Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum

Monitoring of the economic, social and labor situation in the BRICS countries
Issue 32.2022
2022.08.08 — 2022.08.14
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
The dilemma of including Argentina in BRICS (Дилемма включения Аргентины в БРИКС) / Greece, August, 2022
Keywords: brics+, expert_opinion

It has been established that BRICS is one of the most unusual groupings in global politics. The countries that are signified by the acronym – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa at first glance have precious little tying them together. However, upon deeper reflection similarities, albeit not in the traditional sense of regional groupings, start to arise.

The group was originally conceived as a bunch of countries that had an extremely bright economic future. Academic courses about BRICS and their economics and the investment in BRICS were commonly found in universities famous for MBAs, however, it is important to realise that economies are often intertwined with domestic and global politics and don't always follow a linear path towards growth. As BRICS acquired new dimensions to its existence it was also simultaneously dubbed as a forum on the verge of a collapse. However, BRICS is yet to fade into any sort of oblivion and there aren't any indications of its prophesied demise.

The grouping has become a beacon for south-south cooperation and has managed to survive and grow despite the disputes within the member countries. The border dispute between India and China, the domestic politics of Brazil under Jair Bolsonaro, and now the Russia – Ukraine conflict were all issues that were predicted to be the final nail in the proverbial coffin for BRICS; the grouping however, has survived. A larger reason behind this survival is the core philosophy of the grouping which is to provide an alternative to prevalent global political systems that have originated and benefit the global south.

Another reason is that most of the member countries are also a part of other multilateral groups with each other. The RIC or Russia – India – China is often seen as the prototype from which BRICS was derived. The RIC is definitely an easier group as it consists of members that are geographically proximate with each other. There is also IBSA which is India, Brazil, and South Africa as well as larger organisations like the G7, and G20 that have BRICS member nations as their members as well.

It is not only that BRICS has managed to survive but also make strides in south – south cooperation especially with the New Development bank or the NDB which was conceived as an alternative to the IMF. The recent developments in global politics have renewed the interest of other nations in BRICS. Argentina and Iran have shown interest in joining the BRICS. While this is not the first time that Argentina has been a part of the BRICS summit as an observer nation, during the regimes of Mauricio Macri and also in the Kirchner era, Argentina has become a part of the BRICS observer nations. As Argentina now moves closer to China, the nation's burgeoning interest in the grouping should be seen in context of greater geopolitical shifts in global politics at the moment. China has supported Argentina's bid to become a member of the BRICS and this comes closely after the nation became a part of the Chinese trillion-dollar infrastructural Belt and Road Initiative.

It must also be noted that Alberto Fernandez met with Putin and received a warm welcome right before he signed an agreement with the BRI. These meetings preceded the recent Russia – Ukraine conflict and could be seen as a function of the growing distance between Argentina and the US specifically, and Latin America and the US in general. The Argentine foreign minister Santiago Cafiero also visited India and was received with open arms. The growing congeniality between nations of Latin America and India was manifested in this meeting.

A possible induction of Argentina into the BRICS would not be too far away from reality. However, there are certain reservations that one has to be mindful of. One of the most fundamental questions that is raised is that we need two countries from the same region. While it seems like a genuine concern; when one sees it in context of India, Russia, and China – the three giants from Asia who are a part of BRICS; this concern dissipates. The other concern is that Argentina would be too close to China due to becoming a part of the BRI and therefore would tilt things in favour of China within the dynamics of BRICS. The validity of this concern cannot be trivialised, however, Argentina also has robust trade relations with India, and looks towards India and Russia for political support; Argentina and Brazil are not only neighbours but also enjoy cordial relations with each other as well as considerable trade between the two in addition to being members of MERCOSUR. Another issue raised is that Argentina does not bring with it the same economic potential as the other members. But if one was to look at precedents, when South Africa became a member of the original BRIC effectively making it BRICS; it also did not offer the same economic potential as the other members.

