a coup, who reject dissent and want to forcibly impose their rules. The war is going on between Kiev and Ukrainian regions.

The internal political crisis in Ukraine was inspired from the outside by a group of Western states led by the US, which regards the whole world as its sphere of influence, touts its exceptionalism and divides the world into "us" and "them."

In a telling moment, the EU member states - Germany, Poland and France - that endorsed the February 2014 agreement on the settlement of the crisis between the government and the opposition renounced their guarantees under that document as soon as the radicals trampled on it. NATO, which, before the coup, had been calling on the then president of Ukraine not to use the army against the protesters, abruptly changed its tone after the coup and began calling on the putschists, who seized power illegally, to use force "proportionately" against opposing regions.

There is nothing pro-Ukrainian about the West's part in this story, it is entirely anti-Russian. We see that for the United States and a number of its satellites, talk of creating a common space of peace, security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic was a smokescreen, a cover for pursuing their archaic practice of seizing geopolitical space and shifting the dividing lines eastwards – both through NATO's expansion and within the framework of the EU Eastern Partnership programme. For years, Kiev was under pressure to make the false choice "with us or against us," between developing cooperation in the East or in the West, which eventually led to the collapse of Ukrainian statehood that has never been too strong. The result for today is the de facto loss of independence, human suffering and the economic breakdown of a country that had every chance to become one of the most stable and economically robust in Europe.

Obviously, a durable settlement in Ukraine is only possible with the full and consistent implementation of the Minsk Package of Measures. There is no alternative. The laws must be adopted on special status, local elections in Donbass and amnesty, and constitutional reforms must be carried out. These aspects are of crucial significance for achieving peace inside Ukraine. Finally, Kiev must engage in direct dialogue with Donetsk and Lugansk in order to jointly search for compromises and coordinated solutions to existing problems.

Unfortunately, Washington, London and a number of other Western capitals have failed to draw proper conclusions from the Ukrainian tragedy. Dubious zero-sum geopolitical games continue in various parts of the world. Efforts are being stepped up to create a global missile defence system, to the detriment of strategic stability. NATO is bolstering its capacity and increasing its military activity in Europe, which is out of touch with realities and is leading to the fragmentation of the European security space. What is most alarming is the open disregard of the US and its allies for international law and the UN Charter, and their interference in the internal affairs of states, up to and including attempts to topple local governments.

The April 14 missile strikes on the Syrian Arab Republic, carried out on absolutely false grounds, was a glaring example of this destructive policy. This act of aggression against a sovereign state has had a negative impact on international and regional stability and played into the hands of terrorists. The ringleaders of such actions must eventually realise that such irresponsible conduct is fraught with the most serious consequences for global security. Those who are playing with fire in various regions, trying to tame the terrorists to use them in geopolitical games, will have to pay for it in their own countries. There is no hiding from threats like terrorism in isles of safety reserved for the chosen ones.

Question: The last general election in Italy showed that the "wind of populism is blowing through Europe." Don't you think that this wind benefits Russia? Or maybe by framing faraway Russia as an enemy Europe is seeking to overcome its internal challenges related to populism and the economic crisis?

Sergey Lavrov: Regarding the current political trends in Europe, this is a question for the Europeans, I believe.

All I can say is that Russia does not interfere in the ongoing domestic policy debates and refrains from expressing preferences when it comes to assessing election results in various countries of the European Union. We wholeheartedly wish that European countries overcome the challenges they face. Russia is ready to work with all politicians who are interested in as well as committed to the promotion of a pragmatic dialogue with our country.

Unfortunately, we have to admit that a small but extremely aggressive group of Russophobic countries operates within the European Union. It is ready to do anything to prevent Russia-EU relations from getting back on track and plays the anti-Russia card in order to achieve its selfish aims. This does nothing to improve the situation on the European continent and prevents us from coordinating our efforts with the view to finding effective solutions to the matters that are relevant for both Russia and the EU.

We hope that our EU partners will be able to overcome this "inertia mentality" and identify their priorities without the help of extra-regional players, and will not take their cues from the anti-Russia minority that I have already mentioned. We strongly believe that people in Europe in their vast majority want a peaceful as well as prosperous Europe and do not want to return back to Cold War-era confrontation that some are pushing for.

