Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 42.2018
2018.10.15 — 2018.10.21
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Welcome to the G-20 from Hell (Добро пожаловать в G-20 из ада) / China, October, 2018
Keywords: g20, expert_opinion, economic_challenges
Author: Pepe Escobar

World leaders wrestle with a maelstrom of complex, burning issues as they prepare for November 30 summit

The G-20 in Buenos Aires on November 30 could set the world on fire – perhaps literally. Let's start with the US-China trade war. Washington won't even start discussing trade with China at the G-20 unless Beijing comes up with a quite detailed list of potential concessions.

The word from Chinese negotiators is not at all bleak. Some sort of agreement could be reached on about a third of US demands. Debate on another third could ensue. But the last third is absolutely off-limits – due to Chinese national security imperatives, such as refusing to allow the opening of the domestic cloud computing market to foreign competition.

On top of it, Beijing demands a "point person" with the authority to negotiate on behalf of Trump – considering the mixed-message traffic jam out of Washington.

Now compare this with the message coming from the research institute fabulously named Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era under the Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC): the US has started the "trade friction" essentially "to hinder China's industrial upgrading."

That's the consensus at the top.

And the clash is bound to get worse. Vice President Mike Pence accused China of "meddling in American democracy," "debt diplomacy," "currency manipulation," and "IP theft." The Foreign Ministry in Beijing dismissed it all as "ridiculous."

It's enlightening to pay close attention to what Foreign Minister Wang Yi told the Council on Foreign Relations – as diplomatically as possible: "China will follow a path of development different from historical powers." And China will not seek hegemony.

From the point of view of the US National Security Strategy, that's irrelevant; China has been framed as a fierce competitor and even a threat. President Xi Jinping will not cave in to Washington's trade demands. So expect a possible non-meeting between Xi and Trump in Buenos Aires.

The threat of a nuclear first strike

Things look even hairier on the Russian front. For all of Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's Taoist patience, Moscow's diplomatic circles are exasperated by serious American threats – as in the US Navy possibly enforcing a blockade to restrict Russia's energy trade. Or worse: the ultimatum that Russia must stop developing a missile that according to Washington violates the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, otherwise the Pentagon will destroy it.

This is as serious as it gets – because it amounts to committing to a US nuclear first strike.

In parallel, BP CEO Bob Dudley told the Oil & Money conference in London that any additional US sanctions against top Russian energy companies would be disastrous. "If sanctions were put on Rosneft or Gazprom or Lukoil like what happened with Rusal, you would virtually shut down the energy systems of Europe, it is a bit of an extreme thing to happen," he said.

On the BRICS front, Russia and India deftly maneuvered on their own and managed to squash some US geostrategic planning against the three major poles of Eurasia integration: Russia, China and Iran.

The Quad – US, Japan, Australia, India – was conceived to box in China across the Indo-Pacific, in parallel to confining Russia's margin of maneuver. The Quad is not exactly in sterling form after India decided to buy Russian S-400 missile systems. Trump has promised revenge.

On top of the S-400 deal, Russian companies will be building six additional nuclear reactors in India, at a cost of $20 billion each, over the next decade. Rosneft signed a 10-year deal to sell India 10 million tons of oil a year. And India will continue to buy oil from Iran, paying for it in rupees.

On the EU front, it's all about Germany. There are few illusions in Berlin about the EU's wobbly future. The export-centered German economy is focused on Asia. Germany is doubling down on solidifying an Asian-style model – a few large companies that are national champions able to turbo-charge exports. The US market – under protectionist winds – now is just an afterthought.

Toxic tropics

Then there's the Brazilian tragedy. President Mauricio Macri ruined Argentina with a neoliberal shock. The nation is now a hostage of the IMF.

A possible scenario is a G-20 in which Argentina will be learning how to deal with a fascist leading its close neighbor and top trade partner, Brazil.

Former paratrooper Jair Bolsonaro may be xenophobic and mysoginistic, but is certainly not a nationalist. The self-billed tropical "Messiah" routinely salutes the US flag. His economic hit man is a Chicago Boy bent on selling the country out – much to the delight of "investors" and "market" experts from New York and Zurich to Rio and Sao Paulo.

Forget about creating jobs or even attempting to solve Brazil's immense social problems: acute social inequality, pressing investments in health and education, urban insecurity. Bolsonaro's only "policy" is to weaponize the population in a Mad Max remix.

Everything under Bolsonaro should proceed under the unmitigated reign of a Hobbesian "free" market. Forget about any possibility of a moderating state intervention in the complex relations between Capital and Labor.

This is the apex of a complex process unleashed years ago in Brazil via think tanks such as the Atlas Network, loads of money and, last but not least, an evangelical/neo-pentecostal tsunami.

The pillars of the Brazilian carnage are powerful agro-business and mineral exploitation interests, toxic Brazilian mainstream media, evangelicals, a financial sector totally subservient to Wall Street, the weapons industry, the completely politicized judiciary, the police, intel services, and the armed forces.

And the stars of the show are of course the Beef-Bible-Bullet combo – with their scores of Congress members – overseen by the Goddess of the Market.

Neoliberalism never wins elections in Brazil. So the only way to implement "reforms" is via a sub-Pinochet. Expect widespread social-environmental havoc, indiscriminate killing of rural and native Brazilian leaders, an unmitigated bonanza for the weapons industry, banks celebrating Christmas every week, abysmal cultural repression, total denationalization of the economy, and workers and pensioners paying for all these "reforms." Call it business as usual.

Bolsonaro's fascist tendencies were normalized not only by the powers that be in Brazil. Argentina's Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie qualified him as a "center-right" politician.

Beijing and Moscow – for BRICS reasons – and the EU in Brussels are appalled by Brazil's descent into the maelstrom. Russia and China were counting on a strong Brazil contributing to a multipolar world as during the time of Lula, who was a major BRICS driving force.

For the EU, it is hard to stomach a fascist leading their top trading partner in Latin America, and the heart of Mercosur. For the Global South as a whole, the implosion of Brazil, one of its leaders, is an unmitigated tragedy.

