Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum

Monitoring of the economic, social and labor situation in the BRICS countries
Issue 39.2022
2022.09.26 — 2022.10.02
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
BRICS nations call for more cooperation on disaster management (Страны БРИКС призывают к расширению сотрудничества в борьбе со стихийными бедствиями) / China, September, 2022
Keywords: cooperation, ecology

The BRICS nations — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — have pledged to boost cooperation on disaster management against the backdrop of exacerbating climate change, increasingly frequent natural disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic.

They will "strengthen exchange and cooperation on national strategic plans, policies, regulations and standards in the field of disaster risk prevention and mitigation, so as to promote strategic cooperation", according to a joint declaration released after the third Meeting of BRICS Ministers for Disaster Management, which was held virtually on Friday.

Hosted by China's Ministry of Emergency Management, the meeting was themed "Promoting the modernization of the disaster prevention and management capacity, contributing to the high-quality development of BRICS countries".

More high-level visits and experience sharing among management and technical staff will be carried out, it said, as BRICS nations strive to promote cooperation among disaster management agencies, and improve the disaster management capacities of their professionals.

Among the key sectors where BRICS countries plan to increase cooperation are risk monitoring, early warning and assessment, work safety prevention, capacity building for emergency rescue forces and post-disaster recovery and reconstruction.

They are also committed to jointly applying for cooperation projects from international organizations and institutions, as well as developing joint research and promoting technological innovations.

Supporting the central role of the United Nations in international cooperation on risk reduction, they will continue to promote the implementation of the 2015 Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015-2030), the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The countries also reaffirmed that they will continue to support and promote exchange and cooperation with other countries and international organizations in the area of disaster management.

In his keynote speech to the meeting, Wang Xiangxi, minister of emergency management, stressed the importance the Chinese government attaches to natural disaster control and its willingness to strengthen cooperation with other BRICS nations on disaster management.

Adhering to a people-centered development philosophy and holding the belief that nothing is more precious than life, China has accelerated efforts to promote the modernization of its emergency management system to curb major accidents, he said.

As influential emerging economies and developing nations, the minister said that BRICS countries all suffer from natural disasters and so there is consensus on multiplying exchange and cooperation to strengthen disaster mitigation capabilities.

Aside from sharing its experience in tackling disasters, China is also willing to boost innovation in the development of emergency management technologies, he noted.

Wang said he looked forward to seeing more in-depth and pragmatic "BRICS Plus" cooperation on disaster management, as joint efforts are made to accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and foster a shared global community of development.

Friday's event was the third meeting of BRICS ministers for disaster management. The two previous meetings were held in St. Petersburg, Russia, and Udaipur, India, both in 2016.

BRICS Countries Should Join Hands to Innovate Affordable Scientific Solutions (Страны БРИКС должны объединить усилия для разработки доступных научных решений) / India, September, 2022
Keywords: quotation, innovations

Union Minister of state for Science and Technology, Jitendra Singh called for a joint fight against common challenges.

Addressing the 10th BRICS meet of Science and Technology ministers through virtual mode, the minister said that Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) face many similar challenged such as ensuring food, affordable healthcare and energy access for its people and addressing environmental problems like climate change, and biodiversity loss.

Singh said that in order to resolve these challenges, it is imperative for the countries to join hands to innovate affordable scientific solutions. "There are several areas where the lives of our people are directly benefited from our mutual cooperation like the establishment of a vaccine R&D centre, BRICS network university, establishment of shred satellite constellation and mutual recognition of pharma products."

He added that BRICS young scientist conclave, BRICS youth summits, BRICS sports and increase in exchanges among the scientific organizations, researchers and civil society have also strengthened the people-to-people contact. "BRICS countries must deepen cooperation in areas like health, agriculture, water, renewable energy, biotechnology, electric mobility, ICT, AI, robotics and environment. The network of BRICS countries can collaborate to develop joint science and technology (S&T) solutions, commercialized to fit their local economies," the minister said.

Singh said that India will support BRICS efforts in developing innovative and inclusive solutions, including digital and technological tools to promote sustainable development and facilitate affordable and equitable access to global public goods for all. "In time to come, BRICS will hold global importance for being the most populated marketplace, driven by the knowledge economy and underlined that they can collaborate to develop joint S&T solutions suited to local economies."

