Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 39.2018
2018.09.24 — 2018.09.30
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Press release on Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's participation in the BRICS Foreign Ministers' meeting (Об участии Министра иностранных дел России С.В.Лаврова во встрече глав внешнеполитических ведомств государств БРИКС) / Russia, September, 2018
Keywords: sergey_lavrov, top_level_meeting, foreign_ministers_meeting

On September 27, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov participated in a meeting of the BRICS Foreign Ministers traditionally held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

The participants held a thorough exchange of views concerning a wide range of international issues, including the key matters on the UN General Assembly's 73rd session agenda. They also discussed the issues of peace and security, economic and financial stability, as well as sustainable development. The ministers reaffirmed their intention to increase coordination on the international arena, guided by the states' commitment to the principles of multilateralism and the goal of creating a more just and equitable world order with the UN and international law playing the central role.

The ministers also discussed further steps to implement the decisions taken at the 10th BRICS Summit held on July 25-27, 2018, in Johannesburg, South Africa. The Brazilian side informed the meeting participants about its plans for the 2019 BRICS chairmanship. Following the meeting, a joint communique was adopted.
Parliament welcomes new visa regulations (Парламент приветствует новые визовые правила) / South Africa, September, 2018
Keywords: social_issues, political_issues
South Africa

CAPE TOWN - The chairperson of the portfolio committee on home affairs, Hlomani Chauke, on Wednesday welcomed the broad visa-related reforms announced by the minister of home affairs, Malusi Gigaba.

Gigaba on Tuesday announced the amendments to visa requirements for business people from two BRICS countries, India and China, that require visas. They will soon be eligible for a 10-year multiple-entry visa, with only five days needed for an application.

The new arrangement also makes provision for home affairs to take biometrics for those eligible on arrival in South Africa. The reforms are aimed at boosting tourism and implementing various visa modifications, to enable ease of travel for business people and to attract much-needed investment.

Statement by External Affairs Minister at BRICS Foreign Ministers' Meeting (Заявление министра иностранных дел на встрече глав внешнеполитических ведомств стран-членов БРИКС) / India, September, 2018
Keywords: speech, top_level_meeting, foreign_ministers_meeting

Your Excellency Mr. Aloysio Nunes Ferreira Filho
Excellency Mr. Sergey Lavrov
Excellency Mr. Wang Yi
Excellency Ms. Lindiwe Sisulu

At the outset,

I thank Minister Aloysio Nunes Ferreira Filho for chairing this meeting. BRICS has been making progress over the years, and South Africa's Chairmanship this year has given it significant direction. I am sure that under Brazil's Chairmanship in 2019, BRICS cooperation will achieve even greater heights. Our Leaders have had a very successful BRICS Summit in Johannesburg. We thank South Africa for hosting it. The Leaders have given us strong mandates and we are fully committed to implement them.Our exchanges at Pretoria in June also contributed towards enriching intra-BRICS cooperation further.


There was a clear indication during the special retreat organized during the Summit that, while BRICS has taken several impressive strides in the last decade, we still need to consolidate BRICS amongst the five of us further and take it forward. We certainly have several unfinished agenda, like for example the establishment of the BRICS Credit Rating Agency.

However, at a broader level, we need to develop greater understanding and convergence on issues of mutual concern in the coming years, if BRICS has to emerge stronger. As Prime Minister Modi mentioned, BRICS started a decade ago to change the status quo in international organizations and correct distortions in multilateralism. Therefore, a decade later, our call for multilateralism cannot and should not be for reinforcing this status quo but rather to change it. That is why, he mentioned that "reformed multilateralism" is what we are looking for.One such reform which is the most significant unfinished agenda is the reform of the UN Security Council. The discussions on UNSC reform cannot be an exercise in perpetuity, while the legitimacy and credibility of the Security Council continues to get eroded. We, in BRICS should speak with a stronger voice rather than be divided amongst ourselves in this critical area of international governance.

We are meeting at a time when multilateralism, international trade, and rules based world order face strong head-winds. We must continue to work together to fight unilateralism. BRICS countries have been contributing positively to global stability and growth. With strong continuing growth and demand, most of future consumer-demands will emanate from the emerging economies.


BRICS Leaders have given us a robust mandate on counter terrorism at the successive BRICS Summit, including at Johannesburg Summit. We have given a call for a BRICS Counter-Terrorism Strategy for joint-action with a focus on money laundering, terrorist-finance, cyberspace and de-radicalization as our priorities.

Dismantling terrorist organisations support infrastructure would be the first step. Terror groups such as Lashkar e-Taiba, ISIS, Al Qaeda, Jaish e-Muhammad, Taliban, and Haqqani Network are organized entities that thrive on State support.

We must also join hands to make United Nations' counter-terrorism mechanism efficient in listing terrorists and their outfits. Implementation of FATF standards, across all jurisdictions, will strengthen international efforts in addressing terrorism. Prime Minister Modi has been stressing on enhanced BRICS people-to-people exchanges. The sentiment was echoed during the Special Retreat. India will continue to work to strengthen this aspect, including in sports and fitness, and hope to hold the BRICS workshop on film technology and development. India is fully committed to UN Peacekeeping, as the largest troop contributing country in cumulative terms to UN Peacekeeping operations. BRICS and India could explore possibilities of a joint cooperation in peacekeeping training at our Centre for UN Peacekeeping in New Delhi.

In the ongoing Peacebuilding Architecture review discourse, India's efforts are geared towards ensuring that it is member-states driven. Peace building process, involving institutions and capacity building, should be nationally owned and rooted to ground realities while eliciting the participation of all relevant stakeholders. Through voluntary South-South Cooperation, we are reaching out to create a joint narrative of development with other developing countries. We need to work together to reflect our position in the international discourse, and make sure we do not get drawn into the North-South template and accounting.

Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication remain major challenges in today's world. The 2030 Agenda, with its overarching goal of poverty eradication and the seventeen SDGs, is a matter of commitment for us to our people. Our aim is to achieve our development priorities in a sustainable manner by harnessing renewable energy and efficient use of resources. The International Solar Alliance launched by India is an example of our efforts in this direction. We will soon hold the first General Assembly of ISA in India next week.


The world today is characterised by chronic armed-conflicts in different parts of the world, especially in West Asia. These conflicts are of intra-state nature with the proliferation of non-state actors and terrorist-networks with global reach.

Conflicts in Syria, Libya, Iraq and Yemen pose security challenges for the region and for global peace. We are deeply concerned with continuing tensions on the border between Gaza Strip and Israel.

We have recently considerably increased our contribution to UNRWA to USD 5 million. India firmly believes that the dialogue and country-led processes are the only viable options to effectively address the issues in that region.

We have been consistently supportive of efforts to bring about peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula. We believe that any solution to the issue of Korean Peninsula must address concerns about the proliferation linkages with India's neighbourhood.

