Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 28.2018
2018.07.09 — 2018.07.15
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
BRICS remains major force for win-win cooperation: Chinese ambassador (БРИКС остается основной силой для взаимовыгодного сотрудничества: посол Китая) / China, July, 2018
Keywords: quotation, expert_opinion

BRICS, which comprises Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, is a major force for "win-win cooperation and the democratization of international relations," Chinese Ambassador to South Africa Lin Songtian said Monday.

Lin made the remarks at a forum jointly hosted by the South African Institute of International Affairs and the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

China is looking expectantly to a future with marked improvement in the lives of the majority of the world's people who would be championed by the BRICS, the Chinese ambassador said.

Lin highlighted BRICS' achievements, saying that foreign direct investment by BRICS countries has contributed a phenomenal 50 percent to the world economic growth.

As leaders from BRICS countries are set to meet in Johannesburg later this month for their 10th summit, Lin said the second golden decade of BRICS cooperation is an "important platform for win-win cooperation for common development."

He said China is trying to move the world into a direction that is guided by the principle of shared interests and a "shared future for mankind."

"The BRICS countries must send to the world a signal of justice, the rule of law, fairness and common interests," the ambassador said.

He said this would be done within the context of the "second golden decade of cooperation" in which China is ready to work with the international community for a better, shared future, within "a global governance regime that is just and equitable."

The ambassador pointed out that the current international situation has gone through profound changes, as certain superpowers have been pursuing unilateralism, protectionism and self-interest. Faced with such a complicated situation, enhancing BRICS cooperation is particularly important and essential, he said.

The ambassador also talked about the significant advances achieved by his country, the immense possibilities for infrastructure development on the continent and the specific ties that bind China and South Africa together.

Reflecting on China's relationship with Africa, Lin said that there were "no empty promises" in this relationship, which is concretely tied to 10 major plans underwritten by the Chinese government.

He cited the example of Ethiopia, where a railroad and an industrial development corridor, built with the help of China, have contributed to the African country's gross domestic product growth of 10 percent over four years.

Lin said China has become South Africa's largest trading partner over the last nine years, and his country has a positive outlook on the prospects for South Africa's development.

The ambassador also said that there is vast opportunity for economic cooperation with South Africa in numerous sectors.

China and South Africa have great potential for strengthening relations, he said.

"We need each other and we have to respect each other for win-win cooperation for common development," he said.

China Says BRICS to Step Up Group Decision-Making Amid US Trade Row (Китай заявляет, что БРИКС ускорит процесс принятия решений в рамках американского торгового скандала) / Russia, July, 2018
Keywords: trade_relations

BEIJING (Sputnik) - The five BRICS emerging economies will coordinate decision-making more closely in response to US unilateral trade policies, Chinese assistant foreign minister Zhang Jun said Friday.

"The countries will boost macropolitical coordination to respond to challenges, such as unilateral actions and protectionism, and risks associated with policy changes in some developed Western countries," he told reporters.

The diplomat was speaking ahead of a BRICS summit in Johannesburg on July 25-27. The bloc is made up of the world's fastest growing economies – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Zhang Jun said member states were committed to international trade rules as laid out by the World Trade Organization and promoting cooperation in digital economy and infrastructure construction projects.

The United States announced this year steep metal import tariffs on many countries, including its allies and BRICS countries, and singled out China for billions in extra duties citing a huge trade imbalance. China vowed to take countermeasures.
Putin, Erdogan Agree to Hold Meeting at BRICS Summit - Source (Путин и Эрдоган договорились о проведении встречи на саммите БРИКС - Источник) / Russia, July, 2018
Keywords: summit, top_level_meeting, vladimir_putin

ANKARA (Sputnik) - Russian President Vladimir Putin held a telephone conversation with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the sides agreed to hold a meeting on the sidelines of BRICS summit in Johannesburg on July 25-27, a source from Turkish presidential administration told Sputnik on Saturday.

"The presidents of Russia and Turkey held a telephone conversation today and agreed to hold a meeting at the BRICS summit in Johannesburg in the end of this month," the source said.
According to the source, the two leaders also discussed the situation in Syria and some joint projects, including the TurkStream gas pipeline and the construction of Turkey's Akkuyu nuclear power plant (NPP).

"Erdogan said that he was very concerned about attacks on civilians in [Syrian] Daraa. If the Syrian regime continues to take the same actions in Idlib, Astana arrangements will lose point," the source added.

In this regard, according to the source, it is very important to involve the Syrian opposition in the next round of talks in Astana on July 30-31.
Can South Africa shape BRICS normative agenda in Africa? (Может ли Южная Африка сформировать нормативную повестку дня БРИКС в Африке?) / South Africa, July, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, SA_chairmanship, summit
South Africa
Author: Prof Garth le Pere

As South Africa prepares to host the 10th summit of BRICS from 25-27 July for the second time, its role since joining the grouping in 2011 invites reflection. It has often been remarked that South Africa's aggressive pursuit of membership in BRICS has not been matched by any clarity of thought about what it wished to achieve for the country or how its strategic interests would be advanced or find expression in BRICS, beyond the celebratory back-slapping of adding its name to the acronym.

South Africa's White Paper on foreign policy (May 2011) had the sub-title, "Building a Better World", and was underpinned by the humanist principles of Ubuntu (humanity) and Batho Pele (putting people first). There was an explicit emphasis on pan-Africanism and South-South solidarity as anchors of its international engagements, with a profound normative focus on championing human rights, democracy, reconciliation; and eradicating poverty and underdevelopment.

However, the White Paper's people-oriented promise was betrayed by a depreciation of South Africa's moral currency and diplomatic stature in international affairs under former President Jacob Zuma. There was a drift away from the normative ethos of its external engagements towards forms of crude instrumentalism, diplomatic ceremonialism, and unprincipled pragmatism. These were compounded by Zuma's predatory and patrimonial style of politics at home whose taproot deeply penetrated the body politic through factionalism, corruption, abuse of public resources, and lack of accountability.

Under President Ramaphosa, South Africa now has an opportunity to once more play an influential and consequential leadership role on the global stage that is normatively defined and ethically driven, and thereby help to repair the damage of the Zuma years. Up to now, its precise role in BRICS has been rather ambivalent and confusing, made even more worrisome against the backdrop of an increasingly fractious and uncertain global order, and a mercurial US President Trump. A cosmopolitan globalisation that once was supposed to provide prosperity for all has increasingly given way to the realist tribalisation of international relations where the powerful get what they desire and the weak suffer what they must. However, against these extremes and in terms of the prescripts of Ubuntu and Batho Pele, we are also "unavoidably side by side" (as Immanuel Kant reminds us) while our mutual vulnerabilities and degrees of interconnectedness as humans have vastly increased.

As a categorical imperative, South Africa must therefore help to shape the strategic and substantive interface between BRICS and Africa in the first instance since its moral infrastructure in foreign policy since 1994 has been an Afro-centric one. This will require a redefinition of South Africa's 'Africa Agenda' that takes into account some changing strategic realities concerning the continent's integration and development priorities. In this regard, there are three considerations.

The first relates to the broad integration template of Agenda 2063 that will propel 'The Africa We Want'. Agenda 2063 represents a transformative vision and a policy framework to achieve "an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena".

A critical element of Agenda 2063 is giving life to new and productive activities and shifting from traditional rent-seeking and extractive sectors to more value-enhancing activities that are capable of engendering nascent forms of industrialisation based on Africa's comparative advantages in manufacturing, services, and agriculture. The imperative for an enhanced BRICS role in Africa's structural transformation should be informed by the reality that resource extraction has reached a point of diminishing returns and is limiting Africa's long-term growth and development prospects.

The second consideration which supports Agenda 2063 is the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area early this month, an initiative where BRICS should find mutually beneficial synergies. South Africa has joined 50 countries that have signed onto what is now the largest free trade area in the world, with a population of 1.2 billion people and a GDP of $3.4trillion. It creates a single African market for goods and services, facilitated by the free movement of people, capital, and investment that will unlock great opportunities for scale production, market access, and resource usage.

Given the neo-mercantilist impulses of the EU and US in Africa, BRICS' challenge is how they locate themselves to take advantage of the anticipated increase in intra-African trade of more than 50%, which could even be higher if the significant non-tariff hurdles could be addressed. We should also not ignore Africa's supply-side constraints, especially in trade-related infrastructure as well as knowledge, financial, and technology transfers. Here China and South Africa have made significant contributions which BRICS could usefully build upon.

The third is a recent development in the form of the Africa Economic Platform (AEP), which is expected to be the African equivalent of the Davos-based World Economic Forum. Formed in 2014 under the auspices of the African Union and based on broad African and international stakeholder engagement, the AEP serves as the organisational and financing vehicle for 10-year programmes arising from Agenda 2063. There is an acknowledgement that the success of such programmes will not be realised through Africa's perennial reliance on external sources of funding and hence the overwhelming imperative for Africa to finance its own growth and development through mobilising domestic resources while inviting global partnerships. As a potential partner, BRICS could be integral to the success of the AEP.

The spirit of Ubuntu and Batho Pele must infuse South Africa's recalibrated Africa agenda such that its membership in BRICS becomes demonstrably more meaningful for Africa. It must unambiguously address its frayed image and eroded identity in Africa by defining new normative parameters based on solidarity, cooperation, responsibility, and empathy.

It's said that the owl of Minerva flies at dusk; let's hope South Africa can guide the correct perspectives for BRICS in Africa.

Garth le Pere is Extraordinary Professor at the University of Pretoria

BRICs education ministers sign deal to tackle challenges (Министры образования стран БРИКС подписали соглашение о решении проблем) / South Africa, July, 2018
Keywords: social_issues, concluded_agreements
South Africa

BRICS Ministers of Education yesterday signed a declaration to address 21st century challenges and opportunities regarding the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Hosted by the Department of Higher Education and Training, the theme for this year's meeting was, "Deepening BRICS Education Partnerships and Exchanges", which also reflected on the successes and challenges related to earlier education commitments made by the BRICS countries.

At yesterday's meeting, it was agreed that access to education and training in BRICS states was expanding, and that countries face common challenges in promoting educational equity.

