Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum

Monitoring of the economic, social and labor situation in the BRICS countries
Issue 47.2023
2023.11.20 — 2023.11.26
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Vladimir Putin: "All BRICS countries have similar positions on the need to collectively reach long-term and durable settlement of the long-standing Palestinian-Israeli problem" (Владимир Путин: «Все страны БРИКС имеют схожие позиции относительно необходимости коллективного достижения долгосрочного и прочного урегулирования давней палестино-израильской проблемы») / Russia, November, 2023
Keywords: vladimir_putin, quotation, top_level_meeting

The BRICS group of nations Tuesday called for an immediate and sustained humanitarian truce in Gaza during an extraordinary summit. Pretoria hosted a virtual meeting of BRICS – a group of major emerging economies that includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – aimed at drawing up a common response to the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Representatives from Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran and the United Arab Emirates – countries that are all due to join BRICS in January 2024 – were also invited to the talks.

"We called for an immediate, durable, and sustained humanitarian truce leading to a cessation of hostilities," the group said in a summary of the meeting.

"We reiterated our strong support for regional and international efforts aimed at achieving an immediate cessation of hostilities, ensuring the protection of civilians and the provision of humanitarian aid."

Fighting has raged in Gaza after Hamas gunmen killed around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, during cross-border raids on October 7 – the deadliest attack in Israel's history. In retaliation, Israel launched a relentless bombing campaign and ground offensive in Gaza, which is ruled by Hamas. The war has killed more than 13,300 people, thousands of them children.

"The collective punishment of Palestinian civilians through the unlawful use of force by Israel is a war crime. The deliberate denial of medicine, fuel, food and water to the residents of Gaza is tantamount to genocide," said South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.


Russian President Vladimir Putin took part in an extraordinary BRICS summit on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, being held via videoconference. He said:

"We think the initiative of the President of South Africa, as the current chair of BRICS, to convene an extraordinary summit to discuss the escalation in the Gaza Strip, has come at the right time.

The thousands of deaths and mass expulsion of civilians, the humanitarian disaster unfolding in the area are causing deep concern. Just now, one of our colleagues spoke of the deaths of a large number of children. It is terrible, but when you watch children being operated on without anaesthesia, it certainly evokes intense feelings. And all of that is, in fact, happening as a consequence of the United States' aspiration to monopolise the mediation role in the Palestinian-Israeli settlement process and block the activities of the Middle East Quartet of international mediators.

This is history's way of demonstrating that attempts to single-handedly cut the "Palestinian knot" are unviable and counterproductive. Because of the sabotage of UN decisions, which clearly called for the establishment and peaceful coexistence of two independent and sovereign states – Israel and Palestine – more than one generation of Palestinians has grown up in an atmosphere of injustice, and Israelis cannot fully guarantee the security of their state either.

Russia's stance is consistent and independent of momentary conditions. We urge the international community to join efforts aimed at de-escalating the situation, negotiating a ceasefire and achieving a political solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The BRICS states and the countries in the region could play a key role in this work.

For this reason, it is particularly significant that our colleagues from Middle Eastern countries, which received invitations to become full members of the BRICS this year, are joining our meeting today. I would like to take this opportunity to respectfully acknowledge their efforts to normalise the situation. In particular, I am referring to the Peace Summit hosted by Egypt and the joint Arab-Islamic extraordinary summit in Saudi Arabia.

It is worth noting that all BRICS countries have similar positions on the need to collectively reach long-term and durable settlement of the long-standing Palestinian-Israeli problem.

This was reflected during voting on the draft resolution on a humanitarian truce in the UN General Assembly and in discussing a UN Security Council resolution on the Middle East settlement process, which was adopted for the first time in the past seven years. Although this resolution contains merely an appeal for humanitarian pauses rather than a full ceasefire, we consider the very fact of its approval a step in the right direction.

I would like to emphasise that such humanitarian pauses and, better still, a full ceasefire are essential to continue the efforts to free hostages and evacuate civilians and foreigners from the Gaza Strip. I must express again my deep gratitude to President [of Egypt Abdel Fattah] el-Sisi, and all our Egyptian colleagues for their help in resolving many challenging issues linked with receiving and sending home the Russian citizens that had left the conflict area.

