Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 46.2018
2018.11.12 — 2018.11.18
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's November 21 meeting with South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Lindiwe Sisulu (О предстоящей 21 ноября встрече Министра иностранных дел России С.В.Лаврова с Министром международных отношений и сотрудничества ЮАР Л.Сисулу) / Russia, November, 2018
Keywords: mofa, partnership, sergey_lavrov

On November 20-22, South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Lindiwe Sisulu will visit Moscow to attend the 15th meeting of the Joint Russian-South African Intergovernmental Committee on Trade and Economic Cooperation as it co-chair.

On November 21, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will meet with Ms Lindiwe Sisulu. They will discuss the state of and prospects for the bilateral strategic partnership with emphasis on boosting investment ties, and cooperation in science and technology, cultural exchange, and other spheres. The sides will compare notes on the pressing issues on the international agenda with account of the results of the BRICS summit in Johannesburg on July 25-27 and South Africa's election as a non-permanent member of the UNSC for 2019-20.
Brazil-China Ties to Face Test under Bolsonaro (Бразильско-китайские отношения пройдут проверку на прочность при Болсонаро) / Brazil, November, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, political_issues
Author: Oliver Stuenkel

Jair Bolsonaro's relationship with China got off to a bad start. Economic and foreign policy advisers will urge a more pragmatic stance.

In March, Brazil's then-presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro visited Taipei and tweeted that his trips to "Israel, the United States, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan" had made it clear that he wanted to break with previous Brazilian governments, which had been "friendly with communist regimes." The Chinese Embassy in Brasília responded with a letter sharply rebuking the candidate. In the following days, my Chinese contacts in government and academia were intrigued, but not particularly worried. I told them Bolsonaro would probably self-destruct long before the first round of voting.

Still, during a visit to Beijing in April, I realized that Chinese analysts where closely tracking the right-wing candidate, who had by then begun to regularly criticize the Middle Kingdom. After all, in contrast to Washington, D.C., where Brazil has never been more than a niche topic, the Chinese government considers its relationship to Brazil to be of great importance, both from an economic and from a political point of view. China's President Xi Jinping is scheduled to visit Brasília in 2019 for the 11th BRICS Presidential Summit.

In recent years, China has begun to carefully monitor anti-China rhetoric across the world, and policymakers in Beijing readily acknowledge that criticizing China on the campaign trail can be a successful formula to collect votes. The vast majority of those elected, Beijing knows, will embrace a more pragmatic stance once in office, given how important Chinese trade and investment has become for virtually every country in the world. As a Chinese friend and academic half-joked with me in a discussion about China-critic-turned-pragmatist Mauricio Macri of Argentina, "In the end, they all come to Papa Xi."

Over the past several weeks, as he moved closer to the presidency, most Chinese analysts I spoke to still believed Bolsonaro would embrace a more pragmatic style once in office, particularly once he realizes investment from China (over $20 billion between 2016 and 2017) and trade are crucial to keep Brazil's economy afloat. The Asian giant has been Brazil's most important trading partner since 2009, and Brazil's dependence on China is set to grow further still. So far this year, Brazil's exports to China stand at around $47 billion – more than twice as much as to the United States. China is responsible for more than one third of sales at Vale, Brazil's mining giant. Optimists point out that Bolsonaro's promises to carefully review future Chinese investments to preserve Brazil's strategic autonomy are unlikely to have a significant short-term impact, since Chinese investors are currently digesting their recent acquisitions, and their investments in 2018 have amounted to less than $2 billion.

Yet it cannot be denied that Bolsonaro's relationship to China could not have gotten off to a worse start. The frequent criticism of Chinese investors and the Taiwan trip in particular are interpreted in Beijing as a direct threat to Chinese attempts to consolidate its diplomatic influence in Latin America and the Caribbean, where nine of the 17 countries that still maintain diplomatic ties to Taiwan are located. Most recently, the Dominican Republic, Panama and, in late August, El Salvador switched sides, and we can expect several others – including Paraguay – to follow suit soon. Xi is said to be personally invested in going down in history as the Chinese leader who regained control of Taiwan. Beijing has recently become more aggressive abroad to isolate what it considers a renegade island. In July, airline carriers from around the world were pressured to list only Taipei's airport code and city on their websites, but not the name Taiwan.

Beijing will readily sit down with the Bolsonaro government and discuss renegotiating specific elements of the bilateral trade relationship, including possibilities to provide greater access for Brazilian goods – such as beef – to China's market. The power asymmetry between the two nations does not imply that Brazil is unable to shape the bilateral relationship in a way that better serves its interests. Continued public anti-China rhetoric, however, is almost certain to have negative economic consequences, and reduce chances to meaningfully engage Beijing. That would be a shame, particularly because Brazilian voters worry far less about China than Bolsonaro's rhetoric suggests. Irrespective of what one may think of Brazil's previous governments, the bilateral relationship has deepened dramatically in recent decades, and provided ample economic benefits to Brazil. The BRICS grouping, though often belittled by mainstream international analysts, includes more than one hundred yearly meetings in areas such as education, national security and trade, and has allowed Brazil's government, private sector and society to slowly adapt to a more Asia-centric world.