One has to remember that the core philosophy of the BRICS is to empower South – South cooperation and Argentina and/or Iran becoming a part of the grouping only strengthens that dream. One can expect bureaucratic hoops to be a part of this induction process if it happens.
Source: Financial Express

BRICS Political and Geopolitical Challenges: A View from the South (Политические и геополитические вызовы БРИКС: взгляд с юга) / Russia, August, 2022
Keywords: political_issues, expert_opinion

The recent XIV virtual summit of the BRICS, hosted and chaired by China, has fostered a revitalisation of the group. It is occurring within the framework of a complex and uncertain transition and reconfiguration of the international system.

The recent BRICS gathering was held in the context of the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, shortly after the G7 and NATO summits in June. It was held after the conflict in Ukraine had prompted the West to impose economic sanctions on Russia, causing a boomerang effect which resulted in a global economic slowdown and an increase in inflation in most countries, in the framework of a possible global economic recession. Within this context, the BRICS are seen as an alternative to the G7 countries, grouping together five of the most dynamic emerging economies, which are positioning themselves as a decisive factor in the global governance architecture and as a voice of the 'Global South' that advocates an economic and political alternative to the West. According to the World Bank, by 2019 the five members of the BRICS represented 42% of the planet's population, 24% of world GDP and more than 16% of global growth. Although these figures should be reviewed in light of the current global economic situation, it cannot be ignored that these nations abound in strategic natural resources, enjoy the greatest biodiversity on the planet and have contributed in recent years to 50% of the Gross Product of the planet.

Since its creation in 2009, the bloc has significantly increased trade and investment among its members (particularly during 2021), with China, which became the second largest economy in the world, as its main player. It has gained ground as a recognised institution and has given rise to the creation of the New Development Bank (NDB) to support its members, while helping to stabilise bilateral relations between some of them, such as India and China, which are working to address ongoing border disputes. Additionally, according to Brazilian analyst Oliver Stuenkel, "despite different political systems, economic characteristics, and geopolitical rivalries, the BRICS members share a profound scepticism of the US international liberal order and the perceived danger that unipolarity represents to their interests."

Despite its heterogeneity and its frequent dismissal by Western analysts, the group has emerged as an alternative political bloc, contesting unipolarity and Western dominance in the international liberal order in order to promote an alternative global economic and diplomatic strategy.

In this context, the expansion of the BRICS has accelerated due to three factors, "first, the intense East-West confrontation; second, the deepening of "BRICS Plus cooperation"; and third, demands for the inclusion of "node" countries "with clear national strengths and obvious location advantages", according to Nian Peng of the Research Centre for Asian Studies in Haikou, China.

The Summit's agenda addressed a series of measures to increase economic cooperation and advance development among its member countries and expressed its willingness to promote multilateralism and ensure world peace and stability. Among other initiatives in terms of increasing cooperation, one important measure in this regard was the creation in March 2022 of a vaccine research and development centre through the collaboration of the five members.

On the other hand, in the framework of the Summit, Russia proposed the development of a de-dollarised financial space between its economies — already pre-announced with the creation of a de-dollarised Eurasian space and the growing exchange in national currencies in the region as a result of Western sanctions. In this regard, the Russian Federation has fostered a joint strategy between the members of BRICS, the SCO and the EAEU to increase payments in national currencies in their mutual trade. Similarly, taking up China's proposal for a 'BRICS Plus', announced at the 2017 Summit in Xiamen, the expansion of the bloc with the incorporation of new members from the group of emerging economies was included in the recent Summit, as the BRICS view themselves as an expression of the Global South. Beyond the eminently technical visions of economic articulation and cooperation among its members, the possibility of enlargement has given rise to several political and geopolitical challenges for the BRICS.
It's high time for a change. Washington has only itself to blame for growing de-dollarization trend (Пришло время перемен. Вашингтон может винить только себя в растущей тенденции к дедолларизации) / Russia, August, 2022
Keywords: economic_challenges, expert_opinion

Moscow is determined to launch a counter-offensive against Western sanctions and the dollar-centric global financial system, writes Chineese "Global Times", analyzing the financial struggle between Moscow and the West..

After the breakout of the Russia-Ukraine conflict early this year, US-led Western governments imposed a raft of sweeping financial sanctions on Moscow including freezing its foreign exchange reserves. The thought the US may move to grab anybody's assets who refuses to obey Washington's dictates is truly unnerving, which is now inducing more countries to diversify their reserve assets away from US dollars.

