Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 37.2018
2018.09.10 — 2018.09.16
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Trump, the gift that keeps on giving (Трамп, который не перестает раздавать подарки) / United States, September, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, political_issues
United States
Author: Ntokozo Mthombeni

Following a few "promising" summits, Brics has failed to live up to all the hype of a new global player contesting the status quo of the world political economy.

Brics was unknowingly presented with a gift that seemingly keeps on giving in the form of US President Donald Trump. The US government may unintentionally shift the balance of power towards the global South. Trump is undermining established norms and standards in the very institutions skewed to favour the North. Trump seems to be a capitalistic quasi-political realist, who for all intents and purposes sees the world as a business conquest. He views the world as being in need of corporate restructuring and reducing what he deems as America's overall historic political debt.

One such example is Trump's antagonism towards Nato. The military alliance held a summit in Brussels in July and the meeting was less pleasant than the now ill-fated G7 summit – that ended with increased tensions between the G7 nations.

Trump has shown his ability to carry some of his threats through. His administration has already broken away from the Human Rights Council, withdrew its support for the Paris Agreement and pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal. Trump has effectively discarded years of constructive diplomacy and multilateral efforts, much to the dismay of his alliance partners. The Trump administration also showed an astonishing disdain for the Palestinian plight at the hands of the Israelis, when Nikki Haley staged a walkout from the UN Security Council, an unprecedented breach of protocol that left some UN members seething.

What all this exhibits is a US gradually shifting back to unilateralism and perhaps isolationism reminiscent of pre-World War 2 America. No matter what Trump's ultimate game may be, he is shaking up the current status quo. America is making enemies at a faster pace than usual. Potentially, the US may alienate its alliance partners in pursuit of its narrow foreign policy. Trump's general disregard for tradition is testing the durability of these age-old alliances, partnerships and cooperation agreements. Although US alliance partners might decide to wait out the Trump storm, he just might decide to up the ante in pursuit of his grandiose vision of America First at all costs.

What does this all mean for Brics though? Well, not much except for China and Russia. China and Russia have a real opportunity to step up in world politics and edge out US dominance. It would take some effort of recalibration by the two countries to position themselves as a new alternative to lead the globe in world affairs. However, Europe doesn't trust China and Russia.

Although China's President Xi Jinping would have much preferred to avoid the trade war, he believes that China will emerge from this bruising war in a better condition than the US. China, unlike the US, has a firm grip on all aspects of its social, political and economic spheres. The Communist Party of China has consolidated its rule of the communist country, thus the effects and fallout of the trade war can be better managed in China than in the US. China has unfettered access to direct credit to use as it pleases from its state banks, as opposed to the US which is heavily regulated.

Xi also does not have any real political threat to his presidency by his citizens or his party. He enjoys the full political support that Trump sorely needs. Trump has not endeared himself to the media, often being dismissive of the media as reporting fake news. Xi, on the other hand, has a grip on the media in China, thus he can control the rhetoric and discourse in his own country and thereby minimise public backlash from the much-anticipated economic fallout of the trade war.

Russia inevitably was drawn into the fray by siding with China in retaliation for the increased import tariffs on its steel and aluminium products. China and Russia have an opportunity to actively engage in bilateral talks with other affected states, such as Canada and Mexico. Trump's actions may have further unintentionally enhanced the increased cooperation between China and Russia, particularly on the security front, as exhibited by ongoing joint military drills.

Interestingly enough, India has had a rather circumspect approach in dealing with Trump's trade war, of which India too has been a victim although not to the extent of China. Perhaps it has everything to do with the fact that China is anxious that India is being seduced into a strategic US-led alliance with not only the purpose to contain the rise of China, but also to hinder its inevitable rise to superpower status. Although cognisant of the pitfalls of a fully fledged alliance especially with the current administration, India undoubtedly perceives the US as a pivotal strategic partner necessary to build up its economic, technological and military position and to check Chinese expansionism.

Brazil, which is facing similar problems to those of South Africa in terms of economic stagnation as well as escalating domestic issues such as corruption and rampant unemployment, needs to clean up house and chart the course of South America. The Venezuela crisis is likely to test Brics nations' leadership capabilities, which at this point leave much to be desired.

South Africa needs to garner the support of its neighbours in the Southern African Development Community if it is to wield any real influence as a Brics member. Through high-level bilateral engagements, South Africa needs to negotiate mutually beneficial and sustainable economic, trade, finance, political and skills transfer agreements to gain political support. What will happen is that South Africa will no longer solely represent itself in Brics, but rather a group of mineral-rich and resource-wealthy countries with increased levels of potential in terms of economic and political development under its stewardship.

- Mthombeni is a student at Wits School of Governance
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's opening remarks at a meeting with Minister of External Affairs of India Sushma Swaraj, Moscow, September 13, 2018 (Вступительное слово Министра иностранных дел России С.В.Лаврова в ходе встречи с Министром иностранных дел Республики Индия С.Сварадж, Москва, 13 сентября 2018 года) / Russia, September, 2018
Keywords: mofa, quotation, sergey_lavrov, top_level_meeting

Ms Minister, Esteemed Sushma,

We are happy that your stay in Moscow begins with our meeting. Tomorrow your day will be fully occupied with sessions of the Intergovernmental Russian-Indian Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technical and Cultural Cooperation that you head together with Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Yury Borisov.

Today we can exchange views on the development of our foreign policy dialogue. This is a very important component of our privileged strategic partnership. We will review the progress that has been made on implementing the agreements reached during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Sochi last May and during the July meeting of our leaders on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Johannesburg. We will also discuss our preparations for new summit meetings.

We very much appreciate our relations, our cooperation and coordination of actions in the international arena, including at the UN, BRICS and the SCO, to name a few. Considering the growing importance of the Asia-Pacific Region, it is important for us to know how our Indian friends assess events there, especially recent developments.

Again, welcome!

Abstract from briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova, Moscow, September 13, 2018 (Отрывок из брифинга официального представителя МИД России М.В.Захаровой, Москва, 13 сентября 2018 года) / Russia, September, 2018
Keywords: mofa, johannesburg_declaration

Statements by Minister of the Armed Forces of France Florence Parly

It is with bewilderment and disappointment that we regard the September 7 statement by Minister of the Armed Forces of France Florence Parly at the National Centre of Space Research, in which she accused Russia, without proof, of "hostile behaviour" in space.

Let me remind you that earlier this year the Russian Ministry of Defence provided all necessary explanations, following concerns expressed by Paris about the Russian telecom satellite Luch-Olymp "dangerously approaching" the French satellite Athena-Fidus, which allegedly happened in 2017 and was described by Florence Parly as "aggressive." For one, it was stated that our satellite's movement posed no threat to the French spacecraft, and, most importantly, it did not violate any international norms. We consider this incident exhausted, all the more so that Paris has never brought it up during bilateral contacts, including during French President Emmanuel Macron's visits to St Petersburg and Moscow in May and July this year.

It is particularly sad that the French side is trying to use this invented pretext to substantiate the need for a build-up of defence potential in outer space and for due allocations for these purposes. We presume that the people of France should be aware of the fact that, despite this statement, no questions were raised during bilateral contacts in Moscow. Such anti-Russia moves have an extremely counterproductive effect on the development of bilateral relations, particularly in light of President Emmanuel Macron's calls to "reconsider" the European security architecture and step up a "strategic" dialogue with Russia in this connection.

We, for our part, firmly advocate the use and exploration of outer space exclusively for peaceful purposes. Our approaches are confirmed in the Declaration of the 10th BRICS Summit, published on July 26, which underscores the paramount significance of strict compliance with, consolidation and strengthening of the existing laws and regulations stipulating the peaceful use of outer space. It also voices the common concern of the BIRCS countries over a possible arms race in outer space and the fact that it might turn into an arena of military confrontation.

In the past several years, we came up with a whole set of initiatives aimed at preventing an arms race in outer space. The key one is a Russian-Chinese-proposed draft treaty on the prevention of the deployment of weapons in outer space, the use of or threat of using force against outer space objects, the renewed version of which was submitted to the Conference on Disarmament in June 2014. Sensible forces in many countries support us. We intend to pursue active and result-oriented work in this direction.

We invite our French partners to join our initiatives, including on not being the first to deploy weapons in space for the sake of preventing an arms race in outer space.

We would like to hear a response to our proposal, which was made publicly, from our French colleagues, publicly as well.

BRICS and BRICS Plus: Unlocking Growth Potential (БРИКС и БРИКС Плюс: раскрытие потенциала роста) / Malaysia, September, 2018
Keywords: brics+, expert_opinion
Author: Lin See-Yan

BRICS nations, comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, gathered in Johannesburg, South Africa on July 25, 2018 for their 10th summit, "BRICS in Africa: Collaboration for Inclusive Growth and Shared Prosperity in the Fourth Industrial Revolution."

They renewed their joint determination to build a more open global economy and stand against protectionism, in a bold move towards multi-polarity amid strong headwinds.

As they embarked on their second "Golden Decade" of win-win co-operation, BRICS remain committed to bridge their wealth gaps with the developed world through deepening strategic partnerships.

They will ride the tide of the new industrial revolution, increase economic & cultural exchanges, and build a better shared global community.


BRICS held their first summit in 2009 in Russia after years of dialogue among the first four nations before the induction of South Africa in 2010.

As a group, BRICS account for 42% of global population and 40% of global output; together, they contributed about 50% of global growth in the past decade. Their momentum of growth is now set. Their continued efforts are expected to make global development more balanced, and global peace more firmly based.

