Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 20.2018
2018.05.14 — 2018.05.20
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Reinventing the BRICs (Переосмысление БРИКС) / Portugal, May, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion
Author: Francisco Jaime Quesado

We face complex times ahead and the nations known as the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India, and China), have a more important role to play. The BRIC solution is, in a larger sense, a contract of trust in a more connected world, where the interdependence between countries is an essential condition for stronger investment in innovation, creativity and knowledge as the key drivers for growth and competitiveness.

Europe must be aware of the importance of the BRIC solution and reinvent itself in line with this new ambition.

In these times of crisis, the BRICs are in fact a great opportunity for Europe. The global economic situation for the EU is becoming increasingly difficult as European companies are facing stronger competition from companies based in the Middle East and Asia. The public accounts of most European countries are facing unsustainable deficits, and unemployment is still very high.

It's because of this that a New Contract of Trust for Europe becomes paramount. This New Deal must be supported by some strategic proposals that demand a new operational agenda.

Europe and the BRICs nations must actively cooperate in developing this new strategic agenda and the EI must know how to constructively integrate most of those who come to Europe from BRIC countries to start and develop new businesses.

Social cohesion is done with the constructive participation of the citizens and it is necessary to have an effective attitude towards mobilising this effort, with integration and quality as the right words.

The BRIC Solution has also an important dimension related to science and innovation at universities and companies must perform under a new strategic partnership that is centred on the objectives of added value, creativity, and knowledge.

This is the basis for the future and effective implementation of the New Europe Strategy, which must be followed by the BRIC. Each of these countries still has a real opportunity to implement an innovation agenda innovation –a fact and can´t be lost.

Culture is another important dimension for the BRIC Solution. The culture of European and BRIC countries is a unique asset. Europe and the BRICs must be able to involve other global partners in the construction of integrated projects that are focused on the development of culture as the driver for development. The reinvention of culture is itself, a very innovative way to involve more European and BRICs actors in a project aimed at building a future.

Europe must have a very prudent attitude towards the new capabilities that these emerging economies are facing in a globally complex world that remains in crisis. Europe's resources – from its scientists and entrepreneurs to its politicians and civil society payers, must understand this and give effective signs of change for a better future.

WATCH: Q&A: Minister Lindiwe Sisulu on Israel, Brics and Burundi (Видео: Вопросы и ответы: Министр Линдиве Сисулу про Израиль, БРИКС и Бурунди) / South Africa, May, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, mofa
South Africa

Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Lindiwe Sisulu talks to Independent Media's Group Foreign Editor Shannon Ebrahim about South Africa's foreign policy priorities following her budget debate in Parliament this week.

Q 1: If South Africa succeeds in getting a seat as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, what issues would South Africa like to prioritise on the Council?

A: I would like to preface my answer by saying that we will not be representing South Africa, we will be representing the continent. We go on behalf of the continent and we have been mandated and supported by the continent. What we bring to the table is our experience and concerns about how we resolve what we consider boiling points. We currently chair the SADC and we would want to start with the issues that concern the SADC the most. As a country we are really concerned about the situation in the Middle East so we would like to prioritise the Middle East as that, for us, is the next biggest breakdown of the entire global system.

Q2: US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley has said that the top 10 countries least likely to vote with the US at the UN (which includes South Africa) will have their aid cut. What is your response to these types of US threats?

A: The US has got to find a way of negotiating more than issuing threats - it is not the most conducive way in which we conduct international relations because people vote for various reasons, and a punitive measure taken against them does not solve the world's problems.

We have on occasion voted against the US when we felt we did not agree with a particular policy and we voted against them on the Iraq situation a long time ago and we have been proved to be correct.

I haven't had the opportunity to interact with my counterpart and share my views and to find out why they would come up with such a threat, how they intend to monitor votes, and why they have taken such a strident position.

Q3: Some members of the media have suggested that the Ramaphosa administration is attempting to strengthen relations with the West and is less focused on the Brics partnership than the previous administration. Is there any truth to this?

A: There is no truth to that at all. One of the reasons why the president is reaching out to everybody is precisely because he is concerned about the economy and the joblessness of our youth. A stable economy creates a stable environment within which our policies can reach maximum benefit to all. He has indicated that his priority is the investment summit that he is planning to host in October. The first summit that he will be hosting in South Africa is the Brics Summit which is an indication of his commitment to continue his relationship with Brics, and is not at the expense of any other relationship. I don't know why there is the perception that he is more interested in the West.

Q4: What are South Africa's priorities in terms of outcomes at the upcoming Brics Summit in July?

A: Our priority is to make the summit a spectacular success. What we have tried to do which is different in this particular summit is to involve civil society and labour, as we are avoiding a situation where we are not seen as inclusive.

We will have a mini-summit for civil society and a mini-summit for labour in order to allow their voices to find expression in the Brics summit itself. In terms of outcomes, we must see how to harness the fourth industrial revolution and use it to leapfrog into the future as the potential it has for us is enormous, and we want to partner with those who have advanced technologies.

Q5: South Africa has committed itself to a strategic partnership with China, particularly in the context of Focac (Forum on China-Africa Co-operation). How do you foresee strengthening our relations with China? Can South Africa prioritise the issue of moving forward on the beneficiation of our own minerals at the upcoming Focac Summit in Beijing in September?

A: We have prioritised our relations with China because we have found that it has innovative ways of dealing with matters. You yourself have reported on China's interest in our economic zones and we would be interested in getting assistance from China in these zones. We have taken a deliberate decision to beneficiate our own minerals but we haven't gone as far as we should have as we don't have the necessary technology or infrastructure. We won't leave this issue only to Focac, but will also discuss it at the Brics Summit. We are so looking forward to Focac as it will be the first time that our president will be in China on a state visit.

Q6: Former president Nelson Mandela said in 1994 that he wanted human rights to be "the light that guides our foreign policy." As Minister for International Relations and Co-operation, are you prepared to make human rights a cornerstone of South Africa's foreign policy once again as Mandela had envisaged?

A: Yesterday when I put together my budget speech I was very careful to send that particular message - human rights and peace - as that is what we inherited from Madiba. The reason why it is so important and dear to us is because we come from a very long, brutal struggle.

We have been trying to get South Africans to understand that human rights are absolutely essential. That is what has been the driving force behind our contributions in multilateral forums. It remains a central point in the ANC's foreign policy, and it remains the basis of our foreign policy. It is what drives us when we intervene on issues that have to do with the violation of human rights of the Palestinians, or any other situation.

Q7: What has Dirco done to date to downgrade South Africa's relations with Israel in keeping with the ANC resolution at the December policy conference?

A: In between the passing of that resolution and where we are now has been a transition, a lot of adjustment has gone into that. We have not had the opportunity to sit down and work out how we operationalise some of the resolutions that were taken at the ANC 54th national conference. I will be having discussions with our ambassador.

We have recalled our ambassador from Palestine to find out from him the facts of what is going on in Palestine and thereafter take the necessary decision. We will also be discussing with the ANC subcommittee on international relations.

The Jewish Board of Deputies is keen to meet me, and I would like to meet them sooner rather than later. My only request is that they should relate to me as a fellow South African.

Q8: The human rights situation in Burundi continues to deteriorate, with Human Rights Watch documenting how Burundian security forces and ruling party members have committed serious human rights abuses with impunity leading up to this week's referendum. Is South Africa going to raise its voice in calling for Burundi to adhere to African and international human rights conventions?

A: We would be. We have spent no less than five years in assisting the people of Burundi to move from a situation of war to one of peace. We did it because we believed they deserved to have a better future for themselves, and because we believe in basic human rights.

Burundi was in a terrible situation when we got there, it was during the time of Mandela and he very quickly decided that we would intervene and support the peace process.

It therefore is a responsibility that we would like to take on, having spent so much of our resources and time and given so much of our support to create an environment where there is democracy.

It would be a reversal of everything we put there if there is a reversal of the situation in Burundi.

When we pulled our troops out of Burundi it was because we thought Burundi had adopted democratic processes, and we thought it was on a path of democracy and peace. We will certainly raise our voice around this issue, definitely.

Q9: You have expressed a desire for South Africa to play a greater leadership role on the continent. With regards to South Sudan, how do you perceive South Africa being able to make a meaningful impact on resolving the political violence that continues to plague that country?

A: In Burundi we were invited to come in and assist. In South Sudan we have not been invited in the same way, and I am convinced that South Sudan doesn't want interference. We wouldn't mind doing that because we have expended a great deal of our resources in putting our forces in South Sudan to keep the peace there, and if we can find a way of solving the conflict, the sooner the better.

We do have people in our country whose purpose is to assist the government and create an environment where there can be dialogue and negotiations, and create an environment conducive for peace. It helps us a lot as they are the forerunners of government. There is a team that is on their way to Madagascar and we have given them support to go there as there is a brewing problem, and we would like to push them towards a peaceful election.

We appreciate the work they do in conflict resolution. They are always in the shadows, and maybe when we have succeeded, and when we have taken the decision to send them to South Sudan, we would like them to speak publicly about what they have been finding because getting South Africans to have a better understanding of what we are involved in means we have a greater buy-in to what we are doing. I want us to encourage our conflict resolution teams to report regularly to South Africans about the progress they are making in the areas they are working in.

Q10: South Africa has been very generous in allowing hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans to work here, and it must be a relief that the Zimbabwean economy may improve under President Emmerson Mnangagwa. What are your expectations for the Zimbabwean economy moving forward?

A: Zimbabwe is going through a very difficult economic period and we understand that. We would like to give them the opportunity to settle down after their election. If they don't, their economic situation could be dire. They have natural resources that remain untapped, and if they focus on that they could revive their economy.

The president and I were in Zimbabwe to discuss these matters, and one of the things both presidents were considering were joint economic ventures in tourism, for example. We have found in our tourism industry we have been able to attract a great deal of resources. We would like our tourism trade to include Zimbabwe and Botswana.

In most of our discussions with Zimbabwe, the issue of the revival of the economy has been central. When Zimbabwe has a thriving economy, the Zimbabweans are likely to go back.

The downside is that Zimbabweans have a higher skills level than we have, and we need to train our people in skills in order to have a more productive workforce. We need to find a way to ensure the transfer of skills to our people before Zimbabweans go back.
Sudan, Russia discuss promotion of military cooperation (Судан и Россия обсуждают вопросы продвижения военного сотрудничества) / Sudan, May, 2018
Keywords: top_level_meeting, national_security

May 18, 2018 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan and Russia have discussed ways to promote military cooperation between the two countries.

