Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum

Monitoring of the economic, social and labor situation in the BRICS countries
Issue 15.2023
2023.04.10 — 2023.04.16
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
BRICS' Contribution to Sustainable Development Goals (Вклад БРИКС в Цели устойчивого развития) / Russia, April, 2023
Keywords: sustainable_development

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

The BRICS countries, accounting for over 40% of the world's population, have made significant progress in the last few years towards sustainable development. Sustainable development is the key to the long-term prosperity of these nations, and it is essential for them to work together to achieve their goals. According to the United Nations, sustainable development is "development that satisfies present needs while still preserving the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." This means that economic development must be balanced with social and environmental considerations. This article reviews BRICS' approach to cooperation on renewable energy, as well as the results of these actions.

Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa have a shared vision of sustainable development that prioritizes economic growth, social development, and environmental sustainability. We should note that this vision is based on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which were adopted in 2015 and provide a framework for global sustainable development efforts. The BRICS nations have recognized the importance of international cooperation in achieving their sustainable development goals. They have committed to pursuing it in a way that is inclusive, equitable, and environmentally responsible.

The BRICS states have several key priorities where sustainable development plays a role. First, the promotion of sustainable and inclusive economic growth. They recognize that economic growth is essential for poverty reduction and improving living standards, but that it must be achieved in a way that is socially and environmentally responsible. They are committed to promoting sustainable industrialization, investment in infrastructure, and the development of the digital economy. Second, environmental sustainability. BRICS nations observe the urgent need to address climate change and protect the environment, and are committed to promoting renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, and biodiversity conservation. Third, promotion of social development and reduction of inequality. They are committed to promoting gender equality and empowering women, recognizing that gender inequality is a barrier to sustainable development.

In order to demonstrate how the BRICS countries see sustainable development, we provide the following statistics. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the combined GDP of BRICS nations was $18.5 trillion in 2020, representing 23% of global GDP. In case of renewable energy in 2020, the BRICS nations accounted for 41% of global renewable energy capacity, with China leading the way with 792 GW of installed capacity. Last few years, the BRICS nations have made significant strides in reducing their carbon emissions in recent years. China, for example, reduced its carbon intensity (the amount of carbon emitted per unit of GDP) by 48.4% from 2005 to 2020, while India reduced its carbon intensity by 21.4% over the same period. Moreover, states are making significant strides in promoting sustainable urbanization, with China, for example, investing $200 billion in green infrastructure as part of its post-pandemic recovery plan.

One of the key areas where the BRICS nations have made significant progress in sustainable development is renewable energy. In 2019, China, Brazil, and India were among the top five countries in the world in terms of renewable energy capacity installed. China alone accounted for 30% of the global capacity installed, with India and Brazil contributing 10% and 5%, respectively. "All the BRICS countries are emerging economies facing carbon reduction challenges and there is great scope for energy cooperation, especially in renewable energy," mentioned Luo Zuoxian of the Sinopec Economics and Development Research Institute.

Another area where the BRICS nations are making significant progress in sustainable development is in reducing their carbon emissions. China, the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, has set a target of peaking its emissions by 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality by 2060. Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa are also taking steps to reduce their carbon emissions and increase their use of renewable energy sources. Moreover, the BRICS nations are also making progress in sustainable urbanization. China, for example, has implemented a number of policies to promote sustainable urban development, including the construction of green buildings and the development of public transportation systems. India is also making progress in this area, with the government's Smart Cities Mission aimed at promoting sustainable urban development.

Based on the key areas of development, the participating countries hold regular events related to sustainable development in the BRICS countries. For example, BRICS in 2021 launched the BRICS Green Fund, a joint initiative to finance green projects and promote sustainable development. The fund will focus on financing renewable energy, energy efficiency, and other environmentally sustainable projects in the BRICS nations. In this year India also initiated the National Hydrogen Energy Mission, a scheme that promotes the exploitation of hydrogen as an environment-friendly energy source. The next important step is South Africa's Renewable Energy Program, which has attracted significant investment from international companies, and has helped to reduce South Africa's dependence on fossil fuels. In 2021, China launched its national carbon trading system, the largest in the world. The system aims to reduce carbon emissions by incentivizing companies to reduce their carbon footprint. Consequently, these initiatives demonstrate that the BRICS nations are taking concrete steps to promote economic growth, social development, and environmental sustainability.

Russia's contribution to BRICS sustainable development cannot be ignored. Russia is an active participant and here are some examples of Russia's input. The country has significant potential for renewable energy, particularly in wind and solar power. So, Russia has set a target of increasing the share of renewable energy in its total energy mix to 4.5% by 2024. Russia has also initiated several projects to promote the development of renewable energy, such as the construction of wind and solar power plants in various regions. As one of the world's largest wheat producers, and has implemented several programmes to promote sustainable agriculture practices. With regard to climate change mitigation Russia has taken steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, especially in the energy sector. The country has implemented several energy efficiency programmes and set emission reduction targets in various sectors. Russia has also ratified the Paris Agreement on climate change and has pledged to reduce emissions by 30% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. Overall, member is making significant efforts to promote sustainable development in the BRICS nations.

The prospects for sustainable development in the BRICS nations are highly promising and reflect the ambitious goals of the group. The adoption of renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, is a key aspect of the BRICS nations' sustainable development strategy. Moreover, the BRICS nations are among the largest agricultural producers in the world, which makes the promotion of sustainable agriculture practices essential to reduce environmental impacts, improve food security, and increase farmer incomes. Many experts have broad agreement that the BRICS nations have an important role to play in promoting sustainable development and shaping the global sustainability agenda.

