Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum

Monitoring of the economic, social and labor situation in the BRICS countries
Issue 30.2023
2023.07.24 — 2023.07.30
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Expanding bloc to overcome global dominance (Расширение блока для преодоления глобального господства) / South Africa, July, 2023
Keywords: cooperation, expert_opinion
South Africa

The BRICS summit meeting on August 22-24 in Johannesburg will be the most demanding international meeting that South Africa has accepted to host.

Besides the five BRICS member states, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, a number of 30 aspirant members plus most, if not all, 55 African states are invited.

The emergence of a new regional bloc could, in terms of numbers of states and population, surpass any other international organisation except the United Nations. This new BRICS euphoria is driven by the rejection in most parts of the world of perceived Western righteousness. The USA, the EU and what is also known as the "white commonwealth" (UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand), in the words of Josep Borrel, EU Minister of Foreign Affairs, on October 16 2022, consider themselves as "the garden of this world", whilst the rest of the world is described as the "jungle" that "could invade the garden" if it is not protected.

What Borrel referred to as the "jungle" watched helplessly how "the garden" spiralled a Russian minority conflict in the Ukraine into a danger zone of a third World War rather than commit to peace.The manner in which the West bypassed the United Nations' role as the global guarantor of peace and security frightened the excluded governments and their peoples. There is a clear drive to assemble a counterweight in and around the BRICS.

Not surprisingly, security is busy overtaking other BRICS objectives, such as cooperation politics, economy and finance, as well as culture. The future BRICS+ is seeking to establish new safety barriers against military conflicts widening and consuming large shares of globally disposable funds. Many billions of dollars have already been diverted into a new arms race, throwing back the fight against poverty and climate change.

The vision of the BRICS becoming a global political counterweight is encouraged by the lack of any identifiable economic, social or developmental synergies among the BRICS members.

India, just a month ago, signed the most comprehensive economic cooperation plan with the USA. It envisages the production in India of the most modern military jet engines, drones, naval shipbuilding, space exploration, mineral supply chain establishment, semiconductor manufacturing, artificial intelligence development, cooperation in the US "rip and replace" plan (to remove and replace Chinese made telecommunications infrastructure), development of hydrogen-based energy and "digital pathology" for medical research, all together possible worth over $100 billion in investments.

Brazil openly voted against Russia in the UN Security Council regarding international access to Syria's Idlib region. Both Brazil and India do not want to include in the expansion of BRICS economically failing states, such as Argentina, Bangladesh or Zimbabwe.

The much-anticipated new BRICS gold-backed reserve currency will no longer be announced at the South Africa summit. Instead, a new mechanism for the settlement of payments between BRICS member states will be considered. Proposed under the new acronym "R5", it considers that all current BRICS currencies start with an "R": renminbi (yuan), ruble, real, rupee, and rand.

"R5" will facilitate intra-BRICS trade by allowing for direct settlements in national currencies in order to bypass the US dollar and thereby help preserve national US dollar reserves. Uneven trade balances within the BRICS may limit the practical relevance of the "R5", if at all it comes into being, considering the challenges posed by larger numbers of new members.

An expanded role for the BRICS Bank, the NDB (New Development Bank), is on the agenda. The NDB will grant loans denominated in BRICS gold. BRICS exporters will then be encouraged to sell their goods using BRICS gold instead of the US dollar, and this should force non-BRICS importers to pay in BRICS gold. China, by far the largest producer of gold globally, would then assume a key role.

China's steadily growing Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) will strengthen BRICS cooperation. Chinese trade with BRI nations increased by 9.8% in the first half of 2023 as against same period in 2022. That contrasts with the 4.7% overall reduction of trade between China and the West, less by 4.9% with the EU, and less by 14,5% with the US.

In Russia, the completion of a new 7,200km long, multi-modal International North-South Transportation Corridor (INSTC) is expected by 2030. It will operate as an alternative to the Suez Canal and will cut shipping costs by some 50% and 20 days of travel. The new INSTC will be a North-South corridor linking Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, India, and Central Asia, eventually establishing a 573km long Trans-Afghan Railway connecting Central and South Asia to ports on the Arabian sea for the immediate benefit of East and Southern Africa.

The steady growth of the BRI will strengthen the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in his "Vision 2030", sees in it "the future of Asia." Significantly, Saudi Arabia is almost certainly going to emerge from the August summit in Johannesburg as a dynamic new member of the BRICS.

Security challenges within BRICS will encourage new military, security and anti-terrorism synergies. In order to assist members as well as third countries, an integrated BRICS private sector security capability is a possibility. A growing number of vulnerable states are threatened by the spread of Islamic terrorism and international organised crime. Global criminal, and drug, and human trafficking networks increasingly out-gun national police forces.

The political culture of BRICS is characterised by its flexible and pragmatic consensus rule and uncompromisingly equal respect for the sovereignty of each BRICS participating state. The BRICS will continue to stay away from formalised treaty obligations and stifling procedures. It will continue to gain traction as a counterweight to the conflict laden "exceptionalism" that the Western alliances have projected far beyond their legitimate areas of interest.

