Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum

Monitoring of the economic, social and labor situation in the BRICS countries
Issue 2.2024
2024.01.08 — 2024.01.14
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Speech by Svetlana Lukash, Deputy Head of the Expert Directorate of the President of Russia, Sherpa of Russia in the G20 at the BRICS CCI Annual Recognition Award inaugural ceremony, New Delhi, January 19, 2024 (Выступление Светланы Лукаш, заместителя руководителя Экспертного управления Президента России, шерпы России в «Группе двадцати» на церемонии открытия Ежегодной премии ТПП БРИКС, Нью-Дели, 19 января 2024 г.) / Russia, January, 2024
Keywords: mofa, speech

Speech by Svetlana Lukash, Deputy Head of the Expert Directorate of the President of Russia, Sherpa of Russia in the G20 at the BRICS CCI Annual Recognition Award inaugural ceremony, New Delhi, January 19, 2024

Sustainability and life style changes: unleashing the power of BRICS block

Dear distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

I'm honored to welcome you at the BRICS Annual Recognition Award inaugural ceremony. Our meeting today is devoted to the issues of sustainable development and lifestyle changes.

I will touch upon three questions and three answers to the challenge of sustainability. In my vision, the concept of sustainability is a world which stands on three whales: Balance, Justice and Mindset.

First whale is Balance. We must not ignore that three pillars of sustainable development – social, economic and environmental – are interdependent and mutually reinforcing. And progress in one area should not come at the expense of the others. Instead, they should be addressed together to create a holistic approach to development, ensuring that economic growth is equitable, social well-being is safeguarded, and environmental resources are sustainably used, making them available for future generations.

And here we come to the second question or whale – Justice. The world is facing multiple crises and challenges – from persistent poverty – to climate change, from geopolitical tensions – to geoeconomic fragmentation. While these challenges affect us all, they do not affect us equally. Inequality in incomes and opportunities, and in particular in access to finance and technology – provides for a huge gap between the developed and developing countries. To achieve SDGs and preserve our Planet we need to fight inequality and channel financing and technologies to developing countries.

The third question or whale of sustainability is Mindset. The impact of human actions on the Planet resulting in climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution – calls for a paradigm shift – required to change our life styles in order to lower our environmental footprint. We all need to change our mindset to reshape demand, rethink supply and make policy environment responsive to eco-friendly lifestyle shifts. And I mean not only individual minds of all of us – but the mindsets of our governments and corporations as well.

It is our responsibility to rationally and carefully use resources provided by nature, reduce the material footprint of consumption, improve infrastructure for proper treatment of industrial and consumer waste, introduce advanced technologies to reduce pollution by enterprises and develop environmentally friendly lifestyle.

Referring to the wisdom of Mahatma Gandhi, if we want a change in our future, we need to become this change in our present.

As whales need the ocean so as questions need answers. The answers to these three questions of sustainability lies in the intertwined spheres of Behavioural change, Technology and Finance. Following animalistic associations, let me call them three elephants of sustainable development.

With regard to the first elephant – the Behavioural change – we have the best practice in front of us – the example of India, which started its transformation to a circular and green economy. And here let me praise PM Modi for putting forward the Lifestyle for Environment Initiative – a comprehensive approach driven by individual behavioural change and focused on both the demand and supply side. On one hand, it highlights the importance of promoting thoughtful consumption to preserve the environment, and on the other hand – it nudges markets, industries, and governments to meet these environmentally conscious choices.

As G20 Sherpa I was honoured to take part in the process of elaborating the G20 High-Level Principles on Lifestyles for Sustainable Development, built on PM Modi's Initiative. At the G20 Delhi Summit leaders committed to robust collective actions that will enable the world to embrace sustainable production and consumption patterns and create an enabling policy environment to promote sustainable lifestyles.

Second answer or elephant is technologies. If a country obtains necessary technologies it can harness the potential of innovations and make eco- and climate friendly development a driver of economic growth. However it is primarily the case for developed countries and just a few developing ones. High cost of new technology, restricted knowledge sharing and lack of effective regulatory environment leaves many developing countries behind the global shift to digital transformation.

To be frank, the issue of transfer of technologies as enabler of sustainable development is one of the most complicated on the G20 agenda. And each time developing economies try to formulate relevant commitments, developed countries insist on conditioning them to keep their technological monopoly. There is no need to knock the closed doors. A more promising approach for developing countries would be to promote technology development, deployment and dissemination within and with the BRICS, a forum which grounds on common interests and harmonized agenda. As the Chair of BRICS this year Russia plans to put forward an initiative on practical technological cooperation.

The third elephant is financing. Lack of access to affordable finance is a major obstacle to sustainable development. Developed world failed on their promises to provide climate financing. Developing countries have to consider new financing instruments and ways to turn financial flows to the Global South. What we need to do is:

- further reform of international financial institutions, aimed at greater representation of developing countries in the governance of IMF, World Bank and Multilateral Development Banks;

- use new financing instruments, aimed at attracting private capital in the sustainable development and climate projects;

- use the benefits of the international tax reform to make companies pay taxes in the country where they work rather than where they are registered;

- lower our dependance on dollar, increasing payments in national currencies.

