Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum

Monitoring of the economic, social and labor situation in the BRICS countries
Issue 24.2023
2023.06.12 — 2023.06.18
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Macron opens up the possibility of BRICS++ (Макрон открывает возможность БРИКС++) / Russia, June, 2023
Keywords: brics+

The upcoming BRICS summit in South Africa this year is becoming one of the key events in the global economy this year as reflected not only by the widening coverage in the mainstream media, but even more importantly the possibility of the participation of some of the Western leaders in the event. The declaration of the French President Emmanuel Macron regarding his willingness to participate in the BRICS summit is significant in several respects. Firstly, it highlights the rising importance of the BRICS summits and their success in cooperating with a widening circle of key economies in the Global South. Another aspect is that the BRICS greater openness as reflected in the BRICS+ format opens up the possibilities for broader platforms of dialogue that include not only developing, but also developed economies. In this regard, the expression of interest on the part of the French President could be taken as an opportunity to expand the inclusiveness of the BRICS outreach formats, with the possibility of launching a BRICS++ platform that would be designed to promote the development of North-South cooperation.

In many ways, the success of BRICS in the past year as reflected in the rising number of BRICS countries willing to join the block, is attributable to the BRICS+ format that was launched by China in 2017 and successfully expanded in 2022. The BRICS+ platform was originally designed to promote cooperation with the developing economies – in 2017 China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi declared: "We will widen the circle of friends of the BRICS and turn it into the most influential platform for South-South cooperation in the world". And while the BRICS+ format could remain geared towards broadening the circles of BRICS friends in the Global South, a complementary format such as BRICS++ could address the mounting needs and the possibilities associated with establishing a BRICS dialogue with the developed economies.

It should be noted that there have been steps undertaken by developed economies to expand the lines of communication with the Global South – in particular, the G7 outreach activities increasingly involve the invitation of developing countries, including BRICS members such as India during this year's G7 summit in Japan. The BRICS could reciprocate by creating a special format for the participation of leaders from advanced economies to discuss the possible pathways for boosting North-South cooperation. Apart from the invitation of some of the Western leaders to the BRICS++ platform, there could also be scope to invite representatives of regional development banks, regional financing arrangements and other key economic institutions from the advanced world. The scope for BRICS++ to expand would hinge to a significant degree on how pragmatic and economically focused Western participation is going to be within this platform; another factor is the greater recognition of BRICS and its inclusion into the various fora/meetings advanced by the developed economies regionally and globally.

One of the ways to render the BRICS++ format pragmatic would be to look at the possibility of using it as a platform through which common North-South initiatives could be discussed, including within the view to their further coordination in Bretton Woods institutions as well as in the G20. Indeed, the North-South coordination during the G20 meetings has been problematic in many respects (not least due to excessive politicization) and the BRICS++ discussions could provide more economic substance and continuity into the North-South economic cooperation in international organizations. Some of the pragmatic themes could include North-South cooperation in boosting green development financing, including through a common platform for regional financing arrangements and regional development banks from the Global South and the advanced world. Other key areas are joint action on debt relief, food and energy security, trade liberalization and the promotion of health-care and digital development for least developed economies, with a special focus on Africa. Supporting the integration of the African Continental FTA (AfCFTA) into the global economy via joint North-South initiatives could also be an important goal.

In the end, the expression of interest coming from France to participate in BRICS activities should be taken as an opportunity to strengthen North-South economic cooperation as well as a way to demonstrate BRICS rising inclusiveness and openness on the international stage. A BRICS++ format would be a logical continuity of the BRICS greater outreach and openness to the global community. In case the BRICS is successful in providing a platform for pragmatic North-South dialogue, its global role would expand and allow the block to advance initiatives across a greater array of areas of the world economy.

                Why Emmanuel Macron wants to go to the BRICS summit in South Africa (Почему Эммануэль Макрон хочет поехать на саммит БРИКС в ЮАР) / Russia, June, 2023
                Keywords: summit, top_level_meeting

                What if Emmanuel Macron (photo) becomes the first Western leader to take part in the summit of the closed BRICS club (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) this fall? The idea is a little crazy and unprecedented – a French globalist president in a forum who wants to compete with a globalist world government led by the United States and its allies. But the Elysee Palace is still working on it, writes French 'L'Opinion'.