On Thursday, the deputy head of a presidential committee tasked with the relations with BRICS countries, Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, Awad Ahmed al-Jaz met with the Russian Ambassador to Khartoum, Vladimir Zheltov.

In press statements following the meeting, the Russian envoy said the meeting discussed issues of common concern within the framework of bilateral cooperation as well as within the BRICS.

He pointed out that his country attaches great importance to promoting its relations with the friendly countries to achieve common interests and goals.

Zheltov added the meeting also discussed ways to promote the political dialogue and cooperation in the economic, trade, investment and industrial fields, pointing to the need to exert more efforts to reach the highest levels of relations.

During his visit to Russia in November 2017, President Omer al-Bashir proposed to President Vladimir Putin to build a military base on the Red Sea coast and to re-equip the Sudanese army with the Russian weapons including SU-30 fighter jets and surface-to-air missiles.

Politically, Russia is seen as a major ally of the government of al-Bashir that faces isolation from the West. However, economic cooperation between the two countries has remained very low, with a trade balance that does not exceed $400 million.

In December 2015, Sudan and Russia signed 14 cooperation agreements in different domains, including oil, minerals and banks.

The agreements also include a concession contract between Sudan and the Russian Rus Geology to prospect for oil in Sudan's Bloc E57 and another accord for the geological mapping of the Jebel Moya area, North Kordofan State.

Belt and Road Initiative: Why, What and How (Инициатива Пояс и Путь: Почему, Что и Как) / China, May, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, obor
Author: Hu Biliang

I. Why was the Belt and Road Initiative put forward?

From an overall point of view, the Belt and Road Initiative was put forward after taking into consideration both international and domestic situations with an aim to solving a series of important issues facing China and the world in their development for a fairly long period of time to come, and is therefore an initiative of strategic significance. If well-implemented, the Belt and Road Initiative will have a direct positive impact on the resolution of many global issues and contribute to economic and social development of China and participating countries.
From an international point of view, the launch of the Belt and Road Initiative was directly linked with the following factors.

1. In terms of the world economy. The 2008 financial and economic crisis affected the whole world and countries were negatively impacted to varying degrees, with the EU countries being the ones that were most severely hit and undergoing a longer duration of impact (graph 1). In 2010, thanks to the concerted efforts of different countries and the international community as a whole, the world economy realized quite strong recovery, but it quickly turned downward and began to shrink again (graph 1).In order to provide strong momentum for world economicrecovery, President Xi Jinping put forward the Belt and Road Initiative in the fall of 2013 on behalf of China, calling on all countries to join the Belt and Road Initiative in an effort to generate stronger momentum for world economic recovery and push the world economy toward an upward trajectory.

First, the joint development of the Belt and Road Initiative directly involves a large amount of infrastructure projects, such as roads, railways, airports, ports, oil and gas pipelines, power stations (hydropower and nuclear power stations), all of which will spur rapid growth of investments in fixed assets in a short period of time. At the same time, they will fairly quickly create new job opportunities and increase people's income, which, to some extent, will raise consumption.

Second, the joint development of the Belt and Road Initiative is conducive to promoting the rebalance of world economic recovery. In a quite long period of time in the past, the world economy was mainly driven by developed countries. The situation later changed, and especially after the 2008 financial crisis, emerging market economies and developing countries saw their share in world economic growth rise rapidly, and they became another important engine for the world economy. The Belt and Road Initiative will further strengthen the contribution of emerging market economies and developing countries to the world economy and help balance growth in the world.

Third, the joint development of the Belt and Road Initiative and better connectivity in the world in terms of infrastructure, trade and investment as well as finance will be helpful for the formation of a new mechanism for global growth, as better global connectivity means that with their differenteconomic factors including natural resources, capital and labor force operating under the market mechanism, the comparative advantages of different countries can be better leveraged, and the world will witness more mutually reinforcing growth.

2. In term of globalization. Undoubtedly, globalization has brought positive effects to all countries. However, the studies of some scholars also show that globalization has enlarged, instead of narrowing, the imbalance. Compounded with the industrial hollowing-out phenomenon in some countries and regions caused by the global distribution of factors of production, especially the hollowing-out phenomenon in the manufacturing sector, unemployment has been rising instead of falling in some countries and regions. Hence we have witnessed certain phenomena of de-globalization and even anti-globalization.

However, the problem is that globalization cannot be stopped at whim. Globalization is an objective historical trend, and President Xi Jinping has pointed out that any attempt to cut off the flow of capital, technologies, products, industries and people between economies, and channel the waters in the ocean back into isolated lakes and creeks is simply not possible and runs counter to the historical trend. The correct method is to transform and upgrade the current globalization to work for an economic globalization that is more open, tolerant, inclusive, balanced and mutually beneficial.

How to enable globalization to transform and upgrade toward a better direction? The joint development of the Belt and Road Initiative can be an effective way, because the long-term goals, basic principles, main methods and results of the Belt and Road Initiative are highly aligned with the objectives and necessary work of the transformation and upgrading of globalization.

3. In terms of global governance. Currently, global issues have been increasing, not decreasing, and issues in some areas have exacerbated. Of course, this is closely linked with the unsuitable globalization model and also directly due to the insufficiency and inadequacy in the current global governance system. This is what President Xi Jinping means by the worldwide issue of "governance deficit". Therefore, we need to improve the efficiency of the existing global governance system through reforms on the one hand, and provide more and better public goods for the world through the additional provision of global governance on the other.

The joint development of the Belt and Road Initiative hopes to help reform the current global governance system to build a new one that can be balanced and inclusive, and also tries to enlarge and strengthen the accumulation of global governance, for example the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) provides new financing resources for infrastructure development in the world.

4. In terms of international cooperation. For a long time, the models for international cooperation have been heavily influenced by traditional geopolitics. An important purpose of the joint development of the Belt and Road Initiative is to spread the Silk Road spirit characterized by peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning, mutual benefit and win-win results as well as the BRICS spirit of openness, inclusiveness, cooperation and win-win results, and build a new cooperation system that is completely open not only on the regional level, but also on the global level, with which countries big or small, rich or poor, will have equal participation, development and benefit under equal rules. The development of the Belt and Road Initiative does not exclude any country, nor does any country have any prerogatives. Therefore, the Belt and Road Initiative has in fact created a new and innovative platform for international cooperation on regional and global connectivity, which will accelerate regional integration and globalization.

5. In terms of a community of shared future for mankind. President Xi Jinping talked about the idea of a community of shared future for mankind on many occasions, and the essence is that the future and destiny of mankind need the joint efforts of all countries and peoples. Therefore, countries around the world should unite and jointly create a bright future for mankind and people in all countries. How do we build the shared future for mankind? The basic principle is we must adhere to peaceful coexistence and common development, the basic content is all countries must jointly build a world of lasting peace, common security, shared prosperity, openness and inclusiveness as well as cleanness and pleasantness, and the main methods include dialogue and consultation, joint development and sharing, cooperation and mutual benefit, exchanges and mutual learning as well as green and low-carbon development. How do we implement that? The Belt and Road Initiative is a platform for such implementation. All countries, by jointly consulting, building and sharing the Belt and Road Initiative, can make our planet and world a better place.

From a domestic point of view, the development of the Belt and Road Initiative is also of great strategic significance.

1. Opening-up. China's proposal of the Belt and Road Initiative is a new measure for advancing opening-up under the new historical conditions. As proven by our implementation, since the adoption of reform and opening-up 40 years ago, opening-up has played a very important role in China's economic and social development and is an extremely important driving force (graph 2).Opening-up has not only greatly increasedthe size of the economy, but also structurally facilitated China's development. One example is that as companies engaged in custom manufacturing with materials, designs or samples supplied by foreign partners or subsidized trade fluxed into Dongguan, Guangdong Province, not only has the urban economy developed, but the rural areas have all become important manufacturing bases for the world, which led to the rapid transformation of rural population to urban population and rural areas to urban areas, basically realizing industrialization and urbanization. As China's development enters the new era, how do we create a new landscape for comprehensive opening-up? Currently speaking, it can be advanced and deepened by working together with other countries to build the Belt and Road Initiative.

2. Better implementation of other development strategies. Thanks to the development of the Belt and Road Initiative, infrastructure between China's remote areas in the west and neighboring countries has been improved and the economic ties have been strengthened, which is conducive to further poverty alleviation. Under the Belt and Road Initiative framework, we can use bilateral or multilateral financial cooperation to promote the process of RMB's internationalization. This will help China's opening-up and development advance, and also gradually improve the international monetary system, especially contributing to the financial markets of countries along the Belt and Road Initiative, which have been volatile for a long time. Additionally, international cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative will be of direct benefit to the more effective implementation of China's strategy of peaceful development and the further flourishing of the Chinese culture amidst the exchanges and mutual learning between the cultures of China and other countries.II. What does the Belt and Road Initiative do?

President Xi Jinping has put forward five areas of connectivity to develop the Belt and Road Initiatives, namely, connectivity in terms of policy, infrastructure, trade, finance and people-to-people exchanges. These five areas of connectivity are the fundamental aspects of the development of the Belt and Road Initiative. The basic content and thinking is to build stronger and better global connectivity and make the world a more connected place. So far, the following six areas have been the main embodiments.

1. Policy coordination and communication. This is the beginning of the Belt and Road Initiative and also its basic safeguard. Responsible government departments of all relevant countries will, under the basic consensus and framework of the joint development of the Belt and Road Initiative, conduct in-depth studies and evaluation of their respective development strategies and work to find points of convergence and draft cooperation plans. Policies will be formulated based on how development strategies link up and policy coordination between different countries should be achieved.

2. Development of economic corridors. This is the main part and essence of the development of the Belt and Road Initiative. So far, there are the following six economic corridors being planned and built by relevant countries under the Belt and Road Initiative framework.

(1) New Eurasian Land Bridge Economic Corridor. This economic corridor is formed along the Trans-Eurasian International Railway from Lianyungang, Jiangsu Province of China, to Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and its surrounding regions. The early function of this economic corridor used to be mainly about delivery of commodities between China and European countries. Changes have been taking place after the Belt and Road Initiative was put forward: first, there has been rapid and significance increase in the number of China-Europe Block Trains, and more cities have been connected to such trains. Latest figures show that in 2017 alone, there have been 3,600 China-Europe Block Trains, which was more than the total number of trains from 2011 to the end of 2016. At the same time, cities served by such trains have increased from less than 10 in 2010 to 35, and there are 34 destinations in 12 European countries.