Many challenges and many tasks we face. But Nature or Gods never give us a challenge without a way to address it. I am convinced that together the BRICS and our partners in the Global South can make a change in resolving and easing growth imbalances. We only need to expand our cooperation, shared vision, balanced decisions and coordinated action.

The voice and power of Emerging market economies and Developing countries – the BRICS members and beyond – is only going stronger. The consequence of developing countries presidencies in the G20 – Indonesia in 2022 and a very successful Indian Presidency last year – has already amended the G20 agenda in the interests of the Global South. The Presidency of Brazil this year followed by South Africa in 2025 will cement G20 emphasis on the needs of sustainable development. The inclusion of the African Union as a G20 member and the expansion of BRICS are the best proof of this trend. The joint potential of BRICS is outstanding so let's use it effectively and wisely to build a sustainable, just and inclusive world.
                Russia respects Argentina's decision not to join BRICS as country's right — Lavrov (Россия уважает решение Аргентины не вступать в БРИКС как право страны — Лавров) / Russia, January, 2024
                Keywords: brics+, sergey_lavrov, quotation

                Russia respects Argentina's decision not to join BRICS as country's right — Lavrov

                The top diplomat believes that Argentina's decision not to join BRICS at this point in time is not final

                MOSCOW, January 18. /TASS/. Argentina's decision not to join BRICS at this point in time is the country's right, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at his annual news conference devoted to reviewing Moscow's main foreign policy achievements in 2023.

                "As for Argentina's statement, this is the sovereign decision of the country that was invited to join BRICS. The invitation was [extended] under the previous government, the previous president. When that invitation was sent, President [Alberto] Fernandez said that the final decision would be made by the new president after the election. Everybody knew this," Lavrov said.

                Lavrov emphasized that "this does not mean they are refusing to join [BRICS], just that they are not ready for it now." "That's the way we took it," he added.

                The top diplomat believes that Argentina's decision not to join BRICS at this point in time is not final. "I think that when the government of President [Javier] Milei settles in and gets its bearings, they will be able to make a more informed decision," he pointed out.

                Lavrov also noted that BRICS is getting increasingly popular. "Almost 30 applications are on the table to establish some kind of relations with this association," the minister noted. "At this stage, of course, we will focus on making sure that the new members are integrated as smoothly as possible and we all continue to move forward," Lavrov explained.

                Last December, Argentinian presidential administration spokesperson Manuel Adorni confirmed that Buenos Aires had officially notified BRICS that it was not going to join the group. In letters sent to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping, the Argentine authorities stated that at this time, they considered joining BRICS to be the wrong move for the country.

                              Over 30 countries interested in approaching BRICS, integration has bright future — Lavrov (Более 30 стран заинтересованы в сближении с БРИКС, у интеграции блестящее будущее — Лавров) / Russia, January, 2024
                              Keywords: quotation, sergey_lavrov, brics+

                              Over 30 countries interested in approaching BRICS, integration has bright future — Lavrov

                              Being a supra-national global structure, BRICS "encapsulates the richness of multipolar world," the minister noted

                              © Alexander Shcherbak/TASS
                              MOSCOW, January 18. /TASS/. The fact that there are around 30 aspirants to join the BRICS highlights the promising future of the integration with global members, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.

                              "Considering that more than 20, even closer to 30 countries are interested in approaching the BRICS, we see very bright future of this integration with global members," he said at his annual news conference devoted to reviewing Moscow's main foreign policy achievements in 2023.

                              Being a supra-national global structure, BRICS "encapsulates the richness of multipolar world," the minister added.

                              "The decision taken at last year's summit in South Africa to extend the number of participants of the integration has become a particularly important step to bolster the BRICS' position, and Russia that assumed BRICS chairmanship from January 1, will surely pay special attention to the fact that newcomers join our common work seamless thus, facilitating the strengthening of positive trends not only inside the BRICS, but internationally as well, meeting the interests of the global majority," Lavrov stressed.

                                            BRICS Plus after the 2023 "Expansion Summit" (БРИКС Плюс после «Саммита расширения» 2023 года) / Russia, January, 2024
                                            Keywords: expert_opinion, brics+, summit


                                            The 2023 BRICS summit marked a historic and transformative moment for the bloc with a significant expansion, welcoming six new members—Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, and Iran—as part of the BRICS core from January 1, 2024. However, the summit's declaration was somewhat understated in terms of economic ambition, falling short of expectations. Key economic priorities, such as trade liberalization among the BRICS nations and the move towards a common currency, were not prominently or decisively addressed in the final document.