Given Bolsonaro's nostalgia for the military dictatorship, his advisers should perhaps tell him that it was Ernesto Geisel's foreign minister, Azeredo da Silveira, a wily geopolitical strategist, who famously urged the president in 1974 to normalize diplomatic relations to the People's Republic of China. Despite being a conservative and profoundly anti-communist, Geisel followed his foreign minister's advice.
Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
Strong relationship bodes well for boosting India/South Africa trade and investment (Сильные отношения служат хорошим предзнаменованием для активизации торговли и инвестиций в Индии и Южной Африке) / South Africa, November, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, investments, trade_relations
South Africa
Author: Rebecca Campbell

South Africa and India already have a solid framework for strong relations, not least in the areas of trade and investment, Indian High Commissioner to South Africa (Ms) Ruchira Kamboj tells Engineering News Online. "India and South Africa are old friends and historical partners," she highlights. "Don't forget we are Brics [Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa alignment] countries, members of IBSA [India, Brazil, South Africa], and we are both members of the Commonwealth. And we are both countries of the Global South."

Bilateral trade between India and South Africa currently stands at about $10-billion (coincidently, about the same value as current bilateral investment). More than 150 Indian companies have invested in South Africa, employing more than 20 000 South Africans (quite apart from these enterprises' many and varied corporate social responsibility programmes). These investors included some of India's biggest and best known groups, such as Tata, Mahindra, Vedanta and Motherson Sumi.

In 2016, the two countries set a target of doubling bilateral trade and investment to $20-billion by 2021. "Given the framework of our relationship, and that we're members of both Brics and IBSA, it's natural that our relations should grow," she noted. (IBSA still functions, with regular meetings at Foreign Minister level.)

"This time is the best time, for we have a New India and a New South Africa," she affirmed. "In 2018 so far, 14 Indian Cabinet Ministers have visited South Africa, including Prime Minister Modi (for the Brics Summit). We believe that this high level engagement will continue. It sends the right signal to business and especially investors."

This year has also seen, in the defence sector, the breaking of the long-running logjam regarding South African State-owned defence industrial group Denel. There are no administrative restrictions on Denel, which is now free to do business with the Indian government and Indian companies.

"2018 has been a good year for India-South Africa relations," she reports. "This year is the 25th anniversary of the restoration of Indian-South African relations, the 100th birthday of President Nelson Mandela and the 150th birthday celebrations of Mahatma Gandhi."

"What I'd really like to see would be a direct flight between South Africa and India," concludes Kamboj. "That would be an immediate stimulus to trade and tourism. That should be a short-term deliverable for both countries. Currently, you have to fly via Dubai or Addis Ababa, which is circuitous and time consuming and certainty does not boost trade and tourism."
When do Heuristics Matter in Global Capital Markets? The Case of the BRIC Acronym (Когда эвристика влияет на глобальные рынки капитала? На примере акронима БРИКС) / Netherlands, November, 2018
Keywords: research, expert_opinion, investments


Several recent publications have argued that the use of heuristics by financial investors can distort global capital flows, but scholars have paid little attention to the scope conditions that determine when heuristics become influential (and when they don't). Building on work in economic sociology and behavioural finance we suggest that the degree to which investment heuristics can bias aggregate capital flows depends on the levels of uncertainty and self-referentiality that structure the environments under which investment decisions are being made. Applying these insights to the two principal global markets for corporate investment, we argue that the institutional structure of markets for short-term portfolio equity investments (PEI) is far more conducive to trigger the mimetic adoption of a specific heuristic than in markets for long-term foreign direct investments (FDI). To test this hypothesis, we leverage the high level of arbitrariness of the selection of Brazil, Russia, India and China into the BRIC acronym and empirically examine the impact of its remarkable rise to prominence among communities of financial investors in the mid-2000s on global capital flows to emerging economies. In line with the theoretical argument, we find robust evidence of a strong BRIC-bias in markets for PEI but not FDI.
How Developing Countries Especially BRICS (namely China, India and Brazil) Are Leading The Way In Solar Energy? (Как развивающиеся страны, особенно БРИКС (а именно Китай, Индия и Бразилия) показывают пример в солнечной энергетике?) / India, November, 2018
Keywords: energy, sustainable_development

The progress in development of the BRICS countries has been marked by the increase in the quantum of clean renewable energy production. With the continuous rise in population growth, especially in the developing countries, there has been a greater increase in the demand and consumption of energy, thus strengthening concerns regarding environmental degradation and climatic changes. As a result of this, some countries have shown major shifts in critical thinking vis-à-vis solutions for meeting the energy demands, by transitioning from conventional oil and gas to renewables, especially solar energy.

