Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 31.2018
2018.07.30 — 2018.08.05
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Russia's Putin raises nuclear deal at Ramaphosa meeting during BRICS (Путин поднял тему ядерной сделки на встрече с Рамафосой во время БРИКС) / United States, July, 2018
Keywords: political_issues, summit, vladimir_putin, cyril_ramaphosa
United States
Author: Alexader Winning

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin raised the subject of a nuclear deal at a private meeting with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa at the BRICS summit in Johannesburg, but his host said Pretoria could not sign such a deal for now.

Russian state firm Rosatom was one of the front runners for a project to dramatically increase South Africa's nuclear power-generating capacity championed by former president Jacob Zuma.
Ramaphosa has put nuclear expansion on the back burner since taking office in February, saying it is too expensive, and has focused instead on pledges to revive the economy and crack down on corruption.

"While we remain committed to an energy mix that includes nuclear, South Africa is not yet at the point where it is able to sign on the dotted line," Ramaphosa's spokeswoman Khusela Diko said about the meeting between Putin and Ramaphosa.

Hours earlier, one of the top six officials in South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) had said that Pretoria would not rush into major nuclear investments but that it was still open to future deals with Russia.

"Once we are clear that this is affordable for us to do, we are open for business including with Russia," ANC Treasurer General Paul Mashatile said.

He spoke on the sidelines of a three-day BRICS summit attended by the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

"I think the approach we will take is to avoid the Big Bang approach. The initial intervention was that we would do close to 10,000 megawatts (MW). ... It's unaffordable," he said.

South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa, China's President Xi Jinping and Russia's President Vladimir Putin arrive prior to posing for a group picture at the BRICS summit meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa, July 26, 2018. Gianluigi Guercia/Pool via REUTERS Mashatile also said the ANC wanted greater private investment in struggling state-owned power utility Eskom, which swung to a loss for the year to end-March.


Russia wants to turn nuclear energy into a major export industry. It has signed agreements with African countries with no nuclear tradition, including Rwanda and Zambia, and is set to build a large nuclear plant in Egypt.

Rosatom is "still interested" in helping South Africa expand its nuclear capacity, a Rosatom executive told Reuters.

"If there is a place for nuclear energy in the energy mix, we are happy to cooperate. We are happy to follow each and every procedure that will be communicated to us by the South African government," said Dmitry Shornikov, Rosatom's chief executive for central and southern Africa.

Rosatom on Thursday signed a separate agreement with South African state nuclear firm Necsa to explore joint production of nuclear medicines and other ways of harnessing nuclear technology, a statement from the two firms showed.

The agreement, which is non-binding, is a further sign that Rosatom is keen to cement its position on the African continent.

South Africa currently operates Africa's only nuclear power plant, with an installed capacity of around 1,900 MW.

The nuclear expansion deal backed by Zuma envisaged adding an additional 9,600 MW, but ratings agencies cited the project as a cause for concern given the country's recurring budget deficits and ballooning public debt.
What BRICS leaders should have talked about (О чем должны были поговорить лидеры БРИКС) / South Africa, July, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, summit
South Africa

As they met in Johannesburg, BRICS leaders should have addressed the many human rights issues that prevail in their respective countries.

South Africa hosted the 10th annual BRICS Summit last week, which saw heads of state, leaders, business and civil society organisations from Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa as well as other countries converging on Johannesburg.

On the agenda this year, BRICS leaders focused on the economy, development, peacekeeping, health and industrialisation issues within the bloc. However, the focus on economic agendas overshadows equally important issues such as the protection and realisation of human rights in the respective countries.

Collectively accounting for 40% of the world's population, BRICS countries have a significant opportunity to bolster human rights globally. But leaders from these BRICS countries have failed to demonstrate strong political will and leadership to stem the tide of human rights violations and abuses occurring in their countries.

As they met in Johannesburg, BRICS leaders should have talked about the fact that without respect for human rights, genuine socio-economic development will remain a pipe dream. The meeting in Johannesburg also should have addressed the many human rights issues that prevail in their respective countries.


Brazil has one of the highest murder rates in the world, with around 60,000 people murdered each year. Firearms are responsible for most homicides in Brazil and fewer than 8% of cases are brought to justice. Brazil's failure to protect black Brazilians from police violence remains critical as this year marks the 25th anniversary of the Candelaria killings. The tragedy, in which eight young black boys were killed by off-duty police officers in Rio de Janeiro in 1993, represents the endemic racism within the Brazilian security forces.

The situation was aggravated by the murder of Rio de Janeiro human rights defender and councilwoman Marielle Franco on 14 March 2018. Marielle was the only black lesbian woman from the favela in the city's parliament. Every day that goes by without an answer to this brutal crime increases the risks faced by other defenders in a country with one of the highest number of human rights defenders killed in the world. Brazil should combat racism and homicides, and prioritize the necessary pursuit of justice.


Russia has just enjoyed a month of worldwide attention as it hosted the FIFA World Cup. Behind the revel of the tournament, human rights defenders and civil society activists continued to face harassment, intimidation and arbitrary arrests across the country. The trial of human rights defender Oyub Titiev started in Chechnya. He, like several other human rights defenders, is being prosecuted on trumped-up criminal charges. Law enforcement agencies continue to launch cases on fabricated "extremism" and "terrorism" charges.

The Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov, serving 20 years on "terrorism" charges, is on day 75 of a hunger strike demanding the release of "64 political prisoners from Ukraine". The right to freedom of peaceful assembly has been increasingly restricted in Russia since 2012 and remains under severe clampdown. Both the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2017 and the World Cup in 2018 have been used by the Russian authorities as an excuse to introduce more severe restrictions on public assemblies. The rights of LGBTI people are trampled upon daily and the authorities continue to refuse to investigate the horrific gay purge in Chechnya. The World Cup has come and gone, but the suppression of freedoms and shrinking of civil liberties continues unabated.


It's a similar story in India where human rights defenders are consistently under threat, attacked and threatened, often from security forces. India has witnessed horrific instances of alleged extrajudicial executions by security forces for years as police and federal forces have effective immunity from prosecution. In the North-Eastern state of Manipur, human rights defenders who have lost their loved ones in alleged extrajudicial executions and are now campaigning for justice, face unprecedented attacks. Salima Memcha, a widow who lost her husband to an alleged extrajudicial execution, was verbally threatened by security personnel. Her house was also vandalised by them. Three other human rights defenders in Manipur have faced similar reprisals for campaigning for justice for their loved ones.


In China, the government continues to enact repressive laws under the guise of "national security" that present serious threats to human rights. Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo died in custody whilst other human rights defenders are detained, prosecuted and sentenced on vague charges such as "subverting state power", "separatism" and "picking quarrels and provoking trouble". Controls on the internet have been strengthened and freedom of expression and freedom of association are under attack.

South Africa

In the host nation, nearly a quarter of century after adopting arguably one of the most progressive constitutions in the world, the country is bedevilled by profound inequalities, which persistently undermine economic, social and cultural rights. Failures in the criminal justice system continue to present barriers to justice for victims of human rights abuses and violations, including the state's failure to hold perpetrators accountable for the killing of 34 striking mineworkers in Marikana in 2012 by the South African Police Service. Access to sexual and reproductive health services remain a human rights issue as does the provision of quality education.

Given these glaring human rights violations happening within the bloc, the summit in Johannesburg should have been an opportunity to place human rights issues at the forefront of discussions. Leaders should have put their strength and influence to good use by leading the human rights charge at home and on the global stage. The question now is, did they? DM

Turkey joining BRICS could be 'serious shock' for US & EU, analyst tells RT (Вступление Турции в БРИКС может стать «серьезным шоком» для США и ЕС, считает аналитик) / Russia, August, 2018
Keywords: brics+, expert_opinion

As Turkey seeks to join the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) union, RT has talked to an analyst about what the country brings to the table for the world's emerging economies.
"The economy of Turkey is one of the fastest growing economies in the world, despite the political events of the recent years and its geographical proximity to hot spots in the Middle East," says analyst Vladimir Rojankovski from the International Financial Center.

"Turkey is a secular state with a predominantly Muslim population, it stands out favorably against other religious Islamic countries and monarchies in the region. Turkey's accession to the bloc of countries with the Russia-China vector is a serious shock for Europe and the United States," the analyst added.

In terms of GDP, Turkey ranks 17th in the world, Rojankovski notes. In terms of GDP, adjusted for PPP (purchasing power parity of citizens), it is 13th. This means that from the economic point of view Turkey is on par with all BRICS countries and is well ahead of South Africa.

Turkey's desire to join BRICS was announced by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday. "We are in the G20 with five of those countries. I wish they would take the necessary steps to let us in and we could take our place in BRICS," Erdogan told Hurriyet on the sidelines of the BRICS Forum in South Africa.

BRICS was founded in 2006 during the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. Initially, it was formed by Brazil, Russia, India and China, with South Africa joining the bloc in 2010.

Together, BRICS countries account for 26.46 percent of world land area, and 42.58 percent of world population.

According to IMF estimates, BRICS member states generated almost a quarter of the world's GDP in 2015 and have contributed more than half of global economic growth in the last 10 years.
Global Geopolitical Economy and BRICS Sub-Imperialism (Глобальная геополитическая экономика и суб-империализм БРИКС) / USA, July, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, political_issues, economic_challenges, trade_relations

Ten years after the 2008 global financial crisis, the global economy is still stagnant and there are few prospects for a recovery. As a result, we have seen a deepening of the social crisis with rising unemployment and inequality, which is what underpins the war against women, increased crime and violence, and the unravelling of the social fabric, especially here in South Africa.

This process is not new, it has been unfolding over several decades and has given rise to the phenomena of neoliberalism, globalisation and financialisation. These are capital's means to overcome the crises of capitalism globally. The crisis has subsequently developed into multi-dimensional, overlapping crises of the global economy, environment, energy, food. At its core, this represents a crisis of over-accumulation of capital, with too many products and too few consumers.

We cannot understand the current political shifts (nationally and internationally) without putting them in the context of (a) historical changes in the capitalist economy (b) the current crisis of neoliberal capitalism.

Unfolding economic Crisis

We are in a period of stagnant growth, rising inequality and a 27% rate of unemployment (it is even more alarming – more than 35% – if discouraged workers are included in the statistics). Of particular significance is the decline in growth rates in China, and recessionary conditions in so-called emerging markets such as Brazil, Russia and South Africa. As a result of the slowing world economy and a potential imminent financial meltdown, we see:

1) Currency wars and trade in an attempt to gain a trade advantage

2) A fall in aggregate demand, leading to a fall in commodity prices, yet more intense extraction of minerals, cash crops, oil and gas, as corporations abuse nature even more in desperate search for profit

3) A rise in debt and decline in stock market prices from unprecedented bubble levels

Altogether, depreciating currencies, falling commodity prices and declining stock prices, all reinforce each other, ultimately leading to a deepening of the crisis – and a further slowing down of the economy. The debt becomes ever more difficult to repay, with several African countries now effectively defaulting.

A major problem is that if an economy is stagnant, then there are very little incentives for capital to invest in productive sectors of the economy. As a result, there will be a strong need for external forces to extricate the global economy from crisis. However, the neoliberal phase of capitalism has eroded many potential instruments that can be used to stimulate aggregate demand.

This puts the global economy in a similar quagmire that we were trapped in during the interwar period from 1918-39, resulting in an intensification of neoliberal practices. The very cause of the crisis we face today, is being used to try and get the global economy out of crisis, even though it is a false solution.

Unfolding political crisis

One of the mechanisms being used to stimulate economic growth is the capital's push for new frontiers. During the commodity super-cycle, this was reflected in the massive increase in trade and investment in Africa, where six out of the ten biggest recently discovered oil reserves are located. The demand was predominantly from China, as its 2009-12 Keynesian strategy required raw materials. This created intensifying competition between the United States of America, European Union and China.

Although Chinese demand was reduced considerably and there was a devastating crash of commodity prices in 2015, as Lee Wengraf shows in her new book, Extracting Profit and the New Scramble for Africa, we have entered into a period of neo-colonialism. Commodity prices ticked up again in 2016-17 but unless the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative restores demand, Africa's commodity production system has no prospect of returning to past growth. The result is more extreme exploitation of existing fields, s extraction makes up in volume for what it is has lost in the higher prices.

As a result of the deepening economic crisis, we are seeing major shifts in the global political terrain. To understand these shifts it useful to recall the interwar period, especially the political and social responses to the economic crisis of the Great Depression, culminating in the rise of classical fascism in Italy and Germany, as a metaphor for today. As a consequence of the deep economic stagnation in that period, the world saw the rise of extreme racism, xenophobia and narrow nationalism.

Today, the extended economic recession has seen the re-emergence of these perspectives reflected in new national leaders with neo-fascist tendencies: Donald Trump (USA), Recep Erdogan (Turkey), Narendra Modi (India), Viktor MihályOrbán (Hungary),Rodrigo Duterte (Philippines), and Benjamin Netanyahu (Israel).

Rising geopolitical conflict

It is critical to understand resurgent fascism within the context of a struggle for hegemony over the global capitalist economy. Unravelling hegemony emboldens ultra-nationalism, racism, xenophobia and hyper-militarization etc., particularly when the left is not organized enough to provide an alternative.

The stagnant global economy, unravelling hegemony of the US, newfound Russian military capacity and rising Chinese economic power has brought about a new phase of inter-imperialist rivalry and an increasingly volatile geo-political context. Even though the US is still the world's hegemon economically, militarily and politically, its hegemony is under threat. This decline of US hegemony is evident in the Rise of Trump, following his promises to "Make America great again". Trump is giving confidence to other right wing populists around the world, especially Europe.

For Lenin, "an essential part of imperialism is the rivalry between several great powers in the striving for hegemony." Given the threat of military conflict in a backdrop of deepening ecological crisis, John Bellamy Foster argues that the re-emergence of inter-imperialist rivalry is leading to "potentially the deadliest phase of imperialism". As Gramsci observed in the earlier period, "The old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum, a great variety of morbid symptoms appear."

The interregnum – a time of monsters

In this interregnum that we find ourselves in, global politics is in a state of flux and instability. In order to assert dominance in the fight for global hegemony, we have already seen the emergence of a "New Cold War" between the US and Russia. Furthermore, there are an increasing number of US military bases around the South China Sea (a territory that has huge amounts of untapped oil reserves and is vital for Chinese shipping lanes). We have also seen increased military spending, and an expansion of the war economy. Besides incipient military conflict (through proxy wars in particular) we are also seeing the rise of currency wars and trade wars.

Currency Wars

Over the last decade, China has been supporting the growth of the rest of the world with state-led demand stimulation. But global stagnation and reduced exports as a share of GDP forced China to depreciate its currency in order to keep its goods priced more attractively. (Other ways China has cheapened its goods is denying trade unions the right to organise, maintaining a migrant labour system which transfers reproduction costs to the countryside, clamping down on protest, permiting extreme pollution and downplaying safety and heath in production.)

Trade wars

With the rise of neoliberalism, there has been much less use of standard 'Keynesian' strategy of higher state spending aimed at stimulating the economy (i.e. expansionary fiscal policy). As a result, the preferred option to combat global depression is to pump the world economy with money ('Quantitative Easing') and, in Washington once economic nationalists gained the upper hand in the Trump regime, to implement trade restrictions. Import duties have been slapped on Chinese products entering the US, with Trump now threatening further increases in tariffs on $500 billion worth of Chinese products.