Second, based on the major cities along this railway artery, some unique industrial parks have already been or are being developed, including logistics parks, trade cooperation zones, etc. The China-Kazakhstan (Lianyungang) Logistics Cooperation Base is the first such zone for the Belt and Road Initiative, and the China-Kazakhstan Khorgos International Border Cooperation Center is also under development and will be completed by 2019.

(2) China-Mongolia-Russia Economic Corridor.This economic corridor stretches from China's Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region and Northeast region toward the north, passing through Mongolia and reaching Russia's Mideast regions. The main purpose of this economic corridor is to connect China's Silk Road Economic Belt with Russia's construction plan of Transcontinental Rail Plan and Mongolia's Prairie Road program.

In terms of specific projects, there are three: first, the Moscow-Kazan high speed railway project, which has basically completed its study and designing stage; second, the railway project between China's Arshan City in Inner Mongolia to Mongolia's Choibalsan City in Dornod Province, which will take about three years; third, the Ceke Cross-border Railway project, which connects China and Mongolia and promotes their trade development. This project is currently being built.

(3) China-Central Asia-West Asia Economic Corridor.This economic corridor runs from Xinjiang, China to Central Asia and then the Persian Gulf, Mediterranean and Arabian Peninsula. Key cooperation areas for countries along this economic corridor are energy and infrastructure. The A/B/C lines of the gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to China have been completed and started operation while the D line is still under construction. The Angren Power Plant built by China in Uzbekistan has been completed and started power generation, first phase of the No.2 Power Plant in Dushanbe, Tajikistan built by China has been integrated into power grid and started power and heat supply, The Vahdat-Yovon railway project built by China in Tajikistan has been successfully completed, the high speed rail in Turkey from Ankara to Istanbul built by Chinahas been finished, and the Angren-Pap railway channel built by China in Uzbekistan has also been successfully put into operation.

(4) China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. This economic corridor runs from Kashgar in China's Xinjiang to Gwadar in Pakistan and includes the surrounding areas. The development of this economic corridor involves transport infrastructure, energy infrastructure, ports, industrial zones and maritime resources.

In terms of transport infrastructure, first, the second expansion project of the Karakoram Road will extend further from the current road into Pakistan's central areas; second, the highway project linking Pakistan's Sukkur and Multan; third, the upgrading of Pakistan's No. 1 Railway Line to further connect with China.

In terms of energy infrastructure, first, the Sahiwal Power Plant project in Punjab, Pakistan, has been put into operation on June 8, 2017, and is expected to meet 25% of Pakistan's power needs; second, the Port Qasim Coal Power Plant is expected to be completed in June, 2018 and can solve the electricity problem for more than 10 million people (China Thermal Power Net, 2017); third, the Karot Hydropower Plant project is expected to finish in 2021 with an annual capacity of 3.2 billion kilowatt-hour.

Additionally, the Gwadar Port project is also a very important one, which includes costal highway, dykes, international airport and infrastructure for free trade zones.

(5) Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor. This economic corridor runs from China's southwest through Myanmar and Bangladesh toward India, and is also called the Southwestern Asian Land Bridge Economic Corridor. An important project of it, the China-Myanmar Oil and Gas Pipeline project, has been completed. The gas pipeline has been put into operation in October 2013 and the oil pipeline in April, 2017.

(6) China-Indochina Peninsula Economic Corridor. This economic corridor runs from China's southwest in Yunnan and Guangxi through Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand and Malaysia toward Singapore. Important projects include Jakarta-Bandung High Speed Railway project in Indonesia, China-Thailand railway project, China-Laos railway project and the Joint China-Laos Mohan-Boten Economic Cooperation Zone project.

3. Multi-country and multi-port construction. Strengthening key port construction is an important part of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. Key ports in China include Shanghai, Tianjin, Ningbo-Zhoushan, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhanjiang, Shantou, Qingdao, Yantai, Dalian, Fuzhou, Xiamen, Quanzhou, Haikou and Sanya, while unique roles of Hong Kong and Macao Special Administrative Regions will be fully utilized. Key ports under joint development with relevant countries include Gwadar Port in Pakistan, Hambantota Port and Container Dock of Colombo in Sri Lanka, Piraeus Port in Greece, Kyaukpyu Port in Myanmar, New Haifa Port in Israel, Port Said, Port Ain Sokhna and Port Damietta in Egypt, Port of Singapore, Port Antwerp and Zeebrugge Dock in Belgium, Naples in Italy and Kuantan Port in Malaysia.

4. Chinese enterprises "going global". The development of the Belt and Road Initiative will mainly rely on joint project development. For projects, the main driving force comes from enterprises. Because the Belt and Road Initiative is at its early stage and mainly involves large-scale projects on infrastructure, significant capital, long time and advanced technology are required, which means that China's state-owned companies are more suitable; however, as the Belt and Road Initiative develops in depth, more business opportunities will emerge that are more suited to different types of enterprises, particularly private companies. Studies show that after the launch of the Belt and Road Initiative, Chinese companies have accelerated their speed of "going global", especially in terms of development industrial parks. A case in point is the Thailand-China Rayong Industrial Park.

5. Financial innovation. Countries along the Belt and Road Initiative have relevantly less developed economy due to one important reason, which is the severe shortage of capital for development purposes and outside capital is required as an important complement. Currently, it's hard for the global financial governance system such as the World Bank and Asia Development Bank to provide sufficient fund for these countries, and we must resort to financial innovation to provide new funding. Considering the investment required by the infrastructure development under the Belt and Road Initiative, there is an even greater amount of capital needed, and we must find new ways.

Therefore, President Xi Jinping put forwardthe proposal in October 2013 on setting up the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to support infrastructure development and connectivity of developing countries, especially those in Asia. In January 2016, the AIIB was officially opened, and issued 1.73 billion USD in loans that year in support of infrastructure projects in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Tajikistan and Indonesia. The Silk Road Fund was officially stared in December 2014 and by the end of the first quarter of 2017, it has signed 15 projects and pledged 6 billion USD for infrastructure, energy development, industrial cooperation and financial cooperation in Central Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia and West Asia and North Africa. What's more, the New Development Bank of BRICS, which started operation in July 2015, also provided loans to countries along the Belt and Road Initiative.

China's financial institutions have also been conducting financial innovation to provide more loans to the Belt and Road Initiative. China Development Bank has issued more than 160 billion USD in loans to countries along the Belt and Road Initiative by the end of 2016 with a key focus on supporting infrastructure, connectivity, industrial cooperation, energy and resources and people's wellbeing. The Export-Import Bank of China and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China has also given huge financial support to the Belt and Road Initiative.

6. Comprehensive cooperation. The Belt and Road Initiative, to a large extent, aims at building a new platform for international cooperation so that all countries can use this new platform to carry out cooperation on education, science and technology, medical care, tourism and culture and ultimately make the world we live in a better place.III. How do we develop the Belt and Road Initiative?
If there is no good way to implement, a good initiative cannot have good results. Therefore, the "how" part of the issue is also very important. Based on the current experience and lessons, it's crucial to stick to the following four points.

1. Joint consultation, development and sharing. The joint development of the Belt and Road Initiative is a basic concept for an open and inclusive system. Under this concept, all countries are entitled to equal rights of participation, and the key is to take into consideration the common interests of all parties. How do we make sure that interests of all parties can be guaranteed at the very beginning? The practice now is to have close integration of development strategies by different participants and they should jointly formulate specific plans for the joint development of the Belt and Road Initiative and incorporate the interests of all sides. Later, based on the needs and actual situations of participants in joint development, we can identify their respective responsibilities and obligations. Finally, interests and benefits will be gained in light of the different responsibilities and obligations. At the end of the day, the most important thing about seeking a right balance between different interests is to have consultation and joint participation for win-win outcomes.

2. Government-guided, market-led and enterprises-implemented. The joint development of the Belt and Road Initiative has some unique features, one of which is that it's very important to have top-level design, including coordination and communication on strategies and policies. Therefore, governments of relevant countries play a special and important role. But the foundation of cooperation is still the basic market principles and the market is still the ultimate driving force and guarantee for the success of international cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative. Talking about such cooperation with no heed to the force of the market is doomed to fail, and on the contrary, if enterprises conduct their businesses activities according to market principles, even if their businesses encounter temporary effects due to non-market forces such as political reasons, they will always ultimately come back to the proper market operation. For example, the port projects in Sri Lanka undertaken by China Communications Construction Company was started in the previous Sri Lankan administration, and was affected and experienced one-year stop after the change of government. However, once after being carefully verified by the new Sri Lankan government, it came to the conclusion that this project was in complete agreement with market principles and is business in nature, and normal operation was restored.

Be it government-guided or market-led, it will always go to the enterprises, because enterprises are the operators of the market and implementers of projects. Without enterprises, it will be meaningless to talk about government-guided or market-led. Therefore, there must have proper relationship between the government, market and enterprises in the development of the Belt and Road Initiative.

3. Project implementation and practical cooperation. International cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative concerns many aspects, but ultimately it's about the implementation of specific projects, which has to be done through enterprises and companies. By the end of May 2017, of the 98 state-owned companies in China, 47 of them have participated in the Belt and Road Initiative in different ways in 1,676 projects (Information Office of the State Council ,2017), mainly focusing on infrastructure, energy development, industrial cooperation and industrial park cooperation.

For example, China Communications Construction Company has built more than 10,000 kilometers of road in countries along the Belt and Road Initiative. When I was doing research in Kyrgyzstan, local government officials told me that 80% of road in Kyrgyzstan were built by that companies. In addition, this company also built many other railways, such as the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway in Kenya and major projects like the Gwadar Port in Pakistan.

4. Mutually reinforcing software and hardware and their close integration.Hardware mainly means capital and technology, while software is shown as culture, concept and thinking. Because countries along the Belt and Road Initiative have huge differences in languages, cultures, religions, customs and traditions, a lot of problems will happen and cooperation may even fail if we cannot learn and understand from each other.IV. What are the prospects for the development of the Belt and Road Initiative?

After spending a few recent years studying the development projects of the Belt and Road Initiative, I have come to the following four preliminary conclusions: first, the Belt and Road Initiative proactively responds to the current requirements of the international community and is in line with the development trend and expectations of history; second, this initiative has received positive response from some countries; third, the joint development of the Belt and Road Initiative has already brought some new business opportunities for participating countries and yielded early results; fourth, the promotion of the Belt and Road Initiative also helps China to build a brand-new structure for opening-up in the new age. Therefore, I'm optimistic about the development of the Belt and Road Initiative on the whole.