IMF's latest World Economic Outlook Update (July'18) pointed to global growth in 2018 & 2019 at about 3.9%, in the face of robust performance among emerging and developing economies, especially in Asia (around 6.5% in 2018-2019). Growth rates among BRICS vary depending on how global forces interact with domestic idiosyncratic factors. (see table)

Since its first informal meeting in 2006, BRICS had remained committed to synergising the member states' development strategies and further upgrading pragmatic South-South cooperation in areas such as trade and investment, currency and finance, connectivity, sustainable development, innovation and industrial cooperation.

Also, BRICS has been promoting reform in global governance to make international relations more democratic, and increase the say of the South in global affairs with the aim of helping to boost global growth and maintain world peace and stability.

Over the past decade, BRICS has formulated a series of platforms within its mechanism to deliver tangible benefits to the people of the five countries and beyond. In particular, the founding of the BRICS New Development Bank represents a major contribution to the global financial system.

Significant headway has also been made in relation to high-quality cooperation in trade facilitation, service trade, currency swaps and settlements, and public-private partnership.

As a primary engine of the world economy, BRICS along with other developing countries, has injected fresh impetus into the global economy in the past decade.


With broadened partnerships, the mechanism can evolve into a more influential platform that facilitates inclusive growth and effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including poverty elimination. With the rising trend of anti-globalisation, protectionism and unilateralism, most BRICS countries are faced with urgent structural reforms while a more just and equitable world order remains beyond reach.

These challenges and opportunities underline the significance of the recent Johannesburg summit in enhancing confidence, providing solutions, outlining the priorities and mapping out a blueprint to chart the course for the group to expand common development. Here, an inclusive digital development strategy could be a solution to help cultivate a shared and trusted digital environment to drive development and social cohesion.

At the cusp of a new wave of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, digitalisation is transforming industries and business models, spurring trade and competitiveness, expanding access to overseas markets, propelling societies forward and fostering government transparency and accountability. Social inclusiveness becomes a prerequisite for ensuring sustainable growth.

BRICS and African countries will seize the challenges and opportunities presented by the Fourth Industrial Revolution, aiming to create an inclusive society and global partnerships that bring prosperity to all. In its second "golden decade", BRICS is expected to usher in a digital era and live up to global expectation to promote global growth and multilateralism amid anti-globalization concerns. BRICS rejects a beggar-thy-neighbour approach in favour of a better balanced global economy and multipolar international system.

Johannesburg Declaration

Highlights of the BRICS Summit of Johannesburg Declaration:

Reinforce commitments to uphold multilateralism and work to implement United Nations' 2030 sustainable development goals.

Reiterate commitments to strengthen multilateral institutions.

Undertake to strengthen BRICS cooperation in energy.

Recognise the vast potential in advancing the oceans.

Acknowledge importance of cooperation among BRICS to ensure security in use of information and communications technologies.

Call to continue policy dialogue to address potential risks.

Affirm the value to implement coordinated BRICS scientific projects.

Reaffirm the centrality of a rules-based, transparent, non-discriminatory, open and inclusive multilateral trading system as embodied in the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Welcome initiatives to establish a BRICS working group on tourism.

Emphasise action plan to implement cooperation in the field of culture.

New reality

Previous three industrial revolutions were all characterised by transformative advancement in science and technology: rise of mechanisation in the 18th century, harnessing of electricity in the 19th century, and advent of Information Age in the 20th century.

Such breakthroughs have greatly unleashed social productivity and significantly improved people's living standards. The world is experiencing another revolution in science, technology and industry, which is greater in scope and depth.

New technologies, business models and industries are emerging. Countries around the world have found their interests and future tied together like never before. BRICS will deepen their strategic partnership, and consolidate a framework underpinned by economic, political and security cooperation and people-to-people exchanges.

A four-point proposal needs consideration:

BRICS to unlock the enormous potential of economic cooperation by stepping up trade, investment, economic, financial and connectivity cooperation to make this pie still bigger.

Also, to safeguard the rule-based multilateral trading regime, promote trade and investment liberalisation and facilitation, and reject protectionism outright. BRICS will pursue innovation-driven development and build the BRICS Partnership on New Industrial Revolution (PartNIR) to strengthen coordination on macroeconomic policies, find more complementarities in development strategies and reinforce their competitiveness;

BRICS to safeguard global peace and security, and stay committed to multilateralism;

BRICS should expand people-to-people exchanges and aim at greater people-to-people connectivity; and

BRICS need to build a network of closer partnerships - the "BRICS Plus" cooperation within United Nations, G20 and other frameworks to advance common interests and boost the development space for emerging markets and developing countries.

What then are we to do?

The presence of 22 emerging and developing countries, including 19 from Africa, at the recent BRICS Summit in Johannesburg clearly demonstrated that the developing world and emerging economies as a whole, along with many developed economies, are strongly opposed to the Trump Administration's trade protectionist policies and punitive tariffs on imports. IMF recently warned that high US tariffs and tit-for-tat response from its trade partners could knock 0.5 percentage points off global growth by 2020.

But Trump has all but ignored the warning. It now appears US trade policies have brought BRICS states closer, and prompted them to unite developing and emerging economies to oppose US policies. With Trump pursuing unilateralism, the fate of international agreements (including WTO), now appears under siege. In such circumstance, BRICS is perhaps one of the most important groups that is openly opposing protectionism and promoting globalisation and free trade, and has thus emerged as the potent force against US unilateralism.

BRICS nations are all politically powerful within their own sphere of influence. As the power of the US on the international stage wanes, there is room for BRICS to play a greater role in driving global change. All are on the same page regarding key issues confronting world trade. China is by far the biggest economy among the BRICS.

As such, it wields tremendous financial clout. It also helps that trade between China and Africa is robust. China is Africa's main trading partner. Also, China's Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) is highly supported, especially in Africa. BRICS Summit does present an opportunity for China to win over new supporters. In all, China could well emerge as a strong leader.

I reckon there is sufficient clout in China to make great strategic strides. China can be expected to hold high the banner of peace, development & win-win cooperation, advancing the building of a community of shared values, actively participating to reform global governance, and promoting the benefits of BRI.

Former banker, Harvard educated economist and British chartered scientist Tan Sri Lin See-Yan is the author of "The Global Economy in Turbulent Times" (Wiley, 2015) & "Turbulence in Trying Times" (Pearson, 2017).

The Star
Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
OPINION: A barrel for a rand (Мнение: баррель за ранд) / South Africa, September, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, economic_challenges
South Africa

CAPE TOWN – The current global events present us with both challenges and opportunities alike, which none of us have adequately prepared for. They are as tumultuous for Europe and the Middle East as they are for the rest of the developing world.

They include among others, threats to those developing countries who do not support US-sponsored resolutions at the UN General Assembly, to trade wars or threats of that kind, especially against China and other specifically targeted countries like Turkey.

But above all, there are Congress approved economic sanctions preferred against Russia and executive ones imposed against Iran which will come to full effect in November. It is the retaliatory trade and tariff measures which deliver a purchase no single country could ever have anticipated.

But first, it is important to observe that the project to wean the globe from the addiction to a dollar, or that section of the globe so determined, has been in progress for some time, arguably in small and imperfect measures. Significantly too, the progression in earnest, has resulted in its most prominent development, the formation of BRICS.

There were enough sceptics, there still are, who dismiss this formation as insignificant because they were and remain convinced in their assessment that no country or formation of like-minded allies is capable of replacing the dominance of the greenback. The opponents to the BRICS fraternity, or at least those opposing South Africa's participation in it, seem to suggest that it is better when our fate is decided in bodies where we are not represented.

We are better off in Bretton Woods institutions where South Africa's head is constantly shaved in its absence, they are convinced. And so joining BRICS would expose South Africa to the serendipitous discovery that none of the BRICS fraternity is vest with its hair. So, for all our sakes, South Africa must get out of the BRICS barbershop.

The veracity, or otherwise, of this assertion is best left to a different subject of investigation. In so far as the argument goes, it presupposes that the reserve functions of any currency or commodity is dialectically related to its military projection and therefore nothing else can conceivably portend the power of these attributes except if it possesses both. That may well be. But that is scarcely an economic argument anymore.

Calculus of economic sanctions

The calculus of economic sanctions is too complex to appeal to a logical deduction. It often triggers a variety of unplanned responses which tend to stretch the tolerance of the economic allure of sanctions beyond their capabilities.

But it can be said that if one country sells oil to another and being the dominant one, forces the other to purchase same with its dominant currency, the outcomes are predictable. If however a country under sanctions sells oil to another that is incapable of being sanctioned, the theoretical foundation of the calculus would be severely injured.

Enter China. Sometime in 1993 China promoted the trading of the Shengli Blend through a domestic futures contract, a whole quarter of a century before President Donald Trump assumed the reins of the highest office in his fatherland. By 2012, the promotion of an oil futures contract was disturbed by the volatility of the oil market.

Subsequently, however, they were spurred on by the most important milestone in 2017 when China surpassed the United States of America as the world's biggest oil importer. In between, there were two developments worth noting. First, South Africa joined the BRIC member states, lending its identity to the brand to form what has become the acronym BRICS.

Second, which was the watershed moment, is the date on which the BRICS' horse bolted out of the currency dependency stables. On the 15th of July, 2014 the BRICS countries agreed to establish a mechanism for the exchangeability of their currencies which would permit the purchasing of goods and services among each other using their own currencies referenced against an average of a basket of global currencies.

In pursuance of the goal to trade an oil futures contract, a date of March 2018 was set. The difference this time is the fact that even registered foreign brokerage houses can trade the oil futures contract.