Question: Why are more and more major powers (China, Turkey, Russia, Egypt and even the US) becoming isolated? Don't you think that states are becoming increasingly authoritarian?

Sergey Lavrov: As I have already pointed out, we are currently witnessing the emergence of a multipolar world order. New economic and political centres of power emerge and become stronger, but this multipolar setting has yet to evolve into a stable system.

It is in our common interest that all international actors opt for constructive instead of destructive actions being guided by international law, not force. The multiple problems the world is facing today can be effectively resolved only by combining our capabilities based on the UN's central role. In other words, the emergence of a multipolar world order is expected to facilitate mutually beneficial cooperation and fruitful partnerships taking into consideration each other's interests.

As for Russia, our foreign policy is designed to promote a positive, unifying agenda for preventing international affairs from sliding into chaos and confrontation and settling the multiple crises and conflicts through political as well as diplomatic means. We have never relied on Russia's natural advantages to the detriment of others, and will never do so. As a responsible country and permanent member of the UN Security Council Russia acts as the guarantor of global stability, opposing UN Security Council resolutions that seek to justify unilateral use of force against unwanted "regimes" in violation of the UN Charter.

It is highly satisfying that Russia is not alone in its efforts. Specifically, I would like to highlight the importance of Russian-Chinese comprehensive cooperation that can be viewed as a positive model of interstate relations in the 21st century. Russia works closely with its allies and like-minded countries, both bilaterally and within various multilateral formats such as the EAEU, the CSTO, BRICS and the SCO.

The Group of Twenty is another important platform where G7 members that are no longer able to resolve many matters on their own can reach agreements with the BRICS, supported by like-minded countries, in a spirit of consensus. All in all, G20 is a prototype of a fair global governance system that prioritises the balance of interests instead of dictating solutions.

Question: In several cases, there has been discrepancy between Donald Trump's actions and his rhetoric about Russia. How does Russia see it?

Sergey Lavrov: Of course, it is not a good thing when words do not correspond to actions. Unfortunately, it often happens, not only in the Russia-US relations but in other international matters as well, that Washington's statements do not correlate with the subsequent actions. Take Syria, for example. Although the US Department of State and the White House vowed and protested that their only goal is to banish terrorists from the country, in reality the United States is putting down roots on the eastern bank of the Euphrates and is essentially pursuing the course towards destroying Syria. Some US allies are also encouraging this policy.

We have repeatedly said that we take a favourable view of President Trump's words about his wish to establish a normal dialogue between our countries. Even more so, we fully share this attitude and we are ready to do our share to lead our bilateral ties from the artificial deadlock created by the Obama administration. However, we will make conclusions about our partners' real commitment to a constructive and mutually respectful cooperation only based on their actual actions.

For now, our relations are still on the downward path. Positive signals from the US President, if any, get completely levelled out by the off the scale Russophobia in the US establishment, which presents our country as a threat and supports "system-wide restraint" of Russia using sanctions and other leverage. All this, clearly, is a result of political infighting in Washington and has nothing to do with reality.

The March 26 decision of the US authorities to expel 60 employees of our diplomatic missions and to close down the Consulate General in Seattle was yet another provocation. The formal grounds for this deportation and deprivation of Russia of its consular office, which is Russia's alleged involvement in the poisoning of Sergey and Yulia Skripal, do not stand up to any criticism. Obviously, we could not leave that hostile act without a response. Notably, Washington carried out this measure soon after a telephone conversation between the presidents, which was constructive. Donald Trump called Vladimir Putin on March 20 to congratulate him on winning the presidential election and once again confirmed his intention to find areas of common interest with respect to a wide range of issues. He suggested having a top-level meeting as soon as possible; he invited President Putin to the White House and spoke about his wish to improve the coordination of efforts at the international scene and work together on containing the arms race.

While many in Washington continue to plummet into a self-replicating Russophobia, cooperation on important global issues is stalling. This has a negative effect on the situation in the world, with so many problems accumulated that are just impossible to resolve without cooperation between Russia and the United States.

I hope that common sense will eventually prevail in Washington. We want normal, predictable and, if you like, friendly relations with the United States. But not at the cost of trading principles and Russia's national interests.

Question: How much do sanctions cost Russia and what does it cost Europe? How it is that whatever we do in Europe is wrong but whatever you do is right?