The BRICS are the building block of a fairer world in which a single nation's might is tamed by the multi-polarity of all the greatest but still distinct civilisations on this planet.

Thomashausen is Professor Emeritus of Comparative and International Law at Unisa

The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of Independent Media or IOL
                Editorial: BRICS summit will shape new world order (От редакции: Саммит БРИКС сформирует новый мировой порядок) / South Africa, July, 2023
                Keywords: summit
                South Africa

                South Africa is preparing to host the 15th BRICS Summit next month, with heads of state of the bloc and more than 50 leaders of global south countries expected to attend.

                The summit will be one of the largest gatherings of developing countries and on the agenda will be geopolitical and geoeconomic issues.

                These issues will determine the shape of what is effectively being described as a new world order.

                The summit will shape the future of discussions that involve developing nations and BRICS could soon expand to more than 30 countries, including the UAE, Argentina and Egypt.

                With the majority of the global population, BRICS countries and any expanded grouping should have the ability to shape global trade and to resolve global conflict through peaceful resolution.

                The countries that are already part of the grouping have already committed to share their knowledge and expertise to help other developing countries emerge from stagnant economic climates and to contribute to the benefits of improved trade.

                President Cyril Ramaphosa during a plenary session in the second Russia-Africa summit in St Petersburg in the Russian Federation said the summit is an opportunity to promote enhanced global cooperation to achieve common prosperity for all the nations of Africa.

                The BRICS partners are significant investors in Africa.

                The upcoming summit will therefore give particular attention to infrastructure development, supported by the New Development Bank, and the African Continental Free Trade Area.

                "The African Continental Free Trade Area, once fully operational, will unlock the benefits of the continental market and generate mutually beneficial opportunities for both African and BRICS countries," Ramaphosa said.

                He said African countries seek reciprocal trade and investment, and for the goods, products and services from Africa to compete on an equal footing in the global economy.

                "Respect and mutual benefit underpin our international relations.

                "African countries should, as sovereign states, be able to pursue independent foreign policy approaches that are not beholden to any of the major global powers or blocs."

                The continent's resources must be used for the continent's benefit.

                              Is it possible to see Türkiye into BRICS? (Возможно ли видеть Турцию в БРИКС?) / Greece, July, 2023
                              Keywords: brics+, expert_opinion

                              On June 1, the BRICS foreign ministers' meeting in Cape Town, South Africa attracted a lot of attention due to the expansion of the bloc and the creation of a common currency. Now all eyes around the world are focused on the BRICS leaders' summit in Johannesburg, South Africa on August 22-24. The new pioneers of the world's rising, productive and multipolar order will meet at this summit.

                              Looking at the contributions of the G7 to the global economy and the BRICS' contributions to the world economy, the share of BRICS in the world economy is gradually increasing. According to the IMF's 2020 data, the share of BRICS in world GDP is 34 percent, while the share of G7 countries in world GDP is 29 percent. Many global organizations predict that this trend will continue with the same momentum in the future. According to 2028 projections, the share of BRICS in world GDP is expected to rise to 35 percent, while the share of the G7 is expected to fall to 27.8 percent. It should also be noted that the BRICS countries account for 40 percent of the world's population (3.2 billion people), while the G7 (777 million people) is a quarter of that. In this respect, the BRICS represent a larger economy and a wider audience in the world than the G7.

                              At a meeting of BRICS foreign ministers in June, they underlined the need to rebalance the world by establishing a multipolar order away from the West. The de-dollarization of trade, trade in local currencies and the construction of a multipolar world will be key topics of the Johannesburg summit. At the same time, the BRICS summit is taking place at a time when Cold War logic is on the rise. It is taking place at a time when the US and NATO are trying to increase sanctions against Russia and China and escalate tensions in the Indo-Pacific. This situation triggers the summit to take more extraordinary decisions.

                              New Institutions and New Currency in the New World Order

                              With the outbreak of the 2008 crisis, the sustainability of the dollar hegemony has become a top agenda item for countries as the US has solved all crises it has faced by using its authority to print money for free. Since 2010, BRICS countries have been looking for ways to get rid of the US dollar. Rising interest rates in the West and the recent debt limit crisis in the US have raised concerns among other countries about their dollar-denominated debts and the death of the dollar if the world's leading economy defaults. This transition has been accelerated by sanctions imposed on Russia over Ukraine. At the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit, leaders also voiced their desire to abolish dollar hegemony. The BRICS summit in August could mark the end of the US dollar's 80-year reign, which began with Bretton Woods.

                              Trade in local currencies is already well underway within the BRICS. For example, 80 percent of trade between China and Russia is already conducted in ruble and the yuan. In Russia's trade with India, the rupee and ruble are used for energy purchases. In short, the powers that make up 40 percent of the world and 34 percent of the world economy are currently trading among themselves without dollars or increasing their share of trade in local currencies.