Opportunities, like matter, have mass and dimension occurring within a defined timeframe. In 2012, the United States imposed certain limited economic sanctions on Iran. Certain countries, including Malaysia, Iran, India and China were exempted from the rigour of the proscriptions. South Africa on the contrary, wasn't.

Which means that whenever there are tensions in the Middle East with one side persuasive enough to convince the United States to impose sanctions against the protagonist's adversaries, South Africa's oil imports become vulnerable. Over and above the abrupt interruption of long-term supply contracts, South Africans are often at the receiving end of the ever-increasing fuel prices.

Buying crude oil in rand

And as the government sages are always kind to remind us, it is a result of a dollar-rand exchange conundrum. This would mean that if we were buying crude oil in rand and not in dollars, the time-price delta caused by the currency exchange differential would be eliminated at once. But so would the import restrictions.

Ignoring the cacophony of the BRICS versus Breton Woods palaver for a moment, we cannot let this opportunity pass. South Africa's National Oil Company is a preferred candidate for such brokerage registration to trade these oil futures contracts. Understandably, the FOB point of delivery has not been announced yet, even though Qindao is most likely to be the contract's domicilium. Notwithstanding, as a BRICS member protected under the aegis of the Fortaleza Minute, South Africa stands to purchase crude oil with their own currency. A barrel for a Rand!

The Oil futures contract will be traded in Shanghai. Peter Fabricius reminds us that some dictionary ascribes to the verb 'Shanghai' the meaning that it is 'to put into…an awkward situation by trickery..' Perhaps, and just perhaps, someday there shall be a time when the European traders will price the Brent index in Euro, the premier currency of continental Europe, even in Pound Sterling for that matter, for there is no equivocation that where the Euro will do, the Queen's currency will flourish.

But these Brexit times are inconvenient. Besides, someone may just insult all of them on Twitter. And that's not good for the ego of the European project nor for the price of the black molecule.

Every generation has got its own singular moment, as epoch defining as the Hiroshima/Nagasaki and the cliff-hanger of the 1962 Bay of Pigs. In our case, whether or not the time for a barrel for a Rand is nigh, shall be determined by IDLIB. Brinksmanship in that Syrian Province can take humanity on to the precipice of internecine violence never seen before.

The price of the barrel will react, and the discipline of global commodity trading will seek new basis for co-operation. With the exception of Syria, all the major forces amassing around IDLIB, are significant oil producers, Russia being the largest in the world and the US being the largest in the Northern Hemisphere.

Iran is the second-largest producer in the Opec bloc and Turkey is the globe's most important oil and gas non-producing transit state. And Syria is currently constrained from exploiting its known reserves in the north. In this game of high stakes, oil prices are bound to suffer, one way and another.

The reason there are Pound Sterling, Euro, Yen and as of late, the Yuan in the basket of currencies in the Bank of Settlements, is reverence to the old adage that it is unwise to put at once all the world's economic eggs in the dollar basket. As yet, there is no suggestion that their continued existence is intended to subvert the obsequiousness of the dollar.

For in truth, the dollar does not care. Whilst the other four units are currencies for mortals, the dollar is religion. An impiety against its Order, may unchain the Beast and lead to a Holy War. But we are reminded by the terse Fabrician Warning that, when in Shanghai, tread ye lightly!

Ambassador Bheki Gila is a Barrister at Law.

The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.
State companies, small businesses must be global players in ICT, says minister (Государственные компании, малый бизнес должны быть глобальными игроками в области ИКТ, сказал министр) / South Africa, September, 2018
Keywords: top_level_meeting, quotation, digital
South Africa

The South African government was working to position state entities and small businesses as global players in the field of information and communication technology (ICT), according to telecommunications minister Siyabonga Cwele.

"Our priority focus is to demonopolise the electronic and manufacturing sectors [to] help us to create platforms for our State-owned companies (SOCs) and Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMES) to emerge as global ICT players and to achieve equitable distribution of ICT networks, products and services," Cwele said on Friday.

He was speaking at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban on the first day of the BRICS Communications and ICT ministerial meeting.

Cwele was joined by ministers from BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) who were meeting under the theme of "Advancing inclusive growth through industry and SMME participation".

The minister said it was decided to hold the meeting just a day after the ITU Telecom World 2018 conference ended to "leverage on the participation of the big and small industry players as well as the participation of policy and regulatory leaders".

BRICS offered a platform for new thinking on how best to create a communications' environment that responded to the needs of all people and countries, he said.

South Africa had a vibrant ICT sector of big industry players, tech entrepreneurs and small enterprises that were developing infrastructure, equipment and applications to meet the demands of the digital economy.

"Digital development is an important input in the drive towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Earlier this year, we announced that government will establish a Commission on the Fourth Industrial Revolution to advise and help us to develop a comprehensive strategy and plan on this important issue of our times.

"This Commission will be inclusive to ensure that all stakeholders such as labour, other civil society formations, business and academia are part of the evolution of our policies and strategies which will ensure their buy-in. The process to do this is at an advanced stage and will be concluded soon," said Cwele.

"Currently in South Africa we have prioritised the roll-out of infrastructure, in particular through our SA Connect Broadband Plan, and through the development of a WirelessOpen Access Network.

"Our intention is to ensure that everyone has access to Broadband at affordable prices. To do this, we intend to produce aspects of the broadband infrastructure networkfrom cabling to end-devices locally.

"We are also looking to license high demand spectrum to enhance new services. This includes rolling-out 5G networksin our country. This network infrastructure will be critical to our development and I believe will help us in our national investment drive which is being led by president Cyril Ramaphosa," he said.

Cwele also encouraged "our BRICS friends" to partner with the country to expand infrastructure roll-out in Africa. "As a continent, we are still faced with gaps in cross-border connectivity as well as intra-country broadband rollout."

China, Brics push to shift world order amid trade threats (Китай и БРИКС стремятся изменить мировой порядок на фоне торговых угроз) / South Africa, September, 2018
Keywords: trade_relations, expert_opinion
South Africa

Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, representing about 40% of the world's population and almost a quarter of its output, think it's time for a change in how things are done.

After a three-day summit in Johannesburg, the Brics nations said they want a fairer, more representative global order in diplomacy and trade just as China, the biggest member, faces billions of dollars of extra US tariffs.

They also seek reforms at the United Nations, the UN Security Council and the International Monetary Fund to better represent developing nations, and have asked that members of the World Trade Organisation – including the U.S. – abide by WTO rules as the .

"They're not only re-balancing the current global order, but contesting that order," Lyal White, senior director of the Johannesburg Business School at the University of Johannesburg, said by phone Friday. "Each of these countries can't do that on their own, but together they're a force to be reckoned with. This is a decisive but progressive shift."

Driving the call for multilateralism in trade at the summit was , whose US counterpart Donald Trump escalated trade tensions by threatening to impose tariffs on every one of the Asian economy's exports. That could derail a global upswing that's already losing momentum amid weaker-than-expected economic growth in Europe and Japan as financial markets seem complacent to the mounting risks, the International Monetary Fund warned July 16.

'Under attack'

Brics "took a firm stance against protectionism," President Cyril Ramaphosa told reporters at the end of the summit on Friday. "We felt we need to do everything we can to strengthen the multilateral trade system which is now under attack. There are many attempts to weaken it."

The members are sovereign nations and would never be pressured into taking sides, he said. "None of us, as part of Brics, will ever accept the fact that we should be told who our friends should be and who our enemies should be."

The annual gathering of the coterie of emerging economic powers, first identified by former Goldman Sachs Asset Management Chairman Jim O'Neill, is the 10th since its leaders started meeting and the first since the prospect of a full-blown global trade war became a real threat.

EM coalition

"The BRICS summit has been extremely successful for China in terms of building a coalition of emerging markets that seek to defend the current multilateral trade regime," Martyn Davies, managing director for emerging markets and Africa at Deloitte, said by phone. "What we have seen is the development of an agenda for these countries, because there's never been an agenda before. We've never seen Brics talking about liberalised trade as a grouping or as a coalition, but now trade is front and foremost."

Russia is pushing for better business ties between counterparts in the club, President Vladimir Putin said. All countries committed to strengthen their cooperation in energy and developing new technologies.

China pledged $14.7bn in investment in South Africa, including loans to its state power utility and logistics company. The commitments are the biggest yet from the Asian nation to South Africa, whose electricity producer is cash-strapped as it cleans up governance issues.

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"Are you going to say no to investment and loans that are sorely needed?" said White. "China is going to become the most dominant economy in the world. These are the rules of the game globally – South Africa has to learn how to play."

China benefited significantly from joining a multilateral, regulated liberalised regime when it became part of the WTO in 2001, Davies said.

"The major component of China's growth has been dependent on exports – of course it's going to defend that and to bring other countries along," he said. "It's making the point by creating these coalitions in the Brics directed against the belligerence and erratic nature of US trade policy."

2008 financial crisis and unraveling of the BRICS (2008 финансовый кризис и развал БРИКС) / India, September, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, economic_challenges
Author: Roshan Kishore

In September 2006, representatives of Brazil, India, Russia and China met in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly meeting, and expressed their interest in multilateral cooperation. The initiative was of historical significance as it was the first closely knit grouping of emerging market economies. It was the first ministerial meeting of what came to be known as the BRIC countries , which preceded a summit in 2009. BRIC became BRICS with South Africa's inclusion in 2010.