However, despite the many benefits of sustainable development, there are still several challenges that the BRICS nations must address. Social inequality, environmental degradation, and climate change are critical issues that require a concerted effort and cooperation among these nations. Thus, cooperation among the BRICS nations holds great promise for addressing the challenges and realizing the opportunities of sustainable development. By working together, the BRICS nations can create a sustainable future for their citizens and for the planet as a whole.

                Lavrov stresses need for BRICS to resist West's destructive policies (Лавров подчеркнул необходимость противодействия БРИКС деструктивной политике Запада) / Russia, April, 2023
                Keywords: quotation, sergey_lavrov

                "Lavrov stressed the need for joint efforts to counter destructive actions aimed at destroying the established security architecture, being undertaken in line with the Western countries' neo-colonial policies," the Foreign Ministry said

                MOSCOW, April 10. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at a meeting with ambassadors from the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) in Moscow stressed the need for joint efforts to counter the West's destructive actions aimed at ruining the security architecture, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Monday.

                "Lavrov stressed the need for joint efforts to counter destructive actions aimed at destroying the established security architecture, being undertaken in line with the Western countries' neo-colonial policies," the Foreign Ministry said after the meeting.

                According to the statement, the development and strengthening of strategic partnership within the framework of BRICS, in particular, the priorities outlined by the South African presidency, were also discussed at the meeting.

                "There was a general focus on increasing the international role of BRICS and enhancing coordination on key multilateral platforms. Current issues on the global agenda were examined with an emphasis on the inadmissibility of eroding the central role of the United Nations," the statement reads.

                The parties reaffirmed their commitment to a multipolar world order, based on respect for international law and the sovereign choice of one's own path of development.

                "The growing interest was noted of a wide range of countries in cooperation with BRICS, which is now seen as the safeguard of true multilateralism," the Russian Foreign Ministry pointed out.

                In addition, Lavrov briefed the ambassadors on the main provisions of Russia's new Foreign Policy Concept, which reflects a vision of a multipolar world order as well as interest in expanding interaction within BRICS.
                              Putin unlikely to face arrest on SA soil, experts conclude (Путину вряд ли грозит арест на территории ЮАР, заключают эксперты) / South Africa, April, 2023
                              Keywords: summit, vladimir_putin, political_issues
                              South Africa

                              Durban - Experts in international relations and law believe it is unlikely that Russian President Vladimir Putin will face arrest when he travels to Durban later this year to attend the 15th BRICS summit.

                              The International Criminal Court (ICC), of which South Africa is a full member, issued a warrant of arrest against Putin and urged the 123 countries who are signatories to the Rome Statute to arrest him. This is for alleged war crimes related to the abduction of children from Ukraine.

                              While South Africa has said it was waiting for a legal opinion on the ICC arrest warrant, International Relations and Co-operation Minister Naledi Pandor, speaking at a joint economic co-operation meeting with Russia last month, said no one could tell South Africa to dump Russia.

                              Unisa Professor Emeritus of International Law André Thomashausen said the correct interpretation of the Rome Statute must consider its failure to win the consent and support of the most powerful nations, including the US, China, Russia, India and Israel.

                              "In view of its lack of universal adherence, the Rome Statute did not change the rules of customary international law, established since the days of the Roman Empire, to grant absolute sovereign immunity to any sitting head of state. The foundation of this rule is simply that all states must enjoy equal sovereignty. No state can claim to be entitled to rule over another state.

                              "S 4(1)(a) of the South African Diplomatic Immunities and Privileges Act 37 of 2001 (DIPAipa) explicitly recognises the law in point. It states: '(1) A head of state is immune from the criminal and civil jurisdiction of the courts of the Republic, and enjoys such privileges as (a) heads of state enjoy in accordance with the rules of customary international law' … "

                              Thomashausen said the powers of ICC to arrest and prosecute cannot be applied to heads of state of those major nations that have not adhered to the Rome Statute.

                              "More importantly, signatories of the Rome Statute, like South Africa, cannot apply ICC warrants against heads of state of non-signatories because the non-signatory states never waived their absolute rights of sovereign immunity and equal sovereignty."

                              He said the SA Supreme Court of Appeal in its "Bashir judgment" of 2016 "took another view and without compelling arguments, the court reasoned that because the Security Council of the UN had requested the ICC to prosecute Sudan's President Bashir, by implication the Security Council would have 'cancelled Bashir's immunity'.

                              "However capricious, this reasoning could not be applied to the most recent target of the ICC, Putin. Unlike the Bashir case, Putin's arrest was not requested by the UN Security Council but determined by the ICC on its own initiative," he said.

                              However, "the ICC on its own does not have the authority to lift the sovereign immunity of a sitting head of state of a non-member state of the Rome Statute," Thomashausen said.

                              He said this would not prevent litigants from enlisting the help of judges to enforce the ICC warrant against Putin, despite assurances from the South African government.

                              He said one option was to hold the BRICS summit in another BRICS member state. Alternatively, South Africa could withdraw from the Rome Statute as resolved by the ANC national conference in 2017.

                              Dr Noluthando Phungula, from the Institute for Pan African Thought and Conversation at the University of Johannesburg (UJ), said the decision to issue an arrest warrant for Putin had cast a spotlight on the legitimacy of the ICC.

                              "As at 2018, 48% of the ICC's investigations have been alleged serious crimes by Africans. The numbers suggest that the court's focus is rather disproportional, with a focus on the African continent."

                              She said the prosecution of international crimes has "obviously been directed at easy targets in non-Western regions, while the atrocities committed by the main imperialist powers remain unattended".

                              "For South Africa, it is important to consider whether it is being used as a puppet," said Phungula.