The implications include a contraction of global trade, jobs losses as well as declining investment and growth. We are already seeing this unfold in South Africa, where 7000 jobs are threatened in the steel, aluminium and car sectors, as a result of US and Chinese competition manifesting itself in trade and currency wars. As more countries are drawn in, their products that once went to the US market will be switched to others, including South Africa.

The role of the BRICS

The Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) bloc is not providing an alternative to the rise of right-wing populism. Instead, many of the BRICS governments have authoritarian regimes: Michel Temer, Vladimir Putin, Modi, Xi Jinping and Cyril Ramaphosa (albeit to a lesser degree than the others).

However, they are playing different roles within the unfolding geopolitical situation. Russia under Putin and Xi are engaged in inter-imperialist rivalries, in direct conflict with the US in certain military theatres such as the Middle East and East Asia. They are also pushing a strong neoliberal agenda and are very dependent on extractive industries (especially China). Africa is their economic playground, but there are also prospects for military competition especially in areas prone to Islamic extremism such as the Horn of Africa. Chinese pipeline, port and electricity-generation investments in Lamu – near the Somali-Kenya border – are vulnerable.

Meanwhile India and China suffer extreme border tensions in several sites, with the Belt and Road Initiative aiming to traverse the hotly-contested Kashmir area of Pakistan. India maintains a brutal occupation of part of Kashmir, refusing a plebiscite to establish the potential for a new state. Nearby, the US continues its drone bombing of Pakistani and Afghan terrain.

South Africa and Brazil are smaller players in the unfolding geopolitical contests, and are not in direct competition with the US.But along with the other BRICS, their companies are major players in Africa, heavily investing in industries related to mining and agriculture, driving massive land grabs.

The increased investment in Africa in extractivist industries comes at massive environmental and social costs. Increased investment in extractivist industries is coupled with the concept '4thIndustrial Revolution' which entails an increase in capital-intensive industry, automation and surveillance. Thexe further threaten jobs and people's existence.

How to respond?

We should be organising against the imperialist and subimperialist modus operandi of the US and BRICS leaders. In doing so, there are number of critical demands including:

1) A public audit of the national debt, in order to discern what debt is legitimate and what debt is odious, towards a cancelation of all illegitimate debt, since so much now comes not only from Western bankers but also BRICS governments led by the China Development Bank (in corrupt loans to Eskom and Transnet).

2) We should be demanding the type of investment that we want to harness in South Africa, which can meet basic needs and advance socially-controlled technology (such as generic AIDS medicines), instead of uncritically welcoming any sort of foreign direct investment.

3) This would include the "right to say no" to more mining and oil/gas drilling, based on the principles of free, prior and informed consent, in favour, instead, of a socially owned renewable energy programme as a central part of the just transition from fossil fuel industries. In doing so, we have shown, at least one million climate jobs can be created in South Africa. This could be a driving force towards a Fourth Industrial Counter-Revolution, for a wage-led, low-carbon development path

4) Finally, given the emergence of new imperialist rivalries between the US, China and Russia and the increased the potential of war, we need an international anti-war movement as well as much greater international solidarity in taking forward the struggles of workers and the poor.

Dominic Brown is the co-ordinator of the Economic Justice Programme at the Alternative Information and Development Centre, and made this input was made at the 'brics from below' Teach In at the Wits School of Governance on July 23.)

The real value of the Brics summit (Реальная ценность саммита БРИКС) / South Africa, August, 2018
Keywords: summit, expert_opinion
South Africa

On the eve of the Johannesburg Brics summit, in an unrelated interview conducted by Edward Luce of the Financial Times, "the grand consigliere of American diplomacy" Henry Kissinger said: "I think we are in a very, very grave period for the world." I could not have put it better.

In the days leading to the summit, during and after, the Presidency, the department of international relations and other ministries had to deal with a plethora of questions about what was in it for us.

Some headline reports were even sarcastic, asking whether we were being overwhelmed or dominated by China and Russia. Are the Chinese here to swindle us? Is Russia's President Vladimir Putin here to force us to sign the nuclear deal? A couple of cartoons flagged this perception by depicting a giant Xi Jinping of China and a diminutive President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Therefore, it was no surprise that at the final Brics press conference, despite Ramaphosa going through the list of what the summit achieved, the first question put forward was whether Putin raised the nuclear question with him.

Firstly, it is disappointing that our political analysts could not match the immense heaviness of the gathering that Ramaphosa hosted. Parts of the world – and of course many South African analysts – are still stuck in Cold War politics and ideologies. Using those lenses, they fail to interpret the changes in the balance of forces that have taken place since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

As Kissinger implied in the quoted interview, the US has failed to understand Moscow and Beijing. The quality of political leadership has deteriorated. It is not only US President Donald Trump, but the whole system – unfortunately including analysts.

Thirdly, one senses an abundant ignorance of the international relations our country has established over many years, especially since democracy was established in 1994, and the responsibilities that go with those associations.

Fourthly, one recognises the damage inflicted on society by our own government in the past few years. The world was presented in a biased way as Brics with the exclusion of all other relations South Africa has with the world community. In the midst of all this, Trump's antics blind us to see the world in its real context. This makes it difficult to have meaningful discussions among ourselves on what Brics means to us.

To start with, gathered in Johannesburg were heads of state and government of the five Brics countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) that are all members of the G20, with over 3.1 billion people, or 41% of the world population, and four of them in the top 10 of the world population. All of them have considerable influence in their regional affairs and represent the largest emerging market economies. They have a combined GDP of $18.6trn and $4.46trn in combined foreign reserves.

Secondly, it was also the largest and a unique gathering outside the UN system and regional alliances that attracted 31 countries and 21 heads of state. Through the Africa Outreach initiative Brics had – with South Africa's persuasion – extended invitations to the AU member countries and their regional organisations. As part of the Brics Plus initiative there were leaders from the G20, Caribbean Community and Common Market, and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

Interaction and collaboration

This gathering created conducive conditions for international interaction and collaboration on wideranging issues of global concern – including trade and economic relations, peacekeeping efforts, the fourth industrial revolution, science research and cultural exchanges.

Against this background, South Africa was in the driving seat to forge a common understanding of challenges the world is facing and influence the way forward.

South Africa's business involvement within the Brics Business Forum was very encouraging. This is the only way we can address the critical issues of our economy and job creation. As some observers noted, Africa's numerous developmental challenges can only be addressed through bringing together key players on the continent, strong leaders and their business counterparts to drive the economic transformation of Africa and help our countries realise their developmental objectives.

South Africa finds itself in a unique, but special position because it also has strong historic economic relations with EU countries and must harness these for its own interests and the development of Africa, especially SADC countries. Africa needs the type of technologies which will allow it to leapfrog into the fourth industrial revolution.

There were many bilateral agreements signed between us and the Brics partners. In this regard, with the increasing uncertainty in global affairs brought about by the Trump administration, it is important that the government, especially those departments that signed agreements together with business, do their best to deliver on these agreements.

The 10th Brics Summit Johannesburg Declaration makes it clear that we need to safeguard and strengthen multilateralism, restore the centrality of the UN in order to maintain international peace and security, advance development, plus promote and protect human rights.

We must continue to call for comprehensive reforms of the UN and Security Council and show our commitment to the World Trade Organisation systems. The New Development Bank has made a remarkable start. On people-to-people relations civil society actors, academics, business, labour and our youth can also bring huge advancements in our relations.

* Mbatha is adviser to President Cyril Ramaphosa

BRICS talks Turkey: Erdogan's wish to join group cannot be fulfilled now, expert says (БРИКС говорит о Турции: желание Эрдогана присоединиться к группе не может быть выполнено сейчас, считает эксперт) / Russia, July, 2018
Keywords: brics+, expert_opinion

MOSCOW, July 30. /TASS/. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's aspiration to make his country a full-fledged member of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), expressed at the Johannesburg summit, cannot be fulfilled now, Executive Director for the National Committee on BRICS Research Georgy Toloraya told TASS.

"The Turkish president may voice his country's wish to become a BRICS member while being well aware that this cannot be fulfilled. In any case, right now BRICS made a decision not to consider expanding membership in this association until a mechanism is fine-tuned inside the group making it possible to make agreements and find a compromise," said Toloraya, who is the Director of the Asian Strategy Center at the Institute of Economics within the Russian Academy of Sciences.

"Now everything is very complicated, and if more members join BRICS, it will be impossible at all to reach any agreements, and that's why BRICS decided not to consider the issue of expansion," the expert noted. "The intentions voiced by various countries in this respect are viewed favorably, but no steps are being made in this direction."

Turkey and other states expressing their desire to join BRICS enjoy efficient options for cooperation with BRICS without obtaining membership, he said. "Such large countries as Turkey, Indonesia, Argentina and Egypt are natural partners of BRICS and they seek to cooperate with them in the framework of BRICS plus and BRICS outreach," Toloraya said.

Turkey's NATO membership is not an obstacle for cooperation with BRICS, he said. Toloraya also hoped that cooperation by Turkey and other countries with the organization would be permanent rather than periodic.

"These may be sectoral mechanisms of cooperation and these countries may also participate through the mechanism of the BRICS New Development Bank," he noted." "We are happy about Turkey's cooperation, but talk on its membership in the group is empty."

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on BRICS' leadership at the Johannesburg summit on July 25-27 to greenlight Turkey's membership into the association, which then could be called BRICST.
Global Crash, or New System / Rachel Douglas (Глобальный крах, или новая система / Рейчел Дуглас) / Russia, August, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, summit, brics+

BRICS summit looks ahead, 'as old order falls apart'

The BRICS leaders' speeches alone were refreshing, as the one given by Chinese President Xi Jinping at the BRICS Business Forum on 25 July exemplified.2 "Science and technology", Xi said, "as the primary production forces, have provided inexhaustible power, driving the progress of human civilisation…. The world today has once again reached a critical historical juncture. In the unfolding new round of scientific and technological revolution and industrial transformation, … if countries succeed in seizing opportunities that present themselves, they will be able to achieve new dynamic growth and deliver better lives to their people."

China is already bringing those principles to life, both at home and in its Belt and Road Initiative infrastructure-building abroad, and BRICS provides a venue for their broader application. "BRICS is not a talk shop", promised South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, the host. "We draw up specific proposals that result in action."
In the past, BRICS leaders used careful diplomatic language in saying that BRICS was not intended to replace existing international financial institutions. As the reign of neoliberal economics through those institutions, like the International Monetary Fund and the Bank for International Settlements, becomes more and more destructive, but also impotent, BRICS leaders are speaking more forthrightly about BRICS as an alternative system, one based on mutually beneficial international cooperation.

Prof. Georgy Toloraya, executive director of the Russian National Committee for BRICS Research, laid out the importance of BRICS at the present historical juncture, in a 20 July interview with the official news agency TASS. The Johannesburg agenda would include traditional issues like energy cooperation and denominating trade in national currencies rather than the US dollar, he said, "But the importance of the summit is not its agenda; rather, it is that the leaders of the BRICS countries are meeting in unique circumstances, as the old world order falls apart."

Citing the deep disagreements in the G7 over trade, economic policy, and security, Toloraya told TASS that BRICS should take over a coordinating role in the world: "BRICS as merely an ordinary integration group would now be useless, not effective; what's needed now is a revision of the system of global governance. It is time to state that openly." In a 25 July English-language article for the Valdai Discussion Club,3 Toloraya urged that BRICS "offer the world an alternative model of socio-economic development, based on the market and new technologies, but different from the current system that assumes the dominance of the West" with its preference for "mechanisms of a liberal market or profit-gaining" instead of the interests of human beings.

The Russian diplomat dismissed the anti-BRICS line that the organisation is "only a platform to promote China's interests and its project to reconstruct the entire world." BRICS has already built ties among all five of its members in many areas of government policy and public life, so the progress of BRICS is multi-faceted, he said. Toloraya told TASS that Russian leaders should develop proposals for its turn as BRICS chairman in 2020, aimed at making the group an even stronger political and economic force in the world.


BRICS originated from dialogue among the leaders of three major Eurasian powers—China, India, and Russia. Thanks to former Russian PM Yevgeni Primakov's encouragement of their alignment back in 1998, it was known at first as the Eurasian "strategic triangle". Brazil joined in 2009, followed by the Republic of South Africa the next year.

Since then BRICS has adopted an outreach program, under which each year the host nation invites a number of other countries from their geographical region. This year the heads of state or government from eight other African countries— Angola, Botswana, Gabon, Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe—participated at South Africa's invitation. Rwanda currently chairs the African Union. Six smaller African economic blocs of nations also attended.

China, as BRICS chairman in 2017, initiated a further expansion of what it termed this "BRICS-Plus" process.4 Beyond promoting regional cooperation through talks with the host country's neighbours and partners in regional economic blocs, the core BRICS members would also invite selected bilateral trading partners to participate in the BRICS deliberations. "We will widen the circle of friends of the BRICS and turn it into the most influential platform for South-South cooperation", Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi declared at the time. Attending in 2018 were representatives from Argentina, Egypt, Indonesia, Jamaica, and Turkey. In all, this year's participants represented over half the world's population and economy.

A July 2017 Valdai Discussion Club paper by Yaroslav Lissovolik, a Russian economist who is vice president of the Eurasian Development Bank (a six-nation bank founded by Kazakhstan and Russia in 2006), was titled "BRICS-Plus: Alternative Globalisation in the Making?"5 Lissovolik wrote that the two phases of BRICS-Plus, which he called BRICS+ and BRICS++, could overcome sceptics' view that the BRICS members were too diverse for lasting cooperation: "Both BRICS+ and BRICS++ expand the set of alliances for all the countries included into this wider circle, whereby existing trade or investment agreements can provide the basis for multilateralising such deals with other members of the enlarged group. If successful in building its economic weight, the enlarged BRICS network may exert significant impact on trade and investment flows in the world economy and become a focal point of attracting these flows".

Besides the state-to-state contacts, the BRICS Business Forum held 25 July at the summit's opening included company CEOs among its more than 1,000 delegates from all five BRICS members. South African Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies told the BRICS Post that the focus was on advanced manufacturing, energy, technology, rail, aviation, information and communication technology, financial services, agro-processing and mining. He said the Forum sought to increase foreign direct investment in Africa, especially for manufacturing, addressing "deficiencies within productive sectors" on the continent. Ways to utilise the financing packages offered by the BRICS New Development Bank (NDB) would be explored, he added.

New institutions

Creation of the NDB in 2014-15 was a milestone in moving BRICS activity from talk to action. The Bank is co-owned by the five countries and was initially capitalised at US$100 billion. To date, Russian President Vladimir Putin reported in Johannesburg, the NDB has approved 21 projects. Its investments in Russia, for example, include a $320 million loan to upgrade water and sanitation systems in Russian cities. Putin called on businesses from BRICS countries, when investing in Africa, to "conduct these activities in close cooperation with the New Development Bank", adding, "It is important that the business community help enhance the Bank's loan portfolio."
The summit agreed to open a regional branch of the NDB in Sao Paulo, Brazil, to serve as the NDB's Regional Centre for the Americas. Its first regional office, a Regional Centre for Africa, opened in Johannesburg in 2016.