If one were to look at the share of these five countries in global gross domestic product (GDP), BRICS would seem like an extremely successful initiative today. This figure increased from 14.5% in 2006 to 21.4% in 2017. The increase looks even more impressive when compared with the share of the US – the world's largest economy – in global GDP. In 2006, the difference between the share of the US and BRICS in global GDP was 9.9 percentage points. This came down to 0.2 percentage points in 2017. Nothing can be a bigger proof of increasing economic multi-polarity in the world than this. (See Chart 1: BRICS and US share in global GDP)

However, another set of statistics punctures the optimism around the convergence in GDP shares of BRICS economies and the US. The GDP growth rate of BRICS nations was significantly higher, and widening its lead, than the world-average and the US GDP growth numbers in the years before the first BRICS ministerial meeting in 2006. It was this trend which probably gave the confidence to these countries to create a club of their own. This, unfortunately, was going to change very soon. In 2008, the US confronted its worst financial crisis in decades. Given the weight of the US in the world economy and its linkages with other countries thanks to globalisation, this soon mutated into a worldwide recession. The global headwinds to economic growth were particularly severe for the BRICS countries. Their GDP growth rate fell sharply, and even a recovery in the years since has not been able to restore to the BRICS the pre-crisis edge they had in terms of economic growth rates over the world and the US. (See Chart 2: BRICS, World and US GDP growth)

Both the statistics described above capture equalisation of important economic variables in the global economy. But given the fact the per capita incomes in BRICS countries are significantly lower than in developed countries such as the US, there is an element of perversity in the equality in terms of GDP growth of advanced countries and emerging market economies.

Had the crisis not erupted and were purchasing power to remain at pre-crisis levels in the world, especially in advanced countries, export demand would have continued to power the growth engines of developing countries, especially the BRICS nations. Unit value of exports, a useful measure of export earnings, for BRICS countries was growing sharply in the pre-crisis period, crashing after 2008. This trend is in concurrence with the GDP growth figures discussed above. (See Chart 3: Unit value of exports for BRICS countries)

While GDP growth rates have recovered somewhat, the initial recovery in unit value of exports has reversed once again. This statistic seems even more troubling when it is seen along with the changing relation between economic growth and trade in the world economy. We look at the ratio between percentage growth in the trade-GDP ratio and GDP growth for the global economy. The value can tell us about the trade-creation potential (or lack of it) of GDP growth. This figure has been negative for four consecutive years (latest data available is till 2016), a trend which has never been seen since the 1960s. (See Chart 4: ratio of growth in trade-GDP ratio and global GDP)

This means that growth in world GDP has actually been leading to a reduction in world trade. This suggests that global trade has been in troubled waters for quite some time. Trade wars are bound to make this worse. The global crisis gave a tectonic shock to the global economy in 2008. Even after 10 years, it is difficult to say how exactly the fault lines will change.
India Approves MOU on Joint Blockchain Research with BRICS Members (Индия подписала Меморандум о взаимопонимании по совместным исследованиям блокчейна с членами БРИКС) / United States, September, 2018
Keywords: concluded_agreements, digital
United States

The Union Cabinet of India has approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the collaborative research of distributed ledger technology (DLT), local news outlet ANI reportedSeptember 12. The Union Cabinet is the supreme decision-making body in India consisting of cabinet ministers and led by the prime minister, Narendra Modi.

The MOU, which is a cooperative initiative under the BRICS Interbank Cooperation Mechanism, aims to foster better understanding of DLT and define areas where the technology can be deployed to improve operational efficiency.

The research will be jointly conducted by the Export-Import Bank of India (Exim Bank) and banks from the other BRICS member states; Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Economico e Social (BNDES, Brazil), China Development Bank (CDB), State Corporation Bank for Development and Foreign Economic Affairs (Vnesheconombank, Russia), and the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA).

The MoU was initially proposed at the 10th International BRICS Summit held in Johannesburg in July, the main focus of which was cooperation in economic development "in the face of the fourth industrial revolution." The banks then agreed to jointly study DLT "in the interests of the development of the digital economy." Mikhail Poluboyarinov, First Deputy Chairman and a Member of the Board at Vnesheconombank, said of the MoU:

"The current agreement allows the development banks of BRICS countries to study the applications of innovative technologies in infrastructure finance and bank products optimization."

That month, the Indian state of Telangana also signed MoUs with blockchain companies to eventually implement the technology in state applications in order to streamline governmentservices. The measure reportedly aims to bring more transparency and efficiency to public services provided by the state.
Namibian exports to BRICS rises significantly (Экспорт Намибии в БРИКС значительно вырос) / China, September, 2018
Keywords: trade_relations

WINDHOEK, Sept. 13 (Xinhua) -- Brazil, Russia, India and China, four members of the BRICS group, were ranked third as the largest export market for Namibia's domestic economy, according to Namibia's Statistics Agency (NSA) on Thursday.

The agency in their quarterly trade statistic bulletin for the second quarter of 2018 said that year on year, domestic exports absorbed by BRICS (excluding Namibia's neighboring country South Africa), rose significantly, registering 209.4 million U.S. dollars compared to only 36.6 million U.S. dollars recorded in the second quarter last year, indicating an increase of 472 percent.

In trade by economic regions, the European Union (EU) once again dominated Namibia's export market compared to other economic regions during the period under review.

Meanwhile the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) was Namibia's second largest export market. SACU accounted for 24 percent of the total exports, down from 38 percent in the second quarter of 2017.

Namibia eyes BRICS to bankroll stimulus (Намибия смотрит на БРИКС как на источник финансовой стимуляции) / Namibia, September, 2018
Keywords: investments, expert_opinion

The government wants to roll out financial packages to stimulate growth and is looking to BRICS to be one of its funders.

This was revealed during a media briefing session where the Minister of Information and Communication Technology Stanley Simataa briefed the media on decisions taken at the Cabinet meeting held on 21 August 2018.

At that meeting, Cabinet resolved that Namibia should explore the possibility of sourcing BRICS funding.
"Cabinet directed that Namibia explores the possibility of sourcing funds for the BRICS New Development Bank to finance the development of intra-regional infrastructure projects promoted by the Ministry of Works and Transport through the New Partnership for Africa's Development(NEPAD) Presidential Infrastructure Champions Initiatives," reads the statement.

These projects include the Grootfontein-Rundu-Katima Mulilo Railway-line, Baynes Hydro-Power Project, Trans-Kalahari Railway-Line Development Plan and the Trans-Orange River Highway and Railway.

The announcement comes at a time when government sourced a N$10 billion loan from the African Development Bank.

It is also in the process of concluding another N$10 billion loan deal from China.

Finance minister Calle Schlettwein confirmed the move saying at this stage "we are just exploring".

Speaking to The Patriot on Monday, Schlettwein said there is nothing wrong with sourcing funding from BRICS provided that "the conditions around it are well thought through".

China is also part of BRICS, despite the fact that it is pushing its own African economic agenda.

China has promised African states that it will implement eight major initiatives with African countries in the next three years and beyond, in the fields of industrial promotion, infrastructure connectivity, trade facilitation, green development, capacity building, healthcare and people-to-people exchanges.

At a forum of African and Chinese leaders in Beijing earlier this month, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged $60 billion in financial assistance for Africa over the next three years. The plan includes aid, investments and loans.

China had also promised the same amount to Africa at 2015's business summit. Chinese companies will also be urged to invest an additional $10 billion into the continent.

Experts have expressed concern about potential debt issues arising from the financial relationship between Africa and China. Some have even claimed China's loans are actually "debt traps" intended to gain leverage over Africa's economy.
But a top Chinese official says the funds are helping Africa develop, and China says the deals come with "no political strings attached."

China/Namibia ties

While the Namibian government is under pressure to be fiscally prudent to avoid further downgrading by rating agencies, its recent overdrive for loans has experts worried.

Official national statistics indicate that Chinese concessional loans make up only 2.6% of the total debt the country is sitting on.

The total amount of debt the country has on its back stands at N$76.6 billion at the moment.

As per the bilateral arrangement between the two countries, Namibia has benefitted from China in grants to the tune of N$1.3 billion, interest free loans at N$302 million and concessional loans worth N$1.7 billion.

At the same time, Namibia sourced a total of N$1.99 billion in loans from the China Export Import Bank.

The terms for the concessional loans are as follows; 2% interest, 0.5% commitment fees on undisbursed balance of the loan, 5 years' grace period before repayment of principal starts and a 15-year repayment period.

Government officials who regularly attend Cabinet sessions said Geingob is hands-on during meetings, especially on issues of the economy, and demanded well-thought-out presentations, particularly in the current bleak economic climate.

Reportedly, he did not hesitate to ask that those that were unsatisfactory should be redone.

Last month, China declared its commitment to invest more than $60billion in Africa's economy.

Asked about approaching China for money, Government insiders said China was among the countries that had been singled out during treasury's presentation on the stimulus packages.

Economists have warned, however, that besides financing, Namibia needs a clear long-term plan to resuscitate the economy and create jobs. The government is also hoping that China will help to boost its infrastructure development plans.

Namibia and China have had close relations and Geingob's administration appears to be drawing the East Asian giant even closer, amid cooling relations with the west. Geingob last month led a delegation of government officials and businesspeople on a state visit to China.
India, South Africa At Opposite Ends Among BRICS (Индия, Южная Африка на противоположных концах БРИКС) / USA, September, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, economic_challenges
Author: Jayesh Khilnani

The emerging market currency rout has put India and South Africa on the opposite ends of the BRICS bloc.

India remains the most expensive among peers as the depreciating rupee—the worst performing currency in Asia this year—hasn't so far rubbed off on the equity market. The benchmark Nifty 50 Index's one-year forward price to earnings multiple remains one standard deviation higher than the five-year average. A standard deviation from the mean is a measure of volatility.

