Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum

Monitoring of the economic, social and labor situation in the BRICS countries
Issue 19.2023
2023.05.08 — 2023.05.14
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
The "BRICS expansion dilemma": size vs representation («Дилемма расширения БРИКС»: размер против представительства) / Russia, May, 2023
Keywords: expert_opinion, brics+

One of the key themes to be discussed at the BRICS summit in South Africa in 2023 is set to be the theme of BRICS expansion, namely the widening of the ranks of emerging market economies that form the BRICS core. With nearly 20 developing countries expressing interest in joining the BRICS ranks, there is now an active discussion within the block on the criteria to be used in deciding on the modalities of the expansion. And while BRICS history of 15 years of summits is relatively short, it does set certain elements of path-dependence and guidelines that will need to be taken into account in designing the future trajectories of BRICS expansion.

One of such elements of path-dependence is that while size and weight clearly has been important in bringing the block together so too has been the representation by each BRICS economy of its own region in the developing world – in the case of Brazil it was Latin America, in the case of China – East Asia, India represents South Asia, Russia represents Northern Eurasia, South Africa represents the African continent. If this key principle of representation were to be followed through further then the expansion of the block would need to prioritize the leading economies from those regions that are yet to be represented by the BRICS core. At this stage there appear to be two regions of the Global South that are yet to find their place within the BRICS core – these regions are the Middle East and South-East Asia. The largest economies coming from these regions that are also members of the G20 are Saudi Arabia and Indonesia – they are also the largest representatives of the respective regional blocks – GCC and ASEAN.

Such a limited expansion to include two more developing economies would essentially allow the BRICS to cover all of the main sub-regions of the Global South, including the main regional integration blocks of the developing world. The problem is that such an expansion would tilt the representation of developing countries in BRICS even further in favour of Asia – Asia would raise its membership to 5 countries, with Africa and Latin America still having only one country in the core. There may be other modalities that could attenuate this imbalance somewhat – for example the "second-wave format" may be based on second-generation BRICS advanced from the same regions as the BRICS core – in case the selection of countries is based on GDP size in PPP terms the resulting second-generation wave (denoted as PEAKS) may include Pakistan (South Asia), Egypt (Africa), Argentina (Latin America), Kazakhstan (Eurasia), Saudi Arabia (Asia). An alternative version based on GDP at market exchange rates and that includes more countries from outside of Asia can be denoted as BEAMS and would comprise Bangladesh (South Asia), Egypt (Africa), Argentina (Latin America), Mexico (Latin America) and Saudi Arabia (Asia).

But while the imbalance between Asia and the rest of the Global South may be attenuated in some of the above formats, there is still a sense that in the longer term BRICS expansion needs to accord greater representation to Africa and Latin America. One way to explore this venue is to look at the share of the top 3 developing economies in Latin America, Africa and Asia. Across these three regions of the Global South Latin America has the highest degree of concentration – in terms of GDP the top 3 economies (Brazil, Mexico and Argentina) command a share of more than 80% (more than 60% of the population), the first 4 economies (together with Colombia) rise above 90% (nearly 70% of the population), while the top two economies (Brazil and Mexico) account for more than 70% of regional GDP and nearly 54% of the regional population.

Africa has the lowest concentration of the three Global South regions – In terms of GDP the top 3 economies (Nigeria, Egypt and South Africa) command 43% of the total and only the addition of Algeria allows the group to rise above the 50% mark. The level of concentration is significantly lower for the population – the top 3 economies (Nigeria, Ethiopia and Egypt) account for less than a third of the total.

As regards Asia, the share of the top 3 economies by GDP (China, Japan, India) is less than ¾ of the total, while the top 2 developing economies in Asia (China and India) account for close to 57% of the Asian total. If Indonesia is added to the list the share of China, India and Indonesia in Asia is around 60% of Asia's GDP. Together with Russia the RICs (Russia, India, China) account for around 60% of the total GDP formed by Asia and Russia. In terms of population the share of China and India in Asia's total is close to 62%, while together with Indonesia the three most populous Asian economies would account for around 68%.