The states made a commitment to strengthen collaboration in technical and vocational education and training (TVET) through, among others, sharing information and frameworks about development.
The declaration also seeks to support the co-ordinating process for the BRICS Network University, as well as reaffirm the commitment to the UN's Sustainable Development Goal 4, which aims to "ensure inclusive and equitable education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all" that was set within the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The declaration was adopted unanimously, according to South Africa's Minister of Higher Education and Training Naledi Pandor.

"It is an action-oriented goal, and we have taken, adopted, and agreed to individual areas of responsibility for implementing aspects.

"Our declaration is about sharing best practices, and thereby strengthening the education systems of our respective countries.

"I'm sure we will, as ministers of education, ensure that our senior officials will be held accountable for taking forward what we have agreed to in this meeting," Pandor pointed out.

The meeting takes place annually in line with the BRICS rotational chair-ship. Last year's meeting was hosted by China.

Since its inception in 2013, ministers have agreed on broad themes of education collaboration, including university linkages, and higher education mobility.

The Deputy Minister of Education in the People's Republic of China, Zhu Zhiwen, said the declaration laid the foundation for sustainable development in education.

"It is encouraging to know what we can achieve through the higher education and training sector," Zhu said.

India's Minister of State for Human Resource Development (Higher Education), Satya Pal Singh, said education could drive holistic development.

This was especially the case when promoting digitalisation to improve education and training.

Singh said within a few years many of the jobs currently offered will either be redundant or have different qualification requirements, which meant that BRICS countries needed to embrace technology without delay.
Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
India's economy grows at a fast pace (Экономика Индии растет быстрыми темпами) / Russia, July, 2018
Keywords: economic_challenges, rating, research

India is the largest stable democracy and the third largest economy in the world. It has a population of 1.32 billion people that is still growing fast. By 2022 India is expected to overtake China as the most populous country in the world, Analytical Center experts write in their new bulletin on the current trends in the global economy titled India: Characteristics of its Economic Growth and the Energy Sector.

According to the experts, India has been demonstrating stability and high growth rates. The reforms that India has been implementing since 1991 have created conditions for accelerated economic growth, making the economic environment in the country more liberal, transparent and favorable for both domestic and foreign investments. "In 2000-2017 the country's GDP expanded by a factor of 3.3. The average real GDP growth in India was 7.1% in 2000-2017. Despite the global financial crisis the country's economy continued to grow at a fast pace in 2008-2009, which only slowed down to 3.9% in 2008. In 2011 India's GDP growth slowed down primarily because of slowing growth in the industrial sector. This was mostly the result of reduced output of capital goods," the analysts write in their bulletin.

In 2014-2016 India's economy was growing faster than that of China, the experts note. Despite the country's economic growth slowing down somewhat in 2016-2017, India still remains the fastest growing economy in the world. Its contribution to the global GDP (in purchasing power parity) reached 7.4% in 2017, according to preliminary IMF estimates.

In the 21st century the socio-economic indicators characterizing the standard of living in India has also demonstrated sustained growth, the experts note. In 2016, 84.5% of the country's population had access to electricity, which is more than 25 percentage points more than in 2000. Internet penetration went up from 7.5% in 2010 to 29.5% in 2016. Especially important is the significant increase in life expectancy: from 62.6 years in 2000 to 68.6 years in 2016.

Even though a large share of the population lives in poverty, the level of inequality in India is less than in Africa or Latin America, the specialists believe. The richest 10% of the population (the first decile) earned 29.8% of the total household income while the poorest 10% earned 3.6% of the total household income in 2011. The rich/poor index in 2011 was 8.3, which is far lower than for the other BRICS countries (for South Africa it is 57). The Gini index was 0.351 in 2014.

For details see the bulletin India: Characteristics of its Economic Growth and the Energy Sector.

The other bulletins on current global economic trends can be found in Publications.
On BRICS vs. Distance (О БРИКС и расстояниях) / Russia, July, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, economic_challenges, global_governance
Author: Yaroslav Lissovolik

Nothing makes the earth seem so spacious as to have friends at a distance; they make the latitudes and longitudes.

Henry David Thoreau

The BRICS block conceived as a basket of emerging markets to yield financial returns turned out to be far more suited for building something very different – a governance network that reaches out into different parts of the world. The outreach exercises undertaken by BRICS economies in the past five years may have brought the regional partners of the BRICS countries closer to the block's core members in terms of the understanding of where the world economy is and where it is headed. But apart from bridging the conceptual divides across the Global South another important dimension is the sheer physical distance between BRICS members and their counterparts in the developing world.

Indeed, the uniqueness of the BRICS formation is precisely its geography and the tremendous distance that sets the core BRICS members apart. If one takes the distance between the capitals of the respective BRICS countries any other block or grouping pales in comparison to the polarities exhibited by BRICS linkages. Even if only the economies of BRICS from the same continent of Eurasia are taken into account, the distances between the capitals of India, China and Russia already set the extremes that are hard to match in any other grouping. In particular, the distances between Moscow and Beijing as well as New Delhi and Beijing reach 5787 kilometers and 3800 kilometers respectively, while the Lisbon-Warsaw connection (one of the longer ones between EU capitals) spans 2760 kilometers. The inter-continental divides between BRICS countries take the factor of distance to a whole new level: for example the distance between Moscow and Brasilia amounts to 11180 kilometers [1].

At the same time, the other facet of the uniqueness of BRICS is that while they are extremely far from each other, they are at the same time closer than any other block to the outside world. In this respect, every BRICS economy is a leading force in each of the main regions of the developing world – Brazil in South America, South Africa in the African continent, Russia in the CIS region, China in East Asia and India in South Asia. If the average of all the connections between the BRICS core is likely to be far ahead of any other block, the average distance from the any of the BRICS members to other countries is likely to be the lowest of all regional groupings.

Accordingly for BRICS the factor of distance is an unprecedented challenge and a unique opportunity. The extremity of the distance between the BRICS economies renders the attainment of high trade intensities difficult as is borne out by the experience of the grouping in the past decade. Indeed, the indications of the gravity model, which sets potential trade as a function of distance and the respective country GDP levels, suggest that the possibility set in terms of intra-BRICS trade may be limited, particularly along the inter-continental axis. Accordingly, the unprecedented challenge calls for an unprecedented response in terms of mutual integration being promoted in novel ways that serve to overcome the distance factor.

The way to overcome distance in economic integration is to prioritize those areas of cooperation that are less affected by the distance factor. One key aspect is the development of the services sector, including financial cooperation and e-commerce. The crucial point here is that the services sector is precisely the segment of all BRICS economies that is relatively underdeveloped and harbours the potential to deliver a critical contribution to GDP growth rates. Nowhere among BRICS is this more relevant than in China, where the switch from industrial to services growth is already transforming services and household consumption into the main engines of economic expansion at the expense of industry and investment.

Other prescriptions for dealing with distance include the development of innovative sectors and in particular the digital economy, which may be one of the key ways of transcending the gravity of any given location. Another crucial area is investment cooperation, including through the construction of regional and global value-chains. Most importantly, however, economic integration and infrastructure development present the most powerful tools of overcoming distance – lower trade and customs barriers, greater economic weight of the combined formations, improved connectivity across regions and economic blocks serve to attenuate the geographical barriers.

As for the unique opportunity that is harboured by the proximity of BRICS to different parts of the developing world it is largely expressed via the regional partnerships formed by core BRICS members, most notably their priority regional trading arrangements such as the Eurasian Economic Union, Mercosur or SADC. It is through the concert of such regional trading arrangements that the BRICS countries perform the role of conduits to each other's macroregions in different parts of the globe. Indeed, this may be the true mission of the BRICS grouping – aside from the creation of alternative integration and development models it is an arrangement that raises the optionality of economic ties in terms of gaining access to different parts of the global economy with BRICS and their regional partners serving as ports of entry or widows into a given macroregion or continent.

The key questions are how to leverage this uniqueness of BRICS in terms of their proximity to the outside world and how can the transmission of trade and investment impulses be strengthened across such a framework? Firstly, it appears that boosting regional economic integration between BRICS and their respective regional partners could significantly raise the "conductivity" of linkages from core BRICS members into the wider regions and BRICS-led regional formations. Secondly, a framework of "integration of integrations" that serves as a platform of cooperation among the BRICS-led regional integration groups could significantly raise the capabilities of BRICS members and their regional partners to reach out and establish ties in other macro-regions of the developing world with core BRICS and their neighbours.

This interaction between stronger ties across BRICS core members on the one hand and between BRICS and their regional partners on the other may be a mutually reinforcing one: the stronger the regional integration of a given BRICS member, the better the "conductivity" of economic ties from other BRICS countries into that region and the greater the gravity pull of a larger economic weight exerted by the regional integration grouping with respect to other BRICS. And conversely, the stronger the inter-BRICS connectivity, the more attractive is each BRICS core member to their respective regional neighbours as a more reliable gateway into large and expanding markets.

In the end, BRICS presents a different configuration compared to any alliance formed thus far – a geometry that shortens the distance with the outside world at the cost of extending the distance among the core members. Another way to look at the geometry of the BRICS alliance is that there is no core and no periphery – in effect BRICS may be termed as being "equidistant" to the outside developing world. Such a setting argues in favour of prioritizing BRICS cooperation towards investment, services and regional cooperation via "integration of integrations". What it also suggests is that the extended BRICS+ format that brings together core BRICS members and their regional partners could benefit from a flexible "network-type" of an arrangement rather than being predicated on rigid and uniform standards.

[1] In terms of geography another block that is unique, but in a reverse fashion is the Eurasian Economic Union. It may be characterized as having the greatest distance to the outside world given the inwardness of the geographical location of most of its members – 4 out of 5 member countries of the Union are landlocked, with most of the Central Asian economies exhibiting extreme distances from the coastal lines.
Iran does brisk business with BRICS (Иран ведет активный бизнес с БРИКС) / India, July, 2018
Keywords: trade_relations

Despite the threat of further sanctions on Iran, its oil industry is continuing to do brisk trade with a number of countries, including the BRICS.

According to Iranian oil industry sources in Tehran, overall bilateral trade with BRICS countries reached 53.78 million tons.

While this is a decline of just over 8 per cent year on year, its value is up 7.4 per cent due to higher oil prices.

The volume of trade reached a value of just over $29 billion in the year ending March 21, 2018.

In the meantime, India has moved ahead boosting its strategic trade ties to Iran.