First, this is a positive initiative. There are three reasons why the Belt and Road Initiative can very likely advance history in the correct direction: firstly, promoting the transformation and upgrading of the current globalization and achieve a new type of better globalization that fits the requirements of development in the new age; secondly, providing more and better global public goods, such as the AIIB and New Development Bank of BRICS; thirdly, providing a new platform and model for international cooperation where all countries can participate in open, inclusive, practical and win-win cooperation through joint consultation, development and sharing.

Second, many countries have started actively participating in the practical implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative and some countries have already started to carry out relevant projects. There is also already a good environment internationally for advancing the Belt and Road Initiative.

Third, so far the development of the Belt and Road Initiative has brought tangible benefit to some countries. For example, the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway in Kenya has created 38,000 jobs directly and much more indirectly. According to the estimation of the Kenyan government, after the completion of this railway, cargo transportation costs in East Africa will drop by 79% and Kenya's economy will grow by 1.5 percentage points more annually. Another example is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which will enable tens of millions of Pakistanis to benefit from it. In a nutshell, Chinese enterprises' participation in relevant projects will create new jobs for the local communities, improve infrastructure and promote local economic growth.

My feeling from the recent years of field studies about the Belt and Road Initiative is that it has really created new opportunities for relevantcountries. Such new development opportunities are mainly about two aspects: first, new opportunities created by better infrastructure and connectivity; second, new opportunities created by industrial cooperation. I have discovered that opportunities tend to be greater in sectors such as mining, agriculture and agricultural products processing, manufacturing (especially iron and steel, cement, textile and machinery), energy (oil, gas and hydropower), infrastructure, real estate and the service industry (particularly tourism and traditional Chinese medicines).

To summarize, the Belt and Road Initiative has a positive trajectory and optimistic future. With close cooperation from participating countries, we will achieve good results and make the world we share a better place.

Hu Biliang is Professor ofEconomics of Beijing Normal University and the Director of the Belt and Road Research Institute as well as the Dean of Emerging Markets Institute of the University.

India Calls for Judicious Use of Resources at 4th Brics Ministerial Meeting in Durban (Индия призывает к разумному использованию ресурсов на 4-ой Встрече Министров БРИКС в Дурбане) / India, May, 2018
Keywords: off_docs, top_level_meeting, ecology

India has called for a judicious use of resources amidst concerns over resource depletion and scarcity. Addressing the 4thBRICS Ministerial meeting in Durban, South Africa today, Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Dr. Harsh Vardhan has said that a decrease in global materials, or at least stabilization at present levels, demand major reductions in metabolic rates in the Asia-Pacific region, especially India. He pointed out that this can become possible only through Resource Efficiency (RE) not only throughout the material life cycle, but also at the post-consumption stage. The Minister added that secondary resources (waste materials) need to be brought back into production, adopting a Circular Economy (CE) approach. Dr. Harsh Vardhan emphasised that Resource Efficiency (RE) and Circular Economy (CE) are key elements of Sustainable Development and impact resource efficiency and that is why there is a global commitment to achieve it.

Reiterating India's commitment to building responsive, inclusive and collective solutions, Dr. Harsh Vardhan underlined that BRICS nations face similar environmental concerns such as air pollution, waste management, resource crunch and climate change. "BRICS countries should together emphasize on the cooperation in air pollution control through technology transfer and requisite capacity building", Dr. Vardhan said. He urged BRICS nations to commit to cooperation and collaboration on technology transfer, capacity building and knowledge transfer at the country, regional and global levels. "BRICS countries can complement, facilitate access to and provide adequate information on existing science, technology and innovation platforms, avoiding duplications and enhancing synergies," he averred. The Minister added that India will be pleased to contribute and provide further recommendations to the BRICS Environment Working Group on the modalities of Partnership for Urban Environmental Sustainability Initiative (PUESI). Dr. Vardhan expressed the confidence that the proposals on BRICS Environmentally Sound Technology (BEST) platform, clean river umbrella, circular economy, ocean economy, biodiversity and integrated water resources management will further strengthen the cooperation for sustainable development.

Outlining the contours of the Green Good Deeds movement in India, Dr. Vardhan said, "We are asking people to alter their behaviour to Green Good behaviour to fulfil their Green Social Responsibility". He urged the BRICS countries to jointly help in the development of a social movement that can be emulated by the rest of the world.

Minister of Water and Environment Affairs, South Africa, Ms. Bomo Edith Edna Molewa, Vice-Minister for Environment, Energy, Science and Technology of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Brazil, Mr J. Antonio Marcondes, DG, International Cooperation Department of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation, Mr. Nuritdin Imanov, Vice-Minister of Ecology and Environment, China, Mr. Huang Runqiu and representative of United Nations Environment (UNEP), Mr. Jorge Laguna-Celis were among the distinguished ones present on the occasion.
New middle-power country partners for South Africa? (Новые партнеры ЮАР среди средних держав?) / South Africa, May, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, global_governance, rating, economic_challenges
South Africa
Author: Jakkie Cilliers

As Ramaphosa's government shifts foreign policy direction, an analysis of future global power provides new insights.

After a decade in the foreign policy wilderness, South Africa is looking to reshape its global and African footprint. An Institute for Security Studies (ISS) analysis of international power suggests that under President Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africa could benefit from fresh thinking on new peer-group partnerships.

Speaking in Parliament in February, Higher Education Minister Naledi Pandor summarised the essence of an emerging foreign policy under Ramaphosa. 'Africa lies at the heart of South Africa's international cooperation policy,' she said. 'Our commitment is to deeper integration and cooperation through increased trade, shared markets, and the development of strong institutions.' She said it was time to return to a foreign policy that prioritised human rights, and with international rule as a foundation.

South Africa's diminishing multilateralism limits its ability to translate power capacity into influence

Former president Jacob Zuma's tenure undermined South Africa's standing in Africa and globally. He certainly didn't share his predecessor Thabo Mbeki's keen sense of international politics or the same passion for uplifting Africa. Whereas Mbeki sought and built strategic international and African partnerships, Zuma's multilateral engagements were comparatively limited with the important exception of South Africa's membership of the Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRICS) grouping.

Instead of serving as a bridge between developed and developing countries – which was an important characteristic of foreign policy under both Nelson Mandela and Mbeki – South Africa under Zuma aligned itself with China and Russia. This was sometimes against the interests of important traditional trading partners including the European Union (EU).

Zuma appeared to prioritise specific bilateral relations such as with the Central African Republic. In the process, South Africa seemed to undermine the values enshrined in the constitution regarding human rights, democracy and a rules-based global order. Networks and partnerships augment a state's power, and South Africa's diminishing multilateralism has detracted from its ability to translate power capacity into influence by working with other like-minded states.

South Africa has to work hard to rebuild global respect and trust, but needs to first establish who it is and what it stands for. The ISS analysis of potential middle-power partnerships offers some insight by drawing on the Global Powers Index (GPI), part of the International Futures (IFs) forecasting system.

GPI is unique as it attempts to include aspects of soft power in its calculations and forecasts of state power capacity, such as the number of embassies and treaties a state is party to. Other components in GPI include the contribution of demographics, technology, size of the economy and military capacity.

The ISS analysis sought to identify potential global partners to South Africa with whom it had strong trade relations. These countries shared its democratic values and were set to expand or generally retain their share of global power into the future.

To determine which countries were potentially in the same global 'power league' as South Africa, the ISS used GPI to distinguish between five broad groupings. The US (with 22% of global power capabilities) is in a league of its own. China (with 13%) is rapidly increasing its power capabilities at the expense of others – the US in particular. Other large powers are Japan (5.4%), Germany (4.9%), France (4.8%), the UK (4.3%), Russia (4.2%) and India (3.2%).

Policymakers should use forecasting tools to understand future shifts in power capabilities

Power is shifting, and by 2030 China would have overtaken the US with 19.6% of global power (the US would have 18.9%) and India would have moved to third spot with 5.7%. At a global level the EU (without the UK) would, by 2030, have 16.8% of global power while the UK, having left the EU, would have 3.8%.

Whereas the EU's 28 member states increasingly act with a common foreign and security policy orientation, the same couldn't be said of the BRICS group that would have 31% of global power capacity by 2030 and the G7 that would have 38.2%. The African Union in 2030 would include 55 countries that collectively would have less than 3% of global power capabilities.

The essential challenge for South Africa, currently the most enthusiastic member of BRICS, is that its membership of this grouping is vastly disproportionate to its global power ranking (or capabilities). South Africa is at best an appendix or vassal within the group, with limited ability to influence outcomes or behaviour.

Below these larger groupings and more powerful countries follows a broad category of middle powers that have between 3% and 0.3% of global power potential. That list includes 33 countries, starting with Brazil (at 2.2%) and ending with Nigeria (0.3%). Other countries in that category include Saudi Arabia (1.8%) and Australia (1.7%). Mexico, Turkey and Indonesia have almost 1% of global power capabilities each.

South Africa currently has 0.4% of global power – the most of any African country. Its portion of power capabilities will decline to 2030 when it will have slightly less power capability than Nigeria and be just ahead of Egypt globally. Although Nigeria's economy is now larger than that of South Africa, it remains a poor country with much more limited soft power capacity than South Africa, and low technology.

The next step in the ISS analysis used the Polity IV dataset on democracy to determine which of these 33 middle power countries generally shared South Africa's (democratic) values and commitment to human rights. This step removed five countries from the original list: Saudi Arabia, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore and Thailand.

South Africa's membership of BRICS is vastly disproportionate to its global power ranking

A third step used GPI to forecast which of the remaining 28 countries would increase their share of global power capabilities to 2030 or, like South Africa, experience a modest but not precipitous decline.

A final step looked at levels of trade with South Africa. The reasoning here was that it would be difficult to build relationships from scratch and that any future engagement needed to build from a substantial flow of goods, services and finances. Only countries with which bilateral trade exceeded US$200 million a year with South Africa stayed on the list.

Eleven countries subsequently remained from the original 33: Mexico, Turkey, Indonesia, Israel, Sweden, Pakistan, Argentina, Iraq, Malaysia, Ireland and Nigeria. Other countries that could easily be added since their relative decline in international power capabilities would be similarly modest to that of South Africa by 2030 would include Australia, Algeria, Austria, Norway, Denmark and Poland.

Brazil, the largest and most important country in Latin America with a clear interest in Africa, also needs to be considered as a potential partner. The final line-up provides an interesting if unexpected list of potential middle-power countries with which South Africa could explore future peer partnerships.