Putin also hailed the establishment of the BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement, initiated in 2015, which is a mechanism for the mutual provision of liquidity in the event of balance of payments pressures; and last year's decision to establish a BRICS Local Currency Bond Fund by 2019. Russian Minister of Economics Maxim Oreshkin told TASS on the sidelines of the summit that "the volume of transactions denominated in national currencies is quietly increasing", but its further advancement requires "deep integration of the fi-nancial systems of [the BRICS] countries".
NDB Vice President Leslie Maasdorp of South Africa (formerly at Merrill Lynch) told RIA Novosti on 26 July that the Bank is studying an issue of ruble-denominated bonds—"if we can find ruble-denominated projects" needing investment. The NDB has already made one yuan-denominated bond issue and will do another in October-November of this year, to attract investments in yuan.

Against the backdrop of US President Donald Trump's rapid-fire imposition of punitive tariffs against an array of countries, and the danger that they will lead to competitive currency devaluations affecting the dollar, these BRICS financial arrangements offer stability for real economic development, to BRICS and the broader BRICS-Plus circle of nations. They are of special interest to Russia, as it moves to protect itself from US and European sanctions. US Treasury figures for April-
May revealed that Russia has abruptly escalated the diversifi-cation of its reserves out of the US dollar, selling US$80 billion in US Treasuries (85 per cent of its holdings) in those two months. "Russia does not renounce the dollar as a universal reserve currency", Putin told his 27 July press conference in Johannesburg, but "we must minimise risks". Among the fi-nancial warfare measures against Russia, openly discussed in Washington and London in recent months, have been excluding Russia from bank-to-bank payment systems and freezing Russian assets, including even sovereign debt like Treasuries.

BRICS cooperation in Africa

Xi Jinping said in his speech that Africa "has more development potential than any other region in the world." Echoing last year's words of his foreign minister about the BRICSPlus process as a whole, he continued, "We should strengthen cooperation with Africa, support its development, and make BRICS-Africa cooperation a model for South-South cooperation." Key areas would be "poverty reduction, food security, innovation, infrastructure development, and industrialisation". In September Beijing will host a summit of the Forum on China-African Cooperation, titled "China and Africa: Towards an Even Stronger Community with a Shared Future through Win-Win Cooperation".
The Chinese President visited Senegal on Africa's west coast and Rwanda ahead of the summit, arriving in South Africa on 24 July for a state visit, during which US$14.7 billion in Chinese investment in the country was pledged. Also touring Africa was Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, who went to Rwanda, Uganda, and South Africa. During his lightning stop in Uganda on 24 July, Modi pledged US$205 million for development of its agriculture sector and electricity distribution infrastructure. Between the visits of Xi and Modi to Rwanda, a total of more than US$300 million in loans was announced for development of agriculture, roads, and special economic zones in this small East African nation, CNBC reported.

In recent years China and India have both brought to African nations their focus on all-round development, investing to improve infrastructure, agriculture, education, and technological skills, among other areas. Despite their bilateral disputes, which are often treated in the West as unsolvable, China and India have chosen to cooperate in Africa's development. Both Beijing and New Delhi believe that providing Africa the ability to develop will bring about a sea-change in the direction and volume of global trade. The better understanding developed between Xi and Modi since their informal summit in Wuhan, China in April of this year enables them to work in tandem to improve the living conditions in Africa.

For Russia's part, Putin in remarks to the BRICS Africa Outreach session on 27 July noted that Russia is planning oil and gas project with Angola, Mozambique, and Gabon, but he especially emphasised nuclear power. "In the field of nuclear energy, where Russia is a technological leader", said the Russian President, "we offer African partners to build a [nuclear power] industry from scratch." Around 600 million Africans live without electricity, he pointed out. Rosatom, the state-owned nuclear power company, has memoranda of understanding on nuclear power plant construction with Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Sudan, Uganda, and Zambia.

The Johannesburg BRICS summit was dedicated to the memory of Nelson Mandela, the fighter for social justice and first black President of South Africa, the centennial of whose birth is this year.

This article used reporting by Ramtanu Maitra on Chinese and Indian economic activity in Africa.
BRICS Membership for Turkey: How Not to End Up in Chaos (Членство Турции в БРИКС: как не довести до хаоса) / Russia, July, 2018
Keywords: brics+, expert_opinion ,summit
Author: Yaşar Yakış

"Turkey is not a country that can change the balance of power in the world, but if you ask the question whether Turkey deserves membership in BRICS – yes, it does", former Turkish foreign minister Yaşar Yakış told

Last week Johannesburg, South Africa, hosted a summit of BRICS, where Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed his wish to join the bloc. On the issue of Turkey's joining BRICS, not only the country's interests are at stake, but the very concept of the bloc: pundits say that it will inevitably expand, but must admit new members carefully.

"Actually, the recent meeting in South Africa showed that there are certain BRICS countries that are open to the enlargement, and Turkey is regarding this possibility, as the rules of joining BRICS are not set yet. I do not know if it will work, because there is no criteria of joining BRICS, countries shall find some, and there are some other countries that are interested. If it will be opened to many countries that are of different levels, sizes and fractions, it will end up in chaos", Yaşar Yakış said.

According to Yakış, Turkey is a perfect candidate for this first trial expansion. In recent years, Turkey, on the one hand, continues moving away from the West and seeking allies among other forces (like Russia and Iran), and on the other, it makes its way east and pursues a policy in this direction. Along this path, however, it needs to take care of its own security and not to get hurt.

"Turkey was pushed aside by the US and the European countries. Turkey's membership is being questioned by certain circles in certain countries. Turkey finds itself sidelined in international relations. But the criteria are not very clear for joining BRICS so far. If you ask the question whether Turkey deserves membership in BRICS – yes, it does, it is a great middle-size country, not very poor, not very rich, something in the middle. It is eager to join, but whether it will work depends on the attitude of member countries".

"And one of the reasons why Turkey wants to join BRICS are the threats by the US to impose sanctions on Turkey or make Turkey part of the sanctions that are to be imposed on Iran", the expert explains. "The threats, of course, qualm Turkey a little bit, because it will be negatively affected by such sanctions, and these sanctions could threaten its goods, financial institutions etc. Although such a mechanism is not yet developed, BRICS initially said that it will be harder to impose such sanctions on its member that on any other country. It will counter the threats on goods and institutions".

Regarding whether Turkey's joining BRICS could change the global alignment of forces, Yaşar Yakış is a bit skeptical. As he stressed, it is more about the interests of the country and the further development of the bloc.

"Turkey is not a country that can change the balance of power in the world, but on the local level it may. First, if it becomes a member, it will be the only NATO country in BRICS, which is meaningful. Turkey will be with countries that look more like itself, unlike Western countries. They are closer from many standpoints – socially and politically. Turkey is closer to the structure and the future of the BRICS countries that to that of the Western countries", Yakış concluded.
10th BRICS Summit Johannesburg Declaration: An analysis (Йоханнесбургская декларация 10-го саммита БРИКС: анализ) / Brazil, July, 2018
Keywords: summit, expert_opinion, concluded_agreements
Author: Oliver Stuenkel

"It's time to bid farewell to the Brics", the Financial Times's Philipp Stevens declared in 2011. A year later, his colleague Martin Wolf, one of the world's leading foreign affairs columnists, went further, arguing

The BRICS are not a group. (...) These countries have basically nothing in common whatsoever, except that they are called BRICS and they are quite important. But in all other respects, their interests and values, political systems, and objectives are substantially diverse. So there's no reason whatsoever to expect them to agree on anything substantive in the world (...).

Indeed, from a Western perspective, the BRICS grouping looked just too different from the G7 to make sense or offer anything meaningful to its member countries. Over the past decade, critics from Brussels, London and Washington never tired to question the BRICS grouping's usefulness -- after all, they pointed out, Brazil, India and South Africa were vibrant democracies, while China and Russia were authoritarian regimes. Some were commodity importers, some exported them. There was even an unresolved border conflict between two of its largest members. And so on. (When I discussed the topic with a Russian senior diplomat at a meeting in Moscow, he half-jokingly replied "Western observers overlook something all the BRICS countries have in common: we are all unique.")

Yet as the leaders from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa met for a historic tenth time last week, The Economist, which had long insisted in the grouping's irrelevance, conceded that the BRICS were "surprisingly good at keeping its promises". The newspaper had even made the effort to read the 10th BRICS Summit Johannesburg Declaration, finding "102 paragraphs containing an as yet uncounted number of pledges. They cover everything from settling trade disputes and securing Syria to making more movies together." Slowly, Western observers are beginning to study the grouping in earnest. Over the past two years, two books have been published on BRICS with leading Western university presses. They provide excellent analyses on what the grouping means for global order [reviews are forthcoming on this blog]. However, neither one of them – The BRICS and Collective Financial Statecraft by Roberts, Armijo, and Katada, and Rising Powers and Foreign Policy Revisionism Understanding BRICS Identity and Behavior Through Time, by Thies and Nieman – assess the grouping's efforts to strengthen intra-BRICS ties, be it by discussing ways to reduce non-tariff barriers to facilitate trade or by organizing yearly summits for each member country's national security advisor.

Yet it is precisely that what matters most to policy makers in Brasília, New Delhi and Beijing: ties among member countries have undergone a silent transformation since the group's inception, providing numerous advantages that attract little attention elsewhere -- see a more detailed analysis on specific areas of cooperation below. The grouping, however has been relevant on the foreign policy front, too. For Russia, the BRICS grouping proved to be a diplomatic life raft since it suffered diplomatic isolation after the annexation of Crimea. At the time, a joint statement criticizing Australia for suggesting to exclude Russia from the G20 made it clear that the West would not succeed in bringing the entire international community into line in its attempt to isolate Russia. For South Africa, it provided a massive status boost on the international stage, providing it unprecedented access to the other countries' policy elites. The meeting in Johannesburg was like a gift from heaven for South Africa's new President Ramaphosa, allowing him to look presidential ahead of a potentially tricky election next year. In addition, hosting numerous leaders from around the world in South Africa -- not only from the BRICS countries, but also from countries like Turkey and Argentina -- allowed Zuma's successor to lay out his strategy on how to get South Africa back on track. It is no coincidence that it is in South Africa that BRICS membership is most firmly part of the public debate, with frequent op-ed in major newspapers arguing for or against it (including, among others, a wonderfully provocative piece in the Mail and Guardian by Patrick Bond, a Marxist scholar).

For India, BRICS provides an additional opportunity to discuss important geopolitical concerns with Russia and China, as well as share its particular concerns about terrorism to a wider audience that would otherwise know little about it. In the Johannesburg Declaration, the term "terrorism" appears thirteen times. For China, the grouping is crucial to forge strategic ties with key partners in each region of the world. More importantly, seen from Beijing, BRICS is a key building bloc of a much larger project to adapt global order to a more Asia-centric world. Brazil, too, is a beneficiary of the BRICS, even though its public debate, still painfully Western-centric both on the left and the right, is still lagging behind in discussing its role in the grouping. Traditionally unaware of Asian affairs in general and the opportunities a more Asia-centric world offers, Brazil's participation in the BRICS grouping -- which now involves more than seventy yearly meetings in areas ranging from national security and public health to education and innovation -- is has helped it broaden a debate about a much-needed strategic reorientation towards Asia, involving not only the government, but the private sector, the media, academia, and society as a whole.

There are five key issues in the 10th BRICS Summit Johannesburg Declaration that deserve special mention:

1) The BRICS seek to project stability and predictability in a rules-based order threatened by US President Trump

As expected, the grouping sought to contrast recent US policies vis-à-vis global rules and norms and project the grouping as a guardian of order, embracing globalization and recognizing the need to take action against climate change. The BRICS declare in paragraph 8,

We recommit our support for multilateralism and the central role of the United Nations in international affairs and uphold fair, just and equitable international order based on the purposes and principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, respect for international law, promoting democracy and the rule of law in international relations, and to address common traditional and non-traditional security challenges.

In paragraph 21, the grouping calls "upon all countries to fully implement the Paris Agreement adopted under the principles of the UNFCCC (...)."

In paragraph 63, the leaders say they "underscore the importance of an open world economy, enabling all countries and peoples to share the benefits of globalisation, which should be inclusive and support sustainable development and prosperity of all countries. We call on all WTO members to abide by WTO rules and honour their commitments in the multilateral trading system." Of course, this is not entirely genuine. BRICS countries have misgivings about Chinese trade practices, and they have been voiced in Johannesburg behind closed doors. But rhetoric about rules and norms matter, as committing to them frames the debate in a way that the cost of deviation increases. Particularly for China, this is strategically useful. Donald Trump's unpredictable foreign policy, most recently visible in the realms of nuclear proliferation and trade, dramatically reduce the extent of global scrutiny China faces these days, be it for its mercantilistic trade policies or domestic challenges. Quite remarkably, Xi Jinping has so far won the battle of narratives against Trump, and the Chinese leader is by many regarded as a global stabilizer and defender of global rules and norms, while Trump is seen as a source of risk.

2. The BRICS grouping is about far more than the yearly presidential summits

While many analysts will base their assessment of the BRICS grouping as a whole on the Johannesburg Declaration, they overlook that the yearly leaders' summits are merely the most visible element of the rotating BRICS presidency that each country holds for one year (South Africa will take over in 2018 and host the next summit). In that sense, the BRICS grouping differs from other outfits such as the G7, which possess a far lower degree of institutionalization. The declaration lists 72 BRICS-related meetings that took place during South Africa's BRICS presidency (see the declaration's annex) ranging from agriculture, national security, health and international finance (see also: BRICS: There Is More Than Just the Summits). While several initiatives have not produced tangible results, others (such as previous consultations prior to key decisions regarding the World Bank and the IMF) have become standard practice. While the depth of intra-BRICS ties remains limited (except for everyone's ties to China), it is fair to say that the grouping has helped, over the past decade, to slowly reduce the mutual ignorance that has shaped ties between member countries. [The complete and updated list of intra-BRICS activities over the past 10 years will be available in the Second Edition of BRICS and the Future of Global Order, to be published in 2019].

Here are the Ministerial Meetings that took place this year:

  • Meeting of BRICS Finance Deputies – 17 to 20 March (Buenos Aires)
  • Meeting of the BRICS Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors – 18 to 20 April (Washington, DC)
  • Meeting of BRICS Finance Deputies – 18 to 20 April (Washington, DC)
  • Meeting of the BRICS Ministers of Environmental Affairs – 18 May (Durban)
  • Meeting of the BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs/International Relations – 4 June (Pretoria)
  • Meeting of BRICS Head of Revenue Authorities – 18 to 21 June 2018 (Johannesburg)
  • 8th Meeting of the BRICS Ministers of Agriculture and Agrarian Development – 19 to 22 June (Mpumalanga)
  • 8th Meeting of National Security Advisors - 28 to 29 June 2018 (Durban)
  • BRICS Energy Ministers - 28 to 29 June (Gauteng)
  • Meeting of BRICS Ministers of Disaster Management - 29 June to 1 July (East London)
  • 6th Meeting of BRICS Ministers of Science, Technology and Innovation - 3 July (Durban)
  • 3rd Meeting of BRICS Industry Ministers - 4 July (Gauteng)
  • 8th Meeting of BRICS Trade Ministers - 5 July (Magaliesburg)
  • Meeting of BRICS Ministers of Education - 10 July (Cape Town)
  • Meeting of BRICS Ministers of Finance and Central Bank Governors – 19 to 22 July (Argentina)
  • 8th Meeting of BRICS Ministers of Health - 20 July (Durban)
3. The Johannesburg Declaration points to broader cooperation in areas related to the 4th Industrial Revolution

The BRICS have established the so-called Partnership on New Industrial Revolution (PartNIR) to discuss the challenges and opportunities that will emerge in the context of robotics, artificial intelligence, blockchain, nanotechnology, quantum computing, biotechnology, The Internet of Things, 3D printing and autonomous vehicles -- phenomena sometimes jointly described as the 4th Industrial Revolution (see paragraph 56). In this context, the BRICS countries have established the "BRICS Networks of Science Parks, Technology Business Incubators and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises" -- while it remains to be seen to what extent such cooperation can work in practice, there is no doubt South Africa, India, Russia and Brazil in particular can benefit from greater cooperation in an area where China has taken the global lead. In paragraph 73, the grouping welcomes the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on Collaborative Research on Distributed Ledger and Blockchain Technology in the Context of the Development of the Digital Economy.