In February, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi signed nine new trade agreements with Iranian President

The agreements include the development of the strategic port of Chabahar in Iran.

India intends to lease two berths at Chabahar for 10 years. The port will be developed through a special purpose vehicle (SPV) which will invest $85.21 million to convert the berths into a container terminal and a multi-purpose cargo terminal.

The port of Chabahar in southeast Iran is pivotal to India's efforts to open up a route to landlocked Afghanistan where it has developed close security ties and economic interests.

In April, Iran and Russia agreed to work together within the framework of a Moscow-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) following three years of discussion and negotiations on free trade.

The agreement, which will require ratification in both countries, will bolster bilateral trade and investment and also open Iranian markets and investors to the other EEU members – Kazakhstan, Belarus, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Vietnam.

Iran's inclusion into the EEU will help it access markets that may have been previously blocked due to US sanctions.

Once ratified, Iran will be expected to establish a free trade zone for EEU trade.

BRICS countries have deepened ties over past decade (Страны БРИКС углубили связи за последнее десятилетие) / China, July, 2018
Keywords: ndb, economic_challenges

This year marks the 11th year of cooperation among the BRICS nations. During the past decade, BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – has emerged as one of the most promising economic groups in the world.

From 2007 to 2017, the economic volume of the five countries rose from 12 to 23 percent of the world's total, trade volume moved from 11 to 16 percent and foreign investment from 7 to 12 percent. The five have contributed over half of the world's economic growth, benefiting over 3 billion people.

The New Development Bank and the Contingent Reserve Arrangement, the financial architecture of BRICS, are expected to provide 8 billion US dollars in loans to 35 major projects this year.

At the same time, several documents were assigned in last year's leaders' summit in Xiamen, China. They include the Action Agenda on Economic and Trade Cooperation, Action Plan for Innovation Cooperation and the Strategic Framework of BRICS Customs Cooperation. These documents have provided a blueprint for the group's future development.

Earlier this month, BRICS think tanks gathered in Johannesburg, contributing their wisdom to global governance in the interests of the people.
OPINION: Development finance - The new engine for BRICS co-operation (МНЕНИЕ: Финансирование развития - новый механизм сотрудничества БРИКС) / South Africa, July, 2018
Keywords: investments, expert_opinion
South Africa

JOHANNESBURG - The 10th BRICS Summit, to be held in Johannesburg, is a significant event for co-operation between BRICS countries. President Xi Jinping and President Cyril Ramaphosa will attend the meeting, aiming to enforce mutually beneficial co-operation among BRICS countries and the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and South Africa. They will also make a contribution to constructing a community of common destiny for all mankind.

Last September, at the invitation of President Xi, BRICS leaders gathered in Xiamen, China, to hold the ninth meeting, where they reviewed and summarised the achievements made throughout the 10 years under the BRICS co-operation mechanism, put forward the Xiamen Declaration, reached a broad consensus on further deepening co-operation and ushered in the second golden decade of BRICS co-operation.

Through the joint efforts made by member countries, BRICS has become an important engine for global economic growth, with remarkable accomplishments in a variety of areas, including economy, finance, international security, environmental protection and global governance, which have brought about greater fairness and reasonableness in the global economy and governance system.

At present, the world is in a period of great development, huge change and major adjustment. The global trends toward multi-polarity and economic globalisation are intensifying, the global economy is in difficult recovery and all countries are facing many common threats and challenges. Only by strengthening solidarity and co-operation can we achieve lasting stability and development. The initiation of BRICS is the very response to the common needs of the five member countries and follows the trend of history.

Therefore, we highly expect the Johannesburg summit of BRICS leaders to achieve fruitful results, deepen practical co-operation in various fields, and inject new impetus into a closer, more comprehensive and stronger strategic partnership.

Financial co-operation is at the core of BRICS co-operation. Each BRICS country is at a critical stage of development and the economic connections among the five countries are getting increasingly closer, creating new demands for BRICS financial co-operation.

As an important financial form, development finance operates on market principles with the backing of sovereign credit, ensures principal safety and modest profitability, and upholds strategic planning and pluralistic financial services, so as to promote the BRICS financial co-operation with more vigour, order and efficacy to deliver greater achievements.

China Development Bank (CDB) is a Chinese development finance institution and also the largest outbound investment and financing co-operation bank in China.

For years, we actively implemented the concept of "building a community of common destiny for all mankind" proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping and made full use of development finance to support BRICS cooperation and development.

We initiated a BRICS interbank co-operation mechanism, which provides member banks with a platform to actively carry out multilateral or bilateral financial co-operation and plays an important role in promoting the economic development and trade co-operation of BRICS countries.

During the Xiamen Summit in 2017, we signed the Interbank Local Currency Credit Line Agreement Under BRICS Interbank Co-operation Mechanism and the Co-operation Memorandum Relating to Credit Ratings Under BRICS Interbank Co-operation Mechanism with member banks, including the South African Development Bank, which further deepened the interbank financial and monetary co-operation among BRICS countries and therefore enhanced the practical co-operation of BRICS.

By the end of May 2018, CDB's loan balance in BRICS countries had reached $110billion (R1.47trillion), accounting for 40percent of the bank's total international loans, covering areas including ports, highways, industrial parks, power stations, energy resources, small and medium enterprises, people's livelihoods, etc.

South Africa is an important member of BRICS and also a priority for CDB's international operations. Up to now, CDB has provided a total of $6.5bn medium- and long-term loans to South Africa, in areas of electricity, manufacturing, resource development, telecommunication, roads, airlines, ports, urban utilities and people's livelihoods, supporting projects such as Transnet's purchasing locomotives from CRRC Corporation, and the Eskom coal-fired power station, etc.

In addition, CDB has invested $680million in South Africa through China Africa Development Fund, leveraging investment of more than $3.4bn from Chinese enterprises.

Furthermore, we lent a total of $2bn through African SME Loans to African countries, including South Africa, which created 88000 jobs and benefits 470000 farmers.

Currently, BRICS has become an important platform for communication and co-operation between emerging markets and developing countries with a broad prospect for development. The "BRICS+" model proposed by China will attract more emerging markets and developing countries to participate in the BRICS mechanism, promote a broader partnership and expand BRICS' "circle of friends".

The Belt and Road Initiative will improve the international market environment, including BRICS countries, and conform to the interests of all countries and bring new opportunities for the co-operation of BRICS countries.

CDB is willing to work together with all parties to carry out broader, deeper and more practical co-operation to make new contributions to the common prosperity and development of BRICS countries.

Hu Huaibang is the chairperson of China Development Bank (CDB).

The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

The idea of a rating agency is very widely supported: NDB's Leslie Maasdorp (Идея рейтингового агентства очень широко поддерживается: Лесли Маасдорп из НБР) / India, July, 2018
Keywords: ndb, rating, expert_opinion

New Delhi: The New Development Bank (NDB) is not averse to lending to China's Belt and Road Initiative, the bank's chief financial officer (CFO) and vice-president Leslie Maasdorp signalled in an interview last month. India currently accounts for a third of loan approvals by the bank, set up by the five BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) economies to challenge the dominance of developed countries.

Maasdorp, a South African national, was in India during the third annual general meeting of the board of governors of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in Mumbai. He added that of its total portfolio of $5.1 billion of approved loans, the bank has approved $1.7 billion to India.

Maasdorp also spoke about $2.4 billion of projects in the pipeline for India—one of the largest borrowers in the multi-lateral lending system— the proposed BRICS rating agency, and making NDB grow beyond the BRICS grouping. Edited excerpts:

With a plethora of multilateral banks now, how does a new bank such as NDB create a distinct space for itself?

Within the two dozen multilateral banks, there are probably three substantial multilateral banks. If you look at the total capitalization of all of these banks combined, and if you look at the demand for infrastructure, there is still a massive gap. In other words, all the multilateral development banks combined probably can only fill up 10-15% of the total funding needed in infrastructure…All of the different estimates on the funding gap suggests that the financing gap is so large that there is no competition amongst the banks. It's not like that we have to find a niche space.

Second point that I would like to make is that our bank has a specific member base. These are the large emerging markets; these are some of the fastest growing economies like India, like China and so on or big emerging markets like Brazil. These economies are significant contributors to global growth. In fact, more than half of global growth comes from these countries. And emerging markets will continue to be the major contributors to global growth. So, our membership of countries, because they are fast growing, urbanizing, industrializing; there is a massive need for infrastructure. That's going to continue for a good couple of decades. So, we have a solid platform for our business.

Will NDB focus beyond BRICS countries?

NDB is a creation of BRICS. If you look at the Articles for our bank, in 2015 when it was signed by the five countries, it says very clearly that the bank is a global bank. It started out as BRICS countries. So, this bank will also expand in membership. It will also become more global. And, it is already defined in the Articles about how it is going to expand. It says that the BRICS countries will dilute 55% (of their stake). So, now BRICS countries own 20% stake each. They will dilute 11% each to 55%. And the other 45% will be divided into borrowing members and non-borrowing members.

So, which are the new members now you are looking at for NDB?

It is difficult to say because they have not applied yet. We haven't started the process yet. We are still refining the modalities of how we are going to bring the new countries, in defining the criteria, defining the procedures and so on. But the bank's Articles authorize that we will have $100 billion of capital and at the moment we have $50 billion of subscribed capital. So, to go to the $100 billion, we will require to expand to bring new members. So, at some stage in next couple of years, the bank will grow beyond five countries.

Which are the countries who have evinced interest in becoming members?

It is difficult to pinpoint countries as I said that the process is not been defined yet. I will say there will be a mixture of both fast growing and developed countries especially in Asia. But what we are likely to do is to look at countries through different parts of the world. I would anticipate that there will be countries from Latin America coming in because Brazil is located there. There will be African countries coming in because South Africa is located there. There will be Asian, Central Asian and East European countries coming in because Russia is located there. It is difficult to single out countries at this stage.

How do you manage some of the contradictions such as China's ambitious Belt and Road Initiative? India on its part has been critical of China developing the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). If there is a proposal for BRI, what will your stand be?

With respect to Belt and Road Initiative, this is a significant economic integration strategy initiated by China but it is not only a China initiative, right? It involves 65 countries. It is more of a global, cross-continental kind of initiative. So, one should see in that context. I mean China, India are two very important countries, big economies but this thing involves a lot more than China, India; that's the first point.