                              At the BRICS summit in Johannesburg, the bloc is preparing to introduce a new gold-backed currency, unlike the credit-backed US dollar. Every rising power in the world builds a world order with its own institutions and its own currency. The rise of BRICS will also bring new institutions to the fore in the new world order. The necessary structure for this already exists in BRICS. The BRICS Interbank Cooperation Mechanism was launched in 2010 to facilitate cross-border payments in local currencies between BRICS banks. BRICS countries are developing the "BRICS pay" payment system for transactions between themselves without having to convert their local currency into dollars. There is also talk of a BRICS cryptocurrency and the strategic alignment of the development of Central Bank Digital Currencies to promote currency interoperability and economic integration. Many countries are eager to join BRICS. In fact, BRICS is growing with Uruguay, Egypt and Saudi Arabia joining the New Development Bank as new members. Some 19 countries, ranging from Argentina to Mexico, Nigeria, Iran and Kazakhstan, are waiting to become members of BRICS.

                              Is it possible to add a "T" to BRICS?

                              Türkiye is an important country in global development given its young, dynamic population and emerging economy. Türkiye also has historical leadership roles dating back to the Ottoman Empire. Türkiye plays a significant role in leading and seeking to develop relations with oppressed and developing countries in the Balkans, Africa, Central Asia and many other parts of the world. The impact of this Turkish foreign policy was even reflected in Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's inauguration. State leaders from Venezuela to African countries, from the Balkan states to the Turkic states in Central Asia attended the ceremony. Türkiye is an important country that is a leader among both Muslim and Turkic states in the world. Türkiye deserves to be a strong leader in the new multipolar order. Considering Türkiye's global interests, the question "Isn't it time to add a T to BRICS?" is of critical importance. As the world is in a phase of global transformation, Türkiye's participation in BRICS would give it a significant advantage.

                              "A new world will be established and Türkiye will take its place in this world," Turkish Prime Minister İsmet İnönü said in his response to US President Johnson's 1964 letter full of negative statements against Türkiye. Since 2015, Türkiye's relations with the US and NATO have been in a deadlock over issues such as Syria, the Eastern Mediterranean, PYD/PKK, F35, S-400 and the new world order is being established under BRICS leadership. As BRICS' influence and role in the global order grows, it would be very wise for Türkiye to take part in it. Türkiye should gain a strong position in the new international order. It is no coincidence that French President Emmanuel Macron wants to attend the BRICS summit. It is a reflection of France's desire to seek a place for itself in an emerging new world order. Moreover, France is in conflict with its interests in Europe and Asia within NATO and in the western camp. Not only France but the whole of Europe suffers because of US interests. It is questionable how sustainable this situation is for Europe. In addition, Türkiye has a tendency to increase trade in local currencies, and it is even considered one of the leading countries in this regard. According to the IMF report in 2022, 33 percent of Türkiye's national reserves are non-traditional reserves. The share of yuan and ruble in Türkiye's trade with Russia and China is increasing.

                              Five reasons for Türkiye to join BRICS

                              Türkiye has five points in common with the BRICS. The first of these is that BRICS is an association of developing countries. Türkiye is not a developed country like BRICS countries and needs to develop its industry and economy. Secondly, the BRICS are in favor of a multipolar and just world. Turkish President Erdoğan has always emphasized the need to establish a fairer world order by saying "the world is bigger than five". The third is the union of producing countries. Türkiye's current economic crisis is due to its lack of production and Türkiye needs to move towards production. The fourth point is that all of the BRICS countries have histories of colonization or semi-colonization. şIn other words, BRICS is a union of oppressed countries. Türkiye has never been an imperialist state since the Ottoman Empire, but an oppressed state that has been subjected to oppression and exploitation. Fifth, the populations and economies of the BRICS countries are dynamic and have a tendency to grow. Türkiye has a young and dynamic population and its economy has a tendency to grow in the future.

                              In 1933, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of Republic of Türkiye, said: "Look at the sun that will now rise from the east. As I see the day dawning today, so I see from afar the awakening of all the nations of the East. (…) Colonialism and imperialism will disappear from the face of the earth and will be replaced by a new age of harmony and cooperation among nations, without any difference of color, religion or race." Atatürk was a very farsighted and revolutionary leader. He envisioned that one day, nations oppressed by the West would establish a just order and that this order would rise under the leadership of the East. Türkiye shares common values with BRICS and deserves to be the 6th leading state in BRICS because of its harmonious character between the west and the east and its historical position as a leader in the Muslim world.

                                            BRICS has strengthened and is waiting for the expansion of its ranks – 22 nations apply for membership (БРИКС укрепился и ждет расширения своих рядов – заявки на вступление подали 22 страны) / Russia, July, 2023
                                            Keywords: brics+

                                            Twenty two nations have formally applied to become members of the BRICS economic bloc, a South African diplomat said.

                                            An equal number have also informally sought to join the organization that groups Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, Anil Sooklal, the bloc's ambassador from South Africa, told reporters in Johannesburg.

                                            Sooklal has previously said that countries including Saudi Arabia and Iran have formally asked to become BRICS members, while countries that expressed an interest in joining include the United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Egypt, Bahrain, Indonesia and others.