Of course, by all accounts, the most urgent goal is to reach a truly long-term and sustainable truce. I agree with my Brazilian colleague that it is important that other states not get drawn into a war in the Middle East and that the conflict not spread in any way, as is preserving the fragile peace between religions.

In this context, we consider it extremely useful to continue discussing subsequent developments in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in BRICS. If there are no objections, colleagues, we will initiate possible contacts, including via videoconference, concerning these issues during Russia's upcoming BRICS presidency next year.

In general, the new format of emergency online summit meetings suggested by President [of South Africa Cyril] Ramaphosa appears to be quite promising. Importantly, this applies not only to the Middle East settlement but to other urgent global and regional issues."


Chinese President Xi Jinping attended the BRICS extraordinary virtual summit on the Palestinian-Israeli issue, saying it is imperative that the parties to the conflict must end hostilities and achieve a ceasefire immediately.

Xi called on the parties to stop all violence and attacks against civilians, release civilians held captive, and act to prevent loss of more lives and spare people from more miseries.

Xi said humanitarian corridors must be kept secure and unimpeded, and more humanitarian assistance should be provided to the population in Gaza.

He said the international community must act with practical measures to prevent the conflict from spilling over and endangering stability in the Middle East as a whole.

He emphasized that the only viable way to break the cycle of Palestinian-Israeli conflict lies in the two-state solution, in the restoration of the legitimate national rights of Palestine, and in the establishment of an independent State of Palestine.

China calls for early convening of an international peace conference that is more authoritative to build international consensus for peace and work toward an early solution to the question of Palestine that is comprehensive, just and sustainable, Xi said.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on Tuesday called on BRICS leaders to use all economic and political opportunities to put pressure on Israel. "The United States has made all international organizations faceless. Iran wants BRICS members and governments to stand up for security, establish justice and fight racial discrimination in the world, as well as use all their political and economic opportunities and power to exert pressure on Israel and its supporters from Western countries," Raisi at the BRICS extraordinary summit on the Middle East.

"Israel's continuous attacks on hospitals, medical centers and religious sites, as well as the murder of women and children, doctors, nurses and journalists are acts of terrorism, and it is necessary to recognize the Israeli regime as a terrorist regime and its army as a terrorist organization," Raisi said.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has called on all countries to stop supplying weapons to Israel. He emphasized that we oppose the forcible eviction of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip while speaking to the BRICS conference via video link. Gaza should immediately resume receiving humanitarian help.

Mohammed bin Salman stressed the necessity of creating a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders and we call for the start of meaningful discussions to end the Palestinian conflict.

Describing Hamas's attacks and hostage taking as "barbaric acts" Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said they did "not justify the use of indiscriminate and disproportionate force against civilians".

"The concerns of the Palestinian people must be addressed in a serious and sustainable manner, this can only happen with the two-state solution that is based on peaceful coexistence," said India's foreign minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.

In a statement adopted after an emergency extraordinary joint meeting on Tuesday, the leaders from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa stressed the need to pursue accountability. The leaders said: "We must ensure that independent and transparent investigations are conducted in accordance with international standards.

"We condemned any kind of individual or mass forcible transfer and deportation of Palestinians from their own land. Many leaders reiterated that the forced transfer and deportation of Palestinians, whether inside Gaza or to neighbouring countries, constitute grave breaches of the Geneva conventions and war crimes and violations under International Humanitarian Law."

"We called for an immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce leading to a cessation of hostilities. We reiterated our strong support for regional and international efforts aimed at achieving an immediate cessation of hostilities, ensuring the protection of civilians and the provision of humanitarian aid."

The leaders expressed concerns at the latest escalation of violence since the October 7 attack and the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem and in Israel.

"Acts of violence aimed at Palestinian and Israeli civilians were condemned, including war crimes, indiscriminate attacks and targeting of civilian infrastructure, as well as all acts of provocation, incitement and destruction.

"We emphasised that civilians must be protected, in accordance with international humanitarian law and international human rights law."

"We reiterated the need for full respect of international humanitarian law and the need for full, immediate, safe, unhindered, and sustained humanitarian access and the provision of aid in accordance with the basic principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence established in UNGA resolution 46/182."