                              Dr David Monyae, director for the Centre for Africa-China Studies at UJ, said South Africa did not have the capacity to arrest Putin.

                              Monyae said South Africa could explore options, one of which would be to convince Russia to send Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to the BRICS summit instead of Putin, as was done at the G20 summit in India last month.

                              "Another option is to hold the BRICS summit virtually."
                                            Putin visit still under discussion ahead of BRICS summit (Визит Путина все еще обсуждается в преддверии саммита БРИКС) / South Africa, April, 2023
                                            Keywords: summit, vladimir_putin, political_issues
                                            South Africa

                                            President Cyril Ramaphosa is still involved in processes to ensure that the issue of Russian leader Vladimir Putin is handled properly ahead of the BRICS summit in August.

                                            The International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Putin over the conflict in Ukraine.

                                            But the presidency said on Wednesday this matter was still part of engagements before the summit in Durban.

                                            Ramaphosa's spokesperson Vincent Magwenya also denied that the president has sent Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Alvin Botes to the US to discuss the Putin visit.

                                            He said the visit was part of regular contacts with the US or any other country. South Africa has trade, diplomatic and other relations with the US.
                                            South Africa is also part of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which has been in operation for a number of years.

                                            Magwenya said the visit by Botes or any South African official cannot be attributed to the issue of the Russian president's invitation to the summit.

                                            He said Ramaphosa had told US President Joe Biden last year that South Africa wants a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

                                            This is the position that the country has maintained since the conflict began in February last year.

                                            Magwenya said Ramaphosa has been consistent in his message to all sides of the conflict that only through negotiations can the conflict be resolved.

                                            He said as president of Russia, Putin was expected to attend the summit, but the ICC warrant has necessitated engagements.

                                            "With respect to the invitation to President Putin, it's a BRICS summit that involves heads of state. Naturally, all heads of state will be expected to attend the summit. But now we have a spanner in the works in the form of this ICC warrant. What that dictates is that there will be further engagements in terms of how that is going to be managed and those engagements are under way and once they have been concluded, the necessary announcements will be made. I don't want to pre-empt the outcome of those engagements," said Magwenya.

                                            He said it has been Ramaphosa's position that the issue of Ukraine should be resolved around the table.

                                            He said Ramaphosa had a discussion with the president of Brazil, Lula da Silva, on this issue as well.

                                            Ramaphosa's plot to kill the ANC continues. Sisulu is a case in point to erase the history of the ANC
                                            The matter of the Ukraine-Russia conflict was also discussed during the state visit of President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda because of the impact it has.

                                            It was also discussed when the President of Tanzania, Samia Suluhu Hassan was here during a recent state visit.

                                            The African Union has been discussing the matter because of the impact on the continent, said Magwenya.
                                                          China, Brazil pledge better future for ties as Xi Jinping meets Lula (Китай и Бразилия обещают лучшее будущее для отношений после встречи Си Цзиньпина с Лулой) / China, April, 2023
                                                          Keywords: cooperation

                                                          "Friendship is like a bottle of wine, the older, the better." Quoting the Brazilian proverb, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva hailed the relationship between China and Brazil as "extraordinary" in Shanghai, the first leg of his four-day state visit to China.

                                                          The Brazilian president's assessment of the bilateral relations was echoed by President Xi Jinping, who addressed Lula as "an old friend" during their face-to-face talks on Friday in Beijing.

                                                          China will pursue high-quality development, accelerate the creation of a new development paradigm and promote high-standard opening-up, which will unlock new opportunities for Brazil and countries around the world, Xi said.

                                                          As comprehensive strategic partners, China and Brazil share extensive interests, he said, underscoring the importance of the bilateral ties' overall picture and their strategic and global significance.

                                                          Xi added, a China-Brazil relationship that continues to enjoy a sound and steady growth is bound to play an important and positive role in peace, stability and prosperity in their regions and beyond.

                                                          China always views and develops relations with Brazil from a strategic and long-term perspective, and regards the relationship as a high priority on its diplomatic agenda, Xi told Lula during Friday's talks.

                                                          He encouraged both sides to increase cooperation and push forward major projects, and expressed China's willingness to explore greater synergy between its Belt and Road Initiative and Brazil's re-industrialization strategy.

                                                          China has been Brazil's biggest trading partner for 14 consecutive years. In 2022, two-way trade totaled $171.49 billion, up 4.9 percent year-on-year, according to the General Administration of Customs of China.

                                                          As their economic relationship grows, both countries have decided to trade in their own currencies, ditching the U.S. dollar as an intermediary. The Chinese currency, the renminbi, has surpassed the euro to become the country's second-largest international reserve currency, the Central Bank of Brazil announced at the end of March.

                                                          Lula told the Chinese president that Brazil hopes to expand cooperation with China in 5G communications technology, and welcomes Chinese investment in the country to help it secure a digital transformation and low-carbon development.

                                                          He visited the R&D center of Huawei, the Chinese tech giant that has been put under restrictions by the U.S. government citing national security threats, on Thursday in Shanghai, where he arrived with a delegation of more than 200 business people across 140 industries, dubbed as "epic" by Chinese social media users.

                                                          A deepened cooperation between the two countries will contribute to Brazil's re-industrialization and poverty relief efforts, said Lula.

                                                          Xi expressed his readiness to work with Lula from their strategic vantage point to steer and create a new future for China-Brazil relations in the new era, and to deliver greater benefits to the two peoples.

                                                          After the talks, the two heads of state witnessed the signing of a wide range of bilateral cooperation documents, such as in trade, investment, digital economy, science and technology innovation, information and communications, poverty reduction, quarantine and aerospace.

                                                          The two sides also issued a joint statement to deepen the China-Brazil comprehensive strategic partnership.

