Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum

Monitoring of the economic, social and labor situation in the BRICS countries
Issue 41.2022
2022.10.10 — 2022.10.17
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Brazil Before the Second Round: A Race of Promises (Бразилия перед вторым туром: гонка обещаний) / Russia, October, 2022
Keywords: political_issues, expert_opinion

The Valdai Club held an expert discussion on the presidential elections in Brazil.

The moderator was Oleg Barabanov, Programme Director of the Valdai Discussion Club. According to him, the presidential elections underscored the actual split of the country into two parts. Former President Lula da Silva, the left-wing candidate, won 48 percent, while incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro, the right-wing candidate, garnered 43 percent. At the same time, parliamentary elections were held, in which this stark split into two parts was not observed, but a third force showed itself — the Brazilian Union, a conglomerate of centrist parties. At the end of the month, the second round of presidential elections will take place, and the question is: what should be expected from it, and how foreign policy and domestic policy will change if one or another candidate wins.

Lyudmila Okuneva, Head of the Department of History and Politics of European and American Countries at MGIMO of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, Chief Researcher at the Institute of Latin America of the Russian Academy of Sciences, described in detail the current political balance and the course of the election campaign in Brazil. She stressed that Bolsonaro received many more votes than sociologists predicted, although Brazilian sociology has a lot of experience and usually makes successful predictions. The results of the rivals are very close, the difference between them is only five percent — and the current president may well make up for it in a month. Now there is a sharp struggle for a new electorate, which, according to Okuneva, has given rise to a "race of promises." The parties actively play for each other's bases. In fact, what is happening looks like a clash not only between two leaders with two personalities, but also between two models of the country's development, the researcher believes. Nothing can be predicted — the situation can change radically at any moment, which is, in principle, typical for Brazilian elections. The final result will be decided by the Brazilian people. Brazil is a major world player; relations with Brasilia are of great importance for Russia, therefore it is extremely important for Russia and for the whole world who will be the next president of the country.

Dmitry Razumovsky, Director of the Institute of Latin America of the Russian Academy of Sciences, noted that the election campaign was notable for its phenomenal scandalousness. Predicting the possible results of the victory of one or another candidate, he pointed out that Bolsonaro's programme is much more clearly defined and in fact implies a simple continuation of his course. Despite his ambiguous reputation, he has generally achieved success in the economy. Meanwhile, Lula da Silva has built his campaign mainly around opposing Bolsonaro, so it is rather difficult to say what specific steps he will take. The "inclusive growth model" he promoted worked well in a favourable export environment, but caused problems after he left power. Now the export situation is much worse, and this means that Lula will no longer be able to pursue the previous policy.

Victor Jeifets, Director of the Centre for Iberoamerican Studies at St Petersburg University, believes that no matter which of the two rivals wins the Brazilian elections, the results of the upcoming US Congress elections in November will seriously affect its foreign policy. "Brazil makes its own decisions, but it makes them in context," he stressed. If the Republicans win a majority, Biden's position will be weakened, giving the winner in Brazil a chance to play on different fronts. At the same time, the policy of any of the presidential candidates is unlikely to be complex. The former clear orientation of Lula towards cooperation along the South-South line and opposition to the collective West and Bolsonaro's clear orientation towards rapprochement with the United States will now most likely not happen. Also, according to Jeifetz, the topic of BRICS is important for both Lula and Bolsonaro in these elections as one of the tools to pull Brazil out of the economic crisis. Speaking about Brazil's relations with Russia, the expert noted that we have a rare case when both candidates are close and convenient to Russia, and sharp turns cannot be expected from them.

Laura Torres: What Chances Mexico Has to Join the BRICS and What Mechanisms Сan Be Applied for Cooperation in the Field of Medicine (Лаура Торрес: какие шансы у Мексики на вступление в БРИКС и какие механизмы можно использовать для сотрудничества в области медицины) / Russia, October, 2022
Keywords: brics+, social_issues, expert_opinion

Karolina Koval, Fudan University, China - special for InfoBRICS

BRICS is becoming increasingly attractive to many countries in Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East. Many experts see BRICS as one of the centers of the emerging multipolar world, free from the global hegemony of the West. The current members of the association support the idea of expansion, but at the same time recognize that it will not be fast.

Interview with Laura Torres, ex-researcher at the Center for BRICS Studies in Shanghai. Currently, she is Head of the Evidence and Risk Management Department and coordinates the management of the bacteriological and physicochemical quality of water; and emergency response programs, within the Health Department of Baja California, Mexico (

- Laura, you are Brazilian, studied and interned in China, and now you work in Mexico. You have a very interesting life and career path. Based on your experience, please tell me how different are the healthcare systems in Brazil, China, and Mexico? Is there something unifying?