                                            So far, BRICS has created several economic mechanisms. Its main economic input has been the establishment of the New Development Bank (NDB) and the BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA). [1] Plans are underway to expand the NDB membership to include more developing economies and to broaden the CRA's mandate, enhancing its support for the BRICS member countries. A notable gap, however, is the absence of a financial mechanism to facilitate payments in national currencies among the BRICS economies. Discussions about creating such a system, often referred to as "BRICS Pay", have been ongoing since as early as 2017, but the progress has been modest. Additionally, the development of a common currency or an accounting unit for all BRICS countries has also been slow.

                                            This article explores the trajectories of the BRICS+ evolution following the pivotal BRICS summit in South Africa in 2023. The opening section offers a concise overview of the BRICS 2023 summit and its implications. The next section examines the challenges associated with further expansion of the BRICS core, as highlighted by Argentina's decision not to join the bloc. The subsequent section discusses a recent proposal for developing the BRICS+ format as a platform for subnational regions within the developing world. The final section contemplates the optimal scenario for the Global South and the evolution of the BRICS+ paradigm, focusing more specifically on the potential rapprochement between China and India. The article concludes that the BRICS+ platform should prioritize economic cooperation and trade openness, rather than mere expansion of its membership aimed at including countries with significant geopolitical influence.

                                            The 2023 BRICS "expansion summit"

                                            The concept of expanding BRICS into the BRICS+ format was initially proposed by China during its chairmanship of the organization in 2017. South Africa supported this idea in 2018. However, the development of the BRICS+ format was put on hold from 2019 to 2021. In 2022, China revived the BRICS+ initiative on a broader scale, and in 2023, South Africa took it a step further. South Africa, hosting the summit in Johannesburg, understandably prioritized the participation of African countries, thereby surpassing previous efforts to expand the BRICS+ dialogue.

                                            The revival of the BRICS+ format was met with enthusiasm by many of the world's largest developing countries. In 2022–2023, over 20 nations applied for membership in the bloc, including many significant regional players. At the summit, it was decided to admit six countries into the BRICS core: Argentina, Ethiopia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Iran. This expansion wave has been primarily grounded in geographical representation of the bloc across key regions of the Global South. While BRICS's influence in international affairs is growing, reaching a consensus on key directions for further development of the bloc is likely to become more challenging.

                                            At the summit, Brazilian President Lula da Silva emerged as the most vocal proponent of a common BRICS currency. Prior to the leaders' meeting in South Africa, the concept of creating the R5 currency—named so because the English names of all BRICS countries' currencies start with "R"—was already a matter of extensive discussion. The organization currently explores the idea of a single BRICS currency that would serve in three capacities: as an accounting unit, a reserve currency, and a digital currency for settlements. In the final declaration (para. 45), the BRICS leaders instructed the finance ministers and central bank governors to examine the potential of using national currencies and settlement instruments, and to report their findings at the next summit. [2] Such wording allows for the possibility of advancing towards a single currency during Russia's BRICS presidency in 2024 and Brazil's presidency in 2025.

                                            In addition to the discussion of a single currency, the consensus achieved in Johannesburg on coordinating actions to spur economic growth in member countries might be of interest for financial markets. Nearly all BRICS members face economic challenges, with potential exception of India. However, the question remains whether BRICS can initiate coordinated anti-crisis measures akin to those of the G7 and G20. As of now, such discussions are not on the agenda.

                                            Another critical issue is the fortification of the BRICS CRA amid escalating volatility in the exchange rates of the five member currencies, exacerbated by high interest rates in the United States. An additional pivotal avenue for the economic development of the bloc is the liberalization of economies and the reduction of mutual trade barriers, which could lead to the establishment of a platform among the BRICS regional trade arrangements. [3] However, there remains a shortage of specific initiatives that could have substantial impact on the countries of the bloc and the global economy at large.

                                            The BRICS communication policy is also important for markets: a clear and persuasive appeal to the broader population of the Global South countries is essential, along with a well-considered and credible communication strategy targeting financial markets. This requires that both the summit and its final document provide some form of forward guidance about future initiatives to bolster economic cooperation and coordinate economic policies. It is important that the New Development Bank, expected to assume an increasingly significant role in the economic agenda of the bloc's summits, is also involved in harmonizing these communications.

                                            In 2024, Russia takes over the BRICS chairmanship, and it is likely that discussions on the use of national currencies for mutual payments and the establishment of a single currency will persist, albeit primarily at the level of expert analysis. Building interactions between the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) may also become a focal point. It is premature to anticipate significant market impacts stemming from BRICS summits. Decisions on a common currency and the economic specifics of initiatives to liberalize markets in the BRICS+ format might not materialize until the bloc's summit in Brazil in 2025. Moreover, developments after the summit, particularly Argentina's hesitation to join the BRICS bloc, raise new questions about the future trajectory of the BRICS+ platform.