In making policy decisions that impact on the future, analysts and policymakers should consider the potential of forecasting tools to help understand likely future shifts in power capabilities. The results of such analysis could inject some innovative thinking in considering potential partners under Ramaphosa's leadership.

Jakkie Cilliers, Head of African Futures and Innovation, ISS and chair of the ISS Board of Trustees

In South Africa, Daily Maverick has exclusive rights to re-publish ISS Today articles. For media based outside South Africa and queries about our re-publishing policy, email us.
Joint statement for the Fourth BRICS Ministers of Environment Meeting (Совместное заявление Четвертой Встречи Министров Окружающей Среды стран БРИКС) / South Africa, May, 2018
Keywords: ecology, off_docs, concluded_agreements, top_level_meeting
South Africa

We, the Ministers of Environment and Heads of Delegation of the Federative Republic of Brazil, the Russian Federation, the Republic of India, the People's Republic of China and the Republic of South Africa, held the fourth BRICS Environmental Ministers' Meeting in Durban on 18 May 2018.

We reiterate our commitment to the importance of 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which clearly articulate international development priorities and global development cooperation towards the ultimate goal of eradicating poverty by 2030.

Through adopting the SDGs, the global community has undertaken significant commitments towards sustainability, development, and prosperity that is shared and equitable, leaving no one behind. The means and mechanisms are of critical importance in the implementation of SDGs and the BRICS countries hereby call for early implementation of the Global commitments towards Technology Facilitation Mechanism and Financing for Development.

We welcome various partnerships for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and call for good governance to enhance implementation actions to integrate sustainable development at the heart of social and economic development policies in relation to Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP).

With respect to Climate Change, BRICS countries welcome the progress towards finalizing the Work Programme under the Paris Agreement and express our willingness to continue working constructively with other Parties to conclude its related negotiations at the UN Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC) Katowice in December 2018. We reaffirm our commitments to the Paris Agreement and urge developed countries to continue taking the lead and support developing countries, including the transfer of needed technology, which is one of the most critical enablers for climate action.

We reiterate the call to enhance cooperation and collaboration amongst BRICS countries in the field of biodiversity conservation, sustainable use and equitable access and benefit sharing of biological resources, and also undertake to promote cooperation in biodiversity-related international conventions and fora including on endangered species.

We will continue to collaborate on these issues to ensure the success of the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP14) to be held in Egypt in November 2018, and 70th meeting of the Convention on International Trade In Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Standing Committee in Russia in October 2018. BRICS countries committed to fully support the efforts of China in hosting the COP15 of CBD to be held in 2020. Furthermore, we noted with appreciation Brazil's invitation to BRICS countries to attend and fully participate in the 67th International Whaling Commission (IWC) conference to be held in Brazil from 4 to 14 September 2018.

We reviewed and acknowledged the progress made on the key outcomes of the First, Second and Third BRICS Environment Ministers' Meetings hosted by Russia, India and China respectively. These outcomes included progress with implementation of the Environmentally Friendly Technology Platform, Clean Rivers Umbrella Programme and the Partnership for Urban Environment Sustainability Initiative and undertook to continue to implement these initiatives.

We acknowledge the progress in the establishment of the BRICS Environmentally Sound Technology (BEST) Cooperation Platform. The BEST Platform is intended to be a practical and results orientated, which would include partners, science and international organisations, civil society, private sector and financial institutions, including the New Development Bank (NDB). We will use this BEST Platform as a coordinating mechanism for the implementation of agreed upon projects and programmes under the BRICS Environment Memorandum of Understanding.

We welcome the promotion of cooperation within BRICS in the area of waste management and pollution prevention, in particular the theme of the 4th BRICS Environment Minister's meeting of"Strengthening cooperation amongst BRICS on Circular Economy in the context of the Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP)".

We reaffirm that the promotion of circular approach to Waste Management contributes significantly to the achievement of the SCP Goal as outline in SDG12 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as well as the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) "Towards a Pollution Free Planet" theme.

We acknowledge that the circular economy approach in the context of SCP aims to keepresources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them whilst in use, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of each service life.

We welcome the vast potential in cooperation and collaboration in advancing the Oceans Economy amongst BRICS countries, which encompasses multiple sectors. We will explore enhancing our cooperation on Marine protection and ocean governance taking into account that the scope for cooperation may be limited to the programmes of environmental ministries, although the BRICS Ocean Economy cooperation will seek to influence and cooperate with all sectors of the oceans economy. We undertake to pursue this with the relevant government agencies and stakeholders, including the private sector.

We express our intention to enhance cooperation in the fields of water on the basis of sustainable development in an integrated way, addressing the themes of water security, flood protection, water supply and sanitation, water and climate and systematically facilitating water pollution prevention and control, aquatic ecosystem conservation and water resources management.

We underscore our collective interest in improving our national water infrastructure to secure and manage our natural water sources while considering the traditional knowledge of our indigenous and/or local communities related to water resources and the sustenance thereof.

We welcome the progress in the development on the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Environmental Cooperation and look forward to signing it during the Chairship of South Africa of BRICS.

We also welcome the participation of UN Environment Programme and United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) in BRICS environmental cooperation.

We express our gratitude to the Republic of South Africa for hosting the 3rd Environment Working Group meeting (14 – 16 May 2018), 4th BRICS Environment Senior Officials and Ministers' Meeting in Zimbali, Durban on 17- 18 May 2018.

We welcome the offer of Brazil to host the next BRICS Environment Ministers meeting in 2019.

For media queries, contact

Albi Modise
Cell: 083 490 2871

South Africa hosts fourth BRICS Ministers of Environment Meeting in Durban (В Южной Африке состоялась четвертая встреча министров окружающей среды стран БРИКС в Дурбане) / South Africa, May, 2018
Keywords: ecology, off_docs, concluded_agreements, top_level_meeting
South Africa

South Africa, through the Department of Environmental Affairs, will host the fourth BRICS meeting of Ministers of Environment under the theme: Strengthening cooperation on Circular Economy amongst BRICS Countries, from 17 - 18 May 2018 at Fairmont Zimbali Resort, in Durban.

The BRICS Forum comprises Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa and focuses on key strategic global issues such as the global economy, trade, peace and security and reform of multi-lateral institutions.

The forum also engages on issues related to Agenda 2030 as well as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with the inclusion of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA), adopted in July 2015 with the aim of addressing the challenges of financing and creating an enabling environment for Sustainable Development.

The two day meeting will provide a platform for deliberations on matters that will strengthen cooperation on various environmental issues, with strong focus on circular economy amongst BRICS Countries. This is in line with the draft Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on environmental cooperation between the member countries.

South Africa's Minister of Environmental Affairs, Dr Edna Molewa is confident that the engagements will provide invaluable environment inputs into the forthcoming 10th BRICS Summit which will be attended by Heads of State from the grouping scheduled for July 2018. "We are absolutely confident that our deliberations, particularly with a focus on Circular Economy, will enable all the country members to collectively work together in ensuring an inclusive growth and shared prosperity," said Minister Molewa.

Minister Molewa also believes that "achieving economic growth and sustainable development requires that we urgently reduce our ecological footprint by changing the way we produce and consume goods and resources."

In a Linear Economy, resources are extracted, processed using energy and labour, and sold as goods with the expectation that customers will discard those goods and buy more. This trajectory has exposed the wastefulness of such take–make–dispose systems. It is in response to such wastefulness that Circular Economy, which is in line with SDG12 on Sustainable Consumption and Production, is conceptualised, with a conviction that it can successfully turn 'waste into worth", where nothing is supposed to be lost, while attaching value to "waste", thereby bringing the resources back to the market.

"Circular economy promotes a principle that what can be a waste to someone could be a resource to the next person," said Minister Molewa.

The 4th BRICS Environment Ministers' meeting will also touch on the exploration of the contribution of the environment to the development of the Oceans Economy, through which South Africa aims to unlock economic opportunities within the oceans environment.

For media queries, contact:

Albi Modise
Cell: 083 490 2871
Press release on Acting Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's meeting with Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa David Mabuza (О встрече и.о. Министра иностранных дел России С.В.Лаврова с Вице-президентом Южно-Африканской Республики Д.Мабузой) / Russia, May, 2018
Keywords: sergey_lavrov, top_level_meeting, SA_chairmanship, summit

On May 16, Acting Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa David Mabuza who arrived in the Russian Federation as a special envoy of President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa.

During the engaged discussion of the state and prospects of strategic partnership between Moscow and Pretoria the officials reaffirmed their mutual striving to further deepen the political dialogue and enhance practical cooperation in business where the key role belongs to the Joint Intergovernmental Committee on Trade and Economic Cooperation, as well as in science, technology and the humanitarian area, to name a few.

The Russian side expressed support for the priorities of South Africa's BRICS Presidency and the willingness to help their South African partners hold a successful summit of the Five in Johannesburg on July 25-27, 2018. Deputy President David Mabuza laid emphasis on his country's interest in enhancing foreign policy coordination with Russia and praised its consistent line of principle on supporting the efforts of the African community to find consensus-based solutions to the continent's political and socio-economic issues.

Acting Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's remarks at a meeting of the Foreign Ministry's Council of Heads of Constituent Entities of the Russian Federation, Moscow, May 14, 2018 (Выступление и.о. Министра иностранных дел России С.В.Лаврова на XXXI заседании Совета глав субъектов Российской Федерации при МИД, Москва, 14 мая 2018 года) / Russia, May, 2018
Keywords: sergey_lavrov, quotation, speech, social_issues

Good afternoon, colleagues,

We are opening the 31st meeting of the Council of Heads of Constituent Entities of the Russian Federation.

Our previous meeting was devoted to the Russian regions' interaction with civil society institutions. The recommendations formulated at that time proved to be very useful. I would like to note that work in this area is actively ongoing. Representatives of public associations actively promote the strengthening of interregional and sister-city ties.

A good example is the involvement of NGOs in giving foreign presentations of the Republic of Crimea. The government of the Kurgan Region is actively supporting the activity of the Assembly of the Peoples of the Trans-Urals, which is boosting cooperation with the Assembly of the Peoples of Kazakhstan, and cross-border contacts between regions are being established. Astrakhan NGOs help to reach the region's investment and tourism potential within the framework of Business Caspian – the International Business Cooperation Council of the Chambers of Commerce and Industry of the Caspian Region – and the Caspian Expert Club. I must also note the establishment of the Expert Club to promote the products of regional enterprises in foreign markets at the Ryazan Chamber of Commerce and Industry in January this year.

NGOs of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) cooperate with international organisations such as the Northern Forum and the Association of World Reindeer Herders. The Murmansk Region is working with the Barents Indigenous Peoples' Office.