The countries that are located in the arid, tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world have an advantage in terms highest receptivity of solar irradiance, due to their latitudinal positions. Brazil, India, China, and South Africa fall in these red zones. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has developed a loan programme to simulate renewable energy market helping countries like India, Morocco, Kenya, and Tunisia to finance solar power systems. Kenya has become the largest developer of solar power systems in terms of installation per capita in the world.

China is the leader in the world's solar power sector and has the highest annual power production at 598800 kWh per year. However, there is a striking contrast between the values of per capita energy consumption. In the USA, it is as high as 12877 kWh per year, while China and India consume 3974 kWh per year and 985 kWh per year respectively. Developed countries like Norway, Kuwait, Canada, UAE, Sweden and Iceland have high levels of per capita consumption too.

The domestic solar industry in China is currently experiencing a downturn, as the Chinese government has halted the allocation of quotas for new projects, until further notice. Moreover, the tariffs on the electricity generated from clean energy has been lowered by 6.7-9% depending on the region i.e. 0.05 yuan per kilowatt hour, effective as of June 1, 2018.

In Brazil, the solar sector is progressing regardless of the political and economic environment, with an alignment of certain basic drivers i.e. availability of a competitive technology, a business sector capable of innovation and more consumers wanting the technology, resulting in a growing market. At the beginning of 2018, Brazil reached the historical mark of 1 GW of installed PV capacity and is expected to reach 2 GW at the end of the year. In addition to this, 3.7 GW of solar has been contracted by the government via auctions and the growth of distributed generation is surpassing initial forecasts.

India has the world's third fastest expanding solar power program, ranked after China and USA. In 2017 alone, India added a record 9,255 MW of solar power with another 9,627 MW of solar projects under development. India launched its National Solar Mission in 2010 under the National Action Plan on Climate Change, with plans to generate 20 GW by 2022. India's Solar Power capacity has increased from 2650 MWe in 2014 to the current level of 12,200 MWe and the tariff has dramatically reduced from INR 13 per kWh in 2014 to INR 2.44 per kWh.
Aman asked: How the operation of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) by China differs from that of BRICS Bank? Why is China keen to develop such a bank in addition to BRICS Bank? (Аман спросил: Как отличается деятельность Азиатского Инфраструктурного Инвестиционного Банка (AIIB) от Банка БРИКС? Почему Китай заинтересован в развитии такого банка в дополнение к банку БРИКС?) / India, November, 2018
Keywords: ndb, expert_opinion

Jagannath P. Panda replies:Operationally, both the AIIB and the New Development Bank (NDB) of the BRICS differ from each other in their structure and functionality. Both are yet to evolve as credible international banks. Their membership composition, areas of focus, structures, and operational and financing patterns make them different from each other.

The AIIB is a multilateral development institution that was formally established with the lead of China with world-wide membership. Headquartered in Beijing, it brings together both developed and developing economies together, while offering an additional platform as an infrastructure financing institution to the already existing global financial institutions such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. The AIIB, as per its Articles of Agreement (AoA), will "provide or facilitate financing to any member, or any agency, instrumentality or political subdivision thereof, or any entity or enterprise operating in the territory of a member, as well as to international or regional agencies or entities concerned with economic development of the Asia region." Besides, the AIIB can also finance projects through "making loans, investing in equity capital of an enterprise, and obligating through primary and secondary guarantor." The AIIB follows a structured mechanism with China possessing the largest voting rights including an effective veto power. The bank allows co-financing of projects with other leading financial institutions such as the ADB, World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). The lending pattern within AIIB is in US dollars.

On the other hand, the NDB of the BRICS is a multilateral financing institution of only the BRICS members, primarily facilitating the economic and social interests of emerging economies and developing countries. The NDB is known as a "21st century multilateral development bank", created to enhance the role of the BRICS in helping emerging market and developing countries (EMDCs) grow globally. Headquartered in Shanghai, its main purpose is to offer an additional financial platform to the EMDCs to seek developmental funds, loans and financial assistance outside the scope of the existing regional and global financial institutions. NDB's key areas of operation, as noted in its General Strategy 2017-2021, are clean energy, transport infrastructure, irrigation, sustainable urban development and economic cooperation among the member countries. The NDB functions more on a consultative mechanism among the BRICS members with all the member countries possessing equal rights. Unlike the AIIB, the NDB has started lending loans in Chinese Yuan.

Beijing exhibits a leadership role through the AIIB in Asia and beyond. Internally, the AIIB supports Beijing's banking policy to finance overseas investment projects. In fact, through the AIIB, the Chinese companies get an international platform to globalise themselves. AIIB's outbound investments help Beijing overcome domestic inefficiency. China has surplus capacity in key sectors like solar energy, cement, steel and construction. AIIB helps Beijing export these surplus volumes to generate revenue and further strengthen the overseas market share of the state-owned enterprises (SOEs). Internationally, Beijing's efforts to establish the AIIB should not necessarily be seen in isolation from its global agenda of establishing China as the center of global economic and political decision-making.