Now picture Washington as a raging compendium of threats and sanctions. An EU fractured to the hilt – denouncing Asian illiberalism while impotent to fight the "rise of the deplorables" at home. BRICS in disarray, with two in a serious clash with Washington, one out of the game and one on the fence – among the top four. The House of Saud rotting from the inside. Iran not even at the G-20 table. Time to sing What a Wonderful World.

Parliament joins calls to strengthen multilateral system (Парламент присоединяется к призывам к укреплению многосторонней системы) / South Africa, October, 2018
Keywords: concluded_agreements, political_issues, global_governance
South Africa

South African Parliamentarians have thrown their voice behind international efforts to halt the weakening of the multilateral fora governing trade and investments.

"I call on all of us to collectively resit all efforts to weaken the multilateral approach to international trade, which is important to the promotion of stability in the global economy," said South African Member of Parliament Peace Mabe.

Mabe made the comments in Switzerland at a meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Union's (IPU) Standing Committee on Sustainable Development, Finance and Trade.

Held in Geneva on Monday, the meeting debated how Parliaments of the world could assist in addressing global economic challenges, which include gross inequalities and differential development of the countries.

"We have to guard against countries that want to develop and prosper at the expense of others. South Africa's economy has not grown at the pace needed to lift people out of poverty," said Mabe, who also represents South Africa in the committee.

She stressed that public finances remain constrained, limiting the ability of government to expand investment in economic and social development.

Alongside Monday's meeting, there were meetings of two other Standing Committees of the IPU, dealing with matters of peace and international security, as well as democracy and human rights.

The Parliament of South Africa is represented in the standing committees by various members of the eight-member delegation.

At the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Summit in July, South Africa's Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies urged fellow BRICS countries to strengthen and deepen their relations in a time when the world's trading systems are in turbulence.

"It is no secret. We are living in a time of enormous turbulence and crisis for the global multilateral system. We need to strengthen and deepen our relations," said Davies at the summit held in Johannesburg.

At the time, Davies said the current environment poses an enormous challenge.

"What we've seen is a number of stronger economies, particularly one, showing great scepticism to multilateral trading system, which is not good for any of us. We are in the midst of trade wars. South Africa is not a major protagonist [but is hit by] collateral damage," he said. –
Mbete's plan to launch Brics Parliamentary Forum gets the nod (План Мбете проводить парламентский форум БРИКС получил одобрение) / South Africa, October, 2018
Keywords: Parliamentary_forum, cooperation, political_issues, global_governance
South Africa
Author: Eric Naki

South Africa's National Assembly is expected to play host to the formal launch of the Brics Parliamentary Forum.

The member countries of the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (Brics) bloc are expanding their relationship beyond the current political platform of states to their parliamentary level with the planned official launch of a forum of parliamentarians that will help to oversee matters of common interest affecting the people of these countries.

Brics parliamentarians, in an initiative from South Africa, gave the go-ahead that their current forum of parliamentarians be formalised and be officially established by March 2019.

South Africa's National Assembly is expected to play host to the formal launch of the Brics Parliamentary Forum (Brics PF). The idea, proposed by South Africa's National Assembly Speaker, Baleka Mbete, got the nod from fellow Brics parliamentarians in their meeting currently under way in Geneva, Switzerland.

Mbete is the current chair of the informal Brics forum of parliamentarians. As chair, Mbete convened the meeting of Brics parliamentarians at the Kempinski Hotel in Geneva. There, they dealt with a draft protocol for the establishment of the Brics PF.

"As the current chairperson of the Brics forum of parliamentarians, South Africa believes it is crucial for the Brics parliamentarians to formalise their collaboration through the establishment of the Brics PF, to help foster a more inclusive, just and better world," Mbete said in a statement issued by parliament.

Mbete said much needed to be done to translate the ideals that inspired Brics parliamentarians to work closer together on matters of common interest. She said their aim was to advance a better quality of life for their respective people through, among other things, reducing poverty and inequality among the nations of the world.

"The time has come for the Brics parliamentarians to be at the forefront of economic partnerships, peacekeeping efforts, engendered transformation and to ensure better health status of the people of the Brics countries."

The idea was warmly welcomed by speakers from member countries, with various speakers taking turns to cherish the initiative.

"The Brics parliamentarians agreed to appoint focal persons from each parliament who would facilitate consultations on the shared draft protocol and prepare for a meeting planned for Brics parliaments for March 2019," the statement issued from Geneva said.

Over the past decade the Brics parliamentarians have been meeting on the sidelines of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) assemblies.

"In their standing meeting organised to coincide with the 139th Assembly of the IPU, the Brics parliamentarian shared a more common position of, among other things, safeguarding and strengthening multilateral governance structures against the encroaching unilateralism emerging from some countries of the world," the statement added.
Briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova, Moscow, October 17, 2018 (Брифинг официального представителя МИД России М.В.Захаровой, Москва, 17 октября 2018 года) / Russian Federation, October, 2018
Keywords: mofa, sergey_lavrov, political_issues
Russian Federation

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's participation in the Russia-Africa Public Forum

On October 22, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will take part in the Russia-Africa Public Forum organised by the World Association of Foreign Alumni of Russian Universities and African Business Initiative Union. Prominent Russian and African political and public officials, representatives of academic circles, the business community, and student and youth organisations are invited to the forum. The event will provide a platform to exchange views on the current issues of developing relations between Russia and various African countries, the current state of relations and the prospects for further development in the political, trade, economic, humanitarian and cultural fields, among others.

The forthcoming forum is viewed in the context of preparing for the Russia-Africa Summit, the importance of which President Vladimir Putin stressed during the 10th Anniversary BRICS Summit in Johannesburg in July.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's participation in the opening ceremony of an exhibition dedicated to the 190th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations with Brazil

On October 26, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will take part in the opening ceremony of an exhibition of archive materials dedicated to the 190th anniversary of establishing Russian-Brazilian diplomatic relations being prepared by the Russian Foreign Ministry with the support of the Embassy of Brazil in Moscow. Representatives of the diplomatic corps accredited in Moscow, academic and cultural circles, the media and public organisations are invited.