Secondly, the fact that there is contestation around one specific project doesn't detract from the idea that China and India would both benefit significantly from the economic multiplier benefits from a lot of these projects. This is about providing road infrastructure, port infrastructure, integrating these economies in more dynamic ways to facilitate trade, economic integration of these economies…It is not China having a strategy to expand and extend its influence in economic terms.

But Belt and Road is been viewed as hegemonic in nature.

I guess, maybe that's one perspective on the Belt and Road. Everything that we have attended in listening mode //chk// because we are only in the five countries. We are not doing cross-border projects involving many of these Belt and Road countries that are not our members. AIIB is more active in that space. But it is likely that we could co-finance; for example we have really started now, we are going to co-finance the Mumbai Metro with AIIB. It is very likely that we could co-finance projects which touch Russia, India, China, certain other countries in this jurisdiction, our members that might be branded Belt and Road. Remember that Belt and Road is an elastic concept based on no clearly defined path of what constitutes Belt and Road…It is still evolving.

So, as a bank you wouldn't be averse to financing it?

The bank will support anything that is in line with our Articles that develops infrastructure and sustainable development in these five countries. We are focused on executing on our mandate which is mobilizing finance as much as we can to provide multi-economic benefits to infrastructure provision, helping our economies grow.

What is the status of the proposed BRICS rating agency as pushed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi?

I know that there has been a study and there is a discussion taking place on the idea of a BRICS rating agency. When India chaired the BRICS Summit, they did a feasibility study into the idea of establishing an emerging market focused rating agency. This has been in discussion part over the last two years. We have not been central to that discussion as a Bank. For the last two years, we have been involved in setting up the Bank, building our loan book, working on our own credit rating. So, we have obtained a domestic AAA credit rating in China as NDB. We are now in the process of obtaining an international credit rating.

I think there is -- as outlined in the study that has been done -- clearly a space for new players in the market. But you can't set up a credit rating agency overnight. It needs to develop its methodology; it needs to carve out its niche to start to rate companies. The top three rating agencies are between 80 and 100-110 years old. So, it takes a very long time to build up that kind of market share because rating agencies are gatekeepers to the capital markets. They are really premised on confidence and trust.

Are India and China on the same page on the issue of such a rating agency?

I believe they are on India's exploration of a BRICS rating agency. But I am not certain that a final decision has been taken after the feasibility study that yes, let's go ahead…None of those decisions have been made. The idea of a rating agency is very widely supported, but on the execution side—the how?-- how to be capitalized, where will this thing be based, who is going to do the initial anchor funding for it, how will it be governed, none of those issues have been finalized.
Buyers from BRICS countries cash in on our weak currency (Покупатели из стран БРИКС наживаются на нашей слабой валюте) / South Africa, July, 2018
Keywords: social_issues, economic_challenges, summit
South Africa

On July 25, delegates from the four foreign BRICS countries will descend on South Africa for the 2018 BRICS summit, and with the falling rand a huge attraction for their currency conversions, one should not be surprised if they decide to snap up some local homes on the market.

Statistics show the appetite of foreign investors for luxury property in South Africa continues to rise, and although European and British investors are "always quick" to spot the potential in the weaker rand exchange rate, Berry Everitt, chief executive of the Chas Everitt International Property Group, says there has been a "big interest" from those in the BRICS group, namely Brazil, Russia, India and China.

"(In these countries) the word is spreading among a growing number of affluent investors about the lifestyle on offer here, and the value for money in our luxury real estate market."

Major attractions for foreign investors, Everitt says, are the weather, scenery and wildlife, good financial infrastructure and the relatively low cost of living compared to the quality of life.

Although the latest stats from Mercer show Joburg and Cape Town are ranked at 191 and 199 out of the 209 most expensive cities in the world, these cities, and Durban, are ranked highly among the most liveable cities in the world. Durban came in at number 89, Cape Town at 94, and Joburg at 96 out of 231 cities on the quality of life list.

Rory O'Hagan, who heads the Chas Everitt International Luxury Portfolio division, says South Africa is attractive to affluent investors from the BRICS group, especially from Brazil and China, which have stronger currencies than ours.

"And, major Brazilian cities are more expensive than South African cities and offer a lower quality of life, according to Mercer. Sao Paulo is ranked at 26 for cost of living but 122 for quality of life, while Rio de Janeiro is ranked 56 for cost of living and 118 for quality of life."

Everitt says affluent Chinese investors keen to gain access to African markets have realised they can buy at least twice as much property for their money here as they can buy in their home country.

A 2016 research report from the Centre for Chinese Studies at Stellenbosch University stated that real estate has become one of the leading sectors for Chinese investment on the African continent. During the preceding five years, China had invested $16.8 billion in the real estate sector in sub-Saharan Africa, or more than double the investment recorded during the preceding five years.

At the time, Pam Golding Properties revealed that an analysis of Chinese individuals owning property in the Cape metro revealed a preference for freehold properties in prestigious locations, with waterfront properties, vineyards and wineries particularly popular.

"An increasing number of Indian and Russian investors are also discovering rupees and roubles will buy much more property in South Africa than in London, New York and their other favourites," he says.

"We expect the demand for luxury homes in South Africa to keep growing, especially in estates around Joburg and along the North Coast of KwaZulu-Natal."
New research from Lightstone reveals that foreign ownership in the local property market has experienced an encouraging upsurge over the past few years, with an increase of 42% in January 2018 compared to the same period in 2017. Gauteng and Cape Town are at the top of the purchasing pile, says Hayley Ivins-Downes, head of property at Lightstone.

BRICS a bulwark against backwardness – Siyabonga Gama (БРИКС - оплот против отсталости - Сиябонга Гама) / South Africa, July, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, rating, economic_challenges
South Africa

BRICS countries should fortify themselves against "the virulent ghosts of nationalism, xenophobia and hatred that continue to haunt us", Transnet GCE Siyabonga Gama told delegates attending the launch of the organisations' African Infrastructure Programme.

Referring to the $34bn in tariffs that the US implemented against China last Friday, prompting the Asian superpower to retaliate by instituting similar tariffs against America, Gama said "it's vitally important that Brazil, Russia, China, India and South Africa" – the countries making up BRICS – "remain sentient to the enormous potential the association has."

Gama reminded delegates that BRICS "represents over 3.6 billion people, or about 41% of the world population", and that "the five nations have a combined GDP of $16.6 trillion".

In addition to the $4 trillion that BRICS has in combined foreign reserves, its collective GDP is "equivalent to approximately 22% of the gross world product".

Speaking at Transnet's Esselen Park premises, Gama remarked that the location used to be a farm called Witfontein whose history was reflected in the neo-classical stonework of Italian prisoners sent there during the 2nd World War.

With nationalism, xenophobia and tariff penalties in mind, he lamented that "it's bitterly ironic that, as a global community of nations, we are revisiting these ideas with a vengeance, much to the detriment of our societies."

Gama furthermore reminded delegates that it was imperative for BRICS to be "a bulwark against those forces that wish to drive us backwards".

Looking to the future, he also reflected on research done by BRICS about the 4th industrial revolution, adding that it entailed striving for "technological advancement in enabling transport networks, skills development, innovations to enhance access to information and infrastructure development".

If digitisation was embraced, it could be the propelling force that drove economic growth in BRICS countries, Gama said.

World of work
Social policy, trade unions, actions
International Policy Dialogue on IFAP Priority Areas focused on BRICS (Международный политический диалог по приоритетным направлениям ПИДВ, ориентированный на БРИКС) / France, July, 2018
Keywords: social_issues, unesco

The African Centre of Excellence for Information Ethics (ACEIE) and the University of Pretoria, in collaboration with BRICS representatives, UNESCO and IFAP, hosted last week an international conference on IFAP Policy Dialogue in Cape Town, South Africa. Delegates from 18 countries, representing academia, government, business and civil society attended it and presented on research matters relating to the six IFAP priority areas, including information for development, information literacy, information preservation, information ethics, information accessibility and multilingualism.

The objectives of the Conference were to create a platform for the IFAP policy dialogue and to support the development of sustainable partnerships in BRICS, African countries and the Asia/Pacific Region. It facilitated strengthening the collaboration in the framework of IFAP to create and revitalize the existing IFAP structures in the BRICS and African countries. The achievements and the next challenges in the work undertaken by IFAP on fighting radicalization leading to violent extremism were also addressed.

"The UNESCO structures, the BRICS countries and key African countries participated in this event towards bringing together academics and practitioners from all over the globe towards building a global network for Information Ethics in the world beyond the 4th industrial revolution" said Coetzee Bester, Director of the ACEIE and the Chairperson of the South African National Committee for IFAP.

The importance of the issues related to the preservation of diversity were also debated by the Nobel Peace Prize Winner and Former President F.W de Klerk, who addressed the delegates about the significance of promoting and safeguarding cultural, religious and ethnic diversity. "The preservation of cultural diversity is also one of the central issues in the debate on where globalization is leading us" stated Mr de Klerk.

The current IFAP activities and the next steps in its expansion were outlined by Dr. Boyan Radoykov from UNESCO. He ended his key-note speech by stating: "Knowledge is essential. It gives to all women and men in the world the capacity to own their destinies, to make competent social choices. This is what IFAP is ultimately about. It is about empowering people, it is about transforming lives. The right of accessing and applying knowledge must become a fundamental human right that is to be upheld with greater efficiency and imagination in a spirit of equity and mutual respect".

Highlights of the week included the opportunity for delegates to visit the Table Mountain, as well as a poignant trip to Robben Island, where the late President Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years.

The Intergovernmental Information for All Programme was established in 2001. It provides a platform for international policy discussions, cooperation and the development of guidelines for action in the area of access to information and knowledge. The Programme supports Member States to develop and implement national information policy and strategy frameworks in the areas of information accessibility, information for development, information ethics, information literacy, information preservation and multilingualism.

The Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation and National Youth Development Agency to Host the BRICS Youth Ministers Meeting and BRICS Youth Summit (Департамент планирования, мониторинга и оценки и Национальное агентство развития молодежи проведут встречу министров молодежи БРИКС и Молодежный саммит БРИКС) / South Africa, July, 2018
Keywords: : social_issues, summit
South Africa

The Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) and National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) will host the BRICS Youth Ministers meeting and BRICS Youth Summit at the Zebula Estate, Bela Bela, Limpopo Province from 16 to 20 July 2018.