South Africa, which recently entered a recession, is trading more than one-standard deviation below the five-year average PE multiple.

The MSCI Emerging Markets Index entered bear territory falling more than 20 percent from the year's high on the back of a stronger U.S. dollar and higher benchmark yields.

This is likely to worsen before it gets any better for emerging markets excluding China, Mark Matthew, managing director at Bank Julius Baer, said in a recent research note. Emerging nations, including India, have been downgraded to market weight from overweight, he said.

India's valuations are not the reason, Matthew said, but he expects continued stress on emerging currencies amid a strong U.S. economic environment. The view on Chinese equities remains constructive as they trade near historically low valuations.
Forget Brics, SA is now part of BRATS. This is what it means (Забудьте про БРИКС, ЮАР теперь является частью BRATS. Вот что это значит) / South Africa, September, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, economic_challenges
South Africa

The emergence of a new acronym places South Africa in the company of other struggling emerging market countries. But is it justified?

South Africa has been very proud of its membership of Brics — the acronym for the group of countries, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

But, even as it was hosting the recent Brics summit, it began to be associated with a less encouraging acronym — BRATS, which stands for Brazil, Russia, Argentina, Turkey and South Africa.

While a place at the Brics table, allows South Africa to punch above its weight with some of the world's most populous and powerful countries, BRATS is supposed to be less flattering.

It describes the group of countries believed to be in danger of an emerging-market meltdown. All these countries have suffered currency weakness and economic problems in recent times.

But, is the use of a new acronym justified? The chart below shows that the four countries with the biggest currency losses over the last month are, in fact, all members of Brics.

Then again, a new acronym gives economists something to do while waiting for the next US jobs report.
Why We Need 'Hard Cash In The Economy' (Почему нам нужны «жесткие деньги в экономике») / South Africa, September, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, economic_challenges
South Africa
Author: Karen Mwendera

Busi Mabuza, the Chairperson of the Board of the Industrial Development Corporation, on the BRICS summit and why we need to start talking as an African bloc.

If there's one person who knows what's good for investment, it's Busi Mabuza, the Chairperson of the

Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), a national development finance institution promoting economic growth and industrial development in South Africa.

Exactly a month after the BRICS Summit, which brought together Brazil, Russia, India and China to South Africa in July, we met with Mabuza for her views on why such forums are key for Africa:

What, according to you, was the biggest outcome of the BRICS Summit?

The countries' focus was on attracting investment, so we had presidents of the BRICS countries coming with goody bags to the country, especially President Xi Jinping who made quite a substantial commitment to investment in South Africa. What I liked most though was the 'BRICS Plus' approach. The invite to other African countries to be part of some of the sessions of BRICS, because with the Continental Free Trade Area Agreement, I think we need to start talking as an African bloc.

South Africa has a minute population compared to the other BRICS countries for us to be an attractive preposition to those large economies….we have to speak with the voice that talks for the rest of Africa as well. I also liked the fact that there was conversation in a concerted [way] at a BRICS women's forum…I didn't see the evidence of it taking shape yet, but the fact that it was a topic of discussion, that there were initiatives around it…I think is very promising and exciting.

One of the conversations at the conference was the focus on an open economy, what would that mean for South Africa and the rest of Africa?

We should have free trade between the BRICS partners and South Africa, precisely because South Africa is quite a small economy compared to the BRICS partners.

We export raw material to those countries, they export into South Africa finished goods. So the trade still needs to be developed. We need to migrate upwards in terms of our trade mix and portfolio mix, so that if the economies are open, if the trade is open and the tariff barriers are done away with, then it shouldn't be to the detriment of one economy. There has to be a win-win complementarity.

The other aspect I think very important is the movement of people. We have visa requirements sometimes which are quite onerous and I think there was a lot of time dedicated to talking about those obstacles. People find that when they have investments in South Africa and bring professionals to the country, they can't stay for a long enough period for them to actually get the business up and going before they go back in order to meet the visa requirements. I think the government is making a concerted effort on that front in trying to make sure visa requirements are not as stringent and do not become an obstacle for our trading partners.

As African countries, we now need to start working towards bringing down all the tariffs, trade tariffs and the non-tariff barriers between exchanging goods and services amongst the different African countries. It's going to take long because some of the issues are quite complex…So that would be my understanding of opening up the economy. I think there are risks on the one side and opportunities on the other side. What's important is we move in an orderly fashion and ensure that as we do so, there is a win-win proposition for all countries.

How important are summits such as BRICS for South Africa?

It feels as though we are reintegrating into the rest of the world. I think we were almost at some stage a pariah state but I think the fact that we have been received so warmly since the new president [Cyril Ramaphosa] early this year is a great positive because it means there's a lot of goodwill in the rest of the world for us.

South Africa's economy has been sluggish, mainly because of lack of investment. There are other challenges. Our unemployment rates are shocking. I was looking at the statistics compared to our BRICS partners – we are at 27% officially…The need is for us to attract not just the political goodwill of the BRICS partners, but their hard cash into the economy. Not just the portfolio flow – we are not looking for people who are going to buy shares on the stock exchange and sell them as quickly as they bought them if things go wrong – we are looking for people who will bring projects into South Africa, people who will create jobs for South Africans.

[For example], the Chinese, are known for bringing their local projects that they build in countries. But I think as long as the balance is a significant majority – South Africans employed in those projects – then it will be to our benefit. Then there are opportunities for us to show them a thing or two. We do well as far as women's representation is concerned, not in the private sector, but in the public sector; we are still ahead of our BRICS partners.

You will be amazed that our rail and road infrastructure in terms of area is way ahead of the other countries. So there are opportunities for us to see whether our skill is taken to those countries.

At the IDC, how do you promote women in business and youth?

In the recent past, we have realized something we should have known a long time ago. People focus on what is measured, and we have therefore started measuring the amounts that are collected and dispersed to youth-owned and women-owned businesses and that has done wonders for us. Four years ago, we didn't know how much of our funding was being dispersed to companies owned by women or was being dispersed to companies owned by young people.

Now, because management is incentivized to disperse a certain percentage of our funding to women-owned and youth-owned businesses, we are seeing more and more. There are years when – I think it was the previous financial year – we overshot our targets in terms of the amounts dispersed to youth-owned and women-owned businesses. We of course pay attention to our employment equity profile within but we also look at the employment equity performance of the businesses we invest in. That's a space where we have seen sluggish progress but I think now that we are focusing on it, when people come and look for investment, we probe their employment equity profile. We see male management teams and we ask them why and how long it's going to take them to bring in female talent and young people. And I expect that we will start seeing a shift on that front as well.

And if the IDC portfolio companies start living as good examples of what this country should be doing more and more, then I will be happy.

In August, the IDC approved a funding of R16.7 billion ($1.1 billion). What kind of businesses will that money go towards?

The companies are diverse. We need to be focusing on industrial development and a significant majority of the companies that benefitted from our R16.7 billion disbursement were industrial companies. However, because of where the economic cycle is, there's quite a number of distressed companies. We're a development financial institution, therefore, we would like to think of ourselves as patient investors. And where companies are distressed, but we can see there's an opportunity to be viable down the line, we want to support them…

What are the new industries the IDC is currently looking at?

In fact, we have a new division called New Industries. We have recognized that for IDC and South Africa to remain relevant, we need to understand the 4th Industrial Revolution.

The new era businesses cannot be valued in a similar fashion as one would value the retail company where you look at the profits and you say 'ok, the business is doing well'.

There, you look at the technology, you look at the potential of that technology and you support the business on that basis.

I was fascinated there is a company in South Africa working in the Internet of Things (IoT) space because it is tempting to assume that those new technologies are just being developed in the rest of the world but that South Africans have actually started companies in that space is exciting for me.
NDB can support emerging markets' upward trend (НБР может поддержать восходящую тенденцию развивающихся рынков) / China, September, 2018
Keywords: ndb, expert_opinion, economic_challenges, rating

Editor's Note:

Last month, Fitch Ratings and S&P Global Ratings (S&P) predicted a stable outlook for the New Development Bank (NDB), which was set up by the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) to mobilize resources for investment in infrastructure and sustainable development projects in emerging economies. The NDB has been playing an active role in projects in Africa and other continents since it was founded in 2014. The recognition by two top international rating agencies marks a milestone for the multilateral finance institution, as well as the achievement of the BRICS. While the 2018 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) summit was held in Beijing, Global Times (GT) correspondent Bai Yunyi interviewed Leslie Maasdorp (Maasdorp), vice president and chief financial officer of the NDB, to discuss the bank's management practice and how it has been able to get to such a robust position.

GT: Recently the NDB received an AA+ rating from S&P and Fitch Ratings. What does this mean for the future development of the NDB? How has the NDB managed to get this high rating in such a short time?

Maasdorp: A high credit rating means that the bank is very credit-worthy. There is a very low probability that it will ever default. A bank that has a high rating can also raise money in the debt capital markets cheaply. In other words, our cost of funds is very low, which means we can use that money to lend for projects in our member countries, and this is a multilateral development bank's essential function.

A high credit rating also gives us the ability to raise money internationally, for instance in London or New York, and in any of the major stock exchanges. So the bank will be able to significantly expand its lending, and its ability to help build more dams, more power stations and more infrastructure projects.

The second significant aspect I want to highlight is that this year we lent mainly to governments and to state-owned enterprises. But we are now also lending to the private sector, because there's a huge financing gap between the infrastructure that is needed and the amount of money that is available. Obviously, a high credit rating helps us to mobilize more private sector funding, because it makes people want to do business with you.