For more on the subject, please refer to my following publications:

Jagannath P. Panda, "AIIB Chronicle: China's Ambition Behind Infrastructure Investment", IDSA Issue Brief, March 21, 2017.

Jagannath P. Panda, "BRICS Development Bank: Figuring Out the Durban Bid", IDSA Comment, March 08, 2013.

Jagannath P. Panda, "BRICS and the China-India Construct: A New World Order In Making?", IDSA Monograph Series 24, 2013.
Could the Renminbi Challenge the Dollar? (Может ли китайский юань противостоять доллару?) / United Kingdom, November, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, economic_challenges
United Kingdom
Author: Christopher Smart

China's rapid economic growth, coupled with savvy monetary management by its leaders, has internationalized the renminbi to a degree that scarcely could have been imagined just a few decades ago. But if China's leaders ever want to challenge the US for global currency dominance, they will need to think and act more radically.

WASHINGTON, DC – "Follow the money," goes the saying. And, in fact, the money – that is, the changing roles of the renminbi and the US dollar – is perhaps the best way to understand the rise of China in a world dominated by the United States. Over the last ten years, the dominant economic story was about Chinese exports reshaping global trade. But the story of the next ten years could be about China's emerging role at the heart of global finance.

Renminbi usage has clearly been growing in recent years, owing to the impressive growth of the Chinese economy and efforts by Chinese financial officials to expand the currency's global footprint. China already settles a quarter of its own exports in renminbi, and has designated renminbi clearing banks and swap lines abroad, including in New York. South Korea, Poland, and Hungary have begun to issue renminbi-denominated sovereign debt. And even the tradition-bound Bundesbank has announced plans to include renminbi in its currency reserves.

To be sure, drug dealers in movies still seem to prefer suitcases full of dollars, not yuan; and global investors still pour into US Treasuries whenever they get the jitters. If you had to pick one bank in which to stow your life's savings for the next 25 years, it wouldn't be in China. Yet in the long run, political dysfunction and unpredictability in the US could start to undercut the dollar as the world's currency of last resort. "America First" may win votes, but it's not a particularly good slogan for selling bonds to foreign investors.

Still, as the three recent books reviewed here show, the ascent of the People's Currency (the literal translation of "renminbi") will depend on more than sustained GDP growth. China will have to pursue difficult economic reforms if the renminbi is to become a safe haven in times of crisis, rather than merely an instrument for trade and portfolio diversification. Even then, global investors might be wary of a currency that is backed by an authoritarian government with few checks on its leaders. There is a reason why even the nineteenth-century Rothschilds preferred lending to constitutional monarchies rather than fickle absolutist regimes.

By the same token, much will depend on China's foreign policy in the years ahead. China has too large a stake in the current global financial architecture to want to topple it. But Chinese leaders are clearly rankled by the dollar's overwhelming dominance and its power as a means of financial sanction. That means they will be looking for ways to create banking and payment alternatives that can attenuate America's post-war financial supremacy.

How Global Currencies Work, by Barry Eichengreen of the University of California, Berkeley, and European Central Bank economists Arnaud Mehl and Livia Chiţu, is an ambitious and fascinating analysis of the rise and fall of international currencies in the twentieth century. In addition to providing a detailed account of the past, the authors offer educated suggestions about what will happen in the coming decades, to demonstrate that when it comes to global currencies, nothing is inevitable.

One of the book's important contributions is to economic history. The authors have painstakingly filled many of the gaps in the conventional understanding of currency usage, particularly for the periods just before and after World War I. This extraordinary effort leads them to challenge what they call the "traditional view" about international currencies: namely, that network effects tend to protect a single currency in its dominant position.

As the authors point out, merchants and investors might opt for a currency because everyone else is using it, but that doesn't mean the currency's position is forever secure. After all, narrow spreads in foreign-exchange markets and widely available hedging products have made it much easier than in the past to move from one currency to another, just as Apple and Microsoft computer files eventually became interchangeable after years of PC domination.

In fact, America's economy overtook Britain's in 1870, but the sterling network, reinforced by the British Empire, remained dominant. The dollar emerged only in spite of these network effects, owing to the establishment of the US Federal Reserve System in 1913, and the elimination of restrictions against foreign bank branches in the US. By excluding the British Commonwealth's artificially protected financial flows, Eichengreen, Mehl, and Chiţu show that dollar-denominated bonds overtook sterling as early as 1929.

But they also suggest that more than one dominant currency can co-exist comfortably, as the dollar and the pound did until the end of World War II, and as the dollar and the euro seem to do today. Moreover, they contend that a system of multiple dominant currencies might actually be more stable, because several issuers can share the burden of generating safe, liquid assets during crises.