The exhibition will display documents and photos describing the history of relations between the two countries, the foundation of which was laid by a decree signed on October 3, 1828, on appointing the first Russian envoy to Brazil.

Today, the two countries are connected by strategic partnership relations as formalised in 2000. Brazil is Russia's important partner in Latin America and the Caribbean Basin. Our countries enjoy productive cooperation at major international venues, including the UN, the G20 and BRICS. Cooperation in the trade, economic, investment, scientific and technical fields continues to grow. Contacts in civil society are consistently expanding.
Need to carry forward dialogue on issues of shared interest of BRICS countries: RS Dy Chairman (Необходимо продолжить диалог по вопросам, представляющим общий интерес стран БРИКС: заместитель председателя RS) / India, October, 2018
Keywords: cooperation, expert_opinion, political_issues, global_governance

NEW DELHI: Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha Harivansh on Wednesday emphasized on the need for carrying forward dialogue on the issues of shared interest of the BRICS countries.

Presenting India's views on 'Fostering an inclusive and just world through Inter-parliamentary Co-operation' during the Fourth BRICS Forum Parliamentary meeting, Mr Harivansh called upon other nations to work together constructively in the wake of the 2030 Agenda, which provides a useful framework for sustainable development with general focus on major economic, social and environmental issues.

He especially remembered the year 2018 being the 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and the birth centenary of Nelson Mandela whose values of peace, tolerance and democracy continue to inspire and guide us till date.

The Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman also emphasized the urgent need to combat climate change by BRICS guided by the common but differentiated responsibilities.

He said that in Gandhi's scheme of 'Sarvodaya through Antyodaya', the last man was the centre for development. "This approach remains relevant even today,"he said.
BRICS Parliaments Adopt a Time-table for Consultations to Finalise the Establishment of a BRICS Parliamentary Forum to Enhance Collaboration as Proposed by South Africa (Парламенты стран БРИКС примут график проведения консультаций для завершения работы по созданию парламентского форума БРИКС, предложенного Южной Африкой, для расширения сотрудничества) / South Africa, October, 2018
Keywords: Parliamentary_forum, cooperation, concluded_agreements, global_governance
South Africa

Geneva – Switzerland, Wednesday 17 October 2018: Speakers of BRICS Parliaments, have given a preliminary nod to a proposal of the South Africa to formally establish a BRICS Parliamentary Forum by March 2019 in South Africa.

Speaker of the South African National Assembly, Ms Baleka Mbete, convened a meeting of BRICS Parliamentarians at the Kempinski Hotel in Geneva – Switzerland last night, to consider a draft protocol for the establishment of the BRICS Parliamentary Forum (BRICS PF). As the current Chairperson of the BRICS forum of Parliamentarians, South Africa believes its is crucial for the BRICS parliamentarians to formalise their collaboration through the establishment of the BRICS PF, to help foster a more inclusive, just and a better world. Speaker Mbete said, so much needs to be done to translate the ideals that inspired BRICS parliamentarians to work closer together on matters of common interest to advance a better quality of life for their respective people through among others reducing poverty and inequality among the nations of the world. She said time had come for the BRICS parliamentarians to be at the forefront of economic partnerships, peace keeping efforts, engendered transformation and in ensure better health status of the people of the BRICS countries.

Sound bite:

In-words: Out Parliaments ….
Out-words: … the next decade.
Duration: 37 seconds (

Various Speakers took turns to cherish the initiative of the Parliament of South Africa and its proposal for more formalized relations. The BRICS parliamentarians agreed to appoint focal persons from each Parliament who would facilitate consultations on the shared draft protocol and prepare for a meeting planned for BRICS parliaments for March 2019. Over the past decade the BRICS parliamentarians have been meeting on the side-lines of the Inter-Parliamentary Union assemblies. In their standing meeting organized to coincide with the 139th Assembly of the IPU, the BRICS parliamentarian shared a more common position of among others, safe-guarding and strengthening multilateral governance structures against the encroaching unilateralism emerging from some countries of the world.

For arranging interviews with the Speaker and members of the South African delegation at the Inter-Parliamentary Union in Geneva – Switzerland, kindly contact Manelisi Wolela on +41 (0) 76 630 7027 /

(NB: Kindly find a link to the speeches of the Presiding Officers of BRICS Parliaments

Russian-Chinese ties at their best level in history, says defense minister (Российско-китайские связи на самом высоком уровне за всю историю, сказал министр обороны) / Russian Federation, October, 2018
Keywords: cooperation, quotation
Russian Federation

According to the minister, on Friday the sides will sum up the results of this year's cooperation and outline priority tasks for the near future

BEIJING, October 19. /TASS/. Relations between Russia and China are at their best level now and the two countries actively cooperate in multilateral formats, showing an example of responsible approach to solving international problems, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said.

"At the moment Russian-Chinese relations see one of the best periods throughout their history," Shoigu said on Friday at the meeting with deputy chief of China's Central Military Council, Zhang Youxia.

According to Shoigu, Moscow and Beijing demonstrate an example of a balanced and responsible approach to solving vital international problems. "Our countries efficiently cooperate in various multilateral formats, namely BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the United Nations. The sides closely coordinate their positions on regional issues, including security in North East and Central Asia and in the Middle East," Shoigu said.

The cornerstone of stable Russian-Chinese ties is close friendly relationship between the two leaders. This year Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping have held three meetings, including full-fledged summits in Beijing and Vladivostok. "The indicator of a special degree of political trust in Russian-Chinese relations is dynamic cooperation in military and military-technical areas," Shoigu said, stressing that the two leaders define the depth, character and focus of this cooperation.

"We plan to fully implement our current agreements in military and technical cooperation," Shoigu said, noting that this meeting is a chance to discuss vital issues of regional security in the hotbeds of tension, namely the Middle East, Syria and Libya.