                                                          Lula's visit to China, his first trip to a country outside Latin America since he took office in January, comes amid geopolitical changes.

                                                          In the face of global changes of a magnitude unseen in a century, China and Brazil, the two biggest developing countries and emerging markets in the Eastern and Western hemispheres, should "stand on the right side of history" and "practice true multilateralism," said Xi.

                                                          China is willing to strengthen strategic collaboration with Brazil on global issues of common concern within the multilateral frameworks of the United Nations, BRICS and the Group of 20, and to enhance coordination and cooperation on climate change, he added.

                                                          Together with Russia, India and South Africa, China and Brazil formed BRICS, an emerging-market group that now contributes 31.5 percent of global GDP, according to one estimate.

                                                          Attending the inauguration ceremony of the new president of the BRICS-founded New Development Bank on Thursday, Lula said the bank is the product of a partnership among BRICS countries with a view to creating a world with less poverty, less inequality and more sustainability.

                                                          During Friday's talks, he said that Brazil is ready to work with China to promote developing countries to get rid of "the shackles of unfair rules" and achieve more fair and balanced development.

                                                          The two leaders also exchanged views on the Ukraine crisis, with both agreeing that dialogue and negotiation are the only feasible way for settling it and that all efforts that are conducive to its peaceful resolution should be encouraged and supported.
                                                                        A new world order? BRICS nations offer alternative to West (Новый мировой порядок? Страны БРИКС предлагают альтернативу Западу) / Brazil, April, 2023
                                                                        Keywords: expert_opinion, global_governance

                                                                        Predictions about the BRICS countries as the fastest growing economies haven't quite panned out. Instead, the alliance is now offering a diplomatic forum and development financing, outside of the Western mainstream.

                                                                        The acronym began as a somewhat optimistic term to describe what were the world's fastest-growing economies at the time. But now the BRICS nations — Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa — are setting themselves up as an alternative to existing international financial and political forums.

                                                                        "The founding myth of the emerging economies has faded," confirmed Günther Maihold, deputy director of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, or SWP. "The BRICS countries are experiencing their geopolitical moment."

                                                                        Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa are trying to position themselves as representatives of the Global South, providing "an alternative model to the G7."

                                                                        The G7 is an "informal forum" of heads of state of the world's most advanced economies, founded in 1975. Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Japan, Canada and the US are members, as is the EU.

                                                                        Economic growth in China has outpaced that of other BRICS nationsImage: Hector Raramal/AFP The acronym BRIC, which initially stood for Brazil, Russia, India and China, was coined by Jim O'Neill in 2001 when he was chief economist of the multinational investment bank, Goldman Sachs. At the time, the four countries had sustained rates of high economic growth and the BRIC label stood for economic optimism about the future of those nations. Opponents of the label said the countries were too diverse to be grouped together like this and that it was really just a Goldman Sachs marketing ploy.

                                                                        But what may have started as a marketing ploy to encourage investors has grown into a platform for intergovernmental cooperation similar to the G7. In 2009, the four nations met for their first summit in Russia's Yekaterinburg. In 2010, South Africa was invited to join the group, adding the "S" to BRICS.

                                                                        Challenging the World Bank model

                                                                        In 2014, with $50 billion (around €46 billion) in seed money, the BRICS nations launched the New Development Bank as an alternative to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. In addition, they created a liquidity mechanism called the Contingent Reserve Arrangement to support members struggling with payments.

                                                                        These offers were not only attractive to the BRICS nations themselves, but also to many other developing and emerging economies that had had painful experiences with the IMF's structural adjustment programs and austerity measures. This is why many countries said they might be interested in joining the BRICS group.

                                                                        The headquarters of the BRICS-founded New Development Bank is in ShanghaiImage: Wang Gang/Costfoto/picture alliance The BRICS bank is open to new members. In 2021, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Uruguay and Bangladesh took up shares. However, these were much lower than the respective $10 billion investments made by the bank's founding members.

                                                                        Set to expand

                                                                        South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor has said worldwide interest in the BRICS group was "huge." In early March, she told television interviewers that she had 12 letters from interested countries on her desk.

                                                                        "Saudi Arabia is one," she said. "United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Algeria, and Argentina," as well as Mexico and Nigeria.

                                                                        "Once we've shaped the criteria [for lending], we will then make the decision," she said, noting that the topic would be placed on the agenda for the upcoming August summit in South Africa.

                                                                        The most recent economic developments in BRICS member states have little to do with the initial myths upon which the group was founded. Of the five members, only China has achieved sustained and extensive growth since then.

                                                                        As China's gross domestic product grew from $6 trillion in 2010 to nearly $18 trillion in 2021, the economies in Brazil, South Africa and Russia stagnated. India's GDP grew from $1.7 trillion to $3.1 trillion, but was outpaced by China's growth.

                                                                        Since the start of the Russian war in Ukraine, the BRICS countries have only distanced themselves further from the so-called West. Neither India, Brazil, South Africa or China are taking part in sanctions against Russia. This has become increasingly clear with near-historic levels of trade between India and Russia, or in Brazil's dependence on Russian fertilizer.

                                                                        "Diplomatically, the war in Ukraine appears to have drawn a stark dividing line between an eastern-backed Russia and the West," political scientist Matthew Bishop from the University of Sheffield wrote for the Economics Observatory late last year. "Consequently, some European and US policymakers worry that the BRICS may become less an economic club of rising powers seeking to influence global growth and development, and more a political one defined by their authoritarian nationalism."

                                                                        Maihold of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs agrees. He said the BRICS alliance is not so much a counter to the West but more a forum for increased sovereign and autonomous thought. In a bipolar world, he believes South Africa, India and Brazil are simply "vying for better terms."