Sergey Lavrov: There are different assessments of the damage. Different numbers are given. Meanwhile, in our view, the main loss is the loss of trust, that will be hard to re-establish.

Any unilateral measures of economic pressure are not only illegitimate under international law, as experience shows, they are also fruitless. Initiated by the US administration and embraced by Brussels as a tool of long-term pressure on Russia, the sanctions did not lead to any changes in our foreign policy. They did not force us to give up on what we consider to be right and fair. However, we never – unlike the leaders of some Western countries – pretend to be the sole possessor of ultimate truth. We hear assurances from Brussels, from NATO and the EU, that they are open to dialogue with Russia but only if Russia repents and pleads guilty to everything it is blamed for. We never act like this. We always stress that we are ready to compromise, to respect the legitimate interests of all of our partners, who in turn recognise Russia's interests and want to talk on the basis of pragmatism, rather than follow the logic of zero-sum games.

The Russian economy has adapted to the sanctions pressure. Moreover, we managed to turn it to our advantage. The banking sector is getting healthier. Inflation has gone down considerably. The budget's dependency on oil prices is decreasing. At the same time, we used the situation to look for new points of economic growth, boosting domestic production, and also expanding commercial and economic ties with those states that are ready for honest, mutually beneficial cooperation. And these countries are a majority of the world.

It is no secret that a significant part of anti-Russia policies is generated from across the ocean and is subsequently imposed on Europe, accompanied by invocations of the need to strengthen "trans-Atlantic solidarity." How much does that correspond to European interests? Meanwhile, the US itself does not suffer any harm. Will Europe win if the sanctions spiral goes on spinning, especially considering that producers from other regions are replacing European producers in the Russian market? Only EU residents will able to answer this question.

Russia is not separating itself from Europe or closing itself off. I think that time undeniably works toward the restoration of Russia-EU relations for the benefit of our people and for the stability and wellbeing of the European continent.

Question: Allow me to ask a question on the war in Syria that may seem cynical: everyone seeks to use the Kurds only to give up on them afterwards. Why is that?

Sergey Lavrov: I wouldn't agree with this kind of a sweeping statement. Not everyone acts this way. For example, over the course of the conflict in Syria Russia has never used anyone to advance its own selfish interests. The Russian military personnel deployed in Syria at the invitation of the Syrian government made an enormous contribution to eliminating ISIS, a military and political hotbed of terrorism.

By protecting their homes and Syria as their homeland, Kurdish militia also contributed to the common efforts to defeat terrorism. They acted as an integral part of Syrian society, as citizens of their country.

Russia has been consistent in calling for the Kurds to be able to take part in shaping Syria's future after the conflict on equal terms with other ethnic and religious groups. President of Russia Vladimir Putin reaffirmed this position at a news conference in Ankara on April 3, 2018.

The question of using the Kurds only to give up on them should go to those who incite separatist sentiments by giving false promises of protection, to those who prevent the legitimate government of the Syrian Arab Republic from restoring control over large swathes of national territory, to those who encouraged the Kurds to unilaterally proclaim a federation and who helped establish forces intended to take over functions that are the exclusive domain of the Syrian state.

Question: My daughter asks me: why is it so difficult to achieve peace throughout the world? What would be your answer?

Sergey Lavrov: Maybe the world is just more complicated than it seems. International relations are becoming increasingly complex and multi-faceted, resulting from interactions of a plethora of actors, including states, supra-national institutions and non-governmental structures. They are different, and not always consistent or rational in their actions.

However, peaceful coexistence and sustainable development are possible. All it takes is to renounce the philosophy of hegemony, lawlessness and exceptionalism, renounce the illegitimate use of force or obediently following block discipline in situations when others are trying to impose approaches that run counter to your national interests. Finally, it is important to recall the fundamental principles of international relations set out in the UN Charter, including the sovereign equality of states, non-interference in domestic affairs and resolving conflicts through peaceful means. To put it in simple terms, we have to respect each other. Taking any other path would only lead to an impasse.

Russia will be proactive in its efforts to preserve and develop sound undertakings in global affairs and contribute to finding solutions to the challenges the humanity is facing.

Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
OP-ED Contestation diverts attention from the need to change South Africa's energy system (Мнение редакции: Конкуренция отвлекает внимание от необходимости изменить энергетическую систему Южной Африки) / South Africa, May, 2018
Keywords: economic_challenges, expert_opinion
South Africa
Author: Saliem Fakir, Prabhat Upadhyaya & Louise Scholtz

South Africa's energy future is not only dependent on how well the renewables, coal or nuclear lobbies argue their case but how we build flexibility in world's most inflexible energy system.