"We joined other global leaders in welcoming the adoption of UNSC resolution 2712 on November 15 under China's UNSC Presidency and called for its full implementation."

The leaders said they acknowledged the important role played by relevant international and regional organisations, including the League of Arab States and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, in addressing threats to peace and security in accordance with Chapter VIII of the UN Charter.

They welcomed the briefing by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on the outcomes of the joint extraordinary Arab and Islamic Summit and the efforts led by Egypt's President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in hosting the Cairo Peace Summit.

"We emphasised the importance of preventing further destabilisation and escalation of violence, including the spill over of the conflict in the region and called upon all parties to exercise maximum restraint and, upon all those with influence on them, to work towards this objective."

"The chair joined calls for the international community to support direct negotiations based on international law, including relevant UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative, towards a two-state solution, leading to the establishment of a sovereign, independent and viable state of Palestine."

They also reaffirmed that a just and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be achieved by peaceful means.

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                South Africa to host the Sixth BRICS Sherpas Meeting (ЮАР примет шестую встречу шерп стран БРИКС) / South Africa, November, 2023
                Keywords: top_level_meeting
                South Africa

                The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) will host the Sixth BRICS Sherpas Meeting from 30 November to 3 December 2023 in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.

                The purpose of the meeting is to reflect on South Africa's tenure as Chair of BRICS for the year 2023 and to prepare for a handover to the next Chair, the Russian Federation.

                South Africa's term as BRICS Chair ends on 31 December 2023. The Russian Federation will take over on 1 January 2024.

                The countries that have been invited to join BRICS (i.e., Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and UAE) are expected to participate in the Sherpas Meeting.

                The media are invited as follows:

                BRICS Sherpas Meeting

                Date: 30 November 2023

                Time: 09h00 (Media to cover opening remarks)

                Venue: Coastlands Umhlanga Hotel

                Extended BRICS Sherpas Meeting

                Date: 2 December 2023

                Time: 09h00 (Media to cover opening remarks)

                Venue: Coastlands Umhlanga Hotel

                Media Briefing

                Date: 3 December 2023

                Time: 12h00

                Venue: Coastlands Umhlanga Hotel

                Please RSVP by 15h00 on Monday, 27 November 2023:

                Enquiries: Mr Clayson Monyela, Spokesperson for DIRCO, 082 884 5974

                              The Chair's Summary of the Extraordinary Joint Meeting of BRICS Leaders and Leaders of the invited BRICS Members on the situation in the Middle East with particular reference to Gaza, Tuesday, 21 November 2023 (Резюме председателя внеочередной совместной встречи лидеров БРИКС и лидеров приглашенных членов БРИКС по ситуации на Ближнем Востоке с особым акцентом на сектор Газа, вторник, 21 ноября 2023 г.) / South Africa, November, 2023
                              Keywords: concluded_agreements, top_level_meeting
                              South Africa to chair BRICS Extraordinary Joint Meeting on the Middle East situation in Gaza (ЮАР возглавит внеочередное совместное заседание БРИКС по ситуации на Ближнем Востоке в секторе Газа) / South Africa, November, 2023
                              Keywords: political_issues, top_level_meeting
                              South Africa

                              President Cyril Ramaphosa will, as Chair of the BRICS group of nations, convene a BRICS Extraordinary Joint Meeting on the Middle East situation in Gaza tomorrow, Tuesday, 21 November 2023.

                              Leaders of BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India and China – will join the virtual Extraordinary Meeting with invited BRICS leaders of Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran and the United Arab Emirates.

                              President Ramaphosa will deliver opening remarks at the BRICS Extraordinary Meeting, where member and invited states will also deliver country statements on the current humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

                              United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres, will participate in the virtual meeting, at the end of which leaders are expected to adopt a Joint Statement on the situation in the Middle East with particular reference to Gaza.