He said that in the last eight years the Indian government's R&D expenditure has almost doubled. For 2022 budget, Rupees 14,800 Crore has been allocated for Ministry of Science and Technology. A budget of ₹5,000 crore has been allocated for the creation of a National Research Foundation (NRF). "As a result of increased investment, India has reached 3rd position in scientific publication as per NSF database. The country has featured within the top 50 innovative economies globally, as per Global Innovation Index (GII). It has also reached 3rd Position in terms of number of PhDs, in size of Higher Education System; as well as in terms of number of Start-ups."

Singh added that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is poised to disrupt our world and India, being the fastest growing economy with the second largest population in the world, has a significant stake in the AI revolution. "Recognizing this, we have established 25 Technology Innovation Hubs (TIHs) in the country. International collaboration is embedded in it and we welcome researchers from foreign countries for collaborative research and sharing knowhow."

In the closing session, the minister said that the advancing BRICS innovation enterprises, developing next generation BRICS scientific leadership and enabling resource sharing should be our guiding strategy of BRICS STI partnership.

"The BRICS Innovation Action Plan 2022-23 adopted would help sharing best practices and networking among BRICS Innovation ecosystem and innovation actors. India looks forward to deepen the BRICS collaboration in the field of Science, Technology and Innovation," he said.

Wang Zhigang, Minister, Ministry of Science and Technology, China, Bonginkosi Emmanuel Nzimande, Minister, Department of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, South Africa, Paulo Alvim, Minister, Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, Brazil, Valery Falkov, Minister, Ministry of Science and Higher Education, Russia took part in the 10th BRICS STI Ministerial Meeting along with senior officials and scientists.
About 15 countries expressed their interest in joining BRICS — Deputy Foreign Minister (Около 15 стран выразили заинтересованность во вступлении в БРИКС — замглавы МИД) / Russia, September, 2022
Keywords: brics+, quotation

Sergey Ryabkov noted that BRICS is a viable alternative to the unipolar world

MOSCOW, September 26. /TASS/. About 15 states have already expressed their desire to join BRICS, Russia Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said on Russian TV Monday.

"About a dozen and a half have already expressed their interest to join this group in one form or another," he said.

According to Ryabkov, BRICS countries have already commenced work on expansion of the organization.

"We must look into the criteria that new members could be invited by," the senior diplomat said.

He noted that BRICS is a viable alternative to the unipolar world.

Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
NDB Board of Directors held its 37th meeting (Состоялось 37-е заседание Совета директоров НБР) / China, September, 2022
Keywords: ndb, top_level_meeting

On September 23, 2022, the Board of Directors (Board) of the New Development Bank (NDB) held its 37th Meeting in a virtual format.

The Board reviewed the Bank's ongoing projects' implementation, disbursement and procurement as well as the project pipeline.

The Board was updated on the impact and implications of the market developments on NDB as well as the Bank's recent fundraising activities.

Amendments to the Credit Risk Management Policy and the Internal Audit Policy were approved and the Board was briefed on the progress of membership expansion and provided guidance for the next steps.

The Board took note of the Progress Report on Implementation of the Independent Evaluation Office Roadmap and expressed appreciation for the timely activities and outputs to operationalise the Bank's independent evaluation function.

The Board was briefed on the progress concerning the BRICS Integrated Digital Platform.

The 24th meeting of the Audit, Risk and Compliance Committee and 20th meeting of the Budget, Human Resources and Compensation Committee were held on September 13 and 15, 2022 respectively.

Background Information

New Development Bank was established with the purpose of mobilizing resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging market economies and developing countries, complementing the efforts of multilateral and regional financial institutions for global growth and development.

Western economic warfare backfired, new depression likely to come (Экономическая война Запада дала обратный эффект, вероятно, наступит новая депрессия) / Russia, September, 2022
Keywords: economic_challenges, expert_opinion, political_issues

Uriel Araujo, researcher with a focus on international and ethnic conflicts

Now that the Nord Stream pipeline might have been sabotaged by Washington, as promised by US President Joe Biden on January 7, and is possibly gone forever (according to German authorities), it is time to consider the possible impacts.