South Africans are now familiar with the troubling state of affairs at Eskom and the precarious financial situation of one of the largest electricity utilities in the world. Once regarded as one of the best managed utilities on the planet, its lofty status has been eroded by State Capture and its dependence on unsustainable bailouts poses a real threat to the South African economy.

You've probably also heard about the troubling coal supply situation of Eskom linked to non-delivery of certain mines that has recently come to light with accompanying rumours of possible load shedding. We do not know all the details for these coal shortages because public knowledge of what goes on at Eskom is rather opaque.

On the renewables front the longstanding issue of signing on new Independent Power Producers (IPPs) has been lingering for almost two years. The IPP process went through go, stop, and then go motions following a court case lodged by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) arguing that renewables were benefiting a few and undermining jobs in the coal sector. Although off-taker agreements have been signed, it is still not clear when these projects will proceed.

These developments have collectively reduced the country's energy debate to having to live in a constant framing of binary logic: it is always about coal versus renewable. We believe that in the broader context of uncertain future demand and rapidly evolving technologies this is a false dichotomy and it increasingly serves as a distraction from the real issue at hand.

The focus should rather be on whether the current energy system has the right configuration for taking us into the future. The future model of how energy will be supplied is undergoing a seismic shift that will most likely render Eskom's current vertically integrated model of centrally planned, owned and energy supply at best costly and at worst obsolete.

The conversation must shift on issues of flexibility and adaptation of a system and not just an agency, nor sources of energy.

The current system is based on an old utility model of energy services which is not fit for purpose to an energy future that is being shaped by new technologies and novel models of energy service delivery. Eskom is out of sync with global trends.

In this respect the findings of the recently released World Economic Forum (WEF) report, Fostering Effective Energy Transition, sheds a harsh light on the underpinnings of South Africa's lack of system adaptation and preparedness to adapt to global shifts in energy service models.

The WEF has put forth a Global Energy Transition Index that assesses energy systems of 114 countries. The index is aimed to help investors identify energy system risks in their decision-making by studying two factors: the performance of existing energy systems and its transition readiness.

The performance of existing energy systems is based on three imperatives – economic growth and development, environmental sustainability and energy access and security (further subdivided into 17 indicators).

The transition readiness or preparedness of countries' systems to undertake energy transition is based on six enabling dimensions (subdivided into 23 indicators): regulation and political commitment, institutions and governance, credit and investment, infrastructure and innovative business environment, human capital and consumer participation and energy system structure.

In its ability to undertake low-carbon energy transition South Africa is ranked 113 out of 114 countries. Here it is in the company of Mozambique, Venezuela, Kyrgyzstan and Zimbabwe. South Africa ranks a distant 112 when it comes to its current system performance and 102 when it comes to its transition readiness.

While the poor environmental sustainability (ranked 110) of its existing energy system is the biggest drag on its current system performance, the country's transition readiness suffers on account of it having the worst energy system structure in the world (ranked 114). Its energy system is an anachronism primarily due to a high share of electricity from coal generation (ranked 113) and least flexibility in its electricity system (ranked 114).

It is instructive to study South Africa's Energy Transition Index ranking in comparison to other emerging economies. Saudi Arabia, the next least prepared G20 country for energy transition, is ranked 30, way ahead of us.

All BRICS countries, other than South Africa, in at least one of the nine sub-indexes, rank among the best 10 performers. In fact, South Africa is the only BRICS country to be ranked among the bottom five performers in two sub-indexes – environmental sustainability and energy system structure. Of these, we fall below on the energy system structure.

When it comes to energy system structure, neither the overall top five ranked countries (Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, Finland and Denmark) nor any BRICS countries were able to make it to the top 50.

This implies that although the magnitude may differ, South Africa is not alone when it comes to facing the challenge of modifying its energy system. The worrying part is that South Africa comes across as the least prepared to address the challenge. This is also partly due to the fact that South Africa is an energy-exporting country whereas energy-importing countries come across as having higher transition readiness.