                              Parts of the proceedings will be open to media, who are welcome to follow these sessions as follows:

                              Date: Tuesday, 21 November 2023

                              Time: 14h00

                              Platform: PresidencyZA and South Africa Government digital platforms

                              Media enquiries: Vincent Magwenya, Spokesperson to President Ramaphosa –

                                            Investment and Finance
                                            Investment and finance in BRICS
                                            Scaling up financing for environmental projects (Увеличение финансирования экологических проектов) / Russia, November, 2023
                                            Keywords: economic_challanges, ecology

                                            The victory of Javier Milei in Argentina's presidential elections on November 19th, 2023 will have a significant impact on the economic evolution of the Global South, its regional integration impulses (most notably with respect to MERCOSUR and UNASUR) and of course the process of BRICS expansion. Milei's chief economic advisor Diana Mondino has already dismissed the possibility of Argentina joining the BRICS grouping, something that should serve as a point of reflection for decision-makers in the developing world. The key problem for the Global South is that the BRICS/BRICS+ has not progressed sufficiently in the direction of economic integration and the creation of instruments of economic policy that can provide financial support to developing economies. In order to serve as a credible economic alternative to the current status quo, the BRICS need to accord far greater priority to the agenda of economic cooperation.

                                            The key factors leading to the outcome of Argentina's presidential elections were the sizeable macroeconomic imbalances, most notably the extremely high inflation rate of 142.7% YoY in October 2023 and the high debt burden of nearly 90% of GDP (as measured by general government gross debt to GDP). With inflation skyrocketing, poverty rates climbed to more than 40% in the first half of 2023 compared to 36.5% in the first half of 2022. While these difficulties experienced by Argentina were well known, the support from the BRICS economies in the past several years was either insufficient or too slow in coming. It now appears that the stabilization measures to be launched by Milei will target cuts in public spending and caps on growth in monetary aggregates with the main support coming from the US and the Bretton Woods institutions (IMF and the World Bank).

                                            The outcome of the presidential elections in Argentina and the subsequent change in the relations with BRICS is a blow to the BRICS+ expansion momentum, most notably in Latin America, where Argentina plays a crucial role as one of the leading powers within the MERCOSUR regional integration bloc. Apart from the adverse impact on regional integration (ties with Brazil are likely to weaken) there may also be negative implications for BRICS efforts to forge ahead with greater de-dollarization across the Global South, most notably in South America. Clearly, the developments in Argentina send a strong signal to the BRICS grouping about the need to redirect the focus of cooperation into the economic sphere. In order to be able to present greater possibilities for developing countries in stabilizing their economies and becoming new modernization success stories, the BRICS need to:

                                            • Devise a road-map of trade liberalization across the various parts of BRICS+ with particular attention accorded to the cooperation among the regional integration blocs of the Global South
                                            • Expand the capabilities of BRICS CRA with the view to providing assistance to BRICS+ economies in ex-ante crisis prevention and ex-post crisis-resolution
                                            • Scale up the reserve capabilities of BRICS CRA by creating a platform for regional financing arrangements in which BRICS+ economies are members.
                                            • Create a platform for the regional development banks in which BRICS+ economies are members – together with NDB such a platform can become more active in financing priority projects across the Global South
                                            • Increase the coordination of economic policy among BRICS+, both with respect to macroeconomic policy as well as structural and growth-promoting measures
                                            In view of the scale of economic challenges faced by the developing economies there may be a case also for creating additional buffers across the Global South via setting up coordination mechanisms among the largest Stabilization funds and Sovereign Wealth Funds of BRICS+ economies. Thus far, BRICS have attained limited progress in laying the groundwork for stronger economic cooperation across the developing world – the creation of the New Development Bank cannot by itself address the multitudes of challenges facing the Global South economies, particularly in the sphere of attaining macroeconomic stability.

                                            Overall, in advancing their economic cooperation the BRICS have so far either mimicked the Bretton Woods paradigm (via creating an analog of the World Bank in the form of NDB) or have largely been reactive with respect to the constraints and restrictions emanating from the developed world. What the BRICS need instead is a pro-active economic agenda that creates ample opportunities for developing economies to expand trade and investment as well as to obtain financial assistance and policy advice. The Argentina debacle in the expansion of BRICS is an important alarm bell for the Global South – instead of the excessive zeal that targets geopolitical expansion there needs to be a far greater focus on pragmatic economic cooperation within the BRICS+ framework.

                                            Image by Geralt via Pixabay

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