Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum

Monitoring of the economic, social and labor situation in the BRICS countries
Issue 22.2023
2023.05.29 — 2023.06.04
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's answers to media questions following the BRICS Foreign Ministers Meeting, Cape Town, June 1, 2023 (Ответы на вопросы СМИ Министра иностранных дел России С.В.Лаврова по итогам заседания СМИД БРИКС, Кейптаун, 1 июня 2023 года) / Russia, June, 2023
Keywords: sergey_lavrov, quotation

Question: Many countries have been declaring their desire to be invited into the BRICS group. For instance, today, you met with the delegation from Saudi Arabia, who also expressed their desire to do that. Could you please tell us about the progress that is being made in this direction and why do you think BRICS attracts so many countries?

Sergey Lavrov: Indeed, we discussed this issue, and I did discuss it with the Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud this morning.

As regards the approach of BRICS, it is still being shaped, it is evolving. The sherpas reported to us about the results they reached at this stage. The Chair authorised them to continue after they listened to the comments made by each of us at the meeting.

BRICS is a different kind of structure. It is a new organisation based on the principles of equality, mutual respect, consensus, non-interference and strict adherence to the United Nations Charter, to all its principles in their interlinkages. It is not for BRICS to pick and choose something you like in this Charter for this particular situation and then to do the opposite for another situation. I think BRICS symbolises the evolution of the multipolar world, which is talked about very often, and more and more so. And the fact that more than 12 countries have expressed their desire to be part of BRICS is a testimony to that.

Question: May I ask you to comment on the reports alleging that the BRICS Summit may be moved to China from South Africa? What do you think about these plans?

Sergey Lavrov: As far as I know, this news story appeared in a single British tabloid of some sort. And I do not read English papers.

                'The BRICS Path': Key Aspects and Tasks of Expanding Membership («Путь БРИКС»: ключевые аспекты и задачи расширения членства) / Russia, June, 2023
                Keywords: brics+, expert_opinion

                In order to achieve maximum benefits in economic cooperation within the framework of BRICS, it is necessary to involve the private sector as actively as possible; particularly through business associations of both BRICS and partner institutions such as the SCO and the EAEU, writes Valdai Club expert Sergey Mikhnevich.

                The strengthening of BRICS and the entry of this association into the ranks of the key institutions of global governance has actualised the issue of expanding its membership. As of early May this year, 19 countries have plans to become BRICS members: Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, the United Arab Emirates, Argentina, Indonesia and a number of other states. The motives for joining BRICS include the attractiveness of the existing model of cooperation, its agenda, as well as the desire of new members to become some of the key actors that will determine the direction of development of the multilateral international political and economic system in the near future.

                Anil Suklal, South African BRICS Sherpa, notes that in a situation where "individual Western countries have taken hostage the multilateral system of relations and are using it to their advantage ... We (in BRICS — ed.), on the contrary, want to create a global architecture of international relations and do it together." According to Kirill Babaev, the Director of the Institute of China and Modern Asia of the Russian Academy of Sciences, BRICS, along with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), "reflect the hope of some of the world's states to create a system of inclusive and mutually beneficial cooperation, both in the field of security and in the field of economy, free from pressure from Western structures."

                One of the factors in increasing the influence of BRICS was the commitment of its members to develop approaches to cooperation, taking into account mutual interests determined by individual leading participants, without pressure and coercion determining the conditions for their implementation. The equality of all participants and the inclusive agenda are important elements that underlie what can be called the "BRICS Path". This in itself acts as a powerful source of institutional "power of attraction" (as an analogue of "soft power") of this association.

                Despite years of talk about expanding the membership of BRICS, the first and last addition since its establishment was South Africa in 2011, which added the letter "S" to the acronym BRIC. There are many reasons why, over the subsequent 10+ years, no other countries joined the association: from the risks of significantly complicating the programme of work and reconciling the not always coinciding interests of the parties to the "zealous attitude" of member states towards representing the interests of their regions in BRICS.

                Even in relations between the current BRICS members there is a significant number of contradictions that make it difficult to deepen cooperation, as between China and India. With the expansion of the membership of the association, the points of tension, of course, will increase. For example, when Argentina joins BRICS, some competition may arise with Brazil, which will affect the solidity and potential capabilities of the organisation. In addition, determining a set of requirements for new members is also important.

                It is unlikely that it will consist only of economic criteria or participation in the work of the leading institutions of global governance on a global and regional scale, such as the G20 or the SCO. The current members are more likely to develop some complex political and economic criteria that take into account the influence of the country in the international arena and its ability to solve the most important global problems in certain sectors, such as food and energy security.

                As Dmitry Razumovsky, former director of the Institute of Latin America of the Russian Academy of Sciences, rightly notes, "today BRICS is no longer a club of growth leaders, and the ability of the candidate countries to effectively participate in solving the most acute current problems facing the developing world — the energy and food crises — is coming to the fore."

                In this regard, of particular importance for the BRICS is the extent to which its members will be able to build an effective programme of action against the background of the crisis of global institutions.

                The movement along the "BRICS Path" as cooperation rooted in the development of comprehensive solutions through the balancing of mutual interests and renunciation of pressure can help mitigate the existing crisis phenomena and create positive conditions for the further strengthening of the members' potential as leaders of the new multipolar world.

                For this reason, it is important for BRICS to develop the optimal modality for using the possibilities of the BRICS+ format for "integrating integrations", with the participation of the EAEU, SCO, MERCOSUR, ASEAN (through the Comprehensive Regional Economic Cooperation), the African Union, etc. The corresponding umbrella mega-format (Latin America, Africa, Eurasia) could be used to create a comprehensive institutional framework for promoting economic cooperation among all the countries of the Global South. Ekaterina Arapova and Yaroslav Lissovolik wrote about the prospects of BRICS+ for the formation of a new system of global governance, taking into account the needs of the countries of the Global South.

                The real emergence of BRICS on the world stage also requires an increase in the efforts of the association's members to coordinate their positions in other leading institutions of global governance, such as the G20. Within its framework, the BRICS member countries could come up with a consolidated agenda on key issues, using the experience of the G7.

                At the same time, it is important for BRICS to "show practical results" in key areas. Among them, one can especially note industrial production, the agro-industrial sector, energy and transport, payment and settlement systems, i. e. spheres that play a special role in ensuring the viability of socio-economic systems. At the same time, it is necessary to strengthen ties in the field of harmonisation of regulation and digitalization — to ensure maximum seamlessness in the "articulation of fabrics" of developing ties, as well as educational and cultural contacts — to ensure their integrated and comprehensive nature through mutual confidence-building and the involvement of the "broad public and business masses".

                At the same time, it is important that the agenda should include not only the development of regulation and interaction formats, but also adaptive mechanisms and tools for cooperation, as well as the formation of a pool and the implementation of specific practical projects. Thus, if Iran joins BRICS, it may contribute to the use of the association's capabilities for the implementation of the North-South international transport corridor mega-project, in which the current members of the BRICS are interested. Strengthening the project direction requires the adaptation and scaling of the work of the New Development Bank (NDB) to the new tasks and needs of candidate members, as well as the restart of its work in the Russian Federation, which was actually suspended under threat of sanctions by a number of Western states.

                In conclusion, it seems important to emphasize once again that in order to achieve maximum benefits in economic cooperation within the framework of BRICS, it is necessary to involve the private sector as actively as possible; particularly through business associations of both BRICS and partner institutions such as the SCO and the EAEU. It seems promising to establish institutional links between the business councils of BRICS, the SCO and the EAEU. The basis for this could be the system of business dialogues of the EAEU Business Council, which was highly appreciated by the President of Russia Vladimir Putin. A joint business dialogue could become an effective supplier of trade, economic and investment projects, as well as represent a consolidated business voice on key issues of mega-regional integration development.
                              South Africa grants Putin and Brics leaders diplomatic immunity for summit (ЮАР предоставила Путину и лидерам БРИКС дипломатическую неприкосновенность за саммит) / United Kingdom, May, 2023
                              Keywords: summit, vladimir_putin, political_issues
                              United Kingdom

                              ICC warrant for Russian president's arrest issued in March over alleged war crimes in Ukraine

                              South Africa has issued blanket diplomatic immunity to all leaders attending an August summit, meaning Vladimir Putin might be able to travel to Johannesburg and not fear the country acting on an international criminal court warrant for his arrest.