According to the minister, on Friday the sides will sum up the results of this year's cooperation and outline priority tasks for the near future. "We are determined to work effectively and successfully and this will further contribute to enhancing partnership and strategic cooperation between our countries," Shoigu said.
Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
OPINION: Setting up the Sovereign Wealth Fund made easier by Mboweni's appointment (МНЕНИЕ: Создание фонда суверенного благосостояния упростилось благодаря назначению Мбоуни) / South Africa, October, 2018
Keywords: business_council, expert_opinion, economic_challenges
South Africa
Author: Sello Mashao Rasethaba

JOHANESSBSURG - In April this year, Tito Mboweni, now Minister of Finance posted a tweet that proposed three urgent tasks for the National Democratic Revolution in South Africa:
  • The State must own 40% of all mining companies.
  • The State Must create a Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF).
  • A State Bank must be created URGENTLY.

South Africa is currently the Chair of the BRICS Business Council until the mid-term meeting in February 2019 when Brazil takes over. The South African BRICS Financial Services Working Group (FSWG) issued a concept note to the other BRICS countries propagating for the establishment of a network of BRICS SWFs.

The note was developed out of research conducted under the auspices of the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) of South Africa. The note urged all the five countries to take the lead in organizing the discussion about the SWF network. The FSWG has established a task team comprising three people from each BRICS country.
The task of selling the SWF to the Government in South Africa has not been easy, but with the appointment of Minister Mboweni, there is hope that the idea shall be with open arms.

According to "the Balance website, " A sovereign wealth fund is an investment pool of foreign currency reserves owned by a government. The largest investment pools are owned by countries that have a trade surplus. These are the oil-exporting countries and China. They take in foreign currencies, primarily U.S. dollars, in exchange for their exports. The funds are then invested to produce the highest return possible.

Apparently, funds held by nations' central banks are not sovereign wealth funds because they have different goals. A central bank holds funds to manage the value of its currency, to stimulate the economy, or prevent inflation. In addition to funds held by state-owned companies, Government employee pension funds and Private wealth funds are not SWFs:

In the event that the Minister of Finance push for the establishment of a South African SWF, there will be sufficient support in Parliament because the African National Congress (ANC) at its 54th National Conference passed a resolution on investment and allocation of resources that stated:
Government should introduce measures to ensure adequate financial resources are directed to developmental purposes. A new prescribed asset requirement should be investigated to ensure that a portion of all financial institutions funds be invested in public infrastructure, skills development and job-creation.
Sovereign Wealth Fund should be set up to ensure that the free-carry shares in mining and other resource sectors be retained by the state, acting as the custodian of the people as a whole.

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) have been vocal particularly in parliament on the establishment of an SWF and in fact their policy document on "Development of the African Economy" states that:

"Owing to surpluses and many sustainable-developmental considerations that will be generated as a result of the South African state's control and ownership of strategic sectors of the economy, government should establish a sovereign wealth fund, which will prudently invest in the development of the African economy. This fund will also assist in the insulation of the South African economy whenever there are volatilities in resource-sector prices and when non-renewable resources are exhausted. Most countries, including China, the US, Saudi Arabia, Norway, Libya, Nigeria, Chile, France and many others, have sovereign wealth funds for these purposes. As we speak, despite massive resource riches, South Africa has no sovereign wealth fund, mainly because South Africans do not own their resources."

The FSWG research indicates that the process of risk diversification and sovereign asset management entails direct portfolio investments into income yielding physical assets, such as global property, as well as directing fund allocations into growth financial assets including equities, bonds, real estate investment trusts, as well as into alternative investments consisting of strategic investments in private equity funds or into hedge funds.

The concept note also states that although Sovereign Wealth Funds may have multiple and changing objectives over time, their core strategic mandate is centeredaround economic development or macroeconomic stability. In economies dependent on revenues generated from mineral exports, sovereign wealth funds typically have a dual macroeconomic stabilization, as well as long-term savings mandate.

According to one researcher, there are three basic formats of sovereign wealth funds:

SWFs structured to deal with short- or medium-term macro stabilization;
Funds that are oriented toward long-term savings, including saving to support the pension system;
As well as those funds that are structured as investment funds, with a strategic mandate of maximizing returns from financial resources owned by the state.
The growth in the assets under the control of Sovereign Wealth Funds over the past years has attracted some attention as well as concern from the broader global financial services industry given the potential impact on various asset markets as SWF's asset pool expands. Furthermore, concern has been raised that foreign investment activity by Sovereign Wealth Funds raises national security concerns as the purpose of investment activity might be to secure control of strategically important industries for political reasons, rather than maximizing financial returns. This concern is promulgated by the lack of transparency relating to the investment activity and strategies of most SWF's, as well as investment goals, disclosure of relationships and fund holdings in private equity funds. Lack of transparency in SWF's poses potential financial systemic risk.

To alleviate global financial industry concerns as well as to curtail potential systemic risk pertaining to the activity of sovereign wealth funds, global governments of countries with sovereign wealth funds have committed to specific strategic operational rules for sovereign wealth funds. These include:

Asset accumulation rule – agreement on the portion of revenue that can be utilized in asset purchases and/or saved;
Asset sale/withdrawal rule – implementation strategy defining when the Government can withdraw from the fund;
Investment/asset allocation rule – defines where revenue can be invested in foreign and domestic assets.

Sovereign Wealth Funds in BRICS Countries

Brazil, Russia and China have established sovereign wealth funds over the past decade, anchored by the countries' vast foreign exchange reserves, and culminating from varying motivations. While institutional investment in Brazil is dominated by pension funds, long-term inflation and demographic risks are a key strategic concern that is justifying the establishment of a sovereign investment fund to support the country's pension system. In the case of China and Russia, sovereign wealth funds were setup for optimal management of the countries' asset and liabilities as well as to address macroeconomic reconstruction.