What the figures above suggest is that a "3+3+3" format of top 3 economies from Asia, Africa and Latin America may provide a greater representation of Latin American and African countries in the BRICS core, while also covering the bulk of the GDP and population of the respective key regions of the Global South. There may be additional membership accorded to Asia due to its greater share in global GDP and population – 38% and 60% respectively compared to 3% and 17% for Africa and 4% and 8.4% for Latin America. For example, a medium-term expansion of the core may imply a "2+2+2" formula with two more countries coming to the core from Latin America (Argentina and Mexico), two countries from Africa (Egypt and Algeria or Ethiopia) and two more economies from Asia (Saudi Arabia and Indonesia). This would bring the total number of developing economies in the BRICS core to 11 – 3 from Africa, 3 from Latin America and 5 from Asia. Alternatively, these six economies from the Global South could form a permanent partnership circle alongside the BRICS core that participates on a regular basis in BRICS summits.

Still, any of the above expansion modalities or even the admission of most of the developing economies that have expressed interest in joining the BRICS, will not fully address the issue of the representation of the Global South. One key reason is Africa – not even the three top African economies account for the majority of the continent's GDP and even less so with respect to the share in Africa's population. At this stage a full-fledged representation of Africa within the BRICS platform can be only done by the African Union within the framework of BRICS+. Another problem is ASEAN – even if Indonesia were to join BRICS at some stage in the future, there would still be the question of how to build BRICS relations with other dynamic and increasingly important players from ASEAN such as Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand and Philippines. The same goes for systemically important economies from the GCC that play an important role in the balancing of the oil and gas market globally.

This in turn means that apart from the formation of a second wave of heavy-weights that may complement the BRICS core or form another layer of partnership with BRICS there also needs to be a layer for regional blocks where BRICS/BRICS+ countries are members. This would open up the possibility for BRICS to establish economic partnership linkages with the majority of the Global South – in this case a BEAMS platform for the regional arrangements of the Global South could include BIMSTEC, the Eurasian Economic Union, the African Union, Mercosur and the Shanghai Cooperation organization. ASEAN could increasingly be part of that regional circle, including within the framework of FTAs that it has with BRICS members such as China and India.

In the end, the "size-representation" dilemma for BRICS is becoming one of the key issues for its expansion and long term development. Balancing size/weight on the one hand and the coverage/representation of the main regions of the Global South will require some combination of the regional BRICS+ format (that brings together the regional arrangements and organizations of the developing countries) and the addition of some of the heavy-weights in the BRICS core/"partnership circle". In discussions concerning BRICS expansion it is important to understand that it is not just about the 20 or so countries that have expressed an interest in working together with BRICS – the majority of the Global South community is increasingly hopeful that BRICS will become an inclusive platform that will establish cooperative links across all of the developing world. In this respect, it is important that in designing their expansion BRICS stay ahead of the curve and rather than merely reacting to membership applications they also create a long-term inclusive framework that can offer a range of cooperation modalities to any developing economy in the Global South universe.

                Briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, Moscow, May 10, 2023 (Брифинг официального представителя МИД России Марии Захаровой, Москва, 10 мая 2023 г.) / Russia, May, 2023
                Keywords: mofa, quotation

                Question: How much has Russia's rapprochement with India and other BRICS countries increased, given recent events and attempts to isolate Russia?

                Maria Zakharova: Our strategic partnerships in the BRICS format are gaining momentum. The organisation is seeing substantial cooperation at this point – I am referring to the Food Security Strategy, the Digital Economy Partnership Framework, trade and investment initiatives for sustainable development and expanding cooperation when it comes to supply chains. At the end of 2022, the five member countries' total GDP exceeded that of the G7, which indicates a greater contribution to the global economy from BRICS. This is only a small part of the actual achievements. These are no cynical comic standups about the US national debt, inflationary bubbles, or the usual routines. This is about the real tangible contribution these major economies have been making to the global economy. Behind these BRICS successes is a shared interest in forging a mutually beneficial dialogue, building a new and more just global political, financial and economic architecture that reflects our pursuit of true multipolarity and the interests of most states in the world.

                Russia's ties with Brazil, our time-tested friend and one of our key strategic partners, are expanding very intensively, both bilaterally and in the international arena. The recently approved Russian Foreign Policy Concept lists strengthening cooperation with that Latin American country as a priority. The two countries maintain contacts at the highest and high levels, and interaction at multilateral platforms, primarily BRICS, the G20, the UN and the Security Council, where Brazil is a non-permanent member this year. Mutually beneficial trade and cooperation in promising areas are consistently expanding.