                                            The Argentina debacle for BRICS+

                                            The victory of Javier Milei in Argentina's presidential election on November 19, 2023, was set to significantly influence the economic trajectory of the Global South, its regional integration efforts (particularly within MERCOSUR and UNASUR), and the ongoing expansion process of BRICS. Milei's chief economic advisor, Diana Mondino, ruled out the possibility of Argentina joining the BRICS group, [4] a stance that should prompt introspection among policymakers in the developing world. A critical issue for the Global South is that BRICS/BRICS+ has yet to make adequate strides towards economic integration and the establishment of economic policy instruments capable of providing financial support to developing economies. For BRICS to emerge as a viable economic alternative to the existing order, it must place a much greater emphasis on the economic cooperation agenda.

                                            The pivotal factors influencing Argentina's presidential election results were substantial macroeconomic imbalances, particularly the extremely high inflation rate of 142.7 percent year-over-year (as of October 2023) and the substantial debt burden, which was nearly 90 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as indicated by the general government gross debt to GDP ratio. [5] With inflation rates soaring, the poverty rate rose to over 40 percent in the first half of 2023, a significant increase from percent in the previous year's corresponding period. Although Argentina's economic struggles were well-documented, the assistance provided by BRICS economies in recent years was either lacking or delayed. It appears that the economic stabilization measures anticipated under Milei's administration will involve reductions in public expenditure and limitations on the expansion of monetary aggregates, primarily supported by the United States and Bretton Woods institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.

                                            The outcome of presidential elections in Argentina and the resulting shift in its relations with BRICS represent a setback to the BRICS+ expansion, particularly in Latin America where Argentina, alongside Brazil, is a pivotal force within the MERCOSUR regional integration bloc. [6] This development not only adversely affects regional integration but also poses challenges to BRICS's ambitions to advance dedollarization across the Global South, especially in South America. Evidently, the events in Argentina send a signal to the BRICS bloc to refocus its cooperation efforts on the economic domain. To offer enhanced opportunities for developing countries to stabilize their economies and emerge as modernization success stories, BRICS needs to:

                                            • Develop a roadmap for trade liberalization within the diverse regions of BRICS+, paying special attention to collaboration among the regional integration blocks of the Global South;
                                            • Enhance the capacities of the BRICS CRA to provide preemptive crisis prevention and postcrisis resolution assistance to BRICS+ economies;
                                            • Augment the reserve capabilities of BRICS CRA, establishing a framework for regional financing arrangements in which BRICS+ economies participate;
                                            • Form a platform for regional development banks of BRICS+ economies—in conjunction with the NDB—to actively finance priority projects throughout the Global South; [7]
                                            • Strengthen the coordination of economic policies within BRICS+, encompassing both macroeconomic strategies and structural measures that promote growth.
                                            Given the magnitude of economic challenges confronting developing economies, there may also be a strong argument for establishing additional safeguards across the Global South through the creation of coordination mechanisms among the largest stabilization funds and Sovereign Wealth Funds of the BRICS+ economies. To date, BRICS has made only modest progress in establishing a foundation for enhanced economic cooperation throughout the developing world. The establishment of the New Development Bank, although significant, cannot single-handedly tackle the myriad of challenges faced by the Global South, particularly in achieving macroeconomic stability.

                                            In their pursuit of economic cooperation, the BRICS nations have, to a large extent, either emulated the Bretton Woods system by establishing an equivalent of the World Bank in the form of NDB or have been predominantly reactive to the limitations imposed by the developed world. Instead, what BRICS needs is a proactive economic agenda that fosters substantial opportunities for developing economies to widen trade and investment, as well as to secure financial support and policy guidance. The setback of Argentina's current non-participation in the BRICS expansion serves as a warning for the Global South. The emphasis should shift from an overzealous approach to geopolitical expansion to a more concentrated and pragmatic economic collaboration within the BRICS+ framework.

                                            A new dimension of BRICS+

                                            New Argentinean authorities' declarations concerning the country's intentions to forgo the invitation to BRICS may have caused surprise throughout the Global South. However, this incident has revealed a potential new facet to the BRICS+ format that could create fresh avenues for the South–South cooperation. This novel approach for BRICS+ was proposed by officials from Argentina's southernmost region, Tierra del Fuego. Notably, Andrés Dachary, the region's Secretary of External Relations, expressed willingness for Tierra del Fuego to integrate into the BRICS+ cooperative framework, that would bring together various regions from BRICS+ countries. Such an initiative could provide a significant momentum to refining the BRICS+ concept into a more versatile platform, offering participants a range of options for economic cooperation.