Laura: - In Brazil, the public healthcare system is based on universal coverage, funded by federal government resources. This system is named SUS, which means Unified Healthcare System and technically it covers 100% of the population. To get access to public health services, users just need to do a self-registration, and the attention is free of charge. The healthcare services provided by SUS go from primary to high-complexity attention, it includes emergency attention and hospitalization. There is also a component that provides free medicine, a similar practice is also carried out in Mexico.

In China, their public health system is near-universal coverage, as health services are provided almost fully covered by public funds, and it is complemented by private participation (either paid by users or companies).

As for Mexico, its scheme is combined with public and private providers. As public officials have access to their own health scheme (for example, ISSSTE which stands for Social Services and Security Institute for state workers); and workers within the formal labor market also have their own system called IMSS, which stands for Mexican Social Security Institute. Systems like ISSSTE and IMSS are funded mainly by workers' contributions. These networks provide a range of healthcare services, including primary and high-complexity attention. If you are an individual out of these networks you may receive attention at family health centers or hospitals that are funded by federal or state resources, depending on the country's region, the level of attention may be limited to primary services.

I believe the unifying factor is that in all of these countries there are governmental initiatives to governments are willing to strengthen their public healthcare systems into universal coverage and publicly funded schemes. Considering that it is established in their legal frameworks that access to health is a Constitutional right.

- In Mexico, many medicines are derived from native Mexican "representatives" of the plant world: black beans, corn and agave. In the Center of Biotechnology of the Monterrey Institute of Technology, in the north of Mexico, studies were conducted on the effectiveness of natural medicines. The positive results of the long-term work of 100 scientists from Mexico and other Latin American countries became possible due to the isolation of substances from agave, beans, sorghum, cauliflower corn and mahuacata shrub that prevent the development of carcinogenic cells, Director of the Institute Moises Alvarez said at a press conference. He also said that drugs intended for the treatment of breast, colon, prostate and liver cancers have been tested and are awaiting approval for their sale in Mexico and the United States, possibly this will happen at the end of this year or early next year. Tell me, please, what is the government's attitude to the use of such methods of treatment? Are there already collaborations in hospitals? In previous interviews, we talked about Chinese medicine, where traditional and non-traditional methods have long been well combined. It seems to me that it would be great for countries to share their experience with each other in the most vital area.

- Mexico has a tradition in the use of herbal-based medicine. I'm aware that in the medical career they have a discipline that studies the use of such treatments, as well as the Mexican research funding agency has given grants and supports projects that study these natural medicines. Also, I've read that in the so-called "Family Health Centers" there is a high rate of doctors that recommend the use of natural medicines. There is support from the government in the use of such methods, especially in primary care attention, it is reasoned by their legal framework as well as the knowledge and customs of their native population. I'm not aware of any cooperation between Chinese traditional medicine and Mexican traditional medicine methods, but I believe it would indeed be an interesting thing to see!

- The head of the Secretariat for Health Promotion and Prevention, Hugo Lopez-Gatell, said that although the coronavirus "is not going to disappear," but it's time to "get away from the state of the pandemic." In Mexico, the coronavirus will now be considered the same endemic virus as all other widespread viruses. What special methods did the Mexican Government use to combat the pandemic? What difficulties have you encountered and how did you manage to overcome them?

- There were several protocols implemented during the hardest times of the pandemic. The main measures were to keep all workers from non-essential services at home. Those from essential areas, such as healthcare attention, had to apply measures such as keeping a safe distance (1.5 meters) from other people, constantly disinfecting surfaces, constantly washing hands, the use of facial masks and protective glasses, guaranteeing the ventilation of closed spaces, keeping track of workers' temperature and any signs of COVID-19 symptoms.

There were also other measures such as, not allowing people to dine in restaurants, only take-away services allowed; schools were also working remotely; also, and no massive events were allowed. These measures were only eased when vaccinations against COVID-19 started.

Gradually, 50% of restaurants and other public places could be used, then 75%, until we reached a level where 100% of these public spaces could be used due to the decrease of active COVID-19 cases; then public events were also allowed with a limited number of participants, and always having in mind the need to comply with measures such as safe distance, washing hands, face masks, and so on. The hardest part was the new variants and new waves, because sometimes when measures were already on the path to being eased, they had to get strict again, and it was hard to make citizens comply with this instability in the sanitary policies.

- Due to sanctions, Western countries have stopped supplying many medicines to Russia. Are there any prospects for the supply of Mexican drugs and how does Mexico view cooperation with Russia in the field of healthcare?