                According to our information, the head of the French state has already asked his South African counterpart, Cyril Ramaphosa, in whose country the autumn meeting will take place, to allow him to participate. "It would be a big turning point," the presidential entourage confirms. Initially, this possibility was considered during a telephone conversation between Macron and Ramaphosa on June 3. The request came as something of a surprise to the South African leader, who took the time to discuss the issue with his BRICS partners and gave a very diplomatic response. "Presence at the summit was indeed mentioned in the conversation between the two politicians, but Pretoria did not indicate in any way whether it wanted to invite other international leaders to the meeting," a well-informed source said.

                Macron's participation in the BRICS summit will have political consequences if he clashes with Vladimir Putin at the same meeting... Putin may not come because of an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court (ICC). But what if he arrives, and Macron collides with him? It is not a fact that Vladimir Zelensky and Joe Biden will appreciate this.

                True, the head of the Kremlin is not yet up to such a "partner" as Macron. Pretoria does not have time to withdraw from the Rome Statute of the ICC, which means that it formally recognizes its jurisdiction and, in theory, can arrest Putin as soon as he arrives in South Africa. Cyril Ramaphosa is very worried. His cabinet is currently considering introducing a special law granting immunity to visiting heads of state. An advocate of a revamped multilateralism, Emmanuel Macron is eager to sit down at the negotiating table with the BRICS to discuss global issues and keep allies like Presidents Lula and Modi in the global financial fabric.

                But this system, created after the Second World War and revolving mainly around the Bretton Woods institutions, in the eyes of the BRICS states is an instrument of Western dominance.

                They, in turn, have already created their New Development Bank (NDB) in 2014. It is based in Shanghai and has even welcomed new members: Bangladesh, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Uruguay. The BRICS countries represent over 40% of the world's population, or 3.2 billion people. Their combined GDP now stands at 31% of the world's and is expected to reach 50% by 2030.

                And the BRICS member states have long wanted to protect their independence from the United States and act in full agreement with the position of Russia. The remaining four countries of the club refrained from condemning Moscow for military actions in Ukraine.

                The Élysée Palace clearly recognized the political and economic implications of the rise of the BRICS in an era of confrontation between China and the United States that is reshaping global trade routes. Several countries are already knocking on the BRICS door, including Argentina, Indonesia, Algeria, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Senegal and Thailand. All of them are looking for an opportunity to create a multilateral format for dialogue in order to defend the new order of world governance.

                Asia today accounts for nearly 42% of Africa's exports and more than 45% of its imports. The region has become Africa's leading trading partner, ahead of Europe. In the coming decades, trade with Asia, Turkey and the countries of the Persian Gulf will develop more intensively. Emmanuel Macron's advisers agree.

                "The dominance of the dollar and sanctions imposed by the United States have consequences at the geopolitical level and on the financing of the economies of the South," says one of them. This provokes tension and discontent, including in European countries whose companies have also been affected by US extraterritorial laws "BRICS is gaining momentum. France and the European Union should start a dialogue with this community at a very high level."

                Paris made sure to get the BRICS members – with the exception of Moscow – to participate in the summit to create a 'New global financial pact'. He is closely following the changing positions, especially in Beijing. His idea is to combine views on the reform of the global financial system and develop a set of proposals that will then be discussed in other forums (BRICS, the UN General Assembly, the Bretton Woods institutions, the COP 28 climate summit).

                "In Paris, China is expected to propose new measures to write off the debt of African countries, provided that international banks agree to take the first step," concludes Macron's entourage. He should also talk about global governance, reconciling his own position with the views of his BRICS allies. who criticize the West for not fulfilling international financial obligations (redistribution of IMF SDRs, climate funds, etc.) and for stalling the reform of the international financial system - especially the United States, which opposes the redistribution of voting rights in the Bretton Woods institutions.

                …One gets the impression that the West wants to split the BRICS, because it sees in this organization a real threat to Western dominance in the World. This is the Macron's reason for the attempt to participate in the BRICS summit in South Africa. He has already provocatively said that the West will accept the entire BRICS – but without Russia (sic!) – at its conference for 'New global financial pact' to undermine the unity of the members of the BRICS.