The Energy Transition Index argues that given the high level of uncertainty involved in the energy sector, countries must build in flexibility within their electricity systems. Here, on a score of 0-100, South Africa scores a miserable 0.5 – making it the least flexible electricity system. This indicator suggests that the task at hand for South Africa is considerable.

At a very basic level an efficient energy system should enable a country to effectively deal with the energy trilemma of providing energy in a manner that ensures energy security, energy equity and environmental sustainability (World Energy Council, 2018). Viewed in this way, South Africa ranks 82 out of 125 countries evaluated by the World Energy Council (WEC).

The WEC has further placed South Africa as one of the four countries on its negative watch list – i.e. it is one of the "countries that are likely to experience significant [negative] changes … in their trilemma index performance in the near future". Clearly, small investments in renewable energy by means of IPPs alone are not going to cut the chase.

South Africa's energy future is not only dependent on how well the renewables, coal or nuclear lobbies argue their case but how we build flexibility in the world's most inflexible energy system.

One of the key recommendations in the International Renewable Energy Agency's latest report is that if we are serious about achieving energy transition, we not only need to have enabling policies but also address factors beyond the energy sector (influencing behaviour, ensuring livelihoods) by integrating diverse policy instruments that bring energy flexibility closer to development objectives.

It strikes us that this conversation is far more important and pressing as we need to focus on how we ensure a systemic change and the creation of enabling conditions to support a energy transition in South Africa. All the more reason why we need to engage with the future rather than just spending our energies in contesting the present. DM

Saliem Fakir is the head of WWF South Africas Living Planet Unit. Prabhat Upadhyaya is affiliated with WWF-South Africa and completed his PhD – comparing climate policy processes in South Africa, India and Brazil – in 2017 from Linköping University, Sweden. Louise Scholtz (BA LLB, MBA and MPhil in Sustainable Development), is Programme Manager: Urban Futures, Policy and Futures Unit, WWF-SA.

The Impact of President Trump on Re-emerging Markets (Влияние президента Трампа на вновь возникающие рынки) / Mexico, May, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, economic_challenges, emerging_market

With his plans to build a wall between Mexico and the USA, boost national infrastructure and 'Make America Great Again', there were fears at the start of Donald Trump's presidency that it wouldn't be good news for any re-emerging markets. It can't be denied that his role has had a big impact, and in many ways, it has been a mixed bag. In a changing global economy, business leaders need to adopt and adapt their strategies, as RSMexplains. Businesses in re-emerging markets therefore should monitor Trump's impact and adapt accordingly.

A Positive Start for Re-Emerging Markets

In November 2016 as Donald Trump became President-elect, emerging equity markets sharply fell. This was mainly due to promises made during his campaign and fears that protectionist policies would be employed and his deglobalisation comments result in scrapping or renegotiating free trade agreements.

However, due to a number of political blunders that resulted in investor confidence in the US economy falling, capital has kept flowing into many emerging market economies. The low global interest rate environment this has helped form has been highly advantageous for re-emerging markets too. China and Mexico especially feared highly protectionist trade policies would significantly cut their export-led growth but with little of the Trump administration's economic agenda being delivered, this hasn't been the case. So far.

Trump's Trade Tariffs

Recently though, a number of trade tariffs have been introduced by the Trump administration that will hit some key emerging market exporters. When the proposed plans were first announced, there was a broad sell-off across many developed and emerging markets, with shares in Seoul falling by one per cent and Dongkuk Steel by five per cent.

Trump's trade tariffs include a 25 per cent tariff on 1,333 Chinese products alone, covering imports worth $50 billion from the year before. While the 25 per cent tariff levied on steel will expose other re-emerging markets such as Brazil and South Korea, along with 10 per cent on aluminium. Re-emerging markets that focus on exporting as their main source of growth, especially to the USA, may have to consider new models to avoid such hefty tariffs.

The Future of BRICS

BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) are the group of re-emerging markets arguably most affected by Trump's actions. Trade tariffs and uncertainty around future US economic policy mean that now more than ever BRICS needs to demonstrate itself as a source of power and find solutions within the bilateral and intra-BRICS political landscape.

At the latest BRICS meeting in Xiamen, China back in September, it became clear that India has a central role to play and not just China. In 2016 India registered a higher growth rate than China and even though its economy may still be smaller, the future looks set for much greater growth. Plus, while it is a trade partner with the USA, any action from Trump will affect China much more than India.