                                            Here is an overview of the history of the creation and practical actions of BRICS by Bloomberg:

                                            - The BRICS group of emerging markets — Brazil, Russia, India and China, with South Africa added later — has gone from a slogan dreamed up at an investment bank to a real-world club that also controls a major development bank. It once might have seemed ironic to see Communist Party-ruled China embrace the Wall Street conceit. But now countries of all political stripes, including Iran and Saudi Arabia, are clamoring to join, setting up potential friction at the club's Aug. 22-24 summit in Johannesburg.

                                            - "BRIC" was coined in 2001 by economist Jim O'Neill, then at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., to draw attention to strong growth rates in Brazil, Russia, India and China. It was intended as an optimistic thesis for investors amid market pessimism following the terrorist attacks in the US on Sept. 11 that year. The four nations took the idea and ran with it. Their rapid growth at the time meant they had shared interests and common challenges. They were already cooperating in forums like the World Trade Organization and felt their influence in a US-dominated world order would be greater if their voices were combined. The first meeting of BRIC foreign ministers was organized by Russia on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in 2006. The group held its first leaders' summit in 2009. South Africa was invited to join at the end of 2010, extending membership to another continent.

                                            - The biggest concrete achievements have been financial. The countries agreed to pool $100 billion of foreign currency, which they can lend to each other during emergencies. That liquidity facility became operational in 2016. They founded the New Development Bank — a World Bank-inspired institution that has approved more than $30 billion of loans for projects like water and transport infrastructure since it began operations in 2015. (South Africa borrowed $1 billion in 2020 to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.) They plan to discuss the feasibility of a common BRICS currency this year. Economically, Brazil and Russia's natural resources and farm products make them natural partners for Chinese demand. India and China have weaker trade connections with each other, partly due to political rivalries and an acrimonious border dispute.

                                            - Economically, China's gross domestic product is more than twice the size of all four other members combined. In theory, that should give it the most sway. In practice, India — which recently surpassed China in population — has been a counterweight. To take two examples: BRICS has not formally endorsed China's big development push called the Belt and Road Initiative, partly because India objects to Belt and Road infrastructure projects in disputed territory held by Pakistan, its neighbor and arch rival. On the New Development Bank, there's no dominant shareholder: Beijing agreed to the equal holdings advocated by New Delhi. The bank is headquartered in Shanghai, but has been led by an Indian and now, Brazil's former President Dilma Rousseff.

                                            - Generally speaking, BRICS is similar to clubs such as the Group of 20 in representing a move toward a more multipolar world and away from one dominated by the US since the end of the Cold War, as exercised through clubs like the G-7 and World Bank. "Global South" isn't a club at all but a term that's gained currency in recent years to refer to relatively poor countries, also referred to sometimes as developing or emerging. It's typically contrasted with a "Global North" composed of the US, Europe and some wealthy countries in Asia and the Pacific.

                                                          All the BRICS+ amities (All the BRICS+ amities) / Russia, July, 2023
                                                          Keywords: expert_opinion, brics+
                                                          Author: Yaroslav Lissovolik

                                                          The upcoming BRICS summit in South Africa is set to reveal the criteria as well as possibly the composition of the next wave of BRICS members and/or members of the expanded BRICS+ alliance. In many respects this is set to be one of the most significant BRICS summits in the past decade as the BRICS+ outreach re-launched by China in 2022 has generated a massive reaction from the Global South that now sees BRICS+ as a key platform for realizing their potential on the international arena. Whatever form it takes, the coming BRICS expansion may generate further changes in the structure of international economic alliances, while also broadening the possibilities for emerging markets to mobilize financing for the attainment of their key development goals.

                                                          With respect to the composition of the new entrants into the core BRICS grouping there were a number of possible modalities proposed, including all of the non-BRICS G20 developing economies as well as a number of other key regional players from the Global South. Among the possible formations for this new stage of BRICS expansion I earlier advanced the BEAMS and PEAKS concepts[1], though recent developments have rendered these exact formats less likely in view of the preferences expressed by BRICS core members. In case the new wave of entrants were to consist of the five G20 members that are as of yet outside of BRICS – Argentina, Mexico, Indonesia, Turkey and Saudi Arabia – plus the two developing economies with the next largest nominal GDP in PPP terms – Egypt and Iran – the resulting new wave of BRICS can be termed as AMITIES, with all of these economies having participated in the BRICS+ format in the period between 2017 and 2022. Such a formation apart from bringing some of the largest emerging economies also has the benefit of additional representation accorded to Latin America and Africa, while raising the scope for greater policy coordination in major international organizations.