These are only a few examples of many.

We welcome the expansion of interaction between regions and public associations on Eurasian integration projects. The Ural-Eurasia expert club (Sverdlovsk Region), the Caspian-Eurasia youth centre (Astrakhan Region) and Berlek-Unity (Republic of Bashkortostan) contribute to the deepening of relations with the EAEU countries. The work of the Commonwealth of the Peoples of Eurasia, an Orenburg-based NGO, and the Eurasia charity foundation, which deals with expert interaction in the EAEU area, also deserves acknowledgement.

I would like to note the great attention that the regions pay to cooperation with NGOs in the area of youth exchanges. Among the priority areas of such exchanges are the EAEU, the CIS, BRICS and the SCO. We support the efforts being made, in particular, by the Khabarovsk Territory Government and the local branch of the Russian Union of Youth to organise the Second Forum of Young Leaders of the SCO countries in September this year. Last year, the administrations of the Omsk and Ulyanovsk regions and the Khabarovsk Territory helped launch Russian-Chinese business incubators for young entrepreneurs, which was another promising initiative.

We are in favor of doing more to tap the potential of NGOs from the Russian regions, such as national culture associations, in promoting in other countries the Russian language and other languages spoken in the Russian Federation. Regional programmes to support civil society institutions working with compatriots abroad need further development.

Obviously, development of all these areas requires sufficient resources, as well as better coordination between the agencies, regions and civil society institutions involved. For its part, the Ministry will continue to actively support all these initiatives, which are very useful in terms of enriching our foreign relations, through more active engagement with the Russian regions.

Today's agenda includes interregional cooperation in the context of protecting Russian interests on the international stage, including countering the falsification of history.

Unfortunately, I have to repeat that, over the past few years, we have witnessed an unprecedented campaign to politicise and rewrite history for the sake of momentary political benefit. These efforts have a pronounced anti-Russian theme, and have become an integral component of the so-called policy of containment of our country. The attempts to distort the events of the Great Patriotic War and the Second World War, to revise the outcomes and to belittle the role of the vanquishers of fascism are the most disrespectful of all.

Speaking at the Victory Day parade on May 9, President Vladimir Putin stressed that we will not allow this to happen, not ever. Moreover, such immoral actions obviously lead to the growth of xenophobia, aggressive nationalism, and various forms of intolerance. In the end, all this significantly undermines the architecture of international security, and the modern system of protecting and ensuring human rights.

Interregional relations enable direct dialogue with a wide range of representatives of the foreign public. This work is especially relevant in those countries where attempts to glorify the Nazis are increasingly frequent, along with what is called the war on monuments.

It is clear that today, important steps are being taken at the regional level to defend historical truth. I would like to cite a few examples: the Pskov search scouts have been tending the graves of Soviet soldiers in Lithuania for several years as part of the "On the waves of historical memory" project. The St Petersburg authorities annually organise educational activities in Latvia for local youth. Despite the Russophobic hysteria being whipped up in the United States, Russian regions are actively participating in annual meetings of the Fort Ross Dialogue bilateral sociopolitical conference on preserving Russian-American historical heritage. In the next few days, next week, one of its regular meetings will be held in Veliky Novgorod.

Many regions of the Russian Federation actively promote the Immortal Regiment and St George's Ribbon projects abroad. Regional authorities set up military-tourist tracks, organise historical reenactments, and international exploratory expeditions. Another striking example is the joint Russian-Norwegian trips to memorial sites connected with the liberation of Eastern Finnmark by the Red Army, organised by the Shchit foundation and supported by the Murmansk Region Government.

As regards preventing the falsification of history, I believe it is important to pay special attention to cooperating with our compatriots abroad. Regional programmes for working with Russian communities need to include joint history-related events that would highlight examples of mutually beneficial cooperation at various stages of Russia's relations with the countries concerned, including, of course, glorious dates in the joint fight against Nazism.

We consider it necessary to continue to use the resources of the UN, OSCE, the Council of Europe and other international organisations to promote unbiased information about these historical ties between our country and its foreign partners.


We have one more issue on the agenda, which concerns Yekaterinburg's nomination to host World Expo 2025. Much is already being done. In my opinion, our foreign colleagues have a good chance to see that Yekaterinburg truly has huge potential as one of the largest industrial centres in Russia. Almost all the leading Russian companies are represented in that city, as well as those co-owned by our foreign partners. The city's unique geographical location at the junction of Europe and Asia makes it a major transport hub.

I have to stop here now and would like to give the floor to Acting Governor of the Sverdlovsk Region, Alexei Orlov.

Press release on Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov's meeting with South African Ambassador to Russia Nomasonto Maria Sibanda-Thusi (О встрече заместителя Министра иностранных дел России С.А.Рябкова с Послом ЮАР в России Н.М.Сибанда-Туси) / South Africa, May, 2018
Keywords: SA_chairmanship, summit, top_level_meeting
South Africa

On May 17, Deputy Foreign Minister and Russia's BRICS Sherpa Sergey Ryabkov met with Ambassador of South Africa to Russia Nomasonto Maria Sibanda-Thusi.

The officials had a mutually engaging discussion on a number of issues on the broad agenda of multifaceted cooperation within BRICS, where South Africa is holding the rotating presidency in 2018. They focused their attention on preparations for the BRICS summit in Johannesburg on July 25-27, 2018.

Both sides expressed confidence that during South Africa's BRICS presidency the group will make great strides in strengthening strategic partnership in all three key areas of the organisation's focus: peace and security, economy and finance, and cultural and humanitarian ties.

Sergey Ryabkov praised South Africa's BRICS presidency. Russia will provide all the necessary support to its South African friends in holding a successful BRICS summit.

Press release on Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov's meeting with the delegation of the Chinese People's Association for Peace and Disarmament (О встрече спецпредставителя Президента Российской Федерации по Ближнему Востоку и странам Африки, заместителя Министра иностранных дел России М.Л.Богданова с делегацией Китайского народного общества борьбы за мир и разоружение) / China, May, 2018
Keywords: mofa, top_level_meeting, political_issues

On May 16, Deputy Foreign Minister and Special Presidential Representative for the Middle East and Africa Mikhail Bogdanov met with a delegation of the Chinese People's Association for Peace and Disarmament led by Vice President Zhou Li, currently in Moscow at the invitation of the Russian Afro-Asian Solidarity and Cooperation Committee, at the Russian Foreign Ministry.

During the engaged talk, the parties discussed the developing situation in the Middle East, with an emphasis on the issues of the Syrian settlement and the situation around the Iranian nuclear programme.

The meeting concluded with reaffirming Moscow and Beijing's mutual commitment to support and develop efficient interaction and close coordination on Middle East issues on a bilateral basis at various international platforms, including the UN, BRICS and the SCO.

Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
Russian Diplomat Explains Why Free Trade Zone Not Yet BRICS Priority (Российский дипломат объясняет, почему свободная торговая зона еще не является приоритетом для БРИКС) / Russia, May, 2018
Keywords: trade_relations, expert_opinion, ndb, economic_challenges

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - Creation of a free trade zone is currently not a priority for the member countries of BRICS, however, it is not being ruled out in the future, Head of BRICS Office at Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mikhail Kalugin told Sputnik.

"As for a free trade zone, this is not a priority for BRICS at this point," Kalugin said on Thursday. "I want to note that in the areas of trade and investment, our main priority is removing barriers, simplifying procedures related to trade and investments. This work is always ongoing in the working groups. Given the geographical dispersion of our countries, and differences in the economies — while this is not a priority for us, I would not exclude it in the future."

Kalugin talked to Sputnik on the sidelines of the Doing Business With BRICS conference in Washington, DC, organized by the Eurasia Center and the Eurasian Business Coalition.

The diplomat said that BRICS would eventually increase mutual trade in national currencies although it might take years.

"The financial sector is one of the most promising for BRICS. A lot has already been achieved, and much is still ahead, for example, increasing the role of national currencies in mutual payments. This is one of the most relevant issues, and we are working on it," Kalugin explained. "Of course, it requires time, it can't happen in one day, and it may even require years for a share of a national currency to grow, but I think that it will objectively be happening." He also noted that BRICS nations are working on improving ties between the national rating agencies.

The diplomat also stressed that importance of BRICS cooperation in the banking area.

"Cooperation in the banking area is an important topic for BRICS. We have an active intra-banking dialogue," he explained. "The New Development Bank, which is one of the most visible and important mechanisms of our economic cooperation, is expanding its credit activity every year. As of spring of this year the bank approved 13 projects totaling $3.8 billion. There are more projects at the preparatory stage. The banks' general strategy until 2021 provides that the bank will finance loans for some $15-18 billion."

The New Development Bank was established by BRICS in July 2014 to finance infrastructure and sustainable development projects both within the BRICS and in developing countries.

The MFA's BRICS Office head said that Russia would like to have a platform within BRICS for energy research that would lead to joint projects in this area and boost cooperation on counterterrorism.

"Russia is promoting a number of initiatives. We hope that there will be agreements on them this year as well," Kalugin said. "These initiatives include the creation of a platform for BRICS energy research which would allow the scientists and experts from our countries to exchange information on energy markets, hold joint reviews of energy markets and subsequently launch joint projects in the energy area. We, of course, also hope for strengthening projects on countering terrorism."

Another important initiative is in the area of women entrepreneurship, Kalugin added.

"We would like to establish a BRICS business women alliance where women entrepreneurs could more closely contact with each other, get experience and develop women entrepreneurship of our country," he said. "We also would like to strengthen our joint work in the area of international information security including having framework agreements, mutual support of our initiatives at the UN."

Kalugin added that South Africa, which will host the next BRICS summit on July 25-27, wants to increase cooperation in areas such as counterterrorism and peacekeeping.

The diplomat said that the top diplomats from the BRICS countries would discuss the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that governs Iran's nuclear program at a meeting scheduled to take place in the South African city of Pretoria at the beginning of next month.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov announced earlier in the day the next meeting of top diplomats of Brazil, China, India, Russia and South Africa will take place on June 4.

Kalugin pointed out that the agenda is still being prepared for the meeting, but traditionally the ministers discuss all the current most important issues.

BRICS is an association of five developing economies, which comprise over one third of the world's population. BRICS member-states (China, Russia, Brazil, India and South Africa) have a combined nominal GDP equivalent to approximately 20 percent of the gross world product.
World Bank Sends Analysts to Assess Russia's Business Reforms Implementation (Всемирный банк направляет аналитиков для оценки реализации бизнес-реформ в России) / Russia, May, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, economic_challenges

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - A team of analysts from the World Bank are currently visiting Russia to meet with government and private sector officials to asses the implementation of regulatory reforms, Senior Private Sector Development Specialist at World Bank's Doing Business project Valentina Saltane told Sputnik on Thursday.