The energy crisis in the EU has always been pushed by American interests. Moreover, the US has been engaging in economic warfare and even weaponizing the dollar for too long, but it has been clear for months now that its current economic and financial war against Russia has backfired - and once again, mostly upon Europe. Such economic wars in fact may dangerously spiral out of control, and are considered to be one of the causes of the 1929 crisis in the post-Versailles world.

Philip Pilkington, an Irish economist who works in investment finance, famous for his contributions on the empirical estimate of general equilibrium and other fields, has made quite interesting observations about the possible deindustrialization of Europe as a consequence of economic warfare. He remarks on how in the post-pandemic world debts in the West have been accumulating and, on top of that, the current conflict in Ukraine has brought extra energy costs.

After the conflict ends - or becomes a "frozen conflict" - or after good diplomacy is reestablished, Russia could start to once again supply gas to Europe as usual - this is how many analysts reasoned. However, now that the pipelines are gone, the price of energy in the continent is to remain tremendously high for years to come. With permanent high energy prices making manufacturing not economically viable anymore (thus decreasing European purchasing power), one should expect to see the bloc shutting out exports to revive an uncompetitive industry while increasing energy investments. These are Pilkington's main points and it might be worth delving into them.

Pilkington argues that high energy costs will make the European industry largely uncompetitive because manufacturers will have no choice but to also raise the price of goods, which in turn, will not be able to compete with cheaper foreign goods. The economist goes on to argue that, in this scenario, with many manufacturers out of business, the result will be the loss of key jobs, with less employed people spending money and a new economic depression.

Thus, Pilkington reasons, the United States will not be able to "reshore" European manufacturing for too long because there simply won't be anyone in the continent to buy the products the US ships to European shores. This crisis will thus affect Americans too, because as exports to Europe fall, US workers also lose their jobs. What could EU states do in such a scenario? The Irish economist writes quite convincingly that a tariff solution would be the most obvious one: by raising tariffs, these countries will be able to "render international products as expensive as the domestic products suffering from energy cost inflation."

The result of that can only be more economic chaos for the West, while Europe "shuts itself off" and becomes a kind of a "black hole", in a repetition of the 1920 events which resulted in the Great Depression, writes Philip Pilkington.

However, the global situation today has changed much, with the BRICS+ alliance, apparently aimed at "decoupling from the Western economy." For a while, the rise in commodity prices has been perceived as a result of Western sanction policies, and this has forced the global south to look for parallel mechanisms and alternatives. Therefore, these emerging powers have the potential to build a "separate economic bloc", which means the West would suffer the most from the economic chaos, as BRICS+ "has a relatively clean bill of economic health".

All of this is a quite likely scenario and one should also consider the political implications. The economic crisis will in all likelihood bring back protectionism, and it might come accompanied by a 1930-like political climate. This in turn can only strengthen the populist camp in Europe. Populist and so-called "far-right" tendencies have been growing in the continent for years and the time seems to be just right for speeding up this phenomenon.

One remembers defeated French Presidential candidate Marine Le Pen promised to pull France out of NATO during this years' elections. Meanwhile, in August, Hungary had once again the lowest energy prices in the EU. Over 8,700 sanctions have been imposed on Moscow, and yet they have hurt Europe more than Russia as Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban has been a strong critic of such sanctions. In fact, whether one likes the man or not, he has oftentimes been the voice of reason in the bloc. Now, the German eurosceptic Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) political party is heavily focusing on attacking European elites and opposing the German government's sanctions against Russia. This trend is everywhere across the EU.

It is about time Europe assert its sovereignty, however such a political stance is largely marginalized in the continent. Thus, although a European populist wave should increase skepticism about NATO and the EU itself, it will also increase political instability and turmoil. To sum it up, in the worst post-Nord Stream scenario, one can then expect a deindustrialized and isolated Europe going through a serious political and economic crisis.

Political Events
Political events in the public life of BRICS
Russian security chief calls West's attempts to isolate Russia futile (Глава госбезопасности назвал попытки Запада изолировать Россию тщетными) / Russia, October, 2022
Keywords: quotation, political_issues

In conclusion, Nikolai Patrushev addressed his counterparts from the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States

MOSCOW, September 30. /TASS/. The West seeks to isolate Russia politically and economically, but those attempts are futile and boomerang on the authors of the sanctions, Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev said at a meeting of chiefs of security and intelligence agencies of the CIS countries held in Moscow on Friday.