4. Brazil gets a New Development Bank (NDB) regional office

The NDB is expanding its operations. The Johannesburg Declaration announces the creation of the Project Preparation Fund and welcomes the upcoming establishment of the Americas Regional Office in São Paulo, Brazil, which, alongside the Africa Regional Centre, will help the NDB consolidate its presence in those continents (paragraph 76). The document refers to the NDB's Board of Governors' discussions on Innovative Approaches for Development Finance at its 3rd Annual Meeting on 28-29 May in Shanghai, China, that focused on the NDB's future development in the changing global environment. The physical presence of the NDB in Brazil is likely to help the institution gain more visibility in the country where the institution remains little known, even in the foreign policy community.

5. The grouping promises to do more to overcome intra-BRICS obstacles

In 2017, out of 135 million Chinese travelers worldwide, only 1 in every 2,200 came to Brazil -- despite Brazil being widely known in China, and largely seen as an attractive destination. Lack of initiative and vision, bureaucracy and limited tourism infrastructure in Brazil are to blame. In the same way, the number of Chinese tourists traveling to other BRICS countries remains far below the number of those visiting Europe and the United States. The establishment of the BRICS Working Group on Tourism is thus good news. As the BRICS announce in paragraph 85, "the BRICS Tourism work stream will exchange knowledge, experience and best practices in the areas of travel trade, air connectivity, tourism infrastructure, culture and medical tourism, barriers to tourism marketing, tourism safety and support - financial, insurance and medical. We note with satisfaction that Intra-BRICS Tourism has grown despite the global economic downturn."

While many observers still regard the BRICS Summit through an unhelpful 'West vs. rest' lens, it will become increasingly clear that successful intra-BRICS cooperation is to be welcomed and has a positive impact on global order. To begin with, making use of the untapped potential of trade between BRICS countries will be key to avoid what Larry Summers calls "secular stagnation" and enhance trade between countries that are not as reluctant to embrace globalization as many Western powers. In addition, more effective cooperation between India and China will be crucial to avoid geopolitical tensions or even armed conflict in Asia in the coming years and decades — a scenario that would cause a global recession, considering how much the world economy is centered around Asia. Five countries alone, of course, are not enough to address such a monumental and long-term challenge. But promoting intra-BRICS cooperation is certainly a step in the right direction.
The big five at 10 (Большая пятерка на десятом) / India, July, 2018
Keywords: summit, expert_opinion, brics+
Author: Rajiv Bhatia

BRICS has grown in influence in its first decade but is still far from achieving its initial goals

In the age of Twitter, BRICS, or the grouping of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, has produced a 102-paragraph-long Johannesburg Declaration, one of the longest in recent years. This implies that either this important multilateral grouping has a lot to say about the state of the world or it needs to hire a sharp editor.

It is prudent to proceed on the first assumption. There is little doubt that BRICS has grown in influence, expanded the arc of its interests, and established new institutions and partnerships in its first decade. More importantly, it has created for its members the habits of working together. Intra-BRICS cooperation is on a rising trajectory.

Yet, the fact remains that BRICS is still far from achieving its initial goals: reform of global financial governance, democratisation of the United Nations, and expansion of the Security Council — partially because two of its members (China and Russia) do not want the other three members (India, South Africa and Brazil) to obtain parity in the global pecking order.

Summit highlights

In this backdrop, the 10th summit, held last week, framed its deliberations against U.S. President Donald Trump's unconventional approach on world affairs, particularly the looming trade wars. "The summit is about the context," said Maxim Oreshkin, Russia's Economy Minister. "We are at a time when the U.S. and China announce new measures almost every week."

BRICS leaders, therefore, stressed "the centrality of the rules-based, transparent, non-discriminatory, open and inclusive multilateral trading", based on the World Trade Organisation. This stemmed from their broader commitment to cooperate for strengthening multilateralism, the rule of law and an equitable international order. That one of the BRICS members (China) does not follow in word and spirit this high-sounding prescription in regard to Asian affairs may have escaped attention.

The other big idea emanating from the summit is to help nations to prepare for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. South Africa, as the host, zoomed in on it early and managed to create sufficient enthusiasm for it. Participants embraced it, articulating the need for a new strategy on employment, education and skill development as the digital revolution unfolds. BRICS Partnership on New Industrial Revolution (PartNIR), however, will make a meaningful contribution only if it goes beyond the five ministries of industry. It should engage with the private sector and young innovators working at the cutting edge of technology today.

The summit saw further consolidation of the business pillar. The BRICS Business Council has been actively enhancing trade and economic cooperation in diverse sectors ranging from manufacturing and energy to financial services and regional aviation. Besides, the leaders renewed their commitment to an inclusive and "people-centred approach" on development. The steady progress in interactions through sports, films, education, culture and tourism has been commendable.

Africa, BRICS Plus

The BRICS outreach to Africa began at the last summit hosted by South Africa, in 2013; it has picked up momentum now. But African leaders want more. They need big loans from the New Development Bank (NDB) for their infrastructure projects. A South African official stated that this would happen soon but uncertainty persists. So far, the NDB has dispersed loans totalling $5.1 billion — all to its members only.

China introduced the "BRICS Plus" format at the Xiamen summit last year by inviting a few countries from different regions. South Africa emulated it, arranging the attendance of top-level representation of five nations of its choice: Argentina, Jamaica, Turkey, Indonesia and Egypt. The precise role of "BRICS Plus" countries will take time to evolve. An immediate benefit is the immense opportunities it provides for networking among leaders. A large number of bilateral meetings took place on the summit's sidelines. For us, the most important was the interaction between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping, the third in four months, which deepened the trend towards conciliation between Asia's two biggest powers.

Unity and divergence

As a partnership that represents over 40% of the world's population and accounts for 22% of global GDP, BRICS will continue to be an influential voice as long as its convergences prevail over its divergences. Changing power equations within BRICS are being watched closely. China's dominance is a reality even as the grouping asserts the sovereign equality of all members. China-Russia proximity has been a continuing factor. Given its political and economic travails, Brazil played a low-profile role.

Mr. Modi and his delegation were pro-active and visible. A South African commentator observed that India was playing "a delicate geopolitical game with the U.S., China and Russia as their spheres of influence wax and wane" across regions. To Delhi's satisfaction, four paragraphs in the summit declaration were devoted to the problem of international terrorism. But no decision was taken to set up the BRICS credit rating agency that India favours. The India-South Africa partnership helped to ensure that the Johannesburg Declaration was balanced and well-rounded in its orientation.

The critical question is whether BRICS's exertions will have appreciable impact on G-7, the grouping of the developed countries, which is in disarray, and particularly on the U.S. administration.
Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
A Glance At The Performance Of Emerging ASEAN Markets (Взгляд на производительность развивающихся рынков АСЕАН) / USA, August, 2018

In our previous blog, The Growth of Emerging ASEAN, we discussed why market participants are showing increased interest in this region. In this post, let's take a deeper look at how the emerging ASEAN equity markets - consisting of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam - performed historically.

The emerging ASEAN equity markets collectively outperformed the Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (BRICS) equity markets as a whole on an absolute and risk-adjusted basis over the period from March 31, 2010, to Dec. 31, 2017 (see Exhibit 1).

The emerging ASEAN equity markets are much smaller than the BRICS markets. As of year-end 2017, their aggregate float market cap was approximately one-sixth of the size of the BRICS equity market. In general, smaller markets tend to have lower liquidity and efficiency. The largest companies in small markets tend to be the most liquid. The top 100 largest and most liquid companies slightly underperformed the broad emerging ASEAN equity market over the period from March 31, 2010, to Dec. 31, 2017 (see Exhibit 2).

The portfolio of the top 100 largest companies weighted by float market cap was concentrated in stocks domiciled in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. A country-weight-capped portfolio may reduce the country-specific risk. The capped portfolio of the top 100 largest companies with a country weight capping of 25% and a stock weight capping of 8% outperformed the broad emerging ASEAN equity market over the same period (see Exhibit 3).

S&P Dow Jones Indices recently launched the Dow Jones Emerging ASEAN Titans 100 Index. It consists of companies from the emerging ASEAN equity markets based on composite rank by float market cap, revenue, and net income. The index constituents are weighted by float-adjusted market cap and subject to a country weight cap of 25% and a stock weight cap of 8% to reduce the country and stock concentration risk. It outperformed the top 100 capped portfolio purely selected by market cap over the period from March 31, 2010, to Dec. 31, 2017 (see Exhibit 4).

Historically, market participants in the emerging ASEAN equity markets tended to favor the companies with high revenue and income over other companies. The Dow Jones Emerging ASEAN Titans 100 Index outperformed the top 100 capped portfolio from the broad emerging ASEAN equity market trends in all the market cycles. The most significant outperformance was during the up market (see Exhibit 5).

Historically, the emerging ASEAN equity market outperformed the BRICS equity market. Revenue, income, or other fundamentals, along with weight limits to prevent excessive concentration in a particular country or stock, are also important when evaluating the markets for diversification purposes, in addition to market cap and liquidity.

Turkish credit rating agency to be objective: banker (Турецкое кредитное рейтинговое агентство будет объективным: банкир) / Turkey, August, 2018
Keywords: rating, expert_opinion

A local credit rating agency will direct foreign investments to Turkey in the coming years, chairman of the Participation Banks Association of Turkey said.

"An independent rating agency which has high acceptability and understands the market requirement will strengthen Turkey," Metin Ozdemir told Anadolu Agency.

The agency has been on the cards for sometime.

The Banking Regulatory and Supervision Agency (BDDK) prepared regulations for the agency, which will be established with the partnership of BRICS -- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa -- countries.

"We can achieve this target by following principles, gaining reputation and establishing an independent supervision and administration structure," he added.

He noted that establishing the agency with the partnership of BRICS countries, which have one-fifth of the world economy, will go a long way.

"We expect objective and economy-based remarks from international rating agencies -- Moody's, StandardPoor's, Fitch -- instead of political views," he said.

Otherwise, he added, their evaluation would lose credibility.

International agencies' ratings -- based on the economy, politics and social risks -- help investors choose a country and determine borrowing costs, he noted.

Arbitrarily evaluates

Ozdemir said international agencies' subjective and non-transparent evaluation decreases confidence.

During the last year, western credit rating agencies dropped Turkey's credit ratings several times arbitrarily, he recalled.

He added: "Establishing a new credit rating agency is also in the best interests of BRICS countries which often face western-based sanctions and financial stresses."

The national credit rating agency's priority will be providing service to all the countries, he said.

Ozdemir stressed Turkey needs to grow over 8 percent annually to reach its 2023 targets -- $2 trillion GDP and $500 billion exports.

"To make Istanbul one of the most important financial centers in the world, we continue to work for Istanbul International Financial Center Project," he said.

Speculative assessments

In its medium-term program published last October, Turkey aimed to establish a local credit rating agency.

With Turkey's record growth rate -- 7.4 percent both in 2017 and the first quarter of 2018 -- the rating agencies' negative decisions on Turkey's economy were slammed as biased by Turkish leaders.

Nihat Zeybekci, then-economy minister, said: "We do not find rating agencies' assessments reasonable, they are speculative and manipulative."

Mehmet Ali Akben, head of the BDDK, said Turkey has made regulations to allow the formation of an independent and local credit rating agency sometime in 2018.

"The new measure provides regulations for licensing credit rating agencies and their activities," he stressed.

"Some regional and international rating agencies have requested information, and want to participate in the local agency," he added.
Will BRICS deliver concrete benefits to Africa? (Принесет ли БРИКС конкретную пользу Африке?) / South Africa, July, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, ndb, economic_challenges
South Africa

The rest of the continent is looking to South Africa to push for shared value from BRICS.

First published by ISS Today

Once the pomp and ceremony and the rhetoric have been subtracted, did the 10th BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit in South Africa deliver much for Africa?

The theme was 'BRICS in Africa: Collaboration for inclusive growth and shared prosperity in the Fourth Industrial Revolution'. As it did when it hosted its first BRICS summit in 2013, South Africa included an 'Africa outreach' component to last week's summit. Heads of African regional organisations and of all southern African states were invited to meet the BRICS leaders.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame, speaking as African Union (AU) chairperson, declared that "there is a clear convergence of interests between Africa and BRICS members". The partnership was important, he said, because BRICS and Africa "have a common interest in an open and fair international system".

This is the major ideological thrust of BRICS, and this summit issued a strong message in favour of open markets to counter rising global protectionism.

Kagame also believed that strengthening cooperation with BRICS would contribute to human security, especially employment for Africa's youth. He proposed greater collaboration in industrialisation, infrastructure and peace and security, which he said were at the heart of the AU's Agenda 2063 development road map.

He suggested that the African Continental Free Trade Area launched this year and the more unified and effective AU – both of which he has been driving hard – would help boost economic and other relations with BRICS and the rest of the world.

The summit's 106-point Johannesburg Declaration seemed at first glance rather lacking in any specific benefits for Africa. But Namibian President Hage Geingob picked out a few.

One was the commitment to greater cooperation on peace keeping at the United Nations (UN) and particularly South Africa's initiative for a BRICS working group on peacekeeping. Although the five countries have different levels of commitment to peace keeping, all make some contribution.

Geingob welcomed the BRICS decision to establish a vaccine research and development centre in South Africa. He also liked the BRICS decisions to increase representation of women, boost inclusive economic growth and harness the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Interestingly, none of the African leaders asked when or if they were likely to be able to tap loans from BRICS's $100-billion New Development Bank (NDB). As Ramaphosa said, the NDB is the most concrete expression of the benefits of BRICS membership – proof that "it is not just a talk-shop".

NDB president KV Kamath told the summit that the bank was "now fully operational and is in a rapid, though prudent, growth phase". It has approved loans for 23 projects for about $5.7-billion to the five member countries. It plans to up this to some $7.8-billion by year end.

South Africa has received two loans so far – $180-million to connect independent renewable power-producing plants to the national grid and $200-million to refurbish a container terminal in Durban's harbour. Kamath had earlier been quoted in newspapers as saying the bank would lend another $600-million this year.

He said the NDB – which the BRICS countries see as a complement to the World Bank – was now moving beyond financing renewable energy into rural roads, ecosystem restoration, water supply particularly in rural areas, irrigation system restructuring and energy conservation.

He said the bank's Africa Regional Centre which opened in Johannesburg last year was now operational and that it is "… the face of the bank for the African continent and will progressively support a growing range of our work".