                To the surprise of the US and its satellites, their attempts to isolate our country have actually served to strengthen the Russian-Indian privileged strategic partnership. Despite the sanctions pressure from the West, Moscow's contacts with New Delhi remain at a consistently high level, and have become even closer in some areas. This applies equally to bilateral dialogue and interaction within international platforms such as the UN, the SCO, BRICS and the G20. Our Indian friends are showing a firm commitment to intensifying it further. They maintain a consistent neutral stance on Ukraine and call, in a constructive manner, for resolving the crisis through diplomatic means. India has not joined the sanctions crusade against Moscow waged by the US and Western European states, including the price cap on Russian oil.

                Indeed, anti-Russia restrictions have created some temporary difficulties for the growth of bilateral trade, but at the same time, they have catalysed it, accelerating the transition to transactions in national currencies and the joint development of self-sufficient transport, logistics and financial infrastructure. Our trade and economic cooperation received a powerful impetus last year, and trade reached a record high for Russia's recent history. This trend continued this year. Unlike Western countries, it is Russia that sends key military, space and nuclear technologies to India.

                Russian-Chinese relations continue to develop progressively, regardless of external factors and the destructive efforts of our ill-wishers. We are closely coordinating our steps in the international arena. We have shared or similar views on the most important global events and processes. We are jointly promoting the development of regional integration mechanisms, including BRICS.

                Chinese President Xi Jinping's state visit to Russia in March confirmed the stability of bilateral ties convincingly. The Moscow summit has become a major political event, with significance that goes far beyond bilateral relations. We regard it as one of the decisive steps towards dismantling the unipolar world order in favour of creating a more just and rational system of international relations based on international law and the UN Charter, rather than on the notorious "rules" promoted by the West.

                Despite the Western powers' frenzied attempts to exhaust our economy and inflict maximum economic damage on Russia by imposing their unilateral sanctions, the Chinese president's visit actually lent an impetus to mutually beneficial trade and economic cooperation. We have managed to achieve significant results in this sphere – for example, in 2022, Russian-Chinese trade increased by a third, to $185 billion, setting a new record.

                As regards South Africa, Russia's interaction with that country continues to develop progressively in the spirit of strategic partnership. Our countries have established a trust-based political dialogue at the highest and high levels. In 2022, the presidents of Russia and South Africa had three telephone conversations; the parties reaffirmed their mutual intention to increase cooperation.

                In January 2023, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited the Republic of South Africa, where he met with South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor and President Cyril Ramaphosa.

                On March 17 and 20, 2023, State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin met with Speaker of the National Assembly of South Africa's Parliament Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, and Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko met with Chairperson of South Africa's National Council of Provinces Amos Masondo in Moscow, on the sidelines of the 2nd Russia-Africa International Parliamentary Conference.

                On March 27-30, Pretoria hosted the 17th meeting of the Russian-South African Joint Intergovernmental Committee on Trade and Economic Cooperation co-chaired by Russia's Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment Alexander Kozlov and South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor.

                As you can see, any isolation of Russia in the context of BRICS is beyond question.

                              Investment and Finance
                              Investment and finance in BRICS
                              A BRICS Revival? (Возрождение БРИКС?) / Czech Republic, May, 2023
                              Keywords: expert_opinion
                              Czech Republic

                              Economic headwinds and internal disagreements have long stymied the BRICS' ambition to become a global diplomatic and financial force capable of challenging Western-led international institutions. Is this finally changing?

                              WASHINGTON, DC – There was a time when everyone was talking about a group of fast-growing emerging economies with huge potential. But the BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa – struggled to transform themselves from a promising asset class into a unified real-world diplomatic and financial player. Is this finally changing?

                              The story of the BRICS begins with a November 2001 paper by Jim O'Neill, then the head of global economic research at Goldman Sachs Asset Management, called "The World Needs Better Economic BRICs" (the original grouping did not include South Africa). At a time when the world was dealing with the fallout of the dot-com bust and the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, O'Neill highlighted the BRICs' vast potential, noting that their GDP growth was likely to accelerate considerably in the ensuing decades.