"Russia has taken a huge hit, being on the frontline of fighting. Seeking to harm our country, and hence the CIS, as much as possible, the West is trying to achieve the political and economic isolation of Russia," he pointed out.

Nevertheless, Patrushev continued, "the futility of these steps, which boomerang back on the Western countries, is becoming more and more obvious."

"It is clear now that no one will be able to escape what is happening. Therefore, only together can [we] resolve an array of international security problems," he stated.

According to the Russian Security Council's Secretary, amid the current situation, joint efforts by all responsible members of the international community are needed, as never before, to boost security, based on the principle of its indivisibility, and to promote equitable and mutually beneficial cooperation.

"In this regard, it is of paramount importance that Russia's partners in the CIS, CSTO, SCO and BRICS clearly comprehend the true goals of Washington, London and their allies, and make balanced and appropriate decisions that serve their [own] national interests. I am convinced that only together will we be able to enhance the global architecture of international relations, taking into consideration the interests of all countries," he added.

In conclusion, Patrushev addressed his counterparts from the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). He pointed out that it has become a good ritual to hold meetings like this, and that Friday's meeting is to focus on a wide range of threats and challenges to the national security and the sustainable socio-economic development of the CIS nations.

Fostering SA, US trade relations (Развитие торговых отношений между Южной Африкой и США) / South Africa, September, 2022
Keywords: top_level_meeting, trade_relations
South Africa

KwaZulu-Natal Premier, Nomusa Dube-Ncube, has held a high-level strategic engagement with South African Consul General in New York, Dr Motumisi Tawana.

The meeting discussed the unlocking of economic opportunities and leveraging on existing trade ties South Africa has with United States.

Joined by Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs MEC, Siboniso Duma, Dube-Ncube held constructive discussions with the Consul General on interventions earmarked to accelerate economic growth and the development of KwaZulu-Natal through employment creation, sustainable development and empowerment initiatives to support entrepreneurs.

During the meeting, held at the office of the South African Consul General in New York on Friday, the Premier said the South African Embassy in the US has previously held a meeting with business people and investors to showcase the KwaZulu-Natal Investment Book, and reinforce the province's position as an attractive business, investment, and tourism destination.

"Our visit is a continuation of the provincial government's approach of engaging with the international business community while leveraging on the good relations and partnerships that the South African Consulate-General has with US-based businesses and investors.

"The key areas we are focusing on include trade, commerce, education (student exchange programmes), agriculture, health, information technology, energy generation, and arts and culture," Dube-Ncube said.

Dr Tawana reassured Premier Dube-Ncube that his office will facilitate linkages between KwaZulu-Natal and US-based investors and businesses, in line with their mandate to promote South Africa's interests, trade relations and foster relations within the consulate's area of jurisdiction.

The Premier and MEC also interacted with Ambassador Professor Anil Sooklal, Ambassador at Large for Asia and Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS), to discuss the provincial government's participation next year when South Africa hosts the BRICS 2023 Summit.

South Africa, as the incoming BRICS Chair for 2023, hosted BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs and International Relations Meeting, in New York, on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA77) taking place at the United Nations headquarters from 20-27 September 2022, under the theme "A watershed moment: Unlocking transformative solutions to interlocking challenges."

Dube-Ncube led the provincial government delegation joining leading states, regions and other sub-nationals at the annual Under2 Coalition General Assembly held from 19-25 September 2022.

World of Work
BRICS and SCO: Inclusive Cooperation in the Face of Global Challenges (БРИКС и ШОС: инклюзивное сотрудничество перед лицом глобальных вызовов) / Russia, September, 2022
Keywords: think_tank_council, cooperation

On September 29, the Valdai Club, together with the CITIC Foundation for Reform and Development Studies of China, held an expert discussion, titled "Main Directions and Prospects for the Expansion of the BRICS and SCO".