The centre was envisaged also as the NDB's launching pad into the African hinterland. Yet it has not ventured beyond South Africa. Why?

South Africa's Leslie Maasdorp, vice president and chief financial officer of the NDB, said the bank's statutes allowed it to lend to non-member countries "if there is full agreement by the board of governors who are the five ministers of finance, the shareholders. But those would be in exceptional cases. So the borrowing members now are (just) the five BRICS countries".

Maasdorp said it was "highly improbable" that the bank would now approve a loan to any other African country. However, it was likely that it would agree to finance a project to bring offshore gas from Mozambique to South Africa, for example, because South Africa would benefit.

There have been rumours that the bank, through the Africa Regional Centre, is contemplating financing phase two of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project. This would benefit South Africa by increasing the water it already receives from its mountainous neighbour.

The project would of course also benefit Lesotho, by increasing its water sales to South Africa, perhaps also boosting its hydroelectricity output, and creating jobs and other construction by-products.

Maasdorp said that would be the kind of project the NDB would support. He didn't speculate about why the five BRICS governments hadn't yet decided to finance infrastructure projects beyond South Africa.

Pretoria is believed to be pushing for these, to justify its BRICS membership to its African peers by stressing the pass-along benefits. But the four other members seem hesitant. Perhaps they are just being financially prudent.

Anton du Plessis, head of the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in Pretoria, says BRICS commitment to Africa "must move beyond mere rhetoric". Kagame's proposal for a "mechanism to ensure delivery of agreed areas" between BRICS and Africa is one possible concrete action.

"This is obviously important for Africa. South Africa's role will be vital to its own credibility and ability to drive broader reforms in Africa (through the AU for example) and keep African support for its larger foreign policy ambitions, including on the UN Security Council," he said.

South Africa starts a two-year term on the Security Council next year, and expectations from African states – not least about the shared value of BRICS – will be high. DM

BRICS a powerful force against US protectionism (БРИКС - мощная сила против протекционизма США) / China, July, 2018
Keywords: summit, expert_opinion, economic_challenges

The invitation to the leaders of 22 emerging and developing countries, including 19 from Africa, made the just concluded BRICS summit in Johannesburg an even more important platform to demonstrate that the developing world and emerging economies as a whole, along with many developed economies, are strongly opposed to the Donald Trump administration's trade protectionist policies and punitive tariffs on imports.

The US administration has imposed high tariffs on imports from many economies, especially China, to push forward Trump's "America first" strategy. Some economies, China, India, and Russia in particular, have been forced to impose additional tariffs on US imports in response. And Brazil is worried about the US tariffs, on its steel products, even though its farmers may benefit from increased export of agricultural products to China.

A number of South African companies producing steel for the US market, including ArcelorMittal South Africa, the world's leading integrated steel and mining company, and Hulamin, an enterprise that supplies aluminum products for Elon Musk's Tesla vehicles, are also deeply worried about the US tariffs.

Also, the International Monetary Fund recently warned that the high US tariffs and tit-for-tat response from its trade partners could knock 0.5 percentage points off global growth by 2020. But the Trump administration has all but ignored that warning.

However, the US' trade policies have brought BRICS member states closer, and prompted them to try and unite the developing and emerging economies to oppose US policies, as evident from the statement issued at the BRICS summit.

Trump's trade policies have also prompted BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) to expedite the building of a platform for new instrumental dynamism and deep integration with other emerging and developing economies. The five member states of the group, for instance, have decided to increase intra-BRICS trade and lower tariffs against each other, because they have a collective interest in promoting free trade.

The BRICS group has made some remarkable achievements in fields such as finance, trade, agriculture, science, security and academic dialogue. The establishment of the BRICS New Development Bank and a business forum are two of its most important achievements. The BRICS members have already discussed greater financial integration and investment facilitation, including transaction settlement and direct investment in local currencies, consistent with their respective central bank's mandates.

The BRICS summit also took forward discussions on a "BRICS investment facilitation" mechanism to facilitate investments among the member states. South Africa, more broadly Africa, can benefit from increased trade and investment with fast growing BRICS countries such as China and India, as BRICS accounts for more than 40 percent of the global population, represents some of the biggest emerging economies and has the potential to reshape world trade.

The theme of the Johannesburg summit, "BRICS in Africa: Collaboration for Inclusive Growth and Shared Prosperity in the 4th Industrial Revolution" indicates BRICS is committed to leading the next generation's development. India has pledged that it would like to work with BRICS on the issue of the Fourth Industrial Revolution to together prepare best practices and policies in this connection.

Besides, the Johannesburg summit provided a platform for BRICS members to hold important discussion on the sidelines. Russian President Vladimir Putin met with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Johannesburg on July 26 to discuss trade and other issues. And China and India held discussions on trade matters, not least because both have been at the receiving end of the US' punitive tariffs and trade restrictions. In fact, the two sides vowed to defend the World Trade Organization framework and rules.

With Trump pursuing protectionism and unilateralism against the global trend of multilateralism and economic globalization, the fate of international agreements appears under siege. In such circumstance, BRICS is perhaps one of the most important blocs that is openly opposing protectionism and promoting globalization and free trade, both in principle and action, and has thus emerged as the most potent force against US unilateralism.

The author is a research fellow at and director of the Division of American Economic Studies at the Institute of American Studies, China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

South Africa business leaders endorse BRICS multilateralism (Бизнес лидеры в Южной Африке поддерживают многосторонность БРИКС) / South Africa, August, 2018
Keywords: trade_relations, top_level_meeting, summit
South Africa

South Africa's business community said yesterday that it strongly supported BRICS commitment to endorse multilateralism while standing against protectionist trade policies that hurt global growth.

During a meeting of industry leaders and government officials in Johannesburg, CEOs and senior business pundits stressed that emerging economies should reject unilateralist initiatives and work instead toward an inclusive agenda that promotes free trade.

"We do not support policies which are inward looking. Protectionism is selfish. We support open market. We want Africa to trade with itself and the world to allow the economies to grow," said Pan African Chamber of Commerce marketing and communications Director Kudzai Muchechetere on the weekend.

In the Johannesburg Declaration which signaled the end of the 10th BRICS Summit and was signed by Brazilian President Michel Temer, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chinese President Xi Jinping and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, the leaders argued that the multilateral trading system was "facing unprecedented challenges".

"We call on all WTO members to abide by WTO rules and honour their commitments in the multilateral trading system," the Johannesburg Declaration stated.

During the summit, the BRICS Business Forum focused on the economic prowess of the African continent with a particular focus on advanced manufacturing, energy, technology, rail, aviation, information and communication technology, financial services and beneficiation (agro-processing and mining), as well as to enhance the flow of foreign direct investments from the BRICS bloc into the continent.

In a bid to highlight Africa and emerging markets' growing global impact, a number of African leaders – and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan – were invited to the 10th Summit in Johannesburg last week.

Opening up Africa is a key to expanded multilateralism and healthy global trade.

South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI) President Zeph Ndlovu said that open markets by all for all ensure strong global economic growth. He said that recent trade policies from the US were counterproductive and ultimately self-defeating.

He called on the international community to work together to resolve trade issues.
New Development Bank Receives AA+ Credit Rating From Fitch (НБР получает рейтинг кредитоспособности AA+ от Fitch) / China, August, 2018
Keywords: ndb, rating

Fitch Ratings ("Fitch") announced it has assigned New Development Bank (NDB) a long-term issuer default rating (IDR) of 'AA+' with a stable outlook and a short-term IDR of 'F1+'.

In its press release Fitch stated, NDB's AA+ credit rating is driven by the intrinsic features of the Bank. Fitch considers NDB's capitalization as excellent and risk profile as low. Fitch assesses NDB's risk management policies as strong mainly driven by the self-imposed prudential rules that the Bank abides by, primarily on the capitalization and liquidity fronts.

The full press release announcing Fitch's decision is available here.

"We are happy to receive the AA+ rating from Fitch", said K. V. Kamath, President of NDB, commenting on Fitch's rating announcement. "The AA+ rating is an exceptional achievement for a multilateral development bank fully owned and led by developing countries. This high credit rating is a testament to both the well-struck balance between growth and prudence demonstrated by the Bank in its own future plans as well as the growing influence of the BRICS countries in the global economy. It enables the Bank to access capital from global financial markets at attractive rates to support its members' development agendas in the areas of infrastructure and sustainable development, thereby helping the Bank fulfil its developmental mandate. Fitch has highlighted that "the relatively limited number of countries NDB expects to be operating in results in a 'high' level of concentration risk". As the Bank evolves, we believe that diversification of business and expansion of the Bank's membership in the future will naturally lead to a decline in concentration risk. In addition, the Bank will also use all available innovative financial tools to address this issue."

The document entitled "Fitch rates New Development Bank 'AA+'; Outlook Stable", dated August 3, 2018 is entirely the copyright of, and is reproduced with the permission of Fitch Ratings.

About NDB

New Development Bank is a multilateral development bank established by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa to mobilize resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging economies and developing countries, complementing the existing efforts of multilateral and regional financial institutions for global growth and development. To fulfill its purpose, NDB will support public or private projects through loans, guarantees, equity participation and other financial instruments.


Alexey Kosarev
Phone number: +86-21-80211848

Saurabh Ghugre
Phone number: +86-21-80216151
World of work
Social policy, trade unions, actions
BRICS and Civil Society 2018: Social Justice versus the Diplomacy Game (БРИКС и гражданское общество 2018: социальная справедливость против дипломатической игры) / USA, July, 2018
Keywords: social_issues,expert_opinion

The annual BRICS Summit at the Sandton Convention Centre attracted much hype and generally affirming media coverage. Part of the reason for relentless positivity towards the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) alliance is press coverage in the country's leading newspaper chain arranged by Iqbal Survé. As head of the Independent newspapers as well as the BRICS Business Council, his own picture appears regularly on his front pages, pronouncing on the enormous value of BRICS to South Africa.

Debate amongst academics and civil society has been intense, especially on whether engagement in official processes amounts to a legitimation of BRICS rulers. For critics, the governance credentials of China, India, Russia and Brazil are appalling, along with widespread corporate corruption, exploitative economic trade and investment strategies, and the world's most severe pollution, including greenhouse gases.

Disappointingly, most of the pro-BRICS analysis is lukewarm at best and at worst sycophantic. Last week, Rev Lawrence Ndlovu's Daily Maverick opinion piece refers to the "special friendship between BRICS nations", leaving human rights violations papered over with the throwaway remark, "the sovereignty of each country should never be seen to be compromised." This parrots South African BRICS Sherpa Anil Sooklal's diplomatic patter over the last few months at various BRICS events held in the lead up to the Summit.

The theme for the BRICS Summit 2018, 'BRICS in Africa: Collaboration for Inclusive Growth and Shared Prosperity in the 4th Industrial Revolution,' is ostensibly grounded upon the BRICS alliance's advertised central priorities: 'the creation of an inclusive society and global partnerships that bring prosperity to all humankind'. This time, the presence of trade-warrior Donald Trump looming in the background has provided artificial credibility.

Overall, though, BRICS coverage continues to be characterised by a lack of critical reflection. For example, the 4thIndustrial Revolution's emphasis on robotics and artificial intelligence is no panacea for the South African and African economies. Naive endorsement of this theme smacks more of trying to keep up with the global North than developing alternative collective development frameworks that meet ordinary people's needs.

Nonetheless, summit declarations are supported by diplomatic affirmations. The five Consuls General recently agreed that BRICS is unique because of the equal nature of the partnership and inclusivity, 'as shown in the outreach efforts of BRICS' which this year witnessed various tyrants joining the other visiting heads of state.

The diplomatic artifice of equality and inclusivity does little to conceal the dominance of China in the trade and investment environments of the BRICS states, especially the use of the smallest BRICS state, South Africa, as a 'gateway' to Africa.

Even after a decade of summits and sweet-talk, there are hardly any BRICS institutional commitments, and no multilateral policy initiatives, aside from the New Development Bank. The $100 billion Contingent Reserve Arrangement is simply an IMF-related bailout fund, validated as hopefully not necessary unless one of the BRICS falls into a foreign debt crisis.

The myth of partnership cannot disguise the almost entirely bilaterally-negotiated trade and investment relations between the five states, skewed heavily towards Chinese state owned enterprise investments and loans in infrastructure and industry in the other four states.

Most of this investment is orientated to Chinese expansion of soft power through its Belt-and-Road initiative, which currently reaches as far as Kenya's ports in Lamu and Mombasa. It is marketed as a potential geo-strategic trade route which may compensate for the punitive grip that the United States has on the global political economy. The initiative even comes along with its own propaganda, an advertising jingle for which it has received some justified media derision.

The contradictory positions on BRICS are collated in a recently released reader, BRICS Politricks. These are broadly categorised as Brics from above (largely uncritical state or state aligned discourses), Brics from the middle (academic, labour and civil Brics that pragmatically engage) and Brics from below (critique of the other two levels of discourse based on concerns of grassroots social justice movements).

Activists and academics supportive of Brics from below met in Johannesburg last week at the counter-summit and Teach In, held at the Wits School of Governance (

The counter-summit interrogated the ideological posturing of BRICS as an balancing force against the post-Cold War unipolar system. This included a robust engagement with perspectives emerging from within the BRICS Think Tank network, as well as the BRICS Business Council.

The counter summit also revisited social movement strategies, in particular, the Gramscian notion of the war of manoeuvre within state-created spaces of engagement. The strategy includes ongoing direct engagement in order to influence government to move towards a more authentic transformative social justice orientation.

Social justice gains (jam-making) can be measured in terms of policy outcomes through the processes of engagement. These can be complemented/supplemented by other strategies of resistance and pressure (tree shaking). While both techniques have been used at BRICS Summits since 2013, neither strategy has yielded significant outcomes.

Reflecting the lack of influence, the slogan of this year's BRICS from below rally, led by the United Front-Johannesburg, was "Break the BRICS" – for there is nothing in current BRICS policy frameworks that shows any concrete commitment to pro-poor policies. Protestors emphasise that BRICS leaders human rights and social justice records are questionable to say the least.

With one or two exceptions, this questionable human rights and social justice component of the BRICS alliance has received far too little attention, even at Academic and Civil BRICS level. It is worth mentioning that South Africa is perhaps the only state within the alliance where protestors and the social movements they support are not threatened, vilified and subject to state surveillance on an ongoing basis.

Amnesty International this week reaffirmed BRICS dismal human rights scorecard. Ramaphosa's recent assurances that BRICS leaders are attending to human rights issues shows naivety at best, at worst, a deliberate denialism.

This strategy, break the BRICS, or 'branch breaking', a more confrontational protest based form of engagement, may be needed on a more ongoing basis to raise consciousness and counter BRICS empty rhetoric on human rights and development.

BRICS from below movements led by Earthlife, groundWork and South the Durban Community Environmental Alliance also protested on the 25thof July against the New Development Bank, its destructive loans to Transnet and Eskom,and its empty development promises.

Generally, BRICS states restrict citizens' inputs to a rubber stamping form of participatory engagement that is essentially devoid of pro-poor policy outcomes. This form of participation is a form of societal demobilisation that relies on co-opting academics and INGOs to uphold the façade of an ideological alternative that simply doesn't work.