I am confident that our deliberations today will further BRICS understanding and consensus on several issues.

Thank you.
BRICS Ministers recommit to implement agreements (Министры БРИКС подтверждают необходимость реализации соглашений) / South Africa, September, 2018
Keywords: concluded_agreements, top_level_meeting, foreign_ministers_meeting
South Africa

BRICS Foreign Affairs Ministers have unanimously agreed to implement the resolutions of the Johannesburg summit, while deepening practical cooperation and realising mutually beneficial win-win results.

The Ministers, who recently met on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA73) in New York, took stock of the July summit and underlined the progress achieved by BRICS throughout the multi-dimensional and inclusive cooperation fostered by the bloc's leaders.

The Johannesburg summit saw the adoption of the Johannesburg Declaration, which, among others, supported an open and inclusive multilateral trading system.

The leaders also found common ground in championing global trade, condemning protectionist measures, the fight again terrorism, intra-BRICS trade and fighting climate change.

"They expressed satisfaction with the many fruitful results of intra-BRICS cooperation in the areas of the economy, finance, peace, stability and people-to-people exchanges, in particular the establishment of the New Development Bank (NDB), including its Africa Regional Centre in Johannesburg; the Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA); the formulation of the Strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership; BRICS Action Agenda on Economic and Trade Cooperation and the BRICS Agricultural Research Platform (ARP)," reads the communique issued after the meeting.

The Ministers welcomed the constitution of the BRICS Energy Research Cooperation Platform, the upcoming establishment of the Americas Regional Office of the NDB in São Paulo, the BRICS Partnership on New Industrial Revolution (PartNIR), and the BRICS Vaccine Research and Development Centre.

The Ministers looked forward to the early and full operationalisation of all these BRICS initiatives.

They used their meeting to exchange views on current issues of global significance in political, security, economic, financial and sustainable development spheres, as well as the three-pillar intra-BRICS strategic cooperation.

On the economy, the Ministers emphasised the importance of an open and inclusive world economy enabling all countries and peoples to share the benefits of globalisation.

They underlined their firm commitment to free trade, and the centrality of a rules-based, transparent, non-discriminatory and multilateral trading system (MTS), as embodied in the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

They opposed the new wave of protectionism and the systematic impact of unilateral measures that are incompatible with WTO rules and undermine global trade, and economic growth.

In this regard, they reiterated that the WTO Dispute Settlement System is the cornerstone of the MTS, as it is designed to enhance security and predictability in international trade.

On world peace and stability, the Ministers reinforced their commitment to upholding multilateralism and to working together on the implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, as they foster a more representative, democratic, equitable, fair and just international political and economic order.

"The Ministers reiterated BRICS commitment to multilateralism and a rules-based international order and in this regard, reaffirmed the centrality of UN, WTO and international law. The Ministers pledged their support to efforts towards making global governance more representative with greater participation of emerging markets and developing countries in global decision making," the communique said.

The Ministers' meeting touched on other areas that are mutually beneficial such collaboration in ICT, cooperation to mitigate climate change, while expressing views on hotspots such as the Middle East, North Africa, Israel and Palestine.

The Ministers reaffirmed the importance of BRICS people-to-people exchanges in promoting common development and enhancing mutual understanding, friendship and cooperation amongst its peoples.

They commended the ongoing exchanges and the steady progress in BRICS, including in the fields of sports, youth, film, culture, education, tourism and governance.

They supported further BRICS people-to-people exchanges and cooperation in fostering a meaningful resonance of the BRICS partnership amongst its peoples. -

Meeting of BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs/International Relations Media Statement (Заявление для СМИ по итогам встречи министров иностранных дел/международных отношений стран БРИКС) / China, September, 2018
Keywords: concluded_agreements, top_level_meeting, foreign_ministers_meeting

1. The BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs/International Relations held their annual meeting on the margins of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA73) on 27 September 2018, chaired by Brazil in the country's capacity as the incoming BRICS Chair for 2019. They exchanged views on current issues of global significance in political, security, economic, financial and sustainable development spheres, as well as three-pillar intra-BRICS strategic cooperation. The Ministers expressed their warm appreciation to South Africa for the success of the 10th BRICS Summit, Johannesburg, 25-27 July 2018, held under the theme: "BRICS in Africa: Collaboration for Inclusive Growth and Shared Prosperity in the 4th Industrial Revolution". They also welcomed the convening of BRICS Leaders Retreat in Johannesburg that marked the 10th anniversary of the BRICS Summits. The Ministers recommitted to implement the outcomes of the Johannesburg Summit, as well as of the past Summits.

2. The Ministers also welcomed the hosting of the BRICS-Africa Outreach and second BRICS Plus Cooperation with Emerging Markets and Developing Countries (EMDCs) during the Johannesburg Summit.

3. The Ministers underlined the progress achieved by BRICS throughout more than one decade of multi-dimensional, inclusive cooperation fostered by the Leaders' Summits. They expressed satisfaction with the many fruitful results of intra-BRICS cooperation in the areas of economy, finance, peace, stability and people-to-people exchanges, in particular the establishment of the New Development Bank (NDB), including its Africa Regional Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa, the Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA), the formulation of the Strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership, BRICS Action Agenda on Economic and Trade Cooperation and the BRICS Agricultural Research Platform (ARP). They welcomed the constitution of the BRICS Energy Research Cooperation Platform, the upcoming establishment of the Americas Regional Office of the NDB in São Paulo, the BRICS Partnership on New Industrial Revolution (PartNIR), and the BRICS Vaccine Research and Development Centre. The Ministers looked forward to the early and full operationalization of all BRICS initiatives.

4. The Ministers recalled the importance of the political and security cooperation, including through Meetings of Foreign Ministers, Meetings of BRICS High Representatives for Security Issues and National Security Advisors.

5. The Ministers recommitted themselves to a world of peace and stability, and supported the central role of the United Nations, the purposes and principles enshrined in the UN Charter and respect for international law, promoting democracy and the rule of law. They recalled in this regard the 1970 Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States. The Ministers reinforced their commitment to upholding multilateralism and to working together on the implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals as they foster a more representative, democratic, equitable, fair and just international political and economic order. Faced with international challenges requiring their cooperative efforts, they reiterated their commitment to shaping a more fair, just and representative multipolar international order to the shared benefit of humanity, in which the general prohibition of the use of force is fully upheld and which excludes the imposition of unilateral coercive measures outside the framework of the UN Charter. They emphasised the indivisible nature of peace and security and reiterated that no country should enhance its security at the expense of the security of others. They noted the long overdue outstanding task of ensuring the adequate representation of African States in the UN, especially in peace and security matters.