                              South African officials insisted the broad offer of immunity, issued in a government gazette, may not trump the ICC arrest warrant. As an ICC member, South Africa would be under pressure, and possibly under a legal requirement, to arrest Putin. The court issued a warrant for his arrest in March over the alleged forcible deportation of children from Ukraine to Russia.

                              South Africa is hosting a summit of the Brics group: Brazil, China, India, Russia and South Africa, in August. A two-day planning meeting of foreign ministers is due to take place this Thursday.

                              "This is a standard conferment of immunities that we do for all international conferences and summits held in South Africa, irrespective of the level of participation," the Department of Foreign Affairs said on Tuesday. "The immunities are for the conference and not for specific individuals. They are meant to protect the conference and its attendees from the jurisdiction of the host country for the duration of the conference."

                              In April, South African president, Cyril Ramaphosa, appointed an inter-ministerial committee headed by his deputy president, Paul Mashatile, to look into how the law applied to a visit by the Russian president. The government is looking into the wording of the Rome Statute, the charter that established the ICC, for a loophole that would enable Putin to attend without South Africa having to arrest him.

                              Article 98 of the ICC Rome Statute states: "The court may not proceed with a request for surrender or assistance which would require the requested State to act inconsistently with its obligations under international law with respect to the State or diplomatic immunity of a person … of a third state, unless the court can first obtain the cooperation of that third State for the waiver of the immunity." Some say this wording provides South Africa with a chance to invite Putin and not be under any obligation to arrest him.

                              A similar row occurred in 2005 when the then Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir came to South Africa. He swiftly left the county as it became increasingly likely that the South African high court was about to rule that he had to be arrested.

                              Russia has stepped up its drive to boost ties with Africa to help offset a chill in relations with the west prompted by its invasion of Ukraine, and plans to hold an Africa-Russia summit in St Petersburg in July.

                              It is not clear yet if Putin would be willing to save South Africa from the diplomatic dilemma by not attending in person. The Kremlin said on Tuesday that Russia would take part at the "proper level". The foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, is already slated to attend the planning meeting.

                              The Brics group of large emerging economies is increasingly seen as a rival to the G7 group of western industrialised countries.

                              Asked at a regular news briefing about the possibility of an arrest warrant, the Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, said: "Of course we count as a bare minimum on partner countries in such an important format not being guided by such illegal decisions."

                              South Africa has been accused of fence-sitting over Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The US embassy recently claimed South Africa had sent weapons to Russia. Support for Russia inside the ruling ANC is strong due to the Soviet Union's role in opposing colonialism.

                              The government notice about immunity, which was gazetted on Monday, was routine protocol to protect the conference, the foreign ministry said, adding: "These immunities do not override any warrant that may have been issued by any international tribunal against any attendee of the conference."
                                            BRICS meet with 'friends' seeking closer ties amid push to expand bloc (БРИКС встречается с «друзьями», стремящимися к более тесным связям на фоне стремления к расширению блока) / Russia, June, 2023
                                            Keywords: top_level_meeting

                                            Senior officials from over a dozen countries including Saudi Arabia and Iran were in talks on closer links with the BRICS bloc of major emerging economies as it met to deepen ties and position itself as a counterweight to the West, informs Reuters.

                                            BRICS, which now consists of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, is considering expanding its membership, and a growing number of countries, mostly from the global South, have expressed interest in joining.

                                            Once viewed as a loose association of disparate emerging economies, BRICS has in recent years taken more concrete shape, driven initially by China and, since the start of the Ukraine war in February 2022, with added impetus from Russia.

                                            In remarks opening Friday's discussions, host South Africa's Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor spoke of the bloc as a champion of the developing world, which she said was abandoned by wealthy states and global institutions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

                                            "The world has faltered in cooperation. Developed countries have never met their commitments to the developing world and are trying to shift all responsibility to the global South," Pandor said.

                                            Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Comoros, Gabon, and Kazakhstan all sent representatives to Cape Town for so-called "Friends of BRICS" talks, an official programme showed.

                                            Egypt, Argentina, Bangladesh, Guinea-Bissau and Indonesia were participating virtually.

                                            BRICS heavyweight China said last year it wanted the bloc to launch a process to admit new members. And other members have pointed to countries they would like to see join the club.

                                            "BRICS is a history of success," Brazilian Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira said. "The group is also a brand and an asset, so we have to take care of it."

                                            Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said talks had included deliberations on the guiding principles, standards, criteria and procedures of what an expanded BRICS bloc would look like.

                                            South Africa's Pandor said the foreign ministers were aiming to complete work on a framework for admitting new members before BRICS leaders meet at a summit in Johannesburg in August.

                                                          Arrest Putin, South Africa's opposition urges government (Оппозиция ЮАР призывает правительство арестовать Путина) / Germany, May, 2023
                                                          Keywords: summit, vladimir_putin, political_issues

                                                          Russian president should be 'detained' if he visits South Africa for BRICS summit in August, party says.
                                                          The last time an accused war criminal visited South Africa, he had to cut his visit short or risk being arrested. Now, the South African opposition wants to do the same thing to Vladimir Putin.

                                                          South Africa's leading opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), said Tuesday it had taken legal action to force the government to arrest Putin if the Russian president were to visit the country.

                                                          Putin is currently under an international arrest warrant, issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague in March, over the forced deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia as part of Moscow's full-scale invasion.

                                                          The DA has now launched a court application requesting Putin be "detained and surrendered" to the ICC if he were to arrive in South Africa to attend a BRICS summit in August, the party said in a statement.

                                                          "The DA is seeking this declaratory order to ensure that there is no legal ambiguity relating to the procedure to be followed, and the obligations placed upon the state, should President Putin set foot in South Africa," DA Shadow Justice Minister Glynnis Breytenbach said in the party's statement.

                                                          South Africa will host a summit of heads of state from BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) on August 22-24. As a signatory of the ICC, it would in theory be duty bound to arrest Putin if he visited the country.

                                                          In 2015, the South African government allowed Sudanese then-President Omar al-Bashir to leave the country after he had visited Pretoria for an African Union Summit, despite two pending warrants from the ICC for alleged genocide and war crimes in Darfur.

                                                          For now, Russia has yet to confirm whether Putin, who has largely avoided international travel since the beginning of the war, will attend the summit in person.

                                                          On Tuesday, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that Russia would "take part in this summit at the proper level," according to Russian state newswire Ria Novosti.

                                                          Earlier Tuesday, the South African foreign ministry said it was granting immunity to BRICS meeting participants, saying that it was "standard" procedure for a country hosting an international summit.

                                                          "These immunities do not override any warrant that may have been issued by any international tribunal against any attendee of the conference," the ministry said in a statement.
                                                                        How Putin's war turned an economic conference into an alliance against the West (Как война Путина превратила экономическую конференцию в союз против Запада) / United Kingdom, June, 2023
                                                                        Keywords: expert_opinion, political_issues
                                                                        United Kingdom

                                                                        Amid rising global tension the BRICS bloc is emerging as a counterweight to the G7

                                                                        South African president Cyril Ramaphosa faces an uncomfortable diplomatic conundrum.

                                                                        Two months after he invited Vladimir Putin to a summit in Johannesburg this August, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for the Russian president for war crimes in Ukraine. If Putin arrives on South African soil, Ramaphosa will be required to lock up his guest.

                                                                        South Africa has since announced that dignitaries attending the BRICS meeting will be granted diplomatic immunity, which may provide a legal escape from the arrest warrant.

                                                                        Ramaphosa's attempt at judicial gymnastics shows how the BRICS bloc – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – is becoming an increasingly significant alliance against the West in the wake of Putin's war.

                                                                        The alliance is set to become much more of a geopolitical heavyweight.

                                                                        Foreign ministers from the five nations met in Cape Town last week ahead of the August summit. They were joined by their counterparts from several other countries, including Saudi Arabia, which has applied to join the bloc.

                                                                        A further 18 nations have expressed interest in joining.

                                                                        In addition to expanding its membership, the alliance is also discussing plans to introduce a cross-border currency for BRICS countries.