Since the inclusion of Academic and Civil BRICS, the Summit meetings have shown virtually no policy uptake of their recommendations. This is acknowledged by organising INGOs such as Oxfam in publications such as a 2016 report on the first Civil BRICS held in 2015 in Ufa entitled Improving Governance through Engaging with Civil Society.

Over the last few days it has become increasingly clear that the 2018 Summit's emphasis is on growth (note, not collective development) through increased trade, investment and financial co-operation, pursued, once again, mostly bilaterally. There is a heavy emphasis on the New Development Bank as the financial alternative to the World Bank (despite its agreed-upon co-financing, project preparation, even staff-sharing relations, and strong ideational links in terms of development policy strategy).

In this light, it is time for a reality check. The organisers of Academic and Civil BRICS may wish to take cognisance of the quote attributed to Albert Einstein, "insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different outcome".

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's remarks and answers to questions at the Terra Scientia on Klyazma River National Educational Youth Forum, Vladimir Region, July 30, 2018 (Выступление и ответы на вопросы Министра иностранных дел России С.В.Лаврова на Всероссийском молодежном образовательном форуме «Территория смыслов на Клязьме», Владимирская область, 30 июля 2018 года) / Russia, July, 2018
Keywords: sergey_lavrov, speech

Good afternoon,

Honestly, once out of the helicopter and walking along the wooden pathways, it felt nice to be back here again, because this is a very good place, with its special feel, like an answered prayer, and excellent energy, which is certainly a credit to the organisers' good judgement. Thanks to Rosmolodezh and the Vladimir Region and everyone else who helps keep the camp in excellent condition, constantly improving it, and to those who attend sessions at Terra Scientia on Klyazma River.

Once again, I am pleased to talk with people who are interested in foreign policy. We very much appreciate the support shown in society, including by young people, for President Vladimir Putin's foreign policy that we are trying to implement as effectively as possible. This is indeed the root of all the objectives we are pursuing, trying to achieve the most favourable external conditions for the development of our country, for its citizens to live better and feel secure, equal to others when they leave their country and travel the world.

The situation in the world is complicated. I will not elaborate on it in detail here, but if you are interested in politics, you can certainly imagine what is happening.

To put it briefly, the emergence of what we call a polycentric world order is an objective process consisting of the emergence of new centres of economic and financial power, enhancing their political leverage along the way. This is an organic process, as exemplified by the BRICS phenomenon. A BRICS Summit took place in Johannesburg just a few days ago, during which participants adopted a number of documents reaffirming the commitment of all five countries to work on matters that Russia proactively promotes on the international stage, such as asserting the international law, norms, principles and purposes of the UN Charter, including respecting sovereignty, equality of states, resolving disputes and conflicts in an exclusively peaceful way, the unacceptable nature of the use or threat of force bypassing the UN Charter, and many other things too.

Of course, this objective transformation of the global system, as well as the economic and financial landscape, does not make everyone happy. This is quite understandable, since our Western colleagues ruled over the destinies of the world for many centuries. They were the ones who called the tunes, set trends and made rules. Today, they are forced to be more democratic in their actions. This has become an imperative, and they are no longer able to decide on everything single-handedly. This is a painful process. It is obvious that at the end of the day they will understand that they have to make deals, but we are not there yet. So far they hope to be able to work their way back to where they were by inertia, but there is no turning back. This will be a lengthy process. The emergence of polycentric trends gave birth to a new era with the ascendance of China and India, which are now economic powerhouses, and of course Russia, when it stopped being embarrassed by its uniqueness, roots and cultural and civilisational identity. All these processes were met with harsh resentment.

The culture of making deals is substituted by threats, ultimatums and sanctions. This is what we are currently witnessing when it comes to international trade with the de facto trade wars between the US and China, and between the US and the EU. Threats are followed by agreements to launch dialogue and seek compromise, although the situation remains extremely tense not only in terms of international trade, but also in global politics. The culture of dialogue has been somehow relegated to the back burner. When our US colleagues come up with an initiative, and we propose discussing it when it does not suit us, in most cases the US accuses us of standing in the way of progress and preventing complex problems from being resolved, followed by various sanctions against us. This happens all the time.

Let me repeat that the emergence of a polycentric, democratic and a more just world order is inevitable, just as the resistance by old powers to these new trends in global politics. This is life. One thing that brings some comfort in this situation is that the majority is with those who support collective approaches in international affairs. The majority shares our view about the need for mutual respect. No matter how big or small countries are, they must respect each other's interests when dealing with each other. When this vision serves as a foundation for dialogue, we succeed in many ways.

Let me mention Russia's commitment to further strengthening the United Nations and its Security Council as a foundation of a just world order. Essentially, the principles that remain relevant in today's world order were enshrined in the UN Charter back in 1945. During the Cold War these principles were in a dormant state. But today they are still relevant, among other things, for the reasons that I have already mentioned. These principles include the inviolability of sovereign equality among states, the need to avoid interference in domestic affairs, and many other things as well. The UN Charter has taken on a new lease of life and has become much more relevant in everyday undertakings with the emergence of multipolar trends in international affairs.

Russia also supports the OSCE which must return to the principles set out in the Helsinki Final Act and other high-level instruments. They must set the stage for interactions in the Euro-Atlantic region. There are also attempts to revise these principles without any prior arrangements. Ultimatums are used in the Euro-Atlantic, but this does nothing but undermine earlier agreements, as I have already said.

Frameworks such as the CIS, the CSTO and the Eurasian Economic Union make us closer to those who had lived within a single country with Russia for many centuries, who are our brothers and neighbours, and with whom we have so many ties, including in terms of the economy, infrastructure, people-to-people ties, and sometimes even family ties. The so-called post-Soviet space is brought together by so many families.

I have already mentioned the BRICS and the SCO. As President of Russia Vladimir Putin said at his news conference in Johannesburg, instead of having a single leader, these formats consist of devising mutually acceptable agreements and promoting consensus.

To conclude, I would like to mention the Group of Twenty created when the Group of Seven, a club of Western countries, understood that they are unable to resolve global economic and monetary challenges on their own. G20 has been holding summits since 2010, and currently includes the West's G7, as well as all BRICS countries and like-minded countries such as Indonesia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Mexico, who share the same views on international financial and economic relations.

G20 is a very interesting phenomenon designed to promote deals on key economic matters. Since political challenges go hand in hand with economic ones, G20 is likely to become increasingly inclined to deal with them as well. It is not a coincidence that foreign ministers' meetings have been held for three years now alongside top-level meetings and meetings of economy ministers. This is a healthy process. As I have already pointed out, G20 does not have any sophisticated rules or procedures, and adopts decisions by consensus. In order for a resolution to be adopted, everyone has to agree to it. Otherwise, no decision is made. This serves as an incentive for coming up with approaches that suit everyone.

I would like to spend the remaining time in an interactive discussion. I am at your disposal.

Question: Western media outlets, fans and heads of state praised the way Russia organised the 2018 FIFA World Cup. During the Helsinki summit, President of Russia Vladimir Putin gave the tournament's official ball to President of the United States Donald Trump. Did the latest World Cup influence Russia's reputation in the eyes of the West or is it only a temporary thaw with regard to this country?

Sergey Lavrov: You and everyone present here know the answer to that. Everyone who has watched at least one news report on how the fans spent their time also knows the answer. It would be no exaggeration to say that this was a real upsurge in public diplomacy. Hundreds of thousands of foreigners were able to visit Russia and see how the country and its people live. Or they could do the same by watching television. Judging by television programmes, online material and discussions with foreign fans, it was obvious that an overwhelming majority of foreign fans, with some minor exceptions, felt sincerely happy here, and they said they wanted to come back because they had comprehended the exact meaning of the famous hospitality of the people of Russia.

We would like to hold onto this atmosphere, because understandably, the single-month of the World Cup is something still very special. Now that such a major international event has come to a close, there will be no permanent dances, songs and barbecue parties on Moscow's Nikolskaya Street or in any other fan zones. For me, it is absolutely obvious that people who came here were convinced that various stories now being offered to Western audiences and readership are rather far-fetched.

Apart from the World Cup, this also concerns any other matter on Russian territory bugging Western leaders. For example, we hear too many discussions about Crimea. Once again, they should come and see everything with their own eyes. More and more public representatives, journalists and business managers visit Crimea, and they can see that people there live the way they have decided, rather than it happens when someone has annexed or occupied any specific territory. Crimea has been reunited with Russia, and April 19 will now always be celebrated as a day when Russia back in the year 1783 established control over Crimea, the Taman Peninsula and the Kuban (Krasnodar) Territory. This reflects the aspirations of Crimea residents and all Russian citizens.

Question: Russian-Japanese and Russian-Indian youth forums are held every year. Resolutions are drafted based on their results but there is no persistent work between the sessions. Can we, jointly with Rosmolodezh and with the Foreign Ministry's supervisory control, establish Russian committees that will maintain constant cooperation with Japan, India and China?

Sergey Lavrov: Here Rosmolodezh is represented by its head Alexander Bugayev, who works not only at this camp but also in other areas where the youth policy is implemented. The Foreign Ministry of Russia cooperates closely with Rosmolodezh. I will see what the problem is all about, and if there is some bureaucratic hitch that needs to be removed to open the floodgates for direct contacts, then we will do that, of course. But I see no problem as I hear the proposal to somehow energise the work of youth forums from session to session to enable contacts between meetings and the passing of resolutions. If the young people, who really participate in the forums with India, Japan and China, feel a lack of support, I want to understand what exactly the problem is. For example, there is always the problem of funding needed for travel. Here we should simply understand what the case in point is. If your initiative in this and other fields is fettered by some bureaucratic constraints, let us know which specifically these are and we, jointly with Rosmolodezh, will consider everything and cut through the red tape.

Question: How do you see the development of Russian-Ukrainian relations?

Sergey Lavrov: Do you mean relations as a whole?

Question: Yes, trends and prospects.

Sergey Lavrov: We are two fraternal peoples with a thousand-year-long joint history. What is happening now is an anomaly. This is what pertains to doing business in the modern world.

All international legal documents, primarily the UN Charter, call for sovereign equality of states and respect for the right of peoples to choose their future independently without interfering in each other's internal affairs; they stipulate that all problems should be solved solely by peaceful means without the use or threat of force. This is a conceptual approach that implies collectivity and mutually respectful joint work. It also rules out any attempts to achieve certain advantages for oneself at the expense of others.

A case in point is the OSCE and the Russia-NATO Council. At summits, presidents and prime ministers of OSCE countries adopted high-sounding political declarations to the effect that security should be equal and indivisible and that no state should provide for its security at the expense of the security of others. This principle was approved and in effect approximately since 1991, when for the first time in the OSCE's history a group of its member-countries committed an aggression against another OSCE member (I mean former Yugoslavia). We began asking questions as to how all that corresponded to the incantations that our Western colleagues were uttering jointly with us. To overcome this ambiguity, we suggested making the political principle that no one should consolidate his security at the expense of the security of others legally binding and adopting a treaty on Euro-Atlantic security, which would codify the relevant provisions on equal and indivisible security. The NATO members replied that they were prepared to offer legally binding security guarantees only within NATO. Thereby, they have, in effect, stimulated not only the continued existence of divides in Europe but also their progress further East. They were encouraging those thinking how to steer their foreign policy affairs to join the line for NATO membership. This approach is undermining much of what mankind has originally striven for.

I am saying this in application to Ukraine because back in 2004, when the first Maidan occurred, our Western colleagues, at the height of the preparations for the elections and the rallies that accompanied the election period on the Maidan, did not hesitate to publicly shout into the microphone that the Ukrainian people should make a choice about whether it stands with Russia or with Europe. This dilemma in itself is provocative as well as absolutely unacceptable in the modern world.

These rule-of-law zealots had insisted that the outcome of that year's elections should be decided based on a violation of the Ukrainian constitution. You may remember that there were two rounds of voting with the same result, but they made the Constitutional Court of Ukraine rule on a third vote not provided for by the Ukrainian Constitution, which eventually changed the result of the earlier two rounds. This is an outrage upon international and national law.

The either-with-Russia-or-with-Europe logic has not disappeared anywhere and is still in the minds of our Western colleagues, although they have indeed given some thought to the causes of the current developments. Their charges are flatly refusing to implement the Minsk Agreements and even the West's demands that the now Ukrainian authorities put their economy in order, start fighting corruption in earnest and launch the needed reforms, if they want to receive IMF loans.

As President of Russia Vladimir Putin has said on so many occasions, this crisis stems from what happened in the summer of 2013 when the Ukrainian leadership was about to complete its association talks with the EU. Since Ukraine is our closest trade and economic partner, we asked whether Ukraine's Association Agreement with the EU would have any effect on our trade relations with Ukraine. It took some time before they showed us this document, but when they did, it turned out that there were serious problems not only and not so much in terms of Russia-Ukraine trade or economic relations in general, but for the CIS free trade area, which included Russia, Ukraine and a number of other CIS countries. The Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU provided for an introduction of de facto zero tariffs on almost everything, while we had negotiated a number of protective measures with the EU during the exacting WTO accession talks that lasted for 18 years.

We proposed preventing anarchy in this area by sitting down and discussing how to coordinate these zero tariffs so that our market would be protected. The EU undertook to abide by these principles. We agreed that Russia, Ukraine and the EU must sit down and think about ways to harmonise Ukraine's existing commitments within the CIS free trade area with what it was about to undertake with the EU. But the European Commission was categorical and arrogant in its refusal to discuss this.

Former President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych understood that he needed more time to think, since had he signed up to these zero tariffs with the EU, we would have been forced to close down the border with Ukraine in order to work out a way of protecting Russian industries from EU goods as agreed with the EU during WTO accession talks. He did not even cancel the signing, but asked that it be postponed in order to calmly review all these matters. His initiative met with no understanding, causing the outburst of popular anger that we saw on Maidan Square, actively encouraged by the Europeans and of course the US. This is when it all started. When on February 20, former President Viktor Yanukovych signed a deal with opposition leaders, co-signed by Foreign Ministers of Germany, Poland and France, Russia was asked to support this agreement, and so we did.

Russia called for these arrangements to be respected, although under the agreement, former President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych had to resign, de facto agreeing to a snap presidential election to be held no later than autumn 2014. In my opinion, all the prerequisites were put in place for this snap election to bring the opposition to power, in which case everything would have remained unchanged, including gas prices and many other things.

However, a government coup was staged the morning after the signing of this agreement, and our Western colleagues, who acted as guarantors by co-signing the document, remained silent as the grave. And when we shamed them slightly and asked why they had changed their position overnight, what we heard in response was that Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych had left Kiev. Let me say, first of all, that he left for Kharkov, and second, that this had nothing to do with the agreement. According to its first paragraph, the President of Ukraine and the opposition agreed to form a government of national unity as a first step towards overcoming the crisis. But when the armed coup happened, Arseny Yatsenyuk went to the Maidan and congratulated people there on the creation of a "government of victors." Do you see the difference between a "government of national unity" and a "government of victors"?

Moreover, the first law passed by these "victors" (although it was never signed, which did not prevent it from resonating in the country and throughout the whole world) was designed to impose harsh restrictions on the use of the Russian language. This was a signal to Russians and Russian speakers in Ukraine. Just a few days after the government coup, Dmitry Yarosh, who at the time headed the Right Sector, the driving force of the Maidan, said that since Russians were unable to think as Ukrainians or honour Ukrainian heroes such as Roman Shukhevich or Stepan Bandera, they had to be ousted from Crimea. For some reason, no one ever mentions this.