                              At the time, China and India were experiencing rapid economic growth, and Russia, aided by booming commodity prices, was recovering from the post-Soviet meltdown of the 1990s. Growth in the BRICs was outpacing that of the advanced economies so significantly that O'Neill predicted in 2003 that their collective GDP could overtake the then-Group of 6 largest developed economies by 2040.

                              While the world expected the BRICs to thrive economically, few expected them to form a united grouping. After all, they represent a mix of unsteady democracies and outright autocracies, each with its own distinctive economic structure. And two of them – China and India – have long been locked in a border dispute, with no sign of resolution.

                              But the BRICS saw their economic alignment as an opportunity to expand their global influence by creating an alternative to West-led international institutions. And, for a while, they seemed to be making progress.

                              The addition of South Africa – then Africa's largest economy – in 2010 lent the grouping greater heft. By 2014, the BRICS Development Bank – now the New Development Bank – was formed as an alternative to the World Bank. The next year, the BRICS created the Contingent Reserve Arrangement, in order to support members experiencing short-term balance-of-payments pressures.

                              Economically, the BRICS continued to thrive, at least in the aggregate. Though China is the only BRICS economy that has sustained solid growth, the group has surpassed the G7 in terms of relative contribution to global GDP (based on purchasing power parity). Moreover, bilateral trade among its members is rising rapidly. But progress toward the BRICS' broader ambitions seemed to stall.

                              Recent developments suggest renewed momentum. Lately, members have been talking of "de-dollarizing" trade, with some raising the prospect of a new shared BRICS currency. While calls for de-dollarization are nothing new, some experts believe that a BRICS currency "has the potential to usurp" the US dollar, or at least "shake [its] place on the throne."

                              Moreover, the BRICS seem to be making a comeback as a platform for cooperation on a range of issues, including climate change, global governance, and development. In fact, 19 countries, including Argentina, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia, have expressed interest in joining the BRICS – bids that will be discussed at the group's August summit in South Africa.

                              Though the group's institutional framework remains underdeveloped, the motivations that led to its creation have not diminished – and are unlikely to any time soon. In fact, the BRICS and their supplicants appear to be both united and driven by one thing: grievance.

                              Developing economies are angry about the burdensome conditionality that has been imposed on them by Western-dominated institutions. They are sick of what they perceive as double standards on vital policy matters, such as the green transition. They are unwilling to tolerate efforts to "constrain" their economies through conservation demands or limits on technology sharing. Perhaps most important, they regard Western norms and values with suspicion as a fig leaf for Western countries' self-interested behavior.

                              The West's inability – or unwillingness – to reform global governance so that emerging economies like China and India have greater influence has compounded these grievances. Calls for reform have, after all, been growing louder for decades – since around 1999, when the G20 was formed. In the aftermath of the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis, finance ministers and central-bank governors began holding regular high-level meetings, and non-Western representatives wanted to be heard.

                              With the West's pledges to pursue reform having come to nothing, potential alternatives – from development banks to currencies – look increasingly attractive to those who feel left out. The BRICS are attempting to build a new world order, "bric by bric," and the appeal of their cause among other disgruntled countries is growing.

                              One must wonder what would happen if countries like Argentina or Saudi Arabia joined this project. Even the "BRICS-Plus" embraced by China could go a long way toward advancing an alternative worldview and institutional system – goals that China is also pursuing with its massive transnational Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

                              To be sure, the BRICS' ability to realize its ambitions remains far from certain. None of its members is going to stop putting national interests first, though that is precisely what has long held the BRICS back. Even China's BRI has been likened to a "new form of imperialism" – hardly the best way to win long-term friends.

                              But the resurgence of the BRICS is disquieting, not least because the grouping has not demonstrated a capacity for genuine global leadership. Shared grievances about the West – legitimate or not – cannot support a rules-based world order. A coherent narrative for global governance, underpinned by clearly articulated values, is essential. And the BRICS have offered no such thing.