- Mexico is among the countries with high production of medical drugs, but there is also a struggle to keep up with their production chains. Because of the COVID-19 affectations on international trade, there are some difficulties to acquire raw materials and chemicals that are necessary for the production of these drugs. Even in the Mexican internal market, there is a drug shortage going on.

Although there was a lot of international pressure, the Mexican government reaffirmed its non-intervention principle and decided to sustain economic and political relations with Russia. The president of Mexico announced that no sanctions are to be imposed against Russia, especially in a field so important as the health sector. Russia and Mexico signed an agreement to strengthen the production of the Sputnik V vaccine last march, so I believe both countries have good prospects for their cooperation in the healthcare field.

- Mexico always stands for the promotion of peace and security both in the region and in the world as a whole. Brazilian expert Emir Sader suggested that the third decade of the new century will be crucial for determining the future of humanity. According to him, the confrontation between the forces of multipolarity and the United States will lead to a future where the BRICS countries will play a decisive role in the world. Laura, you worked in the BRICS laboratory and also did research. Do you agree with Emir Sader? How do you see the future of BRICS and Mexico's place in it? What keys should we find to develop closer cooperation in the field of medicine?

- I agree with his view. I believe, even though COVID-19 made Latin America give a huge step back in terms of social development, Latin American and other developing countries are still striving to play a decisive role in the world. For our future, it is necessary that our countries, and BRICS partners gather together and provide development assistance among themselves. Our social, political, and economic characteristics are similar in so many aspects, and we have a lot to learn from each other's best practices.

In the field of medicine, we should also cooperate to improve a unified system to give notice of our regional disease outbreaks and strengthen our technical and production capacity to develop medicines and vaccines within the region. Particularly, modernizing our regulations in order to work within a framework that does not goes against a sustainable and healthy way of living.

I could write a whole article about how we should develop closer cooperation; this is the real key, we really need the commitment of our representatives to build these relations and facilitate the exchange of technical capacities, people, goods, and services; at the same time update our regulations and promote innovations based on sustainable practices. And doing so to ensure that our populations have good health and well-being, under the framework of One Health, which considers the interdependence of human, environmental and animal health.

- The last question for all our heroes: what is BRICS for you and who are you in it?

- BRICS for me is friendship. I am very grateful for the circle of friends the BRICS platforms allowed me to create. Also, to learn more about our country's social and cultural characteristics, and contribute to our country's development because we can exchange ideas and our national best practices. The development assistance given by developing countries has a better perspective on how to develop capacities, with an investor view rather than a savior approach. Being a BRICS member, I'm all into cooperating to enhance our knowledge of each other policies and work to promote our shared areas of opportunity.

Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
Putin waives ban on currency operations for some international development banks - decree (Путин снял запрет на валютные операции для некоторых международных банков развития - указ) / Russia, October, 2022
Keywords: vladimir_putin, NDB

In addition to BRICS' the New Development Bank, the decree lists the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the International Bank for Economic Cooperation, the International Investment Bank and the Russian-Kyrgyz Development Fund

MOSCOW, October 15. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree on waiving special economic measures, which were imposed in March in response to the sanctions, for a number of foreign investment funds and development banks, according to the decree published on the official online registry of legislative information on Saturday.

Among them are the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the International Bank for Economic Cooperation, the International Investment Bank, the Russian-Kyrgyz Development Fund, and BRICS' New Development Bank (NDB).

In particular, they will not be subject to the procedure for transactions established under the March 1 presidential decree on special economic measures. Additionally, these banks and investment funds are exempt from the ban on foreign currency transactions that involves lending by Russian residents to foreign individuals and depositing foreign currency by Russian residents to the accounts opened outside Russia.

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the International Bank for Economic Cooperation, the International Investment Bank, the Russian-Kyrgyz Development Fund, and the New Development Bank are also not subject to the temporary procedure regarding obligations of Russia and Russian companies to foreign creditors. Moreover, some other restrictions, which are stipulated in the measures taken in response to unfriendly moves of the US and the countries and organizations joining them, are lifted on the mentioned development banks and investment funds.

Decent Work in the Energy Transition Research Initiative Announced at BRICS Energy Ministers' Meeting (Работа в рамках инициативы по исследованию энергетического перехода объявлена на встрече министров энергетики стран БРИКС) / India, October, 2022
Keywords: research, energy, cooperation, top_level_meeting

At the 7th meeting of BRICS Energy Ministers, Rosatom's Deputy Director General for HR Ms Tatiana Terentyeva introduced the research initiative "BRICS Approach for Securing Decent Work in the Energy Transition".