                                                          And while the exact composition of the expanded BRICS/BRICS+ formation will likely be the most sought-after theme at the upcoming summit, no less important will be the impact that this expansion will have on the existing patterns of alliances and economic policy options faced by emerging markets. With respect to the latter, several trends may be observed as BRICS expansion gains momentum and a more diverse and multipolar economic framework sets in:

                                                          • An expansion in the array of sources of financing for emerging markets as more of them join NDB as well as possibly other regional and multilateral development institutions under the umbrella of BRICS+
                                                          • Greater optionality in the use of payment systems, national currencies and reserves as BRICS develop financial market infrastructure to complement the existing system.
                                                          • Lower scope for economic restrictions to be applied, including via protectionist measures.
                                                          • A less burdensome conditionality framework that is likely to emerge on the back of rising optionality in sources of financing. In fact, in case BRICS do step up the financing of the Global South via BRICS development institutions, it will be interesting to see whether competing conditionalities emerge between the BRICS and the Bretton Woods camps
                                                          In effect, this is a different setting characterized by broader possibilities and options that become open to emerging market economies. This effect is further strengthened by the widening possibilities of building new patterns of economic alliances that may prioritize the creation of new sectoral platforms as well as regional and cross-regional blocks. One of the likely trends in the creation of such new alliances is their greater concentration within the Global South, though the developed world could well take the lead in some of the key areas of the global economy, including possibly in the formation of the so-called digital economic agreements (DEAs). Another area where the Western world could play a leading role in a new multipolar setting is in the sphere of "integration of integrations", whereby the EU as the most advanced regional block could lead the formation of an inclusive global platform for regional trade blocks[2].

                                                          As for the next wave of BRICS entrants, their accession into the BRICS+ circle will widen the array of possible options, including continued development of economic relations with members of the G7. In fact, the possibilities for the expanded BRICS block that includes the likes of Turkey, Argentina, Mexico and Saudi Arabia, to explore the modalities of building communication lines with the advanced economies could be enhanced. In this respect, a BRICS++ framework of economic cooperation with the development institutions from advanced economies could become one of the themes on the agenda of an expanded BRICS formation. Modalities such as BRICS+AMITIES that bring together all developing economies that are G20 members may enhance the possibilities for building more structured and coordinated policies in key international fora such as G20 and the Bretton Woods institutions.

                                                          Yet another possibility is for the new BRICS entrants/BRICS+ economies to explore new formats and new priorities for economic alliances coming from the Global South. For example, rather than prioritizing high economic growth and higher market returns as did the original BRIC vision, there may be scope to place the emphasis on sustainability – not only in terms of environmental standards, or the growth vs balanced development, but also in terms of global economic governance and the role that middle-income economies play in a multipolar global economy setting.

                                                          According to the World Bank, more than half of the economies in the world economy are middle-income countries (MICs)[3], furthermore middle income economies account for "75% of the world's population and 62% of the world's poor… MICs also represent about one-third of global GDP and are major engines of global growth" [4]. With such credentials, the expanded BRICS (that is largely concentrated in the middle-income space) could position itself as a key center of gravity in the world economy that not only accounts for the majority of the population and the number of countries, but also for moderation in economic contradictions and frictions as well as greater sustainability in economic development – much as the middle-class performs such a stabilizing role in national economies.

                                                          Going forward, with the progression in the multipolarity of the world economy, the role of the middle-income economies is likely to grow in line with how the median voter theory operates in a democratic electoral setting. And this greater importance of BRICS+ together with catch-up growth vis-à-vis the developed world will call for further changes in the governance of the global economy. The Tocqueville paradox formulated nearly 200 years ago – namely that rising affluence raises the demand for greater equality and governance change – appears to hold not only at the country level, but also at the level of the global economy. The important point however is that while BRICS+ is becoming a platform for boosting developing countries' growth as well as for transforming the governance system of the world economy, the pattern of change favoured by BRICS is very much in the evolutionary domain, with particular emphasis placed in the block's summit declarations on supporting multilateralism and existing multilateral institutions. Expect these principles to be reiterated yet again in the 2023 BRICS summit declaration.



                                                          [3] MICs are those with a GNI per capita between $1,036 and $4,045; and upper middle-income economies – those with a GNI per capita between $4,046 and $12,535 (2021)


                                                                        Investment and Finance
                                                                        Investment and finance in BRICS
                                                                        An international financial and gold expert: "The BRICS won't kill the Dollar, but US policy will" (Международный эксперт по финансам и золоту: «БРИКС не убьет доллар, но политика США убьет») / Russia, July, 2023
                                                                        Keywords: economic_challenges, expert_opinion

                                                                        This is the rarest case when the author easily and witty writes about complex financial problems. We present you an essay, presented by Matthew Piepenburg, a partner of "The Matterhorn Asset Management" (Switzerland), the co-author of Gold Matters, which offers an extensive examination of gold as an historically-confirmed wealth-preservation asset.

                                                                        It's worth reading and enjoying!

                                                                        Net conclusion: The real death of the USD will be domestic not foreign.

                                                                        When it comes to the "bell tolling for fiat," we can all hear its loud chimes, but that bell has been tolling since 1971 (or frankly 1968), when the US leadership decoupled the world reserve currency from its golden chaperone.

                                                                        Like any teenager throwing a house party, the lack of a parental chaperone leads to lots of crazy events and lots of broken furniture.

                                                                        The same is true of post-71 politicians and central bankers suddenly freed of a gold-backed chaperone and thus suddenly loaded with drunken power to mouse-click currencies and expand deficits.