                                                                        Foreign ministers from five member BRICS met in Cape Town as the bloc increasingly takes on a more geopolitical significance CREDIT: RODGER BOSCH/AFP Over the past year, the bloc has shown a renewed enthusiasm in policy making, says Cobus van Staden, a senior foreign policy researcher at the South African Institute of International Affairs.

                                                                        "It's been driven by Russia and China and specifically by the need to try and find these alternative spaces for commerce that are outside of Western norms and particularly Western sanctions," he says.

                                                                        "The Ukraine conflict dragged the BRICS into sharpened conflict with the West. It has dragged BRICS members who may not have wanted to pick that fight into some kind of positioning with Russia," van Staden adds.

                                                                        Members of the bloc have not necessarily endorsed the war, but are becoming increasingly aligned with Moscow.

                                                                        India and China are buying Russian oil, for example. Celso Amorim, an advisor on international affairs to the Brazilian president, told the Financial Times last week that Russia's concerns on Ukraine need to be "taken into account".

                                                                        The real value of the BRICS to its members is the statement they are making to the West, says O'Neill. "[They're saying] 'we are the big guys in this thing, whereas in all of the other global institutions, you basically treat us as your puppets,'".

                                                                        The bloc started life as "BRIC", an acronym first coined by O'Neill in a 2001 paper for Goldman Sachs when he identified four rapidly emerging markets – Brazil, Russia, India and China – that would become defining players on the world economic stage.

                                                                        Crucially, O'Neill called for greater representation of those nations on the world stage to reflect their rising economic importance.

                                                                        He argued that the EU should have one combined seat at the G7 table, rather than individual representation for Germany, France and Italy, instead incorporating China, Brazil and Russia - and possibly India - to extend the group to eight or nine.

                                                                        This did not happen. Instead, the BRIC nations formed their own formal alliance in 2006, adding South Africa in 2010.

                                                                        Proposals to open the G7 group of nations to rising powers like the BRICS countries never gained momentum CREDIT: MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF JAPAN "We have the G7 and then the BRICS is a sort of G7 for the emerging world, and as time is passing there is some kind of standoff, which is not really helpful for solving any really truly global challenges," says O'Neill.

                                                                        "What is certainly the case is each of those members is seeing its own self-interest in being diplomatically solid on not publicly supporting the West."

                                                                        BRICS is a bloc with an "excessive focus on symbolism", O'Neill adds. But symbolism and identity politics are a defining factor in world politics.

                                                                        If the BRIC nations had been absorbed into the G7 20 years ago, it is feasible that there would be no war in Ukraine today, he suggests.

                                                                        These nations were aligned because they were ignored by the Western system. Now, the bloc is casting itself as an alternative geopolitical force as tensions with Western powers escalate.

                                                                        "A lot of this manoeuvring is to do with Russia and China. China is worried about sanctions generally," says van Staden. It needs alternative trading partners who will not impose requirements for universal values, he adds.

                                                                        The war has also galvanised long-simmering resentment against Western power structures.

                                                                        "I don't think that some of the other BRICS members were burning to pick this fight with the West right now, but that kind of conflict does reflect wider discomfort with this old chafing they have with aspects of Western power in the global system," says van Staden.

                                                                        Whether or not its membership expands, the BRICS nations are becoming increasingly powerful players on the world stage.

                                                                        At the turn of the century, China's economy measured in US dollars was equivalent to just 12pc of US GDP, says Kevin Daly, managing director and senior economist at Goldman Sachs. Now, it is worth close to 80pc.

                                                                        In 2000, China was the world's sixth largest economy in US dollar terms, according to Goldman Sachs analysis, ranking below the US, Japan, Germany, the UK and France. In 2022, China was the second largest economy, while India was fifth.

                                                                        China will be the world's largest economy by 2050, the analysis shows. By 2075, the US will be the only Western power left in the top five, sandwiched in third place between China and India in first and second place, and Indonesia and Nigeria in fourth and fifth place. The UK will rank 10th.

                                                                        "There has already been a shift in economic gravity, away from the West and towards southeast Asia in particular. That is where you have a much larger share of the global population and economic development," says Daly.

                                                                        South Africa has aligned itself with BRICS rather than the West because it knows there is a ceiling on how much it can do with the latter, says van Staden.

                                                                        "There is a feeling that there is an inherent limit to what these countries can expect from Western institutions," he says.

                                                                        Although Europe is an important trading partner for South Africa, there is little capacity for expansion.

                                                                        "There is a perception in Africa that there is not going to be some kind of new macro trade regime that could radically reshape the amount of stuff that they can export," van Staden adds.

                                                                        "The EU has very powerful agricultural lobbies, it is already structurally limited. That is not true for China."

                                                                        Though BRICS is fraught with its own power struggles, says O'Neill, the bloc's potential is huge.

                                                                        "China and India can virtually never agree on anything. If they could, then we would be looking at probably much more significant changes in the world system as we know it," he adds.

                                                                        If China invited India to help design part of its Belt and Road strategy, for example, there would be a sea change in global power dynamics, says O'Neill.

                                                                        "The transformation for global, certainly for Asian, trade would be just truly monumental," he says.

                                                                        If Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil producing nation, joined the bloc, there could also be major implications for the dominance of the dollar in global trade.

                                                                        "That could change the dominance of dollar denominated oil transactions quite rapidly," says van Staden. But BRICS does not yet have the infrastructure in place to challenge the dollar, he adds.

                                                                        For all the geopolitical shocks that Putin has triggered, he is likely to be absent from August's summit: the Russian president will be too scared to make the trip, says Anders Åslund, chairman of the advisory council at the Center for Economic and Social Research, who has been advisor to previous presidents of Russia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan.

                                                                        "I'm convinced that Putin will never again travel abroad because he's not prepared to take such a risk," says Åslund.

                                                                        "He travels in an armoured train between his three main residences and in order to speak to him even now you have to be in quarantine for one week because of his paranoia about Covid."
                                                                                      Joint Statement of the BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs and International Relations, Cape Town, South Africa, 1 June 2023 (Совместное заявление Министров иностранных дел/международных отношений стран БРИКС, Кейптаун, ЮАР, 1 июня 2023 года) / Russia, June, 2023
                                                                                      Keywords: concluded_agreements, foreign_ministers_meeting

                                                                                      1. The BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs and International Relations met on 1 June 2023 in Cape Town, South Africa. They exchanged views on major global and regional trends and issues. They reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening the framework of BRICS cooperation under the three pillars of political and security, economic and financial, and cultural and people-to-people cooperation upholding the BRICS spirit featuring mutual respect and understanding, equality, solidarity, openness, inclusiveness, and consensus.

                                                                                      2. The Ministers reiterated their commitment to strengthening multilateralism and upholding international law, including the purposes and principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations (UN) as its indispensable cornerstone, and the central role of the UN in an international system in which sovereign states cooperate to maintain peace and security, advance sustainable development, ensure the promotion and protection of democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, and promoting cooperation based on the spirit of solidarity, mutual respect, justice and equality.

                                                                                      3. The Ministers expressed concern about the use of unilateral coercive measures, which are incompatible with the principles of the Charter of the UN and produce negative effects notably in the developing world. They reiterated their commitment to enhancing and improving global governance by promoting a more agile, effective, efficient, representative and accountable international and multilateral system.

                                                                                      4. The Ministers recalled UN General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 75/1 and reiterated the call for reforms of the principal organs of the United Nations. They recommitted to instil new life in the discussions on reform of the UN Security Council (UNSC) and continue the work to revitalise the General Assembly and strengthen the Economic and Social Council. 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.

                                                                                      5. The Ministers reaffirmed the importance of the G20 to continue playing the role of the premier multilateral forum in the field of economic cooperation that comprises both developed and developing countries where major economies jointly seek solutions to global challenges. They looked forward to the successful hosting of the 18th G20 Summit under the Indian G20 Presidency. They noted the opportunities to build sustained momentum for change by India, Brazil and South Africa chairing the G20 from 2023 to 2025 and expressed support for continuity and collaboration in their G20 presidencies and wish them all success in their endeavours.

                                                                                      6. The Ministers called for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in its three dimensions – economic, social and environmental – in a balanced and integrated manner by mobilising the means required to implement the 2030 Agenda. They highlighted in this regard that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Summit, to be held in New York in September 2023, constitutes a unique opportunity for renewing international commitment to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

                                                                                      7. The Ministers recognised the impact on the world economy from unilateral approaches in breach of international law and they also noted that the situation is complicated further by unilateral economic coercive measures, such as sanctions, boycotts, embargoes and blockades.

