Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum

Monitoring of the economic, social and labor situation in the BRICS countries
Issue 04.2023
2023.01.23 — 2023.01.29
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Hopes for a New World Order (Надежды на новый мировой порядок) / India, January, 2023
Keywords: expert_opinion, political_issues

Taken together, the speeches made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar at the Voice of Global South Summit in New Delhi herald a new thinking in foreign policy. India is deftly adjusting itself to the decline of the West and greeting the emerging multipolarity and multilateralism. In the historic transition underway in the world order, India views the Global South as its 'natural constituency.'

The speeches by the PM and the EAM have signalled that India intends to push back western attempts to hijack the G20 summit scheduled to take place in Delhi in September.

The thought processes reflected in the speeches by Modi and Jaishankar are bold and progressive. The main themes can be summarised as follows: India's disquiet over the increasing geopolitical fragmentation of the international landscape and the iniquities of the UN system where 'some powers have been singularly focused on their own advantage'; the urgent need for fundamental reform of major international organisations, especially the Bretton Woods institutions, with focus on giving voice to the concerns of the developing world and 'reflecting the realities of the 21st century'; 'the burdens of a colonial past, even as we face the inequities of the current world order'; 'more multipolarity and reformed multilateralism'; 'greater diversification and localisation of capabilities'; and, the lop-sided composition of the G20 that is weighed against the Global South.

Jaishankar rejected the collective West's destructive attempts to polarise the world order — 'us vs them mindset' — and asserted: "From decolonisation movements to resisting alignment in the face of a deeply polarised world, the Global South has always shown the middle path. The path where diplomacy, dialogue and cooperation take primacy over competition, conflict, and divisions."

Jaishankar said: "Whether it is the impact of the Covid pandemic, climate change, terrorism, ongoing conflicts and debt crises, the search for solutions do not give due weight to the needs and aspirations of the Global South. We therefore want to ensure that India's G-20 Presidency gathers that voice, the perspectives, the priorities of the Global South, and articulates that clearly in its debates."

Such a vision is being expounded from New Delhi after a long time. Since the early 1990s, when Indian diplomacy incrementally began turning its back on the Global South, it preferred to work with the western agenda to reset the norms of global governance. Essentially, the so-called 'Washington consensus' aimed at preserving the domination of the rich western bloc through an ingenious way of coalition-building with a clutch of developing countries that played a subaltern role. The G20 epitomises the paradigm under the rubric of the 'rules-based order.'

In a memorable instance, Barack Obama showered fulsome praise on our then PM at the G20 summit in Toronto in 2010, saying "Whenever the Indian Prime Minister speaks, the whole world listens to him." He knew, we knew and the whole world knew that it was classic 'Obamaspeak,' without any fixed meaning in what he said. But those were heady times soon after the US-India nuclear deal.

Our elites were led to believe that India's interests are best served by acting as a 'bridge.' But it has become crystal clear from Washington's confrontation with Russia (and China) that there is no willingness for a broad-based equitable world order. G7 is once again imposing its diktat — even on the global oil market. Meanwhile, the epochal confrontation in Ukraine exposed that the 'rules-based order' in reality translates as the West's hegemonic position in the world.

Therefore, it came as no surprise when Jaishankar noted in his speech with bitterness and disenchantment that "Those who were promised an interconnected world now actually see a world with higher walls." He was referring to the host of unkept promises by the rich countries, the debris of which is lying all around — the burden of developing climate resilience, industrialisation without carbonising, for instance — "all at the same time, while managing disruptions and uncertainties in global supply chains."

The speeches by the PM and the EAM have signalled that India intends to push back western attempts to hijack the G20 summit scheduled to take place in New Delhi in September. Without doubt, the ideas and proposals expounded by the duo have been noted with all seriousness by the G20 members.

Interestingly, Brazil has asked its partners in the BRICS to delay its presidency in the group from 2024 to 2025. Brazil's Finance Minister Fernando Haddad said last Wednesday, "We have put off our presidency in BRICS so that it doesn't coincide with the G20." The minister added that the purpose of the move is to "do quality work in both cases." Brazil's newly elected socialist president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has said his foreign policy priorities include plans to rekindle integration processes in Latin America and highlight the role of BRICS and the G20.