The activities will commence with a BRICS Youth Summit from the 16-18 July 2018. The meeting of the Youth Ministers will take place on the 19-20 July 2018.

As part of the activities, the Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma will deliver an opening address for the BRICS Youth Summit at 10h00 on 16 July 2018 and Chair the meeting of the Youth Minister on the 19-20.

The Youth Ministers Meeting will be preceded by a photo opportunity for the media and door stop interviews.

The Youth delegates led by the NYDA and coordinators of the National Youth Service will undertake community service as part of marking the centenary of Nelson Mandela on 18 July 2018.

These activities form part of the preparations for the 10th BRICS Summit which will be held at the Sandton International Convention Centre from 25 to 27 July 2018.

Our country assumed the BRICS Chairship on 1 January 2018 and its tenure will continue until 31 December 2018.

South Africa's membership of the BRICS Forum has become a vital component of its global economic strategy and is viewed as a catalyst and enabling tool for the pursuit and achievement of the country's foreign policy priorities, including the promotion of the African Agenda, sustainable development, global governance reform and South-South cooperation.

The theme for the 10th BRICS Summit is: "BRICS in Africa: Collaboration for Inclusive Growth and Shared Prosperity in the 4th Industrial Revolution". The theme is reflective of the commitment to strive towards the creation of an inclusive society and global partnerships that will bring prosperity to all humankind.

The BRICS Youth Summit will be held as follows: Date: 16 – 18 July 2018 Venue: Zebula Lodge, Bela Bela, Limpopo Province Time: 08h00 – 16h00

The BRICS Youth Ministers Meeting will be held as follows: Date: 19 – 20 July 2018 Venue: Zebula Lodge, Bela Bela, Limpopo Province Time: 08h00 – 16h00

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa: Department of Government Communication and Information.Media files

'Digitisation In Edu' India's Key Theme at BRICS Meet (Переход на цифровые технологии в обучении - ключевая тема Индии на саммите БРИКС) / India, July, 2018
Keywords: social_issues, digital, summit

India has been allotted with the key theme of 'Digitisation in Education' at the prestigious BRICS Meetings of Education Ministers being held at Cape Town in South Africa.

Minister of State (MoS) HRD Dr Satya Pal Singh, who is the Indian representative in the BRICS education summit, during his presentation showcased the significant strides which India has made in field of digitisation of education to ensure access of education to anyone, anytime and anywhere.

Dr Singh said the 'Digital India' initiative of the Government of India is at the fulcrum of the Digitisation of Education. He said that to ensure the access and quality of education in a large country like India, Government of India has leveraged digital technology extensively.

The Education Minister of South Africa appreciated the significant achievements of India in the field of digitisation. Others who attended the sixth meeting of BRICS Education Ministers were Minister of Higher Education and Training of South Africa GNM Pandor, Vice Minister, Ministry of Education, People's Republic of China Zhiwen ZHU, State Secretary-Deputy Minister of Education and Science of Russian Federation Pavel Zenkowich and Head of International Affairs, Ministry of Education of Brazil, Leonordo Cardoso.

In his opening remarks, Dr Singh said that Government of India supports the efforts of the BRICS nations to further deepen the collaborations in areas of Research, Innovation, Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) with special emphasis on promotion of workplace-based learning for improved student learning outcomes and employability. He highlighted the India's substantial progress in the areas of access of Higher Education and quality of education.

Dr Singh emphasised that we should not only focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) but also Art of life, importance of life and above all happy and satisfied life.

OPINION: Children's issues should be front and centre at BRICS Summit (МНЕНИЕ: Проблемы детей должны быть в центре внимания на саммите БРИКС) / South Africa, July, 2018
Keywords: social_issues, summit, expert_opinion
South Africa
Author: Steve Miller

JOHANNESBURG - As South Africa looks forward to chairing the BRICS Summit starting 25th July, we should ask ourselves if enough focus is being placed on issues affecting children and young people.
The theme of this year's summit is "BRICS in Africa: Collaboration for Inclusive Growth and Shared Prosperity in the 4th Industrial Revolution".
We can only reach this goal if all children receive quality care and are equipped to thrive in this new era. We should ask ourselves what inclusive growth and shared prosperity looks like, when so many young people today are excluded from the mainstream economy.
The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Lindiwe Sisulu has spoken about new BRICS cooperation areas that have been proposed. These include a working group on peacekeeping; the creation of a vaccine research centre; a BRICS gender and women forum; and strategic partnerships towards the progress of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
While these efforts are important, they are not specifically child focused.
The vast majority of children in Africa are affected by poverty and inequality, as well as underlying problems in education systems and the labour market. Of greatest concern is the ever increasing proportion of children who have lost or are at risk of losing parental care. These children are placed at an immense disadvantage, and often struggle to achieve self-reliance in adulthood.
Reaching the laudable goals of the 4th Industrial Revolution will depend on how the most vulnerable children are involved. It is critical that all children receive quality care in a protective family and community environment. That they are loved, respected and secure within their families. Additionally, education systems need to equip children and young people with the relevant skills to thrive in a world of rapid technological progress.
While discussions on economies and business are important, conversations at the BRICS level should also focus on what can be done to better equip children to reach their full potential, so that they can thrive in the 4th industrial revolution. These discussions need to translate into actionable steps, and outcomes. That is how we should measure the success of engagements such as BRICS.
SOS Children's Villages is part of a movement for child care and child rights. We work to improve care for children who are neglected, abandoned or abused. In other words, some of the most vulnerable children in society. Their numbers are growing, and not enough is being done ensure that they receive a fair chance in life. Most children who lose their parents become stuck in an intergenerational cycle of poverty, and they struggle to settle in society and participate in the economy.
What becomes of these children when they reach adulthood in the 4th Industrial Revolution? This is why we need discussions at the highest level, such as the BRICS Summit. This is why we need greater investment in building families and communities, and for the provision of alternative care. We need to ensure that young people have access to skills training, work experience and career guidance.
There is nothing more critical to the achievement of inclusive growth, than improving the care and education of the most vulnerable children.
Steve Miller is the National Director of SOS Children's Villages South Africa.
The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.
World media should be part of BRICS narrative - Survé (Мировые СМИ должны быть частью повествования БРИКС - Сервэ) / South Africa, July, 2018
Keywords: media, expert_opinion, Business_Council
South Africa

Johannesburg - BRICS Business Council chairman Dr Iqbal Survé will this year co-host the 3rd BRICS Media Forum with China's Xinhua News Agency president Cai Mingzhao. The forum will be held at the Westin Hotel in Cape Town over two days from July 18.

At least 120 delegates from key media houses across South Africa, China and other African countries are expected to attend the forum under the theme: BRICS Media Co-operation - Fostering an Inclusive, Just World Order.

Survé said the roles of both BRICS and the BRICS Business Council "in carving out a better future for almost half of the world should not be underestimated, and the media has an opportunity to be part of the journey".

"We cannot emphasise enough how important the media is in changing the narrative of the work BRICS countries are doing. There are stories that need to be told, of how alliances and partnerships are being forged to invest across borders, not only in BRICS but also into Africa," Survé said.

"Stories of how building a road, a bridge or a railway line can change the destiny of people. It creates opportunities for foreign direct investments which, in turn, translate into jobs. Reporting on these developments in an unbiased, factual way can help change the way we are viewed."

Minister of Communication Nomvula Mokonyane and Wang Xiaohui, deputy head of publicity for the Communist Party of China's (CPC) Central Committee, are the guest speakers.

Topics to be discussed at the forum include Strengthening the BRICS narrative: media's role and responsibility, and Imagining a shared global future forged by constructive and development journalism: seeking ways to enhance co-operation among the new media in BRICS countries.

The forum is held in tandem with South Africa hosting this year's BRICS Summit and the BRICS Business Council. The media forum was hosted by China last year.

Delegates are expected from the Xinhua News Agency, People's Daily, China Daily,, Chinanet, China Central TV and the Shanghai United Media Group.

The Russian contingent includes representatives from Russia Today TV, TV BRICS, Sputnik News Agency and Radio, the TASS Russian News Agency and Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

Indian media houses are sending delegates from The Hindu, India Today, The Indian Express, ABP News Network and Indo-Asian News Service.

Brazilian media houses CMG Group, Correio Braziliense, Valor Econômico and Monitor Mercantil will also attend.

South African media houses include Independent Media, Media24, Mail & Guardian, SABC, Tiso Blackstar and the African News Agency.

In an exciting development, the BRICS Business Council said media representatives from Swaziland, Namibia, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, Liberia and Ghana would also be in attendance.

Heads and students of journalism and media faculties from several universities including, Rhodes, University of the Witwatersrand, Stellenbosch, University of the Western Cape and University of Cape Town, have been invited as observers.

The public has been invited to a joint photographic exhibition at the Cape Town International Convention Centre to view more than 120 images that resonate with the conference theme from noon on July 18.
BRICS labour: is it time for more class snuggle – or struggle – in an era of repression, austerity and worker militancy? (Работа в БРИКС: настало ли время для большего упрямства класса - или борьбы - в эпоху репрессий, жесткой экономии и рабочей воинственности?) / South Africa, July, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, rating, economic_challenges, social_issues
South Africa
Author: Patrick Bond

Across the world, trade unions are under unprecedented threat, as just witnessed in the United States where the Janus vs. AFSCME Supreme Court decision denudes an already weak labour movement of public sector power, for conservatives are aiming at "starving unions of funds and eventually disbanding them altogether." Where, then, does organisational hope for working people lie?

By far the world's largest proletariat lies within the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) bloc, whose state leaders meet in Johannesburg from 25-27 July and union officials gather in Durban the following weekend. Since 2012, the BRICS Trade Union Forum (BTUF) has attempted to traverse extremely difficult terrain, using an ever-changing roadmap.

Unfortunately, it is becoming obvious that along this path, BTUF leaders suffer a well-known problem: signalling to the left while driving the vehicle towards the right, as ground underneath the vehicle keeps shifting. For the BTUF to reach the desired location would require major adjustments in navigation, new passengers and very different manoeuvres.