                                                                        China, on the other hand, is using the platform for its global political ambitions, Maihold added, pointing to Beijing's offers to mediate the war in Ukraine and the joint military exercises it held with Russia in South Africa.

                                                                        Maihold believes the West has noticed this change in tack and is trying to counteract it. "They are looking very closely," he said. "At the G7 summit in Germany in 2022, they made a point of inviting South Africa and India, in order to prevent the optics that the G7 was standing against BRICS."
                                                                                      BRICS Gains New Chance to Improve Global Development (БРИКС получает новый шанс улучшить глобальное развитие) / Singapore, April, 2023
                                                                                      Keywords: expert_opinion, global_governance

                                                                                      By Marco Fernandes

                                                                                      The first event of Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's long-awaited visit to China is the official swearing-in ceremony of Dilma Rousseff as president of the New Development Bank (popularly known as the BRICS Bank).

                                                                                      The appointment of the former president of Brazil to the post demonstrates the priority that Lula will give to the BRICS countries (Brazil, China, India, Russia and South Africa) in his government.

                                                                                      In recent years, BRICS has been losing some of its dynamism. One of the reasons was the retreat of Brazil, which had always been one of the engines of the group, in a choice made by its right-wing and far-right governments (2016-2022) to align with the United States.

                                                                                      A new momentum for BRICS?

                                                                                      After the last BRICS Summit in 2022, hosted by Beijing and held online, the idea of expanding the group was strengthened, and more countries are expected to join this year. Three countries have already officially applied to join the group (Argentina, Algeria and Iran), and several others are publicly considering doing so, including Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, Nigeria and Mexico.

                                                                                      The BRICS countries occupy an increasingly important place in the world economy. In GDP at purchasing power parity (PPP), China is the largest economy, India is third, Russia sixth, and Brazil eighth. BRICS now represents 31.5% of the global GDP PPP, while the Group of Seven's share has fallen to 30%.

                                                                                      The BRICS countries are expected to contribute more than 50% of global GDP by 2030, with the proposed enlargement almost certainly bringing that forward.

                                                                                      Bilateral trade among BRICS countries has also grown robustly: Trade between Brazil and China has been breaking records every year and reached US$150 billion in 2022; between Brazil and India, there was a 63% increase from 2020 to 2021, reaching more than $11 billion; Russia tripled exports to India from April to December 2022 compared with the same period the preceding year, expanding to $32.8 billion; while trade between China and Russia jumped from $147 billion in 2021 to $190 billion in 2022, an increase of about 30%.

                                                                                      The conflict in Ukraine has brought them closer together politically. China and Russia have never been more aligned, with a "no limits partnership," as visible from President Xi Jinping's recent visit to Moscow. South Africa and India have not only refused to yield to NATO pressure to

                                                                                      condemn Russia for the conflict or impose sanctions on it, but they have moved even closer to Moscow. India, which in recent years has been closer to the United States, seems to be increasingly committed to the Global South's strategy of cooperation.

                                                                                      Alternatives to the dollar

                                                                                      The two most important instruments created by BRICS are the New Development Bank (NDB) and the Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA).

                                                                                      The first has the objective of financing several development projects, with an emphasis on sustainability, and is regarded as a possible alternative to the World Bank.

                                                                                      The second could become an alternative fund to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), but the lack of strong leadership since its inauguration in 2015 and the absence of a solid strategy from the five member countries has prevented the CRA from taking off.

                                                                                      Currently, one of the major strategic battles for the Global South is the creation of alternatives to the hegemony of the US dollar. As Republican US Senator Marco Rubio confessed in late March, the United States will increasingly lose its ability to sanction countries if they decrease their use of dollars.

                                                                                      Almost once every week, there is a new agreement between countries to bypass the dollar, such as the one recently announced by Brazil and China. The latter already has similar deals with 25 countries and regions.

                                                                                      Right now, there is a working group within BRICS whose task it is to propose its own reserve currency for the five countries that could be based on gold and other commodities.

                                                                                      The project is called R5 because of the coincidence that all the currencies of BRICS countries start with R: renminbi, rubles, reais, rupees, and rands. This would allow these countries slowly to increase their growing mutual trade without using the dollar and also decrease the share of their international dollar reserves.

                                                                                      Another untapped potential so far is the use of the Contingent Reserve Arrangement (totaling $100 billion) to rescue insolvent countries.

                                                                                      When a country's international reserves run out of dollars (and it can no longer trade abroad or pay its foreign debts), it is forced to ask for a bailout from the IMF, which takes advantage of the country's desperation and lack of options to impose austerity packages with cuts in state budgets and public services, privatizations, and other neoliberal measures.

                                                                                      For decades, this has been one of the weapons of the United States and the European Uniion to ensure the implementation of neoliberalism in the countries of the Global South.

                                                                                      Right now, the five BRICS members have no issues with international reserves, but countries including Argentina, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Ghana and Bangladesh find themselves in a bad situation. If they could access the CRA, with better conditions for repaying loans, this would mean a political breakthrough for BRICS, which would begin to demonstrate the ability to build alternatives to the financial hegemony of Washington and Brussels.

                                                                                      The NDB would also need to start de-dollarizing itself, having more operations with the currencies of its five members. For instance, from the $32.8 billion worth of projects approved so far at the NDB, around $20 billion was in dollars, and around the equivalent of $3 billion was in euros. Only $5 billion was in renminbi, and very little was in other currencies.

                                                                                      To reorganize and expand the NDB and the CRA will be a huge challenge. The leaderships of the five countries will need to be aligned on a common strategy that ensures that both instruments fulfill their original missions, which won't be easy.