                                            Notably, Tierra del Fuego is not seeking membership in the BRICS core in lieu of Argentina, a notion incorrectly suggested by some media outlets. The official communication referred to seeking engagement for this region the economic cooperation platform of BRICS+. Tierra del Fuego authorities emphasized the practical benefits of establishing connections with BRICS+, a consortium representing 25 percent of the global GDP [8]—a figure expected to rise with the recent expansion. Their declaration was essentially an appeal to "create a network of regions" within the BRICS+ framework, positioning Tierra del Fuego as a participant in such a collaborative network. [9]

                                            Andrés Dachary's proposal marks a significant step in refining the BRICS+ concept, which still requires clarification and further scholarly and practical development. In early 2017, when the author of this article first advanced the concept of BRICS+, it was envisioned as a platform to foster cooperation among regional integration blocs that included BRICS nations as members. [10] Following the expansion of the BRICS core, as announced at the summit in South Africa in August 2023, the term BRICS+ began to be intermittently applied to this broader set of BRICS economies. Dachary's proposal could potentially redirect the BRICS+ concept towards creating a multifaceted platform for economic cooperation that encompasses not only countries but also regions and regional blocs. Indeed, a municipal BRICS+ forum has been conducted in Russia over the past several years. It brought together regional authorities and business sector representatives from the developing world. The most recent forum took place in St. Petersburg on November 9–10, 2023. [11] This indicates that a groundwork is already laid for deliberations on future approaches to economic cooperation among the subnational regions of the BRICS+ community.

                                            Several important observations arise from BRICS's response to events in Argentina. Foremost, the BRICS nations respect the decision of the Argentinean electorate and maintain their willingness to strengthen ties with this key Latin American economy. [12] The Argentina case raises questions about whether expanding the BRICS core was the optimal path for the group's evolution, as opposed to broadening the BRICS+ framework and making it a more adaptable mechanism for engagement with a diverse array of economic players and communities throughout the Global South. [13] A prior, more concerted effort to develop the various aspects of the BRICS+ initiative could have provided greater opportunities for subnational groups, supranational regional entities, and their development institutions to engage in extensive South–South cooperation. [14] In any case, Tierra del Fuego's proposal should be seen as a chance to further develop the BRICS+ concept into an economic cooperation platform that unites regional blocs and subnational areas/municipalities from the Global South.

                                            Notably, the declaration by Tierra del Fuego carries symbolic weight, reflecting the reach and inclusivity of BRICS+ across the Global South to its furthest extents. Tierra del Fuego, as Argentina's southernmost region and Latin America's extreme tip, is often poetically termed "el fin del mundo" or "the edge of the world". The fact that initiatives for BRICS+ growth emanate from such remote regions is promising. However, the future of BRICS and the efficacy of constructing collaborative platforms within the developing world will largely hinge on improved relations between its principal economies, particularly India and China.

                                            Looking into the future: the best case for BRICS+

                                            In recent times, international economic discussions have often highlighted China's economic challenges and India's rising prominence as the Global South's major growth driver. Mainstream media, scholars, fund managers, and corporate leaders are increasingly advocating for the reallocation of financial investments from China to India. [15] India's successful G20 chairmanship has further sparked debates on a potential significant shift within the Global South, positioning India at the forefront of both economic growth and global issue resolution. An economic ascent on India would undoubtedly benefit the Global South. Yet, the question remains: could this trajectory be optimized? In a world frequently driven by "zero-sum" thinking, is there room for more "win-win" scenarios? Specifically, might there be an opportunity for enhancing the Sino- Indian economic relationship, thereby elevating global wealth creation to new heights?

                                            Indeed, there are compelling arguments for why enhanced economic cooperation between China and India could represent the best-case scenario for the growth dynamics of the Global South. These two nations constitute nearly a third of the world population, and any shifts in their welfare dynamics could significantly influence global poverty reduction, environmental sustainability, and other pressing international concerns. It could be argued that, from an "allocative efficiency" [16] perspective, it would be more beneficial for global welfare if economic growth were focused in densely populated areas with substantial potential for catch-up development, as seen in both China and India. Despite the well-publicized differences and tensions between them, these two rising powers have much in common on the global stage. Several collaborative initiatives within the BRICS framework could further enhance Sino-Indian economic cooperation, including:

                                            • The BRICS New Development Bank, a joint development bank; [17]
                                            • BRICS+, a unified platform for forming alliances with third parties;
                                            • The CRA, a body for coordinating macroeconomic policies and crisis management;
                                            • Synchronized efforts in international economic organizations such as the IMF.
                                            The trade relationship between China and India has been on the rise over the past several years, culminating in a record high of over USD 135 billion in 2022. [18] However, this figure could potentially be far more significant if projections based on the gravity model hold true. Notably, China's trade with Russia is projected to surpass USD 200 billion in 2023, despite India having a larger GDP than Russia. [19] Meanwhile, the trade turnover between the United States and India is several times higher than that between China and India, despite India's shared border with, and geographical proximity to, China. The potential for enhancing Sino-Indian trade is further amplified by the complementary nature of their trade patterns: China primarily exports manufactured goods, while India's exports to China are largely comprised of primary and semi-finished products, with the potential to expand into the services sector.