Brazil's Sovereign Wealth Fund
Fundo Soberano do Brasil or FSB
Russia's Sovereign Wealth Funds
The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF)
The Reserve Fund
The National Wealth Fund
China's Sovereign Wealth Funds
Investment Company of State Foreign Exchange fund (SAFE)
China Investment Corporation (CIC)
The National Social Security Fund (NSSF)
China-Africa Development Fund
Brazil's Sovereign Wealth Fund
The Sovereign Fund of Brazil (Fundo Soberano do Brasil or FSB) was established in 2008. It is structured as a non-commodity fund which aims at supporting national companies in their export activities and to act as a counter-cyclical macroeconomic management instrument. It is positioned to promote investment projects of strategic interest to Brazil both domestically and internationally.
Russia's Sovereign Wealth Funds
The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF)
RDIF is Russia's sovereign wealth fund with reserved capital of $10 billion under management. Working alongside the world's foremost investors, we make direct investments in leading, as well as promising, Russian companies.
The Reserve Fund
The Reserve Fund, established in 2008, is financed by oil and gas revenues from the federal budget in excess of the amount authorized by the oil and gas transfer as well as through income from the management of the funds.
The National Wealth Fund
The National Wealth Fund, was started with an initial outlay of USD32billion and has grown its assets under management to USD89.6 billion. Compared to other countries that use export earnings from resources to create balanced SWF's across various global asset classes.
China's Sovereign Wealth Funds
Investment Company of State Foreign Exchange fund (SAFE)
SAFE was established in 1997 and holds the strategic mandate of managing China's foreign exchange reserves and ranks as one of the top 10 largest sovereign wealth funds. SAFE primarily invested in safe securities, its asset allocation strategy was broadened to equities and higher risk bonds as well as making direct investments in the companies of the oil industry in Western European countries including Total, BP and Royal Dutch Shell Plc.
China Investment Corporation (CIC)
CIC was established in 2007 by the State Council and Its sources of capital are special issue treasury bonds, which generate dividend flows. The strategic mandate of the CIC is to improve the governance of key state-owned financial institutions as well as to assist Chinese enterprises in expanding their global footprint. With regards to asset allocation, the CIC has made significant investments in the global financial sector, purchasing equity stakes in major institutions such as Morgan Stanley, Blackstone and JC Flowers.
The National Social Security Fund (NSSF)
NSSF is a strategic reserve fund that aims to offer a social security solution to the problem of China's aging population. Funding sources include fiscal allocations of the central government, capital derived from the reduction or transfer of state-owned shares, investment proceeds and equity assets and allocations from the lottery public welfare fund.
China-Africa Development Fund (CDF)
The China-Africa Development Fund was established by China Development Bank a special investment vehicle into the African continent. The fund has a mandate of investing in stocks, convertible bonds and other types of investment such as fund of funds, which will facilitate the increase in investments by Chinese companies in Africa.
A South African SWF can be used to address challenges faced by Government. This will require the transformation of the economic base and a radical move towards industrialisation. One such example is an investment in an African electricity grid covering all sub Saharan countries.

The Map of African Electricity Grid above shows the various existing interconnections and the rate of Electrification including proposed Power Pool Projects from the Global Energy Network Institute. Eskom holds the grid code and intellectual property which will enable most if not all of the components to be produced locally since South Africa has the capacity with factories and human capital in major cities.

In South Africa, we have many kilometres of high voltage transmission distribution lines, a formidable distance to inspect and maintain and this is the forte of Eskom. All overhead lines (those not buried under ground) are vulnerable to natural phenomena such as lightning, flooding, veld fires and strong winds. All the high voltage lines plus the big transformers and related equipment form the transmission system, also known as the National Grid.

Investments in an African Electricity Grid by the South African SWF can earn high returns and in the process get countries in Sub-Sahara out of the crises of increasing unemployment, poverty and inequality.

Sello Mashao Rasethaba serves on the BRICS Business Council Financial Services Working Group.

Limits to the BRICS' challenge: credit rating reform and institutional innovation in global finance (Ограничения, касающиеся проблем БРИКС: реформа кредитных рейтингов и инновации в организационных нововведениях в глобальных финансах) / United Kingdom, October, 2018
Keywords: research, expert_opinion, global_governance, economic_challenges
United Kingdom
Author: Eric Helleiner, Hongying Wang

Although many scholars have analyzed the BRICS' creation of the New Development Bank (NDB) and the Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA), less attention has been paid to other – less successful – BRICS efforts to challenge the dominant global financial order through institutional innovation. This paper examines the case of BRICS' discussions to create their own credit rating agency (CrRA) which began in 2012 around the same time as the initiatives to establish the NDB and CRA. These discussions have been driven by discontent with US-based CrRAs which act as key authorities in global finance, but BRICS institutional innovation has been slower to emerge than in the NDB and CRA cases because the BRICS have shared less of a common social purpose on this issue. Even if a BRICS CrRA was created, this institution would be very unlikely to challenge the dominant order any time soon because of the enduring structural power of US and its CrRAs in this sector. The case shows how a wider case selection than the NDB and CRA reveals that the BRICS' capacity to transform the global financial order through collective institutional innovation is dependent on specific conditions: the strength of their common social purpose and the degree of the structural power of established authorities.
BRICS To Overtake US In Agricultural Production In 5-10 Years - South African Federation (БРИКС обойдет США в сельскохозяйственном производстве через 5-10 лет - Южноафриканская федерация) / South Africa, October, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, economic_challenges
South Africa
Author: Sadia Abbas

The five-nation BRICS club Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa will outrun the United States in terms of agricultural production volume in the next five to 10 years

GENEVA (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 15th October, 2018) The five-nation BRICS club Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa will outrun the United States in terms of agricultural production volume in the next five to 10 years, Omri van Zyl, the executive director of the federation of South African agricultural organizations (Agri SA), told Sputnik.

"I think the BRICS partners have the potential to do so. All five have their distinct local challenges, but as the populations of China, India and Africa grew BRICS certainly have the opportunity to expand their global agricultural footprint. China is already very active in Africa, and India is also positioning itself to be a force to be reckon with, so in the next five to 10 years' time BRICS might overtake the United States," the Agri SA executive director said.

According to the BRICS Agricultural Development Report 2017, the average annual growth of gross agricultural production of BRICS countries exceeds 10 percent.

BRICS is an association of five developing economies, which is aimed at enhancing cooperation in a number of areas. The club's countries have a combined nominal GDP equivalent to approximately 20 percent of the gross world product.