                                                                                      8. The Ministers expressed their support for the free, open, transparent, fair, predictable, inclusive, equitable, non-discriminatory and rules-based multilateral trading system with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) at its core, with special and differential treatment (S&DT) for developing countries, including Least Developed Countries. They stressed their support to work towards positive and meaningful outcomes on the issues at the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13). They committed to engage constructively to pursue the necessary WTO reform with a view to presenting concrete deliverables to MC13. They called for the restoration of a fully and well-functioning dispute settlement system accessible to all members by 2024, and the selection of new Appellate Body Members without further delay. They condemned unilateral protectionist measures under the pretext of environmental concerns such as unilateral and discriminatory carbon border adjustment mechanisms, taxes and other measures.

                                                                                      9. They supported a robust Global Financial Safety Net with a quota-based and adequately resourced International Monetary Fund (IMF) at its centre. They called on continuing the process of IMF governance reform under the 16th General Review of Quotas, including a new quota formula as a guide, to be completed by 15 December 2023.

                                                                                      10. The Ministers congratulated Ms Dilma Rousseff, former President of the Federative Republic of Brazil, as President of the New Development Bank (NDB) and expressed confidence that it will contribute to strengthening the NDB in effectively achieving its mandate. They encouraged the NDB to follow the member-led and demand-driven principle, mobilise financing from diversified sources, enhance innovation and knowledge exchange, assist member countries in achieving the SDGs and further improve efficiency and effectiveness to fulfil its mandate, aiming to be a premier multilateral development institution.

                                                                                      11. The Ministers emphasised the importance of financial inclusion so that citizens can reap the benefits of economic growth and prosperity and welcomed the many new technological instruments for financial inclusion, developed in BRICS countries, that can contribute to ensuring the citizens full participation in the formal economy.

                                                                                      12. Ministers underscored the importance of encouraging the use of local currencies in international trade and financial transactions between BRICS as well as their trading partners.

                                                                                      13. The Ministers emphasised that ensuring energy security is a crucial foundation for economic development, social stability, national security, and the welfare of all nations worldwide. They called for resilient global supply chains and predictable, stable energy demand to ensure universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy sources. They also stressed the importance of enhancing energy security and market stability by strengthening value chains, promoting open, transparent, and competitive markets, and ensuring the protection of critical energy infrastructure. They strongly condemned all terrorist attacks against critical infrastructure, including critical energy facilities, and against other vulnerable targets.

                                                                                      14. The Ministers reiterated that the objectives, principles and provisions of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Paris Agreement, in particular the principles of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (CBDR-RC) in the light of different national circumstances, must be honoured. They reaffirmed their national and joint efforts to promote implementation of the Paris Agreement. In this regard, they stressed the importance of the fulfilment by developed countries of their commitments to provide technology and adequate, predictable, timely, new and additional climate finance that is long overdue to assist developing countries to address climate change. They expressed concern that the goal of developed countries to jointly mobilise USD 100 billion per year by 2020, and annually through 2025, has not been achieved and urged developed countries to meet their commitments. They rejected attempts to link security with the climate change agenda and recalled that the UNFCCC, including the annual Conference of the Parties (COP) sessions, is the appropriate and legitimate international forum to discuss the issue of climate change in all its dimensions.

                                                                                      15. The Ministers emphasised their determination to contribute to a successful COP28 in Dubai, later this year, with the focus on implementation. As the main mechanism for promoting implementation and climate action on all aspects of the Paris Agreement under the UNFCCC, the Global Stocktake must be effective in assessing and identifying implementation gaps on the global response to climate change, whilst prospectively laying the foundations for enhanced ambition by all, in particular by developed countries, and for the fulfilment of outstanding gaps in means of implementation for mitigation and adaptation actions in developing countries.

                                                                                      16. The Ministers welcomed Brazil's candidacy to host COP30 as the year 2025 will be key to the very future of the global response to climate change.

                                                                                      17. The Ministers recognised the importance of the inclusion of women in peace processes including in conflict prevention and resolution, peacebuilding, post-conflict reconstruction and development, and sustaining peace.

                                                                                      18. The Ministers recalled their national positions concerning the situation in and around Ukraine as expressed at the appropriate fora, including the UNSC and UNGA. They noted with appreciation relevant proposals of mediation and good offices aimed at peaceful resolution of the conflict through dialogue and diplomacy. They called for the full and effective implementation of both the Black Sea Grain Initiative and the Memorandum of Understanding between the Russian Federation and the Secretariat of the United Nations on promoting Russian food products and fertilizers to the world markets and stress the importance of allowing grains and fertilisers to continue to reach those most in need.

                                                                                      19. The Ministers expressed serious concern over continued conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and endorsed the Joint Statement by BRICS Deputy Foreign Ministers and Special Envoys at their meeting of 26 April 2023.

                                                                                      20. The Ministers welcomed the readmission of the Syrian Arab Republic to the League of Arab States on 7 May 2023 and reaffirmed their support to all efforts conductive to a political and negotiated solution that respects Syrian sovereignty and territorial integrity.

                                                                                      21. The Ministers expressed concern about the outbreak of violence in Sudan. They urged the immediate cessation of hostilities and they called for the unimpeded access of the Sudanese population to humanitarian assistance. They welcomed the efforts of the African Union, the Intergovernmental Authority for Development, the League of Arab States, the United Nations and its Security Council in seeking solutions for the ongoing crisis. They further welcomed support rendered by various countries, international organisations and agencies in the evacuation of foreign citizens from Sudan.

                                                                                      22. The Ministers expressed strong condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations whenever, wherever and by whomsoever committed. They recognised the threat emanating from terrorism, extremism conducive to terrorism and radicalisation. They are committed to combating terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including the cross-border movement of terrorists, and terrorism financing networks and safe havens. They reiterated that terrorism should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilisation or ethnic group. They reaffirmed their unwavering commitment to contribute further to the global efforts of preventing and countering the threat of terrorism on the basis of respect for international law, in particular the Charter of the United Nations, and human rights, emphasising that States have the primary responsibility in combating terrorism with the United Nations continuing to play central and coordinating role in this area. They also stressed the need for a comprehensive approach of the whole international community to effectively curb the terrorist activities, which pose a serious threat, including in the present-day pandemic environment. The Ministers rejected double standards in countering terrorism and extremism conducive to terrorism. The Ministers called for an expeditious finalisation and adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism within the UN framework and for launching multilateral negotiations on an international convention for the suppression of acts of chemical and biological terrorism, at the Conference of Disarmament. They welcomed the activities of the BRICS Counter-Terrorism Working Group and its five Subgroups based upon the BRICS Counter-Terrorism Strategy and the BRICS Counter-Terrorism Action Plan. We also look forward to further deepening counter-terrorism cooperation.

                                                                                      23. They expressed the need to comprehensively strengthen mechanisms for countering the increased use, in a globalised society, by terrorists and their supporters of emerging and evolving technologies such as Unmanned Aerial Systems, the Internet and other information and communications technologies, including social media platforms, for terrorist purposes, such as for recruitment and incitement to commit terrorist acts, as well as for the financing, planning, and preparation of their activities.

                                                                                      24. The Ministers called for strengthening the system of arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation, including the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction (BTWC) and the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction (CWC), and for preserving their integrity and effectiveness to maintain global stability and international peace and security. They underlined the need to comply with and strengthen the BTWC, including by adopting a legally binding Protocol to the Convention that provides for, inter alia, an efficient verification mechanism. The Ministers reasserted their support for ensuring the long-term sustainability of outer space activities and prevention of an arms race in outer space (PAROS) and of its weaponization, including through negotiations to adopt a relevant legally binding multilateral instrument. They recognised the value of the updated Draft Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space, the Threat or Use of Force against Outer Space Objects (PPWT) submitted to the Conference on Disarmament in 2014. They stressed that practical Transparency and Confidence-Building Measures (TCBMs), may also contribute to PAROS.