The BRICS Energy Ministers' Meeting is a high-level event of the five countries to discuss energy issues and highlight the results of joint efforts. In 2018, following the 3rd Ministerial Meeting, the five countries supported the Russian initiative to launch the BRICS Energy Research Cooperation Platform. Key task of the platform was to carry out independent information-exchange and analytical activities on energy in favor of the BRICS countries. Since 2020, BRICS ERCP has published annual analytical reports. This year, along with the BRICS Energy Report, the Chinese Presidency presented two additional reports: a study on the development of renewable energy and smart grids in the BRICS countries. Next year, Russia will lead the preparations of two additional studies: on energy security and the development of human resources in the BRICS countries' energy sector.

"The delivery of this study within' the BRICS Energy Research Cooperation Platform will enable us to develop a common vision of strategies and approaches to HR development as well as to identify the most successful practices and establish channels for effective experience exchange in the interests of all," noted Ms Tatiana Terentyeva in her speech.

The study has been possible following the cooperation agreement signed at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) between the State Atomic Energy Corporation Rosatom and the Russian Energy Agency of the Ministry of Energy of Russia acting as the Russian secretariat of the Platform.

"New partners along with research conducted within the Platform will contribute to its further development, strengthen cooperation between the five countries and improve the efficiency of their energy systems. We welcome the initiative of Rosatom to lead on the research presented today at the BRICS Energy Ministers' Meeting. We are ready to support it on the part of the Russian Secretariat of the BRICS ERCP," said Mr Alexey Kulapin, Director General of the Russian Energy Agency, following the Ministerial Meeting.

The research proposes to study main barriers affecting the labor market in the energy sector and the mechanisms for attracting talent, as well as tools for advanced training in a turbulent economy. Particular attention will be paid to the analysis of trends related to youth employment in five countries, gender-sensitive employment as well as social security mechanisms.

Minister of Energy of the Russian Federation Mr. Nikolai Shulginov in his address at the Ministerial Meeting noted that Russia as the initiating country of the research, is ready to assume a coordinating role in the process of preparing the report.

South Africa: BRICS Currency - Vision or Pipe Dream? (ЮАР: валюта БРИКС – видение или несбыточная мечта?) / South Africa, October, 2022
Keywords: economic_challenges, expert_opinion
South Africa

By Laurence Sithole

Countries that constitute the BRICS bloc first mooted the idea of a common reserve currency between them as far back as 2011.

Back then the Mail & Guardian, a prominent South African media outlet, reported that South Africa backed the creation of a common currency unit which the BRICS countries would use to trade among themselves. The primary purpose for this move would be to circumvent the need to make Euro and US dollar conversions.

The idea of a BRICS currency unit has merit given that the United States dollar and its economy showed remarkable weakness and vulnerability during the Great Recession of 2008 which began in that country's housing market but quickly spread to the rest of the world.

- BRICS countries that is Brazil, Russia, India, China, and Russia have discussed the possibility of creating a basket reserve currency which would challenge the dominance of the United States dollar in settlement of international transactions.

- BRICS countries between them it has been reported since 2011 hold nearly half of the world's foreign exchange reserves which places them in an advantageous position should they decide to issue a new currency akin to IMF-issued SDRs.

- Russia has a strong interest in the creation of this alternative reserve currency. The country has seen at least half of its foreign exchange reserves frozen as sanctions on it start to bite.

Secondly, the wisdom of a single monetary unit that is not backed by a centralized fiscus is now starting to be questioned the same way it was in 2011. This is an obvious salvo to the Euro, one such currency unit.

The case for a single BRICS currency unit gains more credence when one realizes that between them BRICS countries hold almost half of the world's foreign exchange reserves at a time when the reserves of the United States and Europe have been falling. So why can't this grouping of nations come up with an alternate reserve currency firstly as a medium of settlement for trade transactions between themselves but also as an alternative system that is disproportionately reliant on the use of the greenback which has historically shown that it is prone to volatility in economic cycles.

China presently has the largest sum of foreign exchange reserves in the world. When its over US$ 3 trillion in reserves is added to the reserves of the other BRICS member states the questions as to why they cannot issue their own currency start to grow louder.

Talks of a common currency fizzled out as more pressing national and international matters eclipsed the idea. This year 2022 has seen renewed calls for a common reserve currency emerge once again. This time Russia is leading the call for the creation of a reserve currency that will be an alternative to the United States dollar as a mechanism for the settlement of international transactions.