So, what should we expect to see in the decades to come? One currency that may have lost its shot at dominance is the Japanese yen, owing to its particular history. In the early post-war period, Japanese authorities deliberately limited the yen's circulation abroad, first to supercharge domestic capital investment, and later to manage the exchange rate. When Japan finally did try to internationalize the yen, its efforts were cut short by the economic downturn of the early 1990s, which turned into the "lost decade," and then became the "lost quarter-century." By the time Japan emerged from its extended malaise, it had stronger financial supervision and more open markets, but the renminbi had stolen the yen's thunder.

For its part, the European Union launched the euro in 1999 as part of a project to bind member states closer together and create an integrated market. At first, EU officials were of two minds about an international role for the euro, with Germany deeply suspicious of anything that might hamper anti-inflationary monetary policy. Yet the size of Europe's economy and its strength as a global trade hub have made the euro second only to the dollar, even after the sovereign-debt crisis that began in 2009.

How Global Currencies Work suggests that the dollar's continuing dominance is neither inevitable nor necessarily desirable. But that doesn't mean the renminbi will have an easy ascent. Although its use has expanded substantially in trade, bond issues, and sovereign reserves after just two decades of Chinese international economic engagement, China's unreliable or illiquid financial markets remain a major impediment.

China's leaders would do well to remember that the dollar did not emerge internationally until it had the support of a well-functioning, highly efficient financial system. More than merely avoiding internal economic crises, Chinese policymakers will need to pursue painstaking reforms to strengthen domestic debt markets; otherwise, China's economy will never be able to absorb massive global financial flows, as a true safe-haven currency must. At a minimum, this will require improvements to corporate governance and regulatory transparency, and better enforcement of the rule of law. But it also might necessitate more fundamental political change.

Of course, none of this needs to be settled quickly. And as Eswar S. Prasad of Cornell University demonstrates in Gaining Currency: The Rise of the Renminbi, China excels at the long game. Prasad's book is an excellent monetary history of China. He notes that the Chinese developed the first paper currency as early as the seventh century, thanks to their earlier inventions of both paper and the first moveable-type printing presses. When Marco Polo visited Kublai Khan in the thirteenth century, he discovered the wonders of what was probably the first fiat currency. The paper money of the Yuan Dynasty was backed by both the ruler's reputation and the threat of execution for any subject who refused to accept it as legal tender.

Gaining CurrencyToday, the Communist Party of China (CPC) has imbued the renminbi with symbolic importance, and methodically pushed for its acceptance beyond China's borders. China's capital account is not formally open. But, as Prasad shows, the government has enacted various reforms – both de jure and de facto – to open capital flows gradually, while still giving authorities breathing room to strengthen domestic institutions and pursue financial-market reforms.

Prasad also offers a careful analysis of China's exchange-rate liberalization, a process that is often caricatured and misrepresented in US political debates. To be sure, China was clearly engaging in some form of protectionism in the years before 2005, when its exchange rate was fixed. But Prasad reminds us that China resisted the urge to weaken the renminbi in the wake of the 1997 Asian financial crisis, when all of its regional competitors were forced to devalue their own currencies.

The renminbi has since passed a significant milestone. In 2016, the International Monetary Fund agreed to include it among the major currencies that determine the value of its international reserve asset, the Special Drawing Right. That same year, China established the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which allows it to lend outside the scope of the US-dominated Bretton Woods system, and in tandem with its massive Belt and Road Initiative to build infrastructure – and exert political influence – across Eurasia.

Prasad does not rule out the possibility of the renminbi achieving global-reserve status. He would agree that China's underdeveloped domestic financial markets could derail its ascent. But he points out that Chinese monetary authorities' careful management of the capital account and exchange rate could suffice to internationalize the currency, even if structural reforms and institutional reconfigurations prove more difficult.

Even if the renminbi does emerge as a new global reserve currency, however, Prasad doubts that it can displace the dollar as a financial safe haven. Central banks and sovereign wealth funds will hold renminbi if it reduces the volatility of their holdings, but global investors are not likely to rush into Chinese assets during times of crisis.

Whereas Prasad examines the renminbi's role in China's global political agenda, Cynthia Roberts of Hunter College, Leslie Elliott Armijo of Simon Fraser University, and Saori N. Katada of the University of Southern California view it from the perspective of China's relationship with the other BRICS countries: Brazil, Russia, India, and South Africa.

In The BRICS and Collective Financial Statecraft, the authors open a window onto the dynamics of financial diplomacy as seen from Moscow, São Paulo, New Delhi, and Pretoria. Given that the Chinese economy is twice the size of the other four BRICS combined, the reader should not be surprised to learn that policymakers in all of these capitals base their decisions largely on what is happening in Beijing.