The BRICS member states hold the presidency of the international organization on a rotating basis. Since January 1, South Africa has taken over the presidency from China.
Is India a tariff king? (Является ли Индия тарифным правителем?) / India, October, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, economic_challenges, trade_relations

The lurch toward protectionism threatens to undo more than two decades of trade liberalization measures that have powered the nation's growth

Mumbai: Earlier this month, US President Donald Trump described India as "the tariff king", accusing it of imposing "tremendously high" tariffs on American products. As if to prove him right, India last week introduced a second set of tariff hikes.

While the recent tariff hikes may have been occasioned by the burgeoning current account deficit and the fall in the rupee, they only reinforce a growing trend of protectionism in Asia's third largest economy. While import tariffs may provide the economy with short-term relief, left uncorrected, the country's lurch toward protectionism could extract a steep price in the years to come.

Already, India is among the most heavily protected economies in the world, a Mint analysis shows. And if tariff hikes continue, the "tariff king" title could stick.

In order to compare the rate of protection across countries, we use the "effective average tariff rate" here instead of a simple average of tariffs. This is because a simple average of tariffs across different products might not reflect actual trade patterns and, hence, may not correspond to the tariff walls exporters actually face.

In this analysis, the effective average tariff rate imposed by each country has been calculated as a weighted average of tariffs on different goods, with the weights being the value of aggregate imports by the five largest economies of the world—the US, EU, China, Japan and India. The analysis assumes that trading patterns of most large economies resemble those of this aggregated mega-block, accounting for 70% of the world's GDP.

The analysis shows that India has among the highest effective average rates of tariffs across major economies of the world.

Among members of the BRICS grouping—Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa—India has the highest effective tariff rates on food items, automobiles and industrial inputs. In consumer goods and capital goods, Brazil has the highest effective tariff rates (chart 2). The lack of clarity in information on tariffs at a product level in India adds a further layer of protection, according to some scholars.

Data from the Global Trade Alert (GTA) database, which attempts to record all trade-related measures by public authorities, and not just tariffs, shows that India and the US have introduced the most trade restrictions so far in 2018 (chart 3).

No wonder then that it was not just Trump who was complaining about India's trade policies. A recent World Bank report accused India of increasingly resorting to trade remedy measures such as anti-dumping and safeguard actions. According to the report, between 2011 and 2015, India initiated around 10% of global anti-dumping investigations and 17% of new safeguard investigations.

The lurch toward protectionism is especially worrying because it threatens to undo more than two decades of trade liberalization measures that have powered India's growth over the past quarter century, boosting incomes and helping cut poverty levels.

"…While protection succeeded in creating a large and highly diversified industrial base, it led to inefficiency in the use of resources," said a 1993 National Institute of Public Finance and Policy paper on the evolution of India's tariff policies authored by Bishwanath Goldar and Hasheem N Saleem.

Trade liberalization fostered an atmosphere of intense competition, leading to better use of inputs and innovation, driving productivity growth. Data from the Reserve Bank of India's KLEMS database show that India witnessed a productivity boom after liberalizing trade in 1991 (chart 4).

The real danger in the recent tariff hikes is that this could set the clock back, and harm the competitive intensity and productivity of Indian firms. Also, protection for one industry, say steelmakers, could end up hurting another—carmakers, for instance. The economy-wide impact of such measures can be prohibitively costly for a developing country like India.

At a time when other economies are also raising trade barriers, it is easy to fall into the protectionist trap. But it is worth noting that India will be hit harder than many other countries if the current wave of trade protectionism escalates and slows down global growth. A recent report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) warned that India, Australia and China would be the biggest losers in terms of per-capita income growth in such a scenario. Escalating the global trade conflict is the last thing the Indian economy needs today.
An Oil Pipeline That Can Potentially Stabilize Three Asian Powers (Нефтяной трубопровод может потенциально стабилизировать три азиатские державы) / United States, October, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, economic_challenges, global_governance
United States
Author: Karan Mehrishi

Both the Indians and Russians had high hopes from the recent visit of President Vladimir Putin to Delhi. Surprisingly, it wasn't about the much hyped S400 Air Defense System deal signed between the countries for a whopping $5.1 billion. The chutzpah was regarding another strategic asset, which has been derailing the Indian growth story and threatening to maul its macroeconomic stability. No guesswork here as all eyes were on Russian oil assets as the October meeting concluded with a strategic push pertaining to Indo-Russia joint development of Siberian liquefied natural gas (LNG) and oil fields. Russia also reportedly offered India strategic access to its Arctic assets and its northern sea route (through the Kara strait). Despite these feel good announcements however, nothing concreate was discussed about uninterrupted supply lines. Perhaps, the arrangement which has been extended to the Chinese in the form of Eastern Siberia-Pacific Ocean Oil (ESPO) Pipeline for example, could have greatly sweetened the deal.

India's plight with rising oil prices

Importing almost 80% of its oil, India has been negatively impacted by the rising crude prices as the Iranians, who are India's third largest supplier - are forced out of the system. The US led sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran is making it difficult for the Indians to even do any kind of financial transaction with their trade partner. This is leaving India vulnerable to the vagaries of a strengthening dollar as it tries to stabilize its supplies from elsewhere. After all, at over 55%, oil imports form a big chunk of India's burgeoning trade deficit and buying oil from other OPEC countries accentuates the problem. Russia could perhaps be the country's last hope as the two nations primarily trade in their domestic currencies. The countries also accept payments in the form of other tradable items such as food stuff, pharmaceuticals and leather products, as an alternative payment option. This makes payment obligations for these countries far less cumbersome and onerous.

As it stands today, India consumes nearly 4.38 million barrels per day of oil and given its average GDP growth of over 7%, this figure will only go up. At 0.46 million barrels per day, Iran supplies are critical for India's growth momentum. As Iranian oil supplies hit a roadblock, Russia can be seen as an alternative. The only problem is access, given no direct geographic connection between the two economic giants. Since all of India's oil imports are mostly coming via tankers, proximity favors the Middle Eastern suppliers, historically. But as imports from sources further away (primarily North & South American countries as well as Nigeria) rises, Russia as an alternate source is becoming an attractive proposition.