In recent years with the increased weaponization of the dollar and Washington's penchant to use the dollar to sanction the so-called "unruly" countries in America's eyes, many countries in the world have awakened and begun to experiment trading in their own national currencies and using other payment as well trade settlement systems other than the SWIFT code (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication), which is largely at the disposal of the US government.

Since the 2008-09 global financial crisis which originated in the US, and quickly escalated into a global catastrophe, caused an economic tsunami pummeling all the countries and regions, more governments and central banks are exploring paths to break away from the dollar settlement and payment system, however, they have largely failed to make any headway to dent the dollar's global dominating position.

But this time, Russia wants to do something different, as Moscow is determined to launch a counter-offensive against Western sanctions and the dollar-centric global financial system. The brave measure, Russian economists say, immediately helped stabilize the value of the ruble and significantly defuse the negative impact of the Western sanctions – in addition to crude oil and natural gas Moscow extends the requirement for importers of Russia's grain, chemical fertilizers and other big-ticket products to transact in rubles, instead of dollars or euros.

Russia's highly daring and innovative move to stabilize its own currency in time of difficulty has greatly incentivized other governments to follow suit. Now, there are media reports saying the BRICS countries are seeking to discuss deepening trade in their own currencies. For example, the R5 initiative has been proposed, targeting the use of the respective national currencies of BRICS - ruble (Russia), rupee (India), rand (South Africa), real (Brazil) and renminbi (China), to help settle trade among themselves.

Therefore, the unprecedented Western sanctions imposed on Russia, including restrictions on its central bank, now increasingly threaten to dilute the dominance of the US dollar and may result in a more fragmented international monetary system.

The significance of Moscow's de-dollarization drive is that it is the most radical of de-dollarization measures taken by a sovereign nation. Russia has not only implemented de-dollarization measures domestically, but is also taking some tough measures in testing its own financial information exchange system.

Actually, Washington has only itself to blame. Since the US is stubbornly tethered to impeding and hurting other economies, its competitors have no obligations to embrace the outdated Bretton Woods system and help the US maintain the dollar hegemony.

The dollar's decades-long dominance has placed America in a strong position to dictate the terms of global trade and finance for the last 70 years.

It's high time for a change.

13 countries show interest in BRICS — China's ambassador (13 стран проявляют интерес к БРИКС — посол Китая) / Russia, August, 2022
Keywords: brics+

Argentina and Iran in June 2022 applied to join BRICS

MOSCOW, August 21. /TASS/. Thirteen countries have shown an interest in BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and they have put forward promising and strategic ideas for the group's development in the future, Chinese Ambassador to Moscow Zhang Hanhui said in a special interview with TASS on Saturday.

"Not only did leaders of the BRICS five [nations] took part in three BRICS+ events, but also the leaders of 13 other developing countries. By focusing on such issues as the improvement of the BRICS mechanism, global governance, the joint fight against the pandemic and economic recovery, the participants achieved some innovative and important institutional results and put forward promising and strategic ideas to address the urgent challenges facing humanity and the future development of BRICS," he noted.

Argentina and Iran in June 2022 applied to join BRICS. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said these countries are worthy candidates for joining BRICS and the preparatory process for expanding the organization has already been started.

Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
Creating new global financial system is irreversible – Russian Foreign Ministry (Создание новой мировой финансовой системы необратимо – МИД России) / Russia, August, 2022
Keywords: economic_challenges, quotation

Mechanisms for settlements in national and alternative Western currencies have been successfully created with some states, said Alexander Pankin, deputy head of the department

MOSCOW, August 20. /TASS/. Creating a financial system for a multipolar world is already an irreversible process, Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Pankin said in an interview with TASS.

"Mechanisms for settlements in national and currencies other than Western ones have been successfully created with a number of nations, and the possibility of paying in rubles for certain categories of Russia's export goods, including energy and food products, has been set up. The BRICS, SCO, and other international platforms have intensified their multilateral discourse on the subject," he said.

"This not only solves the tasks of ensuring Russia's foreign trade operations, but lays the groundwork for the financial system of the multipolar world. In a certain sense, this process is already irreversible," the diplomat added.

Back in June, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that creating an international reserve currency based on the currencies of the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) was in the works.