Russia's motive for making such a call is obvious, the country has been at war with Ukraine since February 2022. This aggression against Ukraine has earned Russia some of the most stringent economic sanctions in history. What has been the greatest pain point is that Russia has lost access to at least half of its foreign exchange reserves since the beginning of its war with Ukraine.

Leading nations in Europe and the United States have announced embargoes on Russian exports of energy. This development has not been straightforward because most of the countries in Europe and the rest of the world are dependent on Russian oil and gas. Russia for its part has retaliated against what it calls hostile nations by deliberately turning off gas taps. Despite Russia making the calls to reinstate the conversation around the BRICS currency, there is no doubt that China would be and is the driving force behind it. China as has already been said has the largest foreign exchange reserves of any country in the world and is the second largest economy in the world after the United States.

China is the biggest economy among BRICS countries and the Asian superpower has never made a secret of having its currency the Yuan or Renminbi taking on the United States dollar as the global reserve currency.

- The BRICS alternative currency idea has scope and merit however, such a currency by mere inclusion of the Russian rouble in its basket would be volatile because Russia's trade and capital account have been under pressure since the invasion of Ukraine.

- The basket currency effort has been undermined by the resurgence of the United States dollar which has been appreciating rapidly relatively to other currencies including those in the BRICS bloc.

Chinese economic influence is growing rapidly. Chinese economic hegemony is most prevalent in Africa in terms of infrastructure projects and sovereign debt. In October 2011 stock exchanges in Brazil, Russia, Hong Kong, and South Africa unveiled a cross-listing agreement, the BRIC Exchange Alliance, for derivatives for their combined market capitalization of $9 trillion. Some countries now offer Renminbi banking like Zambia and Nigeria. Russia has a large stake in seeing a BRICS currency unit come to fruition. When the second round of talks on creating this alternate global reserve currency began in 2019, Russia was anxious as it was today to circumvent economic sanctions. In 2019 Russia was under sanctions for its invasion and subsequent annexation of Crimea. Russian leader Vladimir Putin, according to a report by banking group ING announced in June 2022 that the BRICS countries were developing a new basket reserve currency which would include roubles, rupees, renminbi, and rand. The rationale of this round of discussions around the creation of a BRICS currency is that it would be an alternative to the Special Drawing Rights issued by the International Monetary Fund.

ING's report also questioned the need for an SDR-like basket of currency and concluded that it is the result of the need to break the US hegemonic dominance over international trade as well as for BRICS member states to create their own spheres of influence. For Russia, pegging its currency to the basket of currencies is seen to be a measure meant to slow down the depreciation of the rouble which has been free falling since the invasion of Ukraine began in February 2022. Russia has more skin in the BRICS alternative currency game than other member states especially presently. ING reports that there is mounting pressure on its capital account.

Previously Russia was a net creditor to the rest of the world, meaning that the country was more of a lender to the rest of the world than a borrower. In the years before it became an aggressor, Russia's trade surplus would be balanced out by the foreign investments it would make in other countries.

Russian capital is no longer welcome in most jurisdictions of the world because of sanctions and legal restrictions.

ING has called these discussions around the creation of a BRICS currency a "trial balloon floated by Putin". The banking institution is sceptical of such proposals becoming tangible and raises questions about its feasibility. The first question is whether such a basket would attract significant foreign exchange reserves from countries looking to hold it?

These can be friendly nations within their respective spheres or the BRICS countries themselves. ING perhaps most importantly raises a further pertinent issue which is the character and nature of a would-be reserve currency.

- Market pundits like ING are sceptical that the BRICS currency will see the light of day given current geopolitical realities and the fact that such a basket or alternative reserve currency would not be able to stand up to the criteria of a global reserve currency which include safety, liquidity, and return.

- China is the most dominant economic power of the BRICS member countries. It has the largest amount of foreign exchange reserves of any country in the world. The country is spreading its influence worldwide and is most prevalent in Africa.

This premise questions whether the BRICS basket would be able to stand up to the criteria of what is conventionally believed to be. The qualities of a reserve currency include safety, liquidity, and return. According to ING, in terms of safety, "... sovereign credit quality will clearly be an issue for any BRICS-basket currency, where a simple weighted average of 5-year sovereign credit default swaps (CDS) trades at least twenty times wider than a similar CDS average for SDR currencies. When it comes to FX liquidity, suffice to say a basket of BRICS currencies operates in a different universe to those currencies in the SDR.

The average deposit/yield on a BRICS basket would be far higher, but that is because of the much poorer credit quality where it looks like Russia will shortly go into sovereign default."

Another inadvertent global economic development that has the potential to undermine the efforts to create the BRICS currency basket is the recent rally in the United States dollar which has been appreciating rapidly relative to other currencies in the world. This strength in the greenback reinforces its position as a global reserve currency.