                                            In the investment domain, a crucial aspect of the India–China partnership lies in the connectivity track. This approach entails aligning mutual economic trade with enhanced transportation connectivity, which would benefit not only India and China, but also intermediate economies such as Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, and Central Asian nations. These predominantly landlocked economies would greatly prosper from improved connectivity with their neighboring countries. Similar to trade, there is a noteworthy complementarity between China's and India's connectivity frameworks. China primarily focuses on East–West transportation corridors in Eurasia, whereas India emphasizes the North–South axis. The China–India border, spanning nearly 3500 kilometers, is India's second longest land border, accentuating the potential for connectivity with neighboring countries such as Nepal and Bangladesh. Consequently, the China–India economic partnership could pave the way for catch-up growth in the developing world, advancing poverty reduction and expanding opportunities for connectivity projects.

                                            The India–China partnership has the potential to significantly reshape global economic alliances. At the global level, this partnership, alongside regional Indo-Pacific Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD) economic alliance, could foster a broader QUAD that unites the United States and the European Union from the Global North with China and India from the Global South. Beyond the expanded scope of the BRICS/BRICS+ partnership, there is also greater potential for pan-Asian integration initiatives and the strengthening of Global South platforms within key international forums, [20] such as the G20. [21] Given the pivotal nature of the China–India relations for the economic prosperity of the Global South, it is essential to establish mechanisms that will sustain and enhance China–India economic ties within the wider context of cooperation among developing economies. Importantly, there is a significant degree of complementarity in economic alliances that China and India could jointly cultivate on the international stage. India could emerge as a vital gateway for the Global South to engage with developed economies, whereas China might advance its BRICS+ platforms, broadening the scope for South–South economic cooperation.

                                            An enhancement in bilateral economic cooperation between China and India could lead to significant gains in the economic performance of the global economy and the Global South, specifically:

                                            • A more inclusive and open model of the North–South relations, surpassing the outcomes of China and India operating independently;
                                            • A substantial upgrade of BRICS that could help effectively overcome the principal hurdle impeding its progress;
                                            • The introduction of a BRICS++ paradigm, endorsed by both India and China, which fosters collaboration with advanced economies and their development institutions, laying the groundwork for a more enduring globalization effort;
                                            • A reorientation of mutual investment flows towards the Global South.
                                            The question remains, however, as to how this cooperative framework in China– India economic relations will unfold, given the geopolitical tensions between these two major players in the developing world. One scenario envisages the Global South rising economically and politically on the global stage, with the increasing economic potential from mutual cooperation beginning to alter the "prisoner's dilemma" matrix in which China and India are currently locked. It is anticipated that the advantages of economic cooperation will surpass the fleeting benefits of contention in bilateral ties.

                                            Considering the mentioned factors, several priority initiatives that China and India could promptly undertake include:

                                            • Aligning their economic development strategies towards the Global South, with particular attention to the Sustainable Development Goals;
                                            • Setting an ambitious goal to expand bilateral trade;
                                            • Synchronizing China's Belt and Road Initiative with India's connectivity projects;
                                            • Creating a joint roadmap for trade liberalization;
                                            • Establishing a bilateral portfolio of "priority investment projects" under the oversight of the NDB; [22]
                                            • Providing joint support to the least developed economies, particularly in Africa;
                                            • Formulating contingency plans for mutual stabilization, anticrisis measures, and trade liberalization targeting the Global South and the broader global economy.
                                            In essence, the rise of a robust China–India economic partnership could be the most significant wealth-enhancing transformation in the global economy. [23] Within the Global South, such a partnership is poised to be the optimal scenario, fostering increased South–South trade and investment flows and enabling developing economies to hasten their catch-up growth relative to developed nations. The high degree of complementarity between China and India in trade, investment, and economic partnerships offers a considerable opportunity for this partnership to benefit the Global South.


                                            The ultimate aim of BRICS is to establish platforms for economic cooperation among developing nations, rather than to weaken any economy. The existing BRICS and BRICS+ frameworks could eventually be augmented by a BRICS++ format that would potentially welcome the involvement of developed economies, regional blocs, and their respective development institutions. BRICS, as envisaged in this article, should evolve into a broad and transparent platform in the global economy, laying the groundwork for a revitalized and more sustainable approach to globalization. Over time, this platform could come to include the Bretton Woods institutions and other pivotal entities from the Western world.

                                            The main challenges for the BRICS coalition stem from the absence of ambitious economic agenda. To date, BRICS's momentum on the global stage has been largely political and geopolitical, as evidenced by the growing number of developing countries eager to join the bloc. Such expansion, however, complicates achieving a consensus, which is crucial for making decisions about economic cooperation. These decisions relate not only to financial aspects concerning common payment systems and the potential for a common currency or accounting unit, but also to trade liberalization among the BRICS economies and, more broadly, across the economies of the Global South. BRICS requires a bold trade liberalization agenda that benefits developing economies. Such an agenda could lay the foundation for the progression of the BRICS+ platform along various paths, including the "integration of integrations" strategy among regional integration blocs that count BRICS nations as members.

                                            First published in the Pathways to Peace and Security Journal.