The BRICS bloc emerged improbably from an acronym in a 2001 Goldman Sachs research report by Jim O'Neill. Improbably, because it comprises very different political economies, from Brazil and India's free-market democracies to Russia and China's centralized autocracies. South Africa, for its part, was added later, and brought still more diversity, though not much economic weight.

Despite their differences, the BRICS countries have held formal meetings since 2006, and found common ground in their resentment of Western – namely American – domination of global financial rules and institutions. If there is one thread that binds them together, it is that they are all "sovereignty hawks": they want to keep developed countries out of their internal affairs.

According to Roberts, Armijo, and Katada, the BRICS can claim some modest successes in the global financial system. They have spearheaded limited reforms within the World Bank and the IMF. They have come together to resist the widening use of financial sanctions, particularly by the US. And they have established nascent alternative institutions such as the New Development Bank and the BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement, which is meant to provide emergency liquidity to member states.

On occasion, the BRICS will put on a show of multilateralism to cloak what are in reality Chinese goals, not least internationalization of the renminbi and reforms to the Bretton Woods institutions. But on other occasions, BRICS countries, particularly Russia and India, have used the forum to moderate some of China's geopolitical ambitions.

The authors show that, at the end of the day, while the BRICS countries do not want to be too accommodating of the Western-led financial system, they have too much at stake to want to topple it. For China, this translates into a two-pronged agenda. It will modify existing geopolitical alignments and increase its own international influence within the current system when and where it can. At the same time, it will explore alternative payment systems and liquidity arrangements, just in case those prove useful at some point.

History shows that no single country or economy can remain dominant forever, and that change sometimes comes rapidly, such as when the dollar replaced sterling in the early twentieth century. But history also shows that the world can live comfortably with more than one dominant currency, which implies that the euro, the renminbi, or even the yen could share the stage with the dollar in the decades to come.

Whether the renminbi joins the global currency club will depend less on international institutions than on China's domestic policies. For the renminbi to become a true global currency, it needs the support of deep, liquid financial markets, which may take decades to develop, even if the Chinese economy continues to grow without interruption. And if Chinese assets are to become a trusted safe haven in times of crisis, the country will probably need to enact political reforms that go well beyond what the current CPC leadership envisions. Then, and only then, should you consider putting your retirement savings in a Chinese bank.

Mr. BRICs Says China's Weaker Consumer Means India Needs to Grow (Мистер БРИКС говорит, что снижение потребительского спроса в Китае означает, что Индия должна расти) / United States, November, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, economic_challeneges
United States

China's consumer slowdown is all the more reason why the world needs faster economic growth in India.

That's according to Jim O'Neill, a former Goldman Sachs Asset Management chair and ex-commercial secretary to the U.K. Treasury, who coined the acronym BRIC in 2001 to describe Brazil, Russia, India and China as a group.

O'Neill says he has been surprised by parts of China's slowdown from a structural and cyclical perspective, even while noting that his original BRIC forecasts at the turn of the century assumed that China wouldn't be able to grow much above 5.5 percent from 2021 to 2030.

"I am currently most concerned about the slowdown of the consumer," O'Neill, who is chair of the Chatham House think tank, said in emailed remarks. Retail sales growth slowed to 8.6 percent in October, down from 9.2 percent a month earlier.

And he says that's one reason why India needs to grow and ease the world's reliance on growth in the U.S. and China.

"All efforts should be done to help India expand at a faster rate of growth and for it to have closer trade ties with China, and start to grow its own middle classes at the same sort of rate China has done the last 25 to 30 years," O'Neill said.

India could also gain from President Xi Jinping's signature Belt and Road Initiative -- the roll out of which hasn't gone well, according to O'Neill -- if China allowed other major Asian economies to play a greater role in it.

While O'Neill needs fresh evidence that China's consumer base is growing more strongly and the middle class is expanding, he remains overall upbeat on the world's second largest economy.

"China's ongoing development is, quite simply, the most important economic development in the world."
China pledges sustained support for BRICS bank (Китай пообещал устойчивую поддержку банку БРИКС) / China, November, 2018
Keywords: ndb, economic_challenges

BEIJING, Nov. 13 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng on Tuesday met with Kundapur Vaman Kamath, president of the New Development Bank (NDB), and pledged sustained support for the Shanghai-based BRICS bank.

Reiterating China's determination of further opening up, Han said he hopes the NDB will proactively support and participate in China's process of reform and opening up.

Han, also a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, congratulated Kamath on the great progress of the NDB since its establishment.

Earlier this year, the NDB received favorable ratings from S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings. In August, S&P announced it had assigned AA+ long-term and A-1+ short-term issuer credit ratings with a stable outlook to the NDB, and Fitch put the bank's long-term issuer default rating at AA+ and short-term IDR at F1+ with a stable outlook.

"The Chinese side stands ready to step up practical cooperation with the New Development Bank and will, as always, provide proactive support for the bank in its operation," said the vice premier.