                              Syria intends to join BRICS, SCO (Сирия намерена присоединиться к БРИКС и ШОС) / UAE, June, 2023
                              Keywords: brics+

                              Syrian Finance Minister, Kanaan Yaghi, told Russian news outlet Sputnik on 15 June that Damascus has plans to apply to join both the BRICS+ group of emerging economies and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

                              "Syria intends to apply for membership" in both organizations, the minister said, adding that it is also planning to open a branch of Russia's Sberbank in the country.

                              Syria has long been an admirer of the concept behind the BRICS+ group, which represents cooperation and mutual prosperity between developing countries, particularly those targeted by western sanctions.

                              Syrian presidential adviser Bouthaina Shaaban said in 2013: "Praise be to God, there are countries like those of the BRICS group, that are confronting the international community with logic … The BRICS countries have been adopting a very honest and balanced position."

                              That year, President Bashar al-Assad referred to BRICS+ as "a just force that seeks to bring peace, security, and cooperation among countries, far from the [western] hegemony and injustice imposed on our peoples and nations for decades."

                              The finance minister's declaration comes as several other Arab countries are looking to join BRICS+, including Saudi Arabia, who this year restored ties with Iran under a historic agreement, and has just resumed diplomatic relations with Syria after years of enmity.

                              Many other countries, such as Algeria, Turkiye, the UAE, and Egypt, have expressed interest in joining the organization.

                              Like BRICS+, the SCO also offers an opportunity for developing nations to engage in economic, energy, defense, security, and trade cooperation.

                              Yaghi's comments also follow Damascus' return to the regional fold, which – it is hoped – will help facilitate the reconstruction of Syria following 12 years of US-sponsored war, which has destroyed much of the country.

                              In early June, the BRICS+ group released a statement welcoming Syria's return to the Arab League, and expressing support for a political solution that will respect the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

                              In a recent report by International Affairs Forum (IAF), titled 'Will BRICS Build the New Syria,' Elio Azar writes: "The quest for Syrian reconstruction might be the BRICS nations' golden opportunity to prove their worth as global players … as the West loses its grip over the Syrian situation, reconstruction loans and contracts offer themselves to the world's emerging economies on a silver platter."

                                            Terrified of BRICS, US doubles down on its neocolonialist policies in Africa and Latin America(Напуганные БРИКС, США удваивают свою неоколониалистскую политику в Африке и Латинской Америке) / Russia, June, 2023
                                            Keywords: expert_opinion, global_governance, political_issues

                                            Drago Bosnic, independent geopolitical and military analyst

                                            It's now virtually common knowledge that the United States faces numerous and ever-growing problems on the home front, whether it's the constantly rising inflation that has already pushed it into a recession or the politicization of federal institutions that are now effectively working for one party, among the plethora of other issues. However, instead of engaging in deep introspection and tackling these serious (potentially even fatal) issues, Washington DC is conducting a comprehensive two-front aggression against not one, but two superpowers. And yet, it would seem that even this is not enough for the belligerent thalassocracy, as it still somehow manages to find the time and resources to meddle in the affairs of numerous other countries, particularly those in the Global South.

                                            This is especially true in Africa, where the US has been conducting so-called "antiterrorist" operations for decades, with a detrimental effect on African nations and their development. In some countries, such as Somalia, the Pentagon has been present since the early 1990s, never ceasing black ops to this very day. However, unlike in the past, the number of operators on the ground has been reduced dramatically, as most of their roles have been overtaken by drones that have killed tens of thousands in Somalia alone. The US is now working towards expanding its malignant influence and deeply destabilizing presence elsewhere in the Horn of Africa, specifically Djibouti. This may very well be connected to the recent outbreak of hostilities in Sudan, where the US intends to incite further destabilization, specifically to prevent the construction of a Russian naval base there.

                                            Washington DC is also looking to expand its military infrastructure in other areas of Sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in Mali, Niger and other countries on the continent. It's safe to assume the US is doing so to challenge the growing presence of Russian military contractors (primarily the now legendary "Wagner Group") that have been contracted by approximately a dozen African governments to help their armed and police forces to combat foreign-backed instability and terrorism. The ongoing engagements of the "Wagner" PMC (private military company) have been extremely successful in several nations on the continent, most notably in the Central African Republic (CAR) where they have even directly been taking part in hostilities in support of the government in Bangui, in stark contrast to their Western counterparts.