                                                                                      25. The Ministers, while emphasising the formidable potential of the ICTs for growth and development, recognised new associated possibilities they bring for criminal activities and threats, and expressed concern over the rising level and complexity of criminal misuse of ICTs. They welcomed the ongoing work in the Ad Hoc Committee to elaborate a comprehensive international convention on countering the use of ICTs for criminal purposes and reaffirmed their commitment to cooperating in the implementation of the mandate adopted by the UN General Assembly resolution 75/282 in a timely manner.

                                                                                      26. In line with paragraph 57 of the Beijing Declaration, the Ministers emphasised the responsible and ethical development and use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) for socio-economic development and inclusive growth of all societies. They supported communication and cooperation on AI technology to promote mutual benefits, called for strengthening AI international governance and encourage policy exchanges and dialogues on AI, with a view to exploring to establish an effective global governance framework with the aim to protect human rights and spur innovation and economic growth.

                                                                                      27. The Ministers reiterated the need for all countries to cooperate in promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms under the principles of equality and mutual respect. They agreed to continue to treat all human rights, including the right to development, in a fair and equal manner, on the same footing and with the same emphasis. They agreed to strengthen cooperation on issues of common interests both within BRICS and in multilateral fora including the United Nations General Assembly and Human Rights Council, taking into account the necessity to promote, protect and fulfil human rights in a non-selective, non-politicised and constructive manner and without double standards.

                                                                                      28. The Ministers noted the Chair's internal report on BRICS Institutional Development in line with paragraphs 71 to 73 of the Beijing Declaration.

                                                                                      29. The Ministers welcomed the Friends of BRICS Foreign Ministers meeting on 2 June 2023.

                                                                                      30. The Ministers expressed their full support to South Africa's BRICS Chairship in 2023 under the theme "BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Mutually Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development, and Inclusive Multilateralism". They expressed their commitment to working together to ensure the success of the XV BRICS Summit. The Ministers looked forward to the next BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs and International Relations meeting to be held on the margins of UNGA78 and hosted by the Russian Federation as incoming Chair of BRICS in 2024.

                                                                                                    Investment and Finance
                                                                                                    Investment and finance in BRICS
                                                                                                    BRICS countries show signs of division over potential for expanding membership (Страны БРИКС демонстрируют признаки разногласий по поводу возможности расширения членства) / South Africa, June, 2023
                                                                                                    Keywords: brics+, expert_opinion, foreign_ministers_meeting, political_issues
                                                                                                    South Africa

                                                                                                    Despite boasting about 20-odd countries wanting to join, the five BRICS member countries themselves don't all agree that expansion would be a good idea.

                                                                                                    BeyondWords The expansion of BRICS has been the main issue at the meeting of the bloc's foreign ministers in Cape Town this week. The meeting included a Friends of BRICS component where 13 other nations joined the five BRICS member nations either in person or by video.

                                                                                                    SA International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor characterised these as countries "which have indicated a strong interest in becoming a permanent part of BRICS." And other nations not present have also either applied formally to join BRICS or have informally shown an interest in doing so.

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                                                                                                    Sign me up The problem is that the five BRICS members themselves are not united about the merits of expanding membership, let alone the criteria for accepting applicants. Official sources have told Daily Maverick that while China is enthusiastic about expanding membership and SA and Russia are keen, Brazil and especially India are "dead against."

                                                                                                    A large part of the reason for their opposition is that expanding membership would dilute their relative importance in the bloc. But there are also concerns about the criteria for admitting new members. BRICS officials have said that one of these would be to establish common BRICS values. But what would those be? Already BRICS comprises three democracies — South Africa, India and Brazil, one quasi-democracy (at best) Russia and one unambiguous autocracy, China.

                                                                                                    Some new applicants like Iran and possibly Venezuela, could present their own challenges to all members. There is a sense that expanding BRICS could in effect make it more of an anti-Western bloc which is not what Brazil and India necessarily want.

                                                                                                    The divisions over the issue of expansion were visible at a press conference that the five BRICS foreign ministers gave after their meeting on Thursday. Chinese deputy foreign minister Qin Gang said China was "very happy" about the prospect of new members joining the "big family" of BRICS. Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov also welcomed the fact that BRICS was "evolving".

                                                                                                    Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and Brazilian Foreign Minister, Mauro Vieira did not comment.

                                                                                                    But Pandor told media on Friday that the BRICS ministers had tasked their officials to refine their proposals for expanding membership and that the heads of state would discuss these proposals at the summit which is due to be held in Sandton in August. However, SA officials say they are exploring the possibility of moving the summit it to China to avoid the problem of Russian president Vladimir Putin visiting South Africa, when SA would be obliged to arrest him on an International Criminal Court warrant.

                                                                                                    The official sources said it was proving difficult to resolve the differences over expanded membership. SA had proposed a possible compromise of admitting new countries not as full members but as part of a "BRICS-Outreach."

                                                                                                    The countries which participated in the Friends of Brics session, either in person or virtually were the foreign ministers of Comoros, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Iran, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, Argentina, Bangladesh, Guinea-Bissau, Burundi and Indonesia.

                                                                                                    However, even though Pandor had said these were countries which had shown an interest in joining BRICS, she also noted that several of them had participated as representatives of regional organisations such as the African Union.

                                                                                                    De-dollarisation Another topic of discussion at the foreign ministers' meeting is the need for BRICS countries to conduct trade and financial transactions in their own currencies rather than the US dollar. Pandor said this would help reduce the vulnerability of countries to US sanctions.

                                                                                                    There has also been a wider discussion about the BRICS countries establishing their own currency to further reduce their dependence on the dollar.

                                                                                                    However SA's "sherpa" on BRICS — the official in charge of this year's summit — insisted that "It's never been a topic amongst BRICS countries including amongst their finance ministers, we have never spoken about de-dollarisation.

                                                                                                    "What we have done, which is nothing new, we signed an agreement several years ago, an interbank agreement, paving the way to trade in our local currencies. So what we are saying is that we need to trade in our currencies.

                                                                                                    "The NDB (BRICS New Development Bank) has taken a decision to say that 30% of its loans can be borrowed in local currency. So these are things we are saying; we want to promote greater trade, greater investments using local currencies." DM

                                                                                                                  Brick By Brick, BRICS Now a New Bridge for a New World (Кирпич за кирпичиком, БРИКС – теперь новый мост для нового мира) / Greece, May, 2023
                                                                                                                  Keywords: brics+, expert_opinion

                                                                                                                  Measuring BRICS in single decades, in 2001, BRIC started as an acronym for Brazil, Russia, India, and China; Goldman Sachs economist Jim O'Neill claimed that by 2050 the four BRIC economies would come to dominate the global economy. So South Africa was added to BRIC in 2010. The following countries are now expressing interest in joining: Afghanistan, Algeria, Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sudan, Syria, the United Arab Emirates, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Uruguay, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe. Is this now the awakening of BRICS+ or BRICS power?

                                                                                                                  BRICS+ by 2030 will add dozen new members and carve new indices, and by 2040, it will lead to new intellectualism on geopolitics and socio-economies for the super complex 2050 age of smart living.

                                                                                                                  Historically, BRICS nations pushed on their people-power agenda over super-power titles. They made extreme value-creation economic models over focusing on powerful military-industrial complexes. They focused on nation-building and avoided special mandates to manage global affairs. They have been on a quest to upgrade them. They were feeding hungry mouths, as they were population rich, constantly up-skilling, and improving value creation as they were SME rich. They kept a steady watch to create multilateralism to uplift humankind.

                                                                                                                  They, too, made mistakes, as did the rest of the world

                                                                                                                  In the third decade of the third millennium, come 2020, three transformations erupted. First, futurism changed the rules on the 'physicality of work' and created a new imbalance with the 'mentality of performance'; this has divided the workforce of world; the old system of over a billion commuting daily to the center of a complex maze to arrive daily at the sanctum of the company and create climate change. So now, in response, some 50% of the world's workforce has chosen to stay away and work remotely in the surroundings of wide-open choices. Furthermore, technology uplifted micro-power-nations and exposed Western economies now stripped naked in bubble baths on slippery floors, they tippy-toe practicing conga-lines

                                                                                                                  Newly magnified economy: Behold, what microscopes exposed the magnified inner workings of the body. Similarly, the integrated networks have exposed the digital connectivity and working of millions of villages, cities, and nations with additional billions of people to interact, trade, improve grassroots prosperity and create a well-informed and opinionated citizenry. Some 100 years ago, if only 1% of the world's population knew what was happening, today it is a dozen times more, and by 2030 double again. Why would these numbers change the global economic matrix when translated into micro-trading, micro-manufacturing, and micro-exporting? International opinion today is already strong enough to crush any national opinion of any nation still lingering under the illusion of a self-promoted victory.