For his part, Kamath voiced gratitude for China's strong backing in the NDB's establishment and operation.

The NDB will continue deepening cooperation with China and playing an active role for the prosperity of BRICS countries and developing countries at large, Kamath said.

The NDB is a multilateral development bank founded in 2014 by BRICS member countries, Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, with the aim to support infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS countries and other emerging economies. It formally opened in Shanghai in 2015.

Russia tries to use BRICS bank against sanctions (Россия пытается использовать банк БРИКС против санкций) / India, November, 2018
Keywords: ndb, vladimir_putin, economic_challenges
Author: Assis Moreira

Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to use the New Bank for Development (NBD), the bank of the BRICS, to help projects of Russian oligarchs, since Russia's access to financial markets remains extremely limited, according to experts.

The recent approval by NBD of a $300 million loan to Russian petrochemical giant Sibur drew analysts' attention to the risk of reputation for the institution.

Sibur is controlled by three nearby oligarchs of the Kremlin - Kirill Shamalov, Putin's ex-son-in-law, Gennady Timchenko and Leonid Mikhelson - who were hit by a list of US-imposed sanctions on Russian oligarchs.

Russia currently has minimal access to international funding, which harms investments, economic growth and living standards, not to mention modernization, says Anders Åslund, a member of the Atlantic Council of Washington, a professor at Georgetown University who prepares a book on crony capitalism in Russia to be released in May 2019

"It is only natural that they [the Kremlin] try to use the bank of the BRICs, but the main point is that very little is available beyond the reach of the US Treasury," says Åslund on sanctions.

Internationally, the July and 2014 financial sanctions imposed by the US and the European Union (EU) proved surprisingly effective. The sanctions applied by the US Treasury in April this year are also considered very severe.

Åslund notes that the Kremlin has taken several steps to defend itself from Western sanctions, mainly by restricting transparency in government decisions.

A few months ago, the Russian government stopped issuing contracts from the Armed Forces, which were strangely publicly available in a database. In October, the government allowed assets of sanctioned individuals to be kept secret.

In 2017, Russia promulgated the so-called Rotenberg Act, which promises full compensation to individuals who have assets seized because of foreign sanctions. The law is an indirect reference to Arkady Rotenberg, a billionaire who had assets confiscated outside of Russia, mainly in Italy. Åslund also points out that the Kremlin has transformed Promsvyazbank, a private bank that broke in late 2017 into a state-owned bank specializing in sanctions and defense companies.

"None of the four big Russian state banks dared to provide funding to Russia because they all have substantial activities in the US," says Åslund. "Russia has turned to two purely Chinese state-owned financial institutions, such as the Chinese Development Bank, to finance the Yamal project." It is a liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in Siberia. It is an investment of US $27 billion, one of the most ambitious in the world in the sector. Western sanctions against oligarchs did not put the Russian elites against Putin and his policy, notes Tatiana Kastouéva-Jean, director of the Russian Center for the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI). "Russia will not back down in its annexation of the Crimea," he says.

After approving the credit for Sibur, the NBD tends to be more questioned about the transparency of its operations with the five partner countries. Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa are submitting project proposals for NDB funding. It is up to the board of directors of the bank to approve or not.

But Professor Karin Costa Vazquez, from O.P. Jindal Global University, India, notes that "the parameters used to evaluate the proposals received are unclear. Nor are the criteria used to assess the contribution of these projects to the creation of sustainable infrastructure."

The professor says that Brazilian, Indian and Russian organizations have sent the bank requests for information on projects and contracts, but have not yet received an answer.

World of work
Social policy, trade unions, actions
A tribute to the great teachers of the world from BRICS (Дань уважения великим учителям мира из БРИКС) / South Africa, November, 2018
Keywords: social_issues
South Africa

Durban - A peace keeping cultural and research exhibition called the great teachers of BRICS will be unveiled at the Denis Hurley Centre on Friday.

The exhibition focus on each of the leaders who contributed to world peace from Brazil, Russia,India, China and South Africa (BRICS). These are Leo Tolstoy, Chinese philosopher Confucius, Mahatma Gandhi,Nelson Mandela and Baron Rio Branco who are regarded as the great teachers of Brics.

The unveiling will follow a tree planting ceremony at the resistance park in Gale Street. Sekacheva Lyudmila, president of Brics worlds said the exhibition will be open to the public between 14 and 21 November. She said this was more of an expedition rather than an exhibition.

"This project is designed to research the greatest South African cultural traditions, scientific and historical legacies and work of the great peacekeepers. We aim to build a friendly, a respectful and trusting relationship between the BRICS countries." Lyudmila said.

The exhibition includes rare materials from the museum estate of Tolstoy and the Gandhi Foundation in Durban.