Investors have been demanding more United States dollars because they perceive it as a safe haven compared to emerging market currencies. The preference for countries one would surmise when it comes to building up national foreign exchange reserves will be to do so in United States dollars.

The idea of a BRICS basket currency has scope and potential however, presently, it is undermined by the country relying on it the most to succeed which is Russia.

The Exchange

The views in the article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of InfoBRICS.

Does OPEC+ decision to cut oil output mark the end of US-Saudi relationship? (Означает ли решение ОПЕК+ сократить добычу нефти конец американо-саудовских отношений?) / Russia, October, 2022
Keywords: economic_challenges, expert_opinion

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

OPEC's largely Saudi-driven recent decision to reduce oil production is bad news for the West amid the current energy crisis and was not met well in Washington. It was seen as a kind of insult to President Joe Biden after his July visit to the kingdom. In response, three members of the House of Representatives went so far as to introduce a bill that would remove all US weapons, forces and missile defense systems from the country.

According to American journalist Karen Elliott House, the US Central Intelligence Agency's director William Burns' visit to Saudi Arabia in May was largely to convince Prince Mohammed to cooperate on a new oil strategy focused on increasing production to "save European nations from energy shortages", a proposal M. K. Bhadrakumar, former Indian diplomat, interprets as a kind of a new "oil-for-security". Moreover, the US political elite sees this "betrayal" as a sign that the Saudi authorities in Riyadh actually chose to side with Moscow. Thus, this new development has angered Washington's lawmakers to the point of making some of them call into question the whole US-Saudi relationship. For decades, such a relationship has been based on the concept of oil for security.

In fact, since the final days of World War II, when US President Roosevelt met with King Abdulaziz bin Saud in the Suez Canal, Washington's policy for the Middle East has been focused on guaranteeing the free flow of hydrocarbons as Saudi-American bilateral relations have been based on this very premise. Ironically, the United State's pursuit of energy security in the Middle East region by militarization ended up causing the very opposite of it: Middle Eastern insecurity. In any case, Riyadh for decades granted US companies oil extraction and exploration priority in return for American protection.

The late American sociologist Charles Tilly, back in his 1985 essay ("War Making and State Making as Organized Crime"), famously described modern Western nation-states as quintessentially "protection rackets", which, so the analogy goes, offer a "double-edged protection", by producing both the "shield" against danger and the very danger they claim to fight. Jacob Mundy, a Colgate University associate professor, argues that by "posing as the protector of the global economy's most essential energy resource", Washington was thus able to "extract geopolitical power from Middle Eastern oil", as the resulting Middle Eastern insecurity has allowed Western oil industries "to derive economic power from this politically manufactured scarcity."

There are signs this state of affairs could change soon. The Middle East's geopolitics is transforming - and it turns out Biden's foreign policy has largely been a disaster. While Washington perceives a Saudi "siding" with Russia (and/or with a Chinese-Russian "bloc"), the reality is that we are now potentially entering a more complex and nuanced age of a non-alignment and multi-alignment, as exemplified by Cairo's nuclear cooperation with Moscow for Egypt has managed to balance its relationship with both Russia and the US.

From an American perspective, however, the very fact that Iran has joined the Eurasian Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as the Saudi kingdom and other Gulf states have become dialogue partners too is worrisome. In addition, the Saudi-Iranian dialogue, albeit slowly, continues. Riyadh's nuclear program also is progressing and is clearly a sign of an emerging Saudi-Sino-Pakistan alliance. Moreover, amid a rise in commodities which is increasingly seen as a product of the West's sanctions policies, emerging powers are looking for alternatives and parallel mechanisms. In this context, Saudi Arabia (as well as Turkey and Egypt) are considering joining the BRICS group.

All such developments, which include a new de-dollarization trend, as seen in the recent Beijing-Riyadh cooperation, can impact petrodollar as foreseen by Putin back in 2016, on the sidelines of the G20 Hangzhou summit, notes Bhadrakumar. The petrodollar has been, he writes, "a robust pillar of the Western financial system", and an understanding between Moscow and Riyadh "holds the potential to completely transform the geopolitical alignments in the Middle East." In other words, as Bhadrakumar writes, more than merely "a blow to Biden's presidency", the recent events, including OPEC's cuts, are a potential blow to the US-Saudi relationship and to the Western global system itself.

The United States is losing the economic war it wages against Russia and it cannot win the energy war. Since the 1970s, the price of oil has been determined in dollars and the US has largely weaponized this currency. Thus, as we can see both in Europe and in Africa, American aggressive foreign policies have been intensely entangled with energy and economic/monetary goals, and the Atlantic superpower for long has advanced such policies to its best interests in detriment of its own allies. However, as the new OPEC decision goes to show, the times are changing.