                                                                                                                  When the SME sector already exists within each nation, the global markets are always hungry for good quality goods and services, and the rains of almost free digital technologies make such transformation a quick turnaround. Therefore, mindsets are critically essential; the need to define the difference between the job seeker mindset that builds the organizations and the job creator mindset that originates and creates that organization in the first place.

                                                                                                                  So what are the lessons, key features, and blueprints in sight?

                                                                                                                  Mistakes and new lessons: Last many decades, as the new world was rising, Western citizens felt like China experts, and their regular visits to local China towns restaurants in each city misguided them that Laundromat trained Chinese could only produce some chicken fried rice. Ever since the advent of the camera, the East was always projected as poor and dysfunctional; mesmerized by the media coverage during the last many decades, the West was equally convinced that India, a land of only snake charmers and fakirs, finally someday speak better English. The general perceptions about Asia, besides eating rice, if they could ever make cheaper products for the West. The rest is history, mistakes, and lessons.

                                                                                                                  After the big ding-dong nights of 2000 New Year's Eve, today's new story starts from the 20th chapter. Now China and India alone have created some 500 million new entrepreneurs, not by a magic pill or meta-crypto-wand but by National Mobilization of Entrepreneurialism, a slow, painful deployment of SMEs across the nation, and by creating mobilization protocols to identify, classify, and digitizing based on multiple factors from type and size to the evaluation of their "respectable" role in future communities and economic factors. This methodology was far more advanced in strategy and stern management over the globalization frenzy from the West, where sudden exporting of manufacturing of the industrial plants to kill manufacturing and destroying the middle class out of the West already declared globalization a great success.

                                                                                                                  The other mistake is to assume this is an economic or an academic study, at best, like an Oscar Slap on sleepy rotundas occupied with endless printing of money across the Western economies. Instead, this is an entrepreneurial response for the entrepreneurial nations to awaken hidden entrepreneurial talents in up-skilling SMEs and re-skilling manufacturers at national levels.

                                                                                                                  Recommendations and warnings: No airline can survive with only Flight Engineers and Frequent Flyers stuffed inside the cockpits; that space is only reserved for highly trained pilots. Henceforth, across the world, any economic development of any size, shape, or authority may find other more suitable alternate paths of occupation if they still cannot demonstrate any levels of understanding, applicable skills, or mobilization mastery on the National Mobilization of Entrepreneurialism to up-skill exporters and re-skill manufactures and uplift national SME sector as the most prominent economic contributor of the nation. Study the biggest error of economic thinking

                                                                                                                  Underestimating the hidden powers of early thinking and starting a tiny unknown SME is a mistake of mindsets; here, entrepreneurialism like a saga unfolds, like a voluminous piece of literature but demanding literacy, understanding the job seeker mindsets and the ability to differentiate with entrepreneurial job creator mindset is already winning half the battle. Study the Mindset Hypotheses

                                                                                                                  Nations failing to realize the power of the billion SME rising in Asia and still unable to declare a national agenda of national mobilization of SMEs now must acquire an understanding of the 4B Factor: a billion displaced due to the pandemic, a billion replaced due to technology, a billion misplaced in wrong jobs now a billion on starvation watch. Furthermore, this 4 billion ever digitally connected mass of people ever in the history of humankind is now the most significant force of global opinion. Notice nations are already intoxicated with joy over the popularity of their national public opinion while having just an opposite international opinion on the world stage.

                                                                                                                  Recommendation; everyone is born an entrepreneur; our system chips away at this talent. Nevertheless, 10% to 50% high potential SMEs of any nation once are identified, classified, and digitized within 100 days. The uplifting digital platforms of up-skilling exporters and re-skilling manufacturers will result in 10% to 50% quadrupling their performance, productivity, and profitability. Imagine how much-regimented efforts will activate a positive national economic revolution based on real value creation, uplifting grassroots prosperity. How soon is a nation ready for a significant change? The rest is easy.

                                                                                                                                Will Credit Finally Be Included in De-Dollarization Dialogue? / Paul Gallagher (Будет ли кредит наконец включен в диалог о дедолларизации? / Пол Галлахер) / Russia, May, 2023
                                                                                                                                Keywords: economic_challenges, expert_opinion

                                                                                                                                May 25, 2023 (EIRNS)—Perhaps even more important than the plans for trade in national currencies, which continued around the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) meetings May 24-25, were the potential plans involving the New Development Bank of the BRICS nations and Brazil-Argentina trade.

                                                                                                                                A leader in the EAEU de-dollarization process, not as often recognized, is Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko. The official Belarus website, BelTA, posted on May 24 a summary of Lukashenko's calls to drop the U.S. dollar in trade as long as two years ago, which comes from a BelTA YouTube project "After The Fact: Lukashenko's Decisions."

                                                                                                                                BelTA writes that two years ago at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit, President Aleksandr Lukashenko cautioned that countries relying wholeheartedly on the U.S. dollar are becoming increasingly vulnerable. "This not only deprives us of competitive financial and economic advantages, but also threatens national security. All the more so because this leverage is increasingly being used as a weapon," he said.

                                                                                                                                "And what do we see?" BelTA continued. "China is now actively developing its own interbank payment system. Brazil and Argentina have decided to create a common currency. South Korea and Indonesia, India and Malaysia have agreed to abandon the dollar in domestic payments. In the East the establishment of an Asian Monetary Fund is under consideration. Saudi Arabia has decided to abandon the U.S. dollar as the sole currency for oil trade. And this is just the beginning....

                                                                                                                                "Aleksandr Lukashenko believes that one of the primary objectives in the Eurasian Economic Union is the coordinated support of national currencies and security of payments," explained BelTA. He recommended de-dollarization of domestic trade in hydrocarbons for the EAEU at a summit in 2021. At the EAEU summit on Dec. 9, 2022, Lukashenko stressed the necessity to revitalize the EAEU "circulatory system by all means." President Lukashenko told his fellow heads of state: "I am talking about finance. Everyone understands already that the age of the U.S. dollar's dominance is nearly over. The future belongs to trade blocs where transactions will rely on national currencies. Belarus and Russia have already stopped using U.S. dollars in main transactions. It is important for other partners to also get actively involved in this process."

                                                                                                                                BelTA describes that how share of national currencies in mutual transactions in the EAEU increased from 63% in 2013 to 73.5% in 2020, whereas U.S. dollars dominated the structure of transactions with third countries. It concludes: "The Belarusian President believes that in the near future the world will have new powerful currency unions with a new reserve currency. The Russian ruble, the Chinese yuan, the Brazilian peso, or the Indian rupee? With what will countries start paying each other? There is no answer to this question yet. But one thing is clear: The era of the U.S. dollar is really coming to an end." Lukashenko had earlier made himself clear: "And then China came along with its own currency, the yuan, and with the desire to be leaders."

                                                                                                                                Two-way trade settlement in national currencies is difficult if the trade is extremely unbalanced. In a Sputnik interview published May 25 with an informed businessman, Chris Devonshire-Ellis, the chairman of Dezan Shira & Associates, who notes that a free trade agreement between India and the EAEU is under discussion. It is, Devonshire-Ellis says, a way of better balancing Russia-India trade, bringing Indian capital investment into projects on the International North-South Transport Corridor and in Russia's Far East, and avoiding India's fear of Chinese industrial companies outcompeting its own in India.

                                                                                                                                Trade in national currencies does not, however, mean credit for development issued in those currencies, the driving force of success of a new monetary system.

                                                                                                                                Very important board meetings of the BRICS New Development Bank (NDB) are set for May 30-31 under the bank's new President, former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. The Argentine Economics Minister and Central Bank Governor are invited to the meeting in Shanghai and for an extended visit in China, as reported in this issue.

                                                                                                                                An April 24 article on CoinChapter set this up in "Another Blow to U.S. Dollar: BRICS New Development Bank Offers Loans in Local Currencies," by Karen Mkrtchyan. He writes: "As confirmed by Dilma Rousseff, the new chief of NDB, the move is a step toward de-dollarization. As a result, as much as 30% or one-third of the total loan amount will not be in the greenback."