                                                                        And since then, all kinds of things have been breaking, from banks to bonds to currencies.

                                                                        And now, with all the extreme hype (and, yes, some genuine reality) behind the headlines of a revolutionary gold-backed BRICS trade currency, many are making sensational claims that the World Reserve Currency (i.e., USD) is nearing its end and that fiat money from DC to Tokyo is effectively toast.

                                                                        Before we start tossing red roses over the shallow grave of an admittedly grotesque US Greenback in general, or fiat fantasy money in general, let's all take a deep breath.

                                                                        That is, let's re-think through this inevitable funeral with a bit more, well, realism, mathematics and even geopolitical common sense before we turn our backs on the USD, and this is coming from an author who has never thought highly of that Dollar, be it fiat, politicized and now weaponized.

                                                                        So, let's take a deep breath and engage open, informed and critical minds when it comes to debating many of the still open, un-known and critical issues surrounding the so-called "game changer" event when the BRICS+ nations convene this August in S. Africa.

                                                                        As made clear literally from Day 1 of the Western sanctions against Putin, the West may have been aiming for Putin's (or the Ruble's) chest, but it then shot itself in the foot – needless to say, a 500-basis-point spike in the cost of the USA debt under Powell didn't help. In fact, it did little good (or goodwill) for USD friends and enemies alike.

                                                                        Adding insult to injury, DC coupled this strong-Dollar policy with a now weaponized-Dollar policy in which a nuclear and economic power like Russia had its FX reserves frozen and access to SDRs and SWIFT transactions blocked.

                                                                        Like Napoleon at Moscow, this was going a step too far…

                                                                        The net result was an obvious and immediate distrust of that once neutral world reserve currency,

                                                                        Heck, even Obama warned against such weaponization of a reserve currency as recently as 2015!

                                                                        Thus, and as I (and many others) warned from Day 1 of the sanctions, the distrust for the USD unleashed by the sanctions in early 2022 was "a genie that can never go back in the bottle."

                                                                        Or more simply stated, the trend toward de-dollarization was now going to come at greater speed and with greater force.

                                                                        This force, of course, is now being seen, as well as debated, under the highly symbolic as well as substantive example of the BRICS+ nations seeking to usher in a gold-backed trade currency to move openly away from the USD, a move which some maintain will soon de-throne the USD as a world reserve currency and send its value immediately to the ocean floor.

                                                                        For me, the trajectory of this de-dollarization trend is fairly obvious; but the speed and knowable magnitude of these changes are where I take a more realistic (i.e., less sensational) stance.

                                                                        We know, for example, that Russian finance experts like Sergei Glasyev have real motives and sound reasons for planning a new (anti-Dollar) financial system which not only seeks a Eurasian Economic Union for cross boarder trade settlements backed by local currencies and commodities, but to which gold will likely be added as a "backer" to the same. Glasyev has also made headlines with plans regarding the Moscow World Standard as a far more fair-playing and fair-priced gold exchange alternative to the Western LBMA exchange.

                                                                        If we take his gold backing plans seriously, we must also take seriously the plan to expand such gold-backed trade currency plans into the Shanghai Cooperation Organization which would make the final tally of BRICS+ nations "going gold" as high as 41 country codes.

                                                                        This could ostensibly mean greater than 50% of the world's population and GDP would be trading in a gold-backed settlement currency outside of the USD, and that, well, matters to both the demand and strength of that Dollar…

                                                                        China, moreover, has invested heavily in the Belt & Road Initiative (152 countries) as well as in massive infrastructure projects in Africa and South America, areas of the world that are all too familiar with America's intentional (or at least cyclical) modus operandi of developing nations

                                                                        China therefore has a vested interest in protecting its EM investments as well as EM export markets in a currency outside of a USD monopoly.

                                                                        Meanwhile, as the US is making less and less friends with EM markets, Crown Princes, French Presidents and EU and UK bond markets, China has been busy brokering peace between Saudi Arabia and Iran, as well as building a literal bridge between the latter and Iraq while simultaneously making Yuan-trade deals with Argentina.

                                                                        Tag on the fact that Brazil, China and Iran are trading outside the USD-denominated SWIFT payment system, and it seems fairly clear that much of the world is leaning toward what Zoltan Poszar described as a "commodity rather that debt-based trade settlement currency" for which Charles Gave (and the BRICS+ nations) see gold as an "essential element" to that global new trend.

                                                                        Finally, with a strong Greenback making USD energy and other commodity prices painfully (if not fatally) too expensive for large swaths of the globe, it's no secret to those same large swaths of the globe (including petrodollar nations…) that gold holds its value far better than a USD.

                                                                        Given this fact, it's easy to see why BRICS+ nations wish to settle trades in a gold-backed local currency in order to ease the pressure on commodity prices. This gives them the opportunity to buy time to pay down their other USD-denominated debt obligations.