The bottom line is that most of the ideas that found expression at the Voice of Global South Summit are rooted in the BRICS deliberations. India is circling the wagons to avoid a repetition of the G20 summit at Bali where the western countries acrimoniously demanded that the 'rules-based order' be front-loaded thematically in the deliberations. Surely, the Modi government is going to annoy the 'collective West.' Be prepared for shenanigans from the West's toolbox to superimpose a different backdrop for the September event.

However, these are temper tantrums of despair, as the status quo of the G20 agenda is unsustainable and a new world order is emerging. The latest tidings from the Ukraine conflict are a historic defeat of western hegemony. A fundamentally different international system becomes inevitable. Modi's optimism is well-founded. And it is only appropriate historically, morally, culturally and politically that India positions itself at the vanguard of change.

MK Bhadrakumar is a former Ambassador.

The Tribune India

                Eurasian Economic Commission exploring possibility to hold summit with SCO, BRICS (Евразийская экономическая комиссия изучает возможность проведения саммита с ШОС и БРИКС) / Russia, January, 2023
                Keywords: summit, cooperation, political_issues

                The work with the SCO is underway to complete the approval of the joint plan of action, the Commission said

                MOSCOW, January 24. /TASS/. The Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) is considering the issue of intensifying cooperation with the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) and BRICS, as well as holding a joint summit, according to a statement citing Chairman of the EEC's Board Mikhail Myasnikovich that was posted on the Commission's Telegram channel on Tuesday.

                "We in the EEC have started practically developing the Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko's initiative to intensify cooperation between the EAEU, SCO and BRICS countries and to hold a corresponding summit," Myasnikovich was quoted as saying.

                Moreover, the work with the SCO is underway to complete the approval of the joint plan of action, the Commission said, adding that when drafting the program of the Eurasian Economic Forum, which is scheduled for May 24-25, 2023, it initiated holding a separate session devoted to the EAEU-SCO cooperation.

                Myasnikovich also noted the expediency of South Africa's participation in the forum as a country chairing BRICS this year.

                              BRICS summit to discuss association's currency — Lavrov (Саммит БРИКС обсудит валюту ассоциации — Лавров) / Russia, January, 2023
                              Keywords: sergey_lavrov, economic_challenges, quotation

                              "Serious countries with self-respect understand very well what is at stake. They see the underhandedness of the masters of the current international monetary system and want to create their mechanisms to ensure sustainability that would be protected from the external directive," the foreign minister stressed

                              LUANDA, January 25. /TASS/. The topic of creating a BRICS currency will be discussed at the summit of the association in late August, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters after talks with President of Angola Joao Lourenco.

                              "Exactly in this direction initiatives are coming, stated just recently, about the need to think about creating internal currencies within the framework of BRICS, the framework of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean states. This will certainly be discussed at the BRICS summit, which will be held in the Republic of South Africa in late August and where a group of African nations will be invited, including, as I understand, President Lourenco," the Russian top diplomat said.

                              "Serious countries with self-respect understand very well what is at stake," Lavrov noted. "They see the underhandedness of the masters of the current international monetary system and want to create their mechanisms to ensure sustainability that would be protected from the external directive," he added.
                              Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's comment for the media following a meeting with President of the Republic of Angola Joao Lourenco, Luanda, January 25, 2023 (Комментарий Министра иностранных дел России С.В.Лаврова для представителей СМИ по итогам встречи с Президентом Республики Ангола Жоао Лоуренсу, Луанда, 25 января 2023 г.) / Russia, January, 2023
                              Keywords: sergey_lavrov, quotation

                              I had a long and fulfilling meeting with the President of Angola, Joao Lourenco, where we engaged in an in-depth discussion of our relations.

                              We share a mutual and firm commitment to expanding them in all areas. We will do this despite the illegal pressure coming from the United States and its allies. Our immediate goal is to prepare a meeting of the Intergovernmental Commission on Economic, and Scientific-Technical Cooperation and Trade. We outlined steps to advance our strategic partnership across all areas.

                              We discussed at length the international situation in the context of the West's course on using Ukraine to promote Nazism in theory and in practice and to wage a hybrid war against our country. We shared our assessments that are based on our contacts with other countries and they confirmed the unprecedented pressure exerted by the Western countries on the developing economies of Asia, Africa and Latin America. President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly pointed out that the West is using the same colonial methods it used before to exploit the developing continents and continues to use them in order to plunder other countries and to use resources of global importance for its own gain. The West's actions prove that it can trample over the values and the globalisation mechanisms that it created and promoted, including inviolability of property, fair competition, or the presumption of innocence at any time, and can betray its allies at any time as well. This can be seen in the practice of the fairly recent events in Afghanistan, Iraq and the 2011 Arab Spring.