6. The Ministers welcomed the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit, held in the UN General Assembly on 24 September 2018, to commemorate the birth centenary and the life of Nelson Mandela. They welcomed the Political Declaration adopted by Leaders, which reaffirms the values Nelson Mandela stood for and commits Member States to redouble their efforts to build a just, peaceful, prosperous, inclusive and fair world. They noted that Nelson Mandela embodied the very values enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and supported by all BRICS members.

7. They recalled the 2005 World Summit Outcome document and reaffirmed the need for a comprehensive reform of the UN, including its Security Council, with a view to making it more representative, effective and efficient, and to increase the representation of the developing countries so that it can adequately respond to global challenges. China and Russia reiterated the importance they attach to the status and role of Brazil, India and South Africa in international affairs and supported their aspiration to play a greater role in the UN.

8. The Ministers underscored the importance of sustained efforts aimed at making the United Nations more effective and efficient in implementing the mandates conferred upon it. In this regard, they committed to intensifying dialogue amongst the BRICS countries on the administration and budget of the United Nations, with a view to strengthening the Organization and preserving its Member State-driven character. The Ministers expressed their support for continued cooperation of BRICS members in areas of mutual interest including through regular exchanges amongst their Permanent Missions to multilateral organisations.

9. The Ministers underscored that the elements of the current methodology for the preparation of the scale of assessments of the United Nations are not negotiable, except the current maximum assessment rate, which is contrary to the principle of the capacity to pay and is a fundamental source of distortion in the scale of assessments.

10. The Ministers reiterated BRICS commitment to multilateralism and a rules-based international order and in this regard reaffirmed the centrality of UN, WTO and international law. The Ministers pledged their support to efforts towards making global governance more representative with greater participation of emerging markets and developing countries in global decision making.

11. The Ministers emphasized the importance of an open and inclusive world economy enabling all countries and peoples to share the benefits of globalization. They underlined their firm commitment to free trade, and the centrality of a rules-based, transparent, non-discriminatory, multilateral trading system as embodied in the WTO. They opposed the new wave of protectionism and the systematic impact of unilateral measures that are incompatible with WTO rules, and undermine global trade, and economic growth. In this regard, they reiterated that the WTO Dispute Settlement System is a cornerstone of the MTS as it is designed to enhance security and predictability in international trade.

12. Reaffirming their support for the realisation of the African Union's Agenda 2063, the Ministers commended African countries and the African Union on the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The massive adhesion of African nations to the AfCFTA, as well as the adoption of the African Union Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons and the launching of the Single African Air Transport Market, represent major steps towards the effective economic integration of the continent, as they contribute to reducing external dependency and to increasing Africa's political and economic leverage.

13. The Ministers emphasized the need to continue to work together in the areas of disarmament, nonproliferation, prevention of an arms race in outer space and countering challenges to the international security and stability through political and diplomatic means.

14. The Ministers deplored the continued terrorist attacks, including in some BRICS countries. They condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations wherever committed and by whomsoever. They urged concerted efforts to counter terrorism under the UN auspices on a firm international legal basis, and expressed their conviction that a comprehensive approach was necessary to ensure effective fight against terrorism. They recalled the responsibility of all States to prevent financing of terrorist networks and terrorist actions from their territories. The Ministers highly valued the 3rd BRICS Counter-Terrorism Working Group Meeting held in Nelspruit on 19 and 20 April 2018. They called upon for an expedited adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism in the UN General Assembly. To address the threat of chemical and biological terrorism, they supported and emphasised the need for launching multilateral negotiations on an international convention for the suppression of acts of chemical and biological terrorism, including at the Conference on Disarmament.

15. The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to support international cooperation in combating illicit financial flows, including cooperation within Financial Actions Task Force (FATF) and World Customs Organisation. In this regard, they underscored the importance of increasing mutual exchanges and data sharing. They emphasised the importance of upholding and supporting the objectives of FATF and to intensify their cooperation to implement and improve its Standards on Combating Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism and Proliferation in FATF.

16. The Ministers reaffirmed the importance of the elaboration under the UN auspices of rules, norms and principles of responsible behaviour of States on ensuring security in the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs).

17. The Ministers expressed their concern over the growth of criminal misuse of ICTs and in this regard reiterated the need to develop an international universal legally binding instrument on combatting criminal use of ICTs within the UN. The Ministers acknowledged the work to promote cooperation according to the BRICS Roadmap of Practical Cooperation on Ensuring Security in the Use of ICTs or any other mutually agreed mechanism. The Ministers also acknowledged the importance to establish a framework of cooperation among BRICS Member States on ensuring security in the use of ICTs and, in this regard, BRICS Member States will work towards consideration and elaboration of a BRICS intergovernmental agreement on cooperation on this matter.

18. The Ministers agreed that the conflicts elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa should not be used to delay resolution of long-standing conflicts, in particular the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. They reiterated the need for renewed diplomatic efforts to achieve a just, lasting and comprehensive settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in order to achieve peace and stability in the Middle East on the basis of relevant United Nations resolutions, the Madrid Principles, the Arab Peace Initiative and previous agreements between the parties, through negotiations with a view to creating an independent, viable, territorially contiguous Palestinian State living side by side in peace and security with Israel. They reiterated that the status of Jerusalem is one of the final status issues to be defined in the context of negotiations between Israel and Palestine. With regard to the situation in Gaza, they reiterated their support to the UN General Assembly Resolution (A/RES/ES-10/20) on the protection of the Palestinian population and called for its full implementation.

19. The Ministers reiterated their support for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). They commended its vital role in providing health, education and other basic services for almost 5.3 million Palestinian refugees and underscore its relevance to bringing stability to the region and the need for ensuring a more adequate, sufficient, predictable and sustained funding for the Agency.

20. The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment for a political resolution of the conflict in Syria, through an inclusive "Syrian-led, Syrian-owned" political process that safeguards the state sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Syria, in pursuance of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254 (2015) and taking into account the result of the Congress of the Syrian National Dialogue in Sochi. They reiterated their support for the Geneva process and the mediation offered by the UN, as well as the Astana process which has been showing signs of positive developments on the ground, and stress the complementarity between the two initiatives. They reaffirmed their commitment to a peaceful resolution in Syria and their opposition to measures that run contrary to the UN Charter and the authority of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and that do not contribute to advancing the political process. They also highlighted the importance of unity in the fight against terrorist organisations in Syria in full observance of the relevant UNSC Resolutions. They reiterated their strong condemnation of the use of chemical weapons by any party, for any purpose and under any circumstances and renewed calls for comprehensive, objective, independent, and transparent investigations of all alleged incidents. They called for enhanced efforts to provide necessary humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people, bearing in mind urgent reconstruction needs.

21. The Ministers reaffirmed their support for the process of an "Afghan-led, Afghan-owned'' national peace and reconciliation process. They expressed their concern over the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan particularly the increase in the number and intensity of terrorist-related attacks on the Afghan National Security Forces, the Government and civilians. They called on the international community to assist the government and the people of Afghanistan with the objective of working towards the realisation of peace. They also welcomed the Parliamentary elections that are scheduled to be held in October 2018 and the Presidential elections in 2019.