Re-emerging markets need to stay aware of any future plans and trade restrictions the Trump administration introduces, to create changing strategies for best dealing with such situations.

New collaboration announced between IDB Group and NDB (Объявлено о новом сотрудничестве между IDB Group и НБР) / China, May, 2018
Keywords: ndb, concluded_agreements

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), IDB Invest and the New Development Bank (NDB) announced that they have agreed to collaborate on areas of common interest and general cooperation. The memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed in Washington, DC by Luis Alberto Moreno, President of the IDB, James P. Scriven, Chief Executive Officer of the IDB Invest, and K.V. Kamath, President of the NDB.

"At the Inter-American Development Bank, we are increasingly prioritizing collaboration with our fellow multilateral institutions and are proud to have formalized this partnership with the New Development Bank," said IDB Vice President for Countries Alexandre Meira da Rosa. "We look forward to identifying opportunities for co-financing sustainable development and infrastructure projects in Brazil and solidifying south-south cooperation as a means of improving quality of life in Latin America and the Caribbean."

"I am pleased to sign the Memorandum of Understanding between the NDB, IDB and IDB Invest, as this initiative paves the way for collaboration between the three organizations. We will work closely together to contribute to sustainable infrastructure development," said Mr. K.V.Kamath. "We believe that partnerships with key national, regional and global institutions are essential for the NDB in order to provide the best possible products and services to our member countries," he added.

The memorandum facilitates collaboration between the parties and provides a general framework for cooperation in a range of areas and services. The memorandum focuses on the following areas of work:

  • Joint participation in programs and projects for sustainable development and infrastructure in common borrowing member countries;
  • Support for the development of clean transportation, renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable water management and sewage treatment;
  • Exploration and pursuit of opportunities in areas such as South-South cooperation, economic and business information, treasury and financial services; and
  • Exchange of information, knowledge-sharing and joint analysis to benefit from each other's experience and expertise.
About the IDB

The Inter-American Development Bank is devoted to improving lives. Established in 1959, the IDB is a leading source of long-term financing for economic, social and institutional development in Latin America and the Caribbean. The IDB also conducts cutting-edge research and provides policy advice, technical assistance and training to public and private sector clients throughout the region.

About IDB Invest

IDB Invest, the private sector institution of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Group, is a multilateral development bank committed to supporting Latin America and the Caribbean businesses. It finances sustainable enterprises and projects to achieve financial results that maximize economic, social and environmental development for the region. With a current portfolio of $11.2 billion under management and 330 clients in 23 countries, IDB Invest works across sectors to provide innovative financial solutions and advisory services that meet the evolving demands of its clients. As of November 2017, IDB Invest is the trade name of the Inter-American Investment Corporation.

About NDB

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.

Political Events
Political events in the public life of BRICS
Home Affairs & Tourism team up to ease visa requirements to boost tourism (Министерство внутренних дел и министерство туризма объединяет усилия для облегчения визового режима для развития туризма) / South Africa, May, 2018
Keywords: social_issues
South Africa

CAPE TOWN - The Departments of Home Affairs and Tourism are setting up a dedicated team of officials to fast-track progress in easing visa requirements for visitors in order to boost the number of tourists to South Africa.

This was announced on Wednesday by Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba and his Tourism counterpart Derek Hanekom.

The pair had their first meeting on Wednesday morning since they were both returned to their portfolios in President Cyril Ramaphosa's first Cabinet reshuffle in late February.

Gigaba says the talks covered progress in efforts to simplify travel by minors, easing visa requirements for residents of Brazil Russia India China South Africa (Brics) countries and the introduction of electronic visas for incoming tourists.

"We have, therefore, agreed that we are going to establish a joint working team, composed of respective deputy directors general that are going to meet regularly and facilitate regular feedback to both of us jointly so that we can review the progress being made in this regard and take whatever executive decisions are required."

World of work
Social policy, trade unions, actions
Roadshow in New Delhi to promote Sri Lanka Investment and Business Conclave 2018 (Выездная презентация в Нью-Дели для продвижения инвестиционного и делового конклава Шри-Ланки в 2018) / Sri Lanka, May, 2018
Keywords: investments, economic_challenges, trade_relations
Sri Lanka

May 02, Colombo: The Sri Lanka High Commission in New Delhi organized a Roadshow followed by a business interactive session for the members of the BRICS Chamber of Commerce & Industry under the theme "Sri Lanka Partnering with India for Prosperity", at the High Commission premises on 25 April 2018.