Discussion moderator Andrey Sushentsov, Programme Director of the Valdai Club, stressed that discussions on the expansion of the BRICS and SCO have recently gained more intensity. China's presidency of the BRICS provided dynamism to the development of this format, and a number of countries have applied to join the group, or announced such plans. In turn, at the SCO summit in Samarkand, Iran joined the organisation, while Egypt, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia received the status of dialogue partners. In this regard, the moderator raised the question of the convergence of the two formats and the formation of a single platform.

Yaroslav Lissovolik, Programme director of the Valdai Discussion Club, noted the importance of the BRICS+ format. "Against the backdrop of the successful steps that China has taken to develop the BRICS, it probably makes sense to talk about more ambitious tasks for the long term," he said, naming the creation of a free trade area for the entire Global South based on BRICS+ as one such task. He added that in order to develop the interface between the SCO and BRICS or BRICS+, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation must move towards a more economic orientation. According to Lissovolik, a possible step could be the creation of the SCO Development Bank or even several institutions with such tasks.

Wang Xiangxuei, Deputy Secretary General of the CITIC Foundation for Reform and Development Studies of China, said that Russia and China have high hopes for the development of the BRICS and BRICS+ formats. BRICS, according to him, brings together regional and sub-regional powers; large and fast-growing players who are not comfortable in a monocentric global system dominated by the United States. "We cannot develop in this system and must unite to develop," he said. He added that BRICS+ accounts for more than half of the world's population, and these people should benefit from globalisation, which should become polycentric. Speaking about the SCO, he stressed that although it was originally created to ensure security, it is not a traditional Western-style alliance, but rather a common security community aimed at repelling global challenges. And since development and security are closely interrelated, this means the need for the simultaneous future development of both formats.

Kirill Babaev, Acting Director of the Institute of China and Modern Asia at the Russian Academy of Sciences, and Dean of the Faculty of International Economic Relations of the Financial University Under the Government of the Russian Federation, believes that both the SCO and BRICS reflect the hope of some of the world's states to create a system of inclusive and mutually beneficial cooperation, free of pressure from Western structures, both in security and economics. At the same time, in his opinion, while the level of integration in both structures is too low, their expansion demonstrates that many countries continue to hope for the emergence of real parallel development models. He believes that now, thanks to the geopolitical situation, the SCO and BRICS could become a hub for the formation of new structures that will provide the world with its next cycle of stable, secure and peaceful development, but it is important not to miss this historic chance.

Wang Xiaoquan, Executive Director of the Center for Strategic Cooperation between China and Russia at the CITIC Foundation, pointed out that we are entering the era of the revival of continental powers, the platform for which is the SCO. He stressed that the SCO countries are mainly continental powers. He listed four aspects of this revival: technological development in the transport and information sphere, expansion of cooperation between continental powers, acceleration of the process of Eurasian integration through the SCO and grounded in the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative, and the creation of a world international system focused on multilateralism and inclusiveness. "The countries of Eurasia recognise the concept of mutually beneficial cooperation and the joint inclusive concept of security. This is in stark contrast to the American approach and vision," he added. "The time of a new continental power is a new time for the development of our planet."

Ekaterina Arapova, Director, Senior Research Fellow, Sanctions Policy Expertise Center, Institute of International Studies, MGIMO University, noted that within the new BRICS+ format, it is important to focus on common global challenges. Among these challenges, she named three main points: the crisis of global institutions, including economic and financial ones, in the global economic context (that is, the approaching global economic crisis, and the intensification of pro-American and US-promoted multilateral cooperation formats). She considers financial direction to be especially important, since de-dollarization looks like a hot topic for many countries. According to Arapova, it is also necessary to pay attention to the issues of food security, to cooperation in the field of healthcare and to the joint development of clean energy, which is likely to become a key area again in the medium and long-term.

Pavel Knyazev, Ambassador-at-Large of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sous-Sherpa of Russia to the BRICS, pointed out the great interest of emerging economies and developing countries in BRICS and the SCO as platforms based on equal and inclusive cooperation without the imposition of certain models and confrontation. Describing the situation in the BRICS, he said that about a dozen states have shown an interest in joining the group — officially or unofficially — and now the guidelines for expanding the association are being worked out. In addition, within the framework of BRICS, internal mechanisms of interaction and for cooperation with third countries (BRICS+) are being strengthened.
Made on