22. The Ministers expressed their concern over the humanitarian situation in the Republic of Yemen, which has become a major humanitarian crisis. They called upon all parties to cease hostilities with a view to the resumption of the negotiations supported by the United Nations, led by the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General, with full respect for international law.

23. Recalling the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the Iranian nuclear programme the Ministers called upon all parties to fully comply with their obligations and ensure full and effective implementation of the JCPOA to promote international and regional peace and security.

24. The Ministers welcomed recent developments to achieve the complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula and maintain peace and stability in North East Asia. They reaffirmed the commitment for a peaceful, diplomatic and political solution to the situation.

25. The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to fully implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to provide equitable, inclusive, open, all-round innovation-driven and sustainable development, in its three dimensions – economic, social and environmental - in a balanced and integrated manner, towards the ultimate goal of eradicating poverty by 2030. They pledged their support for the important role of the United Nations, including the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), in coordinating and reviewing global implementation of the 2030 Agenda, to reform the UN Development System with a view to enhancing its capability in supporting member States in implementing the 2030 Agenda. They urged developed countries to honour their Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitments fully in time and to provide additional development resources to developing countries.

26. Regarding Climate Change, the Ministers welcomed the progress towards finalizing the Work Programme under the Paris Agreement and expressed their willingness to continue working constructively with other Parties to conclude its related negotiations at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) towards the 24th Conference of the Parties (UNFCCC COP24) to be held in Katowice, Poland, in December 2018. They called upon all countries to fully implement the Paris Agreement adopted under the principles of the UNFCCC including the principles of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, and urged developed countries to provide financial, technological and capacity-building support to developing countries to enhance their capability in mitigation and adaptation.

27. The Ministers welcomed the conclusion of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration and the formal consultation process of the Global Compact on Refugees, according to the 2016 New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants.

28. The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen the role of BRICS countries in global health governance, especially at the World Health Organisation and the United Nations. They welcomed the UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Ending TB, as well as the Third UN High-Level meeting on the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), held in New York on 26 and 27 September 2018. They underlined the importance of the creation of the BRICS Research Network on Tuberculosis (TB), which will contribute to the development of new vaccines, safe and affordable diagnostics and treatment regimes, especially for multidrug-resistant TB detection and treatment, In this regard, they welcomed the World Health Organization First Global Ministerial Conference on Ending TB in the Sustainable Development Era: A Multisectoral Response, held in Moscow on 16 and 17 November 2017. These initiatives demonstrate that there is great potential for advancing joint cooperation projects on other health issues, such as HIV/AIDS, among BRICS countries.

29. The Ministers recognized the critical importance of affordable medicines, including generics, in scaling up access to affordable multidrug-resistant and extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis treatment. The Ministers also reaffirmed the right to use, to the fullest extent, the provisions contained in the World Trade Organisation Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement) as amended, and the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health which recognises that intellectual property rights should be interpreted and implemented in a manner supportive of the right of Member States to protect public health and, in particular, to promote access to medicines for all.

30. The Ministers reaffirmed the importance of BRICS people-to-people exchanges in promoting common development and enhancing mutual understanding, friendship and cooperation amongst its peoples. They commended the ongoing exchanges and the steady progress in BRICS, including in the fields of sports, youth, films, culture, education, tourism and governance. They supported further BRICS people-to-people exchanges and cooperation in fostering a meaningful resonance of the BRICS partnership amongst its peoples.

31. The Ministers discussed the possibilities for the mutual support of their initiatives at the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly.

32. The Ministers were also briefed on approaches for Brazil's incoming BRICS Chairpersonship in 2019. South Africa, Russia, India and China extended full support for Brazil in hosting the Eleventh BRICS Summit in 2019.

Wang Yi Attends the Meeting of BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs (Ван И принял участие в заседании министров иностранных дел БРИКС) / China, September, 2018
Keywords: wang_yi, top_level_meeting, foreign_ministers_meeting

On September 27, 2018 local time, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi attended the Meeting of BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs in New York.

Wang Yi expressed that two months ago, the BRICS Johannesburg Summit was successfully held, which demonstrated the resolution of unity, cooperation and jointly seeking development of the BRICS countries. Under current circumstances, the BRICS role, the BRICS voice and the BRICS plan are gaining wider attention and recognition in the international community. This proves that the BRICS cooperation is a right path to follow. In the next phase, the BRICS countries should strengthen cooperation in four aspects. First, we should continuously uphold multilateralism, safeguard the contemporary international system with the United Nations (UN) at the core and build a new type of international relations featuring mutual respect, fairness, justice and win-win cooperation. Second, we should continuously push for solving hotspot issues through dialogue and send out our unanimous voice regarding major international hotspot issues. Third, we should continue to commit to common development, stay united to cope with challenges and safeguard the legitimate development rights and interests of emerging market economies, including the BRICS countries. Fourth, we should continue to strengthen practical cooperation among the BRICS countries, implement the consensus reached by leaders on establishing the BRICS Partnership on the New Industrial Revolution, launch cooperation at an early date to reap early harvests, and continuously expand the "BRICS Plus" pattern of cooperation, in a bid to forge a cooperation platform with global influence.

Wang Yi noted that we should constantly carry forward the BRICS spirit of openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation and deepen partnerships among the BRICS countries, so as to make the second "golden decade" of BRICS cooperation glitter and bring benefits to the people of the five countries and the world at large.

BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs unanimously agreed to endeavor to well implement the consensus reached by leaders of the BRICS at the BRICS Johannesburg Summit, further strengthen strategic communication, deepen practical cooperation, intensify people-to-people and cultural exchanges, realize mutual benefit and win-win results as well as implement the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Under current circumstances, the BRICS countries should especially cement cooperation with various parties under multilateral frameworks such as G20 and the World Trade Organization, stick to multilateralism, safeguard international law and international rules, oppose unilateralism and protectionism and push globalization to develop toward a more balanced, fairer and more inclusive direction.

All sides also exchanged views on international and regional issues of common concern.

Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
BRICS together must resist US trade friction: scholars (БРИКС вместе должны противостоять конфликтам в торговле с США, говорят ученые) / China, September, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, trade_relations, economic_challenges
Author: Yin Han

BRICS countries should seek further unity and cooperation to resist trade friction created by the US, Chinese scholars said after Foreign Minister Wang Yi attended a meeting of the BRICS foreign ministers on Thursday in New York and emphasized the importance of multilateral cooperation.

Foreign ministers of Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa responded to Wang's proposal and vowed to uphold multilateralism, safeguard international law and rules, and push globalization toward a more balanced, just and inclusive development, the Xinhua News Agency reported on Friday.

Wang also called on BRICS nations to stand together on major issues and safeguard the legitimate development interests of emerging markets including BRICS nations.