                                            Russian PMC's activities have greatly undermined America's and NATO's plans for perpetual conflicts in many African countries. In turn, greater political stability has also accelerated plans of these nations to join BRICS, which is another organization the political West sees as a strategic threat. The open nature of BRICS, where no country is singled out as "indispensable", is an absolutely terrifying concept to the oligarchic elites of the belligerent thalassocracy. BRICS doesn't only blunt the effects of Western sanctions, but it also offers unique alternatives that almost completely nullify the consequences of the economic and financial aggression of the US and its vassals and satellite states. This is precisely what many (if not most) African countries need, as they have suffered due to decades of neocolonialism and foreign-backed instability.

                                            Another point of contention for Washington DC is at the very least keeping the geopolitical status quo in Latin America. And while this may be in the best interest of the US, it's certainly not in the interest of hundreds of millions of Latin Americans that have been trapped in US-controlled and directed poverty and instability for decades (if not centuries). The infamous Monroe Doctrine which Washington DC has been pushing for exactly two centuries now left long-term consequences on the sovereignty of many Latin American nations. However, there's been a massive amount of pushback in countries such as Cuba, Venezuela, Peru, Nicaragua, Bolivia, etc. In addition, Brazil, the continent's most powerful nation, is one of the founding members of BRICS, while Argentina, arguably its second most powerful country, is building very close ties with the organization.

                                            The US is now doubling down on its neocolonialist policies in both Africa and Latin America to prevent or at the very least slow down the advent of the multipolar world order, the only one that virtually guarantees the national sovereignty of any country. Perhaps even more importantly, organizations such as BRICS allow the development of different civilizational models, as no member of the organization, no matter how powerful, aims to impose its system of societal values and development on any other country. As previously mentioned, this is a truly terrifying concept for the political West, as it aims to do the complete opposite. By imposing its (at this point extremist and simply degenerate) neoliberal policies, the political West is prolonging the effects of neocolonialism and its dominance over entire continents.

                                            These extremely damaging policies can only be prevented through the strengthening of national sovereignty and precisely BRICS is the only way to achieve it without resorting to building a thermonuclear arsenal and the means of express delivery of this radioactive "freedom and democracy" to Washington DC. The organization is growing rapidly, with various sources claiming that at least 20 countries are planning to join it, while others report that this number is now well over 30. Needless to say, the prospect of having 30 countries join an organization like BRICS is a complete disaster for the US-led political West. And this is a net positive for the world, as the current "rules-based world order" benefits only one center of global power at the expense of everyone else. That's why Washington DC will continue to pursue neocolonialism everywhere it can. Precisely BRICS ensures that it can't.

                                                          Investment and Finance
                                                          Investment and finance in BRICS
                                                          Egypt eyes dropping US dollar in trade with BRICS nations (Египет ожидает падения доллара США в торговле со странами БРИКС) / UAE, June, 2023
                                                          Keywords: economic_challenges

                                                          Egypt is planning to drop the US dollar in bilateral trade with several member states of the BRICS group of emerging economies, Egyptian Supply Minister Ali Moselhy revealed on 12 June.

                                                          Cairo is specifically looking to use local currencies to pay for imports from India, China, and Russia – three members of the BRICS bloc, which also includes Brazil and South Africa.

                                                          "There are discussions so that we can trade in local currencies of countries like India, Russia, or China," Moselhy told Reuters on Monday after debunking reports that a credit line had been opened with India.

                                                          The news was followed by an announcement from Russia's ambassador to Egypt, Georgy Borisenko, who on 14 June said Cairo has officially applied to join BRICS.

                                                          "Egypt has applied to join the BRICS group because one of the initiatives BRICS currently participates in is to move as much trade into alternative currencies as possible, whether it is a national one or the creation of a common currency. And Egypt is very interested in this matter," Borisenko told Russian media.

                                                          BRICS officials say that at least 19 countries have contacted the group about becoming members. The UAE, Argentina, Algeria, Bahrain, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, and Iran are among the countries that have formally applied to join.

                                                          BRICS makes up 40 percent of the global population and nearly a third of the world's economy. In recent months, BRICS outpaced the gross domestic product (GDP) of the US-led G7 in terms of purchasing power parity.

