Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 29.2018
2018.07.16 — 2018.07.22
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
BRICS has much to teach SA on equality (БРИКС может научить ЮАР равенству) / South Africa, July, 2018
Keywords: research, expert_opinion
South Africa
Author: André Thomashausen

How do the constitutions of the BRICS member states seek to guarantee and implement the right to equality?


Brazil's constitution of 1988 pronounces the "fundamental objectives" of the federal republic:

I - to build a free, just society based on solidarity;

II - to guarantee national development;

III - to eradicate poverty and substandard living conditions and to reduce social and regional inequalities;

IV - to promote the well-being of all, without prejudice as to origin, race, sex, colour, age and any other forms of discrimination.

Article 5 guarantees: "All persons are equal before the law, without any distinction whatsoever, Brazilians and foreigners residing in the country being ensured of the right to life, liberty, equality, security and to property."

Article 7 prohibits specifically any difference in wages, in the performance of duties and in hiring criteria by reason of sex, age, colour or marital status any distinction between manual, technical, and intellectual work or among the respective professionals and guarantees equal rights for workers with permanent employment and "sporadic" workers.

Article 5, in addition to "equality within the law", guarantees "equality before the law". The provision will be applied directly in the context of the interpretation and application of any law and has been invoked, for instance, in civil procedure, by litigants demanding to be given equal length of time in presenting, arguing and defending their claims.

Differentiation is considered permissible only if it is made to achieve "relative" or "material" equality, in so far as the differentiation serves a "reasonable objective", and is "proportionate" to the attainment of such an objective.

Brazilian courts refer to the ancient Greek concept of isonomy / isonomia whereby "equality before the law" is given an equalising and anti-elitist meaning.

This is often explained with a simple sketch:

For example, the Federal Supreme Court of Brazil in 2012 (in RE 597.285-2/RS) upheld an affirmative action procedure in the admission process for prospective university students as constitutional on the grounds that the notion of equality included the concept of solidarity (" fraternidade") and material justice to overcome social exclusion and social and regional inequality and to value the paramount principle of human dignity.


The most powerful communist party, that of the Soviet Union, was forbidden by an act of parliament on August 29, 1991, followed by the adoption of the new Russian Federation constitution of 1993. As 1998 Russia embraced western European human rights standards, it became bound in 1998 by the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Equality clause in Article 19 of the new Russian constitution is a traditional anti-discrimination guarantee as we also find in Article 9 of the South African constitution.

However, Russian courts have given it an original dimension, as a guarantee against the abuse of power.

The Russian Constitutional Court has ruled many times that "equality" requires the legislature to make laws certain, clear and unambiguous in order for them to be applied in a uniform and consistent and therefore equal manner.

Vague and ambiguous legal rules open the door for discretion by the executive branch and inevitably result in arbitrariness and violations of equality.

The Russian Constitutional Court's quest to curb arbitrary administrative action invokes the commitment in the preamble of the constitution to "faith in goodness and fairness". Accordingly, in Russia, "fairness" has become an additional requirement in the test of constitutionality, where a law (or a decision) discriminates on less than reasonable or rational grounds or operates to the disadvantage of an economically weaker party. For instance, the court has ruled that laws regulating banking have to ensure both "formal and real" equality among contracting parties, by protecting the banking consumer against the economically stronger bank.


The term "justice" in the preamble of the Indian constitution of 1949 is interpreted by the courts to embrace social, economic and political justice.

Each of these distinct forms of justice is secured through provisions of fundamental rights and directive principles.

In Sadhuram v Pulin (AIR 1984 SC 1471), the Supreme Court of India ruled that if a deal is made with one party with serious detriment to the other, the court would lean in favour of the weaker.

The judiciary has frequently given practical shape to social justice by allowing affirmative action to be held to include compensation as well as distributive justice, to ensure that community resources are more equitably and justly shared among all classes of citizens.


The pillars of the classic concept of socialist legality in China is the rule in article 6 of its 2004 constitution whereby "the system of socialist public ownership supersedes the system of exploitation of man by man; it applies the principle of 'from each according to his ability, to each according to his work.'" Article 33 determines: "Every citizen is entitled to the rights and at the same time must perform the duties prescribed by the constitution and the law."

Socialist legality in China seeks to overcome the opportunistic abuse of individual rights and freedoms to the detriment of society.

By countering "excessive liberalism", socialist legality seems to counter the excesses of power that are bedevilling development and progress in Africa.

China prefers a material understanding of equality, as opposed to formal or procedural equality. Affirmative action and reverse discrimination policies originate in this tradition. In the past, in an extreme application of that principle, for instance, children of intellectual parents were barred from studying, so as to counter the perpetuation of privilege across generations.


According to World Bank figures, China in 2013 had a GDP per year and capita that was nearly the same as that of South Africa, just under $7 000. But unlike South Africa, China had already then fulfilled the most important socio-economic rights for nearly 100% of its population as regards provision of personal security, food, water, housing, electric energy, healthcare, education, employment, retirement provision and transport.

In 2017, China's GDP per year and capita grew to $8 126, where it stands very close to that of Russia with $8 655 and Brazil with $8 649. However, South Africa's GDP by 2017 had fallen far below the BRICS ceiling, down to $5 105. At the same time, the Gini index for inequality (differential between wealthiest and poorest) accelerated to a value of 76 in South Africa. A Gini index of 76 is the worst level within BRICS, where China scores 42.2, Russia 37.7 and Brazil 51.3. India, with the lowest GDP of the BRICS ($1 706 per capita and year), has the best Gini index of 35.1. South Africa's index of 76 is not only worst in BRICS, but also for all OECD countries, and even globally.


It comes as a shock that South Africa is today the world champion of inequality. This is so despite a most extensive set of social, economic and cultural rights in its 1996 constitution.

The reason is possibly that South Africa's equality clause in article 9 is in essence only a prohibition of discrimination provision.

The Constitutional Court judgment in the 2000 Grootboom case is cheered wrongly. It failed to give a progressive interpretation to the equality clause. It reduced the right to equality to a right "to share poverty equally".

It ruled that equality would grant merely a right of equal access to whatever social and economic provisions may or may not exist.


South Africa could learn much from BRICS constitutional experiences in achieving equality. For a start, we need to accept that equality is the foundation of human dignity. Substantive, in addition to procedural equality, is the modern measure of a just and democratic society.

It is the foremost goal of the state to guarantee "equality of opportunity" as well as "equality of results or outcomes".

An increasingly equal distribution of social goods requires effective, cost effective and quality-controlled management of resources.

The BRICS nations have made vast progress in introducing e-government, e-payment and e-administration systems that are by nature incorruptible. South Africa does not have to reinvent them. It will suffice to work together with BRICS partners beyond this 10th BRICS Summit on embracing and implementing the progress that the others have already made.

* Dr Thomashausen is an attorney-at-law and professor emeritus of international law at Unisa.

#BRICS: health ministers in campaign to fight disease (#BRICS: министры здравоохранения в кампании по борьбе с болезнями) / South Africa, July, 2018
Keywords: social_issues
South Africa

Durban - Five key issues were the point of discussion yesterday at the Health Ministers BRICS meeting at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Convention Centre in Durban. Briefing media after the meeting, SA Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said these included tuberculosis (TB), universal health coverage, non-communicable diseases, communicable diseases as well as the implementation of international health regulations as stipulated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2005.

He said that as a first in history, there was going to be a United Nations high level, heads of states meeting on TB which was going to be in New York in September.

"This meeting means we are elevating the problem beyond ministers of health to the heads of states because the argument here is that TB is such a problem around the world, it is becoming bigger than ministers of health, and that heads of states must now tackle it."

He said it was important for all heads of states from BRICS countries to go personally to New York and "not delegate ministers or any other person because TB is the number one killer" of all communicable diseases.

"Fifty percent of TB cases in the world are in the five BRICS countries. Secondly we know that 60% of all the people with multi-drug resistance are found in the five BRICS countries," he said.

Motsoaledi said when it came to universal health coverage, BRICS countries, all in agreement, have adopted a tool that would help evaluate and assess the implementation of universal health coverage for all and BRICS countries.

"The adopted tool will make it possible to trace the progress of countries in implementation."

He said that also discussed at the meeting was access to medicines and vaccines where it was agreed upon that BRICS countries needed to work together for drug discovery and the development of new drugs for vaccine research and development within BRICS countries.

"This is important especially when it comes to drugs that pertain to diseases like TB where we don't have reliable vaccines yet or whereby we are still using very primitive drugs and diagnostics, and BRICS countries want to collaborate in producing those."

He said non-communicable diseases, and how to deal with the risk factors associated with these, were also discussed.

"There is an explosion of non-communicable diseases in the world, meaning disease of lifestyle which include high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer as well as chronic lung diseases such as asthma."

He said in 2011, because of this explosion in non-communicable diseases, the UN called a high level meeting to elevate the issue to heads of state.

"Now in New York they are going to be asking for progress in this regard. How far have countries gone in combating non-communicable diseases.The countries are going to be reporting on progress made on what was agreed on in 2011 which included dealing with the four risk factors to non-communicable diseases and these include tobacco, alcohol, poor diet and lack of physical exercise."

Motsoaledi said the last topic ministers discussed was the implementation of International Health Regulations 2005 (IHR 2005).

He explained that WHO came up with IHR 2005 with the goal to control and confine the outbreak of diseases to one locality.

Commentary: China-South Africa relations, BRICS cooperation to usher into new era (Комментарий: отношения между Китаем и Южной Африкой, сотрудничество БРИКС вступает в новую эру) / Chad, July, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion
Author: Lin Songtian

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relationship between China and South Africa and the 10th anniversary of the BRICS summit mechanism. At this commemorative moment, Chinese President Xi Jinping will kick off his third state visit to South Africa and attend the 10th BRICS summit in Johannesburg.

This visit is Xi's first trip to a foreign country in 2018, and also an important diplomatic event of China towards developing countries in Africa and the Middle East. The significant trip has attracted worldwide attention.

China is one of the most important partners of South Africa. Over the past 20 years, the two countries have agreed to upgrade their ties from a partnership to a strategic partnership, and then a comprehensive strategic partnership.

Featuring strategic approaches, all-round development and mutual benefit, the China-South Africa ties have established major advantages in political mutual trust, mutually beneficial economic and trade cooperation, people-to-people bond and international collaboration.

Four cooperation platforms including the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, BRICS cooperation mechanism, the Belt and Road Initiative and South-South cooperation have been established through joint efforts of the two sides. The China-South Africa relations have set a good example for China-Africa cooperation and South-South Cooperation.

China has remained the largest trade partner, as well as a major investor and source of tourists of South Africa for the ninth straight year, investing over $25 billion and creating more than 400,000 jobs in the latter.

The trade volume between the two countries grew 25-fold from $1.5 billion when they established diplomatic ties two decades ago, to $39.17 billion last year.

In addition, branches and offices of big Chinese financial institutions have also been established in South Africa, contributing to a deepened bilateral economic and trade cooperation.

With more sister cities than other African countries in China, South Africa is a major destination for Chinese tourists, and also home to the largest number of overseas Chinese, Chinese students and Confucius Institutes on the African continent. Such friendship between the two countries can come down to solid social foundation and public support.

South Africa enjoys the maturest environment for the mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Africa, thanks to its abundant resources and regional advantages, as well as superior conditions for development.

China, in turn, holds comparative advantages in capital, technology, market, enterprises and experience, together with developed industries and huge capacity.

The mutually complementary cooperation between China and South Africa is ushering into a historic opportunity of seamless matching for their development.

China is willing to work together with South Africa to comprehensively deepen friendly and mutually beneficial cooperation. It will help build South Africa into a "lead goose" of Africa, an engine and production base of the continent's industrialization and modernization, and a pilot ground for the connection of the Belt and Road Initiative and Africa.

By committing themselves to enhancing and deepening their comprehensive strategic partnership, China and South Africa have grown into a key engine making the global governance system more just and reasonable.

Both countries have established close coordination and collaboration in multilateral mechanisms including the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, the BRICS, the G20 and the UN. China and South Africa stand firm in safeguarding the common interests of both countries and other developing countries.

The world is now undergoing the most complicated and profound changes in a century. The economic globalization and multilateral trade system is facing threats posed by some super power chasing after unilateralism, protectionism and extreme egoism in an irrational manner.

Facing such severe challenges, the BRICS countries are widely expected to deliver their voices and firmly safeguard the common interests of the people around the globe through unity and cooperation.

Under the theme "BRICS in Africa: Collaboration for Inclusive Growth and Shared Prosperity in the 4th Industrial Revolution", the forthcoming Johannesburg summit will renew the "BRICS Plus" mode originated from last year's Xiamen summit, follow the trend of times and meet people's expectation.

China believes that the Johannesburg meeting will inject impetus into the second "golden decade" of the BRICS cooperation, advance the undertakings of world peace and development, establish a new type of international relationship and make new contributions to the building a community of shared future for mankind.

South Africans are looking forward to Xi's third state visit to their country and his attendance at the 10th BRICS Summit. I believe that his visit will definitely drive the development of the China-South Africa comprehensive strategic partnership and the unity and cooperation of the BRICS countries. It will also push for a new high for China-South Africa relationship and the BRICS win-win cooperation.

By Lin Songtian, Chinese Ambassador to South Africa.
Brics Summit no 'talkshop' (Саммит БРИКС не будет затрагивать узкие темы) / South Africa, July, 2018
Keywords: summit, expert_opinion
South Africa
Author: Lesetja Malope

The 10th Brics Summit, to be held in Johannesburg this week, will not be a mere talkshop, according to South Africa's Brics ambassador, Anil Sooklal.

The summit is set to be a turning point in the targeted developmental sector of its member economies, and its impressive implementation rate bodes well for regional economies.

Speaking to the media during a roundtable event, Sooklal said he was confident the summit would deliver much-needed hope to the member economies and beyond.

He said the summit had proven to be a very valuable platform for the bloc and, since its establishment, more than 70% of its resolutions had been implemented, proving it is more than a talkshop.

The Brics Research Group found that Brics members (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) implement 70% of summit decisions, and there is a high level of commitment to increased and deepened interactions between member states.

Sooklal said the Brics credit rating agency was not yet finalised, but milestones had been achieved.

Sooklal also said the summit, which will be held from Wednesday to Friday, will produce the Johannesburg declaration, a document negotiated by high-level officials of member states and including outcomes of all the meetings held among stakeholders.

"The declaration will typically include the outcomes of meetings on politics, security, finance and economics, social and development as well as people-to-people interactions," he said.

South Africa joined the Brics in 2011. Following the subsequent establishment of the Brics Bank, it received two loans from the bank.

The first loan was for Eskom, granted in 2013 for just over R2 billion. The second loan, granted in May this year for R2.7 billion, was to finance Transnet's Durban container terminal berth reconstruction project.

The current chairperson of the bank's board of governors, which is its highest decision-making structure, is South Africa's finance minister Nhlanhla Nene.

The bloc established the Contingent Reserve Agreement (CRA) in 2015, when Brazil hosted the summit, as a framework for providing protection against global liquidity pressures. In line with the CRA, South Africa contributed $5 billion, China $40 billion and India, Brazil and Russia $18 billion each.

The Brics Business Council, chaired by Iqbal Survé, consists of nine multisector working groups that will be meeting in Durban today and tomorrow to consolidate final recommendations to the council's annual report, which will be tabled and adopted on Thursday.

The working groups are: infrastructure, manufacturing, financial services, energy and green economy, skills development, agribusiness, digital economy and deregulation.

This week, the Brics Business Forum will commence at the Sandton Convention Centre.

Among the dignitaries expected to attend the summit are heads of state from Angola, Ethiopia, Zambia, Egypt, Uganda, Rwanda and Gabon.

Among the objectives of the summit is to facilitate dialogue on the fourth industrial revolution, provide a platform to showcase affordable financing mechanisms in tandem with the National Development Bank, Africa Development Bank and Development Bank of Southern Africa for industrial and infrastructure development in Africa, and increased the volume of value-added intra-Brics trade.

The summit will also look into increased exports of value-added products and awareness of the trade and investment opportunities on the African continent.

Although South Africa only joined in 2011, the Brics bloc has invested $17.8 billion in the country through 189 projects and created 36 852 jobs since 2003. However, more than half of that, or 56%, of the capital investment was in Gauteng alone, and China was the biggest contributor in that province. China has a significant investment footprint across the country, except in Free State.

Gauteng also proved to be the key investment destination for Brics member economies as 40% of foreign direct investment projects and 31% of total job creation is in that province.

KwaZulu-Natal was the investment destination of choice for India. It also benefited the most from job creation stemming from Indian investments.
Restating the case for BRICS (Повторное рассмотрение дела для БРИКС) / India, July, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, summit, rating
Author: Rajiv Bhatia

The annual diplomatic exercise next week takes place amid a complex global political scenario. The western alliance is deeply divided, Brexit is near and equations among the great powers are in a constant state of flux. BRICS may now do well to focus more on internal cooperation than global change

The 10th BRICS summit, to be held in Johannesburg from 25-27 July 2018, will be yet another attempt to assert and fortify the role of an important multilateral formation that comprises five key nations from four different continents. This annual diplomatic exercise takes place now in an increasingly adverse global environment. What, then, are the prospects of success for BRICS to secure its goals in its second decade? What gains does South Africa expect for itself?

The core elements of BRICS' agenda are under attack. Several new challenges have arisen from: the rising global turbulence unleashed by Trump's unconventional and disruptive management of international affairs, threats to globalisation, the march towards Brexit, the deeply fractured western alliance, rise of unilateralism and rapidly changing equations among great powers. BRICS aspires to bring about reform in the UN, including the Security Council, a rules-based multilateral trading system, and a new global economic governance structure that reflects the voice of emerging and developing economies, but it is nowhere near achieving these objectives today.

Yet, the 10th summit comes in the wake of one favourable development: three of the grouping's most important members – China, Russia and India – enjoy closer understanding today than they did before the last summit at Xiamen.[1] This positive outcome stems from the successful informal summits the prime minister of India held with the presidents of China and Russia in Wuhan and Sochi respectively in May this year. Better India-China relations[2] and a shared perception by the Three Powers that the stability of the global system must be safeguarded[3], may help the host, South African president Cyril Ramaphosa, navigate summit deliberations in a positive direction.

As the host, South Africa has had the opportunity to shape pre-summit consultations, especially since critics of the government have argued that the nation has gained little from its membership of BRICS. The present official narrative, therefore, is that South Africa is in a position to influence the global discourse and attempt to push for greater global equity, both in political and economic domains.

More specifically, Pretoria has set four practical priorities for the 10th summit: foster BRICS' unity to devise vaccines to address numerous health challenges; establish a working group on international peacekeeping; launch a dedicated mechanism to promote women's empowerment; and initiate dialogue to plan for the impact of the fourth industrial revolution. Looking from the purely economic imperative though, the South African government hopes that the likely participation of about 1,000 business leaders in BRICS-related events will help President Ramaphosa achieve his declared goal to draw $100 billion in foreign investment to the country in the medium term.