"Right now as we speak we have two colleagues that are presently visiting Moscow and St. Petersburg to meet with the government agencies as well as to do an independent assessment of the private sector on the ground, how they experience the reforms implemented by the government," Saltane said.

Saltane noted that the World Bank's Doing Business project visit is part of an active process of engagement, which has seen Russian government officials come to Washington and team members travel to Moscow and St. Petersburg to assess the situation on the ground.

"We have had already delegations this year visiting from Russia and as of now I don't know of there are going to be more in the coming months. But every year we'd get visits on several indicators from the Russian Federation where we meet face to face with the Russian counterparts and discuss the progress of their reforms," she added.

Saltane spoke on the sidelines of the "Doing Business with the BRICS" conference hosted by the Eurasia Center and the Eurasian Business Coalition.

Saltane also noted that Russia, India and China are the most active BRICS countries in terms of implementing reforms and are expected to remain on the same path over the coming years.

Speaking about Russia, Saltane emphasized that much progress has been made in the country over the past few years, noting that Russia is currently ranked 35th out of 190 in the latest World Bank's Doing Business report.

"We've seen a lot of progress in several topics, specifically in the area of starting a business, dealing with construction permits," she explained. "There have also been some changes across the legal topics such as protecting minority investors, and there are a lot of reforms that are stemming from getting the electricity and dealing with construction permits."

"Although a paper trail still exists, a lot of automation has been taking place. You can calculate the price of connection also online and there are different algorithms that are used to calculate the price," she said.

"We have seen that in the area of getting electricity, and we want to see more of that in the area of obtaining a building permit because there are still processes that are still face-to-face and based on the paper trail," she added.

Saltane also said that more efforts must be made to further reduce bureaucratic delays in some areas, particularly construction permits, though she voiced confidence in Russia's commitment to implementing such reforms.

"It's a big sector that's difficult to modify just from year to year," Saltane noted. "There are also some legal reforms that are warranted like the courts need to function better, there should be less delays. The legal reforms that require changing people's mentality or changing the structure of the institutions, they are not low hanging fruits, so it requires strong political commitment, which I think there is much of that in Russia."

The sixth annual conference brought together various experts and officials from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa seeking to expand trade, direct investments and business opportunities, as well as open communication.
Fujian maintains 14th monthly growth in exports to BRICS (Фуцзянь сохраняет рост экспорта в БРИКС 14 месяцев подряд) / China, May, 2018
Keywords: economic_challenges, rating

Fujian's exports growth momentum to BRICS held up in April, with double-digit expansion for the 14th consecutive month, statistics from Xiamen Customs show.

The province's total imports and exports to BRICS topped 8.2 billion yuan ($1.29 billion) in April, up 24.8 percent year-on-year. Exports rose by 35 percent to stand at 3.62 billion yuan and imports surged by 17.9 percent to 4.59 billion yuan.

In the first four months of this year, Fujian's total imports and exports to BRICS topped 29.4 billion yuan, up 14.1 percent year-on-year, with exports up 45.6 percent to 14.01 billion yuan while imports were down 4.5 percent to 15.47 billion yuan.

Specifically, the province's total imports and exports to Brazil amounted to 9.21 billion yuan in the January-to- April period, up 12 percent year-on-year. The figure rose by 29 percent for India to stand at 8.18 billion yuan and by 22.8 percent for the Russia at 5.74 billion yuan. However, it dropped by 3.7 percent to 6.35 billion yuan for South Africa.

Mechanical & electrical products as well as traditional labor-intensive products play a major part in Fujian's exports to BRICS, accounting for 73.3 percent of its total exports to BRICS during the January-April period.

In particular, mechanical & electrical products topped 5.3 billion yuan on a year-on-year growth of 42.2 percent, and traditional labor-intensive products reached 4.9 billion yuan, up 32.1 percent.

Traditional labor-intensive products include textiles, furniture, luggage bags, shoes, plastic goods, toys, and similar items.
IADB and NDB to finance green projects in Brazil (МАБР и НБР проспонсируют зеленые проекты в Бразилии) / United Kingdom, May, 2018
Keywords: ndb, investments, ecology
United Kingdom
Author: Sabrina Dougall

The Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) and the New Development Bank (NDB) are to co-finance sustainable infrastructure projects in Brazil.

No figures have yet been decided upon, and a spokesperson from the IADB tells GTR that "the two banks are working to identify public and private sector opportunities to co-finance" and that "these efforts are still at a very early stage".

An agreement signed between the pair, along with the IADB's private sector arm, IDB Invest, will also lead to collaborative work in other parts of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Among areas up for discussion are infrastructure development, eco-friendly energy resource management, knowledge, resources, skills and technology exchange.

Green energy projects the organisations will co-operate on include clean transportation, renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable water management and sewage treatment.

The spokesperson says: "The new agreement responds to a strong effort led by multilateral development banks to enhance co-operation and mobilise more development financing."

The agreement is in line with the "from billions to trillions" movement, aiming to convert billions of dollars' worth of development bank support into trillions of dollars of investment in order to achieve the UN's 2030 agenda for sustainable development.

The spokesperson says that the agreement "sets the stage for the IADB and NDB to share knowledge and best practices, and provide innovative and integral solutions to help their developing member countries mobilise the expertise needed to advance their development strategies".

The NDB – also known as the BRICS Bank – established by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa and officially opened in 2015, finances infrastructure and sustainable projects in emerging market economies. In 2016, the board of directors approved its initial set of loans – totalling US$1.5bn – for seven projects in transportation and green energy. The first of these was the Shanghai Lingang distributed solar power project which began operating in April this year. Last month the bank jointly disbursed US$67.3mn to finance six wind farms in northeast Brazil.

IDB Invest supports sustainable Latin American and Caribbean businesses to maximise economic and social development for the region. It has a portfolio of US$11.2bn under management and 330 clients in 23 countries.
Brazil Interested in Taking BRICS' NDB Participation 'To the Next Level' (Бразилия заинтересована в продвижении НБР БРИКС "на следующий уровень") / Brazil, May, 2018
Keywords: ndb, economic_challenges, expert_opinion

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - Brazil is interested in enhancing the New Development Bank, which was established by the BRICS group of emerging economies, secretary of the Economic Section at the Brazilian Embassy in the United States, Diogo Ramos Coelho, told Sputnik.

"The BRICS has been very successful in establishing the NDB and strengthening it," Coelho said. "There is a strong interest of the Brazilian government to strengthen the NDB: To make it stronger and even to increase the participation of countries in the bank, to take it to the next level, to have more projects."

The New Development Bank was established by BRICS in July 2014 to finance infrastructure and sustainable development projects both within the BRICS and in developing countries.

Coelho also pointed out that cooperation within the BRICS is growing, and stressed that it is now a very good moment for integration between the developing economies.

"We face a lot of difficulties in terms of multilateralism and to have the group together and stronger is, of course, in interest of Brazil," he said. "This administration is really focused on increasing cooperation with the BRICS."

Coelho also noted that BRICS serves as a good platform for expanding and enhancing ties between Russia and Brazil.

"Our partnership with Russia has grown a lot in recent years, and Brazil is really interested in strengthening ties with Russia, not only in economic terms but also in cultural terms," Coelho said. "Using the BRICS platform is a good way to increase that cooperation."

Coelho stressed that Brazil's government has a strong focus on promoting stronger economic and cultural ties between the countries.

The Brazilian diplomat was speaking on the sidelines of the "Doing Business with the BRICS" conference in Washington, organized by the Eurasia Center and the Eurasian Business Coalition.
Political Events
Political events in the public life of BRICS
Solar project powers up Northern Cape (Солнечный проект активирует Северный Кейп) / South Africa, May, 2018
Keywords: innovations
South Africa

Energy Minister Jeff Radebe will on Friday launch the Xina Solar One Concentrated Solar Power Project in the Northern Cape.

The Solar One is one of 7 Concentrated Solar Power Projects under the Department of Energy's Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP).

Taking place in Pofadder the launch is expected to get underway at 11am.

The launch is held during the month of May which has been declared as energy month.

The Department of Energy hosts several event activities during this month to create a culture of energy saving and efficiency.

Today's launch follows on the signing 27 renewable energy projects in last month, contributing to diversified sources of energy to enter the energy mix.

The projects were signed under Bid Windows 3.5 and 4 of the REIPPPP.

Meanwhile, the department is also set to host the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Youth Energy Roundtable discussion and a guided tour of UWC's PetroSA Synthetic Fuels Research Centre at the University of Western in Cape Town today.

"The round table discussion and the guided tour forms part of the BRICS technical meeting that got underway on Thursday. The objective of the roundtable is to get students to discuss and make contributions on energy saving and energy efficiency by BRICS countries. This will include discussions on energy efficiency collaboration projects."

The department will also use the roundtable to create awareness on career development and economic development opportunities available within the energy sector.

"The department recognises that there is a need to educate students and other stakeholders on Energy as a driver and developer of the economy."

The session will take place under the theme: "Promoting an affordable and sustainable energy mix in support of radical socio-economic transformation".

Briefing media ahead of the tabling of the department's Budget Vote speech in Parliament on Wednesday, Minister Radebe said he would like to see the energy sector contributing 25% of the targeted US$100 billion in investment that was announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa. -
Brics, Venezuela and fight against crime fill Brazil presidential in-tray (БРИКС, Венесуэла и борьба с преступностью составляют президентскую кампанию в Бразилии) / United Kingdom, May, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, national_security
United Kingdom
Author: Oliver Stuenkel

After 16 years of unprecedented foreign policy activism under Presidents Fernando Cardoso and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Brazil's visibility on the international stage declined markedly under Dilma Rousseff (2011-2016) and Michel Temer, her successor. To some extent, the swings might be explained by a leader's personal preferences. Mr Cardoso and Lula enjoyed presidential diplomacy and travelled frequently. Ms Rousseff disliked air travel and had little patience for diplomatic intricacies.

Yet a closer look reveals that the factor that shapes Brazil's foreign policy is more one of global dynamics that the president cannot control. Lula, in particular, enjoyed favourable macroeconomic conditions: low global interest rates and high commodity prices boosted growth and led to high approval ratings at home, allowing him to pursue an activist foreign policy.