"The meeting was held in a background of a global trade friction created by the US, which impact many countries including BRICS nations," Hu Zhiyong, a research fellow with the Institute of International Relations at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

In such a situation, BRICS countries should "unite together and deepen cooperation and go on promoting globalization," Hu said.

Yuan Gangming, a professor with the Center for International Economic Research at Tsinghua University told the Global Times on Friday that the mutual assistance among BRICS countries has been "gratifying when faced with conflicts and issues related with trade and exchange rates."

Yuan also noted that trade friction among BRICS countries could happen in the face of a situation where domestic demand is shrinking leading to reduced imports.

BRICS nations should "recognize the importance of being united in the current situation" and try best to maintain positive cooperation and trade among member countries, which will be "an important source of strength facing the trade conflicts created by the US," Yuan said.

The total GDP of BRICS nations in 2017 was over $17 trillion, surpassing that of the European Union.

The trade volume among BRICS nations has dropped 9 percent during the past five years, according to a Reuters report, citing data from the Standard Bank.

Wang also called on convening countries to expand "BRICS Plus" cooperation, Xinhua said.
Russia's multinational BRICS cryptocurrency idea gains traction (Российская концепция международной криптовалюты БРИКС обретает поддержку) / Australia, September, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, digital, economic_challenges
Author: Andrew Munro

A semi-official national IMF SDR-pegged digital currency is taking shape in strange circumstances.

Russia has been racing to embrace cryptocurrencies, specifically for the purposes of weakening the US dollar's somewhat outsized grip on the current world economy, and dodging the worst impacts of sanctions. Decentralisation holds natural appeal for the latter, while central bank-supported digital currencies might be more suited to the former.

Previous reports have said that Russia's central bank has floated the idea of a multinational BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) cryptocurrency to other members of the economic bloc, which might be looking to experience the same benefits. The proposal seems to have been first made public in September 2017.

Russia's central bank first deputy governor Olga Skorobogatova said at the time that "the introduction of a national digital currency seems to us not entirely justified", but noted that the real benefits would come from a multinational digital currency.

Russia's interest has been clear, but one of the main obstacles to date might have been selling other BRICS members on the idea. A new deal might have cemented some plans around it though, with Brazil in particular warming up to the idea as part of its own ventures into the blockchain and cyptocurrency space.

Warming up

"Despite the distracting efforts of bank lobbyists, during current period of political changes, we are observing significant increase of the interest in decentralization. There is a number of governmental authorities which are already discussing blockchain technologies. It means that it can become one of the main factors for the economy growth in the nearest future," said Gilberto Ramos, president of the Brazilian-Russian Chamber of Commerce.

The remarks were made following a meeting between members of the BRICS Alliance, the Russian-Brazilian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Sociedade Metropolitana in Moscow.

The meeting involved discussions of the risks currently facing the global financial system; the international circulation of cryptocurrencies; and exploration of how blockchain technology could be implemented to "solve the problem of volatility of national currencies during the stagnation of the global economy" according to the Mile Unity Foundation, which signed its own agreement with the Brazilian Chamber of Commerce to help with real implementation of blockchain technologies.

"Mile Unity Foundation is ready to continue to support Brazilian partners in their efforts to implement blockchain technologies in real economy. Mile's system allows increasing commodity circulation, implementing fast and transparent transactions, provides opportunities to work with any country, as well as ensures the reliability of payment systems," said George Goognin, Foundation's global ambassador.


Without full context, and perhaps comprehensive mastery of Google Translate, it's difficult to tell what the signal to noise ratio here is. There's definitely movement among lobbyists and venerable industry bodies though.

The weirdest part might be that the origin story of the Mile Foundation, which might be aiming to design the future multinational digital currency, reads a bit like a shlocky spy novel.

As it tells it, an anonymous woman known only as "Lotus Mile" proposes a series of brilliant algorithms to save the global economy before disappearing forever. On the one hand it seems a little bit like a far-fetched attempt to emulate the bitcoin origin story, or maybe a fever dream. But on the other hand that basically is bitcoin's origin story, so who knows. Obviously truth sometimes can be stranger than fiction.

The Mile Foundation also claims a lot of high profile partnerships, but once again it's all very mysterious. It might be possible to guess a few of them, but most aren't given a name.

What's does "official" officially mean anyway?

The Mile Foundation itself seems to be exploring the potential of being a new multinational currency for a new global economy, and seems to be looking well beyond BRICS by opening "embassies" around the world. Its XDR stablecoin is uniquely pegged to the International Monetary Fund's Special Drawing Right (IMF SDR) rather than any single national currency, and backed by supposedly already-existing long-term loans contracts, and long-term trading contracts, as well as the value of MILE – the other unpegged cryptocurrency in the system.

But is it an official multinational digital currency? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe it doesn't matter. Beyond government money, decentralisation serves plenty of people's needs just fine as long as it can hold value.

The world is at a point where an individual organisation (the Mile Foundation) is working to form the partnerships and develop the money to serve as the basis for a new multinational digital currency, which may or may not ever receive the blessing of the IMF and various governments. It's a world where a single person, foundation or business can invent money, which becomes official money if they can just convince enough people to use it.

Everything about the Mile Foundation's goals and origin story is very peculiar, but some peculiarity can be reasonably expected.

It's probably not worth getting too hung up on the concept of "official" money as meaning "government-created". Anyone (with the right capabilities) can create an IMF SDR-pegged cryptocurrency, and whether or not it ever becomes an "official" multinational digital currency is just a question of whether or not enough people use it.

It seems as likely as anything else that despite its relative obscurity the Mile Foundation is in a decent position to create an actual global digital currency. There's a lot going on beyond the USA, and that's naturally where a global digital currency would emerge anyway because that's where the people who actually want to use one will be.

If it all seems a little too strange to swallow, it might be worth remembering that Venezuela just tried to crowdfund its own new national currency as Russia cheered it on from the sidelines, and the Marshall Islands hired an Israeli tech company to create legal tender for the islands while the IMF tries to talk it down.

It's an interesting time for the concept of monetary value.
Brics countries are more than just about economic development – Russia (Страны БРИКС- это не только экономическое развитие, Россия) / South Africa, September, 2018
Keywords: quotation, emerging_market, global_governance
South Africa

Mikhail Petrakov says the bloc wants to have more weight in international and global financial and economic currency.

While the initial task and goals of the Brics countries were more about the economy and coordination of the efforts to get better results to strengthen dialogue, there was a need for the Brics nations to have a greater influence in global financial and economic affairs.

This is according to the Russian Ambassador to South Africa Mikhail Petrakov who delivered an address on Brics and Russia's bilateral relations with South Africa at an event held at the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) in Cape Town on Wednesday evening.