                              For the West, the BRICS' growing influence holds an important lesson. If the current international order is to remain relevant, the institutions that comprise it will have to change.
                                            BRICS Digital Economy: Trends and Prospects (Цифровая экономика БРИКС: тенденции и перспективы) / Russia, May, 2023
                                            Keywords: digital, economic_challenges, expert_opinion

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

                                            The digital economy has emerged as a significant force within the BRICS countries, comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. These nations have recognized the transformative power of the digital revolution and are actively embracing the opportunities it presents. The digital economy is driving economic growth and development, enabling technological advancements, fostering innovation, and creating new avenues for economic participation. The BRICS nations have taken proactive measures to capitalize on the potential of the digital economy, implementing policies and initiatives to support its development. This article aims to provide a comprehensive analysis of the current state, challenges, and future perspectives of the digital economy within the BRICS framework.

                                            "The digital revolution offers immense opportunities for the BRICS countries to leapfrog traditional development paths, drive innovation, and create new economic growth engines." - Jin Liqun, President of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

                                            The BRICS countries envision a digitally connected and inclusive economy that fosters sustainable development and improves the quality of life for their citizens. They recognize the potential of the digital economy to drive innovation, create new jobs, enhance productivity, and enable digital inclusion. The members aim to leverage emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, big data analytics, and the Internet of Things, to transform traditional industries and develop new digital sectors. They prioritize the development of digital skills, digital infrastructure, and cybersecurity frameworks to ensure a robust and secure digital ecosystem.

                                            The BRICS members have made significant strides in the digital economy, with notable developments in e-commerce, digital payments, information technology services, and digital infrastructure. Furthermore, nations have implemented various policies and regulations to foster a conducive environment for digital entrepreneurship and innovation.

                                            E-commerce has transformed the retail sector, with online retail platforms and the adoption of e-commerce solutions allowing businesses to reach a broader customer base and offer consumers a convenient and diverse shopping experience. The BRICS nations have also witnessed a surge in digital payment solutions, including mobile wallets, online banking, and digital remittances. The adoption of these digital payment systems has facilitated financial inclusion and reduced reliance on traditional cash transactions.

                                            The IT services sector has experienced substantial growth within the BRICS countries, with these nations becoming significant outsourcing destinations, providing software development, IT consulting, and business process outsourcing services to global clients. The development of robust digital infrastructure, including broadband connectivity, data centers, and cloud computing facilities, is crucial for enabling the digital economy. The BRICS countries have invested in expanding their digital infrastructure to support the increasing demand for digital services.

                                            According to statistical data, the digital economy's contribution to the overall GDP of each nation has been steadily increasing in recent years. For instance, in Brazil e-commerce market is projected to reach US$47.64 billion in 2023. The number of internet users in Brazil has steadily increased, reaching over 167 million in recent years. The country has also witnessed a rise in digital entrepreneurship, with innovative startups emerging in various sectors. The Russia, for example, also as invested significantly in digital infrastructure, with a focus on improving broadband connectivity and expanding the availability of high-speed internet services.

                                            India has emerged as a global hub for information technology services, with the sector contributing around 8% to the country's GDP. The government's Digital India initiative has played a crucial role in promoting digital literacy and expanding internet access to remote areas. China, known for its thriving digital economy, has witnessed remarkable growth in e-commerce. In 2022, China's online retail sales exceeded $2 trillion, making it the largest e-commerce market globally. South Africa has also made progress in improving internet connectivity and digital infrastructure, laying the foundation for further digital advancements.

                                            Current projects and initiatives between the BRICS countries in the realm of the digital economy aim to foster collaboration, knowledge sharing, and technological advancements. These initiatives, coupled with the promising statistical indicators, indicate a positive outlook for the future development of the digital economy within the BRICS framework. Examples of such projects include BRICS Smart Cities Collaboration, BRICS Digital Payments Cooperatio, the BRICS Information Sharing and Exchange Platform, which promotes cooperation in data sharing and analytics, the BRICS Innovation Network, which facilitates collaboration in research and development activities.

                                            In June 2022, leaders attending the recent virtual BRICS summit in Beijing signed several landmark agreements aimed at strengthening economic cooperation within the bloc. Among these are agreements on cooperation in the digital economy and sustainable development, including the Digital Economy Partnership Framework Agreement. The member countries have also signed an initiative between them on trade and investment cooperation and sustainable development. The five countries will promote the exchange of green, low-carbon technologies and new business models, as well as facilitate technology transfer in the field of clean technologies.