World of Work
Indo-Russian Science & Technology Cooperation Research (Исследования индийско-российского научно-технического сотрудничества) / Russia, October, 2022
Keywords: research, expert_opinion, cooperation

Tatiana Bokova, Intern of the Russian National Committee on BRICS Research – special for InfoBRICS

Modern technologies are not only the source of economic growth but also the basis for the realisation of global prosperity. Consequently, many states are seeking to develop science and technology through international cooperation. Currently, Russia and India, as strategic partners, have developed their partnership in almost all areas of bilateral relations, including politics, security, defence, trade and economy, and culture. The two countries focus on strengthening, expanding and also deepening cooperation in science and technology (S&T).

Besides bilateral cooperation, the two economies interact in several multilateral platforms including BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the G-20, where they support partnership based on mutual interests.

The history of relations between India and Russia goes back to the 17th century. Nevertheless, active cooperation can be traced back to India and the Soviet Union. Bilateral scientific cooperation with the Soviet Union began with the signing of the Science and Technology Agreement in 1972. After the collapse of the USSR, the leaders of the two nations signed a Declaration on Strategic Partnership between the Russian Federation and the Republic of India in the year 2000. Since then, India and Russia have been building bilateral relations, including in science and technology.

The following documents can be highlighted as a legal framework for bilateral interaction. First, in 1994, an Intergovernmental Agreement on Russian-Indian Scientific and Technical Cooperation. This agreement became the basis for Russian-Indian collaboration in the area. Besides setting up various laboratories and research teams, various research centres are being established by the two countries. For instance, the Russian-Indian Science and Technology Centre was established in Moscow in 2010 as a structure for innovative interaction. In 2012, the Delhi branch of RI STC was officially opened. Additionally, in 2014, the Indian Council of Medical Research and the Russian Foundation for Basic Research signed a memorandum of understanding of cooperation in health research.

In 2018, during the visit of the Russian President to India, both sides expressed the need for greater cooperation in science and technology and welcomed the successful 10th Russian-Indian Working Group on Science and Technology. The Indian Ministry of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation in 2018 jointly conducted it. Both countries came to an agreement in information and communication technology, especially in the areas of electronic systems design and manufacturing, software development, supercomputers, e-government, government service delivery, network security, security in use of information and communication technologies, financial services. Russia and India also highlighted the importance of the long-standing and mutually beneficial bilateral cooperation in space and the Indian regional navigation satellite system NAV-IC and the Russian navigation satellite system GLONASS, created respectively in India and the Russian Federation.

The next important step was the signing of an Integrated Long-Term Programme of Cooperation (ILTP) for Science and Technology cooperation between the Russian Federation and India until 2020. This document recognised the growing importance of S&T for the socio-economic development of both nations. Over the 25-year period, ILTP has supported over 500 collaborative R&D projects and the establishment of 9 thematic centres in India and Russia, resulting in over 1500 joint publications and many new products, processes and facilities.

Moreover, two inter-governmental commissions - one on trade, economic, scientific, technological and cultural cooperation (IRIGC-TEC) and the other on military-technical cooperation (IRIGC-MTC) meet annually.

In 2021, thanks to joint efforts, Russia and India conducted over 100 joint R&D activities on promising topics, including aviation, to create a solid foundation for the future development of high-tech industries in the two countries. This was done with the help of the Russian Academy of Science (RAS), Russia India Network of Universities (RIN) and DST/CSIR/IIT/IISER institutes, which have conducted a series of scientific webinars and seminars on such topics as Nano-technology, New Materials, Advanced Manufacturing, Quantum Technologies, Disaster Management Technologies, etc.

In terms of academic research, 2015 was an important year for cooperation between Russian and Indian institutions of higher education. On May 8, 2015, 21 Russian and 9 Indian leading universities signed a declaration to establish the Russian-Indian Association of Universities. The primary aim was to create a platform for joint research and educational programmes.

Despite the constraints associated with the COVID-19, an online programme between AIM and SIRIUS was developed by both sides in coordination with the Indian Embassy in Moscow. The aim of the programme is to develop joint innovations for social and economic impact as well as to showcase the richness and strengths of the cultural similarities between the two countries. For example, in 2022, the Department of Science & Technology (DST), Government of India and Ministry of Science and Higher Education (MSHE) of the Russian Federation invite Indian and Russian scientists to submit proposals for joint research projects.