Regarding why we could get this high rating in such a short time, basically a rating depends on a number of factors. Firstly, it depends on having very high capitalization, which means you've got a huge amount of capital from your member countries. Many multilateral development banks have a capitalization smaller than ours.

The second reason is our leverage ratio is very low. When we give loans for every two dollars, we have one dollar in the bank, while commercial banks have a much higher leverage ratio. So we are more conservative from a risk management perspective.

We also have very strong support from the five member countries. Nowadays, more than half of the world's foreign exchange reserves comes from developing countries, and they are the main contributors to economic growth. Obviously, the credit agencies recognize this support.

GT: When you make loan decisions, what kind of projects do you prefer? Do you take into account the social impact of these projects?

Maasdorp: We focus on developmental impact. We don't do projects for short-term commercial returns. This bank has been created, like other multilateral banks, to focus on the long term. So we look at economic, developmental and social impact. We would, for example, sometimes build a road even if there's no immediate economic return from the project. But we know if you link rural areas to urban areas, people will be able to take agricultural products to urban areas and sell them at higher prices and have a better quality of life. So we look at projects in terms of the development impact that they will have.

We also look at environmental sustainability as a major issue. The projects have to demonstrate they can reduce carbon emissions. As China has developed over the last 35 years, there has been massive damage to the environment as a result of the rapid growth. The quality of air, water and soil have been affected.

So China is now focused on cleaning up the environment. Almost every project we're doing here in China is clean. For example, we've got a solar rooftop project in Shanghai, which is focused on creating more renewable energy.

GT: Making the best possible loan decisions, free of political bias, is always a challenge at multilateral development banks. How does the NDB avoid that trap?

Maasdorp: The bank is a creation of the governments, and the governments are the shareholders. They provide strategic oversight for the bank, but the bank runs on a commercial basis, meaning that the bank makes its own decisions. For example, there's an investment committee with five people - the president of the bank, plus four other vice presidents. Five of us make investment decisions, but there's no government representation here. We obviously listen to what the governments' medium-term priorities are, we look at the governments' strategic national development plans, and then we make decisions independently. So we can say it in this way: We take into account the political variables, but we are not directed by the governments.

GT: For many emerging economies, corruption is a considerable challenge. How does the NDB make itself corruption-proof?

Maasdorp: Corruption is a modern challenge that you find throughout business as well as in government. It is very important for banks like ourselves to have firm and clear policies to start with. The NDB has a very strong anti-corruption policy, and if a project doesn't meet our threshold, we would simply walk away.

Also, we conduct strict legal due diligence on every single project. The project design and its appraisal process are very vigorous within the bank. And we can walk away at any stage from a project if we feel that there is evidence of corruption.

GT: Nowadays a lot of emerging economies are facing serious problems - China is in a trade row with the US, Russia has been hit by sanctions from Western countries, and Brazil is still in recession. How will the NDB cope with this situation?
Maasdorp: It is a troubling time for many emerging markets right now. The first point that I would make is that this bank was created with very long-term aspirations. As I said earlier, the trajectory of emerging markets and the proportion of their contribution to the world economy is going to increase significantly in the next 10 or 20 years. Everybody, even emerging market skeptics, will tell you that.

When you look at which will be the top 10 economies in 2050, six or seven of those economies are emerging markets. You can find this result in all the studies. So the long-term trajectory is promising because demographics is an important driver of economic growth in most of these countries. For example, 40 percent of the entire labor force in the world in 2050 will come from Africa, because the population is so young.

Developing countries will continue to drive economic growth. There will be cyclical downturns, but the overall trajectory is upward. As a bank, we acknowledge that there are challenges that these countries face and we take note of it, but we are highly rated so it doesn't really affect us in a direct way. We believe our member countries have plans in place to come out of the economic downturn.

BRICS Ministers undertake to support SMMEs (Министры БРИКС обязуются поддерживать малый и средний бизнес) / South Africa, September, 2018
Keywords: economic_challenges, concluded_agreements, top_level_meeting
South Africa

BRICS Communications and ICT Ministers have agreed to help promote the cooperation of Small, Micro, Medium Enterprises (SMMEs) from BRICS member countries.

"Key to unleashing their potential is for governments to support and invest in the innovation and development of ICT SMMEs and the broader ICT industry," said a communique issued at the end of the BRICS meeting for Communications and ICT Ministers.

The Ministers have urged SMMEs to continue to innovate and find solutions that will advance universal telecommunications access.

The member states identified SMMEs as potential engines for growth and job creation.

The meeting, held this week in Durban, agreed to share studies, expertise and information on the roll-out of 5G within BRICS member countries. This includes encouraging intra-BRICS investment on 5G and other new emerging technologies.

The ministers further agreed to continue to cooperate on cybersecurity and to increase partnerships on digital skills training.

A common agenda on the Fourth Industrial Revolution, in particular the participation in the operationalisation of the Partnership on New Industrial Revolution (PartNIR), was agreed on.

The PartNIR aims to deepen BRICS cooperation in digitalisation, industrialisation, innovation, inclusiveness and investment, to maximise the opportunities and address the challenges arising from the Fourth Industrial Revolution, said the declaration.

The PartNIR is one of the resolutions of the BRICS Summit. This will be done through the establishment of the Digital BRICS Task Force to coordinate cooperation on the digital and ICT enabled interventions for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The 4th BRICS Ministers of Communication Meeting was held in Durban on Friday and Saturday. ICT Ministers from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa attended the meeting.

The meeting was aimed at taking forward policy approaches to emerging technologies, progress in business linkages and strengthening cooperation on the Fourth Industrial Revolution in the five countries. –

Siberian Gold: BRICS Launches First Joint Project in Russia – Indian Businessman (Сибирское золото: БРИКС запускает первый совместный проект в России - индийский бизнесмен) / Russia, September, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, concluded_agreements

BRICS nations have kicked off their first joint project in Russia's Chita region, Shiv Vikram Khemka, vice chairman of SUN Group, a leading principal investor and private equity fund manager in emerging markets, told Radio Sputnik on the sidelines of the fourth annual Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok.

Sputnik: You've been researching India-Russia trade relations for many years. What are the key areas where the two countries cooperate right now?

Shiv Vikram Khemka: Traditionally, India and Russia have been cooperating a lot in the area of aerospace, defense, energy, power, oil and gas, space, pharmaceuticals, infrastructure and, I think, there is a lot more to do in these areas and many other areas as well.

Sputnik: We've heard about new projects in gold and diamond projects. What are the prospects of these projects? Would it be a nice addition to what we already have?

Shiv Vikram Khemka: Yes, so our company SUN Gold, our group has been working here for 60 years now, acquired a project in Chitinskaya Oblast about 10 years ago and we are just completing now an agreement with the Chinese national gold company, China National Gold [Group Corporation] (CNGC) and the Far East Development Fund, as well as some investors from Brazil and from South Africa and we are making it the first BRICS project in history. But of course, clearly, there are some leaders in this, the China National Gold company will lead this project and develop it.

We will produce over 6.5 tons of gold a year, create a lot of employment, tax payments in Chita Oblast and rejuvenation of that part of the region where we are. And we are very excited [about] this new format, a multilateral format, where we bring different things to the table, and I think that as a team we can do much more, not only in Russia but in other parts of the world. And so, we are very much looking at this as a new model of working together where someone is doing more leading, someone is doing more investment, perhaps, someone is doing more management, someone is just an investor, and someone brings knowledge of the region. As a team we can create some interesting projects and we are looking at probably five or 10 projects around the world right now where we would work in a format of BRICS or the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

Sputnik: How does BRICS help in this regard?

Shiv Vikram Khemka: I think it's more about having partners who bring different skills to the table and some of whom are getting to know each other. So, for example, you know, our investors from South Africa may not know a lot about Russian gold mining, but they know gold mining because they live in South Africa, they have done mining in that area — so the next time they see an opportunity, we can go with them, we don't know much about that region of the world, but we know about gold mining. So, I think it's about sharing opportunities together and building a team that starts to work together in different ideas and different geographies.
Boosting the USE of national currencies among BRICS (Расширение использования национальных валют в странах БРИКС) / Russia, September, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, brics+, trade_relations, economic_challenges
Author: Yaroslav Lissovolik

The use of national currencies among developing countries is acquiring increasing importance as the developing economies are building their own development banks and integration platforms against the backdrop of rising protectionist pressures in the developed world. Indeed, the creation of these new integration platforms may notably facilitate the increasing use of national currencies – one of the potential test cases is the emergence of BRICS+ – a platform that potentially could bring together the largest integration block of the developing world.

Within such a BRICS+ there may be a case for what may be termed as the 'R5 initiative' that targets the use of the respective national currencies of BRICS countries – Rouble (Russia), Rand (South Africa), Real (Brazil), Rupee (India) and Renminbi (China) – within the BRICS+ circle and more broadly in the world economy. The elements of such a strategy may include measures to boost trade and investment among BRICS+ (cooperation between the respective RTAs to create more scope for the use of national currencies), cooperation between development institutions in using national currencies to fund investments and long-term projects, cooperation in promoting BRICS+ currencies towards reserve currency status. Importantly, the R5 initiative (or alternatively the R5+ initiative to denote the national currencies of all BRICS+ members) needs to target greater use of all currencies in the BRICS+ circle, in order to render the R5+ network open and inclusive.