                                            "This is an important outcome document that is forward-looking, inclusive and action-oriented and serves as an institutional guarantee for future cooperation," noted the official, commenting on the results achieved at the recent BRICS leaders' meeting.

                                            Despite progress, the BRICS countries face several challenges in fully realizing the potential of the digital economy. One of the primary challenges is the digital divide, with disparities in internet access, digital skills, and technological readiness among different regions and socio-economic groups. Inadequate digital infrastructure and connectivity in certain areas pose obstacles to widespread digital adoption. Additionally, data privacy and cybersecurity concerns require effective policies and regulations to safeguard user information and mitigate cyber threats. Furthermore, the BRICS nations must address regulatory and legal frameworks to facilitate cross-border data flows and e-commerce transactions.

                                            The future of the digital economy within the BRICS countries looks promising. The ongoing efforts to bridge the digital divide, improve digital infrastructure, and enhance digital skills will contribute to inclusive growth. The development and deployment of emerging technologies will unlock new opportunities for innovation and economic diversification. Cross-border collaborations and information sharing will facilitate the transfer of best practices and expertise. As the BRICS countries continue to invest in research and development, promote digital entrepreneurship, and implement supportive policies, they are likely to strengthen their positions in the global digital economy.

                                            Consequently, the digital economy has emerged as a vital driver of economic growth and development within the BRICS countries. With their diverse economies and vast populations, Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa recognize the significance of the digital revolution and have taken significant steps to embrace it. BRICS members are actively working on enhancing digital infrastructure, promoting digital skills, and formulating supportive policies to leverage the opportunities presented by the digital economy. However, challenges such as the digital divide, data privacy, and cybersecurity need to be addressed to ensure inclusive and secure digital transformation. By capitalizing on their strengths and collaborating effectively, the countries can shape the future of the global digital economy and reap its benefits for their citizens. It is crucial for the BRICS to continue fostering cooperation, sharing best practices, and investing in research and development to stay at the forefront of the digital revolution and maintain sustainable economic growth in the digital age.

                                                          BRICS currency 'plausible alternative' to dollar hegemony / By Global Times staff reporters (Валюта БРИКС — «правдоподобная альтернатива» долларовой гегемонии / штатные корреспонденты Global Times) / China, May, 2023
                                                          Keywords: trade_relations

                                                          Efforts by countries to replace the US dollar in international trade will reach a new high when BRICS nations discuss the feasibility of introducing a common currency at a summit in South Africa later this year, Chinese experts said on Sunday, noting that the move can be a fresh blow against the dollar's hegemony.

                                                          The BRICS group of nations will discuss the issue, which is likely be on the agenda of a meeting of the nations' heads of state in Johannesburg on August 22, Bloomberg reported recently, citing the foreign minister of South Africa.

                                                          The BRICS group of nations - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - accounts for one-third of global economic output, and their combined output is larger than the Group of Seven economies by some measures.

                                                          Experts said the desire for a currency that offers better accessibility and fairer treatment in international trade is the main objective for BRICS nations. They pointed out that the US dollar, used as a tool for the US to exercise international hegemony, has caused great uncertainty for the recovery of the world economy.

                                                          Zhou Yu, director of the Research Center of International Finance at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Sunday that the discussion is likely to be a probing effort by BRICS countries for a long-term goal of a currency unit.

                                                          "Despite the daunting difficulties such an effort faces, it is not entirely impossible for these nations to have such a currency unit," Zhou said.

                                                          The creation of a unified currency for a group of countries usually takes a long time and requires years of cooperation, and eventually means phasing out local currencies, Zhou said, taking the birth of the euro as an example.

                                                          "However, currently the effort by BRICS nations seems to be focused on devising a currency unit used specifically to settle cross-border trade, rather than a currency unit to replace other local currencies, which reduces the difficulty of such efforts and increases its plausibility," Zhou said.

                                                          The call from South Africa came amid a long list of calls and moves from BRICS countries or other emerging economies to shake off their reliance on the dollar. Countries are affected by US interest rate hikes and geopolitical conflicts as global trade priced in dollars is impeded.

                                                          The freezing of Russian assets by the US and EU has also prompted countries to work on alternatives to treating the dollar as a reserve currency.

                                                          Roughly 80 percent of global trade is currently settled in US dollars, according to media reports.