The solution involves China, the catalyst

One solution to this problem comes in the form of a 'pipeline', which can provide uninterrupted supply to the Indians and China, often termed as a regional rival to India - can be the catalyst in this regard. This is because the Middle Kingdom, the world's second largest economy is already importing nearly 1.3 million barrels per day (out of its total daily requirement of 12.7 million barrels) from Russia via dedicated pipelines.

China also by the way, geographically connects both Russia and India. The ESPO project, which is a major source of this supply - is a transit conduit of nearly 0.6 million barrels per day to China. This in turn points to the fact that this dedicated pipeline network has made Russian oil indispensable for China, which pays the former over $30 billion (in the form of payments and loans) annually for the resource. Oil price volatility has hit China as well since the resource comprises of nearly 8% of Chinese imports and Russian supplies sure help domestic stability for now.
WEF: China most competitive among BRICS' countries (WEF: Китай является наиболее конкурентоспособным среди стран БРИКС) / China, October, 2018
Keywords: wef, rating, emerging_market

Of the BRICS grouping of large emerging markets, China is the most competitive nation, followed by the Russian Federation, according to a report released recently.

The Global Competitiveness Report 2018, conducted by the World Economic Forum, introduces a new methodology to reflect emerging factors critical to productivity in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

It uses 98 indicators to assess productivity and competitiveness across 140 countries and regions in the world. Each indicator ranges from 0 to 100 to show the current progress and remaining distance of an economy.

China ranks 28th overall, with a score of 72.6, said the report. It also highlights China's innovation capability, which stands at 24th above many advanced economies. China had 33 percent of the world's "unicorns", or private companies valued at over $1 billion, last year, up 21 percent since 2014.

For the East Asia and the Pacific, which accounted for about one-third of global growth in 2017, China serves as a major contributor to this fastest-growing region in the world.

China also ranks first in terms of market size based on per-capita purchasing power parity, the report shows. The United States is the most competitive nation in the world for the first time in a decade, followed by Singapore and Germany. Switzerland, which ranks fourth on the list, was No 1 last year. Nearly 90 percent of the top 30 are developed economies in Asia and Europe.
World of work
Social policy, trade unions, actions
Legal Education in the BRICS Countries in the Context of Globalization: a Comparative Analysis(Юридическое образование в странах БРИКС в контексте глобализации: сравнительный анализ) / Russian Federation, October, 2018
Keywords: research, expert_opinion, social_issues
Russian Federation

Legal education in the contemporary world is changing. The main influences are linked to developments in transportation and communication and the enmeshing of diverse economies embraced by globalization. Law schools confront more mobile and more ambitious students who wish to experience different jurisdictional practices, to serve the increasingly global business community and to be more competitive. This research examines the modifications required in legal education as a result of globalization with specific reference to law schools in the BRICS countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Research on higher education, and legal education in particular, has been growing in recent years, yet there is still a gap in the study and comparison of the specifics of legal education within the BRICS countries. This research makes an attempt to analyze and contrast the current goals, objectives, structure and quality of higher legal education in Brazil, Russia, India and China. The specifics of law schools have been studied over the past twenty years in correlation with economic, cultural and education trends in BRICS and globally.

Based on research literature, practitioner literature and legislative sources, this paper outlines common and special features of lawyer training in BRICS. The prime similarity of the legal education systems in BRICS are global education trends and the influence of the U.S. and UK education systems. Each BRICS country experienced an "explosion" in the popularity of legal education and, consequently, the urgent need to reform the education process in order to attain better quality and affordability. The result of these reforms, taking place in each country from 1950 to today, has become the growing differentiator of the educational institutions, turning them into "elite" and "mass" law schools.

The facets of legal education in Brazil, Russia, India and China are attributed to their national policies as well as the historical development of the educational institutions and their perception of what specific lawyer skills and competencies are demanded by the legal market and national population. We conclude that the structure and quality of legal education as well as the requirements and monitoring tools vary in each country. These are dependent on several factors: the specific country's ideology, its economic development, its proximity to an "Eastern" or "Western" model, its ability to learn from foreign education systems and its attempts at self-identification in the global educational space.
The Department of Arts and Culture and SA Fashion Week to Proudly Host Brics Designers (Департамент искусств и культуры и Неделя моды ЮАР с радостью примут дизайнеров БРИКС) / South Africa, October, 2018
Keywords: social_issues
South Africa

As part of its commitment to building sustainable businesses within the fashion sector, the Department of Arts and Culture will partner up with SAFW to showcase BRICS Fashion Designers and host the first BRICS Fashion Business Forum.

This important event addresses the DAC's intention to build business-to-business collaborations amongst BRICS Fashion Designers as a means to access various markets across the fashion industry and build sustainable business relationships. This year sees South Africa hosting the Chairship of the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa Forum. It is also a seminal event, as 2018 marks a decade of BRICS cooperation at the highest diplomatic level.

In line with its theme for the 10thSummit: "BRICS in Africa: Collaboration for Inclusive Growth and Shared Prosperity in the 4thIndustrial Revolution", SAFW and fashion designers from each of the BRICS countries will come together to showcase their various collections and engage in important dialogue. Central to the BRICS mandate is the need to deepen, broaden and intensify relationships between the individual countries. In line with this mandate, members across all aspects of the fashion industry will have a valuable opportunity to foster and nurture connected, meaningful and profitable relationships.

The 3-day event will see fashion designers from the BRICS countries showcasing their collections at SAFW and participating in a vital business-to-business Fashion Forum that sees fashion stakeholders across all areas of the fashion industry coming together. Fashion and textile designers, agents and distributors and representatives from across the fashion industry will join in a conversation in which opportunities for 'Collaboration', 'Growth' and 'Shared Prosperity'as per the theme for the 10thBRICS Summit in South Africa will be addressed.

The BRICS Fashion Business Forum will be held at the Lesedi Cultural Village on the 26 October 2018 from 9h00, with the participating BRICS Fashion Designers showing their collections at SAFW on the 24thand 25thOctober 2018.