Overall, BTUF membership is uneven across the BRICS' working classes. The absolute size of trade union membership and density (i.e. the percent of the workforce unionised) vary, with China's high numbers reflecting workers' often frustrating 'company union' status:

  • China: 240 million; 90 percent of workforce
  • India: 87 million; 33 percent of workforce
  • Russia: 24 million; 32 percent of workforce
  • South Africa: 3.3 million; 30 percent of workforce
  • Brazil: 17 million; 17 percent of workforce
South African BTUF affiliates are the Congress of South Africa Trade Unions (COSATU), allied with the ruling African National Congress (ANC) since the 1980s, with 1.7 million members; the traditionally most conservative (and historically white) Federation of Democratic Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA), with 700,000; and the National Council of Trade Unions (NACTU), which has radical pan-Africanist rhetoric but suffers substantial internal strife, with 260,000.

Membership figures ebb and flow. Aside from FEDUSA, which won back a public sector union last year, all have lost support. After the traumatic 2012 Marikana Massacre of 34 Lonmin platinum mineworkers who were on a wildcat strike, COSATU's National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) surrendered much of its membership (down from 300,000 to 187,000) to the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (250,000 workers).

Even if greatly divided and weakened, South Africa probably hosts the most advanced and coherent of the BRICS union federation affiliates, and certainly boasts the most militant proletariat. Yet due to internal rivalry, the BTUF specifically excludes the South Africa Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) and its 680,000 members. SAFTU's formation last year, after COSATU's leader Zwelinzima Vavi and the 350,000-strong National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) were expelled, followed by the Food and Allied Workers Union (with 130,000 members) and a few others. The reason was SAFTU's much stronger opposition to ANC neoliberalism and state corruption than COSATU's loyalist members, at the time led by NUM.

SAFTU is excluded from the BTUF on spurious grounds: it has not been admitted to the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC), a corporatist institution which critics argue is a 'toy telephone,' often irrelevant. As COSATU itself warned in 2016,

Government continues to boycott and undermine NEDLAC by sending junior bureaucrats with no decision making powers, while big business continues to condescendingly treat NEDLAC as a platform, where they think that they can go make presentations and not engage. We will shut down NEDLAC if these social partners keep undermining and undercutting it in this manner.

The boycott of SAFTU – especially of its leader Vavi and SAFTU's metalworkers union (South Africa's largest by far) led by Irvin Jim – shifts the BTUF ideological orientation much more to the centre. As a result, the BTUF is likely to maintain its status quo approach, no matter how dangerous this is for members, societies and the environment.

That route forward is merely continuation of predictable annual meetings in which trade unionists endorse the business-as-usual BRICS agenda, even while huge changes are underway in geopolitics, economics and environment – nearly all of which undermine labour, the broader society and ecology.

A different route would be to confront these contradictions head on, and locate greater shopfloor and grassroots unity. On 21-22 July , the weekend before the BTUF meeting and just before the BRICS leaders' summit, SAFTU will gather thousands of its members plus civil society allies for a Workers' Summit, which will more clearly spell out major policy and political differences with the other federations.

For example, in April, SAFTU put tens of thousands of workers on the streets against a proposed minimum wage – one strongly supported by the other three federations but which ranges between just US $0.80-US $1.50/hour, i.e., "paltry" according to Vavi. (The realistic poverty line is US $110/person/month.) However, there are occasionally signs of potential unity amongst left-leaning trade unions.

Such shopfloor resistance was witnessed when in mid-June, tens of thousands of NUM mineworkers and NUMSA metalworkers at the parastatal electricity supplier Eskom engaged in wildcat protests – allegedly using intimidation and 'sabotage' – sufficient to create a rolling national blackout. The unions' objective was to discredit Eskom's zero percent wage offer (the inflation rate is 4.5 percent), and they immediately succeeded in gaining a new offer above 6.5 percent. South Africa's capitalist class was visibly unnerved by this show of strength, a precedent that might even lead to formal institutional NUM-NUMSA reconciliation, as NUM's more critical leaders won greatly increased power at their recent electoral convention.

Moreover, NUM is now threatening to end electoral support for the ANC and transfer it to the South Africa Communist Party (SACP), a party itself debating whether to enter the 2019 election probably as a pressure point to make South Africa president and ANC leader Cyril Ramaphosa more amenable to its demands. The SACP already has several cabinet positions, yet core ANC policies are still neoliberal. (Recent exceptions include free tertiary education won through intense student battles, land "expropriation without compensation" – so far more rhetorical than real – and a National Health Insurance plan that appears perpetually underfunded.)

BTUF labour remains repressed, super-exploited but unevenly militant

In contrast to such rising militancy, also witnessed in massive recent truck-driver strikes in Brazil and China, the BTUF's annual efforts are mostly aimed at social dialogue: promoting state-capital-labour tripartism in areas of common concern with BRICS leaders and the BRICS Business Council. But whether in Russia (2012), South Africa (2013), Brazil (2014), Russia (2015), India (2016) or China (2017), these efforts have not been successful.

The BTUF will meet on July 27-28 on the sidelines of the BRICS labour ministers' Durban meeting, not at the Johannesburg leaders' summit. The BTUF acknowledges lack of agency: "The Government of the Republic of South Africa has determined the time and venues of events with the participation of trade unions under the South African presidency in BRICS."

Over six years, the BTUF has made reform proposals in the fields of global trade, finance, investment, climate and geopolitics, all areas in which workers and the rest of the world had hoped BRICS leaders might provide a genuine alternative to Western imperialism. Instead, the BRICS amplify neoliberal and anti-Southern multilateral perspectives, as argued below.

This is also apparent on home turf, for in some BRICS countries, the labour movement is extremely weak, e.g. China, which is characterised by state control, lack of autonomy, migrant labour discrimination, low wages and wildcat strikes (often harshly repressed). Conditions are worsening due to new technologies and to fewer freedoms to organise.

In the current International Trade Union Congress Global Rights Index, South Africa is in the second rank of countries where workers have won basic rights (i.e., among the world's best 38), a decline from 2014 when it was in the highest group, alongside European social democracies. Next is Russia, in the third rank of countries, i.e., facing "regular violations of rights," followed by Brazil in the fourth rank, with its "systematic violations." The worst group – including China and India – are labelled as countries with "no guarantee of rights."

One result is a relatively low level of absolute wages in the BRICS, illustrated within a sectoral case study: the textile industry. In 2011, South African textile workers were paid €3.8/hour, compared to €2.8 in Brazil, €0.8 in coastal China, €0.7 in India and €0.5 in inland China (the average wage in rich countries was €16.8/hour, but lower still are prevailing wages in places with vast labour reserves such as Vietnam and Bangladesh, at €0.3/hour).

Profits soar up the value chain, to the copyright owners and brand managers usually in the Global North, for as the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) remarks, "Even in a simple jacket, physical components, including labour, fabric, lining, buttons, sleeve heads, shoulder pads, labels and hangtags, account for only 9 percent of the price; the remaining 91 percent of the value is for intangible assets, including a wide range of services such as retail, logistics, banking and marketing."

In other words, within a complex world division of labour characterised by global supply chains, the power of corporations controlling upstream value-chain components means that both BRICS and hinterland economies continue to suffer from super-exploitative processes: a wage rate that is often lower than the cost of reproducing labour-power.

As an example, South Africa's Bantustan system was typical of the migrant labour relations that left caring for children, sick workers and the retired as a task for women in far-off settings, with little or no state support. This form of internal migrancy has usually emerged because it is extremely profitable, insofar as the employer does not bear the full cost of social reproduction. Such a system characterises most labour on the east coast of China, as well as sites like Marikana where mineworkers killed in 2012 were all migrants.

As a result of low wages paid to the majority of BRICS workers, labour's input into gross domestic product (GDP) is relatively low. In most of the five (except South Africa), the recent period (2011-15) has witnessed a deterioration of the contribution of labour to GDP, according to UNDESA. Fixed capital investments that would raise labour productivity have been weak. Instead of incoming Foreign Direct Investment taking advantage of wage differentials, recent years witnessed much less capital-deepening investment.

One additional factor in labour productivity is worker militancy. One way to measure business-labour relations is the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual listing – based on polling 14,000 business executives from 137 economies – of shopfloor collaboration on a spectrum from most "confrontational" to most "cooperative." In the 2017-18 Global Competitiveness Report, three of the BRICS – South Africa, Brazil and Russia – rated amongst the most confrontational third of the world's national workforces.

Indeed, South Africa has ranked as having the world's most militant proletariat since 2012, the year of the Marikana Massacre. The other two BRICS, India and China, are measured as having amongst the world's more cooperative half of national workforces.

Country WEF militancy rank

  • South Africa: 1
  • Brazil: 32
  • Russia: 48
  • India: 82
  • China: 88
Of course, the supposed average-level "cooperation" in the two largest BRICS may disguise intense pockets of labour militancy: in China there are several thousand illegal wildcat strikes per year, and in India in September 2016 there was a national strike of an estimated 180 million workers, the largest in world history.

Workers demand insourcing and a 4th Industrial Counter-Revolution

There is extreme variability in these BRICS labour experiences, resulting in unevenness and diversity of trade unions and federations. Still, universal trends are bringing BRICS workers into closer alignment, especially worsening casualisation and the 4th Industrial Revolution's technological displacement of workers, as well as growing surveillance and privacy threats.

The 4th Industrial Revolution – conjoining cyber-technology, robotics, Artificial Intelligence, nanotechnology, biotechnology, etc – is a major theme in the 2018 BRICS summit. Official rhetoric has downplayed the likelihood of vast service sector unemployment, intensified social engineering such as China's 'social credit,' or technological disasters.

In their official BTUF statements, the trade unions asked leaders to assist in the "de-monopolisation of the world market of software and IT-equipment, internet infrastructure management" (2016). This was based upon a valid critique of tech-corporate power, and was especially appropriate in India from where the resolution emanated. In 2017, however, "We appeal to the BRICS governments to seize the opportunities brought by the new round of industrial revolution and the digital economy" – but the BTUF failed to identify the many associated dangers. [[i]]

Against these trends, resistance to surveillance, robotisation and casualisation is not impossible. In South Africa there was an outcry by COSATU's banking union the South African Society of Bank officials in 2018 against a major bank (Nedbank) for its planned replacement of 3000 workers with 260 robots.