                                            Lissovolik Y. BRICS Plus following the 2023 "expansion summit" // Pathways to Peace and Security. 2023. No 2 (65). P. 42-52.


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                                            5. Lissovolik Ya. BRICS+ minus Argentina // BRICS+ Analytics. 20 November 2023. URL: (accessed 25.11.2023).

                                            6. Vazquez K. C. Brazil and BRICS multilateralism à la carte: from bilateralism to community interest // Global Policy. 2021. V. 12. № 4. P. 534–538.

                                            7. Lissovolik Ya., Vinokurov E. Extending BRICS to BRICS+: the potential for development finance, connectivity and financial stability // Area Development and Policy. 2019. V. 4. № 2. P. 117–133.

                                            8. Tierra del Fuego busca ser provincia adherente de los BRICS // El diario del fin del mundo. 01.12.2023. URL: (accessed 15.11.2023).

                                            9. Proponemos la creacion de una institucion paralela para adherer al broque // Sur54. 01.12.2023. URL: (accessed 15.11.2023).

                                            10. Lissovolik Ya. Re-thinking the BRICS: on the concepts of BRICS+ and BRICS++ // BRICS+ Analytics. 2 July 2017. URL: (accessed 15.11.2023).

                                            11. V International Municipal BRICS+ Forum. November 9–10, 2023. URL: (accessed 15.11.2023).

                                            12. China reaffirms support for new nations joining BRICS as Argentina signals rejection // Reuters. 20.11.2023. URL: (accessed 25.11.2023).

                                            13. Arapova E. Y., Lissovolik Ya. D. BRICS: the Global South responds to new challenges (in the Context of China's BRICS Chairmanship) // SSRN Electronic Journal. 13 July 2022. URL: (accessed 15.11.2023).

                                            14. Arapova E. Y. The "BRICS Plus" as the first international platform connecting regional trade agreements // Asia-Pacific Social Science Review. 2019. № 2. P. 30–46.

                                            15. In previous years, some limitations regarding China's role in BRICS and its impact on the transformation of global governance have also been explored. See Hooijmaaijers B. China, the BRICS, and the limitations of reshaping global economic governance // The Pacific Review. 2021. V. 34. № 1. P. 29–55.

                                            16. Allocative efficiency is a state of economy characterized by an efficient market where all goods and services meet the needs and wants of society.

                                            17. Hooijmaaijers B. The internal and external institutionalization of the BRICS countries: the case of the New Development Bank // International Political Science Review. 2022. V. 43. № 4. P. 481–494.

                                            18. Lissovolik Ya. A best-case scenario for the Global South // BRICS+ Analytics. 28 September 2023. URL: (accessed 15.11.2023).

                                            19. Ibid.

                                            20. Arapova E. Y., Lissovolik Y. D. The BRICS Plus cooperation in international organizations: prospects for reshaping the global agenda // Asia-Pacific Social Science Review. 2021. V. 21. № 4. P. 192–206.

                                            21. Larionova M., Shelepov A. BRICS, G20 and Global Economic Governance Reform // International Political Science Review. 2022. V. 43. № 4. P. 512–530.

                                            22. Vazquez K. C. South-South Ideas: Catalyzing the Contribution of the New Development Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to the Sustainable Development Goals.—New York: United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation, 2022. URL: (accessed 15.11.2023).

                                            23. Resolving the bilateral China–India tensions is not the only problem of the South-South agenda—there is a number of factors that need to be addressed to boost economic cooperation across the Global South. See Duggan N., Hooijmaaijers B., Rewizorski M., Arapova E. Introduction: The BRICS, global governance, and challenges for South–South xooperation in a post-Western world // International Political Science Review. 2022. V. 43. № 4. P. 469–480.

                                                          Investment and Finance
                                                          Investment and finance in BRICS
                                                          'Maharaja Bonds' for BRICS bank to release («Облигации Махараджи» будут выпущены для банка БРИКС) / Russia, January, 2024
                                                          Keywords: economic_challenges, ndb

                                                          BRICS, a bloc of leading emerging markets, is preparing to launch new bonds in global markets, which will be available in local currencies rather than in the US dollar.

                                                          The BRICS bank, known as the New Development Bank (NDB), will soon release the bonds called 'Maharaja Bonds' worth $28 billion, IRNA reported on Sunday citing a press release by Watcher Guru, a website introducing itself as a leading source for finance focusing on cryptocurrency.

                                                          Watcher Guru did not specify the exact date the bonds will be released but said that NDB Chief Operating Officer Vladimir Kazbekov has announced that the bank is waiting for approvals from regulatory authorities.

                                                          The new bonds, according to the website, will be made available for governments, financial institutions, and regular investors.

                                                          They will be available for purchase in local currencies in an effort to strengthen them and to help boost their respective economies.

                                                          The plan to release the bonds is part of BRICS's initiatives for de-dollarization as the alliance is moving ahead to reduce dependency on the American currency in an effort to reform the global economy.

