Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 50.2018
2018.12.10 — 2018.12.16
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Can Brazil's Relationship With Iran Survive a New Administration? (Могут ли отношения Бразилии с Ираном пережить новое управление?) / Iran, December, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, political_issues
Author: Fatemeh Aman

The trade and economic partnership between Iran and Brazil has expanded in recent years and was slated to grow even further after the completion of the Iran nuclear dealin 2015. But questions are being raised about this relationship after the victory of President-elect Jair Bolsonaro.

Brazil is Iran's seventh-largest trade partner and by far its most important economic interlocutor in South America. On November 15, a Brazilian vessel arrived at Chabahar, Iran's only ocean port, carrying 72,000 tons of bulk corn from Brazil. A year ago, a Brazilian ship, the Living, carried 66,000 tons of sugar into Chabahar.

According to Behrouz Aghaie, director of the Sistan-Baluchestan Ports and Maritime Organization, the latest shipment was the largest to dock at this strategic southern Iranian port.The port, which was developed by India, has been exempted from USsanctions, primarily because of its importance to Afghanistan as an outlet for trade.

On November 10, Fernando Collor de Mello, a senator and Brazil's former president, told Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani in Tehran that Brazil and the other BRICS states—Russia, India, China and South Africa—would stand with Iran in the face of US sanctions. Currently the head of the Committee of Foreign Affairs and National Defense at Brazil's Federal Senate, de Mello referred to US sanctions against other Latin American countries such as Cuba and Venezuela and stated that such measures would never resolve problems.

TheBrazilian ambassador to Iran, Rodrigo de Azeredo Santos, announced in September 2018 that his country plans to allocate a $1.2 billion loan to Brazilian companies doing business with Iran. This is even more generous than a European Union plan to boost European commerce with Iran through an €18 million aid package. But the fate of the Brazilian credit line, which was to be opened by the Brazilian Development Bank, is not assured under the incoming Bolsonaro administration.

The Iranian government congratulated Bolsonaro on his victory in October, expressing hope that relations between Tehran and Brasilia "will continue to expand and flourish in all economic and political fields." But how couldBolsonaro's administration change the course of this relationship?

Brazil exported more than $2 billion worth of products to Iran in 2017. That put Brazil after only China, India and Russia as a top trading partner in the last Iranian fiscal year.

In the second half of 2018, Iran began negotiating with a number of countries, including Brazil, over the importation of raw materials for pharmaceuticals. In addition, there were talks about possible Brazilian investment in Iran's oil industry.

During the 2011 - 2014 term of former President Dilma Rousseff, the Iran-Brazil economic partnership waned due to international sanctions imposed on Iran. Internal changes in Brazil and human rights abuses in Iran were also cited as reasons for the decline. The relationship changed dramatically, however, after the Iranian nuclear deal in 2015, and trade reached $2.2 billion in 2016.

Politically, Brazil has attempted to play a constructive role in Iran's nuclear dispute by negotiating the "Tehran Nuclear Declaration" in 2010 that sought to address concerns about Iran's nuclear program by sending out much of Iran's stockpile of low-enriched uranium to Turkey in return for fuel for a reactor that produces medical isotopes. The 2010 proposal, however, was rejected by the Obama administration, which had initially encouraged the Turkish-Brazilian effort but regarded the result as too little, too late.

With the election of Bolsonaro, it seems likely that Brazil will revert to a position of hostility toward Iran. The new Brazilian president is a "likeminded" leader with the Trump administration, White House national security advisor John Bolton said recently. Bolsanaro's choice forforeign minister, Ernesto Araújo, described Iran's regime as "horrible Islamic fundamentalism that has come to contaminate the Middle East."

Eduardo Bolsonaro, the president-elect's son, stated before the election that his father's win would mean an end to friendly Iranian-Brazilian ties.

The new administration is not only alienating Tehran. By announcing plans to move Brazil's embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, Bolsonaro could also anger many of Brazil's traditional Arab friends and undermine multibillion-dollar sales of poultry and halal meat to Muslim countries. Brazil's exports to the Middle East alone amount to $16 billion annually of which only 3 percent goes to Israel. The embassy move, which probably was intended to win the support of the growing Evangelical population in Brazil, may not actually take place as the new administration cannot afford losing the backing of Brazil's agricultural sector. Such a shift would also anger Brazil's Muslim community, the largest Muslim population in Latin America.

So far, Brazil's largest trading partner, Egypt, has expressed dismay at the move. A planned visit by a large Brazilian delegation to Egypt, which included a meeting with Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, was cancelled last month, probably in response to the announced embassy transfer.

Bolsonaro's victory was partly due to the support he received from the business community, but it is not completely clear how he can retain this backing. According to World Bank data, Brazil could fall into crisis again if it doesn't cut its budget deficit. No wonder Brazil's economy has been the center of attention of many governments over the last three decades.

Bolton said at a November 27 press briefing that he thinks Bolsonaro and Trump have developed a personal relationship"even if remotely." This may not be sufficient to resolve the issue of the tariffs that the Trump administration recently levied on Brazilian aluminum and steel.

Populist leaders sometimes change their positions once in power. If improving the Brazilian economy requires staying the course with Iran, Bolsanaro may also alter his views—especially if Brazil can take advantage of Iran's current difficult situation.

One possible scenario is that the new Brazilian administration would limit political relations with Iran but continue its current level of trade.