At the time, Dmitry Yarosh was a quite influential nationalist radical leader. It was he who was behind the initiative to send "friendship trains," as they were referred to, to Crimea, carrying well-armed fighters. But people in Crimea did everything to stop these trains. Dmitry Yarosh was also behind the attempt to occupy the building of Ukraine's Supreme Council. That is to say that we know the underpinning of this story all too well.

I am sorry if my answer is taking too long. I could have just said that we want to be friends with Ukrainians, as used to be the case, but understanding how this conflict came about is essential.

Despite all the propaganda efforts in Kiev and Western capitals to persuade ordinary people through television screens, newspapers, the internet and social media that Russia is an aggressor and occupying force, and that Russia will face sanctions until it gives up Crimea, and many other things, I believe that most Ukrainians who are in their right mind understand the absurdity of the ongoing developments and that they run counter to our common historical past. These efforts to deceive the public in the West have been going on for years. I think that the very fact that several million Ukrainians spend their vacations in Crimea every year is one of the best signs that efforts to sow discord between our peoples are doomed to failure. The sooner the Ukrainian people unmask the temporary rulers who illegally seized power in Kiev and are trying to hold on to it and suck all the blood out of the Ukrainian people, the better it will be for Ukrainians and our relations.

Question: The Leninsky Komsomol, Lipetsk Region. We are talking about trust in international relations at the highest level, but today Russia is being surrounded by hostile military bases, missile defence systems are being deployed at our borders, and NATO is moving east. In this regard, how has the Russian President's decision to close our military bases in Cuba and Vietnam affected Russia's security? Do you think it was a correct decision?

Sergey Lavrov: I too was a Komsomol member. I was even the Secretary of the Komsomol Committee at the Foreign Ministry from 1976 to 1980. And this was not an off-duty position, rather an extra load of sorts. In our time, you could not be an off-duty Komsomol Secretary.

With regard to the decisions on military bases in Cuba and Vietnam, they were taken at certain historical periods, based on the analysis by the Russian leadership and the General Staff of the factors affecting the security of the Russian Federation at that time.

Since then, the situation in the world has changed, of course. However, I can assure you, and I know this for certain, that the functions that our bases in Cuba and Vietnam used to perform and that are still relevant today have not been affected. Our fleet can visit Cam Ranh and other locations in this area as well as in other oceans.

Our ability to obtain information on the plans of the US military and the armed forces of other Western countries with regard to Russia is guaranteed. You mentioned missile defence. I believe everyone is aware of President Vladimir Putin's assessment of the situation that has been developing around the ABM Treaty.

In 2002, the United States took a unilateral decision to withdraw from this "cornerstone" agreement, as it used to be called, regarding international stability. We were told that it was not directed against us, and that we could do whatever we thought appropriate in response, and they would not consider it as being directed against them.

At that time, missile defence was justified by the potential threat from Iran and later from North Korea. From the very outset, our military and diplomats tried to demonstrate to our US partners that it was not very convincing, and that in reality the global missile defence system was being created to encircle Russia and then China.

In response, we were told that this was not the case. All our proposals to sit down and develop a common missile defence system for Russia, the US, and Europe, aimed at shielding against missile threats from outside our geographic area, were rejected without any reasonable explanation.

The Iranian nuclear threat was dealt with by the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan, from which the US has recently withdrawn. The Korean nuclear threat has also become less acute in the context of the direct dialogue between US President Donald Trump and Chairman of the DPRK State Council Kim Jong-un, as well as between North Korea and South Korea.

Now, when we ask them whether the time has come to slow down the deployment of the global missile defence system, we are told that the threats might resume. Some of the more honest US politicians openly wonder why slow down if they need to contain China and Russia. In other words, "a guilty mind betrays itself." This is not the first such occasion.

However, I believe the response that has been given by our General Staff and the military-industrial complex, which was unveiled by President Putin during his address to the Federal Assembly on March 1, is more convincing.

It has once again demonstrated that no matter what happens in the world, the security of our state and our people, as well as our sovereignty, will always be protected. This has been repeatedly confirmed by President Vladimir Putin. I would like to assure you that this is based on real and tangible changes in our country and in our army.

Question: The main goal of this session is to identify and determine the trends in the current political landscape, and the decision-making mechanisms. What new effective policy tools are likely to emerge in the near future?

Sergey Lavrov: In my opening remarks, I tried to briefly repeat what we have already spelled out many times, I mean the global trends now occurring, leading to the formation of a multipolar world. In 1996, when Yevgeny Primakov became Minister of Foreign Affairs and for the first time mentioned the possibility of the world becoming multipolar, with several new rapidly developing centres playing an increasingly important role and counterbalancing each other, thereby ensuring the equilibrium of the international system, many smiled sceptically. Yet, that observation was a very far-sighted, like many other things Primakov did.

Now, no one is even questioning what is actually happening in the world economy and finance, or in world politics. Therefore, this trend is positive. It will bring more democracy and justice to international affairs.

By the way, about democracy and the rule of law – when we negotiate resolutions either in the UN, the OSCE or elsewhere, and when our Western colleagues include the 'support of democracy and rule of law in each country' phrase in and out of season, we invariably agree but ask them to add "and in the international arena," so that democracy and the rule of law are stipulated at the international level. They actually try in every way to dodge this – they say, we will do it in countries and then we'll see. It is for a reason that now, if you have noticed, they no longer use the term "international law," but prefer to say "rules-based order," which means an order based on rules. I do not think it is a slip; or rather, it is a Freudian slip, because everyone understands what international law is. It means the UN Charter and the existing treaties signed and ratified. As for an order based on rules, it is not clear who lays down these rules.

Russia is accused of being a "revisionist power" because it is revising an order that suited everyone. No examples are given. Here too, the fact that we defy the West just by pursuing our independent foreign policy, and also try to forcibly hold the countries of the former Soviet Union in the CIS, CSTO, and now the SCO, are being lumped together. They are to a large extent trying to demonise the SCO because it has grown with the addition of new members, India and Pakistan, and has become powerful enough to attract more and more countries. We were also accused, as you know, of killing all civilians in Syria.

The US-led coalition acts in an extremely non-transparent manner there. They try to remain modestly silent about what they did with Raqqa, which is almost razed off the ground and where the corpses of civilians have not yet been removed and huge areas have not been cleared. What about the Skripals case, with the poisoning of everyone and everything, and the interference in elections, etc.? All this, despite the fact that we repeatedly spoke about the need to return to the existing agreement the US decided to ignore – I mean regarding setting up a cybersecurity working group to consider any claims made against one another on matters such as interference in the elections. This is relevant because there is such a thing as international information security. Cyberspace today is used as a sphere for abuse by so many groups, from terrorists to scammers. Recently, Facebook failed to ensure the confidentiality of tens of millions of users. Cambridge Analytics, having access to their data, used them for corrupt purposes related to domestic affairs, including elections. We have long ago proposed the development of United Nations rules on responsible behaviour in cyberspace. As you know, there are still no rules. The country that is hindering that is the USA. This is not surprising, because they have a dominant position with regard to internet governance.

By the way, about the internet – there is a specialised UN agency, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), where a dialogue on the need for democratisation of internet governance has been going on for more than 10 years. I might not even need to say which country stands in the way of an agreement on this matter. In addition to annual resolutions promoting the idea of adopting rules in international information security, this year, the draft convention on the prevention of the use of cyberspace for criminal purposes was introduced. Our colleagues insist that everyone must observe certain rules on which the world is based, avoiding the term "international law." They seem so obsessed with this idea, but at the same time, the absence of rules in cyberspace is obvious, as is Russia's determination to somehow start discussing these rules (in a joint initiative with the SCO and the BRICS) and the blocking of these proposals by the US.

The same goes for a number of other issues discussed at the BRICS summit. One of the topics reflected in the final Declaration is the need to intensify efforts to prevent the deployment of weapons in space. At the end of 2000, Russia and China advanced an initiative at the United Nations Conference on Disarmament – a draft treaty on the non-deployment of weapons in outer space. Emerging countries and Europe are ready to discuss it, but the United States alone keeps objecting to the proposal. Now there are reports that they are planning to allocate funds to the Pentagon for preparations to deploy weapons in outer space. This is another area where there are no rules, and our Western colleagues, primarily Washington, would like to maintain this lack of rules, because it is easier for them to attain their goals this way.

There are many examples. I just mentioned the term revisionism: they are accusing us of revising everything and everyone, but over the past year the main revisionists were the United States. They withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action for the Iranian Nuclear Program, UNESCO and the UN Human Rights Council, which had been established on the basis of proposals from Washington. Previously, there was the UN Commission on Human Rights, and they reorganised it into the UN Human Rights Council. It was reformed on the basis of the proposals of our Western colleagues. The United States has actually revised all the international legal foundations approved by the UN concerning the settlement processes in the Middle East, primarily between the Palestinians and the Israelis, and also questioned the need for the WTO and much more.

I have tried not to repeat myself and have given you some examples that show that the process of a relative reduction in the influence of the West and an increase in the influence of the BRICS and SCO countries provokes resistance from those who are losing their share of leverage. This process will be associated with conflicts and crises, because the growing economies and centres of influence will not tolerate being artificially restricted in their development. They will not agree to the questioning of their right to determine their own paths of development; they will not want their choice of trade partners or goods for sale to be subject to ultimatums and threats, as is now happening to a number of states, Turkey, Indonesia, India, because Washington is openly demanding they terminate contracts under which Russia agreed to supply them with weapons.

The substitution of a culture of ultimatums and threats for the culture of diplomacy, dialogue and the ability to negotiate is sad. It creates unpredictability and additional potential for conflict. However, we are not only polite, but also patient and persevering, so we have many allies. We will advance along a path opened up by history, not invented by someone sitting in an office.

Question: I am delighted to greet you on behalf of the all-Russian public organisation Young Guard of United Russia. Our organisation works vigorously on the international arena, we establish contacts with youth wings of political parties, with public organisations, journalists and bloggers. And this activity is yielding results. For example, a delegation of young deputies from Syria's Baath Party is to attend our forum tomorrow. One can safely say that we and our country have very many friends all over the world. Our organisation is not the only organisation engaged in such activity. In this connection, we would like to suggest that the Foreign Ministry compile a register of public organisations engaged in such activity. The database would list their names and types of activity for conducting consolidated work in this field.

Sergey Lavrov: We are all for public diplomacy, for expanding our contacts with public diplomacy, especially with youth organisations because you are the future. The more closely you cooperate with your peers from other countries, the more stable is our long-term foreign policy. In this respect, I would, of course, like to note the unprecedented success of the 19th World Festival of Youth and Students that took place in October 2017 in Sochi. Indeed, the festival helped bring together and unite young people from a whole range of countries. Regarding your question, I cannot fantasise on it right away. Please write this down, so that we can get a better understanding of the structural and organisational aspects of this project.

Question: What do you think about the role of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and of the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE? Should the Russian Federation take part in the work of such organisations?

Sergey Lavrov: A parliamentary change of government structures in any country is a positive thing. The parliament is a body directly created by the people, and members of parliament have the mandate from their electorate. It should be said – not in parentheses but with an exclamation mark – that it is unacceptable when sanctions are imposed on Russia, including its MPs, because the Crimeans expressed a desire to reunite with Russia and because Russia is protecting people in Donetsk, Lugansk and other Donbass territories from radical nationalists.

We recently had a delegation of American Senators one of whom was on our stop list, yet we showed goodwill and did not prevent him from entering Russia. By the way, he expressed reasonable views, as did the majority of the group, with the exception of one person who raised the issue again upon returning to Washington. I am referring to Senator John Kennedy. He is not related to the famous Kennedy family. He asked me, rather harshly, what we wanted from the United States regarding Syria and Ukraine. I replied that we wanted not only the United States but all the parties involved to comply with the agreements reached. A UN Security Council resolution on Syria says that only the Syrians themselves, which includes their leaders, must determine the future of their country, but this does not suit the West, which is trying to push through a narrow interpretation of this resolution. As for Ukraine, there is a resolution approving the Minsk Package of Measures under which Kiev must settle all its problems and talk directly with Donetsk and Lugansk. This is all we want regarding Syria and Ukraine. Do you know what he said to this? He asked what they would get in return. I replied that in return we would comply with these resolutions just as we are complying with them now.

So, I believe that parliamentary contacts must be encouraged in every possible way. However, we must also beware of attempts to manipulate and abuse parliamentary ties, including within the framework of the parliamentary assemblies you have mentioned. More such attempts will be made, because even though the majority of MPs at the Council of Europe and OCSE are acting reasonably and pragmatically, or at least understand that dealing with problems in our common space is very difficult without Russia, there is an aggressive and Russophobic minority. You probably know which countries such MPs represent. They demand that Russia be antagonised, marginalised and isolated.

There is a difference between the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE (OSCE PA). The OSCE PA is an advisory body that prepares guidelines, like the UN General Assembly. PACE is a body that is based not on political agreements but on international law comprising over 200 conventions. Most of them are applied in Russia, which has signed and ratified them. PACE is part of this mechanism, which underlies the common legal space of all European countries.

When PACE curtailed the rights of the Russian delegation, contrary to the fundamental principle of the Statute of the Council of Europe, which stipulates that all the delegations should have equal rights in all Council bodies, we thought that they would soon come to their senses. We waited for a year, but all in vain. We then said that if they did not want us to take part in the decision-making process, we would suspend our payments. Do you remember the scandal this provoked? But we said, no representation, no payments. The idea was invented by the Americans when they suspended their payments to the UN, even if in a completely different situation because they were not banished from anywhere. While we did not vote and did not take part in PACE work (although an advisory body, it does elect Council of Europe officials), they have elected over half of the judges of the European Court of Human Rights and the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights. Next year, they will elect a new Secretary General of the Council of Europe. If they do this without us, we will find it difficult to base our actions on the legitimacy of agencies created in the absence of the Russian delegates, who have been discriminated against and deprived of their voting rights.

While speaking about the Council of Europe, I must mention the far from positive trends in the operations of the European Court of Human Rights. It constantly tries to make accusations against Russia over developments in territories we do not control, such as Transnistria. Back in the early 2000s, they adopted the so-called "effective control" principle of jurisdiction over a specific territory and a resolution on Russia's alleged control of Transnistria, and now they blame Russia for any human rights violations reported there. It is a bad path that will not bring this body to any good.

The European Court of Human Rights is sometimes overwhelmed by neoliberalism and a fixation on the new liberal values, with which the West has replaced the traditional values that were sealed in universal documents such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I was shocked to learn about a lady in a Ukrainian city who fried eggs over the Eternal Flame in 2010. She was put on probation under an article on the desecration of graves and monuments. She appealed to a higher court, and gradually went higher and higher. When the highest courts in Ukraine upheld the verdict, she took her case to the European Court of Human Rights. Several months ago, the European Court ruled that her rights were violated and that Ukraine must pay several thousand euros to her "in respect of non-pecuniary damage." I consider the logic underlying this judicial system to be outrageous. This is undermining trust in court decisions in general.

Question: As you know, a civil war has been raging for four years nearby – only 200 kilometres from here. I have seen this war. I sometimes travel down there delivering humanitarian aid. I was at the frontline under shelling. I have a question about the Minsk Agreements. They are not being complied with. Shells fly every day. There has not been a single day when this hasn't happened. The OSCE records this, but nothing changes, and civilians and soldiers continue to die. When Ukraine strikes the Donetsk People's Republic, the DPR says it cannot strike in response, thus "turning the other cheek." How can this be resolved?