The host nation has chosen 'BRICS in Africa: Collaboration for Inclusive Growth in the fourth Industrial Revolution' as the central theme. The long title will most likely become the subject of an extensive final declaration of the conference, but how the summit addresses a few specific issues on the ground will show if the outcome was successful.

Of the four broad areas of focus in the past — expanding practical cooperation, improving communication and coordination, safeguarding peace and security, and embracing cultural diversity — BRICS participants could concentrate on the first. Participants need to agree on a strategy to deal with Trump's America which is not anti-West. They have to make speedy progress on intra-BRICS cooperation, especially in the areas of development and finance. Increasing substantially the New Development Bank's (NDB) resources and the geographical area of its operations is a priority.

Second, the logic of setting up NDB's regional centres in South Africa and Brazil demands that its coffers now be used to fund projects in Africa and the neighbourhood of the other four member countries.

Third, it will also be helpful if members overcome their differences and establish a new Credit Rating Agency of BRICS' own, which is based on market principles. This proposal figured in the Goa Declaration of November 2016. China may not particularly need it, but the other four members, hungry for more foreign investment, see merit in the proposed institution. India is keen to locate it in one of its own cities; member countries should give the idea due consideration.

Four, South Africa's two-pronged approach on outreach through i) the BRICS-Africa Dialogue and ii) the BRICS Plus cooperation promises to be a new and interesting innovation. If it succeeds – and for this, participants have to go beyond mere talk and craft a credible plan of cooperation with BRICS interlocutors – then future hosts of BRICS summits could emulate it.

The chairmen of Regional Economic Communities, the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), the African Union (AU), and the AU Commission will represent the country at Johannesburg: they can be sure that BRICS leaders will reiterate their support for Africa's Vision 2063. But the critical question is whether the five-country formation will have something concrete to offer Africa at a time when the world's no. 1 economy – the US – shows limited interest in the affairs of the African continent.

Once again, China's shadow will loom large over the BRICS stage. President Xi Jinping will arrive in Johannesburg — as part of his five-nation tour, covering four African countries (viz. Senegal, Rwanda and Mauritius, besides South Africa) and UAE — and prepare the ground energetically for the forthcoming summit of the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), to be hosted by Beijing in November.

At the BRICS summit, the Indian leadership will insist on an equal place in the sun for all members. Besides, it may strive to take the middle path on divisive issues emerging from the growing tensions between the United States and China.

And the Russians? Fresh from the Helsinki summit, President Putin is sure to hold BRICS leaders' optimal attention as he briefs them about his discussions with President Trump.

Countries that will be present in the capacity of observer will be Argentina (as Chair of the G20 and influential MERCOSUR or Southern Common Market member); Indonesia (as Co-Chair of the New Africa-Asia Strategic Partnership with South Africa and influential ASEAN member); Egypt (as Chair of the G77+China; Jamaica (as incoming Chair of CARICOM or the Caribbean community); and Turkey (as Chair of the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC).

It is best to have moderate expectations of the forthcoming summit as global politics is mired in complexity. BRICS may do better, strengthening cooperation among its own members and with its partners in Africa and elsewhere than pursue its ambition to change the world.

Rajiv Bhatia is Distinguished Fellow, Gateway house. A former high commissioner to South Africa, he writes regularly on BRICS-related developments.

This article was exclusively written for Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations. You can read more exclusive content here.

For interview requests with the author, or for permission to republish, please contact

© Copyright 2018 Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations. All rights reserved. Any unauthorized copying or reproduction is strictly prohibited.


[1] Bhatia, Rajiv, 'BRICS Summit under Doklam shadow', Gateway House, 12 August 2017, <>

[2] Bhatia, Rajiv, 'Indo-Pacific in flux', Gateway House, 28 June, 2018, <>

[3] Bhatia, Rajiv, 'After Xiamen, a stronger BRICS?', Gateway House, 14 September, 2017, <>

SA gears up for BRICS Summit (ЮАР готовится к саммиту BRICS) / South Africa, July, 2018
Keywords: summit, SA_chairmanship
South Africa

In the run up to the three-day BRICS Summit, which kicks off next Wednesday, South Africa has laid its cards on the table and set its targets.

During a roundtable discussion held at the Invest SA One Stop Shop in Johannesburg on Thursday, South Africa expressed its desired outcomes from chairing the 10th BRICS Summit.

"BRICS must deliver to the people. It must speak to our national priorities, our domestic interest of addressing unemployment, poverty and inequity in our societies," said BRICS Ambassador Anil Sooklal.

To do this, Sooklal tabled peacekeeping, the establishment and launch of a BRICS Women's Forum, a key focus on the 4th Industrial Revolution and the development of skills thereof as top of the country's agenda.

"We want to put forward the idea of peacekeeping, which resonates very well with the centenary of Madiba, who was a widely and highly regarded symbol of global peace.

"Secondly, we want to launch the BRICS Women's Forum. This will be a great tribute to Mama Sisulu to launch the Women's Forum during the year of our BRICS Presidency.

"Thirdly, it will be the 4th Industrial Revolution, in keeping up with the world that we live in and the new age of technology, which is revolutionising how we live and how we work," said Sooklal.

The ambassador said these targets have been endorsed by the BRICS countries.

South Africa assumed the rotational chairmanship of BRICS, which is composed of the world's leading emerging economies -- namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa -- from 1 January to 31 December 2018.

The 2018 summit will be a seminal milestone for BRICS cooperation, as it represents a decade of BRICS cooperation at the highest diplomatic level.

The summit will take place under the theme 'BRICS in Africa: Collaboration for Inclusive Growth and Shared Prosperity in the 4th Industrial Revolution'.

With much of the criticism about the BRICS bloc being the skewed trade with SA on the back foot, levelling the playing field is set to dominate the lion's share of talks at the summit.

"We have been working with unbalanced trade and our objective is to ensure that we get to complimentary trade. We are still exporting fundamentally primary goods - whether it be mineral or agricultural products, while the bulk, if not all imports from the BRICS member states, are value added products.

"As South Africa, we need to find some level of balance of the export basket," said the Department of Trade and Industry's Trade and Investment Deputy Director-General, Lerato Mataboge.

Ahead of the summit, there have been numerous events to pave the way for further key discussions. One of the key pre-summit events is the BRICS Business Council meeting, which is still to take place.

Brand SA Research General Manager Petrus De Kock said as custodians of the country's identity and by extension that of BRICS, they will present a report at the BRICS Business Council meeting, which details the brand that is BRICS.

The report is said to focus on how BRICS has grown from an economic concept to an institution of global governance.

BRICS From Above, Seen Critically From Below (БРИКС сверху, увиденный критически снизу) / South Africa, July, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion
South Africa
Author: Patrick Bond

The Durban rapper Ewok captured the spirit of progressive social forces in South Africa with his condemnation of elite politics at a March 2013 protest outside the Durban International Convention Centre: "You dropping BRICS from above? We're throwing bricks from below!"

For the second time, the leaders of the Brazil-Russia-India-China-SA (BRICS) summit in South Africa, this time at Johannesburg's Sandton Convention Centre from July 25-27. The bloc has great potential to change the world in positive ways. But under increasingly desperate capitalist rule in each country, this potential simply cannot be realised, and evidence has accumulated of much more harm than good

The best example of intra-BRICS collaboration combining top-down and bottom-up politics was when fifteen years ago, Treatment Action Campaign activists wonfree AIDS medicines (once costing $10 000/year) for several million South Africans (hence raising life expectancy from 52 to 64) thanks partly to a Brazilian state precedent and Indian generic pharmaceutical support.

Progressive BRICS crumbling

But that was then – now the BRICS are mainly corrupt and undemocratic under Michel Temer, Vladimir Putin, Narendra Modi, Xi Jinping and Cyril Ramaphosa. Thanks to the ruling parties' policies, the five countries are more unequal, patriarchal, homophobic, racist and polluting.

There is not space here to explore systematic policy critiques of BRICS countries, which range across feminist, environmentalist, generational (especially youth), class and race lines. Brutal versions of neoliberal ideology prevail in all five BRICS, aside from Brazil during Workers Party rule, which ended in a 2016 coup by the corrupt politician Temer – against which no other BRICS country came to prior President Dilma Rousseff's assistance in spite of appeals by the Movement of Landless Workers.

Inequality subsequently rose in each of the BRICS. Even in Brazil, "After falling for years, inequality and poverty increased during the [2015-16] crisis," according to a May 2018 International Monetary Fund (IMF) study. To make matters worse, the main theme of the 2018 conference is the so-called "4thIndustrial Revolution" (emphasising robots, cybertechnology and Artificial Intelligence). Unemployment, state-corporate surveillance, repression and social engineering will worsen.

There are, naturally, many in the 'Brics from the middle' camp – academics, civil society and labour – who contest the critique. Their perspective, though, often ignores rather than rebuts the brics-from-below critics.

The subimperial position

One central problem is that the BRICS elites fit too snugly within – not against – Western imperialism, especially the most destructive multilateral agencies: the G20, UN Security Council, Bretton Woods Institutions (IMF and World Bank), World Trade Organisation (WTO) and UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). There, the BRICS supposedly pursue 'reforms':

+ G20– in the most powerful network, where SA is the only African member and hence is often used as a Northern/BRICS ally against the interests of the continent, the BRICS are promoting pro-corporate mega-projects and 'extractivism' against African people and environments (via the German conservative party's 'Compact with Africa' in 2017, which offers new investment guarantees to G20 corporations partly at African expense);

+ UN Security Council– ensuring that the three weaker BRICS (Brazil, India and South Africa) are never allowed to acquire full-vote, full-veto permanent membershipin the UNSC, since that would dilute the power of Moscow and Beijing (given that the bloc is extremely divided in geopolitical terms, with Delhi and Brasilia extremely close to Washington, and Pretoria generally considered unreliable);

+ International Monetary Fund (IMF)– demanding and winning ownership 'quota' restructurings(2010-15) that disempower most poor countries by lowering their voting share(e.g. Nigeria by 41 percent), and extending the term of corrupt (convicted) former French finance minister Christine Lagarde as IMF leader, without any change in the neoliberal Washington Consensus philosophythat wrecks African economies, societies and environments;

+ WTO – ending poor countries' food sovereigntyat the 2015 Nairobi summit (chaired by a Brazilian) by agreeing with Washington and Brussels to make pro-consumer/farmer agricultural subsidies a free-trade violation, at a time Xi Jinping is rebooting pro-corporate trade (given that Trump appears to be self-sabotaging Free Trade Agreements); and

+ UNFCCC – agreeing in the Durban (2011) and Paris (2015) summits to permit the North's and BRICS' ongoing destruction of the climate, thanks to the deals'non-binding, unambitious emissions cut targets(in spite of Global South and climate justice calls for binding, accountable and effective mechanisms); reinstatement of carbon trading(the 'privatisation of the air,' a false solution); omission of the military, shipping and air transport sectors; and cancellation of their own North/BRICS' climate debtto the victims of extreme weather, droughts, floods and other conditions that are already doing extensive damage to the world's poorest and most vulnerable regions.

Supposed BRICS 'alternatives'to Western power include the New Development Bank (NDB), Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA), a potential credit ratings agency, and BRICS corporations' Foreign Direct Investment. These are not genuine alternatives. In reality they amplify imperialist processes. These specifically empower the World Bank and IMF (through mutually-reinforcing deals), and also confirm ongoing world reliance on the US$. (The $ is the currency unit used in 70 percent of NDB loans so far, and in all CRA financing – even when project expenditure should occur with local currency.)

Even more tragically, the BRICS have not offered any way for the world to defend against U.S. President Donald Trump's threats to our planet. To be sure, Russia has very dangerous new missiles which Putin claims can evade all known defence systems and blow up the United States within a half hour of being launched. Also, Xi's new naval aircraft carrier will defend its South China Sea fake 'islands' far away from its shores. But world civilisation has entered a lethal stage with geopolitical, nuclear, conventional military, climate and economic dangers.

A global movement against Trump began on the very day of his inauguration in January 2017, and occasionally takes the form of protests at U.S. embassies. BRICS elites could support this through sanctions, but instead engage in periodic relegitimisation of Washington's proto-fascist regime – especially Modi, Temer and Xi. Although anti-Trump rhetoric is occasionally articulated and potential trade wars loom, the BRICS are nevertheless falling into line with his commands when it comes to the pro-corporate character of multilateral institutions.

One of the main threats to Middle East peace and global justice is the Trump-Israel axis that bulldozes over the most fundamental rights of Palestinian people and promotes hatred, racism, walls and wars across the continents. While people are building a new global anti-apartheid movement calling for boycotts, divestment and sanctions, BRICS policies promote corporate impunity, undermine democracy and adapt to imperialist agendas against Palestine. India imports 50 percent of all Israeli weapons exports while Brazil ranks among the top six markets for Israeli weapons. Much of it foments repression against their own people and surveillance policies.

China and India are today among Israel's main trade and investment partners, and there remains a strong impetus for South African corporations to increase trade with the Zionist-Apartheid state, or for SA firms to mind Africa hand-in-glove with notorious Israelis like Dan Gertler. Chinese, Russian and Indian companies collude with Israelis on 'Big Data' – which translates into more surveillance of societies. Russia is getting cosy with Israel as witnessed in Benjamin Netanyahu's guest appearance in Red Square with Putin on May 9th (commemorating the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany), heralding growing ties and potential converging interests in gas and oil exploration off the Levantine-Israel-Gaza coast. China trades heavily with Israel. None of the BRICS countries bans products of corporations complicit with Israeli settlements in Palestine, as should be done under international law since production on illegally occupied land is considered an international crime.

BRICS elites subvert citizenries' democratic instincts

BRICS elites are crushing their own societies' instincts for democracy and justice.Ongoing examples are Temer's frame-up arrest of Workers Party leader Lula da Silva in Brazil in May, preventing his (otherwise certain) victory in October presidential elections; Putin's disqualification of Alexai Navalny's liberal candidacy in April's Russian "election"; Modi's proto-fascistic religiously-bigoted leadership; Xi's Chinese Communist Party dictatorship (and now his potential for decade+ personal rule); and here in South Africa, the 'Ramazupta' governance problem.

South African political rulers still reveal corrupt leadership within the Presidency and Deputy Presidency, the ANC's Luthuli House and various provinces. ANC leaders are ruthless, with intra-ANC murders continuing in many jurisdictions. In 2012, Ramaphosa emailed in a request for the police to take "concomitant action" in a "pointed" way against workers on strike at his Lonmin platinum mine at Marikana, and so within 24 hours, 34 were massacred – with no one yet punished. He had consistently redirected money he should have paid the workers into Lonmin's Bermuda tax haven, and notwithstanding a mandate to build 5500 houses for workers at Marikana backed by the World Bank, he built just three. BRICS leaders are guilty of Illicit Financial Flows, having been exposed in 2016 'Panama Papers' and 2017 'Paradise Papers' leaks.

When the BRICS countries' elites do business in Africa, their ethics reflect some of the most anti-democratic and predatory practices that we have seen since the Berlin conference of 1885 and the likes of Cecil Rhodes and King Leopold. Similar to Western corporate behaviour in corrupting local leaders, Africa suffers malevolent BRICS state, parastatal and corporate interventions in local politics. For example,

+ The Brazilian firm Odebrecht made R600+ million in known bribes of Angolan and Mozambican rulers.

+ Rosatom did nuclear deals with corrupt political regimes in Pretoria, Kampala, Lusaka, Accra, Nairobi, Abuja, Windhoek and Cairo.

+ The Gupta brothers' state capture of wide swathes of South Africa's political, bureaucratic and corporate management was supported by one of Delhi's state-owned banks, with no extradition from India likely.

+ Beijing compelled Pretoria to reject the Dalai Lama's visa applications to South Africa on three occasions, put decisive pressure on Zuma to change finance ministers in 2015, and pre-approved the Zimbabwe army's coup against Robert Mugabe late last year.

+ Pretoria repeatedly dismissed the democratic will of neighbouring countries, instead nurturing dictatorships in the DRC, Swaziland, Zimbabwe and the Central African Republic.

BRICS firms operating in Africa have become voracious, especially since the commodity super-cycle peaked in 2011 and more extreme extraction (and social protests) are evident. It is hard to argue that there is any worse predatory corporate presence in Africa than the BRICS:

+ From Brazil, both Odebrecht and the world's second-largest mining company, Rio-based Vale, have faced regular protests over mass displacement at construction projects and coal-mining operations in Tete, Mozambique, as has the Brazilian government (dating to Workers Party rule) over its ProSavana corporate-agriculture land-grab.

+ Russia's potentially disastrous Rosatom nuclear reactor deals across Africa are noted above, but so too are Russian mining houses moving into Zimbabwe's platinum and gold fields in dubious ways.

+ Indian companies in Africa have been especially exploitative, led by Vedanta chief executive Anil Agarwal – caught bragging to investors of having bought the continent's largest copper mine for just $25 million after fibbing to Zambian president Levy Mwanawasa and each year returning $500 million to $1 billion in revenues. ArcelorMittal's Lakshmi Mittal's major African steel operation, South Africa's former state-owned ISCOR, was accused by even Pretoria's trade minister of milking the operations. Jindal's super-exploitative arrangements in Mozambique and South Africa are regularly criticised.

+ Chinese firms – both state-owned and private – have been convincingly accused of major financial, human rights, labour and environmental abuses in Africa, perhaps most spectacularly in the case of Sam Pa whose operations included mining diamonds in eastern Zimbabwe along with the Chinese military firm Anjin. In 2016, even President Robert Mugabe alleged that of $15 billion in revenues, only $2 billion were accounted for, in mines mainly controlled by the local military and Chinese companies.

+ South African businesses have a record of looting the rest of the continent dating to Cecil Rhodes' (19thcentury) British South Africa Company, the Oppenheimer mining empire, and current President Ramaphosa's pre-2012 chairing of Africa's largest cell-phone company, MTN. The latter was exposed – along with two other companies he led, Lonmin and Shanduka – in 2014-17 for having offshore accounts in Bermuda and Mauritius used to illicitly remove funds from Africa. South Africa's corporate elites regularly rank as the most corrupt on earth in the biannual PwC Economic Crimes Survey – especially in money-laundering, bribery and corruption, procurement fraud, asset misappropriation and cybercrime – with one recent report showing that "eight out of ten senior managers commit economic crime."

Corrupting states, societies and economies

Finally, when it comes to relations with South Africa, the BRICS countries and companies stink of corruption. It's not just the Rosatom nuclear deal, so devotedly pursued by Zuma and thankfully dropped by Ramaphosa (we hope).

In addition, the chair of the SA branch of the BRICS Business Council, Survé, grew wealthy through his firm Sekunjalo, which was accused by the SA state public protector in 2013 of R800 million in "improper" tendering (for marine fisheries), after which he fired the Cape Times editor for putting this information on the newspaper's front page.