                                                          BRICS is comprised of Brazil, China, Russia, India, and South Africa as well as six new members namely Iran, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, Argentina, and Ethiopia.

                                                          BRICS leaders, at their latest summit in late 2023, pledged to promote the use of local currencies as a way to ditch the US dollar, as they unanimously rejected exploiting the global economy for political purposes.

                                                                        African nations stepping away from dollar-dominated system by joining BRICS — experts (Африканские страны отходят от долларовой системы и присоединяются к БРИКС — эксперты) / Russia, January, 2024
                                                                        Keywords: brics+, trade_relations

                                                                        African nations stepping away from dollar-dominated system by joining BRICS — experts

                                                                        African nations are looking for new ways to raise money as global financial entities, such as the World Bank, fail to give sufficient attention to the continent, Kenyan financial company AZA Finance CEO Elizabeth Rossiello stressed

                                                                        PARIS, January 15. /TASS/. The fact that Egypt, Ethiopia and other countries of the Global South are joining BRICS means that they are gradually moving away from the dollar-based system of global trade, experts told the Jeune Afrique news magazine.

                                                                        For Africa the use of the dollar in trade means that countries have no chance to trade with each other in local currencies, Elizabeth Rossiello, Chief Executive Officer of the Kenyan financial company AZA Finance, said. African nations are looking for new ways to raise money as global financial entities, such as the World Bank, fail to give sufficient attention to the continent, she stressed.

                                                                        BRICS is also attractive to developing countries because it can act as a buffer from US sanctions, Steve Hanke, a professor of applied economics at Johns Hopkins University, said. The countries of the global South see the association as a counterweight to the US-dominated global financial system, the analyst added.

                                                                        That said, a number of experts note that the expansion of BRICS will not lead to the fragmentation of the global economy. Adam Slater, lead economist for the Oxford Economics company, believes that the integration's total share in global trade stands at a mere 3%. Meanwhile, former employee at the White House and the World Bank Harry Broadman thinks that joining BRICS has more of a political and symbolic meaning, not economic.

                                                                        The BRICS group, established in 2006, first expanded in 2011, when South Africa joined the four founding nations of Brazil, Russia, India and China. The decision to invite six more countries to join BRICS, including Argentina, was made at the group's summit in Johannesburg in August 2023. However, Argentina declined the invitation to join in late December. Five new members (Egypt, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Ethiopia) formally became full-fledged members of the BRICS group on January 1. Russia assumed BRICS' one-year rotating chairmanship on the same day.

                                                                                      Political Events
                                                                                      Political events in the public life of BRICS
                                                                                      Russian Federation's chairmanship of BRICS (Председательство Российской Федерации в БРИКС.) / Russia, January, 2024
                                                                                      Keywords: mofa, quotation, chairmanship

                                                                                      Starting January 1, 2024, the Russian Federation took over the chairmanship of BRICS. On this occasion, President of Russia Vladimir Putin delivered an address where he outlined the main priorities of our turn.

                                                                                      The Russian chairmanship motto is Strengthening Multilateralism for Equitable Global Development and Security. During the year, plans call for holding over 200 events in three key areas of cooperation: politics and security, economy and finance, and cultural and humanitarian contacts. The BRICS Summit in Kazan in October will be the culmination of our chairmanship.

                                                                                      The agenda of our chairmanship is packed. One of the crucial tasks is to ensure the integration of new participants in the BRICS mechanisms without compromising their efficiency. To implement Johannesburg II Declaration, we will devise the modality of establishing the category of BRICS partner states and create a list of potential candidates to present the report at the Kazan summit. We also intend to deepen the dialogue with friendly countries in the outreach/BRICS Plus format.

                                                                                      Our foreign policy priorities include strengthening coordination on multilateral platforms, cooperation in combatting terrorism, drug trafficking, cybercrime, money laundering and the legalisation of criminal proceeds.

                                                                                      We will contribute to the comprehensive implementation of the Strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership until 2025 and the Action Plan for BRICS Innovation Cooperation for 2021–2024. We aim to enhance the role of BRICS in the international financial system, develop interbank cooperation, facilitate the transformation of the international settlements system, and expand the use of BRICS national currencies in mutual trade. Among important areas are deepening the dialogue between taxation, customs and anti-trust bodies.

                                                                                      We will also focus on such issues as boosting cooperation in healthcare, research and innovation, and expanding contacts between research centres and universities. We will continue to share expertise and best practices with our BRICS partners in such areas as digital transformation and the use of artificial intelligence, and will improve multilateral interaction in innovative development, and the development and deployment of advanced technologies. We expect to continue cooperating with our BRICS partners in the implementation of joint research and development projects, as well as the Action Plan for BRICS Innovation Cooperation for 2021–2024.

                                                                                      We also pay a great deal of attention to our humanitarian, educational and cultural cooperation and intend to facilitate the further development of contacts in culture, sports and youth exchanges. In particular, we plan to hold the BRICS Sports Games in June 2024.

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