                                                                        In addition to the foregoing arguments, the fact that the BRICS+ nations are cloning IMF and World Bank swing loan and "contingency reserve asset" infrastructure programs under their own Asian Monetary Fund and New Development Bank, it becomes more than clear that a new BRICS+ world, trade currency and institutionalized infrastructure is as real as the trend away from a monopolar hegemony of the USD.

                                                                        In short, and to repeat: There are many, many reasons to both see and trust the obvious and current trend/trajectory away from the USD as warned over a year ago, all of which, no matter what the slope and degree, will be good, very good for gold

                                                                        First, we have to ask the very preliminary question as to whether the August BRICS summit will even involve an actual announcement of a new, gold-backed trading currency.

                                                                        Meanwhile, India, a key BRICS member, has openly denied such a new trade currency as a fixed agenda item for this August.

                                                                        Mechanically speaking, for example, who will indeed be the issuing entity of this new currency?

                                                                        The new BRICS Bank?

                                                                        What will be the actual gold coverage ratio? 10% 15% 20%?

                                                                        Will BRICS+ member nations/central banks need to deposit their physical gold in a central depository, or will they enjoy (most likely) the flexibility of pledging their domestically-held gold as an accounting-only-unit?

                                                                        Cohesion Among the Distrusting?

                                                                        As important, just how much trust and cohesion is there among the BRICS+ nations?

                                                                        Sure, this collection of nations may trust gold more than they trust each other or the US (which is why such a gold-backed trade currency may work, as it can't be "inflated away"), but if a BRICS member country wishes to redeem its gold from say, Russia, years down the road, can it realistically assume it will happen?..

                                                                        We know, for example, that the collective BRICS+ gold reserve (as of Q1 2023) is just over 5452 tones, valued today at approximately $350B. Enough, yes to stake a new currency.

                                                                        But measured against a net global amount of $13T in total physical gold, are the BRICS+ gold reserves enough to make a sizable dent (even at a partial coverage ratio) to tilt the world away from the USD overnight, when the USA, at least officially, has much, much more gold than the BRICS+?

                                                                        That said, we can't deny that the actual gold stores in places like Russia and China are far, far higher than officially reported by the World Gold Council.

                                                                        Additionally, the historically unprecedented rate of central bank gold stacking in 2022-23 seems to suggest that the enemies of the USD are indeed "loading their guns" for a reason.

                                                                        In other words, even if all the BRICS+ plans for a gold-backed trading currency go flawlessly, the time gap between the accepted rise of such a settlement currency and the open fall of the USD is likely to be long, wide and unknown enough to see the USD actually get stronger rather than weaker before we experience any final fall in the USD as a global reserve currency.

                                                                        So, no, I don't think that the USD will fall entirely from grace or even supremacy in August of 2023, even if the trend away from its prior hegemony is becoming increasingly undeniable.

                                                                        It will take more than sensational BRICS headlines to make such a rapid change, but yes, and as the Sam Cooke song says, "change is gonna come."

                                                                        My only point is that for now, and for all the reasons cited above, the trajectory and speed of those changes are likely not as sensational as the trajectory and speed of the current headlines.

                                                                        Furthermore, and despite all the hype as well as substance behind the BRICS headlines, I see the evolution of such a gold-backed trade currency as a reaction to, rather than attack upon, the USD, whose real and ultimate threat comes from within, rather than outside, its borders.

                                                                        The world is losing trust in the USD because US policy makers killed it from within. Ever since Nixon (in 1971) took the gold chaperone away, politicians and central bankers have been deficit spending like drunken high school seniors in a room filled with beer but absent of parental consent.

                                                                        The entire world has long known what many Americans are finally seeing from inside their own walls, namely: The US will never, ever be able to put its fiscal house in order.

                                                                        Uncle Sam is simply too far in debt and there's simply no way out as it approaches a wall of open and obvious fiscal dominance in which fighting inflation will only (and again, ironically) cause more inflation.

                                                                        Or stated simply, Uncle Sam can't afford his own ever-increasing and entirely unpayable deficit spending habits without having to resort to trillions and trillions of more mouse-clicked Dollars to keep yields in check and IOUs from defaulting.

                                                                        And that, far more than a BRICS new currency, is what will put the final rose on a fiat system (and Dollar) that is already openly but slowly dying — first slowly, then all at once.

                                                                        But I don't think that day will be August 22, Matthew Piepenburg concludes.

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                                                                                      World of Work
                                                                                      SOCIAL POLICY, TRADE UNIONS, ACTIONS
                                                                                      Partnership for positive change in a highly polarised world (Партнерство для позитивных изменений в сильно поляризованном мире) / South Africa, July, 2023
                                                                                      Keywords: summit, cooperation
                                                                                      South Africa

                                                                                      South Africa chairs BRICS this year, which includes hosting the much-anticipated BRICS Heads of State Summit at the Sandton International Convention Centre in Johannesburg from August 22 to 24.