Survé took over the Business Council chair from a man even more discredited from shady deals done at the BRICS 2013 summit: Brian Molefe. As Transnet's chief executive, Molefe borrowed $5 billion (in US$) from the China Development Bank, mainly used to buy locomotives from China South Rail – alongside massive bribery directed into the Gupta empire.

Another BRICS NDB loan to Transnet was arranged in May 2018, for $200 million to expand the port-petrochemical complex, without any community consultation, even though Transnet's leadership was increasingly implicated in Gupta-era corruption investigations entirely visible to NDB staff at the time.

In 2016, Molefe was replaced as head of Eskom (and as chair of the BRICS Business Council) after he again arranged a $5 billion loan from the same bank (plus $200 million from the BRICS New Development Bank for a link to privatised solar supplies which Molefe then decided he didn't want). At the same time Molefe was helping the Guptas penetrate Eskom, he visited the so-called Saxonwold Shebeen (the Gupta's Johannesburg mansion) dozens of times.

His replacement at Transnet, also involved in numerous corrupt relationships, is Siyabonga Gama, who is also one of five members of the BRICS Business Council. Another is Stavros Nicolaou, who was Aspen Pharmaceutical's exports director when Italy's government found Aspen guilty of price gauging life-saving cancer medicines, fining it more than $5 million.

Communities fight back

The BRICS are among the societies with the greatest contradictions and repression – but also the most active resistance. Anger is rising whether in Brazil over the Lula jailing; or Russia because the main opposition candidate was prevented from contesting the recent election; or India due to the ruling party's tolerance for gender and ethnic violence as well as monetary repression; China due to workplace, land and environmental grievances; or here due to myriad problems.

Indeed, the main research institute studying this anger, at the University of Johannesburg, recently identified "a rising trend in frequency of community protests and a tendency towards those protests being disorderly."

In our own region, resistance is taking many forms, because across Africa and the world, it is not only western imperialism but also BRICS subimperialism that is putting extreme pressure on communities, environments, labour forces, youth, the elderly and everyone. And resistance is sometimes very passionate:

+ In Mozambique, there are regular community protests against Brazilian land-grabbing in Tete Province (against Vale coal mining) and Nampula (against ProSavana).

+ In SA, social protests against Zuma prevented his acquisition of eight Russian Rosatom nuclear reactors for $100 bn.

+ In Zambia, community protesters regularly criticise the Vedanta operation at Konkola, which is wrecking the local environment in addition to looting national resources.

+ In Zimbabwe, not only the Marange community – where 2000 protested renewed mining in May – every single citizen was adversely affected by Chinese and Zimbabwean military looting of $15 billion worth of what Robert Mugabe in 2016 calculated as missing diamond revenue.

+ Across Africa there are periodic protests against South African corporations – e.g. MTN in Nigeria – which peaked in April 2015 when a variety of company and embassy offices witnessed demonstrations against that year's xenophobia.

From the standpoint of activists working for social, economic and environmental justice from below, BRICS elites are their opponents, for:

+ adopting reactionary policies;

+ assimilating into imperialist agenciesto the detriment of the world's most vulnerable;

+ offering only bogus 'alternative' institutions;

+ suppressing democracy;

+ allowing their firms' unlimited corporate irresponsibility;

+ imposing extreme forms of surveillance, censorship and digital repression, including expansion of the ultra-destructive 4th Industrial Revolution; and

+ engaging in prolific

But in each case, people are standing up to resist. Activities from July 23-25, including a Teach-In and "Break the BRICS" march on Sandton will give greater voice to these communities, unions, women's and youth groups, ecologists and many other social movements.

BRICS Summit: Russia's Return to Africa (Саммит БРИКС: возвращение России в Африку) / Russia, July, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, summit, sergey_lavrov

The event will also bring together the leaders of the organization's other four members too, as well as Turkish President Erdogan and a few other distinguished guests, but it's President Putin's visit that carries with it a lot of historical weight. The Soviet Union used to be one of the most powerful forces in Africa during the Cold War, but Moscow's influence drastically waned over the past two and a half decades to the point where there was scarcely any Russian presence there at all the first time that President Putin visited sub-Saharan Africa in 2006.

In the half-decade since his last visit in 2013, a lot has changed across the world with the advent of the New Cold War, but especially in terms of Russia's newfound role in Africa. Moscow has taken the lead in training the armed forces of the Central African Republic using a handful of its own troops and several dozen private security contractors under the aegis of the UN, thereby helping to stabilize parts of this war-torn country that the rest of the world had written off as a hopelessly failed state. Russia's renewed relations with some former Soviet partners like Mozambique and Angola are also figuring more prominently in its continental policy, as is its fast-moving friendship with Sudan. Moreover, energy and mining interests have come to replace outdated ideological ones all over the continent.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov recently paid an unexpected working visit to Rwanda, the sitting chair of the African Union, and announced that his country plans to host a Russian-African business forum next year that observers predicted would be modelled off of what China's been doing there for years already. Russia's new appeal to Africa is that it could become a provider of comprehensive security, energy, and mining solutions, thus making it an alternative to the more or less binary choice between the US and China nowadays, though it lacks the economic development expertise to confidently compete with either of those two in that particular sphere, ergo next year's planned forum. In any case, the occasion of President Putin's return to Africa is a relevant reason to discuss Russia's strategy towards the continent and its future prospects after the BRICS Summit.

Engin Ozer, Political analyst and editor of the Voice of Africa information agency, and Kwanele Mkheswa, Johannesburg-based financial consultant and political commentator from Nkayi, Southern Zimbabwe, join the show.

BRICS 2018: South Africa offers a continental reach for the bloc (BRICS 2018: Южная Африка предлагает континентальную зону охвата блока) / China, July, 2018
Keywords: summit, expert_opinion, brics+, trade_relations
Author: Abhishek G Bhaya

This year's 10th annual BRICS Summit in Johannesburg from July 25 to 27 will be the second time South Africa is hosting the event after a gap of five years. The African country hosted the fifth summit in Durban in 2013, just two years after it had officially joined the BRICS grouping of the world's major emerging economies in 2011.

South Africa has come a long way since, providing BRICS an enduring and much-needed reach across the continent of Africa. The bloc which was founded in 2009 as BRIC with four initial members – Brazil, Russia, India and China – expanded that acronym to BRICS following South Africa's inclusion.

At the time though, many analysts – including British economist Jim O'Neill who coined the term BRIC in 2001, to symbolize countries that he felt would become economic powerhouses in the future – weren't quite convinced about South Africa's addition to the bloc.

The coming together of the four BRIC nations under a single umbrella organization was seen by many observers as a move aimed at posing an imminent challenge to the West's domination in the global economy. And O'Neill, like other critics, felt South Africa was simply too small to join the group of the world's top four major emerging markets.

The South African economy and population are no doubt smaller in scale when compared with the other BRICS members. Even today, according to World Bank's 2017 figures, South Africa ranks 32nd in the list of global economies, while China is the world's second largest economy, India is sixth, Brazil eighth and Russia the eleventh.

Many analysts, including O'Neill, had felt that Nigeria – with the biggest economy and population in Africa – had a greater chance to be a part of the group.

'Voice of Africa'

However South Africa and other BRICS members have maintained that it is the country's strategic importance that mattered and not simply its size. As the only African country in the bloc, South Africa is seen as representing the voice of the continent.

"We are in BRICS because they (other members of the bloc) needed this continental reach. They found us to be a country that historically has run an independent foreign policy, that champions the interests not only of our country but of our continent, and in world affairs we champion international rule of law, democracy and human rights," South Africa's former Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said in defense of her country's inclusion in the grouping.

In an interview to Daily Maverick newspaper ahead of the 2013 BRICS Summit in Durban, Nkoana-Mashabane also highlighted how South Africa witnessed rapid changes within two years of joining BRICS.

"When we applied to join BRICS, the overall trade deficit between us and other members of this forum was about 57 billion US dollars. In the short time since we have been members of BRICS, it has come down from 57 billion to 24 billion US dollars," she said.

O'Neill was soon compelled to change his views on South Africa. From dismissing the country as an odd ball in BRICS, the former Goldman Sachs chief economist admitted as early as in 2013 that South Africa "has a big role to play [within the BRICS] and probably quite a responsibility in being some kind of genuine gateway to helping the rest of Africa become more successful."

Over the years, South Africa as a BRICS member has enjoyed trade and diplomatic benefits both regionally and internationally and hopes to further use the multilateral platform to deal with challenges such as unemployment, poverty and inequality, according to South Africa's BRICS Sherpa (special emissary) Anil Sooklal.

While acknowledging South Africa's economic transformation and stability in governance, O'Neill hoped the country will help other African nations to achieve similar development.

"If South Africa could also help to lead the rest of the continent to reach its own standards where these are high, Africa would be on an accelerated path to greater economic might. By exploring cross-border expansion in trade and infrastructure, as well as improvements in domestic productivity, South Africa will have more than justified its role as a member of BRICS," he remarked.

Trading within BRICS

Also, ahead of last year's BRICS Summit in Chinese city of Xiamen, O'Neill affirmed that the economic performance of BRICS has exceeded his expectations. "Sixteen years later the BRICS share of global GDP (gross domestic product) is bigger than every scenario I projected," the economist said.

South Africa's trade with other BRICS nations has more than doubled from 15 billion US dollars in 2010 to 31.2 billion US dollars in 2016. China has been South Africa's top ranking export destination as well as import supplier since 2009.

According to data released by South Africa's Department of Trade and Industry, the country's exports to other BRICS partners in 2016 totaled 156 billion rand (11.6 billion US dollars), while imports from the four countries came to 273 billion rand (20.2 billion US dollars).

The intra-BRICS exports amounted to 4 trillion rand (301 billion US dollars) in 2016, of which China accounted for 40 percent, India 27 percent, Russia 16 percent, Brazil 10 percent, and South Africa 7 percent.

In 2015-16 financial year, intra-BRICS investment amounted to 554 billion rand (41.1 billion US dollars), of which South Africa received 34.5 billion rand (22.6 billion US dollars) from investors in these countries. In return, the African country made investments worth 22.6 billion rand (1.7 billion US dollars) in the BRICS countries.

Emphasizing on the constructive role South Africa has played within the BRICS, Sooklal reminded how the foundation for the BRICS Bank was laid at the Durban summit in 2013.

"This summit saw the creation of the BRICS Business Council and also initiated the negotiations for the setting up of the BRICS Bank, which was later established as the primary outcome of the 2014 BRICS Summit in Fortaleza, Brazil under the name 'New Development Bank' (NDB)," Sooklal told a BRICS roundtable held in Pretoria earlier this year.

BRICS Plus, Outreach

The South African Sherpa also said that his country was the first to initiate the BRICS outreach mechanism at the Durban summit, which was later continued in successive summits by the other hosts. This was in line with South Africa's role as the gateway to the rest of the continent.

South Africa "hosted on the margins of the e-Thekwini (Durban) Summit, a BRICS-African Leaders Dialogue Forum Retreat that was attended by 12 African leaders, representing the AU, New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) and the eight AU Regional Economic Communities (RECs)," Sooklal said.

"This model has since been replicated by subsequent hosts and South Africa hopes to build further on this initiative in this current chairship," he added.

This year too South Africa has invited the leaders of AU, NEPAD and the RECs of Africa to attend the BRICS outreach dialogue on the sidelines of the summit. The theme for this dialogue is "BRICS in Africa: Working towards the realization of the African aspirations."

Sooklal said that China ushered in the second "Golden Decade" of BRICS cooperation when it hosted the bloc's 9th annual summit last September in Xiamen. He stressed that the Xiamen Declaration is widely perceived as a balanced and reflective document, indicative of a positive spirit of intra-BRICS collaboration.

"South Africa has undertaken to closely align its chairship of the BRICS Forum in 2018 with that of China in 2017 so as to establish maximum synergy and continuity for BRICS endeavors between the successive summits," he said.

"We are also considering the BRICS Plus cooperation initiative that was introduced during China's tenure [last year], for the purpose of further enhancing cooperation with the global community, as well as to take forward the relationship with Africa," Sooklal said.

The BRICS Pus initiative, introduced last year, entails a dialogue with emerging markets and developing countries. This year's BRICS Plus dialogue will have the theme of "Securing sustainable and inclusive growth for the prosperity of the Global South." Many international organizations including the United Nations, ASEAN, OIC, G20, G77 and CARICOM will attend the dialogue.
Remarks by the Minister of Small Business Development, Ms Lindiwe Zulu, on the occasion of the BRICS Youth Summit (Выступление Министра развития малого бизнеса г-жи Линдиве Зулу по случаю Молодежного саммита БРИКС) / South Africa, July, 2018
Keywords: speech
South Africa

Programme Director;
Chairperson of the National Youth Development Agency, Mr Sifiso Mtshweni;
Honoured guests;
Ladies and gentlemen

Addressing young people in 1995 on Youth Day, former President, Nelson Mandela said:

"At the end of the day, your progress will depend on how you apply yourselves to your work. The road to a better life demands hard work. It demands discipline, patience and responsibility … This generation of youth stands at the border-line between the past of oppression and repression, and the future of prosperity, peace and harmony".

In this centenary of Nelson Mandela and Albertina Sisulu, we have a responsibility to ensure that our practical actions give concrete expression to the clarion call by our former President. Indeed, young people have been at the centre of every watershed moment in the struggle against oppression and exploitation.

Carrying the message of Tata Madiba forward, President Cyril Ramaphosa had the following to say on the occasion of this year's Youth Day:

"Even as we built a democratic South Africa, it was fearless young people who reminded us that liberation would not be complete until the wealth of the land is shared among its people. The current generation of youth has therefore chosen as its mission the attainment of economic freedom".

Young people must continue to be a force for progressive change and radical transformation. As we approach the BRICS Summit, we continue to urge young people to recommit themselves to the historic task of being agents of change and leading the reconstruction and development of our country.

Our BRICS membership contributes to further leveraging economic opportunities for our own development agenda, as well as that of the continent. As part of the developing world, South Africa faces the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality.

Particularly in the context of current global developments, South Africa's membership of BRICS has been one of the key strategic partnerships of the democratic South Africa and is a key platform for promoting South-South trade and investment.

The BRICS membership is now showing its potential benefits to the local economy. BRICS partners share best practices and development models to address and combat these common challenges. More importantly, BRICS seeks to advance the restructuring of the global political, economic and financial architecture into one that is more equitable and balanced and which rests on the important pillar of multilateralism.

Significantly, BRICS contain 40 percent of the world's population.

With a combined GDP of approximately $15 trillion, BRICS countries account for 19.3% of gross global product; 42.7% of the world population; and has contributed more than 50% to the world economic growth during the last 10 years.

Intra-BRICS trade has grown from US$567 billion in 2010 to $744 billion in 2017. South Africa-BRIC trade has grown from $28bn to $35bn over the same period. Both SA exports to and imports from other BRICS countries have grown at a rate faster than South Africa's global trade, thus increasing the importance of other BRICS countries in South Africa's trade basket. Combined, the BRIC countries account for 15.4% of South Africa's global exports, and 25.4% of the country's imports. The key focus for BRICS should be to change the structure of our trade and promote value-added trade so as to contribute to the structural transformation of our economies.

The SMME sector in many of the BRICS economies contribute up to nearly half of their exports, manufacturing output and GDP. Together we are addressing key barriers/impediments faced by SMMEs and the need for cooperation among the BRICS countries to effectively address the barriers to trade and investment amongst the SMMEs.

Across the globe, experience demonstrates that small business and co-operatives thrive if an enabling environment is created and if there is a robust partnership between government, big business and the SMMEs and co-operative sector.

In this regard, South Africa has identified small businesses and co-operatives as critical to creating an economy that benefits all. South Africa's economy needs a thriving small business and cooperatives sector to reach national socio-economic goals of a prosperous and inclusive society. It is only through a flourishing inclusive economy that the challenges of inequality, unemployment and poverty can be comprehensively addressed.

Our point of departure is that small businesses can be the backbones of any economy and the main driver of economic growth, poverty reduction and job creation. A healthy SMME sector can make a massive contribution to the economy by creating more employment opportunities and generating higher production volumes.

The country's high rate of unemployment and extreme inequality call for bold and far-sighted interventions. The National Development Plan is the vehicle which will address poverty, unemployment and inequality. It sets an ambitious aim to treble the size of the economy by 2030, a daunting challenge that will require our collective contribution. Meeting the NDP's growth target of 5.4 % for the next 16 years would not only guarantee South Africa's material prosperity, but would be an elevating and inspiring narrative for the country.

As the NDP makes clear, getting South Africa onto a high-growth trajectory demands that we fundamentally change our game plan and place small businesses and co-operatives at the centre of our war against poverty, inequality and unemployment. Developing a strong and growing SME community is a cornerstone of the NDP's vision. SMEs are expected to be central to South Africa's job creation efforts, in line with international trends.

One of the specific targets of the NDP is to reduce unemployment to 6% by 2030 through the creation of 11 million jobs. The NDP projects that if we implement the full range of its recommendations, our economy will grow at 5% per annum, with 60-80% of this value being generated by SMMEs and expanding businesses, and that this sector will create 90%, or 9.9 million, of the 11 million new jobs we will boast by 2030. Hence our bold assertion: Small business is big business.

We are heartened to note that the contribution of SMMEs to the economy continued to increase despite the increasingly difficult economic conditions. We are determined to strengthen the small business sector to enable it to occupy its rightful place in the mainstream economy and to demonstrate that Small Business is the Big Business of the future and working together we can indeed achieve more.

This task is not only limited to government but is a joint compact between government, civil society and the private sector. The key responsibility of government is to create an enabling environment for small business to take their rightful places in the mainstream economy.

Our active participation in BRICS is in pursuit of our national interests. The economic benefits that will accrue through our BRICS membership cannot be over-emphasised. BRICS is, indeed, a concrete affirmation of our unyielding commitment to expand access to a better life for all.

I thank you

BRICS Summit in Johannesburg to cement solidarity (Саммит БРИКС в Йоханнесбурге цементирует солидарность) / South Africa, July, 2018
Keywords: summit
South Africa

The theme is "BRICS in Africa: Collaboration for Inclusive Growth and Shared Prosperity in the Fourth Industrial Revolution"

Organisers of the Tenth BRICS Summit at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg are gearing up to welcome the more than 5,000 delegates from July 25 to 27.

More than 1,100 media have already been accredited and the media accreditation centre has been issuing media access badges since July 17.

The majority of the media are from China, South Africa, Russia, India, Russia and Brazil. Media from non-BRICS states also feature prominently on the list. The media houses sending the largest contingents of journalists are SABC, CCTV, CGTV, China Daily, Bloomberg, Reuters, Xhinua, RT and Independent News.

The South African government will be working to tackle the trade imbalance and also address complementary trade between it and its BRICS partners, South African government officials said on Thursday.