Remarkably, Brazil was the world's second biggest contributor to global growth in the first decade of the 21st century. When the global financial crisis of 2008 began and a global leadership vacuum emerged, Lula and his ambitious foreign minister Celso Amorim saw an opportunity to consolidate Brazil's more prominent role — such as by co-founding the Brics grouping and taking the lead in several hotspots around the world, be it the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti or negotiating a nuclear deal with Iran.

Lula's successor, Ms Rousseff, faced less benign global circumstances, mostly because of lower commodity prices, made worse by disastrous interventionist policies at home, that led to economic collapse, public discontent and political instability after 2013. With approval ratings in the single digits and a lagging economic recovery, Michel Temer's scandal-ridden presidency, mostly focused on day-to-day survival, has provided little space for an assertive foreign policy.

For the next government, the global outlook is far from ideal. The spectre of rising US interest rates limits Brazil's growth prospects and commodity prices are unlikely to return to their 2011 peak soon. What seems like the return of great power politics poses a severe threat. Lacking hard power, Brazil is highly dependent on functioning and predictable global rules and norms. A China and US trade war may offer a few sector-specific opportunities but they will not offset the systemic cost generated by higher uncertainty.

And yet, provided that a moderate candidate moves into Planalto Palace on January 1 2019, chances exist for a more innovative foreign policy. Equipped with greater legitimacy, a full four-year mandate and higher approval ratings than the Temer government, its successor has a chance to use foreign affairs to help Brazil face its most urgent domestic problems.

First, a wave of new governments in the region will provide Brazil's new president with an opportunity to lead — together with Argentina, Colombia and Chile — an urgent debate about the future of South America. The region's failure to articulate a clear vision and to co-operate more effectively on a host of issues — ranging from the fight against corruption, organised crime, anti-drug policies, the environment and how to respond to the rise of China in the region — leaves national governments unable to tackle the majority of domestic problems. Organised crime thinks and acts globally and is generally able to outfox Latin American governments that often remain remarkably disconnected from each other. Since Brazil represents half of South America's territory, population and economy, without a more open-minded and assertive government no real progress is likely towards deeper continental integration.

Secondly, the country should seek to reclaim the leading role in the international community's response to the humanitarian catastrophe in Venezuela. Its collapse was partly made possible by Brazil's unwillingness to take a more critical stance early on, mainly because it did not want to endanger the profits of its companies operating there. Brazil's next president should lead a global effort to force the government in Caracas to accept large-scale humanitarian aid and create a regional fund to help Venezuelan migrants integrate and prosper in their host societies.

Finally, Mr Temer's successor should emphasise Brazil's OECD accession process, while also deepening its engagement in the Brics grouping [with Russia, India, China and South Africa], making it the only country to be part of both OECD and the Brics — a powerful symbol of the country's role in the emerging multipolar order.

Given its growing dependence on Asia, the Brics status has never been more valuable to Brazil. The next president will assume the pro tempore presidency of the grouping — which involves organising the 11th Brics Summit in 2019 — and play host to the heads of government of the other Brics nations as well as a number of presidents from the region.

It will be a unique chance for Brazil to present to the international community a new narrative and lay out a clear plan of how to recover from one of the worst economic crises of the country's history.

The writer is an associate professor in the school of international relations at the Fundação Getulio Vargas in São Paulo
Ramaphosa appoints Mabuza as Russia envoy (Рамафоса назначил Мабузу специальным посланником в России) / South Africa, May, 2018
Keywords: job_assignment
South Africa
Author: Khulekani Magubane

President Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed Deputy President David Mabuza as his special envoy to Russia, according to a statement from the Presidency.

The move appears to set a point of departure on South Africa's role in the BRICS group of emerging economies which include Brazil, Russia, India and China. South Africa has been tight-lipped on the grouping since Ramaphosa replaced former president Jacob Zuma in February.

Russia's relations with South Africa in recent years have been loaded with intriguing twists, including Russia's ambitions to spearhead South Africa's now shelved nuclear build programme.

Mabuza will hit the ground running and meet with Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Tuesday to congratulate him on behalf of Ramaphosa and the South African government on his re-election as Russian president in March.

"President Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed Deputy President David Mabuza as his Special Envoy to the Russian Federation, where he will, among other things, meet with President Vladimir Putin in Russia.

"President Ramaphosa looks forward to further strengthening the already existing political, economic and trade ties between South Africa and Russia," the statement said.

The statement said Ramaphosa would host Putin along with other heads of state in the BRICS grouping of emerging economy nations at the BRICS Summit scheduled to take place in South Africa in late July 2018. — Fin24
World of work
Social policy, trade unions, actions
South Africa to chair 2018 BRICS Summit (ЮАР проведет Саммит БРИКС 2018) / South Africa, May, 2018
Keywords: off_docs, SA_chairmanship, summit
South Africa

DURBAN - In a media statement about the budget vote of the Ministry of International Relations Cooperation, Minister Lindiwe Sisulu spoke about the upcoming BRICS summit.

The 20th BRICS Summit will be taking place from the 25th to the 27th of July 2018. South Africa will be chairing BRICS for 2018.

In the statement, the minister spoke about new areas of BRICS cooperation that have been proposed.

These new areas include:

1. A working group on peacekeeping
2. The creation of a vaccine research centre
3. The creation of the BRICS gender and women forum.
4. The BRICS strategic partnership towards the progress of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
5. The establishment of the BRICS Tourism TracK of cooperation.

South Africa has determined that an outreach that will take place with African leaders will ensure continuities from 2013 as well as support for African industrialisation and infrastructure development.

For this outreach various African countries have been invited in various capacities including Rwanda as the Chair of the African Union, Namibia as the incoming Chair of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and Togo as the Chair of the Economic Community of West Africa.

The Head of the NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa's Development) agency, the President of African Development Bank and six REC's (regional executive committee) secretaries-general have also been invited.

South Africa will also be hosting another event on the borders of the 10th BRICS Summit. The event which is called BRICS Plus Outreach is being held to ensure maximum cooperation between the South African chairship of BRICS and the Chinese chairship in 2017.

Countries like Argentina, Indonesia, Egypt, and Turkey have been invited for BRICS Plus Outreach. The Secretary-General of the United Nations will also be invited for the outreach.
WATCH: Brics Business Council ready to welcome 1000 business leaders (Видео: Бизнес-совет БРИКС готов приветствовать 1000 бизнес-лидеров) / South Africa, May, 2018
Keywords: top_level_meeting, Business_Council
South Africa
Author: Adri Senekal de Wet

CAPE TOWN - South Africa is ready to welcome 1 000 business leaders to the country. Preparations for the Brics Business Council meeting in Durban on July 22 and 23 are at an advanced stage, as are those for the Brics Business Forum, which will be held in Gauteng on July 25.

"The Brics Business Council meeting and the Brics Business Council Forum present the ideal opportunity to meet the requirements set by President Cyril Ramaphosa to attract significant foreign investment to the country and continent," said Dr Iqbal Survé, chairman of the South African chapter of the Brics Business Council.

Dr Survé has been on the Brics Business Council since its inception, contributing to continuity of leadership and understanding of the mechanisms, protocols, logistics and preparation required for the annual meeting.

"The Brics Business Council in South Africa is fortunate to have business leaders such as Busisiwe Mabuza, Siyabonga Gama, Stavros Nicoloau and Sello Rasethaba at the helm.

"They have intensified efforts, together with its working groups, to produce the working group reports and the fifth annual report of the Brics Business Council," said Dr Survé.

"The Brics Business Council themes for this year include the fourth industrial revolution, youth entrepreneurship and food security.

"In addition to the Brics Business Council annual meeting, the working groups will host events throughout the year of our chairmanship, including a skills development competition at the end of September, with a focus on the skills required in the fourth industrial revolution.

"At the end of the day we measure our success by how many investments we facilitate, how many jobs are being created, and how our countries and our businesses benefited directly.

"Looking through the four previous annual reports, it is clear that much has been achieved.

"We continue this upward trajectory of building on the dynamic business, trade and investment relationships among the Brics countries," said Dr Survé.

Invitations are being sent to leading business people in Brics countries and from African states

Chairpersons in the four other Brics countries have been formally invited, and they are said to be excited to return to Durban, where the Brics Business Council was signed into existence at the Brics Summit in March 2013.

The SA Chapter of the Brics Business Council, which is hosting the five member countries, is working at record speed to arrange the meetings, as South Africa took over the chairmanship only in March this year.

"It is traditional that the Brics Business Council and Brics Summit are held in two different cities since the inception of the Brics Business Council, and we are upholding this practice.

"We thank the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government and its Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs for working with us to showcase our country and our work to the world.

"We are proud to bring the Brics Business Council full cycle," said Dr Survé.

Hundreds of delegates will be able to enjoy being in Durban, one of the most beautiful cities in South Africa, boosting tourism in the country.

Qatar University to Co-host 2019 Times Higher Education BRICS and Emerging Economies Universities Summit (Катарский университет совместно проведет в 2019 году саммит Times Higher Education по университетам стран БРИКС и стран с формирующимся рынком) / Qatar, May, 2018
Keywords: social_issues

Doha, May 15 (QNA) - Qatar University (QU) will host the 2019 Times Higher Education BRICS and Emerging Economies Universities Summit on January 14-16, 2019, in collaboration with the Times Higher Education (THE).

The event, first of its kind in the Arab world, will bring together experts from THE and top leaders from the university and industry sectors to share their experiences in building and developing knowledge economies for high-value returns to societies of emerging economies and developing countries.
QU President Dr. Hassan Al Derham said the event, which first of its kind in the Arab world, aligns with Qatar's pioneering role in education in the region. It is also the second THE summit organized by QU as the University hosted in 2015 the first edition of the Times Higher Education MENA Universities Summit.

"The summit will explore strategies for driving up quality in teaching, research and knowledge transfer; leadership challenges facing institutions in developing economies; and how industry partnerships can prepare students for employment. Such priorities are already underlined by Qatar National Vision 2030 and Qatar University's strategy 2018-2022, which maps out the routes to achieving continuing performance excellence building on our achievements in our key areas of education, research, institution and engagement," he added.

THE Editorial Director, Global Rankings Phil Baty said: "We are delighted to be working on this summit with Qatar University one of the most internationally-focused universities in the world, based at one of the most beautiful university campuses in the world. Qatar's focus on driving up the quality of research and the pace of innovation, and its focus on aligning graduate skills with the needs of the economy, make it a perfect national case study for the event, and Doha's location as a major global transport hub makes it the perfect location to bring together universities from over 40 countries across four continents: Europe, Africa, Asia and South America." (QNA)
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