More successful were campaigns in 2015 for the 'insourcing' of thousands of university workforces across the country, with a consequent rise in wages by a factor of two to four. However, the South African labour movement's consistent demands to ban outsourcing in all sectors have been rejected by the ANC, and workers also lost campaigns against the introduction a sub-minimum youth wage in 2015, and against new labour legislation which includes a weakening of unions' ability to call strikes.

The most important legal cornerstone of the 4th Industrial Revolution is corporate intellectual property, and destruction of these commercial rights applied to essential medicines was also the objective of South African workers during the early 2000s, in the case of Big Pharma's monopoly control of AIDS drugs. Just as stigmatisation of HIV+ South Africans was peaking, Vavi and COSATU trade unionists formed a courageous alliance with the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), demanding free medicines for more than five million affected people.

Although this campaign fatally soured relations with then-president Thabo Mbeki, an AIDS denialist, international allies joined TAC and COSATU to win a Trade Related Intellectual Property System exemption in 2001. As the medicines then became free by virtue of generic companies' provision, via South African state health clinics, life expectancy rose from 52 in 2004 to 64 over the subsequent dozen years.

And in a battle against President Jacob Zuma lasting through most of the 2010s, COSATU (along with the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance) undermined state surveillance capacity and Public Private Partnerships – both also crucial to the 4th Industrial Revolution – with successful activism against e-tolling on Johannesburg-area highways.

In campaigns that have not yet been won, trade unions have also worked closely with the Right2Know movement, demanding free data and airtime so as to achieve the right to communicate, and opposing surveillance and Big Data social control. R2K welcomed COSATU's crucial support against Zuma, to continually derail the so-called secrecy bill ("Protection of State Information" bill), which would have hampered whistle-blowing.

At the time, in 2011, the unions also strongly opposed the commodification of information, lack of transparency, and other threats associated with the emerging 4th Industrial Revolution. Vavi endorsed the 1955 Freedom Charter: "The law shall guarantee to all their right to speak, to organise, to meet together, to publish, to preach, to worship and to educate their children… All the cultural treasures of mankind shall be open to all, by free exchange of books, ideas and contact with other lands."

All of this represents a 4th Industrial Counter-Revolution, in which technology (e.g. AIDS medicines) is appropriated as part of the world commons, and destructive Big Data and surveillance techniques are regulated or prohibited, bottom up. These are some of the most encouraging signs of counter-power. But within the BRICS, when it comes to discussions about the dangers of outsourcing and 4th Industrial Revolution, such signals are muffled to the point of silence.

Indeed, when trying to promote workers interests here and in nearly all other crucial socio-economic battles, the record of BTUF advocacy by national trade union leadership in the BRICS countries reveals many more disappointments than successes.

Trade union forum advocacy

In 2015, at its most expansive deliberation (at Ufa in Russia), the BTUF expressed ambitious expectations that BRICS leaders would address the world's problems:

BRICS is an emerging structure of the new global management. Its flexible mandate allows the most dynamic economies of the world to consider a much broader range of issues than, for example, in the UN Security Council, and to find answers to many economic and environmental challenges. Decisions adopted by BRICS have a multiplier effect because the key states, which have joined it are in a position to translate solutions from BRICS into deliberations of other leading international agencies. BRICS countries are brought closer together by their consistent joint efforts in favour of reforming the international monetary and financial system.

But the question today, especially after right-wing forces have ascended to power in so many countries, is whether 'new global management' is any different than the old. To explore that question, consider the BTUF's 2012-17 statements about its agenda, grouped into seven categories: institutional development; participation; vision; trade reform and regulation of transnational corporate investment; multilateral financial reform and innovation; climate change and environmental protection; and geopolitics.

In each case below, the most explicit advocacy statements are provided (in quotation marks with date of statement in parenthesis) followed by a preliminary assessment of results.

Institutional development

The BTUF in 2012 "declared the setting-up of a BRICS Trade Union Forum" and has followed through each year with a meeting, discussions and a declaration. "Our representation in the BRICS Trade Union Forum will be broad, pluralistic, democratic and inclusive of working men and women of our nations" (2014). "We also aim at identifying common programs and activities that build on each other's strengths and virtues, with research and policy cooperation as a key element of that effort" (2014).

Though representivity is obviously in dispute given the conflicts especially involving BTUF member federations from China, India and South Africa (in relation to other workers not members of those federations), the objective of establishing the BTUF has been largely achieved. However, the BTUF could obviously be much better empowered for participation in BRICS summits, could generate alliances with other actors, and could establish the basis for genuine solidarity (e.g. when workers and citizens fight the same BRICS firm), in order to avoid the perception of a talk-shop. The need for research and policy coordination appears to have only begun; given that with perhaps one exception (Rio-based Instituto Brasileiro de Analises Sociais e Economicas), BRICS think tanks are hostile to organised labour's interests.


The BTUF has made a consistent request to the BRICS leaders to "include the issue of Social Dialogue and of cooperation with Trade Unions" (2012), including through "national and global tripartite dialogue structures" (2013). The BRICS leaders should recognise the BTUF "as an institutional space within the BRICS official structure. We express therefore our expectation to have the same treatment as the Business Council, having our conference as part of the official program" and "be represented in the various task teams" (2014). "The model of interaction in the social triangle trade unions/business community/government structure has long proved its effectiveness at the national level in each BRICS country, and must find its logical extension into BRICS institutions" (2015). "We consider formal recognition of BRICS Trade Union Forum on an equal basis with BRICS Business Council as one of our priority objectives" (2016). "We appeal to the BRICS countries to improve the BRICS cooperation mechanism, grant the BRICS Trade Union Forum a status on par with the BRICS Business Council…" (2017).

The attempt at reaching formal tripartite status has not been achieved, although there are efforts by BRICS Labour and Employment Ministers to at least briefly discuss matters of participation with the BTUF, and a BRICS Working Group on Employment has been established. The problem lies not only in BRICS mechanisms, but in each country. For example, most Indian trade unions boycotted 2016 BTUF proceedings on grounds of differences with the Modi government, just a few weeks after the historic September strike, which witnessed 180 million labourers refusing to work.

The BRICS countries with the strongest social dialogue structures and collaboration between ruling party and trade unions are Brazil and South Africa. The tough Brazilian trade union critique of Temer's regime (as a corruption-riddled constitutional coup) reflects breakdowns in the former, especially after the jailing of Lula on an apparent corruption frame-up in 2018. South Africa's NEDLAC has not functioned well in recent years, as noted above.

Further, the BTUF requested that, "BRICS trade unions should be represented on the BRICS bank's highest decision-making body" (2013). This request was ignored in the Fortaleza construction of the BRICS New Development Bank (NDB), which resulted in a small (ten-person) management and directorship – all male – without any high-profile voices that represent the interests of poor and working-class people, or the environment. One result, in South Africa, is that the first two BRICS NDB loan offers promote privatised electricity supply through the corrupt Eskom parastatal agency, and port expansion through the corrupt Transnet parastatal.


The BTUF vision statements repeatedly stress the need to promote:

  • "growth and sustainable development, along with food, and energy security, Green Economy in the context of Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication" (2012);
  • "attainment of the MDGs" (2012);
  • "Decent Work, boost employment, secure a universal social protection floor and promote the transition from the informal to the formal economy" (2013);
  • "industrialisation, environmental justice and human progress for equitable and fair growth models" (2013);
  • "peace, security, human rights and global sustainable development" (2013);
  • "social protection for young people and women" (2013);
  • the distribution of wealth; as well as food and energy security for our nations, and enhance joint efforts of BRICS countries in the studies and research on labour market" (2013);
  • "the need for accelerated growth and sustainable development, together with the promotion of food and energy security, poverty eradication, the fight against hunger and malnutrition, as well as measures for job creation" (2014);
  • "respect for local communities, sustainable use of natural resources and the search for a low carbon, clean energy matrix" (2014);
  • "accelerated growth and sustainable development, together with the promotion of food and energy security, poverty eradication, the fight against hunger and malnutrition, as well as measures for job creation needed to improve living standards" (2014);
  • "promotion and inclusion of women and youth in the labour market, ensuring the protection of their labour rights, must be at the centre of employment policies" (2014);
  • "trade unions are an effective force in defending democracy and in the fight for justice and ecologically sustainable future" (2015);
  • "the BRICS countries should take a head start to focus the efforts of the peoples and States on technological breakthroughs in the interests of all strata of society in our countries" (2015);
  • "promote agriculture and agro based industry" (2016);
  • "de-monopolisation of the world market of software and IT-equipment, internet infrastructure management" (2016);
  • "vigorously implement the proposals in the Recommendation No.204 of International Labour Organisation (ILO) on formalising informal sector" (2016);
  • "make decent work an active ingredient in employment generation especially targeting women, youth, marginalised and other disadvantaged groups" (2016);
  • "maintain and improve social security and social protection systems" (2016);
  • "we demand the BRICS Governments vigorously implement [the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals] with the active participation of national trade unions so as to generate more employment, eradicate the wage gap in the existing jobs, and rectify all decent work deficits" (2016);
  • "we strongly request the BRICS Governments to evolve an alternative developmental model which will be more people centric" (2016);
  • "Foster the concept of a community of shared future for mankind and deliver robust, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth in the global economy" (2017);
  • "improve their labour policies, increase jobs, encourage innovation and entrepreneurship, raise financial input for vocational education and job training, establish an inclusive and efficient job training system, deepen cooperation with social partners, intensify efforts to provide employment and re-employment training for workers and enhance workers' competency and adaptability" (2017).
These vision statements are all appropriate as minimal common desires for labour, but they lack the sense of a proper workers' manifesto. The traditional goals of the working-class movement – socialisation of production and de-commodification of the reproduction of labour power – are not mentioned much less elaborated.

BTUF statements never draw explicitly on the constitutions and policy documents of the member federations, several of which are explicitly socialist. One such labour manifesto stands out, the earliest one, from the International Working Men's Association: The Communist Manifesto. Such traditions of labour solidarity are vital for turning working-class values into practical cross-border collaboration. But it would be a quite extraordinary leap of ideological maturity for the BTUF to mention this tradition, one still too far to contemplate.