                                                                                                                                While the amounts into which this translates make it a small step, it is nonetheless important in that the NDB's practice in its eight years has been to lend with borrowed capital from international markets (thus in dollars), and, instead, to lend in BRICS national or other "local" currencies means that additional paid-in capital should come into the bank from the participating nations. This will expand its credit capacity as well.

                                                                                                                                              Overcoming gridlocks: towards a plurilateral framework for BRICS+ (Преодоление тупиковых ситуаций: к многостороннему формату БРИКС+) / Russia, May, 2023
                                                                                                                                              Keywords: brics+, expert_opinion

                                                                                                                                              Ever since BRICS was created as a block, it operated on the basis of consensus meaning that all key decisions were to be supported by all core members. With time, advances such as the creation of the New Development Bank, were accompanied by a rising number of issues where core BRICS members were divided and not quite singing from the same songbook. Most recently these divisions started to surface around critical themes such as BRICS future expansion, the modalities of BRICS+ and the possibility of launching a BRICS common currency. While there may be scope to retain some of these divisions and allow more time to arrive at consensus, there may also be pathways to advance BRICS+ cooperation even in cases when some of the core members are not yet on board. One of the clues to how gridlocks in BRICS could be overcome are the ongoing discussions on the reform of global institutions such as the WTO.

                                                                                                                                              In recent periods one solution that is increasingly discussed with respect to surmounting the constraints imposed by unanimity and consensus requirements in global organizations is the framework of plurilateral agreements, i.e. accords that do not require all members of the organization to agree, with scope for those parties that support the agreement to further pursue its implementation. With respect to BRICS such a vision of an upgraded BRICS+ framework that incorporates the capabilities of plurilateral formats has already been outlined back in 2021 in a publication "BRICS+ 2.0: integration reloaded" where it was argued that "one of the ways to upgrade/modernize this BRICS+ concept into a "BRICS+ 2.0" would be to take on board some of the recent proposals from the World Economic Forum (WEF) concerning the modalities of economic alliances in the modern world. The proposed governance structure (as reflected in the World Economic Forum report entitled "Globalization 4.0 Shaping a New Global Architecture in the Age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution") was characterized by greater flexibility at various levels of governance to pursue plurilateral agreements in specific sectors without the need to ensure complete support for new liberalization initiatives from all countries. In the context of the BRICS+ circle such a framework may leave open the possibility for bilateral and plurilateral agreements to complement the core network of regional alliances formed by BRICS countries and their respective regional neighbours".

                                                                                                                                              The option of using plurilateral agreements without the need to secure consensus on all issues is particularly critical to organizations such as the WTO that since its inception operated on the basis of unanimity in adopting key decisions. With consensus being increasingly hard to reach in view of the widening North-South rift, the WTO ended up in a gridlock with rounds of trade liberalization not being launched in decades. In evaluating the venues to by-passing these roadblocks, the World Economic Forum (WEF) has proposed to use the plurilateral framework for reaching key agreements within the WTO including on sectoral trade liberalization issues.

                                                                                                                                              Within BRICS there are a number of formats that can serve as a basis for launching plurilateral initiatives. One is the so-called RICs – Russia, India and China – that brings together the Eurasian members of BRICS. Another platform is IBSA – India, Brazil and South Africa – this format is regaining its momentum as all three BRICS economies are presiding in the G20 in the 2023-2025 period. There may be further such strategic "triangles" formed within BRICS as well as within the broader BRICS+ framework – the "partial alliances"/"BRICS triangles" within the BRICS core can serve as outreach modes of economic cooperation with the broader Global South.

                                                                                                                                              One area where the plurilateral format could be implemented is the BRICS+ "integration of integrations", namely the bringing together of the main regional integration blocks led by the respective core BRICS members. At this stage the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) is actively seeking to build ties with other regional blocks where BRICS countries are members. A platform of cooperation that brings together the EAEU, the SCO and BRICS was discussed at the 2023 Eurasian Economic Forum. Even if not all of the regional blocks headed by BRICS are ready to become part of this platform, there may be a plurilateral setting that advances trade and investment cooperation between 2 or 3 such blocks led by BRICS economies with the possibility of expanding to other regional arrangements associated with BRICS+ when they are ready. At this stage apart from the EAEU there is a strong case for ASEAN, MERCOSUR and the African Continental Free Trade Area to become part of such a BRICS+ platform.

                                                                                                                                              Accordingly, one possible "BRICS triangle" that focusses on launching a trans-continental platform of "integration of integrations" could include South Africa, Brazil and Russia – SABR – a grouping that could bring together the BRICS economies that are most advanced and most focused on the co-integration of regional agendas within BRICS. Such a format allows for the representation of BRICS regional blocks from each of the three continents of the Global South – Mercosur in South America, AfCFTA in Africa and the EAEU in Eurasia. Within Eurasia India needs to put more flesh on its regional integration projects such as BIMSTEC, while China's RCEP project goes beyond the realm of the Global South and includes a number of advanced economies. At the same time the Eurasian Economic Union is well positioned to be part of this "triangular BRICS diplomacy" in the sphere of regional integration as it has signed memoranda of understanding with MERCOSUR and the African Union. For Russia the RICs could then be the "Eurasian BRICS triangle", with SABR allowing for a trans-continental perspective on economic cooperation with the developing world. The SABR triangle itself could serve as a platform for outreach to other regional blocks from the Global South, including ASEAN and the GCC – the regional projects from India and China could join in if and when they are ready.

                                                                                                                                              In the end, apart from expanding the array of countries cooperating with BRICS, the BRICS+ framework also raises the potential for using plurilateral formats with economies and regional blocks that are outside of the BRICS core. Such a plurilateral BRICS+ framework can endow BRICS with greater flexibility and dynamism. The ability to move forward and explore various modalities of cooperation despite differences among the core members may be key to revitalizing BRICS and keeping it abreast of the main institutional improvements in other regional blocks and global organizations.

                                                                                                                                                            A new BRICS currency is a threat to the West (Новая валюта БРИКС – угроза Западу) / United Kingdom, June, 2023
                                                                                                                                                            Keywords: economic_challenges, expert_opinion
                                                                                                                                                            United Kingdom

                                                                                                                                                            As a meeting of foreign ministers from the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries takes place in Cape Town ahead of the 15th annual BRICS summit, the Western media has focused on a pointless back-and-forth over whether Russian President Vladimir Putin will be arrested when he attends the latter event. He won't be, and now journalists are ignoring changes taking place that could prove historic.

                                                                                                                                                            The foreign ministers currently visiting South Africa have been dropping hints as to what will be discussed this August. Indian Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar laid out the general theme when he stated that the gathering must "send out a strong message that the world is multipolar, that it is rebalancing and that old ways cannot address new situations".

                                                                                                                                                            The BRICS alliance has long been about how best to help its member states grow and develop. Until now, this development has been assumed to be driven by the Western powers, with the BRICS countries riding on their coattails. But as Jaishankar's statement makes clear, this is no longer the case. The BRICS states are increasingly intent on finding their own voice and cutting their own path — and, with a rapidly expanding membership, there is every reason to think that they might succeed in this regard.

                                                                                                                                                            One way these countries could chart a new course is through the introduction of a BRICS currency that might partly replace the US dollar. Some have compared it to when the euro started to be discussed in Europe.

                                                                                                                                                            It is hard to assess the viability of an alternative currency without knowing vaguely what it might look like. But foreign ministers have already started dropping hints in this direction. Reports from South Africa suggest that the plan might be to centre the currency on the New Development Bank (NDB), which would act as a clearing house. This seems to suggest that the NDB would become the BRICS equivalent of the IMF.

                                                                                                                                                            The Russian Finance Minister, Anton Siluanov, offered more clues. He said that rather than thinking of it as an alternative currency, he "would probably call it a payment unit inside the BRICS countries". If he is to be believed, then the BRICS currency will initially settle trade between BRICS countries. This could, in theory, create the conditions for firmer monetary relations between the member states — some sort of peg, for example, like the pre-euro European Exchange Rate Mechanism — to grow organically.