The launching of the R5+ initiative would allow the BRICS+ countries to 'monetise' the increasing intensity of mutual economic cooperation through the use of national currencies and a substantial reduction in transactions/ conversion costs associated with the use of other currencies such as the dollar or the euro in mutual transactions. Furthermore, the BRICS+ format appears to be particularly suitable for the implementation of the R5+ initiative. Firstly, the inclusion of the regional circle of partners facilitates the propagation of such an initiative and renders it more sustainable in time due to the relatively greater intensity of trade and investment across the respective regional integration arrangements. Also, the synergy from bringing together the cooperation between the regional development banks and the respective RFAs (regional financing arrangements) that form part of the BRICS+ framework creates additional instruments and possibilities to sustain the drive towards the use of national currencies in the regional as well as cross-regional domains.

The following five common platforms among BRICS could facilitate a more intensified use of BRICS national currencies:

  • A platform for national and regional development banks of BRICS economies, with options of co-financing projects in national currencies. The group of regional development banks would comprise among others such institutions as the Eurasian Development Bank, FOCEM and SDF. The operation of such a platform would also benefit from the participation of Chinese development banks and funds. The regional development banks could be allocated additional capital denominated in national currencies in order to finance long-term development projects. The New Development Bank could play a coordinating role in the operation of such a platform of regional development banks.
  • A common platform for sovereign wealth funds of BRICS economies – currently the only BRICS member without a sovereign wealth fund is South Africa (even though in terms of macroeconomic policy considerations such a Fund may be expedient given the significant dependency of the country's economy on the commodity sector).
  • A common platform for the national currency and stock exchanges – this would serve to facilitate greater liquidity and volume in trading the respective currency pairs as well as the development of hedging and other financial instruments.
  • A common payment system platform, which would cover the BRICS economies as well as their regional partners through payment systems in national currencies. One of the recent initiatives in this area focuses on the creation of a common payment card system for BRICS and their regional partners. A common payment card system would complement (not replace) the existing national payment card systems of BRICS+ countries and create the conditions for increasing the national market shares in servicing financial transactions in the domestic markets (Preksin and Kazartsev, 2016).
  • A platform for regional financing arrangements (RFAs), with options of financing stabilisation programmes and investment projects in national currencies. The corresponding RFAs with BRICS part icipation include the Eurasian Fund for Stabilisation and Development (EFSD), BRICS Contingency Reserve Arrangement (BRICS CRA), CMIM – Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralisation. Among these RFAs a critical element in the BRICS cooperation in the sphere of financial and macroeconomic stability is the BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement that became operational in 2015. In line with Article 2 of the BRICS CRA Treaty the initial committed resources of the CRA stand at USD 100 billion, with individual commitments ranging from USD 41 bn for China to USD 5 bn for South Africa.
There may be several trajectories of BRICS+ cooperation in the financial sphere where the involvement of the relevant RFAs could prove instrumental. One such area is mutual policy coordination with respect to international financial organisations such as the IMF – in fact such coordination appears to be already taking place. In October 2016 a highlevel dialogue on the role of regional financing arrangements (RFAs) in the Global Financial Safety Net (GFSN) took place in Washington DC with the participation of the representatives of the IMF as well as representatives of AMRO (the ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic research office), the BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement (represented by the Reserve Bank of India), the Eurasian Fund for Stabilisation and Development, the Latin American Reserve Fund (FLAR), the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), as well as the Arab Monetary Fund.

The potential for increasing the use of national currencies in the BRICS and their regional partners is significant, given the high levels of dollarisation in many BRICS+ countries. In the Eurasian Economic Union, for example, the use of the Russian rouble in cross-country transactions has increased to 75% in 2016 compared to 56% in 2010 at the expense of the US dollar, whose share declined from 35% in 2010 to 19% in 2016.

Going forward, the BRICS countries will need to explore innovative approaches to addressing the issue of expanding the use of national currencies. Potential venues in this respect could include the creation of an SDR-type currency basket of BRICS+ countries (the R5+ currency basket), which would include the most liquid currencies in the BRICS+ universe. This basket of currencies could then be potentially used in the operations undertaken by the regional financing arrangements (RFAs) as well as the regional development banks, where BRICS+ countries are members.

For economist, signs all point to solutions: Jim O'Neill (Для экономиста все знаки указывают на решения: Джим О'Нил) / China, September, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, economic_challenges
Author: Wang Mingjie

British economist Jim O'Neill was cycling in a remote village in southern China in late 2009 when he spotted a large poster on a dilapidated wall that stopped him in his tracks.

He was on a business trip but had decided to spend some leisure time with his wife visiting the karst mountains beside the Yulong River in Yangshuo, the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.

"We cycled around some villages, and outside one we saw this massive billboard which said, in English, 'Success in English, success in life'. I took a photograph of it," he said, recalling the incident in a recent interview.

"I'm like 'Wow, what does that mean for me as a British person who thinks about China?' And more importantly, what does it mean for Britain as an opportunity for improving its economic, financial and diplomatic relationship with China?"

O'Neill, former chief economist at Goldman Sachs, said the poster helped shape the advice he would go on to give former British prime minister David Cameron and his chancellor, George Osborne, who heralded a "golden era" of Sino-British relations.

Recalling his first trip to China in 1990, O'Neill said Beijing looked completely different from how it does today. "The first time I went," he said, "I joked that the car I went from the airport to downtown was the only car on the road, as you were just surrounded with what seemed like millions of bikes."

Since then, O'Neill-a member of the House of Lords and chairman of the think tank Chatham House-has traveled to China more than 30 times.

Lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty with the help of astonishing economic growth has been China's biggest achievement in the past 40 years, he said, adding, "China has had the most astonishingly long period of very high economic growth, something the world had never seen."

In 1977, China's GDP was $175 billion, only 2 percent of the global total, putting the country 10th in the world ranking. Last year, GDP stood at $12 trillion-an increase of nearly 68 times-15 percent of the global total, making China the second-largest economy.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening-up, which set the path forward and has led to many changes in the country.

For O'Neill, one of the interesting things has been the central government's five-year plans. He said that while such plans may not always be implemented in every minor detail, they offer a good sign of what the nation is going to do.

"When I look forward, one of the clearest things I look for is any sign of any major shift on the next fiveyear plan," he said. "It's something I'm surprised other foreign analysts don't pay more attention to. It was, for example, the first sign China was going to be more accepting of a lower nominal growth rate. The previous five-year plan made that clear."

He attributed China's economic success partly to its five-year plans, which have kept development aligned with the nation's trajectory.

"We in the UK would really benefit from our own British style of some kind of five-year plan, as would be the case for many different countries all over the world, whether they're developed or so-called developing," he said.

O'Neill is well known for coining the term BRIC-Brazil, Russia, India and China-in 2001 to describe the four rapidly developing nations that symbolized the shifting balance in the global economy. South Africa was added to the group nine years later, making it BRICS.

"When I coined the term, I remember China was still heavily dependent on low-value-added exports and not too developed. But I recall that China played a huge role in helping solve the Asian financial crisis indirectly in 1997-98, which is why I immediately saw China at the center of the BRIC concept," he said.

Looking at the current trade dispute between China and the United States, O'Neill said it could potentially be a good opportunity for China as "this will encourage the reformists to use pressure as a sign and a symptom of what they really need to do to execute some of the broad reforms of President Xi Jinping".

However, he said he does not envision major changes to the country's financial market in the next decade.

"I don't see a sort of 'big bang' where we suddenly wake up one day and all trading in the Chinese market is completely free," he said. "But as we see signs of gradual opening-up, allowing more Chinese people to participate in foreign markets and more foreigners to participate in Chinese markets, that will happen. But no so-called big bang."

He also expects to see solutions to the challenges of environmental pollution and urban expansion.

"When I reflect on the history of the world economy, there are signs of many countries having the same sort of environmental challenges that China has today, including in London," O'Neill said. "So I think we'll see the Chinese government becoming more determined to solve that problem."
Political Events
Political events in the public life of BRICS
Land redistribution will be undertaken in orderly manner – Cyril Ramaphosa (Перераспределение земли будет осуществляться упорядоченным образом - Cирилл Рамафоза) / South Africa, September, 2018
Keywords: cyril_ramaphosa, speech
South Africa




Programme Director,

Honourable Minister Lindiwe Sisulu,

Deputy Ministers Luwellyn Landers and Regina Mhaule,

Excellencies, Ambassadors, High Commissioners and Representatives of Continental and International Organisations,

Director-General and Management of DIRCO,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you for joining us for my first interaction with the member of the diplomatic community represented in South Africa.

Yesterday, the world paid its final respects to a fallen giant of Africa, the former United Nations Secretary-General Mr Kofi Annan.

The world is indeed a better place for having entrusted him with leadership of the international community.

From the highest office in global diplomacy, Kofi Annan championed the interests not of political elites but of the most vulnerable people in global society.

For us, the passing of this extraordinary champion of a more inclusive and equitable world is an immeasurable loss.

May I kindly request that we rise and observe a moment's silence in honour and remembrance of this son of our soil.

I thank you.

Your Excellencies,

Let me take this opportunity to express my deepest appreciation and that of our government and citizens for your presence in, and partnership with, our country.

Allow me to take this opportunity to acknowledge that, with the leadership transition that has taken place in South Africa, there has been a delay in finalising the agreement for some High Commissioners- and Ambassadors-Designate.

We are working to finalise these and to process the letters of credence for new Ambassadors and High Commissioners.

South Africa has worked hard, in a sustained and principled way, to ensure that we are at peace with the world and that we make a positive contribution to resolving issues that are of concern to the international community.

Our engagement with the world is informed by our own experience during the liberation struggle of international support and solidarity.

You are in South Africa because you have chosen to be our partners.

I wish to thank you all for the work you have done recently to help South Africa attain a position on the United Nations Security Council.