The big question remains whether these values can be implemented by BRICS governments, which are in all cases – rhetoric aside – quite explicitly hostile to the BTUF agenda. Several examples of this dilemma can be considered next, in the four categories of trade and corporate investment, multilateral finance, climate change and geopolitics.

Trade reform and regulation of transnational corporate investment

The BTUF argue that "policies should aim at supporting industrialisation" and BRICS leaders "should work with other developing countries towards the transformation of the world trade system" (2013). With respect to Foreign Direct Investment, the BTUF insists, "that all multinational companies comply with core labour standards, and do not exploit unequal conditions between countries" (2013). "The time has come to establish real control over large-sized multinational corporations operating on our territories and to subordinate their activities to development objectives" (2015). "We must give support to the deserving people outside BRICS who are suffering extreme conditions of exploitation" (2016). Moreover, "BRICS governments should respect ILO Labour Standards and Recommendations as important part of all Trade and Services Agreements and take special measures to promote decent work in global supply chains" (2016). Meeting last year in China, the BTUF (2017) asked leaders to "strengthen their unity" and "make joint efforts to fight against protectionist policies."

Multilateral financial reform and innovation

The BTUF argue that the BRICS New Development Bank "should take a different form from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). It should primarily developmental in character" and be "solely owned by BRICS, publicly funded, decisions on consensus, promoting trade based on own currencies of its member countries, with a core focus on infrastructure and development in consultation" (2013). The NDB and Contingent Reserve Arrangement should be "fundamental tools for the effective transformation of the current international economic architecture… and bring benefits to workers and promote sustainable development" (2014).

The BTUF also aims to "stop the financial casino, but also to create mechanisms for taxing financial transactions, large fortunes and tax havens" (2014). NDB revenues should "be used to expand investment in the productive sector and infrastructure; in education, science and technology, training and professional qualification" (2014). The NDB should have "sovereign independence from the bankrupt Bretton Woods system" and "BRICS Governments should establish their own Rating agency and a Stock exchange… to influence world economy" (2014). "We expect that BRICS Governments will pursue more vigorously the reforming of the IMF and of the World Bank" (2015). "The BRICS countries should participate in global governance on behalf of developing countries" (2017).


The BTUF demands, "that the BRICS agenda does not isolate regional and continental counterparts, and will work to advance the interests of the developing world in general" (2013). Further, the BTUF asked "Governments of BRICS countries to do their utmost to reduce political tension in the world, to ensure global security and stability, cessation of hostilities wherever they occur, to contribute to an active and unconditional application of the rules of international law" (2015).


The alternative approach to BRICS labour politics – based not on social dialogue but social power, based not on class snuggle but class struggle – entails, first, identifying as many other oppressed allies as possible (not simply gazing upwards in search of tripartite relationships which have proven so disappointing thus far). Making alliances with these social forces would expand the BTUF field of vision to more explicitly incorporate the interests of poor and working people, women, students and youth, environmentalists, the LGBTI community, and social movements across so many other issue areas.

(The BRICS counter-summits in Durban, Fortaleza, Goa and Xiamen had such "brics-from-below" relationships emerging, in contrast to government-sponsored BRICS Academic Forum, Civil BRICS and Youth BRICS events, which have been essentially uncritical.)

As discussed above, the best example of brics-from-below dates back more than 15 years: the economic attack against Western pharmaceutical corporate patents by two governments – Brazil and India – subsequently aided by South African HIV+ activists in the TAC, COSATU and their allies. By opening a state-supported generic industry and ignoring international property rights, the Indians and Brazilians assisted progressive South Africans who overthrew the denialist AIDS policy adopted by former president Mbeki.

The combination of de-commodification and de-globalisation of capital, and the coalition between progressive governments and radical community activists was decisive. Can that same alignment be repeated, and can it serve as the basis for an entirely different approach to BRICS, fusing states and people in the public interest?

Regrettably, as the pages above showed, the BRICS have chosen the course of undergirding – not undermining – imperialist multilateral agencies (the World Trade Organisation, Bretton Woods institutions and the UN climate process) whose role in commodifying all aspects of life and globalising capital is disastrous for poor and working people, within the BRICS as well as for Africa.

What that means for BRICS in the years ahead, it is fair to predict, is more top-down scrambling within Africa, and more bottom-up resistance. Where African governments emerge that have more patriotic instincts, there will be scope for campaigning on matters of economic justice: e.g. against mining and petroleum extraction, illicit (and licit) financial flows, and illegitimate debt.

With the profits of so many Western firms in Africa hitting new lows and their share value nearly wiped out (e.g. the 2011-15 cases of Lonmin, Anglo and Glencore, which each lost more than 85 percent of value), there are precedents for what BRICS firms now may find logical: yet more extreme metabolisms of extraction and more desperation gambits to keep BRICS-friendly regimes in power, at the expense of the reproductive needs of society and nature.

But resistance is already evident. For example, the BRICS People's Forum counter-summit in Goa in October 2016 included a call by Indian social movements and labour for a People's Forum, one repeated in September 2017 in Hong Kong.

Further alliances of a horizontal nature are also obvious, not only with civil society – especially trade unions – and not only reaching out far into Africa where BRICS has had a destructive or constructive impact, but also with other trade unions across the world.

To illustrate the hopes for such solidarity, International Trade Union Congress President João Felício argued at a July 2015 Ufa BTUF plenary that "The BRICS have an opportunity to establish a de facto different political discussion on the direction of the economy, finance and the world of work… The new financial institutions of the BRICS cannot share the neoliberal rationale of the Troika, which puts the interests of big business above the rights of workers and the well-being of citizens in their countries."

But that opportunity was lost – as witnessed by the three choices to reform multilateralism made in December 2015 – and will probably not arise again. Indeed it is ever more likely with the turn to Trump, with economic conditions rapidly worsening, and with growing official hostility to trade unions in especially Brazil, India and South Africa, that the interests of big business will prevail even more in the years immediately ahead.

Felício remarked, "It is necessary to put solidarity before austerity, rights before profits, democracy before the market. If the BRICS succeed in becoming at least part of this process, it will create a political and economic frame of reference for other bodies, such as the G20, the IMF or the World Bank and even national governments."

The likelihood that the BRICS leaders will oppose these values has been demonstrated above. Hence, Felício concluded, "politicising the debate was the only way to combat the deepening of inequality, fight for better salaries, promote collective bargaining and reverse the downward trend in unionisation rates."

Further politicisation is evidently necessary. Indeed, the potential for fighting back – for class struggle instead of class snuggle – is enormous.

In the 2018 host city, Johannesburg, the week before the BRICS elites' summit, SAFTU has called for a Workers' Summit, at which the main grievances of the BRICS working class will again be aired – and the inability of the elites to solve these problems will again be obvious.

* Patrick Bond is professor of political economy at Witwatersrand and honorary professor of development studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
NYDA to work with BRICS bank for youth opportunities (NYDA работает с банком БРИКС для возможностей молодежи) / South Africa, July, 2018
Keywords: ndb, social_issues, investments
South Africa

Monday, July 9, 2018
The National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) will work closely with the BRICS New Development Bank in rolling out programmes that will benefit young people, says NYDA Chairperson Sifiso Mtsweni.

"The inter-trade between the BRICS countries… over the last 10 years has been over R500 trillion. Our problem is that in that R500 trillion, there has not been any shareholding for young people," Mtsweni said.

He was addressing a media briefing on Monday in Tshwane on the upcoming 4th BRICS Youth Summit, which will take place at Zebula Lodge Golf Estate in Bela Bela, Limpopo.

Mtsweni said the role young people can play in the BRICS Bank will be discussed at the summit, particularly in relation to trade.

"As young people, we want to make concrete proposals to the Heads of State in order for them to ensure that young people are included in some of the decisions that will be taken in the Fourth Industrial Revolution," he said.

Mtsweni said the NYDA will look for opportunities in the natural resources as to diversify youth development programmes.

"It is disheartening that young people from rural areas migrate to urban areas in search for better opportunities. It is very important to ensure that the BRICS Youth Summit finds ways to encourage youth to stay in their communities and contribute to the growth and development of the rural areas," he said.

The Fourth BRICS Youth Summit, organised by the NYDA in cooperation with the Department of National Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, will take place from the 15 to 18 July 2018 under the theme, 'Radical Economic Transformation – Making the BRICS Bank for the Youth'.

The objectives of the summit include encouraging young leaders amongst BRICS countries to actively participate in addressing the most significant global challenges, economic and social issue and developmental agenda.

It is also aimed at establishing constructive exchange of views on strategic issues empowering youth and sharing ideas to build a brighter and better tomorrow.


Mtsweni has called on men to join the #100MenMarch tomorrow.

"The march will be a resounding commitment by men to end violence against women and children. This protest action aims at creating a safer environment for both our women and children," he said.

The #100MenMarch is part of the centenary celebrations of former President Nelson Mandela and struggle stalwart Mama Albertina Sisulu who both committed their lives to the fight for human rights particularly women and children.

The march celebrates their lives but also seeks to raise awareness on the scourge of violence against women and children.

The march will be held on 10 July 2018. It will begin at Church Square in Tshwane at 10am and make its way to the southern lawns of the Union Buildings. –

BRICS plus Infrastructure Portal launched in Johannesburg (Инфраструктурный портал БРИКС Плюс открыт в Йоханнесбурге) / South Africa, July, 2018
Keywords: brics+
South Africa

The portal, dubbed the BRICS plus Infrastructure Portal, will be available to the global community.
A new project portal which seeks to create connectivity amongst BRICS member states projects was launched in Johannesburg on Wednesday.

The portal aims to act as a vehicle for project owners to meet with potential funders and sponsors. This initiative was launched by the BRICS Business Council Infrastructure working group.

The portal, dubbed the BRICS plus Infrastructure Portal, will be available to the global community. It will assist in unlocking more opportunities and funding for businesses.

The portal is also aimed at assisting African investors interested in opportunities in other BRICS member states.

The BRICS Business Council was established in 2013 with the aim of promoting business engagement between the BRICS countries.

The Infrastructure Working Group together with Transnet have a mandate to promote manufacturing, job creation and facilitate interaction among businesses.

The general manager of strategy at Transnet says they are working towards eradicating the infrastructure gap and the new portal will make it easier to pull investors in.

The portal will be hosted on South Africa's BRICS business Council website.
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