Lerato Mataboge, deputy director-general at the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti), said that South Africa's largest export destination was China followed by India, Brazil and Russia, and the trend was the same with imports, with China as the largest source of imports into South Africa.

"One of the concerns for South Africa in this summit is to find a balance of the export basket as the country still exports a lot of primary goods to BRICS countries while importing value-added products from them," Mataboge said.

"We hope the Summit will bring more collaboration between the member states and focus on inclusive development and peace," Ambassador Professor Anil Sooklal, South Africa's advisor in the BRICS Summit, said.

The Presidency has already confirmed that President Cyril Ramaphosa will host President Xi Jinping of China on Tuesday, the day before the BRICS Summit.

"Whilst the US has always ignored Africa, China recognised the economic role of Africa a long time ago and has a strong presence on the continent. This further strengthens the position of BRICS in the world order and can further strengthen trade and bi-lateral agreements between African nations," Fatima Vawda, Managing Director of 27four Investment Managers told The BRICS Post.

Dawie Roodt, the chief economist at Efficient Group said the focus of the Summit would be on the trade wars.

"The Russians and the Chinese are more interested in the trade war and other international and local issues. I am currently in Siberia and I can see how their economy is struggling. Also, South Africa's own economic woes mean that we are less attractive. One probable outcome of the BRICS Summit is probably some announcement of a loan to South Africa," he told The BRICS Post.
Approaching the 10th BRICS Summit: Leveraging the Trump 'Trade War' into New Initiatives? (Приближаясь к 10-му саммиту БРИКС: использование торговой войны Трампа в новых инициативах?) / Turkey, July, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, economic_challenges, trade_relations
Author: Andrew F. Cooper

As the 10th official summit of the BRICS approaches in Johannesburg, South Africa on July 25-27 there is much to be impressed by. Long gone is the image of the BRICS as the creation of Jim O'Neill and Godman Sachs back in 2001. Instead of a volatile phenomenon, dependent on rates of economic growth, the BRICS has sustained its shape as a club with a significant diplomatic personality. Indeed the fact that at the the 2011 Sanya summit, South Africa joined the club along with China, India, Brazil and Russia is testimony to the recalibration of the BRICS away from the Goldman Sachs model. Not only was South Africa not a member of the original BRICs, South Africa didn't make it in the second tier Next 11.

To a considerable degree the BRICS manifests the frustration of the most ambitious countries outside of the western-dominated establishment. Their collective concern about status was highly visible prior to the global financial crisis, as viewed by their negative reaction to the attempts of the Western establishment to bring them into outreach processes through the G7/8. The first meeting of the BRICS leaders was in fact an unofficial one on the sidelines of the Toyako G8 summit in 2008. While increasingly interdependent economically with the West, these 'rising' countries wanted a more open multipolar system in geo-political terms.

In pushing for change the BRICS benefited originally from a mix of national leadership styles. In the early 2009 and 2010 official summits BRICS had what appeared to be an attractive association with President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil. Russia provided a good deal of the diplomatic heavy lifting, including the link of the RIC (Russia-India-China) idea with the embrace of Brazil, trust building via the United Nations (UN), and the hosting of the first official summit in Yekaterinburg. China, initially stayed in the background, largely in appreciation of the asymmetrical economic heft it enjoyed over its counterparts. For on trade figures alone the BRICS could be called more accurately CRIBS. What China was pivotal in doing was in bringing South Africa into the forum. Joining the club in turn amplified South Africa's role, although it should be noted that of all the BRICS South Africa faces the most criticism both at home (with protests at the 2013 Durban BRICS summit) and in the rest of Africa (especially by countries such as Nigeria). India, for its part, supplied the early functional leadership in creating the New Development Bank (NDB).

As a club the BRICS played up the commonalities among them and played down their differences. Most notably the BRICS put a great deal of attention on pushing for reform on the International Financial Institutions. Far less attention was paid to the reform of the UN system, reflecting the differences between the legacy P5 members (Russia and China) and the aspirants (India, Brazil, and South Africa).

The consolidation of the BRICS however came up against at least two serious tests. One related to the push for the BRICS to add substance in terms of the creation of the NDB. Established in 2014 the NDB brought to the fore some tensions within the BRICS, above all competition between India and China in working out the operational details. China won out in terms of getting the headquarters of the NDB in Shanghai. India won in keeping to the strict rule of equality notably in terms of capital base. Despite these differences, helped by a first rate management team, the NDB has performed well, with a innovative green brand. Moreover, a regional office of the NDB has opened in South Africa.

The second test threatened to undermine the sense of geo-political solidarity of the BRICS, again with India and China at the core of the controversies. At the 2016 Goa summit the major controversy was Prime Minister Narendra Modi's call for the BRICS to stand together against the "mothership of terrorism" (in other words, Pakistan). At the 2017 Xiamen summit, preparations were marred by the escalation of tensions around the Doklam standoff. While eventually the issue of territorial claims was papered over, the image of a culture of solidarity within BRICS was eroded.

With these tests in mind, the 'trade war' opened by President Trump from a BRICS perspective could be highly valuable. As argued above, the BRICS operates best when it plays up commonalities among its members and plays down their differences. The trade war plays into this shared sense of role performance. If China's response to the US's trade actions has grabbed the headlines, India has raised tariffs on a number of items in retaliation for the US imposing higher levies on some Indian products. Brazil worries about steel tariffs, even as its farmers might benefit from increased agricultural sales to China. A number of South African companies producing steel for the US market, including ArcerlorMittal SA, and Hulamin, a firm that supplies aluminum products for Elon Musk's Tesla vehicles, also face concerns. And on top of all this is the ongoing issue of sanctions placed on Russia.

There is a clear logic then for the BRICS to try to leverage this situation to their own advantage. Already in the declaratory language towards the 2018 summit, it is the reaction of the BRICS to this "new wave of protectionism" that stands out. South Africa's Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Lindiwe Sisulu, chairing a recent meeting of foreign ministers, noted that the "The current global geo-political realities make a meeting of this nature not only necessary but timely…We meet in the face of multilateralism under siege: when the integrity of international agreements can be hastily and expediently compromised: when more and more countries take an inward-looking position at the expense of others".

Still, the question is whether or not the response to the Trump 'trade war' will move from words to action, animating more ambitious initiatives on the part of the BRICS. A free trade area (FTA) has been mooted for quite a while without tangible action. Can the BRICS concomitantly implement the road map for trade, economic and investment cooperation before 2020, highlighted at the Xiamen summit?

The issue of whether the BRICS can set up their own credit rating agency is also highly salient. As far back in 2015, Prime Minister Modi of India called upon members of BRICS to begin the BRICS credit rating agency. Since then, there have been discussions at several conferences and forums, but with no sign of an explicit decision.

Will be there signs of a move to open up either the BRICS or the NDB to further members, as a BRICS plus? Significantly, South Africa, among many other activities, has invited countries such as Argentina, Indonesia, Egypt, and Turkey to a BRICS Plus Outreach event. Will this effort, as with the G7/8 initiatives back in the 2000s, prove counter-productive? Or will it build momentum to an expanded club?

Alternatively to this type of bold major initiatives, the BRICS could stick to a more diffuse and low key script. In keeping with the theme of "BRICS in Africa: Collaboration for inclusive Growth and Shared Prosperity in the 4th Industrial Revolution", this focus certainly could have some substantive if longer term benefits for the African continent. As it is, South Africa has showcased: A working group on peacekeeping; The creation of a vaccine research centre; The creation of the BRICS gender and women forum; The BRICS strategic partnership towards the progress of the Fourth Industrial Revolution; and the establishment of the BRICS Tourism Track of cooperation.

Such a diverse agenda, especially if the deliverables look modest, nonetheless, has risks of its own. Given the geo-political foundations of the BRICS, the dangers of internal rivalry, and the success of the NDB in countering the image of the BRICS as a talking shop, the trade war crisis is an opportunity for the BRICS. It already appears to have reinvigorated the culture of collectivity among the members. The challenge at the Johannesburg summit of the BRICS is to shift this renewed sense of solidarity into a platform for new instrumental dynamism.

The BRICS, global governance, accumulation, class struggle and resource extractivism (БРИКС, глобальное управление, накопление, классовая борьба и ресурсный экстравизм) / United Kingdom, July, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, global_governance, economic_challenges
United Kingdom
Author: Patrick Bond

An exceptionally interesting debate about how imperialism is now behaving.

Two leading critics of imperialism – John Smith and David Harvey – have recently fought bitterly at the Review of African Political Economy website over how to interpret geographically-shifting processes of super-exploitation.

The risk is that they obscure crucial features of their joint wrath: the unjust accumulation processes and geopolitics that enrich the wealthy and despoil the world environment. Another leading Marxist, Claudio Katz, has recently reminded of one such feature that deserves far more attention: Rau Mauro Marini's 1960s-70s theory of subimperialism, which fuses imperial and semi-peripheral agendas of power and accumulation with internal processes of super-exploitation.

The concept of subimperialism can resolve some of the Smith-Harvey disputes. Smith's book Imperialism in the 21st Century has as its foundation this formula:

"the imperialist division of the world into oppressed and oppressor nations has shaped the global working class, central to which is the violent suppression of international labour mobility. Just as the infamous pass-laws epitomised apartheid in South Africa, so do immigration controls form the lynch-pin of an apartheid-like global economic system that systematically denies citizenship and basic human rights to the workers of the South and which, as in apartheid-era South Africa, is a necessary condition for their super-exploitation." [1]

This is a start but a rounded Marxist-feminist-ecological-race-conscious critique of imperialism needs a stronger foundation. Smith's problems begin with the South Africa metaphor and extend to the unconvincing binary of oppressed and oppressor nations, whose main shortcoming is that it underplays national ruling classes aspiring to shift from the former to the latter.

The analysis also fails to incorporate aspects of 'deglobalisation' that are increasingly apparent in this conjuncture (even before the Trump trade war fully breaks out and current financial market mini-crashes lead to another generalised meltdown). Neglect of multilateral power relations and geopolitical bloc formation also characterises the partly-sterile, partly-inspiring debate that Smith strikes up with Harvey in his 2016 book Imperialism in the Twenty-First Century, in Monthly Review Online in 2017 and in the Review of African Political Economy in January-March 2018. [2]

The missing links in contributions from both Smith and Harvey relate to processes of subimperial accumulation and class struggle, especially at a time that so-called global governance (multilateralism) has successfully assimilated the potential challenge by the main bloc of semi-peripheral countries: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (the BRICS).

To be sure, this category was at least briefly deployed by Harvey (in his 2003 book The New Imperialism):

"The opening up of global markets in both commodities and capital created openings for other states to insert themselves into the global economy, first as absorbers but then as producers of surplus capitals. They then became competitors on the world stage. What might be called 'subimperialisms' arose … Each developing centre of capital accumulation sought out systematic spatio-temporal fixes for its own surplus capital by defining territorial spheres of influence." [3]

This is the most vital component: the displacement of over-accumulated capital into geographically-dispersed sites, especially the BRICS, and the re-deployment of this capital into even more super-exploitative sites of surplus extraction, as Marini had projected, including the extractive industries of Africa – although not without debilitating contradictions that must be raised forthrightly. Hence a slightly renovated system for global management of these contradictions has also emerged, even if downplayed by Smith and Harvey in this recent debate. [4]

In short, the power structures of global neoliberalism seamlessly drew in the BRICS over the past decade, especially in relation to world finance (during the 2010-15 International Monetary Fund reform era), trade (at the World Trade Organisation in 2015) and climate policies (at the United Nations from 2009-15). The multilateral 'reforms' promoted by subimperial powers extend their own corporations' accumulation and displace their own class, social and ecological backlashes – again albeit with profound contradictions. And there are few places where these kinds of processes are more obvious than here in South Africa.

Apartheid's complex geography of super-exploitation

First, any South African metaphor needs more nuance than the typical white-black super-exploitation narrative. The apartheid system super-exploited workers, not merely by denying citizenship and basic human rights at the point of production.

There were also profound geographical relationships: urban segregation (the "Group Areas Act" regulating residency); national and regional scales of migrancy regulated by the Pass Laws and Southern African military-enforced political power over labour supplies; and South Africa's role in the global division of labour and geopolitics. [5] These all allowed the supply of black bodies to serve not only transnational corporations, but also locally-grounded processes of capital accumulation (e.g. the Oppenheimer and Rupert family fortunes), class formation, racism, gendered power relations and ecological stress. [6]

Smith's point here, correct but incomplete, is that apartheid supplied labour power below the cost of reproduction across what is normally a worker's life-cycle: the childhood rearing of workers is in a typical advanced capitalist country subsidised by day-care centres and schools; their illnesses and injuries are covered by medical aid systems whether public or private; and their retirement expenses are the result of savings, pensions and social security, all supported by employer programmes or taxation of corporations. During apartheid's prime, none of these aspects of social reproduction were provided to black workers. That left women in the homelands to look after retired workers, sick workers and pre-workers – children – aside from the few schools run by religious missions. As a result, corporations paid much lower taxes and benefits. Indeed they enjoyed super-profits, amongst the world's highest, until the system began to experience severe stresses during the 1970s. [7]

Smith uses the apartheid metaphor properly at a rudimentary level, insofar as the migrant relationship witnessed tens of millions of black male workers moving (11 out of 12 months each year) to the white-controlled and spatially-delineated cities, mines and plantations, as 'temporary sojourners' on the stolen land. But he might have pointed out that payment for their labour power below the cost of its reproduction was subsidised by the oppression of women displaced to rural areas by apartheid and regional colonialism, with consequent stresses to local ecologies – often to the point of breakdown and the formal destruction of the once self-sufficient peasantry. (In the Marxist literatures on South Africa's "articulations of modes production" [8] and its "uneven and combined development", [9] this geographical aspect of super-exploitation is a central theme, although in both literatures more could still be done to draw out the gendered and environmental aspects. [10])

What Smith does not consider properly either in this case or globally, was the obvious political relationship between the Pretoria regime and its patrimonial allies. This relationship assured a broader systemic reproduction of cheap labour in both the internal Bantustans [11] and the neighbouring colonial and later neo-colonial regimes which facilitated this super-exploitative labour relationship until 1994. To write of apartheid simply as a racialised capital-labour relationship, without these gendered aspects, or the ecological stress associated with Bantustan overcrowding, or the overarching state apparatus that arranged and maintained super-exploitation, is to leave out the bulk of the story. Also, in the process, such neglect implicitly negates a major part of the anti-apartheid resistance movement.

Today, South Africa's rejuvenated (post-1994) modes of super-exploitation deserve similar attention. Strong signals about new varieties of super-exploitation, including within a usurious micro-credit system, were sent in August 2012 at Marikana, a two-hour drive northwest of Johannesburg. There, three dozen migrant mineworkers were shot dead and scores more seriously wounded, many crippled for life one afternoon; they were amongst four thousand engaged in a wildcat strike against Lonmin platinum corporation, demanding US $1000/month for rock-drilling. They were treated by police as "dastardly criminals" at the explicit (emailed) request of Cyril Ramaphosa, who was the London firm's main local owner. [12] In 2014 he became Deputy President and in February 2018 replaced Zuma as president in a palace coup, 15 months before Zuma's retirement date.

Bearing this in mind, Smith's book makes only a half-hearted effort to scale up the useful apartheid metaphor to the present mode of imperialism. To scale up more convincingly requires, in my view, extension of Harvey's conceptual apparatus to the level of subimperial power relations that are so well personified by Ramaphosa. Like the old Bantustan tribal warlords which the Pretoria regime escalated to power, there is now a global-scale buffer elite emerging which the imperial powers generally find useful in terms of legitimation, financial subsidisation and deputy-sheriff duty – even when anti-imperial rhetoric becomes an irritant, e.g. as under Zuma's 2009-18 rule.

From local to global apartheid – adding the BRICS as subimperial 'Bantustan elites'

Smith utilises the (very convincing) analysis of mining scholar-activist Andrew Higginbottom in which South African apartheid super-exploitation is considered in theoretical terms, [13] and from there he reminds us of powerful aspects of Samir Amin's Africa-centric dependency theory and Ruy Mauro Marini's Brazilian-based analysis. Both stress super-exploitation, but both do much more:

Amin has always been concerned with the overall geopolitical balance of forces at global scale – not just in terms of South-to-North value transfers – and he regularly takes special care to work out how neoliberal global governance has emerged to accompany Washington's neoconservative military prowess. [14]

Marini focused on the elaboration of subimperial power wielded by states that are incorporated into the Western system as regional agents of imperialism, in which, Smith agrees, "dependent economies like Brazil seek to compensate for the drain of wealth to the imperialist centres by developing their own exploitative relationships with even more underdeveloped and peripheral neighboring economies." [15]

Smith is correct to remind of these writers' (and others') commitment to a "dependency thesis" based on "the reality of the extreme rates of exploitation in Bangladeshi garment factories, Chinese production lines, South African platinum mines, and Brazilian coffee farms." But aside from the tokenistic nod to Marini – followed immediately by a confession, "not discussed here" – at only one point in the book does Smith consider the ownership and accumulation processes associated with these sites of subimperial surplus value extraction. Sadly though, it comes in a dismissive footnote after he attacks Ellen Wood for:

  • reducing imperialism to interstate rivalry between great powers before extinguishing it entirely: The "new imperialism [is] no longer … a relationship between imperial masters and colonial subjects but a complex interaction between more or less sovereign states." Alex Callinicos has the same idea: "The global hierarchy of economic and political power that is a fundamental consequence of the uneven and combined development inherent in capitalist imperialism was not dissolved, but was rather complicated by the emergence of new centres of capital accumulation," producing what he calls subimperialisms, a broad category that includes Vietnam, Greece, Turkey, India, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, and South Africa. [16]
Yet Wood's and Callinicos' descriptions of power relations are perfectly reasonable, coming at a time of heightened multilateral neoliberal imperialism, as the Clinton-Bush-Obama neolib-neocon era gathered strength and assimilated its opponents. That assimilation process is critical. The main site for it is the global governance process in relation to a variety of political, economic, social and environmental problems. It would be impossible to talk about post-War imperialism without its multilateral economic grounding in the 1944 Bretton Woods System. Indeed, Smith is entirely conscious of the many complicated ways that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, World Trade Organisation (WTO) and United Nations agencies still today manage global imperial power relations to the benefit of major corporations.

So why are such arrangements so difficult to conceptualise in the 21st century, at a time Xi Jinping earnestly promotes corporate globalisation against the Trump spectre of retreat from liberalised trade, global climate management and other uses of the U.S. State Department's soft-power arsenal? A profound shortcoming of Imperialism in the 21st Century is Smith's inability to grapple with 21st century global governance institutions, especially the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the G20 and G8 (until 2014, and now G7 without Putin's Russia). Had he considered these, Smith might have found his way beyond the old-fashioned binary of oppressed and oppressor nations.