World of Work
Examining the agriculture induced Environmental Kuznets Curve hypothesis in BRICS economies: The role of renewable energy as a moderator (Изучение гипотезы экологической кривой Кузнеца, вызванной сельским хозяйством, в странах БРИКС: роль возобновляемых источников энергии в качестве модератора) / India, August, 2022
Keywords: research


This study uses the economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) to examine how economic growth, agriculture, renewable energy, information and communication technology (ICT) and human capital affect carbon emission during the period of 1990–2019. Several econometric techniques such as Pedroni Cointegration test, Mean Group techniques and Pairwise granger causality test are employed. The result from Augmented Mean Group suggests the existence of agriculture induced environmental Kuznets curve hypothesis for BRICS economies. The roles of both the renewable energy and ICT use are negative and significant on the carbon emission. Furthermore, the moderation effect of renewable energy with agriculture shows that it can moderate the agriculture's positive contribution towards the climate change while the moderation effect of ICT and human capital with agriculture do not yield any significant outcomes. The pairwise granger causality result further establishes bidirectional causality between CO2 emission and renewable energy, ICT and CO2, agriculture and GDP, ICT and GDP, renewable energy and agriculture as well as between renewable energy and ICT. Finally, the study provides policy implications and insights for the BRICS governments and policymakers in their efforts to tackle the climate change through the use of renewable energy.
BRICS Expert Level Workshop on Disaster Management Held (Состоялся экспертный семинар БРИКС по управлению стихийными бедствиями) / China, August, 2022
Keywords: cooperation

Hosted by the Ministry of Emergency Management of China, the BRICS Expert Level Workshop on Disaster Management was held virtually in Beijing on July 26, 2022. Representatives of disaster management agencies, experts and scholars of BRICS countries, as well as those representing disaster management agencies of Argentina, Kazakhstan, Nigeria and Nepal and relevant international agencies, attended the workshop. The participants shared their experience and best practices in key areas of disaster management, such as comprehensive disaster risk monitoring, early warning and assessment, the building-up of emergency rescue forces, post-disaster recovery and reconstruction, and the role of science, technology and informatization in supporting disaster risk reduction.

In its statement, the Chinese side called on BRICS countries to further improve the disaster management cooperation mechanism and jointly enhance their respective capacities of disaster management. China highlighted the need to promote the BRICS Plus cooperation in practical and results-oriented way to support the leading role played by UN agencies in global disaster governance, and to actively implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Global Development Initiative. Representatives of other participating parties expressed their willingness to strengthen communication and coordination concerning national disaster risk reduction strategies and policies, develop technical cooperation and exchanges, and work together to respond to disaster risks and challenges.
BRICS Urban Search and Rescue Simulation Exercise Held (Проведены симуляционные учения БРИКС по городскому поисково-спасательному делу) / China, August, 2022
Keywords: social_issues

Hosted by the Ministry of Emergency Management of China, and as part of the effort to implement the consensus reached during the 14th BRICS Summit on encouraging cooperation in the field of emergency rescue and response, the BRICS Urban Search and Rescue Simulation Exercise was held both onsite and online in Beijing at the National Earthquake Response Support Service of China on July 27-29, 2022. Seven urban search and rescue teams from BRICS countries and more than 100 observers, including those from Argentina, Nigeria and Nepal, participated in the exercise virtually. The participating teams exchanged useful experience and practices in responding to disasters, so as to jointly enhance their emergency rescue and response capabilities.

The exercise simulated the whole procedure of carrying out international humanitarian rescue operations, by way of imitating earthquake disaster scenarios and setting up secondary disaster rescue tasks and tabletop exercises. In addition, the participating teams shared their good practices in emergency response system and rescue capacity building respectively. The exercise was a success, which improved the participating teams' emergency response, coordination and action capabilities, and enhanced mutual understanding, trust and friendship.

The Chinese side emphasized that safeguarding lives involves great responsibility and humanitarian rescue operations are proud missions. China is willing to deepen practical cooperation in disaster management with all parties, so as to jointly respond to the challenges of major disasters and accidents, safeguard the safety and well-being of people in all countries, and promote the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Global Development Initiative.

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