                              Serious countries that have respect for themselves are well aware of what is at stake and clearly see the inability of the "owners" of the current international monetary and financial system to negotiate and want to create their own mechanisms for ensuring sustainable development that is protected against outside dictate. The initiatives that have been voiced recently, literally just the other day, focus on the need to think about creating separate currencies within BRICS and the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. Without a doubt, this issue will be discussed at the BRICS summit to be held in South Africa in late August 2023. A group of African countries, including President of Angola Joao Lourenco, are invited to take part in this.

                                            Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's remarks and answers to media questions at a joint news conference with Foreign Minister of the State of Eritrea Osman Saleh, Massawa, January 26, 2023 (Выступление и ответы на вопросы СМИ Министра иностранных дел Российской Федерации С.В.Лаврова в ходе совместной пресс-конференции с Министром иностранных дел Государства Эритрея О.Салехом, Массауа, 26 января 2023 года) / Russia, January, 2023
                                            Keywords: sergey_lavrov, quotation

                                            Question: The world is currently moving from unipolarity to multi-polarity. What role do you foresee for Africa?

                                            Sergey Lavrov: The establishment of a multi-polar world is an objective and unstoppable process. The collective West – the United States, NATO and the EU, which are fully controlled by Washington – are trying to reverse this process. But these efforts are futile. The closest thing they can count on is a slight slowdown of the objective course of history.

                                            We can see that the North Atlantic Alliance is raising claims not only against its former territory of responsibility but extends them to the entire Asia-Pacific Region. We know that American, British and other European delegations regularly visit Africa and demand, with a stubbornness that should be applied elsewhere, that African countries refrain from cooperation with the Russian delegation and stay within the boundaries of common discipline, which the West essentially sees as restoring colonial dependence in a new form.

                                            No visits to deliver mentor advice nor the hybrid wars of the West (including in Ukraine) can stop the development of new centres of economic power, financial and political influence. Countries like China and India are already ahead of the United States and EU members in many respects. Türkiye, Egypt, countries of the Persian Gulf, Brazil and other Latin American countries are emerging as influential and self-sufficient centres. They are the future centres of multi-polarity.

                                            Africa is one of the most serious centres with colossal potential. It is an extremely affluent continent, including when it comes to natural resources, which have been exploited for many centuries. The West wishes it could continue this exploitative policy in Africa. As far as I understand, the President of Angola proposed convening a summit of the African Union to determine Africa's place in the emerging world order, primarily in the context of economic development.

                                            We observe similar tendencies in Latin America, where the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, in view of its resumed work and Brazil's full-fledged participation, considers developing its own mechanisms of monetary relations (even a common currency). The main goal is to protect themselves from the West-controlled chains and mechanisms that have demonstrated their unreliability.

                                            Strengthening regional identity in the developing regions of the world does not mean that multi-polarity is not happening in a global dimension. BRICS is a manifestation of global multi-polarity. This organisation unites five countries, with more than 12 others showing an interest in joining it. Developing links between BRICS and other countries will be a central topic at the upcoming summit of the five which is to take place in August in Durban, South Africa. The clock of multi-polar history is ticking in the right direction.

                                                          Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's statement and answers to media questions at a joint news conference with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Kingdom of Eswatini Thuli Dladla following talks, Mbabane, January 24, 2023 (Заявление Министра иностранных дел С.В.Лаврова и ответы на вопросы СМИ на совместной пресс-конференции с Министром иностранных дел и международного сотрудничества Королевства Эсватини Тули Дладла по итогам переговоров, Мбабане, 24 января 2023 г.) / Russia, January, 2023
                                                          Keywords: sergey_lavrov, quotation

                                                          Question: Much is being said today about the growing role of the association such as BRICS. According to reports, it might have 13 new members. Can you describe the global role of this association in the future? Will we see African countries in it? Did you discuss this issue with your Eswatini colleagues? Are they interested in joining it, possibly in the long term?