For example, the BRICS bloc's role in imperialist multilateralism requires careful treatment, yet the bloc gets not one mention by Smith. For context, recall how in 2014 Barack Obama revealed to The Economist his agenda for incorporating China into imperialism's pseudo-multilateral system.

The Economist: "… that is the key issue, whether China ends up inside that [global governance] system or challenging it. That's the really big issue of our times, I think."

Mr Obama: "It is. And I think it's important for the United States and Europe to continue to welcome China as a full partner in these international norms. It's important for us to recognise that there are going to be times where there are tensions and conflicts. But I think those are manageable. And it's my belief that as China shifts its economy away from simply being the low-cost manufacturer of the world to wanting to move up the value chain, then suddenly issues like protecting intellectual property become more relevant to their companies, not just to US companies." [17]

Though Smith ignores the BRICS as either a unit of analysis or marker of ascendant economic power, the bloc's assimilation into imperialism has amplified unfair and inequitable world order processes, especially when pursuing global finance, trade and climate governance:

The IMF's 2010-15 board restructuring left four of the BRICS much more powerful (e.g. China by 37 percent) but most African countries with a much lower voting share (e.g. Nigeria's fell by 41 percent and South Africa's by 21 percent). BRICS directors thrice (in 2011, 2015 and 2016) agreed with Western counterparts to endorse leadership by IMF managing director Christine Lagarde, even though she was prosecuted – and in 2016 declared guilty of negligence – in a €400 million criminal corruption case dating to her years as French finance minister. Moreover, the BRICS €84 billion Contingent Reserve Arrangement strengthens the IMF by compelling borrowers to first get an IMF loan before accessing 70 percent of their quota contributions during times of financial emergencies, while leaders of the BRICS New Development Bank – which has no civil society oversight – brag of co-financing and staff sharing arrangements with the World Bank. [18]

The 2015 Nairobi World Trade Organisation summit essentially ended agricultural subsidies and hence food sovereignty thanks to crucial alliances made with Washington and Brussels negotiators, from Brasilia and New Delhi representatives, with China, South Africa and Russia compliant. [19]

The 2015 UNFCCC Paris Climate Agreement left Africa without any 'climate debt' options against the West and BRICS, since legal claims for signatories' liability are prohibited. As was prefigured by four of the BRICS' role (with Obama) in the 2009 Copenhagen Accord, the Paris commitments to emissions cuts are too small and in any case non-binding. Military, maritime and air transport emissions are not covered, while carbon markets are endorsed. Thus climate catastrophe is inevitable, mainly to the benefit of a residual profit stream for high-carbon industries in the rich and middle-income countries. [20]

BRICS elites were vital allies of the West in each recent site of global malgovernance, serving power much the way South Africa's Bantustan leaders did during apartheid. However, the short-term victories such as at the IMF, WTO and UNFCCC that today benefit their neoliberal, pollution-intensive corporations and parastatal agencies come at a difficult time, given deglobalisation processes: the relative decline in trade (even pre-Trump), foreign direct investment (FDI), and cross-border finance measured in relation to GDP.

Likewise, the commodity super-cycle's 2011 peak and then the crash of world minerals and petroleum prices in 2015 not only ended Africa Rising rhetoric. Just as importantly, since there fewer profits to be had from high prices, many transnational corporations made up for this by increasing the volume of extraction so as to seek a greater mass not rate of profit.

BRICS corporates exemplify super-exploitation

BRICS firms became some of the most super-exploitative corporations engaged in accumulation not only on their home turf but also in Africa. To illustrate the extraction of surpluses, from 2000 to 2014 the value of Africa-BRICS trade rose from US $28 billion to US $377 billion, before falling in 2015 by 21 percent due to the commodity price crash. [21] The bilateral investment treaties that facilitate these transfers from Africa to the BRICS are just as notoriously one-sided as those with Western powers, according to the main scholar of this problem, Ana Garcia. [22]

To take the example of Mozambique, Carlos Castel-Branco shows how its rulers aimed for "maximisation of inflows of foreign capital – FDI or commercial loans – without political conditionality" (much of which came from the BRICS as well as Portugal) in a super-exploitative context: "the reproduction of a labour system in which the workforce is remunerated at below its social cost of subsistence and families have to bear the responsibility for maintaining (especially feeding) the wage-earning workers by complementing their wages," a common phenomenon across the continent. [23]

While there may occasionally be an exception, [24] consider a few of the most egregious examples involving the BRICS, [25]

Brazil's major subimperial construction firm Odebrecht admitted paying bribes of US $51 million to officials in Angola and Mozambique (but the actual amounts are likely to be much higher), and both Odebrecht and the world's second-largest mining company, Rio-based Vale, have faced regular protests over mass displacement at construction projects and coal-mining operations in Tete, Mozambique, as has the Brazilian government (dating to Workers Party rule) over its ProSavana corporate-agriculture land-grab. [26]

Russia's Rosatom nuclear reactor deals across Africa – in South Africa, Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria and Zambia – are increasingly dubious, especially after the only country with an existing nuclear reactor, South Africa, witnessed an intense debate due in part to widespread corruption at the implementing agency (Eskom). As a result of growing fiscal crisis, the Rosatom deal appears to have fallen away. But Rosatom [27]

Indian companies in Africa have been especially exploitative, led by Vedanta chief executive Anil Agarwal – caught bragging to investors of having bought the continent's largest copper mine for just US $25 million after fibbing to Zambian president Levy Mwanawasa and each year returning US $500 million to US $1 billion in revenues. ArcelorMittal's Lakshmi Mittal's major African steel operation, South Africa's former state-owned ISCOR, was accused by even Pretoria's trade minister of milking the operations. Jindal's super-exploitative arrangements in Mozambique and South Africa are regularly criticised. But the most egregious state and private sector mode of accumulation by Indian capital in Africa must be the combination of the Gupta brothers and (state-owned) Bank of Baroda, whose corruption of South Africa's ruling political elite led first to massive looting of the public sector (and illicit financial flows via Bank of Baroda) and then the fall of Jacob Zuma and allied politicians, as well as other South African and international firms caught up in the Gupta web (including western corporations Bell Pottinger, KPMG, McKinsey and SAP). [28]

Chinese firms – both state-owned and private – have been accused of major financial, human rights, labour and environmental abuses in Africa, perhaps most spectacularly in the case of Sam Pa whose operations included mining diamonds in eastern Zimbabwe. In 2016, even President Robert Mugabe alleged that of US $15 billion in revenues, only US $2 billion were accounted for, in mines mainly controlled by the local military and Chinese companies. (In late 2017, coup leader Constantino Chiwenga travelled to Beijing and received permission from the Chinese military to proceed with Mugabe's overthrow). In South Africa, the China South Rail Corporation played a major role in the Gupta corruption ring, in relation to multi-billion dollar locomotive and ship-loading crane contracts with the parastatal railroad Transnet. [29]

South African businesses have a record of looting the rest of the continent dating to Cecil Rhodes' (19th century) British South Africa Company, the Oppenheimer mining empire, and more recently current President Ramaphosa's pre-2012 chairing of Africa's largest cell-phone company, MTN. The latter was exposed – along with two other companies he led, Lonmin and Shanduka – in 2014-17 for having offshore accounts in Bermuda and Mauritius used to illicitly remove funds from Africa. South Africa's corporate elites regularly rank as the most corrupt on earth in the biannual PwC Economic Crimes survey, with one recent report showing that "eight out of ten senior managers commit economic crime." [30]

Once profits are gained in this process, they are systematically removed through accounting techniques as misinvoicing and other tax dodges. Illicit financial flows that accompany FDI, Smith observes, are Net Resource Transfers (NRT) "from poor countries to imperialist countries in 2012 exceeded US $3 trillion." Specifically, the NRTs from Africa "to imperialist countries (or tax havens licensed by them) between 1980 to 2012 totalled $792 billion" (about US $25 billion annually). [31]

But the sleight of hand here is the ability of local elites – not just Western or BRICS corporations – to accumulate offshore in places like Mauritius (the African continent's leading hot money centre). This part of the outflow is not a function of 'imperialism' but local greed and higher profits gained by an unpatriotic bourgeoisie who can hold funds offshore (even idle), instead of investing in African economies whose currencies are often rapidly declining in value. [32] South Africa's peaked at R6.3/US $ in 2011 but fell to R17.9/US $ in 2016 before recovering to the R12/US $ range recently.

Naturally the City of London, Wall Street and Zurich are crucial sites for parking illicit flows. But so too are the BRICS. The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa estimated that US $319 billion was transferred illicitly from Africa during the commodity super-cycle, from 2001 to 2010. The United States was the leading single destination at US $50 billion; but China, India, and Russia were responsible for US $59 billion (Brazil is not recorded in the top 17 and South Africa is not included). [33]

One of Smith's rebuttals is that China is also a victim of illicit financial outflows, not just a villain. This is true, for capital flight is one reason China's peak US $4 trillion in foreign reserves in 2013 fell to US $3.3 trillion by 2016, at a pace rising to a record US $120 billion/month outflow by the end of 2015. Beijing's imposition of tighter exchange controls in mid-2015 and early 2016 slowed the process. But with the ambitious One Belt, One Road (OBOR) Initiative to move westward, there will be many more projects in which surplus capital will identify spatial fixes outside China.

Global Financial Integrity measured annual illicit financial flows from China at an average US $140 billion from 2003-14. The point, however, is that these flows are not necessarily transfers from 'China' to the 'imperialist' countries, although Western firms no doubt transfer as much as possible to the home countries (usually through R&D royalties and licenses). The illicit flows measured by Global Financial Integrity are, in part, Chinese elites' own strategies for accumulation.

Unfortunately, both Smith and Harvey ignore another vital outflow of poorer countries' wealth, in the form of non-renewable resources whose extractive value – termed "natural capital" – is not compensated for by reinvestment. The volume of the losses to Africa here far outstrips the financial outflows, and a great deal goes to firms from the BRICS. This category includes the net value of extracting minerals, oil, gas and other non-renewable resources which, from 1995-2015 were measured by the World Bank in The Changing Wealth of Nations 2018 at more than US $100 billion annually from Sub-Saharan Africa. [34] (This figure does not include North Africa nor the diamond and platinum accounts due to regional definitions for the former and measurement difficulties for the latter). The net outflow is above and beyond the increased Gross National Income and direct investment generated in the extraction process, and far outstrips all the other financial mechanisms through which Africa's wealth is drained.

Indeed, in relation to depletion of non-renewable resources, one corrective to the Smith-Harvey debate comes from Amin's latest book, Modern Imperialism, Monopoly Finance Capital, and Marx's Law of Value, in which both super-exploitation and environmental appropriations are restated by Amin as the two core processes within world capitalism. As he argues,

  • "capitalist accumulation is founded on the destruction of the bases of all wealth: human beings and their natural environment. It took a wait lasting a century and a half until our environmentalists rediscovered that reality, now become blindingly clear. It is true that historical Marxisms had largely passed an eraser over the analyses advanced by Marx on this subject and taken the point of view of the bourgeoisie – equated to an atemporal 'rational' point of view – in regard to the exploitation of natural resources." [35]
Capitalist rationality is to exploit without reference to the depletion of labour and resources over time. That China and India are now the most important purchasers of Africa's raw materials requires a rethinking of the ways super-exploitation of labour and environmental destruction are being amplified by capitalism's widening out from the historic European, US and Japanese core.

Altogether, these processes generate a form of subimperial accumulation that is implicit in Harvey's rebuttal to Smith, when he recognises "complex spatial, interterritorial and place-specific forms of production, realisation and distribution." The extraction of resources from Africa is undertaken by such firms, Harvey continues,

"even as the final product finds its way to Europe or the United States. Chinese thirst for minerals and agricultural commodities (soy beans in particular) means that Chinese firms are also at the centre of an extractivism that is wrecking the landscape all around the world... A cursory look at land grabs all across Africa shows Chinese companies and wealth funds are way ahead of everyone else in their acquisitions. The two largest mineral companies operating in Zambia's copper belt are Indian and Chinese." [36]

Perhaps it is Smith's old-fashioned binary North-South line of argument that prevents him mentioning – much less comprehending – the BRICS' amplification of both super-exploitation and ecological crises, especially those relating to Africa, or the even larger net natural capital losses. Still, to his credit, Smith's book acknowledges other crucial aspects of imperialism briefly discussed next: overaccumulation crisis, financialisation and remilitarisation. [37] Nevertheless, without exploring these aspects of imperialist political economy and geopolitics in a way that incorporates subimperialism, the potential for Smith to engage Harvey's overall concern about uneven geographical development is truncated.

Imperial-subimperial relations in an era of deglobalisation, over-accumulation, financialisation and remilitarisation

Crucially, the ebb and flow of capital across the world is not merely one of spatial extension, but also contraction – including the subimperial corporations that are active in Africa. From 2008-16, global trade/GDP declined from 61 percent to 58 percent. But China's trade/GDP rate fell from 53 percent to 36 percent; India's from 53 percent to 40 percent; South Africa's from 73 percent to 60 percent; Russia's from 53 percent to 45 percent; and Brazil's from 28 percent to 25 percent. [38] In the first two BRICS, the crash was a function of rebalancing through higher domestic consumption rather than export-led growth. Declining trade shares for South Africa, Russia and Brazil reflect peaking commodity prices just before the global financial meltdown that year, followed by subsequent recessions.

Behind this is an overall crisis of over-accumulated capital, to a large extend due to excessive expansion of capitalist relations in China, beyond its workers' and the world's capacity to consume the output. A 2017 International Monetary Fund report confirmed China's overcapacity levels had reached more than 30 percent in coal, non-ferrous metals, cement and chemicals by 2015 (in each, China is responsible for 45-60 percent of the world market). [39]

The subsequent shrinkage was the central reason for the massive crash of raw materials prices in 2015. The Guardian's Larry Elliott summarised IMF concerns over "methods used to keep the economy expanding rapidly: an increase in government spending to fund infrastructure programmes and a willingness to allow state-controlled banks to lend more for speculative property developments." [40] Another technique – expansion of financial markets to mop up the capacity – also became dangerous, with Chinese banks' high-risk ratio rising from 4 percent in 2010 to more than 12 percent since early 2015.

Financialisation is one symptom of global overproduction, in China and many other sites. Even though cross-border financial assets have fallen from 58 percent of world GDP in 2008 to 38 percent in 2016, the fast-rising domestic flows into high-risk (high-return) emerging markets and notwithstanding soaring overall indebtedness. In 2017, the Institute of International Finance announced that global debt reached US $217 trillion (327 percent of world GDP), up from US $86 trillion (246 percent of GDP) in 2002 and US $149 billion (276 percent) in 2007. Since 2012, emerging markets led by China have been responsible for all the addition to net debt. [41]

The next recession – which in mid-2017 HSBC, Citigroup and Morgan Stanley economists acknowledged is imminent due to vastly over-priced stock markets and unprecedented corporate indebtedness – will also confirm how optimists have become over-exposed locally, even as they lose appetite for global markets. [42] The early-2018 gyrations in world stock markets, including losses of US $4 trillion in a matter of days, signal that nothing was done after the 2008 meltdown to halt the bursting of financial bubbles.

Moreover, deglobalisation is now fully underway, as it was in prior eras such as the 1880s and 1930s. [43] For example, annual FDI was US $1.56 trillion in 2011, fell to US $1.23 trillion in 2014, rose to US $1.75 trillion in 2015, and then dipped to US $1.52 trillion in 2016, a decline as a share of GDP from 3.5 percent in 2008 to 1.7 percent in 2016. According to the UN Conference on Trade and Development, the attraction of Africa was waning from the US $66 billion peak inflow in 2008 to a 2016 level of US $59 billion. [44]

Although a late-stage recovery appeared underway in early 2018, there is no hope of a decisive upturn on the horizon, despite hype surrounding China's mega-infrastructure projects. OBOR is touted for restoring some market demand for construction-related commodities. However, at a deeper structural level, China suffers from the apparent exhaustion of prior sources of profitability. The OBOR appears as a potential US $1 trillion mirage, and one that may in the process even crack the BRICS, in the event the Kashmir OBOR routing continues to cause extreme alienation between Xi Jinping and Narendra Modi.

Another challenge to China comes from within: the ebbing of super-exploitative opportunities because of rising wages. Smith is incredulous: "It is true that ultra-low wages in southern nations are being used as a club against workers in imperialist nations, but it is preposterous to suggest that the North-South gulf in wages and living standards has been substantially eroded." [45] But global income studies and the "elephant curve" distribution by Branco Milanovic reveal a rise of these workers' wages compared to the stagnant labour aristocracies of the North. [46]

In this context, the status of subimperialism is fluid, especially within the deeply-divided BRICS. This will be evident in July 2018 when the bloc meets in Johannesburg. The South African host is no longer the faux anti-imperialist Zuma, pushed out in a February 2018 coup by Ramaphosa in spite of begging to stay six more months so as to chair the BRICS, which he believes is his major legacy. For years Zuma complained that he was 'poisoned' by Western agents – working through his fourth wife in mid-2014 – due to his support for the BRICS (he was indeed poisoned and then recovered in Russia, but it is not yet certain why this occurred). [47]

The Brazilian leader Michel Temer will soon be replaced as president, in a society with rampant elite self-delegitimation once the most popular candidate, Lula da Silva, was framed on bogus corruption charges, jailed and prevented from running in the October 2018 election. From India, Modi has openly embraced the Trump regime. The Chinese and Russian leaderships are remarkably stable: Xi's lifetime premiership was awarded in early 2018, just prior to a Russian electoral landslide won by Putin (after his main opponent was prohibited from contesting) which appears to extend his 18th year in power for many more.

In this context, at least, Smith makes valid political points about the class character of Chinese expansionism:

  • "Imperialism is inscribed in the DNA of capitalism, and if China has embarked on the capitalist road, then it has also embarked on the imperialist road… Chinese state capitalism (for want of a better term) shows signs of developing a strategic challenge to Japanese, European and North American dominance in key industries... Class-conscious workers must maintain independence from both sides in this looming conflict … [by] opposing Chinese capitalist expansion and the Chinese Communist Party's attempts to forge an alliance with reactionary capitalist regimes in Myanmar, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and other countries." [48]
The rise of subimperial powers and their domination of hinterlands is taking place decidedly within and not againstimperialism, and not just in terms of those multilateral processes discussed above. The world is much more dangerous since the BRICS took their present form in 2010: in Syria and the Gulf States, Ukraine, the Korean Peninsula and the South China Sea.