The main focus of the Roadshow was to promote the Sri Lanka Investment and Business Conclave 2018 which is to be held from 19 to 21 June 2018, at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel in Colombo.

At the business interactive session on 25 April, High Commissioner Chitranganee Wagiswara welcomed the members of the BRICS Chamber of Commerce & Industry and highlighted the recent economic developments in the country and outlined the initiatives of the Sri Lanka government to create an economy, firmly based on foreign and domestic private investment.

She emphasized on the New Trade Policy, which was approved by the Cabinet in July 2017, and made reference to the progressive steps taken by the government to facilitate, protect and promote the trade and liberal investment climate in Sri Lanka, by enacting the Inland Revenue Act, the Foreign Exchange Act and moving forward on the Anti-Dumping Bill.

While referring to the strategic location of the island as a gateway to the Indian sub-continent, the High Commissioner stated that through trading agreements, Sri Lanka could integrate deeper with the regional and global economy, particularly through cross-regional global value chains. She encouraged the Indian industry members to take advantage of these untapped trade and investment opportunities in the island.

It was pointed out that, against the backdrop of the long standing trade and economic relations between Sri Lanka and India, the direct engagement between the business partners of the two countries offers a significant opportunity to facilitate the long-term business collaboration. The High Commissioner invited a delegation from the BRICS Chamber of Commerce & Industry to participate in the Sri Lanka Investment and Business Conclave to be held from 19-21 June 2018 in Colombo and to engage directly with future business or investment partners to explore opportunities in Sri Lanka.

Speaking on behalf of the BRICS Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Secretary General Dr B.B.L. Madhukar reiterated the importance of exploring business potential in Sri Lanka due to its unparalleled strategic location underpinned with conducive business climate and the fast developing infrastructure. He invited the Chamber members to explore the vast business potential under the Indo-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement.

Minister Commercial of the High Commission made a presentation on investment potential in key target sectors, market access tools and factor cost. In addition, she elaborated on the incentives offered by granting reduced tax rates (for specific sectors) and enhanced capital allowances based on capital investments made by the investors under the Inland Revenue Act No. 24 of 2017.

Video clippings on BOI and Sri Lanka Tourism were screened, followed by a question and answer session.

Over 50 participants representing the industry and media attended the business interactive session. Corporate leaders from prominent companies such as Gazprombank, Impresario Entertainment & Hospitality (Pvt) Ltd and Fine Jewellery (Pvt.) Ltd. were among the participants.
Department of Labour hosts first BRICS Labour and Employment Working Group (В Министерстве труда состоится первая рабочая группа по труду и занятости БРИКС) / South Africa, May, 2018
Keywords: top_level_meeting
South Africa

The Department of Labour hosts the First Meeting of the BRICS Labour and Employment Working Group (LEWG) from the 7th to the 10th May 2018, in Mbombela, Mpumalanga Province.

BRICS is a platform which brings together Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa where they discuss issues of mutual interest in a rapidly changing global environment.

Held under the theme "BRICS in Africa: Developing Countries for Inclusive Growth and Shared Prosperity in the New Industrial Revolution", the meeting will be under the headship of the Director General: Thobile Lamati. It will kick off with a keynote address by the Deputy Minister of Labour, Inkosi Phathekile Holomisa.

Sipho Ndebele the Chief Director: International Relations, said the thematic issues under discussion will include Youth employment; Women participation: Equal pay for work of equal value; Social dialogue and tripartism; and Social Protection. In this regard, the meeting will take stock on progress made in respect to these topics since the labour and employment track was established during the 2014 BRICS Summit in Fortaleza, Brazil. This year's meeting will therefore highlight some of the important issues affecting the labour markets of our respective countries such as the changes driven by technological, globalisation, demographics, social values, et cetera.

The second LEWG meeting will be held at the end of July followed by the BRICS Ministers for Labour and Employment conference. Both events will take place in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.

The Government of Mpumalanga, Southern African Development Community (SADC) troika and international organizations such as the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and International Social Security Association (ISSA) will also be attending the meeting. Delegates from BRICS member states will comprise of government, employer organisations as well as worker organisations.

Made on