Roshan Kooblal, of the Gandhi Development Trust, said it will be a great event which will help foster good relationships between people. Koobal said a spin wheel used by Gandhi to create Khadi was also on display.
BRICS delegation plants trees in honour of Mandela, Gandhi (ВИДЕО: Делегация БРИКС сажает деревья в честь Манделы, Ганди) / South Africa, November, 2018
Keywords: social_issues
South Africa

Durban - A tree planting ceremony was held at the Resistance Park in Umbilo to honour great leaders including Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi.

Sekacheva Lyudmila, the president of the regional public organisation of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) was among the Russian delegation that visited the park, which is known for the 1946 Passive Resistance Campaign.

The group planted five trees in honour of South Africa's first black president Nelson Mandela, India's Mahatma Gandhi, Chinese philosopher, teacher and political figure Confucius, Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy and Brazil's Rio De Branco.

The event was in partnership with the eThekwini Parks and Recreation unit. This ceremony coincided with the 158th anniversary of the arrival of Indian to SA.

During the ceremony, Lyudmila announced the name of each tree and the significance of its planting.

When she approached the Schotia brachypetala tree - which is a weeping Boer-Boer tree, in honour of Mandela, she screamed "long live Nelson Mandela, long live" and her delegation followed.

Friday's event was aimed at building friendly, respectful and trusting relations between the BRICS countries.

The delegation will also visit the Gandi Development Settlement to see the first house Mahatma Gandhi lived in.

Lyudmila said while the event aims to honour the BRICS teachers, it's also historic for the marking of 158 years since the arrival of Indians in the country.

"This event was not done by coincidence but rather a higher power. We can look back proud and know we managed to mark two great events today. In the long run, these trees will grow and bloom and be an aid to future generations."
From Mohali to St. Petersburg (От Мохали до Санкт-Петербурга) / India, November, 2018
Keywords: social_issues

A new book "My Journey from Mohali to St. Petersburg" by Ananya Kamboj was presented at the Embassy of the Russian Federation in India on September 6, 2018 in partnership with the BRICS Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The event gathered students and teachers from Delhi schools as well as from the Russian Embassy School in India, Russian diplomats, representatives of the International Federation of Indo-Russian Youth Clubs, key figures of BRICS CCI.

The author is a participant of the Football for Friendship Social Program sponsored by Gazprom, which aims to promote youth sports and foster tolerance, respect to other cultures and nations.

A.Kamboj, a young Indian girl, very mature in her sayings, shared her experiences about the trip to Russia on the threshold of the 2018 FIFA Championship described in the book and read fragments from some of its chapters.

Russian Ambassador H.E. Mr Nikolay Kudashev stressed that the Championship was labeled by FIFA President Gianni Infantino and Indian journalists as the best in history and expressed hope that the warmth of personal stories by football fans who visited Russia this year will last long after the referee's final whistle. Mr B.B.L. Madhukar, Secretary General of BRICS CCI, congratulated Ms Kamboj and said that Ananya's story promotes Russian-Indian friendship and serves as inspiration for everyone.

Students from various Delhi schools had an opportunity to speak with the author about her journey to Russia.

The program also included a presentation of one of the leading Russian online educational platforms which launched its subsidiary Dragonlearn in India. This Russian company has been successfully holding BRICSMATH, an online contest aimed at promoting mathematics among youngsters and uniting children of BRICS nations.

The event was covered by Russian and Indian media.
Comprehensive reports, BRICS research materials
The BRICS and Collective Financial Statecraft (БРИКС и коллективное финансовое государственное управление) / United Kingdom, November, 2018
Keywords: research, expert_opinion, economic_challenges
United Kingdom
Author: Cynthia Roberts, Leslie Armijo, and Saori Katada

This book:
  • Offers important insight into the relations between the BRICS countries and the US
  • Presents empirical analysis based on deep national and regional expertise
  • Introduces a theoretical framework that draws on insights from the fields of international political economy, international relations and comparative foreign policy

The BRICS and Collective Financial Statecraft (co-authored with L. Armijo and S. Katada) explains the improbable collaboration among the BRICS countries and evolution of China's leadership position, particularly in financial statecraft. It provides details of the BRICS collective pressure for "inside reforms" of international organizations and "outside options" involving new multilateral institutions and opportunities in international financial markets. The analysis reveals their common aversion to being targets of financial sanctions and subject to U.S. dominance of the global financial system and their attempts to gain greater financial autonomy without upending the international economic order. Contrary to sweeping claims that China, Russia or the BRICS as a whole seek to overthrow the global governance system and liberal international order, this study shows important areas of constructive international cooperation, integration, and adjustment to both multilateral norms and market incentives. The book also assesses the shifts in relative international power, comparing the BRICS economies and financial markets with the G-7 countries. The BRICS future, the book concludes, depends not only on their bargaining power and adjustment to markets, but also on their ability to overcome domestic impediments to sustainable economic growth, the basis for their international influence.
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