Even the Chinese-Indian border is rife with confrontations: mid-2017 fighting between the two giants at an obscure border post in Bhutan nearly derailing the BRICS annual meeting, and Modi's boycott of the OBOR summit in May 2017 was due to Beijing's mega-project trespassing on what New Delhi considers its own Kashmir land now held by Pakistan. For Xi it is the crucial turf linking western China to the Arabian Sea's Gwadar port. There is no resolution in sight. [49]

Acting as a geopolitical bloc, the BRICS' public security interventions have occurred strictly within the context of the G20: first, to prevent Barack Obama from bombing Syria using pressure at the larger group's September 2013 summit in St Petersburg, and then six months later in Amsterdam, supporting the Russian invasion (or 'liberation') of Crimea once the West made threats to expel Moscow from the G20 – just as the U.S. and Europe had thrown Putin out of the G8, now G7. However, when Trump came to last July's G20 summit in Hamburg, the BRICS leaders were extremely polite notwithstanding widespread calls to introduce anti-US sanctions (e.g. carbon taxes) due to Trump's withdrawal from global climate commitments just a month earlier.

Fortunately for Southern Africa, remilitarisation is not a major factor in geopolitics today, in part because the apartheid regime gave way to a democracy in 1994 and ended destabilisation policies. More than two million people were killed by white regimes and their proxies in frontline anti-colonial and anti-apartheid struggles during the 1970s-80s. More millions died in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) during the early 2000s' period of extreme resource extraction, a process that continues at low levels.

The two recent armed interventions by Pretoria in the region were to join United Nations peacekeeping troops in the DRC (2013-present) and aid the beleaguered authoritarian regime in the Central African Republic (2006-13). Both are considered political-military failures insofar as violence continues in both sites. In the latter's capital city Bangui, more than a dozen South African troops were killed in 2013 defending the Johannesburg firms pursuing lucrative contracts, just days before a BRICS "Gateway to Africa" summit in Durban. [50]

Marini, Katz, Amin, Prashad and Chibber on subimperialism in the political conjuncture

With Smith and Harvey engaged in a fierce debate, what have other leading Southern contributors said of these matters? Claudio Katz simultaneously reminded in March 2018 of Marini's best-known contribution to Marxist theory, namely the theory of subimperialism:

  • "The simple centre-periphery polarity is less sufficient than in the past in understanding globalisation. Value chains have enhanced the relative weight of the semi-peripheral countries. Multinational firms no longer prioritise the occupation of national markets to take advantage of subsidies and customs barriers. They hierarchise another type of external investments. In certain cases they ensure the capture of natural resources determined by the geology and climate of each place. In other situations, they take advantage of the existence of large contingents of a cheap and disciplined work force. These two variants – appropriation of natural wealth and exploitation of employees – define the strategies of transnational corporations and the location of each economy in the global order… This relegated positioning is corroborated even in those economies that managed to forge their own multinational companies (India, Brazil, South Korea). They entered a field that was monopolised by the centre, without modifying their secondary status in globalised production." [51]
Adds Samir Amin,

"The ongoing offensive of United States/Europe/Japan collective imperialism against all the peoples of the South walks on two legs: the economic leg – globalised neoliberalism forced as the exclusive possible economic policy; and the political leg – continuous interventions including preemptive wars against those who reject imperialist interventions. In response, some countries of the South, such as the BRICS, at best walk on only one leg: they reject the geopolitics of imperialism but accept economic neoliberalism." [52]

The militarist agenda of imperialism is now being somewhat more effectively balanced by the likes of China's navy and Russia's missile systems, both capable of engaging in debilitating strikes that would evade U.S. prevention. But even while rejecting imperialism's geopolitics, it is the BRICS' assimilation into neoliberal multilateral politics that stands out even more.

And even though Vijay Prashad does not believe the BRICS can "counter the military dominance of the U.S. and NATO," and indeed even though "Overwhelming military power translates into political power," and even though "BRICS have few means, at this time, to challenge that power," Prashad does agree that the BRICS have accepted economic neoliberalism:

  • "The BRICS bloc – given the nature of its ruling classes (and particularly with the right now in ascendency in Brazil and in India) – has no ideological alternative to imperialism. The domestic policies adopted by the BRICS states can be described as neoliberal with southern characteristics – with a focus on sales of commodities, low wages to workers along with the recycled surplus turned over as credit to the North, even as the livelihood of their own citizens is jeopardised, and even as they have developed new markets in other, often more vulnerable, countries which were once part of the Third World bloc… In fact, the new institutions of the BRICS will be yoked to the IMF and the dollar – not willing to create a new platform for trade and development apart from the Northern order. Eagerness for Western markets continues to dominate the growth agenda of the BRICS states. The immense needs of their own populations do not drive their policy orientations." [53]
Vivek Chibber also sees BRICS elites as assimilationist, in a recent South African interview: "the world is moving toward a more multi-centred political set of alignments. Economically, right now what we are seeing happening is the convergence of ruling classes in the global south and the global north into a common committee of global capitalist interests. That it seems to me is a new phenomenon." [54]

Such features of global capitalism go some way towards resolving the contradictions Smith and Harvey raise in their accounts. Most importantly, by more clearly naming the BRICS threat as an amplifier of imperialism, not an alternative bloc, a critique of the subimperial location will pave the way for a better understanding by the world's anti-capitalist forces, so that no further confusion need spread about the potentials for allying with BRICS elites (or for that matter, for world elites agreeing to a Kautsky-style global new deal). Although in many cases there is an 'anti-corruption' veneer, the democratic space for progressive politics is closing in most of the BRICS, alongside intensified economic exploitation and worsening environmental conditions.

The first weeks of 2018 witnessed the arrest of Brazil's popular former President Lula da Silva as he appeared likely to win the October election; the failure of Putin to allow credible electoral competition; growing state-sponsored fascism within India; the ending of term limits in China at the same time as worsening surveillance and repression; and a popular regime change in South Africa that was immediately followed by intense budgetary austerity and an attack on workers' right to strike.

In the last week of July 2018, when the BRICS bloc heads of state meet in Johannesburg's Sandton business district, the counter-summit of radical activists and intellectuals gathering under the banner of 'brics-from-below' will take forward critiques of both local/regional super-exploitation, ecological threats, democratic deficits and the global process which creates BRICS subimperialism. Marxist theorists should consider how recognition of these processes can be done in both practice and through a broader theory of imperialism.

Source : Pambazuka.


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Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
BRICS bloc gains ground at a pace (Блок БРИКС набирает обороты) / South Africa, July, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, rating, economic_challenges
South Africa
Author: Wang Shanshan

SOUTH Africa will welcome heads of state from the BRICS countries in Johannesburg in late July for their 10th summit. In 2001, Goldman Sachs chief economist Jim O'Neill said the emerging economies of the BRICS countries - Brazil, Russia, India and China (South Africa joined in 2010) - would be powerhouses that lead global economic growth. More recently, however, doubts have been raised about the vitality of the BRICS economies. But a look at the facts should help clear away these doubts.

Amid countless multilateral mechanisms, BRICS doesn't boast a long history. But it stands out for two reasons. First, its small number of members represents the vast expanse of the world's emerging economies, along with 42% of the world's population and over 25% of its landmass.

South Africa, as the second largest economy in Africa, is the sole representation of the continent in BRICS. Each member is unique in its own way, together building a highly complementary model of co-operation.

Second, it stands out for its collective economic performance.

The rate of economic growth in the bloc has far outpaced the world's average - and the expectations of many. Jeremy Stevens, an economist with South African Standard Bank, said at a BRICS economic forum in Beijing in 2014 that from 2008 to 2017 the world's average growth rate would be around 1%, while that of BRICS nations was expected to reach 8%.

This optimism has been bolstered by statistics released by China's Ministry of Commerce. These show that over the past 10 years the BRICS increased their share of aggregate global economic value from 12 to 23%. Their trade volume rose from 11 to 16% of the world's total. And outbound investment jumped from 7 to 12%, contributing half of the world's growth.

The vigour of the BRICS economies is evident in the increasing activity of the BRICS New Development Bank. The bank was set up in 2014 to fund development projects in member states.

The chief of the New Development Bank, K V Kamath, announced in May that the bank has approved projects worth $1.7billion, while the target for the whole year stands at $4bn to $4.5bn. That is on top of the $3.4bn in projects approved by the bank since its inception.

Two-thirds of the investment has gone into environmental restoration, water supply systems, irrigation and other projects that support sustainable development.

The bank has also invested in hi-tech projects developing artificial intelligence, blockchain technology, and 5G communications networks to improve member countries' competitiveness.

And the BRICS group has even bigger dreams. Last year, the BRICS heads of state met in China's port city Xiamen and mapped out a blueprint to expand co-operation in global governance, international peace and security, and people-to-people exchanges.

There are also plans to build the New Development Bank into a global financial institution.

Non-BRICS countries will be able to apply for membership of the bank starting in 2021. And it is set to have a bigger role in global governance.

For example, the bank intends to establish its own credit ratings agency that will serve the needs of the global south and other emerging economies.

The BRICS countries are braced to do more, particularly for the development of Africa, as South Africa steps into the organisation's rotating chair and hosts the 10th summit. Building on the BRICS decade-old success story, the summit is destined to be another milestone on the journey of intensive development.

A new push for investment and inclusive economic growth will be high on the agenda of the Johannesburg summit, with the aim of advancing South Africa's national interests and the African Union agenda, and deepen south-south relations.

BRICS is becoming the meeting place for developing countries, and a platform for south-south co-operation.

Meanwhile, the BRICS mechanism has already proved its efficacy as a channel for improving bilateral relations.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and South Africa.

In two decades, the two countries have witnessed their relationship grow stronger by the day.

China has been South Africa's biggest trading partner for eight consecutive years, with two-way trade in 2016 reaching $35bn.

That's 20 times what it was 20 years ago, and it accounts for one quarter of all trade between China and Africa.

China is also a major investor in South Africa, with direct investment topping $15bn.

Africa is set for a decade of unbelievable growth and prosperity, said Dr Iqbal Survé, the chairperson of the South African chapter of the BRICS Business Council. Working groups have over the past few months increased momentum to showcase South Africa as the most diversified economy on the continent, he said. BRICS provides a channel for these plentiful opportunities.

By basing their co-operation on mutual trust and benefit, BRICS countries have been rewarded with growing confidence and prosperity.

At a time when the world is facing the grave challenges of protectionism and isolationism, countries with the determination to safeguard the international rules-based order can be a force for good.

There is a Chinese saying "Even mountains and seas can't separate people with shared aspirations".

As BRICS leaders gather under the theme of "Inclusive Growth and Shared Prosperity in the 4th Industrial Revolution", there is much to anticipate and share with the world. - China Media Group

Wang Shanshan is current affairs commentator with China Media Group
BRICS Bank to Boost South African Loans by as Much as $600 Million (Банк БРИКС увеличит южноафриканские кредиты на сумму $ 600 млн) / South Africa, July, 2018
Keywords: ndb, investments
South Africa
Author: Roxanne Henderson

The New Development Bank plans to lend as much as $600 million more in South Africa this year in an effort to spread funding more evenly across its five member states.

The lender, backed by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, started operations in 2015 to support infrastructure projects and sustainable development initiatives in emerging economies. Leaders of the informal BRICS club of nations will be gathering in Johannesburg next week for its 10th summit.

"Our aim is to be equitable among our five members," NDB President K.V. Kamath said in an interview. "If you look at the $4 billion we will be doing this year, we should be lending around $800 million" in each nation, he said. "I hope this year, we will hit that number."

The NDB in May announced a $200 million loan to Transnet SOC Ltd., the state-owned South African ports and freight operator, to rehabilitate container terminals in Durban on the country's east coast.

It will ramp up efforts to grow sustainable infrastructure in the continent's most industrialized economy with two further loans, Kamath said. One of these will go to a bank, which will then in turn lend these funds for use in renewable energy developments, he said, declining to name the institution. The second will be made available to critical infrastructure, Kamath said in the interview on Wednesday, without giving more details.

Currency Risk

Separately, the NDB on Thursday activated a $180 million loan to Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. that had been dormant since 2016 and which will be used to build transmission lines and a substation for the Soweto area to integrate renewable-energy projects from independent power producers, Anil Sooklal, South Africa's BRICS ambassador, told reporters in Johannesburg.

The Shanghai-based bank will also begin raising money and lending in South African rand to help insulate its clients from currency risk, Kamath said. It already does this in China.

"We are trying to catch up with our lending to South Africa," he said. "It took us a little time to understand how to go about getting projects in South Africa, but I think we are slowly going up that learning curve."

The lender last year opened the African Regional Center to assist in identifying projects in the country it can support. The ascent of Cyril Ramaphosa to the South African presidency in February, which was followed by sweeping changes to the management at some state-owned enterprises, has improved confidence, Kamath said.

BRICS development bank to finance infrastructure projects in Russia (НБР БРИКС будет финансировать инфраструктурные проекты в России) / Russia, July, 2018
Keywords: ndb, investments

Russia may borrow $1 billion from BRICS New Development Bank for infrastructure projects, Deputy Finance Minister Sergey Storchak told reporters on Monday.

"With the new BRICS development bank alone we are now preparing four new loans,"
Storchak said. He added that these loans altogether would be slightly more than $1 billion, and they would be allocated to four infrastructure projects. Russia is part of the BRICS group, which also includes China, Brazil, India and South Africa.

In May, the Board of Directors of the BRICS bank agreed to allocate $320 million to Russia for the water supply and sanitation systems in Russian cities. In addition, the bank supported the idea of giving Russia a $220 million loan for a project called "integrated development of the territory and infrastructure of small historical cities and settlements." The other two projects to be financed by BRICS haven't been named.

The BRICS countries created the New Development Bank in July 2014. The goals of the bank, headquartered in Shanghai, is to fund infrastructure projects in emerging economies for sustainable development.

The bank's capital is up to $100 billion and it says all members of the United Nations could join it. However, the BRICS nations can never have less than 55 percent of the voting power.

Home to 43 percent of the world's population, four of the top BRICS economies are ranked in the world's top 15 by GDP size, namely China (2nd), India (6th), Brazil (8th) and Russia (11th).

South Africa seeks to strike trade balance at Brics Summit (Южная Африка стремится добиться баланса торговли на саммите Бриксов) / South Africa, July, 2018
Keywords: economic_challenges, trade_relations, summit
South Africa

The South African government will be working to tackle the trade imbalance and also address complementary trade between it and its Brics partners at the crucial upcoming Summit next week, officials said on Thursday.

Lerato Mataboge, deputy director-general at the Department of Trade and Industry (the DTI), said that South Africa's largest export destination was China followed by India, Brazil and Russia, and the trend was the same with imports, with China as the largest source of imports into South Africa.

Mataboge said that top exports for South Africa to China are iron ores, ferro-chromium ores and manganese while imports are cellphones, portable computers, machines and footwear.

"One of the concerns for South Africa in this summit is to find a balance of the export basket as the country still exports a lot of primary goods to Brics countries while importing value-added products from them," Mataboge said.

"During South Africa's chairmanship of Brics, the country will advance trade areas such as commerce, intellectual property rights, trade in services, investment cooperation, supporting the multilateral trade systems, and more. South Africa's trade with Brics countries totalled R461-billion in 2017, a slight increase from R425-billion the previous year, but also a significant increase from R203-billion in 2010."

Mataboge, together with officials from the department of international relations, provincial economic development, and Brand South Africa, were briefing the media on Thursday about the country's state of readiness to host the tenth Brics Leaders Summit in Johannesburg from 25 to 27 July after the country took over the rotational chairmanship in January. South Africa became a Brics member in 2011.

The Brics Summit is convened annually with discussions representing spheres of political and socio-economic coordination in which Brazil, Russia, China, India and South Africa (Brics) have identified several business opportunities and areas of cooperation.

Ambassador Professor Anil Sooklal, South Africa's advisor in the Brics Summit, said: "We hope the Summit will bring more collaboration between the member states and focus on inclusive development and peace."

The Presidency has already confirmed that President Cyril Ramaphosa will host President of China Xi Jinping next week Tuesday and they will both partake in the Brics Summit.
Modi's 'African safari': Of Xi, Brics and more («Африканское сафари» Моди: о Си, БРИКС и других) / India, July, 2018
Keywords: economic_challenges, expert_opinion, narendra_modi
Author: K C Singh

Prime Minister Narendra Modi begins his "African safari" on Monday, July 23, with stops in Rwanda and Uganda before arriving in South Africa for the 10th Brics summit on July 26-27. The Bric group of countries started meeting in 2006 after the 2001 prognostication by Jim O'Neill, chief economist of Goldman Sachs, that Brazil, China, India and Russia shall drive global growth in the following decade. South Africa too joined it in 2010 after summit level meetings started in 2009. The theme this time, determined by the host, is "Brics in Africa". The five nations constitute 26 per cent of the world's land mass and 43 per cent of its population.

Prime Minister Modi will visit two African nations en route to the Brics summit. Rwanda is current chair of the African Union and is led by a charismatic but now controversial President Paul Kagame, who has amended the constitution to remain in power almost indefinitely. He has, however, brought stability to a nation that witnessed genocide when the Hutus and Tutsis, the two dominant tribal groups, clashed in 2004. Mr Modi shall lay a wreath at the Kigali Genocide Memorial. The two sides will also sign a defence cooperation agreement and two lines of credit of `10 crores for a special economic zone and $100 million for agriculture and irrigation projects. India is also gifting 200 cows under a Girinka scheme, whereby female calves are gifted by recipients to neighbours.

Mr Modi then flies to Uganda, best remembered in India for the expulsion of Indians by then dictator Idi Amin in the 1970s. President Yoweri Museveni has ruled since the 1979-80 as a relatively benign dictator, a nation gifted by nature with fertile land and water resources. The two biggest landholding families were the Madhvanis, to a descendant of which actress Mumtaz married, and the Mehtas, in whose staff quarters was born Idi Amin. After Mr Museveni took charge, the Indian community has gradually grown, with some restitution of land and property seized by Idi Amin, numbering now over 25,000. Their Gujarati predominance would provide Mr Modi a ready diaspora audience to regale. President Museveni has visited India multiple times, including on private visits, but a visit by an Indian Prime Minister is a first since 1997. Again, two lines of credit will be offered consisting of $141 million for electricity lines and $64 million for agriculture and dairy. Interestingly, Chinese President Xi Jinping is also combining Brics summit with an Africa outreach by visiting Senegal, Rwanda (before Mr Modi gets there) and Mauritius.

President Xi prefaces a bilateral visit to South Africa with the Brics summit. A trip to South Africa is particularly significant this year as it celebrates the 100th birth anniversary of iconic first post-apartheid President Nelson Mandela. For India, additionally it marks the 125th anniversary of the infamous incident at Pietermaritzburg station when Mahatma Gandhi was ejected from a railway carriage being a non-white, setting-off his anti-apartheid crusade. Undoubtedly Mr Modi will capture that during his visit, although back in India dalit grooms are occasionally still similarly barred from riding horses.

The South African economy has languished in the past decade due to the global fall in demand for minerals and metals and poor governance by former President Jacob Zuma, now replaced by Cyril Ramaphosa. There is also a simmering controversy over the Guptas, a family of non-resident Indians, who have fled after unsavoury deals with Mr Zuma and his confidants. But South Africa still provides an excellent base for economic penetration of southern Africa, having the best infrastructure and industrial development. An Indian business delegation will be there coinciding with Mr Modi's visit. Also, Mr Modi and Mr Ramaphosa must establish a working relationship as the South African economy revives.