For more information on BRICS contact Alinah Missouri –
Small Business Forum of SCO and BRICS Regions will open in Ufa (В Уфе откроется форум малого бизнеса ШОС и БРИКС) / Russian Federation, October, 2018
Keywords: cooperation, economic_challenges, sustainable_development
Russian Federation

The 4th Forum of Small Business of the Regions of the SCO and BRICS Member States will be held in the Ufa Congress Hall on October 18-19.

The event will include a plenary session, an exchange of business contacts of businessmen from regions of the SCO and BRICS countries participating in the event, presentations, and exhibitions of business representatives, as well as roundtables and expert sessions in various areas.

The business program of the forum will include events dedicated to the development of trade and economic relations — the roundtable "Multi-format trade in the SCO and BRICS" and the expert session "Small businesses and excisable goods", the press service of the State Committee RB for Trade and Consumer Protection informs.

The event will be moderated by Nikita Kuznetsov, Director of the Department for the Development of Domestic Trade, Digital Marking of Goods and Legalization of Product Turnover of the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation, and Vladlen Maximov, President of the Small Format Trade Association.

The heads of regional authorities responsible for trade issues, representatives of the subjects of the Russian Federation engaged in economic development, trade enterprises, and public organizations were invited to participate in the roundtable and an expert session.

The main goals of the forum are to create conditions for accelerated development of entrepreneurship through establishing partnerships between large and small companies in the regions of the SCO and BRICS countries, strengthening and developing interregional relations, concluding new agreements with the regions of the SCO and BRICS countries, attracting investments and increasing the number of joint business projects.
BRICS Network University can boost 4IR hopes – Minister (Сетевой университет БРИКС вызывает надежды на четвертую индустриальную революцию) / South Africa, October, 2018
Keywords: Network_university, quotation, social_issues
South Africa
Author: Edwin Naidu

In addition to the recent announcement that technical and vocational education and training would get a ZAR2.5 billion (US$176 million) boost to equip them with fourth industrial revolution (4IR) skills, Minister of Higher Education and Training Naledi Pandor said she would soon be asking the National Treasury for more funding – and set up a ministerial committee – to ensure that South Africa did not lag behind in the 4IR race.

Interviewed at the closing ceremony of the BRICS 2018 Future Skills Challenge, held at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand recently, Pandor told University World News that, in order to ensure 4IR success, cooperation among BRICS nations – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – was vital to improve skills, strengthen academic ties and enhance student mobility.

A sharing of knowledge, research and innovation between academics in BRICS countries could strengthen integration, she added. "If universities in BRICS collaborate successfully on research and teaching in student and staff exchanges, we can make a significant contribution to global knowledge."

She said that the BRICS Network University was an education project underpinned by the 4IR, which had major implications for business and education.

BRICS Network University is a group of 60 higher education institutions from member countries – 12 from each of the five BRICS countries – established by BRICS education ministers to engage in educational and research initiatives across themes that include: university linkages and higher education mobility; technical and vocational education and training (TVET) exchanges; and sharing of education statistics and learning assessment experiences.

Crucial to introduce 4IR skills

"We're in the age of the pervasive influence of emerging technologies and artificial intelligence, and need responsive skills and a development research focus and investment to benefit fully. Through its research partnerships, the BRICS Network University can help reduce the poverty, unemployment and inequality that characterise many countries in the developing world," Pandor said.

It is crucial that South Africa introduce these 4IR skills as two-thirds of the children at primary school today are likely to end up working in jobs that are not in existence today.

While she praised universities for developing 4IR skills, Pandor said much still had to be done to equip the country's TVET colleges with related infrastructure. Ensuring that schools, colleges and universities prepared adequately for the 4IR was a critical requirement, she said.

Pandor said she would appoint a ministerial committee to address 4IR concerns: "Its remit will be to assess what is being done at different universities in the country and then to advise as to what my department should do to put us on a good edge in terms of participation in the digital revolution."

She added that it was high on her agenda to provide the infrastructure to bring colleges up to speed, so they could respond to the demands of new technology and contribute to employment creation and enterprise development in South Africa – but not all of her efforts would require funding, as she sought to draw on the existing experience of institutions in this area.

Technology introduced in schools

The minister added that the challenges were not insurmountable and she was impressed at the steps being taken to ensure that South Africans were joining the digital innovation race.

"The Gauteng Department of Education's introduction of technology to all schools has been a really bold step. We should encourage more provinces to do so. An older initiative in the Western Cape has also had a positive impact. All our universities are doing more, boasting digital facilities in libraries, and wireless is being used widely; certainly, they're ahead of colleges," she said.

Pandor's statements came in the wake of a recent statement by her second in command, Buti Manamela, the deputy minister of higher education and training, that subjects including coding and robotics welding would be introduced at schools and TVET colleges.

He said that it was necessary to prepare the youth for the future: "The collaboration of young people in skills development, innovation and entrepreneurship has the potential to provide solutions to many development challenges. The major fear of 4IR is that more than five million jobs will be substituted ... and that big companies are run by robots."

Youth finding solutions to challenges

Commenting on the BRICS 2018 Future Skills Challenge, Pandor said it was a unique initiative, enabling cooperation among the youth, through BRICS, to find solutions to current challenges: "The focus on future skills differentiates this skills challenge from all other existing international skills challenges and competitions".

Hundreds of young innovators and entrepreneurs participated in key challenges, while also exhibiting the latest in cutting-edge technology. The challenge was hosted by the Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services SETA and the BRICS Business Council, in association with the Department of Higher Education and Training.

Pandor told University World News that she had noticed while visiting Alibaba's headquarters in Hangzhou in August that China was already equipping the youth with 4IR skills.

"What struck me about their offices was that it was run by young people. We, too, must create the spaces and let talent thrive. A strong part of it is letting people's imagination drive them," she said.

In her inspiring address at the challenge, which drew a standing ovation, Pandor said: "I hope that the work of the BRICS Business Council Skills Development Working Group and specifically the annual Future Skills Challenge will form one of the building blocks that will enable us to chip away at the obstacles to economic liberation for the masses of our people in the respective BRICS countries."
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