"Of course, we want all the Brics countries to have better conditions for the development of our national economies and reasoning standards of our citizens, and also, we want our countries to have more weight in international and global financial and economic currency, and we want improvement of global economic architecture," said Petrakov.

Brics is made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.
The beleaguered BRICS can be proud of their bank (Испытывающий трудности БРИКС может гордиться своим банком) / India, September, 2018
Keywords: ndb, expert_opinion

AS STORM clouds gather over emerging markets, the BRICS countries that were supposed to be the building blocks of a new globalised economy are instead in various degrees of trouble. Brazil and Russia are recovering only slowly from downturns. A sharp fall in the rupee reflects jitters about India. China is mired in a trade war with America. South Africa has slipped into a recession. Those who dismissed the BRICS as little more than a marketing acronym might feel justified in their cynicism. But at this moment of weakness, their most tangible creation—a bank that aims to reshape the world of development finance—is making surprising headway.

The New Development Bank (NDB), which is based in Shanghai, was founded just over three years ago. It has received far less attention than another multilateral lender launched a short time later, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in Beijing. Take The Economist's own coverage: a dozen articles have mentioned the NDB, whereas the AIIB has cropped up in roughly 60.

This is understandable. The AIIB, with 87 members, is seen as a vehicle for China to project its power. China has an effective veto over it, its chief is a veteran Chinese official and America has refused to join. The NDB has only five members. All have equal stakes; none has a veto. They have also been the bank's only borrowers so far. For those minded to view the BRICS as a joke, it is easy to dismiss.

But a closer look at the two banks shows that this would be unwise. They are roughly as busy as each other. The NDB has approved $5.7bn in loans, a touch more than AIIB's $5.3bn. The AIIB has more full-time employees—180 to NDB's 120—but both are adding to their ranks by the week. They both now have international credit ratings, making it easier for them to issue bonds. The three big rating agencies awarded the AIIB triple-A scores last year. In August the NDB received AA+ ratings, just a notch lower, from S&P and Fitch.

More striking, though, are their differences. Under intense scrutiny, the China-led AIIB has been at pains to get off to a smooth start. It is teaming up with incumbents more than challenging them: two-thirds of its loans have been co-financed by other big development organisations such as the World Bank. The AIIB has refrained from making any loans to Russia or Iran, which are under American sanctions. And it has denominated its loans in dollars, the normal practice for development lenders.

The NDB has taken on slightly more risk. Almost all its loans have been its own projects; just 2% are co-financed with other multilateral lenders. K.V. Kamath, the NDB's president, says its goal has been to build its own expertise quickly. A fifth of its loans have gone to Russia. One of its biggest was a $460m deal to make the Russian judicial system more efficient—something almost designed to raise hackles in America. The bank has also vowed to lend in local currencies, in order to shelter borrowers from a stronger dollar. To manage its own balance-sheet, the NDB will do this only if it can raise local-currency financing, which it has done for just a few loans in China so far. But Mr Kamath says it hopes to issue rand bonds in South Africa later this year.

The NDB is even managing to win some admirers. "Why do we need another World Bank? The AIIB looks a lot like what's out there. The NDB is looking more innovative," says Gregory Chin, a specialist in economic diplomacy at York University in Canada. The BRICS' walls are shaky these days. Their bank looks more solid.
World of work
Social policy, trade unions, actions
Ethical Investors: Investing in BRICS Nations May Help Reduce Inequality (Этические инвесторы: инвестиции в страны БРИКС могут помочь уменьшить неравенство) / Canada, September, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, social_issues, emerging_market, investments
Author: Victoria Hetherington

Green energy is one of the first investment areas that comes to mind when one thinks of ethical financial portfolio building. But investing in emerging markets can provide philanthropic investing options, too, while also bringing exposure to some highly lucrative foreign markets.

While the growth rates required to eradicate poverty are, in many cases, too high to be plausible, the fact is that the possibility remains for economic growth while raising the living conditions for the poorest countries. Investors in first-world countries such as Canada have an opportunity, then, to do their bit for the global populace simply by making ethical investment decisions.

If you don't have enough foreign exposure, here's a good place to start

One way in which domestic investors may be able to make a difference, albeit in a very small way, is to buy into emerging markets. By adding more liquidity to these economies, structures being put in place to benefit the poorest communities gain much-needed funds, while the sturdiest businesses are given a change to grow and reinvest.

An obvious choice for BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and BRICS-type exposure is the iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets IMI Index ETF(TSX:XEC). With a spread of markets that encompasses the BRICS nations as well as similar emerging economies, the iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets IMI Index ETF can help Canadian investors share their wealth, while also opening a diversified channel for capital growth.

If you are a little light on international exposure, especially to BRICS-type markets, why not consider this diversified emerging markets ETF offered by BlackRock Canada. With a modus operandi of seeking long-term capital growth by mirroring the performance of the MSCI Emerging Markets Investable Market Index, this ETF could be just the ticket if you want to invest in the future of growing foreign markets.

How does an emerging markets ETF operate in the real world?

With a trailing 12-month yield of 2.26%, the iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets IMI Index ETF works pretty much like any other ticker on the TSX. It offers a medium- to high-risk play on emerging markets, with much of that risk spread across a vast geographical area; this makes it just right for any investor too heavily exposed to North American markets.

The current exposure of the top 10 weighted markets on the ETF shakes out something like this:

  • China: 28.80%
  • South Korea: 15.45%
  • Taiwan: 13.03%
  • India: 9.22%
  • South Africa: 6.10%
  • Brazil: 5.86%
  • Russian Federation: 3.29%
  • Mexico: 3.17%
  • Thailand: 2.67%
  • Malaysia: 2.54%
As you can see, the spread of markets takes in several continents, including much of Asia as well as Africa, both North and South America, and, of course, Russia. Many of these markets offer investors considerable growth, and the chance for some serious capital gains, all funneled through a single convenient dividend.
BRICS: Language and Culture Dialogue / Lucie Philip (БРИКС: Диалог между языками и культурами / Люси Филип) / Russia, September, 2018
Keywords: social_issues
Author: Lucie Philip

Lucie Philip, Master student on Intercultural Communication and Russian language at the Pushkin State Institute, participant of BRICS International School 2018

My master degree at the Pushkin State Institute in Moscow is oriented on Intercultural Communication and Russian language. After the BRICS International School, which was held in Moscow on August, 2018 I went to the conclusion that Russian language should definitely take a place in the development of the diplomatic relations between BRICS countries, to become a language that could unite different countries, nations and cultures together.

English became a global language that we all use to communicate and express our opinion, for public speech and diplomacy. But nowadays it is not enough o overcome the boarder of cultures and languages. My aim as a student is to develop a multicultural dialogue between five countries to show the diversity of the BRICS countries. The BRICS economy play more and more importance on the international scene and their languages (Chinese, Russian, Hindi, Portuguese and S.A. languages) should also get the opportunity to play an important role, especially in the field of education and cultural exchanges. This would lead to a different way to overcome the cultural differences between BRICS countries. Even if, English remain a diplomatic language on the international scene, the strength of the BRICS should provide dialogue for an understanding of cultural differences.