                                                                                      Dilma Rousseff, an experienced and globally respected leader, brings hope for a new beginning. Rousseff fought against Brazil's civil-military dictatorship in the 1960s and 1970s and spent three years in prison for it. She became one of President Lula's key ministers in the 2000s, and she was elected Brazil's first female president and then won re-election (2010 and 2014).

                                                                                      She was in office until she was overthrown by a coup based on fraudulent grounds by Congress (2016), which has since admitted the fraud. She just returned to political life to run one of the most promising institutions in the Global South.

                                                                                      After all, as president, Dilma Rousseff never shied away from huge challenges.

                                                                                      Marco Fernandes is a researcher at Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research. He is the co-editor of Dongsheng, an international collective of researchers interested in Chinese politics and society, and is a member of the No Cold War collective.

                                                                                      Asia Times

                                                                                                    Investment and Finance
                                                                                                    Investment and finance in BRICS
                                                                                                    A BRICS Threat to the Dollar? (БРИКС представляет угрозу доллару?) / United States, April, 2023
                                                                                                    Keywords: economic_challenges, expert_opinion
                                                                                                    United States
                                                                                                    Author: Jim O'Neill

                                                                                                    Perceived threats to the dollar's role in the global financial system are nothing new; they have been a frequent occurrence since the 1980s. But until would-be challengers can find a credible alternative to the dollar for their own savings, the greenback's dominance will not really be in doubt.

                                                                                                    LONDON – Russia's war in Ukraine, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping's recent meeting in Moscow, and China's apparent success in brokering a diplomatic rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia have fueled renewed chatter about threats to the global primacy of the United States – and particularly to that of the US dollar.

                                                                                                    I encountered such commentary in the responses to my recent Global Policyarticle assessing the future of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa). The group is now considering an enlargement that would bring in countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia, raising questions about its criteria for membership and the role of its own New Development Bank. But would a larger and more influential BRICS-Plus really create risks to the dollar?

                                                                                                    Perceived threats to the dollar's role in the global financial system are nothing new; they have been a frequent occurrence since I began my career in the 1980s. Obviously, if there comes a time when the US ceases to be the world's largest economy, the dollar's status will be called into question. The same was true of pound sterling in the first half of the twentieth century (though the pound was not knocked off its global perch until well after the United Kingdom had been surpassed economically).

                                                                                                    The eclipse of the dollar would not necessarily be a bad thing for the US, given all the added responsibilities that come with issuing the world's main reserve currency. In a global economy where the US already is no longer as dominant as it once was, it is not optimal to have everyone else be so dependent on the American monetary system and the Federal Reserve's domestically driven priorities. Other economies would much prefer that their own currencies, monetary policies, and trade patterns not be so influenced by those of the US.

                                                                                                    But the fact that a US-excluding group of emerging powers has higher aspirations for itself does not necessarily mean anything for the US-centered financial system. After all, the BRICS and potential BRICS-Plus countries face many significant challenges of their own, and it is not clear what they hope to achieve together beyond issuing symbolic statements. Crucially, the group's most important economies are China and India, bitter adversaries that rarely cooperate on anything. Until that changes, it is fanciful to think that the BRICS or even an expanded grouping could mount any serious challenge to the dollar.

                                                                                                    I often despair at the lack of cooperation between China and India – the world's two most populous countries by far. If they could overcome their historic animosity and develop an ambitious shared agenda for expanding trade and tackling issues like health threats and climate change, the idea of a BRICS-driven challenge to the financial and monetary status quo would become not just plausible but imminent.

                                                                                                    In this spirit, I have long argued that China should make the first move by inviting India to help co-design elements of its signature Belt and Road Initiative. Realizing the BRI's ambitious agenda of transnational infrastructure investments in cooperation with India would make a far more powerful and lasting contribution to Asia and beyond. Otherwise, the BRI will remain a narrowly Chinese initiative that exists primarily to impose Chinese preferences on others.

                                                                                                    The potential addition of Saudi Arabia and Iran comes with similar caveats. Yes, bringing on two major oil producers (in addition to Russia) increases the likelihood of some oil being priced in currencies other than the dollar. But unless edging out the dollar is an explicit, genuinely shared, and deeply held goal, such invoicing changes will be exciting only to niche financial writers. I have lost count of the times I have heard arguments about why oil could soon be priced in a new currency. First it was going to be the Deutsche Mark, then the yen, then the euro. It's still the dollar.

                                                                                                    Finally, and most importantly, for any BRICS (or BRICS-Plus) member to pose a strategic challenge to the dollar, it would have to permit – indeed encourage – foreign and domestic savers and investors to decide for themselves when to buy or sell assets denominated in its currency. That means no capital controls of the kind that China has routinely deployed. Until the BRICS and potential BRICS-Plus countries can find a credible alternative to the dollar for their own savings, the greenback's dominance will not really be in doubt.

                                                                                                                  Tunisia rejects IMF loans and wants to join BRICS (Тунис отказывается от кредитов МВФ и хочет присоединиться к БРИКС) / Greece, April, 2023
                                                                                                                  Keywords: economic_challenges

                                                                                                                  Mahmoud bin Mabrouk, spokesman for the pro-president 'July 25 Movement' in Tunisia, said that his country wants to join BRICS, a group of leading emerging economies comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, that is often seen as an alternative to the Western hegemony.

                                                                                                                  In November, neighboring Algeria filed an official application to join BRICS, and bin Mabrouk said Tunisia would follow in its North African neighbor's footsteps. Egypt has also announced its intention to join the bloc.

                                                                                                                  Sharan Grewal, a nonresident fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings, told Al-Monitor, "It's not clear how official this bid is. It didn't come from President Kais Saied or any governmental official, it came from one of the many small, new political movements that have emerged in support of the president since 2021."