Sergey Lavrov: You are absolutely right. Kiev shrugs off its obligations. It all began with Ukraine pretending that the Minsk Agreements say nothing about the need to establish a direct dialogue between Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk. The sides started inventing some mediating mechanisms and it was in this way that the Contact Group emerged, which Kiev stubbornly refers to as "trilateral," alleging that it is composed of Kiev, Moscow and the OSCE, although the Contact Group includes a full-fledged fourth party, Donetsk and Lugansk. They are represented there. This is the illusion of an invented world to say, even for presentation purposes, that the Contact Group is "trilateral." This is not positive and shows that their mentality is tuned differently.

I have talked about the basic reasons for this crisis. I think that the European countries that guaranteed with their signatures the agreement between ex- President Viktor Yanukovych of Ukraine and the opposition bear direct responsibility for what is happening now. We have displayed utmost goodwill. Despite the fact that these authorities committed a lot of crimes, in May 2014 we recognised Mr Poroshenko's election as President of Ukraine, because he declared that he was a "president of peace" and expressed willingness to sit down at the negotiating table at once and resolve all the problems. He has deceived us, the West, and, most importantly, the people of his own country. I mentioned the first decisions they passed and how they attempted to seize Crimea after their illegal takeover. But we should also remember that the areas, which are now referred to as "the separate areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions," did not take any aggressive action. They saw a violation of the Constitution and asked to be left alone and given an opportunity to sort things out. This was their position. Yes, they reelected several governors because they had supported the coup. But the same people were branded terrorists, because they had asked to be left alone so they could have time to think and understand what the talking point was. But an antiterrorist operation was announced and they were attacked. It was not them who attacked the authorities and coup perpetrators.

This "life behind the looking-glass" is perceived by our Western colleagues as an argument for taking the position they are taking now. We have talked with them many times in a frank, trusting and open manner. I have the impression that the overwhelming majority of them are well aware of what is happening. And what is happening is that Ukrainian President Petr Poroshenko has been declared a luminary of democracy and his regime – a model, because he is aspiring to modern values and leaning towards the West. The main underlying consideration was, of course, that he would become part of the effort to contain Russia. This is not said out loud but it is implied as one of the main factors in the current developments.

But as they realise that he could not be trusted to follow through on a single point of the Minsk Agreements, they also come to understand that he is unable to control the radical nationalists. Quite recently, five Western international NGO's – Human Rights Watch, Freedom House, Amnesty International, and some others – published an open letter to President Poroshenko, which listed the crimes committed by the radical nationalists in 2018 alone. These include an attack on a women's procession on March 8, a fire they started at a Hungarian centre in Uzhgorod and similar actions in Ivano-Frankovsk, Lvov and other Ukrainian cities. There is no response.

The West has made sure that the so-called "volunteer battalions," including the notorious Azov, to which even the US Congress has banned weapons sales, have not disappeared but have been formally included in the Armed Forces and the National Guard, although in reality they do not obey the central military staff and maybe, on the contrary, set the tone for the military, security and law enforcers in Kiev. Over time, the West has, of course, come to realise that President Poroshenko cannot be trusted even with implementing the reforms urged by the International Monetary Fund. However, once the West has declared that this was a victory of democracy in Ukraine and that it was primarily Russia that must implement the Minsk Agreements, once the West invested so much political capital, let alone money, in the Ukrainian authorities, Western leaders can no longer say without losing face that they were wrong and that pressure must be brought to bear primarily on Kiev. I do not know to what extent this misguided vision of prestige and a fear of losing a reputation will predominate. In my opinion, and based on certain information, when our Western colleagues, or at least the Europeans, talk to Ukraine's current leaders without the media, they are strong enough to elicit a response, but, in a larger scheme of things, we do not see this reaction.

Coming back to the question as to what is to be done, we should demand, no matter how banal it may seem, the implementation of the Minsk Agreements, because they reflect the legitimate aspirations of the people of Donetsk and Lugansk. The Minsk Agreements were coordinated with their cooperation and with France and Germany, which represented the European Union. Moreover, a week after these agreements were signed, we ensured the unanimous approval of the UN Security Council resolution that sealed these Minsk Agreements in full conformity with the letter and spirit of the document they were written in. We should work to achieve this. I have said as much to our colleagues in Europe.

The other day, Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov and I visited Berlin and Paris, among other cities, where we were mostly discussing the Syrian refugees. This is an important topic for the Europeans and Middle East countries. We want to coordinate the principles of cooperation. Ukraine was also discussed. They suggested convening a new summit of the Normandy Four (Germany, France, Russia, Ukraine) that would set the tone in this work and would support the processes, which later would be legalised in the Contact Group that includes representatives from Donbass. We reminded them that a regular summit was held in Berlin in October 2016, and another one in Paris the year before. In Berlin, the leaders of the four countries were following, with pointer in hand, the developments on the map, and they agreed on the need to begin a pull-out of heavy weapons and to disengage forces and assets. They came to terms on starting from three pilot areas – Petrovskoye, Zolotoye, and Stanitsa Luganskaya – and doing it within a month. During this time, forces and assets were withdrawn at the agreed distance from the former two villages. As for Stanitsa Luganskaya, the Ukrainian delegation began demanding a week of complete silence before disengagement could take place. Asked why this was not identified as a demand in the two previous cases, they had no response, just saying that this case was specific and they needed a week.

Since then, the OSCE Mission has officially reported on 22 occasions that the ceasefire was observed for seven or more days at Stanitsa Luganskaya and the surrounding area. But the Ukrainian side said these were not their statistics and that they had counted a couple of shots. I am not exaggerating. The leaders' agreement has not been implemented to this day. Moreover, the forces, that were disengaged awhile back, are reentering these "gray zones" and starting to dig in. I don't think this will be good for the prospects of the Normandy format or its reputation to hold another summit before this simple, concrete, not abstract, agreement of the Normandy Four leaders is fulfilled. I am not even mentioning the fact that in the political area such a simple thing as the well-known "Steinmeier formula" has not even been committed to paper for two and a half years (soon it will be three years).

In October 2015, then German foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, suggested reconciling the positions of the sides on what should come first – the approval of the law on the special status of Donbass and its coming into force or the holding of elections. He suggested a compromise: The law on the special status of Donbass would come into force temporarily on the election day and permanently on the day the OSCE publishes its report on these elections (usually it takes a couple of months to compile). The implication was that this law would come into force on a permanent basis, if the OSCE report confirmed that the elections had been free and fair. But the Ukrainians tried to drag out the implementation of the agreement on this pretext. As I said, soon it will be three years since this agreement, along with the one on Stanitsa Luganskaya, was being blocked by our Ukrainian colleagues both at the Normandy format expert meetings and in the Contact Group. They are categorically refusing to commit it to paper. I will say once again that under these circumstances, we need to just demand. In my view, our Western colleagues are aware of this, at least in their internal discussions and their private contacts with Kiev.

Question: Since 1991, Russia has forgiven debts worth $140 billion. Why does our country remit so much debt? This money could have been used to increase the pensions for our war veterans. We help Greece extinguish fires while they expel our diplomats. Isn't it time we switched to pragmatic and real politics?

Sergey Lavrov: First, regarding 140 billion. You need to remember what the situation was like at the time these debts were calculated: the USSR was not part of the international financial system, the rouble was not integrated into this system and the rouble's exchange rate was simply set by the USSR State Bank. Some may remember that according to that exchange rate the dollar cost 63 kopecks. If you use this exchange rate to calculate the amount of debt the USSR lavishly handed out, primarily, to the countries fighting colonialism to achieve independence – it was largely military aid – of course, the result will be a far cry from reality.

Second, the loans given to those fighting for independence were not, by definition, backed by any international agreements. This was largely money given to non-governmental entities.

Third, as I understand it, a considerable part of this amount constitutes debt owed by former Soviet republics. Russia did repay these debts in keeping with the agreement that was called "zero version." Under this agreement, Russia committed to repay the debts that the former Soviet republics that received independence owed at the time in exchange for all foreign property that the USSR had abroad.

I do not believe the amount inherited from the USSR that you are talking about could have resolved any domestic issues or could have been a significant factor in helping settle them because these debts were, to my understanding, over 90 per cent unrecoverable. There are still some outstanding debts that have remained since Soviet times. Several years ago we forgave some African countries' Soviet-era debts worth several billion dollars that we would never have been able to collect because it is very hard to legally prove what the exchange rate was at the time the loans were given.

As for real politics and the question if it is time we become pragmatic, yes, it is high time. We try to use this approach. That said, along with pragmatism, we have qualities that define our values, such as neighbourliness, striving for justice and commitment to supporting people who are close to us. All this is manifested at the CSTO, among others. Of course, our commitment must be reciprocal and should also oblige our allies at the CSTO to follow suit. I totally agree with you on this.

We have already commented on the situation in Greece. I can repeat that there are no grounds for doubting that these decisions were taken under strong pressure from those who want to make any country a member of the anti-Russian front.

Civil Society Organisations accept proposed BRICS Gender and Women's Forum (Организации гражданского общества принимают предложенный БРИКС Гендерный и Женский форум) / South Africa, July, 2018
Keywords: social_issues
South Africa

Civil society and health sector organisations from South Africa and India recognised the unique opportunity presented by the 10th BRICS Summit and commended South Africa for proposing the creation of a Gender and Women's Forum.

The initiative will go a long way in acknowledging the discrimination that women continue to face and in underlining the urgent need to address it to ensure women's empowerment and participation as equal partners to men, the organisations -- Amnesty International South Africa, Ipas South Africa, Sonke Gender Justice from South Africa and Family Planning Association of India, Foundation for Reproductive Health Services India, Ipas Development Foundation, Pratigya Campaign from India -- said on Tuesday.

"We reassert that women are entitled to the equal enjoyment and protection of all human rights – which includes the right to life; the right to equality; the right to liberty and security of person; the right to equal protection under the law; the right to be free from all forms of discrimination; the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health; the right to just and favourable conditions of work; the right not to be subjected to torture, or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment – and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field," the organisations said.

They said, they reaffirm the commitments that reiterate these freedoms in relevant international declarations, notably the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcome documents of its review conferences, the global call-to-action of the UN Secretary General's High-Level Panel for Women's Economic Empowerment, and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

"We appreciate the BRICS leaders' commitment to the recommendations of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and call upon them to ensure their expeditious implementation," they said.

"We recognise the structural barriers to women's empowerment such as various forms of discrimination in the public and private spheres, gender stereotypes and negative social norms, attitudes and behaviours. We also reiterate the importance of setting concrete qualitative and quantitative targets to eliminate these barriers, and welcome outcomes related to gender equity from a timely realization of these targets."

They underlined and reasserted the importance of ensuring a woman's right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health which can enable her to lead a happy and healthy life and become an equal partner in the advancement of her country.

"We urge the BRICS leaders to acknowledge that today, more than twenty years after the Cairo International Conference on Population and Development, full enjoyment of comprehensive sexual and reproductive health and rights remains but an aspiration for millions of women and girls."

According to World Health Organisation (WHO), each day, around 800 women die giving life; more than 225 million women want to delay or avoid childbearing but are not using modern contraception; and one in three girls in developing countries is married before the age of 18.

BRICS to address high rate of unemployment (БРИКС поборется с высоким уровнем безработицы) / South Africa, July, 2018
Keywords: social_issues
South Africa

Labour Deputy Minister Nkosi Phathekile Holomisa on Monday told the BRICS Labour and Employment Working Group (LEWG) meeting that member states need to strengthen research capacity in matters of labour market governance.

Holomisa was speaking at the opening of the BRICS LEWG meeting currently underway at the Fairmont Zimbali Resort in Ballito, KwaZulu-Natal.

The meeting concludes on Wednesday and will be trailed by the Labour and Employment Ministers' Meeting scheduled for Thursday and Friday.

"We seem to be unable to tame the raging bull, which is unmanageable high levels of unemployment, especially amongst youths.

"This problem seems pervasive in all our countries, which means we have our work cut out for us as labour market practitioners," the Deputy Minister said.

Holomisa reiterated the South African Presidency's desires for the BRICS Labour and Employment Working Group.

First, South Africa would like to see the operationalisation of the BRICS Network of Labour Research Institutes initiative.

This will not only facilitate sharing of information but will also strengthen research capacity in matters of labour market governance.

Secondly, more Labour and Employment track deliberations on common interest beyond statutory meetings.

Holomisa says this "will result in the creation of specialised working groups that will focus on the different areas of labour market governance, such as public employment services and employment generation, labour inspections, collective bargaining and social security".

The last desire, Holomisa said, is the linkage of Labour and Employment track with other work streams such as finance, education, economic development and trade, as well as science, technology and innovation.

"The idea is that we can learn from each other and also assist fellow Member Countries. This is, of course, not a standalone process but will seek to contribute to all our cooperation arrangements at bilateral and multilateral levels," he said.

Holomisa also told the delegates that as developing countries, they still aspire to create a global environment that is capable of facilitating effective participation of all countries so as to ensure all that cooperation amongst states, whether in trade and commerce or politics, is commensurate with the needs of their economic development.

Holomisa urged the delegates to ensure that the work programme to be presented to the Ministers show not only decisiveness but also the team's readiness to deliver concrete results.

"It is, therefore, our goal to see BRICS Member States continuing to advocate for an inclusive global economic system that promotes inclusive growth, integration of developing countries in the global economy and sustainable development," he said. –

BRICS encouraged to explore different platforms (БРИКС предлагает изучить различные платформы) / South Africa, August, 2018
Keywords: social_issues
South Africa

The wealth of experience and expertise in the BRICS countries, gives them an invaluable competitive edge and the much-needed recipe to deal with the global challenges, says Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant.

Addressing the 4th Labour and Employment Ministerial Meeting (LEMM) held at Fairmont Zimbali Resort in KwaDukuza near Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, the Minister encouraged member states to exploit different platforms at their disposal.

"Sharing and exchanging views on regulations and policies to shape our labour markets will provide the necessary impetus towards achieving our stated objectives," said Oliphant.

Oliphant said it is South Africa's ambition to see BRICS Member-Countries lead in championing the global economic system that promotes inclusive growth and sustainable development, as an antidote to eliminate unemployment, poverty and inequality.

She reiterated the BRICS Presidency's identified priorities, being, Youth Employment, Gender, Equal Pay for Work of equal value, Social dialogue, Tripartism, Collective Bargaining and Social Protection as key priority areas going forward.

"We have put forward a three-year Working Implementation Plan for 2019-2021, to guide and ensure that all commitments taken at previous Labour and Employment Ministerial Meetings, are not only implemented, but also provide tangible outcomes for our efforts," she said.

The Minister stressed the link between Labour and Employment track with other BRICS work streams such as finance, education, global economic realities, trade as well as science, technology and innovation.

She told the delegates that "these issues have been incorporated in the Draft Declaration for the Fourth Labour and Employment Ministerial Meeting".

"It is our hope that this will lead to more concrete projects to advance the mandate of the Labour and Employment track," Oliphant said.

The LEMM started on Thursday and conclude today with the signing of the declaration by the ministers.

It was preceded by the Labour and Employment Working Group which started on Monday and concluded yesterday. –

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