                                                                                      The theme is "BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Mutually Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development, and Inclusive Multilateralism." The theme consists of four key elements. First, it continues the partnership between Africa and BRICS which was launched during South Africa's first chairship in 2013. Second, it seeks to address inclusive global economic growth in the post-Covid era, specifically looking at the role BRICS can play in facilitating mutually accelerated and inclusive growth. Third, the pandemic has had an adverse effect in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In this regard, BRICS will seek to co-ordinate actions to achieve the SDG's as per the schedule of Agenda 2030. Fourth, BRICS will continue to focus on its commitments to inclusive multilateralism and its repeated calls for the reform of the global multilateral architecture. BRICS seeks to provide leadership and momentum towards inclusive global economic growth, sustainable development and inclusion of Africa and the Global South in a more diverse, inclusive, representative and fairer international system.

                                                                                      The theme also informs the five priorities for the year, namely:

                                                                                      1. Developing a partnership towards a just and equitable transition.
                                                                                      2. Transforming education and skills development for the future.

                                                                                      3. Unlocking opportunities through the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement.

                                                                                      4. Strengthening post-pandemic socio-economic recovery and the attainment of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development.

                                                                                      5. Strengthening multilateralism, including working towards real reform of global governance institutions and enhancing meaningful participation of women in peace processes.

                                                                                      The theme and deliverables highlight the increasing importance of collaboration, co-operation, convergence, partnerships and functional coherence between BRICS, Africa and the Global South. South Africa will aim to consolidate and expand upon BRICS collaborations, with a further focus on areas such as fairer trade, national currencies, more inclusive economic investment, infrastructure development, information and communication technology, sustainable development and people-to-people exchanges. By fostering more inclusive economic integration and inclusive multilateralism, BRICS intends to create an enabling environment for more shared and more inclusive growth and prosperity for all. In addition, BRICS will also explore avenues for enhancing South-South co-operation, innovation, technology transfer and addressing the developmental challenges faced by BRICS,

                                                                                      Africa and the developing world

                                                                                      It is widely recognised that BRICS holds immense importance in the contemporary global political, economic and financial landscape. BRICS accounts for 30% of the global land mass, 42% of the world's population, 25% of global gross domestic product and a substantial and ever-increasing share of global trade. Therefore, BRICS, as a collective and as individual countries, as well as in partnership with the marginalised Global South, is strategically positioned to champion the principles of multipolarity, multilateralism, multiculturalism and a multicivilisational global community. By leveraging its collective strengths and partnerships, BRICS will continue to advance the creation of a new international architecture that breaks with the unfair and archaic Western world order that has been the dominant force since the end of World War II.

                                                                                      BRICS also seeks to ensure that the Global South is no longer marginalised and remain outliers in shaping the new global governance architecture. In this regard, BRICS is open to engaging with all, including countries of the Global North who genuinely seek to work in partnership with the Global South to address the exclusive, unrepresentative and undemocratic world order that is out of sync with the global reality.

                                                                                      Since the introduction in 2013, of BRICS leaders engaging the Global South, through the BRICS Outreach, and since 2017, through the BRICS Plus mechanisms, BRICS has built enduring and trusted partnerships with the developing world. The trust and confidence in BRICS leadership is evident by the large number of countries who have expressed an interest in becoming BRICS members. It is within this context that under China's leadership in 2022, the issue of expansion came to the fore. BRICS leaders called for discussions on expansion to commence, as articulated in paragraph 73 of the Beijing Declaration.

                                                                                      The BRICS leaders called on their Sherpas to develop guiding principles, standards, criteria and procedures pertaining to expansion. Since assuming the chairship of BRICS, South Africa has been seized with this matter at the level of Sherpa and Sous Sherpa. At the recently concluded Sherpa meeting in Durban on July 5 and 6, BRICS Sherpas finalised the above focus areas, as mandated by the leaders. Recommendations were made in this regard to the BRICS foreign ministers. It is expected that BRICS foreign ministers will further deliberate the issue of expansion and provide recommendations to the leaders at the forthcoming 15th BRICS summit. To date, 22 countries, from all regions of the world, have formally sought to become BRICS members. An equal number of countries have also informally expressed an interest in joining BRICS.

                                                                                      Noting the above, the 15th BRICS Summit in August 2023 represents a pivotal moment for BRICS to strengthen global governance partnerships, foster inclusive economic growth, and champion sustainable development. South Africa's chairship also provides an opportunity to demonstrate its continued commitment to multilateralism, multipolarity and multi-culturalism, working in partnership with all and advancing the collective interests of Africa and the Global South.

                                                                                      BRICS aims to deepen collaboration, address common challenges, seek mutual solutions and unlock the immense potential between BRICS, Africa, the Global South and the international community.

                                                                                      At this critical juncture, characterised by a highly polarised world, BRICS must be a force for positive change and provide the leadership that is expected of it. BRICS will continue to foster global co-operation, ensuring peace and stability, inclusive economic growth and main-streaming development. BRICS will continue to champion multilateralism with a reformed UN at its centre and respect for international law. BRICS has an opportunity to shape a future that prioritises the needs and aspirations of all equally, and in particular, Africa and the Global South.

                                                                                      Professor Anil Sooklal is South Africa's Ambassador at Large for Asia and BRICS Sherpa

                                                                                      The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of Indepenent Media or IOL.
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