                                                                                                                  Tunisia has been at an impasse in securing a $2 billion bailout package from the International Monetary Fund. "He [Saied] has railed against the proposed IMF program — that his own government negotiated — as a foreign diktat, and so he could in theory be viewing the BRICS as an alternative mechanism for foreign aid and support," Grewal added.

                                                                                                                  'The 14th BRICS summit's Beijing Declaration made clear the organization supports membership expansion; China upholds the BRICS spirit of openness, win-win cooperation to accelerate the process,' Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Tunisia's reported bid to join BRICS.

                                                                                                                  Dr. Sabina Henneberg, Soref Fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy pointed out that Tunisia needs important structural economic reforms in order to resume pre-2011 levels of GDP growth and avoid long-term debt. "Beyond that, Tunisia would probably need to acquire more of a reputation as an international powerhouse — recently it has been trying to assert an anti-Western position but not necessarily with strong contributions to the global economy to offer," she added.

                                                                                                                  Hennenberg said that Tunisia's historical ties with Western countries like the US will also mean that it will need to demonstrate stronger anti-West credentials.

                                                                                                                  Alexandra Blackman, assistant professor of government at Cornell University, said that one of the guiding principles of Tunisian politics, especially under President Saied, is the rejection of foreign interference, and this mantra has been repeated throughout the IMF negotiations.

                                                                                                                  She said BRICS may seem more appealing as it is perceived at coming with less foreign interference than the IMF, which some critics say is too aligned to US policy.

                                                                                                                                BRICS' GDP, potential currency a challenge to US dollar dominance (ВВП БРИКС, потенциальная валюта – вызов доминированию доллара США) / China, April, 2023
                                                                                                                                Keywords: economic_challenges

                                                                                                                                In an economic development that hasn't received much attention in the Western media, the GDP of the BRICS nations has surpassed that of the G7.

                                                                                                                                That news, coupled with plans by the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) nations to create their own currency later this year presents a challenge to the US dollar as the world's primary reserve currency.

                                                                                                                                The BRICS have surpassed the Group of Seven (G7) in terms of gross domestic product based on purchasing power parity, according to data published by the UK-based economic research firm Acorn Macro Consulting.

                                                                                                                                The G7 comprises the United States, Canada, the UK, France, Italy, Germany and Japan.

                                                                                                                                The BRICS group makes up 41 percent of the global population and accounts for 16 percent of world trade. The five BRICS nations now contribute nearly 31.5 percent of global GDP, compared with 30.7 percent by G7 countries, according to Acorn.

                                                                                                                                On Thursday, Brazil President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva called on BRICS nations to come up with an alternative to replace the dollar in foreign trade.

                                                                                                                                Lula spoke during a visit to the New Development Bank in Shanghai, an institution created by BRICS countries. The former president of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, is the bank's new chief executive.

                                                                                                                                "Why can't an institution like the BRICS bank have a currency to finance trade relations between Brazil and China, between Brazil and all the other BRICS countries?" Lula said. "Who decided that the dollar was the (trade) currency after the end of gold parity?

                                                                                                                                "We need a currency that gives countries more calm, because today a country needs to run after the dollar to be able to export, when it could export in its own currency," he said.

                                                                                                                                On Thursday in Shanghai, Lula visited the research center of Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and met with chief executives of China Communications Construction Co and automaker BYD Co Ltd, which plans a major investment in electric cars in Brazil.

                                                                                                                                Brazilian plane-maker Embraer SA may sign a deal for the sale of 20 commercial jets to a Chinese airline, two people familiar with the matter said.

                                                                                                                                China surpassed the United States as Brazil's top trading partner in 2009 and is a major market for Brazilian soybeans, iron ore and oil.

                                                                                                                                Brazil is now the largest recipient of Chinese investment in Latin America, driven by spending on high-tension electricity transmission lines and oil production.

                                                                                                                                Last month, Brazil and China took steps to make it easier to settle their foreign trade operations in yuan or reais, with the goal of trimming costs by eliminating a third currency from the transactions.

                                                                                                                                Brazil Finance Minister Fernando Haddad, who went with Lula on his trip to China, said local currencies are already used in bilateral trade, reported.

                                                                                                                                "The advantage is to avoid the straitjacket imposed by necessarily having trade operations settled in a currency of a country not involved in the transaction," he told reporters in Shanghai.

                                                                                                                                In a recent interview, investor Peter Schiff, who runs the metals website, said: "There are all sorts of reasons why the world should want to divest of dollars and no longer depend on the US dollar as a reserve currency, but we gave them another one.

                                                                                                                                "The Biden administration in slapping those economic sanctions on Russia really highlighted how dangerous it is to allow the United States to enjoy this privilege. And so, we have scared the world into divesting of dollars, something they should have done anyway because it was in their economic interest to do so," he said.

                                                                                                                                Schiff emphasized that the dollar's role as the world currency is a privilege that the US enjoys at the expense of the rest of the world.

                                                                                                                                "It enables Americans to live beyond our means. We're able to consume all kinds of stuff that we did not produce," he said. "And the only reason we could do that is because we could print money that costs us nothing, and our trading partners will accept that instead of actual goods. If we lose that privilege, our standard of living is going to implode."

                                                                                                                                Jim O'Neill, a former chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, wrote in an article for the Financial Advisor website on Thursday: "The eclipse of the dollar would not necessarily be a bad thing for the US, given all the added responsibilities that come with issuing the world's main reserve currency.

                                                                                                                                "In a global economy where the US already is no longer as dominant as it once was, it is not optimal to have everyone else be so dependent on the American monetary system and the Federal Reserve's domestically driven priorities.