I would like to develop a cultural and linguistic BRICS program or exchange, where specialists, teachers and students from BRICS countries would represent their language and culture to get another approach on the question «What is BRICS ?» to have a great insight on each country.

Russian language would be very useful within BRICS countries because nowadays it takes more and more place on the diplomatic scene, more and more students especially from BRICS countries learn Russian (in the Pushkin State Institute there are a lot of students from China, India and Brazil who want to learn Russian). Some of them learn it because they want to develop trade between China and Russia or to discover Russian culture or to become a teacher of Russian language in their native country, or to get a more knowledge on Russian writers, linguists or historians. We should take in consideration these new opportunities to apprehend BRICS from another side. Now its time for the BRICS to define the new mosaic of the world but not in trying to be a superior to the Western World but in highlighting language, culture and art to make our world a better place to live when we can access to literature that is hidden in the language.

For this, it would be interesting to learn more about writers, thinkers, economist that brought a contribution in BRICS countries. Russian writers like the great Russian poet Pushkin, Dostoyevsky who described and went deep to the psychology of human being by mental dialogue, or Tolstoy who wrote about the relation of Russian people with their land. Those writers wrote in different times but both wrote about the history and the state of their country and their peoples. They influenced their century and it is useful for us, non Russians to know them better and to read them, why they became a reference for the Russian people and why everyone read them. These examples are keys for better understanding of our century, the politics issues, particularities and mentalities of the different cultures. We should do the same with China, get to know more Confucius and its philosophy, India with Gandhi and the great economist and thinker Kautilya. To conclude I will insist on the fact that the strength of BRICS must reside in its cultural and linguistic diversities to create an authentic dialogue, hand in hand.

Poor, marginalised carry disproportionate disease burden - Ramaphosa (Бедные, маргинализованные несут несоразмерное бремя болезней, сказал Рамафоза) / South Africa, September, 2018
Keywords: speech, cyril_ramaphosa, social_issues
South Africa

Rustenburg - Tuberculosis is not just a medical condition, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Wednesday.

"It has many social determinants, including poverty, unemployment, poor nutrition, overcrowding and social stigma that fuel the spread of diseases," he said at the United Nations (UN) high-level meeting on tuberculosis (TB) in New York.

"This means that the poor and marginalised carry a disproportionate disease burden."

He said in South Africa TB was the biggest cause of mortality in the general population, especially among men.

"There were 322 000 new TB infections in South Africa in 2017, which is a significant decline from the 2015 estimate of 438 000. The decline is attributed to a strengthened response in the form of the rapid roll-out of new diagnostics and drugs."

He said South Africa's large antiretroviral programme has significantly contributed to better TB outcomes, including successful treatment and reduced mortality.

"In South Africa, 60 percent of people living with HIV are co-infected with TB. This means that any strategy that does not address both the TB and HIV epidemics will not succeed."

South Africa is a member of the BRICS TB Research Network, which is a collaboration among BRICS countries on research and development to produce new TB diagnostics, vaccines and medicines.

"This is important as the BRICS countries contribute 40 percent of all drug-susceptible TB and 50 percent of all drug-resistant TB globally."

Ramaphosa said South Africa supports the "Key Asks" identified through a consultative process led by the World Health Organisation, Stop TB Partnership, civil society and other interested parties.

"We would like to see the declaration emanating from this High-Level Meeting embracing the "Key Asks" and setting in motion the bold response needed to end the global Tuberculosis epidemic. Investing in research and development is critical if we are to develop new diagnostics, vaccines and medicines – and find innovative ways to deal with the social determinants of Tuberculosis and its transmission.

"As South Africa, we look forward to the meeting of the UN General Assembly of 2030 where it should be declared that indeed, we have ended the Tuberculosis epidemic."

Heads of State gathered in New at the United Nations General Assembly first-ever high-level meeting on TB to accelerate efforts in ending TB and reach all affected people with prevention and care.

BRICS power for higher education: What grouping can achieve (Власть БРИКС в помощь высшему образованию: чего способна достичь группа) / India, September, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, social_issues
Author: Vasim Shaikh

The grouping can collaborate to achieve the higher education goals individual nations have set for themselves.

With more than one in every three students in the world today living in a BRICS country, a major challenge is not just continuing to expand higher education outreach in these countries but also enhancing quality of tertiary education through centres of excellence.

Brazil plans to award 60,000 masters degrees and 25,000 doctorates locally every year by 2020. Through the government's "science without borders" initiative, 100,000 students are being awarded full scholarships to study abroad. China aims at having world-class universities and be a powerhouse in the global higher education landscape by 2020. Since the beginning of BRICS, India has played a significant and dynamic role. In its efforts to improve higher education, India has launched the 25-year Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan to improve access, equity and quality in tertiary education by establishing new institutions and expanding enrolment in existing ones. The primary goal is to enrol 10 million more students in the next five years. Federal public universities and national research universities have been established in Russia.

The BRICS forum has helped the countries in the grouping coordinate approaches for tackling many challenges. Such coordination can be very beneficial for the education vision the individual countries have adopted. They have stepped up student mobility amongst themselves, apart from in the global higher education market. In the last 10 years, BRICS nations have become an important destination for foreign students, with Russia currently hosting 174,000 students, China 99,000, South Africa 70,000, India 31,000, and Brazil 14,000.
There are also efforts afoot to create a BRICS Network University, an initiative that will allow universities in the countries in the grouping to together develop and teach courses and allow common qualifications and transmission of credits between contributing institutions.

BRICS is also making use of UNESCO-backed regional conventions on recognition of degrees and other academic qualifications in higher education. In order to build a stronger global presence in cross-border education, BRICS universities are opening branches overseas and undertaking international exchanges. In this regard, in the last few years China has elevated the number and quality of its Confucius Institutes (centres of Chinese language and culture learning abroad). BRICS countries are also determined to increase international aid to education, in order to build linkages with other developing and emerging countries.

India has played an important role in setting up of the BRICS bank. The establishment of the bank has injected momentum into South-South cooperation. While there is no doubt that BRICS have made progress in higher education, there are still many obstacles. They will need to focus sharply on the quality and equity of education in the quest for academic excellence in higher education. So far, many South African students are lagging behind in numeracy and literary skills, while India's success in expanding access to education risks being undermined by inadequate education infrastructure and poor teaching
Even though education is compulsory in Brazil until the age of 17, statistics show that most children do not progress beyond lower secondary school—thus impacting the higher education turnover—and consequently lack the skills needed for decent jobs. The BRICS countries are also confronted with deep disparities in the quality of schooling at all levels, especially between rural and urban areas and between schools serving poor households and those serving the well-off.