China is way ahead of India in development assistance to Africa, having announced in 2015 a $60 billion investment package for African projects. China-Africa trade has vacillated depending on Chinese demand for global commodities. Chinese imports peaked at $200 billion in 2013 but then fell to $125 billion approximately in 2016. Similarly, Chinese exports rose from $60 billion approximately in 2013 to top $150 billion in 2015 and again slipping under $100 billion in 2016. India-Africa trade, on the other hand, in 2015 was $90 billion, about one-fourth that of China. The Modi government's more ambitious outreach to African leaders by hosting them in India as a group has helped India reconnect with its natural constituency in post-colonial Africa.

The Brics summits regain importance as US President Donald Trump has kindled a trade war with China, while unleashing sanctions against Russia and Iran, the latter being an important trading partner of China, India and Russia. Despite continuing political instability in Brazil, where President Michel Temer copes with the trial and incarceration of founder member of Brics and former President Luiz I. Lula de Silva, the Brics nations need to underpin the international rules of commerce and investment. This is necessary to counter the anti-globalisation sentiment strongly advanced by the United States under President Trump and breeding in some European Union nations.

To achieve this, they must enhance intra-Brics trade and investment and energise Brics' New Development Bank, which has already approved four infrastructure projects worth $5 billion. However, Brazil and India face elections in 2019, and as the next chair Brazil will host the 11th summit. To counter the Trump-led institution-bashing and regimes-undermining strategy, all groups, new and old, albeit some like EU distracted by anti-immigration and nativist sentiments, must resist. But India must also ensure that Brics does not become patently anti-American. At the summit the five important nations from major continents need to create convergent and constructive points of view on global economic and political issues. It may also have a salutary effect on Sino-Indian relations, when President Xi and Prime Minister Modi shake hands again.
The role of BRICS in building global economic equality (Роль БРИКС в построении глобального экономического равенства) / Saudi Arabia, July, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, economic_challenges
Saudi Arabia
Author: Andrew Hammond

Presidents and prime ministers from the member nations of BRICS — an association of major emerging economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — will meet from July 25 to 27 in Johannesburg for the group's 10th summit. Other key nations have also been invited to attend as guests, including Turkey in its capacity as chair of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
South Africa's invitation to Turkey and other key emerging markets has prompted speculation about a potential new "BRICS-plus" approach to expanding the bloc. However, host countries have invited additional countries to the summit as guests for several years now.

One key reason why there is some opposition within the bloc to expanding its membership is that it has come to be regarded as a prestigious group by virtue of its small size. Moreover, there is a perception that the club already has significant clout as it stands, accounting for 23 percent of the global gross domestic product in 2016 — up by more than 10 percentage points from a decade ago.
If the group could previously be dismissed as just another "alphabet soup" global institution, today its importance is growing. This has raised fears in some quarters that it could, ultimately, become a unified anti-Western alliance.

To be sure, the BRICS members (like counterpart groups in the West) certainly have shared concerns about some elements of US President Donald Trump's policies, not least his trade tariffs. However, it is unlikely, for the foreseeable future at least, that this will cohere the club into much more than an increasingly institutionalized forum for emerging-market cooperation.

Part of the reason for this is the heterogeneity of the BRICS nations, with their resultant diverse interests. Take, for example, China's periodic tensions with India, including over border issues, which can adversely affect relations between the two.

South Africa's theme for the summit is "collaboration for inclusive growth and shared prosperity in the fourth industrial revolution." This will entail discussion of measures for how BRICS could become even bigger players and help spearhead a campaign for greater economic globalization. In the face of growing protectionism from Washington, the bloc is keen to showcase its international leadership credentials and help fulfill the prediction of economist Jim O'Neill — who coined the BRICS concept — that it will overtake the G-7's collective economic output by 2035.

The summit's emphasis on inclusive growth and shared prosperity is pertinent given that the world is at a potentially pivotal moment in global economic history. World Bank research, co-authored by Branko Milanovic and Christoph Lakner, indicates that for the first time in about two centuries, overall global income inequality — one of, but not the only, measures of economic inequality — appears to be declining.

The BRICS nations are helping to drive what could be the first period of sustained movement toward greater global income equality for two centuries.

The BRICS nations, which overall account for more than 40 percent of the world's population, have been key drivers of this historic movement toward greater overall global income inequality. The collective economic growth and very large populations of India and China, in particular, have lifted a massive amount of people out of poverty.

At the same time, however, there is an opposing force: Growing income inequality within many countries. This factor has also assumed growing political salience recently, helping to fuel populist, nationalist politicians, from Donald Trump on the right to Mexican President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador on the left.

These countervailing pressures, like tectonic plates, are pushing against each other. While the net global trend for the past 200 years has been toward greater overall income inequality, there is significant, growing evidence since the turn of the millennium that the "positive effect" of growing income equality between countries, spurred by the development of the global South, is superseding the "negative effect" from increasing inequality within nations.

Monumental as this could be, however, the picture is not yet clear cut. While more proof is therefore needed to judge whether this economic phenomenon is robust and sustainable, what is certain is that the overall lot of the South has improved dramatically, as exemplified by BRICS over the past generation.

The most prominent beneficiaries have been a much heralded "new" middle class — estimated to be as large as a third of the world's population — disproportionately located in key Asian emerging economies. Much of the bottom third of the global income hierarchy has generally benefited, too.
However, not all of the South has shared fully in this success story, to date at least. Much of Africa, and some of Latin America, for instance, have generally not benefited as much as Asia, and this is an issue the South African summit hosts will seek to explore.

It is unclear whether the development of the global South has enough momentum to keep driving forward a more equitable world order. This will depend, largely, on the same twin issues of whether emerging markets generally continue to grow robustly, and whether the trend toward rising income inequality within countries is sustained.

On the first issue, the trajectory of the global economy will very likely continue to shift toward the South, and for the foreseeable future many key emerging markets will probably remain robust. However, the remarkable wave of emerging-market growth of the past generation might now decelerate, and the global transformation it has produced in recent years potentially will not be repeated.

Regarding the second issue, it is not set in stone that ever-growing income inequality within countries will continue, especially if there is a political will to address it. However, the debate over what long-term reform agenda should be undertaken to tackle this problem is contested by the left and right across much of the world.

Taken overall, the BRICS nations are helping to drive what could be the first period of sustained movement toward greater global income equality for two centuries. However, the fragile process could yet go into reverse if emerging-market growth decelerates faster than anticipated and/or income inequality within countries accelerates, undercutting efforts to foster the type of inclusive growth the summit seeks to foster.

Andrew Hammond is an Associate at LSE IDEAS at the London School of Economics.
BRICS to seek unity on trade (БРИКС стремится к единству в торговле) / China, July, 2018
Keywords: trade_relations, expert_opinion

BRICS won't become an anti-West alliance: expert

The 10th BRICS Summit will be held in Johannesburg, South Africa next week, and Chinese experts say the summit will focus more on uniting members and deepening their industrial cooperation amid the common threats of protectionism and unilateralism.

President Xi Jinping will attend the summit, which will be held from July 25 to 27, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Xi's attendance is an important diplomatic move by China toward emerging markets and developing countries, Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Zhang Jun said at a press briefing on Friday, according to China's Foreign Ministry.

Chen Fengying, a research fellow at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said "this year's summit comes at a crucial time when many emerging economies are facing pressure and challenges from US unilateralism and protectionism."

The international situation this year is totally different, and the BRICS summit is likely to reach an agreement to be more united on efforts to resist the common threat, Chen told the Global Times on Tuesday.

"BRICS will further boost multilateral cooperation to safeguard globalization. Industrial cooperation will be a key area," Chen noted.

"During the summit, the leaders of the five countries will discuss the prominent challenges facing the current international situation and exchange in-depth views to enhance strategic mutual trust and strengthen coordination and cooperation in international affairs," Zhang said.

China's role in promoting and leading BRICS cooperation has been fully affirmed by relevant parties, and the summit meeting will publish the Johannesburg Declaration of the BRICS Leaders, he noted.

Zhang said China's expectations for the meeting include strengthening the solidarity and cooperation of BRICS and deepening their strategic partnership.

He also said it is important to grasp the opportunities of the new industrial revolution, enrich pragmatic cooperation, safeguard multilateralism, and improve the global governance system and promote the stability of BRICS cooperation.

Xi will attend a series of multilateral activities including the BRICS Business Forum, leaders' small-scale and large-scale meetings and an informal meeting to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the establishment of BRICS.

He will also hold bilateral meetings with leaders of other countries to exchange views on such issues as the current international situation, BRICS cooperation, important international and regional issues of common concern, Xinhua reported.

Industrial revolution

The 10th BRICS Summit will be held with the theme "BRICS in Africa: Collaboration for Inclusive Growth and Shared Prosperity in the 4th Industrial Revolution," according to the summit's website,

"Although these five emerging economies have achieved goals in economic development, not all of them have a mature national industrial system or high productivity. So industrial cooperation is significant and essential if they want to win in the next industrial revolution," Chen said.

BRICS cannot become an anti-West alliance, Chen noted. "Although they need to face the impact of US unilateralism together, they will not totally cut off reliance on the West. BRICS is a platform for cooperation between emerging economies rather than a bloc against Western countries."

Among the five BRICS countries, apart from China, India as another fast-developing country is also receiving pressure from the trade conflict with the US. CNBC reported that India did not receive an exemption from US tariffs on aluminum and steel imports, prompting Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government to respond with tariffs on roughly $240 million in US goods in late June.

The China-India relationship has largely improved this year, and this would be the first meeting between Chinese and Indian leaders after the two countries became entangled in trade conflicts with the US. The two leaders will share their common concerns and reach an agreement to safeguard the interests of developing countries, said Hu Zhiyong, a research fellow at the Institute of International Relations of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.

BRIC Acronym Coiner O'Neill Expresses Faith in Potential of Emerging Economies (Создатель акронима БРИКС О'Нил выражает надежду на потенциал развивающихся стран) / China, July, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, economic_challenges, quotation

LONDON, July 16 (Xinhua) -- Former Goldman Sachs chief economist Jim O'Neill has said he still firmly believes in the potential of emerging economies represented by BRICS.X O'Neill coined the acronym BRIC, which refers to Brazil, Russia, India and China as emerging economies with fast growth and great potential. South Africa later joined to make the term BRICS.

In a recent interview with Xinhua, O'Neill refuted the idea that the radiance of BRICS has dimmed.

"Of course it is true that the rate of growth of all the BRICS countries has slowed from what it was in the Noughties but that doesn't surprise me because there was no way they were going to continue to grow at the same pace," he said.

"So I know it's very fashionable to say that the BRICS' influence has dimmed, but so long in particular that China is the center of the BRICS, it's a ridiculous idea," he said.

The five BRICS countries represent some 44 percent of the world population and 23 percent of the world economic volume. "One of the main reasons why I thought of the BRIC acronym was because I had already become quite infatuated with China," O'Neill said.

The renowned economist, who first visited China in 1990, said China's role in helping solve the Asian financial crisis in 1997 and 1998 was "the first real sign" of China's ability to influence the world.
Political Events
Political events in the public life of BRICS
Shri J P Nadda addresses 8th BRICS Health Ministers' Meeting at Durban; highlights the achievements of India in the health (Шри Дж. П. Надда о 8-м совещании министров здравоохранения БРИКС в Дурбане; подчеркивает достижения Индии в области здравоохранения) / India, July, 2018
Keywords: social_issues

"India affirms strong support for TB cooperation plan in every aspect as agreed upon in the 6th BRICS Health Ministers' meeting held in Delhi in 2016 and in the first High-Level Meeting of the UN General Assembly on Ending Tuberculosis."This was stated by Shri J P Nadda, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare during his address at the '8th BRICS Health Ministers' Meeting at Durban, South Africa, today. Shri J P Nadda further said that to improve healthcare, there is a need for increasing accessibility of affordable, quality, effective and safe drugs, vaccines and diagnostics for TB patients. "I would like to state that India is committed to eliminating TB by 2025," the Union Health Minister further emphasized.

In his address, Shri Nadda said that India today is more firmly committed to achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) as articulated in its National Health Policy. "India has fast-tracked many initiatives aimed at achieving all the core tenets of Universal Health Coverage i.e, strengthening health systems, improving access to free medicines and diagnostics and reducing catastrophic healthcare spending," he added. He stated that to translate the vision of UHC, Prime Minister of India,Shri Narendra Modi has recently launched an ambitious programme called 'Ayushman Bharat' i.e. Long Live India. "The programme rests on the twin pillars of Health and Wellness Centres for provision of comprehensive primary healthcare services and National Health Protection Mission for secondary and tertiary care that aims to cover around 100 million families," Shri Nadda said.

Highlighting the accomplishments of India in the health sector, Shri Nadda stated that India's achievement in reducing the maternal mortality ratio (MMR) by 77%, from 556 per 100000 live births in 1990 to 130 per 100 000 live births in 2016 was commended by Regional Director, WHO SEARO.

"This achievement puts the country on track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target of MMR below 70 by 2030. I would like to mention schemes like Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan, allowing women access to antenatal check-ups, obstetric gynaecologists and to track high-risk pregnancies, etc., and Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakram,"Shri Nadda stated.

During his address, the Union Health Minister said that to reduce the burden of NCDs, India has already initiated universal screening for prevention and management of five common NCDs including hypertension, diabetes and three common cancers of oral cavity, breast and cervix at pan India level. "He further said that India has started a unique initiative called AMRIT Deendayal pharmacies, an acronym for 'Affordable Medicines & Reliable Implants for Treatment' - Centres that provide medicines for cancer & cardiovascular diseases and cardiac implants at significantly reduced prices. "We must, therefore, renew our resolve and commitment to fight NCDs together on the BRICS platform, through R &D and innovative strategies," Shri Nadda said.

The Health Minister said that the spate of recent global public health emergencies like Ebola, Zika has highlighted the need for greater public health preparedness and coordinated response. Sharing India's experience in containing Nipah outbreak in Kerala, Shri Nadda complimented the team for their untiring efforts and coordinated response for successful containment of the outbreak. "I would like to stress upon the importance of implementation of IHR (2005), strengthened surveillance, enhanced laboratory capacity and multi sectoral approach," Shri Nadda stressed.

Shri Nadda further said that there is need to promote strategies for use of traditional or alternative forms of medicine, like Ayurveda in India and the Chinese traditional remedies."It is important that within the framework of BRICS, we carry out not only an exchange of technologies and the development of joint ventures, but also the co-generation of knowledge because, only together can we solve the most significant health problems," the Union Health Minister added while reiterating the need for enhanced cooperation.
Cabinet approves signing of Memorandum of Understanding amongst BRICS Nations on the Regional Aviation Partnership (Кабинет министров одобрил подписание Меморандума о взаимопонимании между странами БРИКС о региональном авиационном партнерстве) / India, July, 2018
Keywords: social_issues, concluded_agreements

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has today approved the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) amongst BRICS Nations on the Regional Aviation Partnership Cooperation viz. Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Salient features:

The objective is that BRICS countries would benefit from the establishing of an institutional framework to cooperate in the field of civil aviation. Among the areas of cooperation, following areas have been identified:

  • Public Policies and best practices in regional services;
  • Regional Airports;
  • Airport infrastructure management and air navigation services;
  • Technical cooperation between regulatory agencies;
  • Innovation;
  • Environment Sustainability; including deliberation of global initiatives;
  • Qualification and Training;
  • Other fields as mutually determined

The MoU signifies an important landmark in the civil aviation relations between India and other BRICS Member States and has the potential to spur greater trade, investment, tourism and cultural exchanges amongst the BRICS Nations.

World of work
Social policy, trade unions, actions
BRICS news portal soon (Скоро появится новостной портал БРИКС) / India, July, 2018
Keywords: media, concluded_agreements

A decision to establish a BRICS Media Academy and a BRICS news portal were among those taken at the 2018 BRICS Media Forum at Cape Town in South Africa on Thursday.

The Forum, a high-level dialogue among media organisations from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, was held over two days under the theme — 'Fostering an Inclusive, Just World Order'.

Initiated by Xinhua News Agency, the BRICS Media Forum is supported by Brazil's CMA Group, The Hindu Group, Sputnik News Agency and Radio and South Africa's Independent Media. The Forum was attended by 38 mainstream media organisations from BRICS nations, including five from India.

The Forum, which opened on former South African President Nelson Mandela's 100th birth anniversary on July 18, unanimously agreed to adopt the Cape Town Declaration 2018.

It pledged to strive to create a media landscape that upholds the integrity of news that is created and shared through the BRICS nations. It also committed itself to limit the spread and effect of fake news and increase people-to-people exchanges between journalists and others employed in the media.

The 2018 BRICS Forum was co-hosted by Iqbal Surve, Chairman of the Independent Media Group, and Cai Mingzhao, President of Xinhua News agency.

Calls for BRICS media to tell the story of developing countries (Призывы к СМИ БРИКС рассказать историю развивающихся стран) / South Africa, July, 2018
Keywords: media
South Africa

The Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) has called on the media in BRICS countries to explore media partnerships in order to better tell the stories of developing economies to their citizens.

Donald Liphoko, a chief director at GCIS, said this when he participated in a panel discussion at the 3rd BRICS Media Forum at the Westin Hotel in Cape Town on Thursday.

Liphoko said at government-to-government level, South Africa had forged partnerships that have seen its publications Vukuzenzele newspaper and sign content-sharing agreements with the Russian government's Sputnik news agency and Chinese state-run Xinhua news agency, among others.

Liphoko called for independent media in the five countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – to be part of the conversation and tell the stories of the progress that is being made in the emerging economies.

"What we really need is to broaden this and have more voices and more active participation from [mainstream media] so they can tell BRICS stories and engage with the vision, engage with the progress that is being made in our respective countries," he said.

He said this would contribute to the conversation as well as people to people communication to unite citizens in all BRICS countries.

The 3rd BRICS Media Forum saw 120 media delegates from the five countries – as well as those from Namibia, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, Liberia and Ghana - converge in Cape Town for the event that was hosted by the Executive Chairperson and Co-Chair of the BRICS Media Forum Cai Mngzhao and Dr Iqbal Surve.

As the country commemorated Nelson Mandela's 100th birthday, Liphoko likened the BRICS partnership to ones that were forged by the world icon after his release from prison to usher in a period of peace and prosperity post-apartheid.

"More importantly, the South African government believes it has got a greater role to play in creating an enabling environment for the media to be a positive agent for social transformation.

"We were built from a difficult apartheid history where the media was an instrument to keep people apart. We have moved in the last 24 years to an era where the media has partnered government and the society at large to explore and bring to life our vision of a better life for all.