                                                                                                                                                            Since the NDB looks like it will be the focal point of the currency, it is worth considering the nature and history of the institution. The bank was conceived in 2012 at the fourth BRICS summit, agreed to at the sixth summit in 2014, and its first president was appointed in 2015. The bank was initially set up to help countries with access to development funds, making it look more like an alternative World Bank than an alternative IMF. However, recent plans suggest that it may end up playing both roles at once.

                                                                                                                                                            Crucially the headquarters of the bank is in Shanghai — with a rotating presidency. While those who claim that the true aim of the BRICS currency programme is a quasi-imperialist Chinese project for yuan dominance are misguided, the fact that the bank is headquartered in Shanghai speaks volumes. The Chinese clearly see themselves as leading the multipolar revolution in world affairs, and without their economic muscle it is unlikely it would have ever taken place. Those old Leftist dreams of a revolution that gave rise to a socialist power bloc in the Global South never materialised.

                                                                                                                                                            What we may be seeing emerge, however, is a largely technocratic trading and economic bloc modelled on the post-1945 Bretton Woods system that would signal the start of a new epoch. Putin's upcoming appearance should be the least of our concerns.

                                                                                                                                                                          World of Work
                                                                                                                                                                          SOCIAL POLICY, TRADE UNIONS, ACTIONS
                                                                                                                                                                          South Africa's role as host of the BRICS summit is fraught with dangers. A guide to who is in the group, and why it exists (Роль ЮАР как принимающей стороны саммита БРИКС чревата опасностями. Руководство о том, кто состоит в группе и почему она существует) / France, June, 2023
                                                                                                                                                                          Keywords: media, political_issues

                                                                                                                                                                          South Africa will host the BRICS summit in August 2023. The event could offer the country an opportunity to exercise leadership in the BRICS' efforts to reform the arrangements for global economic governance and in supporting sustainable and inclusive development in Africa and the Global South. However, the opportunity has morphed into an international challenge because Russia's President Vladimir Putin, who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court, has indicated that he will attend. South Africa could face the wrath of its BRICS partners if it fulfils its international obligation and arrests him. On the other hand, if it does not arrest him, it could face sanctions from those countries that want to see Putin tried for war crimes.

                                                                                                                                                                          Hosting the 2023 BRICS summit is therefore fraught with dangers. The international environment is complicated, dynamic and unpredictable. South Africa can avoid embarrassment and capitalise on the opportunities presented by the summit only if it is able to skilfully manoeuvre in these choppy waters.

                                                                                                                                                                          Trying to understand South Africa's dilemma raises a number of questions: Who are the BRICS? What has the grouping achieved?

                                                                                                                                                                          Who are the BRICS?

                                                                                                                                                                          In 2001, the global investment bank Goldman Sachs stated that it expected Brazil, Russia, India and China to become leading actors in the global economy. It collectively named the four countries "BRICs".

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                                                                                                                                                                          These countries decided that Goldman Sachs had a point and that they could enhance their global influence if they cooperated. They first met at a ministerial level in 2006 and at a leaders' summit in 2009. In 2010 they invited South Africa to join the group. The group became known as "BRICS".

                                                                                                                                                                          A primary objective of the group is to reform global economic governance so that it is more responsive to the concerns and interests of the Global South. For example, the BRICS have called for a new global currency that can challenge the dominant role of the US dollar in the international monetary system. It has also pushed for a greater voice – and more votes – for developing countries in key international economic organisations like the IMF and the World Bank.

                                                                                                                                                                          The group has also sought, through groups like its business forum, to promote greater economic cooperation between the participating countries.

                                                                                                                                                                          What has the BRICS grouping achieved?

                                                                                                                                                                          The BRICS record of achievements is mixed.

                                                                                                                                                                          In 2016, the group established two new international economic entities.

                                                                                                                                                                          The first was the New Development Bank. They contend that it is a "new" multilateral development bank which offers its members an alternative to institutions like the World Bank. It claims that its governance is fairer than the World Bank because its five original members all have equal votes. At the World Bank, shares (and therefore votes) are unevenly distributed among member states.

                                                                                                                                                                          The development bank also strives to provide financing more quickly than the World Bank, and in a way that is more respectful of the laws in its member states.

                                                                                                                                                                          However, to date, the New Development Bank has been less transparent and accountable than other multilateral development banks.

                                                                                                                                                                          It has provided US$32.8 billion to 96 projects in the 5 BRICS countries and it has begun looking to expand the scope of its operations.

                                                                                                                                                                          Since 2021 it has approved membership for Bangladesh, Egypt, United Arab Emirates and Uruguay. It is expected to add new members in the coming years.

                                                                                                                                                                          The second new entity was the Contingent Reserve Arrangement. This established a series of swap arrangements between the BRICS central banks. These arrangements allow each central bank, when its country is facing a balance of payments crisis, to exchange its local currency for hard currencies, like the US dollar, with its counterparts in the BRICS.

                                                                                                                                                                          Pursuant to the terms of the arrangement, a central bank can only draw on a fraction of the available financing without also having to enter into a financing arrangement with the IMF. Thus, the conditions that are attached to the IMF's finances also become applicable to the funds made available through the Contingent Reserve Arrangement.

                                                                                                                                                                          To date, no BRICS central bank has used the arrangement.

                                                                                                                                                                          According to their communiques, the BRICS leaders have agreed to create other entities, such as a vaccine centre and a new credit rating agency. However, they have not yet implemented these agreements.

                                                                                                                                                                          They have not been successful either in reforming the existing institutions and arrangements for global economic governance, such as the IMF. One reason for this failure is the strong opposition to reform from states, primarily those in Europe, which currently have dominant voices in the IMF and would lose them in the case of true reform.

                                                                                                                                                                          But another important reason is that the BRICS are not unified in their demands for reform. For example, while Brazil, India and South Africa support reforming the UN Security Council to include more permanent members and to eliminate the veto power of the existing permanent members, China and Russia, as sitting permanent members, don't.

                                                                                                                                                                          Similarly, not all the other BRICS have supported South Africa's call for a third African seat on the IMF's board of directors.

                                                                                                                                                                          Are there any downsides to BRICS membership?

                                                                                                                                                                          The global political and economic situation has changed dramatically since 2010. These changes have created both opportunities and challenges for the BRICS.

                                                                                                                                                                          One opportunity arises from the fact that approximately 19 countries in the Global South, including Argentina, Cuba, Iran and Saudi Arabia, have expressed an interest in joining the BRICS. It is expected that the BRICS will consider the issue of membership at their upcoming August 2023 summit.

                                                                                                                                                                          Another opportunity arises from the growing interest around the world in having an alternative currency to the US dollar as the basis for the international financial system. The BRICS have been vocal supporters of de-dollarisation. However, given the complex economic and political relations between the BRICS member states, there is considerable scepticism about the feasibility of the BRICS developing a new global currency in the near term.

                                                                                                                                                                          The primary challenges facing the BRICS arise from geopolitics. The war in Ukraine has created tensions within the BRICS. The participating states have been forced to balance their respect for such international law principles as self-determination, sovereignty and peaceful resolution of disputes with their friendly relations with Russia. In addition, the BRICS cannot escape the fallout from the growing economic and security tensions between China and the west, particularly the US.

                                                                                                                                                                          Both these issues complicate the efforts of the other BRICS to maintain their formal non-aligned position. They also exacerbate existing tensions within the BRICS. The most important example of this is the complex and tense relationship between India and China. In recent years, they have had military skirmishes in disputed border areas. In addition, India has imposed economic constraints on Chinese companies operating in India. The two countries have refused to renew the visas of journalists from each country so that now there are almost no journalists from Chinese publications in India and vice versa.

                                                                                                                                                                          What hangs on the summit?

                                                                                                                                                                          South Africa faces another opportunity that is fraught with danger when it hosts the G20 in 2025. The G20, which brings together the 20 leading economic powers in the world, has called itself the "premier forum" for global economic governance. South Africa is currently the only permanent African member of the G20 and 2025 will be the first time the group is hosted by an African country.

                                                                                                                                                                          Planning for this G20 event must begin soon because in 2024 South Africa will join India, the current G20 host, and Brazil, the 2024 G20 host in the troika that manages the G20 process. If the country does not plan carefully and effectively for this G20 event, South Africa risks emerging with a diminished reputation and its credibility shredded.

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