                                                          During a trip to Spain in late April, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said that he supported creating a currency for trading among BRICS countries. Earlier in Shanghai, Lula questioned why countries should be tied to the dollar for trade, according to Reuters.

                                                          Gao Lingyun, an expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, told the Global Times on Sunday that the irresponsible monetary policy of the US has in recent years made the dollar full of risks.

                                                          "An economy as large as China may be able to fend off some risks for its strong economic capacity, while some smaller countries may experience financial or debt crises," Gao said.

                                                          Zhou said local currency settlement, which has been seen growing rapidly in recent months, is now the concrete and major progress by BRICS countries to reduce the dollar's dominance in trade settlement.

                                                                        Argentine Finance Minister Invited to BRICS New Development Bank's Annual Meeting / Matías Russo Coroman (Argentine Finance Minister Invited to BRICS New Development Bank's Annual Meeting / Matías Russo Coroman) / Russia, May, 2023
                                                                        Keywords: top_level_meeting

                                                                        May 10, 2023 (EIRNS)—Dilma Rousseff, president of the BRICS New Development Bank (NDB), and Chinese Finance Minister Kun Liu, who is also vice-chairman of the NDB's board of governors, have extended an invitation to Argentine Finance Minister Sergio Massa to attend the Bank's 8th annual meeting that will take place in Shanghai May 30-31. Entitled "Shaping a New Era for Global Development," and hosted by China, the meeting will include not only finance ministers of member nations, but also representatives of national governments, bankers, business leaders and representatives of civil society.

                                                                        According to the Argentine dailies (Dangdai} and {Infobae} today, a top agenda item of the meeting will be the issue of modifying Article 7 of the Bank's statutes to allow it to pre-finance Brazilian exports to Argentina, which would pay for those exports in pesos, to be later converted to Brazilian reals. This type of non-dollar trade arrangement would mean that Argentina wouldn't have to use its very scarce dollar reserves to pay for imports from Brazil.

                                                                        This matter was discussed by Argentine President Alberto Fernandez and Brazil's Lula da Silva when the two met in Brasilia on May 2, at which time Lula expressed his desire to assist Argentina at a time of grave financial crisis. The NDB has a contingency fund to deal with market crises but, so far, it can only be accessed by member nations.

                                                                        Following his meeting with Fernandez, Lula spoke with Rousseff to discuss possible NDB help for Argentina, which, however, requires modifying one article of the Bank's statute and obtaining the approval of BRICS finance ministers. He said he had also spoken with Chinese President Xi Jinping about helping Argentina and that China's Foreign Minister Qin Gang had traveled to Shanghai specifically to discuss the Argentine case with Rousseff.

                                                                        The invitation to the annual meeting states that "world development confronts ever greater challenges," among them "the weakening of economic growth, the increased volatility of financial markets, the upsurge of geopolitical tensions, fragmentation of trade networks and the deterioration of climate perspectives. The world is experiencing great changes not seen in a century."

                                                                        The goal of the NDB annual meeting, as the invitation explains, is to debate how the Bank "can improve its role in connecting the BRICS and other emerging and developing markets to work together for that new era of global development."

                                                                                      World of Work
                                                                                      SOCIAL POLICY, TRADE UNIONS, ACTIONS
                                                                                      Russia to engage BRICS, SCO partners in Arctic projects — foreign ministry (Россия будет привлекать партнеров по БРИКС и ШОС к арктическим проектам — МИД) / Russia, May, 2023
                                                                                      Keywords: cooperation

                                                                                      MOSCOW, May 14. /TASS/. Russia is actively developing Arctic-related contacts with its partners in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the BRICS group of nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), working on a number of bilateral projects in this sphere, Russian Foreign Ministry ambassador-at-large Nikolay Korchunov has told TASS in an interview.
                                                                                      "[Arctic-themed] contacts with BRICS and SCO countries are being actively developed at the moment," he said. "A number of bilateral projects in areas such as scientific research, logistics, environment protection and maritime cooperation are in the works."
                                                                                      He added that possible energy projects are being discussed with countries that have relevant competence and interests.
                                                                                      "Regrettably, details of the ongoing dialogue cannot be disclosed due to the continuous pressure of sanctions on Russia," Korchunov added.

                                                                                                    Made on