Scientific and technological innovation and entrepreneurship are also priorities for India and Russia. The two nations are cooperating in this area to promote enterprise creation, acceleration programmes, grant support for innovation, localisation of innovative industries in the two countries through innovation clusters and techno parks in the both countries. For this purpose, the Department of Science & Technology, Govt. of India and the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation in 2019 signed a MoU for cooperation in the field of innovation.

Since India and Russia are BRICS member countries, they are engaged in projects within the framework of the whole association. For example, the latest BRICS R&D call was also focussed on combating the current pandemic, Covid-19. Joint projects are being developed to develop new therapeutics, including vaccine development, virology research and other activities.

Finally, in science and technology cooperation, joint cooperation in the Arctic should be highlighted. Although the partnership in this area has only recently emerged, this field is quite promising in strengthening bilateral Russian-Indian cooperation. In 2014, Russian President Vladimir V. Putin's visit to India resulted in a joint statement. Putin's joint statement recognised the importance of the Arctic region for both countries and their willingness to develop a partnership in this sector, as well as to explore technologies for processing rare earth materials in the Arctic. Today, both Russia and India are cooperating in the Arctic on the following issues: 1) joint exploration of the Arctic shelf; 2) prospecting and development of new deposits of natural resources; and 3) exploitation of new hydrocarbon resources. Furthermore, every year Russian scientists visit Indian polar stations and similarly Indian scientists also visit Russian stations in Antarctica. Recently, India hosted the International Conference on Antarctic Research (ICAR) in Bharati, Antarctica, wherein Russian scientists from Progress stations took part.

"We consider the fact that both countries are committed to building a knowledge economy based on the latest scientific advances and innovations. We aim to strengthen scientific cooperation in areas like space technology, aviation, new materials, agriculture, information and communication technology, medicine, pharmaceuticals, robotics, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence and materials science and to introduce high-tech products in foreign markets," the leaders announced at the regular meeting.

Science and technology have always been a key focus of the India-Russia (and Indo-Soviet) bilateral partnership, besides political, trade and economic and military collaborations. Joint efforts have led to the creation of knowledge, products and facilities in hundreds of common projects, industries and scientific laboratories. With the support of both governments, there are good prospects to take S&T cooperation to a new level, ensuring not only global leadership in modern industries but also improving the quality of people' lives in both India and Russia.

Africa-BRICS Youth Forum 2022 Discussed Agenda for 2023 (Молодежный форум «Африка-БРИКС-2022» обсудил повестку дня на 2023 год) / Russia, October, 2022
Keywords: cooperation, social_issues

The topic of the opening session of South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation was "Priorities for South Africa's 2023 BRICS Presidency".

The aim of the discussion was to receive expert presentations from key partner organisation AND to allow space for youth to develop concrete recommendations that can be incorporated into the Africa-BRICS youth agenda for 2023.

The forum included five key sessions: "Building the rural economy through access to technology, "Climate change and green energy", "Youth economic mobility and entrepreneurship", "Pursuing effective education reform for sustainable skills development" and "Preserving and promoting cultural heritage in the global South".

The participants discussed how an Africa-BRICS Youth Agenda can begin to address some of these challenges in the context of the 2023 BRICS South African Presidency.

Lyle Davidson, South African Deputy Director for BRICS at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) underlined that for South Africa BRICS is not only a governmental partnership: "It's a partnership that spreads across all sectors of society, and it's important that ownership of the direction of BRICS and BRICS cooperation to be driven by the people, by the youth, by the women and by the communities on the ground."

"For South Africa we contextualise BRICS and South cooperation. In 1935 the newly independent Africa and Asian countries came together to find a way to find a voice in the world. In terms of BRIC, that started in 2006 by Russia, and it led to the first summit in 2009. It was important that you could not have a formation of the global sub without the African member. So we started participating in 2011," he said.

He added that the cooperation of South Africa and BRICS accounts for 50% of the world's population, 25% of the global GDP and 20% of the world's trade.

"But beyond a sort of big statistics, BRICS collaboration has surprisingly grown. We now have over 180 meetings a year on political and security matters, economic and financial matters," Lyle Davidson stressed.

He also talked about the Africa-BRICS youth agenda for 2023: "We will be looking to unlock opportunities through the African Continental Free Trade Agreement and African Continental Free Trade Area, we create a predictable environment for investments by all our partners including BRICS. We will be looking to bold a recently-formed achievements in the World Trade Organisation and to identify achievable, meaningful and timeless reforms that can be achieved."

According to the South African Deputy Director for BRICS at the DIRCO, it is necessary to take the partnership forward that will be beneficial not only to BRICS countries, but also to the rest of the world.

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