                                                                                                                                "Other economies would much prefer that their own currencies, monetary policies, and trade patterns not be so influenced by those of the US," he said.

                                                                                                                                              Explainer: Why BRICS nations want to create a new currency for trade payments? (Объяснитель: Почему страны БРИКС хотят создать новую валюту для торговых платежей?) / India, April, 2023
                                                                                                                                              Keywords: expert_opinion, economic_challenges

                                                                                                                                              Since the Ukraine-Russia war began more than a year ago, it seems as though Russia is working on taking its relationship with some allies to the next level.

                                                                                                                                              The ties between the BRICS nations, which include Russia, China, India, Brazil, and South Africa, seem to get stronger as they approach the formation of a new currency, reports Times of India.

                                                                                                                                              The BRICS nations are in the process of creating a new medium for payments, according to Russian lawmaker Alexander Babakov. In a statement revealed by Babakv, the new medium for payments "does not defend the dollar or euro".

                                                                                                                                              Babakov, who is the deputy Chairman of Russia's State Duma, stated that the new currency would be secured by gold and other commodities such as rare-earth elements.

                                                                                                                                              The BRICS nations are planning to reveal the developments of the currency at the BRICS leaders' summit this year, he said during the India-Russia Business Forum in New Delhi last week.

                                                                                                                                              The comments were made a few days before South Africa sent senior officials to Russia to discuss the "recalibration of the global order" with President Vladimir Putin's party. However, it is important to note that these claims have not been verified by the BRICS nations.

                                                                                                                                              South Africa is slated to host a BRICS summit in August this year.

                                                                                                                                              The new currency could reduce the world's dependence on the US dollar and the Euro, according to reports from Sputnik.

                                                                                                                                              Days after Chinese Premier Xi Jinping visited Moscow to further cement the "no limits" partnership announced last year, Russian President Putin adopted a new foreign policy that put India and China at the forefront.

                                                                                                                                              According to Bloomberg, China's yuan has replaced the US dollar as the most traded currency in Russia. For the first time, The yuan surpassed the dollar in monthly trading volume in February.

                                                                                                                                              Before the invasion, the yuan's trading volume on the Russian market was negligible, adds Times of India.

                                                                                                                                              "Russia to build up partnership with India"

                                                                                                                                              "Russia will continue to build up a particularly privileged strategic partnership with the Republic of India with a view to enhance and expand cooperation in all areas on a mutually beneficial basis and place special emphasis on increasing the volume of bilateral trade, strengthening investment and technological ties, and ensuring their resistance to destructive actions of unfriendly states and their alliances," the statement said according to the reports.

                                                                                                                                              It was also announced that 'to help adapt the world order to the realities of a multipolar world', its intention will be to prioritise and enhance its capacity and international role in groupings such as BRICS.

                                                                                                                                              The world continues to wait for the BRICS nations to verify this claim made by the Russian lawmaker, and whether they can bring more clarity regarding such currency being created.
                                                                                                                                                            Analysts Weigh In on BRICS Currency as Tool to Face US Dollar-Based Sanctions (Аналитики оценивают валюту БРИКС как средство борьбы с санкциями, основанными на долларе США) / USA, April, 2023
                                                                                                                                                            Keywords: economic_challenges, expert_opinion, political_issues

                                                                                                                                                            Analysts have begun considering using a future BRICS currency to sidestep U.S. sanctions and the dollar's influence in international markets. While the rise of the U.S. dollar was significant to spur an era of economic growth after World War II, the so-called weaponization of its ubiquitous use has made some countries consider other options for international trade.

                                                                                                                                                            BRICS Common Currency Issuance Under Scrutiny

                                                                                                                                                            Zhou Weidi, deputy director of the Institute of Economics and Business Administration Central China Pedagogical University, has weighed in on the possible implementation of a BRICS currency in fighting unilateral sanctions and the hegemony of the U.S. dollar in international markets.

                                                                                                                                                            According to Zhou, the weaponization of the U.S. dollar has created distrust even in American circles about the future of the currency, causing countries to consider alternatives to its use. While using the U.S. dollar presented several benefits after World War II, "later, as the world developed, including the continuous development of BRICS countries, the benefit of using the dollar in international settlement started to diminish," he stated.

                                                                                                                                                            However, Zhou notes that the introduction of a BRICS currency bloc, integrated by Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, will not substitute the U.S. dollar immediately, and that the creation of such a currency be years in the making. He concluded:

                                                                                                                                                            This does not mean that the dollar will suddenly collapse, but we need to address the issue of de-dollarization.

                                                                                                                                                            "If, for example, such a regional currency appears by the middle of this century, I think it will stimulate the development of both those countries and the whole world," Zhou added.

                                                                                                                                                            While the BRICS currency project is still in its initial stages, Russia, one of the biggest economies of the BRICS bloc, has moved to use the Chinese yuan for bilateral settlements to avoid U.S. sanctions. On this, Qiang Xiaoyun, the director of the Center of Russian-Central Asian Studies at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies stated:

                                                                                                                                                            Using the yuan or the ruble in payments is the most promising way to move away from the Western payment system.

                                                                                                                                                            Issuance Still in Consideration

                                                                                                                                                            The project of issuing a common currency for transactions among the countries of the BRICS bloc began to be considered last year, when Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that the initiative was under consideration at the China-held BRICS summit, with the objective of targeting U.S. hegemony.

                                                                                                                                                            More recently, State Duma Deputy Chairman Alexander Babakov, stated that the issuance of such a currency would be debated during the next BRICS summit, which will be held in Durban, South Africa in August, alongside the inclusion of new countries to the bloc.

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