The BRICS nations have the potential to meaningfully improve individual and collective higher education performance. By defending the Muscat Agreement, which suggests a global goal and aims for education post-2015, BRICS could play a vital role in safeguarding a strong promise to education in the future growth agenda.

By Vasim Shaikh, Chief marketing officer and co-director, CEDP Skill Institute, Mumbai.
Russia offers India long-term cooperation on manned space programs (Россия предлагает Индии долгосрочное сотрудничество в области пилотируемых космических программ) / Russia, September, 2018
Keywords: space

The CEO of Russia's state space corporation Roscosmos has met Advisor to the Indian prime minister Ajit Kumar Doval

NEW DELHI, September 25. /TASS/. Russia offer India log-term partnership in the area of manned space programs within the BRICS and in the area of satellite programs, CEO of Russia's state space corporation Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, said on Tuesday.

"We are looking for partners in the area of manned space flights. India can be our partner, especially if a would-be manned program is implemented within the BRICS. If we help India, become its strategic partner in the area of manned space flights, we do it consciously because in this event they will be adjusted to joint work with us on a future station. And we would like to see the Indians as our equal partners on the future manned program," he said after a meeting with Advisor to the Indian Prime Minister Ajit Kumar Doval.

Rogozin said earlier Roscosmos was looking at a project for the construction of a lunar research station, which could be implemented either domestically or within international cooperation. According to Roscosmos, the program may involve BRICS nations. Apart from that, Russia is ready to cooperate with India on a wide spectrum of space programs.

"Apart from that, we are ready to discuss cooperation with India in the area of spacecraft-building and engine-building. It is secret to no one that Russia is a global leader in the area of space engines and, despite the tough sanction policy, the United States continues to buy our engines. We are ready to sell such engines to the India side as well," Rogozin said.
As UN General Assembly Highlights Tuberculosis Fight, Will BRICS Lead on the R&D Agenda? (В то время как Генеральная Ассамблея ООН придает большое значение борьбе с туберкулезом, возглавит ли БРИКС исследования и разработки в этой области?) / United States, September, 2018
Keywords: research, social_issues, innovations
United States

Tomorrow, as part of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), heads of state will convene for the first-ever high-level meeting on the fight against tuberculosis (TB). Though the meeting is titled United to End Tuberculosis, current prospects to control and end TB have stalled. Despite large global investments (and some drops in TB-related mortality), the number of incident TB cases per year has stagnated at around 10 million since 2000, while drug resistance has spread and worsened.

Treatment for drug-sensitive TB requires a six-month daily regimen, often with nasty side effects; regimens for drug resistant strains are even longer and more toxic, plus far more expensive. Too many patients drop out midway through the treatment course, putting them in danger of relapse, acquired drug resistance, and onward transmission in their communities, continuing to spread and entrench the epidemic. According to the World Health Organization, the Sustainable Development Goal for TB "cannot be achieved" without "a major technological breakthrough" by 2025.

In the BRICS, the stakes of ineffective TB treatment are particularly high

Tuberculosis is often considered a disease of poverty, but increasingly the burden is concentrated in a handful of middle-income countries—Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (the BRICS). The BRICS are home to over 40 percent of all incident TB cases and 55 percent of cases with multi-drug-resistance (MDR)—see table 1 below.

Under the Global Fund's most recent revision of its eligibility policy earlier this year, India will remain eligible for tuberculosis funding even after it hits upper-middle-income status; South Africa was already eligible due to its "extreme" burden. But Russia, China, and Brazil do not qualify for Global Fund support, and pay for TB drugs and diagnostics out of government coffers. For BRICS, maintenance of the status quo—with subpar treatment options and growing drug resistance—implies an ever-expanding health and fiscal burden that could weigh down broader development aspirations, a dire prospect that perhaps underpins the recent political commitment to tackling TB at the highest level as articulated by all five BRICS heads of state.

But to drive an R&D agenda, BRICS need to pay for innovation

The distribution of the TB burden places TB awkwardly in the interstitial space between donor-driven innovation and market-led R&D. Donors are understandably hesitant to continue bankrolling R&D funding for diseases that mostly affect BRICS; economic growth is already creating fiscal space to drive higher health spending in these countries, and BRICS governments can increasingly afford to pay for innovative health products. To date, donor "push" funding—grants for R&D through public-private partnerships—has indeed helped advance some new compounds through the pipeline; yet push funding remains insufficient to plug the global R&D gap and produce a new treatment regimen with an optimal product profile.

For their part, BRICS governments are investing relatively few domestic resources in health R&D, and private sector pharmaceutical companies continue to view BRICS markets as risky targets for on-patent products. BRICS governments aggressively negotiate drug prices and often have preferential purchasing policies for domestic manufacturers; BRICS can also threaten compulsory licensing if a drug is deemed essential to public health.

Given these BRICS and TB-specific risks—coupled with baseline scientific risk in attempting to develop an innovative health product—pharmaceutical companies have been slow to make large investments that could help push early-stage compounds through clinical trials and to market. To drive the necessary investment, BRICS need to send a clear signal to the market that they are willing to pay for innovations that will dramatically improve the health and welfare of their respective populations, plus create health system savings by averting lengthy hospitalizations for TB patients.

Will BRICS help drive forward TB innovation?

Development of a new generation of TB treatment—a regimen that can start turning the tide against the global epidemic, at least if complemented by new diagnostic tools—may hinge on whether BRICS are willing to take leadership of the global TB agenda. As we approach this week's high-level meeting, there are already several positive signs.

Through their own policy choices, BRICS countries are signaling that they are willing and able to engage and contribute to global initiatives that will drive domestic economic growth, including via research and development. TB has featured prominently at the annual BRICS summits and in communiques; Russia hosted the WHO Global Ministerial Conference on Ending TB just last year; India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced a plan to end TB in India by 2025, and India has added $740m to its national program, roughly quintupling its investment against TB; BRICS' respective ministers of health announced a TB cooperation plan in 2014; and the BRICS have launched a joint TB Research Network, meeting annually since 2016.

BRICS are clearly signaling that they are open to international cooperation in the fight against TB. Can their cooperation and commitment help kick-start a more robust R&D process?

A sneak preview. . .

A few of us at the Center for Global Development, in partnership with colleagues at the Office of Health Economics, are thinking through a new approach for BRICS cooperation against tuberculosis—one that can help drive the next generation of investment for better TB treatment. Our market-focused approach puts BRICS governments in the driver's seat—empowering them to send a powerful signal to private-sector pharmaceutical companies about the kind of innovation they would value and at the kind of price they would be willing to consider. We're still in the early stages but stay tuned—we hope to have a proposal out in the public domain later this year.

For now, we'll be watching the BRICS closely; the future of the fight against TB will likely depend on their leadership.
Table 1. Burden of Tuberculosis in BRICS, 2017
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