                                                          Bloomberg estimated in April that the BRICS nations would soon contribute 32.1 percent of global economic growth, compared to the G7's 29.9 percent, based on the most recent IMF figures.

                                                          Presidents from BRICS member states are set to discuss the group's expansion during a summit in South Africa in August. The officials are also expected to launch a new currency to rival US dollar hegemony.

                                                          Egypt is in the throes of a severe economic downturn, experiencing a sharp surge in inflation over the last year following several waves of currency devaluations. Geopolitical tensions have also prompted foreign investors to pull about $20 billion out of Egypt's financial markets.

                                                                        World of Work
                                                                        SOCIAL POLICY, TRADE UNIONS, ACTIONS
                                                                        Health Care and Charity: Lessons from India (Здравоохранение и благотворительность: уроки из Индии) / Russia, June, 2023
                                                                        Keywords: social_issues

                                                                        Health Care and Charity: Lessons from India

                                                                        Karolina Koval, Fudan University (China), Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology (Russian Academy of Sciences) - special for InfoBRICS

                                                                        Interview with Dr. KESEVAN VASU (India), founder of Om Nityanand World Health care & spiritual healing trust.

                                                                        - Dr. Vasu, you help people not only all over India, but several times a year conducts receptions abroad. Please tell me, how often do you work in the BRICS countries? Tell us please about your experience.

                                                                        - I work mostly in India and 3-4 times a year I make consultations in Russia. I also work in other European countries, which aren't included in BRICS community. Consultations in India are a little bit another then in Russia. Russian people would like to share more about their life and medical treatment experience, so time of consultation is increased here. However in India a have a queue of patients, like average 60-70 patients per 1 day, can be even much more people. And I travel a lot in India, because a lot of people wants to visit my consultations.

                                                                        - What treatment methods do you use in your practice and how popular are they in other countries?

                                                                        - Actually I use in Russia only 3 methods: medication with herbal medicines, which are prepared on my plant mostly, then meditation and healing which help to purify energy and subconscious mind and massages of a special technique. All receipts of medicines, massages, purifying procedures and crystal therapy are saved in my family and we pass this knowledge from ancestors to our future generation. I'm a doctor in 8th generation, my son will be also a doctor. All countries are very much loyal to my methods of treatment because they work nicely everywhere.

                                                                        - Does Ayurvedic medicine apply new technologies today? Is it possible to combine allopathic and Ayurvedic methods of treatment in the BRICS countries?

                                                                        - Actually Ayurveda keeps a lot of knowledge about treatment of all modern diseases, they didn't appear only nowadays but existed all the time. There are no new inventions, we treat with same methods like 5000 years ago. However we need to adjust Ayurveda to peculiarities of people in different countries, and in BRICS countries as well, we need to combine ayurvedic medicines with modern chemical medicines like hormonal therapy or insulin, and then ayurvedic medicines in such kind of cases work as supplements.

                                                                        - You created the Om Nityanand World Health care & spiritual healing trust. For more than twenty years, the Foundation has been helping disadvantaged people of all ages, regardless of the case, religion, religion or nation. Tell us more about the foundation's activities.

                                                                        - Nowadays I take care mostly about Old Age Home. I created it and me and members of my family, volunteers helps me to take care about old people who has no family. Trust continues its work, we provide to people free meditation classes, take care about orphans providing them books, economical support also, and develop sport facilities and building schools for poor kids.

                                                                        - How do medicine and charity intersect in the modern world?

                                                                        - My religion is humanity, medicine and charity intersect within my nature, nature of my family and people whom I work with, it's a natural thing to help people and it exists in each and every country. Indian religion and Indian culture in common is all about charity and helping people, you should study about us more to understand it deeply.

                                                                        - What advice can you give to doctors and benefactors of the BRICS countries to overcome social problems and help people in need?

                                                                        - Everybody is doing good, doctors, benefactors of the BRICS, they already try to overcome social problems and help people in need, but everybody should be conscious about what they are doing and charity should be charity but not a business. Everybody is in team should work only with pure heart and understanding how to serve and help each and every person properly, we work with every person in details.

                                                                        - What is BRICS for you?

                                                                        - BRICS is a good organization which unites many countries to help each other in different spheres. I want to wish good growth and prosperity to BRICS.

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