During our tenure from January 2019, we will remain true to the positions we adopted as we campaigned for this non-permanent seat.

South Africa is committed to working with its partners on our home continent of Africa and in all regions of the world to secure outcomes that serve our national, bilateral and multilateral interests.

We will continue to work in all the regional, continental and global institutions in a manner that reiterates the inescapable reality that the development of South Africa is inextricably linked to that of the African regeneration.

The advancement of the African continent is itself intricately connected to that of the developing countries of the South.

We live in a time when the world is getting smaller, when new technologies are enabling progress at an unprecedented pace.

This is a time when the means to eradicate poverty, unemployment and inequality appear to be well within our grasp.

South Africa is committed to work for a world where there is peace, security and prosperity for all the people of each and every nation.

We remain steadfast in our rejection of all acts of terrorism and aggression.

Since the advent of our democracy, South Africa has positioned itself as a force for good in the world and as a contributor to the forward march of humanity.

South Africa is an active participant in efforts to develop the Southern African Development Community and to ensure the implementation of the African Union's Agenda 2063.

We are encouraged by the consolidation of democratic governance, peace, stability and security in most African states, and by the rapid changes in living conditions and infrastructure development.

The agreement on an African Continental Free Trade Area is a significant milestone along the path to economic integration.

Our continent's development, however, is undermined by pockets of instability and conflicts.

South Africa has collaborated actively in bilateral and multilateral efforts to resolve some of the Continent's recurring conflict situations.

Included were those in our neighbouring Kingdom of Lesotho, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Madagascar, Burundi, South Sudan, Somalia and the Central African Republic.

We will also assist where possible to resolve the ongoing problems in Mali and Libya, so that all regions of our continent can finally experience peace and stability.

We will continue to play our part in conflict resolution, as illustrated by the deployment of some of our eminent citizens, such as Former President Thabo Mbeki and former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke, as Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region and SADC Envoy to Lesotho respectively.

Your Excellencies,

Since taking office in February, I have undertaken several international missions and received a number of Heads of State and Government.

These engagements have further consolidated relations between our countries, politically, economically and in areas of trade and investment.

We are working hard to improve the investment environment in the country by ensuring policy certainty and consistency.

We are hard at work to improve the performance of our economy, strengthen government and improve the functioning of state owned enterprises.

Earlier this year, I announced an investment drive aimed at generating at least $100 billion in new investment over the next five years.

This drive will culminate in an Investment Conference in Johannesburg from 25-27 October 2018.

This Conference will bring together investors both from South Africa and other parts of the world.

We are grateful for all the support we have received already from Your Excellencies, and look forward to welcoming investors from all the countries represented here.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In the coming days, we will be joining other global leaders to attend the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

The General Debate will be preceded on 24 September by the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit, hosted by the President of the General Assembly in honour of the centenary of the birth of former President Nelson Mandela.

We would like to thank the AU and its Member States for endorsing this Peace Summit through its January 2018 Summit Declaration on the Centenary of Nelson Mandela.

As we go to this assembly, South Africa will strongly advocate for the comprehensive reform of the UN Security Council.

We are calling for the expansion in the permanent and non-permanent category of the Security Council from 15 to 26 seats.

For Africa to be fully represented at the Security Council, it should get no less than two permanent seats and a total of five non-permanent or elected seats.

South Africa is concerned about the rise over the last two decades of unilateralism in global affairs and the violation of national sovereignty.

This threatens global peace, security and development.

We need to work together to strengthen the multilateral systems of governance and collective global decisions.

South Africa hosted the 10th BRICS Summit in Johannesburg in July.

The Summit involved numerous African countries and other developing countries of the South in the BRICS-Plus format.

This is a very important development to ensure that the countries of the South continue to shape the agenda of every significant global formation.

One of the most significant achievements of the first decade of BRICS was the establishment of the New Development Bank and its Africa Regional Centre, which fills a critical gap in project funding.

Since its formation, the New Development Bank has disbursed loans totalling $5.1 billion, with approvals amounting to $1.7 billion this year alone.

As we enter the second decade of BRICS cooperation, we are determined to further expand the Bank's role in economic and social development.

Since joining BRICS South Africa has sought to strategically position Africa on the agenda of BRICS and will continue to garner support from the BRICS partners for African industrialisation and infrastructure development.

Programme Director,

South Africa has embarked on the redistribution of land process which has attracted a lot of attention in our country and beyond.

The reform process will be undertaken in an orderly manner that advances economic development, increases agricultural production and food security, and provides well-located housing for the poor.

Parliament is currently engaged in a process of considering whether Section 25 of the Constitution needs to be amended to allow for expropriation of land without compensation.

This is one of a series of measures that we are undertaking to accelerate land reform to correct a historical injustice and unlock the economic potential of this valuable resource.

In conclusion, allow me to once again thank you for joining us here today.

As we work together to advance the shared interests of the peoples of the world, it is important that we have regular engagements to better understand each other, to exchange views and to forge a common vision for global growth and development.

I thank you.

Issued by the Presidency, 14 September 2018

World of work
Social policy, trade unions, actions
BRICS media systems in a digital age (Медиа-системы БРИКС в эпоху цифровых технологий) / South Africa, September, 2018
Keywords: digital, media
South Africa

Cape Town, 13. September 2018: Scholars from Brazil, Russia, India, and China joined South African counterparts to discuss digital media in the BRICS countries at the Centre for Film and Media Studies at the University of Cape Town, which, in collaboration with the Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute (DOC) based in Berlin, Germany, hosted a symposium titled'BRICS media systems in a digital age' on 6 and 7 September 2018. Issues such as digital activism, the political economy of BRICS media, and media value systems in the BRICS countries came under the spotlight.

The event aimed to analyse the impact of digitalisation processes on society in BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), and followed on from the 10th summit BRICS country leaders, which was held in Johannesburg in July. The symposium was supported by the South African National Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS)and the National Research Foundation (NRF).

A range of speakers from Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, Germany, and Finland offered their expertise on BRICS media. Besides leading scholars in the field, media practitioners and policymakers also presented their views on a special panel.

The symposium also followed ongoing international research on media systems in the BRICS countries conducted by Prof. Herman Wasserman, the director of the Centre for Film and Media Studies at UCT, and by Associate Prof. Musawenkosi Ndlovu.
Where do South African Universities rank among the BRICS nations (Место южноафриканских университетов в рейтинге университетов стран БРИКС) / South Africa, September, 2018
Keywords: social_issues, rating
South Africa
Author: Nokulunga Xala

As the end of the 2018 fast approaches for Matric students, the next step in their educational journey is to consider which tertiary institution they want to study at.

When it comes to making a choice, whether or not a local university compares favourably to other international institutions is a significant deciding factor.

Many prospective students will be wondering whether South African universities are any good in relation to their international counterparts, so we're going to take a look at how our tertiary institutions stack up against others in the QS Top University Rankings.

The QS Top University Rankings was launched in 2013 and aims to highlight the 300 most prestigious institutions in the major emerging countries. Namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, also known as the BRICS nations.

This project was developed by QS in collaboration with Russian news agency Interfax. They were looking to better track progress by each of the five BRICS countries in the higher education field, and to facilitate comparison of universities in nations that share certain key socio-economics dynamics.

QS Top Universities uses eight indicators find rankings, and they are as follows:

  • Academic Reputation (30 percent)
  • Employer Reputation (20 percent)
  • Faculty/ student ratio (20 percent)
  • Staff with PhD (10 percent)
  • Papers per faculty (10 percent)
  • Citations per paper (5 percent)
  • International faculty (2.5 percent)
  • International students (2.5 percent)
South Africa's Top 10 highest ranked universities are:

  1. University of Cape Town (UCT) – ranked 19th in BRICS nations and 191st in the world.
  2. University of Witwatersrand (WITS) – ranked 36th in BRICS nations and 364th in the world.
  3. University of Pretoria (UP) – ranked 38th in BRICS nations and 501-550 in the world
  4. Stellenbosch University – joint ranking of 47th in BRICS nations and joint at 361st in world.
  5. University of Johannesburg (UJ) – ranked 58th in BRICS nations and 601-650 in the world.
  6. University of Kwa-Zulu Natal (UKZN) – ranked 80th in BRICS nations and 701-750 in the world.
  7. Rhodes University – ranked joint at 138th in BRICS nations and 701-750 in the world.
  8. University of Western Cape – ranked at 146th in BRICS nations and 801-100 in the world.
  9. University of Free State – ranked 161st in BRICS nations and did not make it in the world.
  10. North West University – ranked 181-190 in BRICS nations and 801-1 000 in the world.
The Top five universities in BRICS nations are:

  1. Tsinghua University in Beijing China ranked 17th in the worlds ranking.
  2. Peking University in Beijing China ranked 30th in the worlds ranking.
  3. Fudan University in Beijing China ranked 44th in the worlds ranking.
  4. University of Science and Technology of China in Beijing China ranked 98th in the world's ranking.
  5. Lomonosov Moscow State University in Moscow Russia ranked 90th in the world's ranking.
While many would argue that South Africa is lagging behind its peers, it's worth remembering that South Africa is still recovering from the shadow of Apartheid and the restrictions it instilled on the majority of the population.

Many South African's still have to face issues of inequality and the high cost of tertiary education.

In comparison to the other BRICS countries we are a very new democracy and nation. In spite of that we already have one of our institutions – University of Cape Town – in the Top 20 on the QS Top Universities ranking and on the top 200 on the world rankings.

Perhaps we'll soon see more local institutions joining China and Russia at the top of the charts.
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