                                                          Sergey Lavrov: The leaders of the group's five countries have more than once spoken about the BRICS' global perspective. In particular, our South African colleague, Naledi Pandor, addressed the issue in detail at the news conference in Pretoria yesterday.

                                                          BRICS is an association of a new type, where relations are not based on the master-slave principle. It is not an organisation where everyone falls in line on orders from above, as we see happening in NATO.

                                                          This organisation is based on the principle of consensus, which is different from the consensus used in NATO and the EU. If a BRICS country has doubts about a proposal, it will not be accepted, and the group will continue working towards a mutually acceptable and mutually beneficial solution. Some NATO and EU countries expressed dissenting opinions over the past year, namely regarding the situation in Ukraine and the unprecedented [anti-Russia] sanctions. In those cases, the principle of consensus was used to put down these individual arguments and to force everyone to support the position which the big brother regards as correct.

                                                          We never proposed ideas at BRICS such as the one voiced during the latest NATO summit held in Madrid in July 2022, that the alliance must assume global security responsibilities, in particular in the Indo-Pacific Region and throughout the world. BRICS has never had such arrogant ambitions.

                                                          Our work is based on combining the legitimate and natural interests of the member states. We have a common view on the serious damage the Western policy is doing to the global economy, globalisation and global finance. BRICS is not planning to shut the door to the rest of the world. On the contrary, we would like to cooperate with all countries as much as possible, equally and based on the balance of interests.

                                                          For the sake of our people and economic development, we must coordinate our actions to protect our interests from domination by the mechanisms the West created within the framework of its globalisation model, which it is flagrantly taking advantage of now. I am referring above all to the role of the dollar.

                                                          The group's countries are increasingly using their national currencies in mutual trade and settlements with other countries

                                                          The BRICS countries have proposed the idea of creating a common monetary unit. The reason for this is simple: we cannot rely on the mechanisms that are operated by those who can deceive you at any moment, going back on their obligations for attaining short-term political goals, both in foreign policy and in domestic processes.

                                                          The BRICS countries' approach to global affairs is winning the sympathy of more and more countries across the world, including in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

                                                          On June 23, 2022, the group held an online summit in the BRICS Plus and BRICS Outreach formats. The 13 countries that attended it are interested in rapprochement with the group, to one degree or another.

                                                          President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa told me during our meeting yesterday that South Africa, which holds the rotating presidency of BRICS this year, is planning to invite a certain number of countries to the Durban summit in August.

                                                          Many countries that are cooperating with BRICS have expressed a desire to formalise our relations. Our experts are preparing a proposal on this issue for the ministers. When the heads of state meet in Durban, we will report to them on the countries with which we recommend developing deeper relations and on the forms of doing this.

                                                                        Investment and Finance
                                                                        Investment and finance in BRICS
                                                                        Russia expects cooperation with South Africa to develop on basis of national currencies (Россия рассчитывает, что сотрудничество с ЮАР будет развиваться на основе национальных валют) / Russia, January, 2023
                                                                        Keywords: economic_challenges

                                                                        It is possible to use the rand in payments between the countries, "since it is the currency of not only South Africa, but the whole of Southern Africa and SADC member states," Oleg Ozerov said

                                                                        MOSCOW, January 25. /TASS/. Moscow expects cooperation with Pretoria to develop not on the basis of payments in dollars, but on the basis of national currencies, Ambassador at Large, Head of the Russia-Africa Partnership Forum Secretariat Oleg Ozerov said at the Valdai Discussion Club when speaking about the relations between Russia and South Africa.

                                                                        "We know for sure that our cooperation will not be through dollars. Other prospects are opening though. This is, first of all, cooperation in national currencies. We can work in national currencies that are not under sanctions. Consequently, this means using the Russian national currency. We should be moving in this direction with more confidence, demonstrating opportunities for our partners to use our national currency," he said.

                                                                        It is possible to use the rand in payments between the countries, "since it is the currency of not only South Africa, but the whole of Southern Africa and SADC (South African Development Community - TASS) member states," the diplomat said, adding that the yuan is another option.

                                                                        Moreover, Russia will find solutions to prior issues that will allow fully restarting cooperation with South Africa, he noted. "The creation of a common BRICS currency is a long-running process, though we need quick solutions that will already allow us to restart trade with South Africa, as well as creating and financing joint projects. Those solutions are actively being searched for now," Ozerov said.
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