"I am challenging the media to consider BRICS as such an improbable partnership – an opportunity for us to think creatively and come up with improbable solutions to the world's ills.

"I challenge the media to be alive to this improbable partnership. This relationship of equals formed from shared values and a deep desire to a just world order and a shared prosperity for humankind," he said.

The Star editor Mathanda Ncube, who was the moderator of the panel discussion, said that based on views from his counterparts in other BRICS countries there was a lot the respective media houses could do together in sharing the stories from their countries. –

BRICS media must drive people-to-people conversations (СМИ БРИКС должны помогать разговору между людьми) / South Africa, July, 2018
Keywords: media
South Africa

Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane says media organisations in the BRICS countries would make a huge difference if they could drive a people-to-people conversation across their platforms.

Mokonyane said this when she addressed the second day of the 3rd BRICS Media Forum at Westin Hotel in Cape Town on Thursday.

The 3rd BRICS Media Forum, which is being attended by over 120 media delegates, takes place as governments under the five-country bloc prepare to meet at the 10th BRICS summit in Sandton next week.

"…It is worth noting that the best media cooperation should not only be within the confines of the media rooms and publication but through people-to-people engagement as well.

"The media organisations within BRICS would make the biggest difference if they were to succeed in getting people talking, whether face-to-face or across virtual networks. Admittedly, social media enables such discussions, broadening them beyond geographically defined communities and existing editorial agendas, and at a scale hitherto unimaginable.

"For any modern media organisation that predominantly produces mass media outputs, social platforms enable them to see how people respond to the content and debate the issues raised in their programmes. In turn, a loop is created wherein they observe and interact with audiences in a way that is not possible with legacy media like newspapers and TV," she said.

Mokonyane said as the global community advances towards the technological era of the fourth industrial revolution, this transition should be used to solve the triple challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment – challenges that all BRICS member states are faced with.

"The irony of the fourth industrial revolution is that it impacts on all nations, rich and poor. And, therefore, it is incumbent upon us as South Africa to see how we could utilise the technological advancement at our disposal to deal with the challenges and find synergies with other countries within the BRICS bloc to foster a more humane, inclusive and just world order.

"The advent of new social media platforms brings in new challenges for the traditional print media which had enjoyed dominance for many centuries," Mokonyane said.

She said the media of BRICS countries should be an instrument to promote peaceful development, cooperation and equity.

"Importantly, we should share our experience as well as learn from each other to better cope with change in the fast-changing media industry.

"As the BRICS bloc, we should strive to do better in coordinating our efforts to deal with the challenges that beset the world, including fighting terrorism, eliminating poverty and hunger, dealing with economic imbalances and addressing climate change.

"BRICS media should become the champion of peace and development, promote the common development of the five-member bloc, and safeguard the common interest of emerging markets and developing countries," she said. –

BRICS education ministers want to prepare young people for the future (Министры образования БРИКС хотят подготовить молодых людей к будущему) / South Africa, July, 2018
Keywords: social_issues, expert_opinion
South Africa
Author: Mduduzi Mbiza

In the past week, education ministers from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa met in Cape Town during the sixth BRICS education meeting to discuss the challenges facing the education system.

What was it all about?

Some of the key talking points at the meeting were to acknowledge afresh, the significant contribution of education towards the overall development goals of BRICS and to welcome the initiatives of BRICS Member States to promote a transformative education agenda that actively addresses 21st century challenges and opportunities, especially regarding the technological changes commonly known as the fourth industrial revolution.

One of the key themes at the meeting was the focus to prepare young people for the fourth industrial revolution.

An important focus, especially since we have about 38.2% of young people unemployed, and we are certainly not preparing anyone for the future when we still have 33.5% of young people aged 15-24 unemployed.

The meeting was hosted by the minister Naledi Pandor.

Technical and vocational education and training

In her short period of being the minister of higher education and training (DHET), Naledi Pandor has on several occasions emphasised the need for TVET colleges to specialise in priority trade skills, a 2019 plan by the DHET. A high number of young people are unemployed because they don't have qualifications in careers that are in demand.

I have, on many occasions and in some articles talked about the urgent need to respond to the issue of scarce skills in the economy. It is good to see that the BRICS ministers were discussing it.

According to the Statistics on Post-School Education and Training in South Africa: 2016, a total of 111,460 students completed key exit levels (N3, N6 and NC (V) Level 4) in TVET colleges in 2016, translating to a completion rate of 62.2%. There were 39,102 students who completed N3 engineering studies, translating to a completion rate of 65.8%. The completion rate was lower for N6 engineering studies at 61.0% with 12,848 students completed.

The number of students who wrote and completed NC (V) Level 4, N3 and N6 qualifications increased in the 2016 academic year, despite the fact that it significantly dropped between the year 2011 and 2012.

There are a number of reasons why TVET colleges play a vital role in meeting the skills in demand. Firstly, the colleges provide technical and vocational education and training programmes to learners who completed at least Grade 9 at school level – this is important especially when South Africa loses a lot of learners in Grade 10-11, either by dropping out or staying stuck in one Grade for a longer period.

Secondly, there are many jobs that require a certain level of skill but not the university level training. Many of them are ideal for people who are practical or good with their hands.

In the past, more so after apartheid, South Africa's economic growth has been driven largely by capital-intensive industries such as retail, trade and financial services, rather than productive and labour-intensive sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing – but this was then; the tables have turned.

Today, Agriculture and Manufacturing can be the leading sectors contributing to the GDP, despite the fact that they disappointed in the first quarter of 2018. These are sectors that require people to apply their practical knowledge and skills more than their academics – workers have to be hands-on and TVET colleges can make a huge difference in these sectors.

Thus, there's a great need to mobilise young people (especially those who dropped out with no alternative) into TVET colleges if we want to respond to the economy.

The BRICS ministers have come to a realisation that equipping young with TVET skills can make a great impact in this forever changing world.

BRICS ties offer youth brighter business prospects (Связи БРИКС предлагают молодым предпринимателям перспективы в бизнесе) / China, July, 2018
Keywords: economic_challenges, social_issues

XIAMEN - Zhang Xiaoyan, vice CEO of e-commerce platform Umka, saw her company's trade volume in Russia increase five times from September to June.

Umka brings Chinese products to Russia and Russian speaking countries. It was set up by Wangji Group, a Chinese company based in Xiamen, China's Fujian province.

In four years, Wangji Group built a more than 20,000 square meters warehouse in Moscow, shortening the time for Chinese goods to reach Russian customers from more than one month to less than a week.

Xiamen hosted the BRICS summit in September, featuring cooperation between the world's major emerging markets: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Statistics released by Xiamen Customs show, in the first four months of 2018, trade volume between Fujian and the four other BRICS countries reached about $4.3 billion, up 14.1 percent year-on-year.

"After the BRICS Summit, we reaffirmed our decision to develop the Russian e-commerce market," Zhang said. "We plan to bring 3,000 to 5,000 premium Chinese brands to Russia and Russian-speaking countries via e-commerce in three years."

Youth from BRICS countries said they are increasingly optimistic about the prospects of the cooperation and are seeking business opportunities.

Marcelo Gomes, a 27-year-old Brazilian, was sent to Xiamen last September by his company Stella, a leading Brazilian LED distributor.

Gomes, who is responsible for R&D and quality control in the company, said suppliers in Xiamen offer very competitive products which are popular among Brazilian consumers. In the past few months, he has purchased LED products worth about $5 million.

In his opinion, the BRICS Xiamen summit worked to deepen the partnership between BRICS countries, especially regarding economic and trade cooperation.

"China is the largest trading partner of Brazil. Both economies are highly complementary," Gomes said. "I am confident about our cooperation. I hope there can be more cooperation programs which can bring benefits to both countries."

Niren Anand, from Darbhanga city of Bihar Province, India, established Xiamen Ever Trade Import and Export Co Ltd in 2011, focusing on designing, manufacturing and exporting shoes.

Anand joined a business forum held during the BRICS Xiamen summit. "The way all five countries supported multilateral cooperation gave us more optimism and confidence."

Anand's business is growing bigger and bigger. Other than the office, he has more than 20 designers, 200 workers, and a development center.

"The BRICS summit made Xiamen well-known. I have many new customers from all over the world, and from India as well," Anand said. "Many of our shoes are sold to India and the European market."

In 2017, Anand's company made around $5 million. He is scheduled to fly to Las Vegas next month to join a fair to explore the US market.

Anand said he is closely watching the coming BRICS summit in South Africa.

"With global economic growth slowing down and rising protectionism, the cooperation between BRICS countries is not only good for the countries but also for the global economy," Anand said.

South Africa to celebrate 'Mandela Spirit' at Johannesburg BRICS Summit (Южная Африка отпразднует «дух Манделы» на саммите БРИКС в Йоханнесбурге) / China, July, 2018
Keywords: summit

As South Africa gears up to host the 10th annual BRICS Summit next week, just days after the country marks the birth centenary of its first elected president and global statesman Nelson Mandela on Wednesday, the spotlight remains on how the bloc's five emerging economies can deliver more benefits to people of Africa in line with the "Mandela Spirit" of building a just and equitable international order.

The leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – the five nations that make up the BRICS – will assemble for the summit in South Africa's largest city of Johannesburg from July 25 to 27. This will be the second time the BRICS Summit is being held in South Africa after a gap of five years when Durban hosted the event.

The summit, that has been timed to coincide with Mandela's birth centenary celebrations, "gives us an opportunity to reflect on the first decade of inter-BRICS cooperation and to chart the way forward for the next decade of BRICS cooperation," said South Africa's BRICS Sherpa (special emissary) Anil Sooklal at a roundtable in Pretoria earlier this year.

Photo via The Nelson Mandela Foundation

"The BRICS' open, inclusive, cooperative and win-win spirit is highly consistent with the Mandela Spirit. It is also the long-cherished wish of President Mandela and all other previous generations of the African National Congress (ANC) revolutionary leaders to fight for a more fair, just, and equitable international order," China's Ambassador to South Africa Lin Songtian wrote in an article published in South African media.

To commemorate the legacy of the former South African leader, the United Nations has officially declared his birthday on July 18 as Nelson Mandela International Day, in recognition of his fight for freedom, dignity and human rights. The day also honors those who fight poverty and promote peace, reconciliation and cultural diversity.

Special provisions have been made at the summit to remember the global champion of equality by featuring Mandela's image on the specially-designed logo of the summit (as seen in the cover photo).

A sculptor makes a sand sculpture depicting late South African President Nelson Mandela on July 17, 2015 at the North Beach in Durban, on the eve of Nelson Mandela International Day. /VCG Photo

"Born on July 18, 1918, Madiba (as Mandela is popularly known in South Africa) was a global icon who was revered worldwide as a champion of human rights, non-racism and non-sexism. He played a critical role in unifying South Africans and inspiring democratic unity across Africa and the globe. As the Chair of BRICS, South Africa is guided by the values Nelson Mandela stood for," a statement on the official BRICS 2018 website said.

The theme for this year's summit is "BRICS in Africa: Collaboration for Inclusive Growth and Shared Prosperity in the 4th Industrial Revolution" which is aimed at setting the long-term vision for ties between the five BRICS nation and African countries.

The summit is also expected to include in its agenda items such as the advancement of South Africa's national interest, the African Union (AU) priorities, deepening of South-South cooperation and how to further collaborate on geopolitical interests.

The theme for this dialogue is "BRICS in Africa: Working towards the realization of the African aspirations."

The Johannesburg Summit will see participation from many international organizations including the United Nations, ASEAN, OIC, G20, G77 and CARICOM as well as regional leaders representing the AU and New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).

Going beyond the five bloc members, the BRICS Plus initiative was introduced by China last year during the Xiamen Summit to establish dialogue with other emerging markets and developing countries. This year's BRICS Plus dialogue will have the theme of "Securing sustainable and inclusive growth for the prosperity of the Global South."

The summit will culminate in the adoption of the "Johannesburg Declaration" which will include BRICS' commitments for the year ahead.

A shining vision of BRICS' evolution (Блестящие перспективы эволюции БРИКС) / China, July, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion
Author: Fu Jing and Cao Desheng

Speakers at event in South Africa say bloc's members are expected to work together to meet challenges, boost growth

Leaders of the BRICS countries - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - are expected to coordinate their actions as they cope with the challenges of deglobalization, unilateralism and protectionism while shaping consensus on how to further boost economic growth, speakers said at a July 17 event organized by China Daily.

Their opinions were presented at the third staging of Vision China, a series of talks organized by the newspaper, at the Gallagher Convention Center in Johannesburg, South Africa, days ahead of the BRICS summit in the city.

President Xi Jinping will attend the summit, which runs from July 25 to 27, to elaborate on China's position in safeguarding globalization and opening up economies while strengthening BRICS cooperation, the Foreign Ministry said.

Wang Xiaohui, executive deputy head of the Publicity Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and director of the State Film Administration, addressed the Vision China event.

He said that building on the "amazing achievements" of previous years, the BRICS grouping had become a model of cooperation for emerging market economies and developing countries.

Wang called it a source of positive energy for the international community.

"China has now entered a new era under the leadership of President Xi, during which China remains committed to people-centered development," Wang said.

He said that during this period it was fully implementing a vision of innovation, coordination, environmental sustainability and openness while forging ahead toward the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation with "firm determination".

Wang is leading a delegation to South Africa that is attending several cultural and media events to warm up the BRICS summit, showcasing China's strong support of BRICS cooperation and its commitment to developing a relationship with South Africa and other African countries.

Wang also said Vision China, focusing on "BRICS and Globalization", will have profound implications and carries great vision, while reflecting on the in-depth consideration of and responsibilities for future BRICS cooperation.

Zhou Shuchun, publisher and editor-in-chief of China Daily, said that as the only national English newspaper in China, the paper will continue to tell real stories of China in the new era in a comprehensive and multifaceted way and play a role in bridging China and the world.

China Daily will make greater contributions to enhancing the exchanges of humanities between China and the rest of the world while moving forward the building of a community with a shared future for mankind, Zhou added.

"China in the new era will present new opportunities for world development and bring new and more opportunities for BRICS cooperation as well," he said.

This was the first time that China Daily has held the Vision China event abroad.

The event is a new venue for international communications. World-class experts from the political, economic and academic fields were invited to speak - telling China's story, discussing global issues and spreading the country's voice.

As guest speakers, Zhao Zhongxiu, vice-president of the China Council for BRICS Think Tank Cooperation and also vice-president of the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing; Martyn Davies, managing director of emerging markets and Africa at Deloitte; and Andrew Moody, senior correspondent for China Daily's overseas editions, shared their thoughts about BRICS and globalization with about 300 attendees, as well as online viewers.

Zhao said in his speech that Xi's proposal of jointly building a community with a shared future for mankind provided a global vision of building a world of lasting peace, universal security, common prosperity, openness and inclusiveness - as well as a clean and beautiful environment.

"China has actively pushed for the reform and development of a global governance system in a direction that is more conducive to developing countries," Zhao said.

"In the meantime, China firmly opposes trade protectionism and consistently upholds multilateralism, promotes the Belt and Road Initiative, enhances partnerships among BRICS members and works to deepen China-Africa cooperation."

He said collaboration among BRICS countries is comprehensive and multifaceted, constituting an important approach to jointly building a community with a shared future. He said the second "golden decade" of BRICS cooperation is expected to be even more vibrant.

Zhao also shared his own story about taking a train to Beijing from the countryside decades ago to attend a university. The trip took about 20 hours. But now, high-speed trains can link his hometown and Beijing much quicker than before.

Citing the example of China's railway project in Kenya, Zhao said: "African countries have been benefiting from China's high-tech progress."

He said China is willing to contribute more to African countries to boost infrastructure and build common prosperity.

Zhao cited an African saying to make his point: "If you want to go fast, walk alone; if you want to go far, walk together."

He added: "In the face of unilateralism and protectionism, the BRICS countries need to walk together to deal with the challenges."

Meanwhile, Davies, of Deloitte, said he believes the most strategic play for BRICS is China's engagement with Africa and Africa's engagement with China.

"The engagement between the two sides truly is a partnership for mutual benefits," he said.

"The challenges are how to scale up the collaboration and the alignment of interests at the global level to counter the negative trend of protectionism and deglobalization, trends that undoubtedly will significantly impact the South African economy."

Davies said he first thought that because the BRICS countries were scattered on different continents, it would be hard to forge partnerships. But he said that in dealing with the recent developments of isolationism, unilateralism and protectionism coming from Washington, those subjects would be front and center for them to coordinate their positions.

"I am looking forward to seeing how the BRICS summit talks about these issues, what resolutions are put forward and how emerging markets can increasingly, in a more coherent fashion, start to respond to the challenges and the turbulence in today's global political economy," he said.

Davies also talked about how China had become an economic growth engine - driving the development of different regions since the beginning of the century - citing an example the rapid development in East Africa in recent years that had come in tandem with China's economic expansion.

Moody, the China Daily correspondent, shared with the audience how the China-Africa relationship appears from the perspective of a journalist.

By telling the stories that he has heard during interviews with academics and experts who have focused on the China-Africa relationship - as well as senior African politicians - Moody talked about how the China-Africa relationship fits in with the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.

He said China's engagement with Africa is part of a much larger picture, and he believes that President Xi's view of globalization goes beyond just trade and economy - it underpins China-Africa relations overall, as well as BRICS cooperation.

By citing the example of Chinese companies' presence in Africa, he concluded that "the China-Africa relationship is a win-win cooperation, and China has made great contributions to the development of Africa".

Thesele John Maseribane, minister of communication, science and technology of Lesotho; Andriamandavy VII Riana, minister of communication and relations with the institutions of Madagascar; and Riaan le Roux, chief operating officer of South Africa's Department of Trade and Investment, also addressed the event.

Le Roux said his country will work with the international community and BRICS countries to bring down barriers and protect the multilateral trading system, amid a world being faced with multifaceted challenges.

It is expected that this will be the joint signal that BRICS countries will send at the upcoming summit, he said.
BRICS media forum concludes with action plan for further cooperation (Медиа форум БРИКС завершается планом действий по дальнейшему сотрудничеству) / China, July, 2018
Keywords: concluded_agreements, media, summit

CAPE TOWN - The 2018 BRICS Media Forum concluded Thursday after leaders of mainstream media organizations agreed on an action plan to promote media cooperation during 2018-2019.

The action plan said consensus was reached after in-depth exchanges on topics including media's role and responsibility in strengthening the BRICS narrative, enhancing cooperation among new media in BRICS countries, as well as media cooperation between BRICS and Africa.

The participating media organizations believe the world is undergoing major development, transformation and adjustment amid growing uncertainties and destabilizing factors, but building a community of common destiny remains the main objective for the development of humanity, it said.

In keeping with the BRICS spirit of openness, inclusivity and cooperation, and to contribute to a brighter future of mankind, the action plan urged BRICS media organizations to improve mutual learning and draw on each others' experiences, further promote personnel exchanges and expand information exchanges.

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