Rubens Ricupero, a former finance and environment minister, claimed recently that Bolsonaro could backtrack on his most radical foreign policy positions. "If Bolsonaro does what he says," Ricupero noted, "Brazil will quickly become a pariah in the global community."

Brazil's incoming deputy president, General Hamilton Mourao, stated recently that "Sometimes [Bolsonaro] has rhetoric that does not go along with reality."Mourao added, "Brazilian foreign policy has traditionally been pragmatic.We have to keep it in balance."

In response to concerns over the planned embassy move and possible backlash, Bolsonaro said he would keep Brazil's relations with the Middle East in good shape. It is not clear, however, whether he considers Iran to be part of the Middle East.

Fatemeh Aman is a nonresident senior fellow at Atlantic Council's South Asia Center.
Praise to ANC for hosting ground-breaking BRICS dialogues (Благодарность АНК за проведение новаторских диалогов БРИКС) / South Africa, December, 2018
Keywords: top_level_meeting, expert_opinion, quotation
South Africa

The recent gathering of the governing parties from the BRICS countries and their allies ought to be a source of praise to the African National Congress (ANC). A feather in the cap of the men and women who operate from Luthuli House in Johannesburg, the ANC HQ.

South Africa's only ruling party since the dawn of democracy on April 27, 1994 played host to the second BRICS Political Parties Plus Dialogue with aplomb. The rationale for the ANC to host the BRICS political parties dialogue was informed, according to the ANC, by the party's resolution from its Nasrec elective conference in 2017. It resolved that: (1)The historical connection of SA with the emerging powers be fostered through cooperation within forums such as BRICS, (2) Breathing oxygen into the strategic importance of BRICS membership as part of the ANC's overall international relations strategy and (3)That SA's membership of BRICS needs to be leveraged to advance the country's developmental goals.

Now, it is not too often that the ANC is seen making good on promises the party makes. Therefore, to see the ANC in time and space hosting the BRICS dialogues involving governing parties of the member-states and extending the invitation to like-minded countries who attended the important gathering, not a talk-shop, is truly encouraging in an era of promises frequently broken.

The BRICS Political Parties Plus Dialogue was itself a major success and a foundation for a brighter, integrated, common future by like-minded nations taking an initiative to build a future by themselves, for themselves.

BRICS countries were represented by their individual governing parties quite impressively as follows: Brazil Workers Party, Communist Party of the Russian Federation, Communist Party of China, ANC and its alliance partners. And then, there were notably attendees who included ruling parties from Angola, Botswana, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Malaysia, Mozambique, Namibia, Nicaragua, Palestine, Rwanda, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.

Now, this for me is one of the most strategic purposes of BRICS. For a relatively new power bloc which is already shaking the international world order to attract such a diverse group of countries bodes well for that rare commodity: influence. Influence at the world forums such as the United Nations (UN), World Trade Organisation (WTO), G-20 and others. Together, in their growing numbers, BRICS together with its supporters, can form unity of purpose and speak as one in favour or against any stand-point anywhere in the world. Unity indeed is power. Many of the countries listed above as having attended the BRICS dialogues have struggling economies. Others, such as Russia and China, live under constant political and economic threat from President Donald Trump's America. There is clearly good reason for BRICS to be nurtured in order to develop into a highly respected global power.

As the ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa put it to the gathering; "We are determined with our struggle to make the world a better place. It is therefore in the best interest of the generations of mankind to come, that we work together to ensure we fulfill this dream we desire as the world and the people."

Ace Magashule, the ANC Secretary-General and the man who many regard as the heart-beat of the ANC by virtue of the office he occupies, said at the end of the dialogues: "We emerge out of this dialogue more vigorous to build on party-to-party relations and to ensure that we consolidate unity and cohesion amongst the BRICS nation states, and all other progressive forces of the world."

What I find interesting in the utterances of both ANC leaders is the clear reference to "the world". Like other BRICS members and their supporters, the ANC is looking to shape the global agenda by rallying like-minded democrats and former freedom fighters and their supporters to fight together the glaring injustices of the current world order. BRICS will succeed when more and more countries adopt their agenda and resolutions. Soon, hopefully, as the BRICS Bank also takes off the ground more countries would be attracted to joining BRICS as "progressive forces" who will never again look to the traditional lenders such as the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as the only global financial institutions that offers huge loans to the emerging markets.

Why RIC is as important to India as JAI and BRICS (Почему РИК так важен для Индии, как ЯАИ и БРИКС) / India, December, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, global_governance, political_issues
Author: Uma Purushothaman

At the recent G-20 Summit in Buenos Aires, even as the newly-forged Japan-USA-India (JAI) trilateral meeting hogged attention, there was another equally important meeting which took place on the side-lines — that of the Russia-India-China (RIC) trilateral, a much older grouping. Also, this was the first meeting of the heads of government of the three Eurasian powers in 12 years. Conceived by the then Russian foreign minister Yevgeny Primakov in 1998, much before BRICS, the idea of the RIC never really took off unlike the BRICS, despite occasional meetings on the side-lines of the UN General Assembly and other multilateral meetings. However, this time, the three countries have agreed to hold regular summits from now on at all levels to jointly promote peace and stability. They emphasised on the need to promote multilateralism, reform institutions of global governance like the UN and the WTO and highlighted the need to work together to steer global economic governance.

The RIC is a significant multilateral grouping, because it brings together the three largest Eurasian countries which are also incidentally geographically contiguous.

Together, the RIC countries occupy over 19 percent of the global landmass and contribute to over 33 percent of global GDP. All three are nuclear powers and two, Russia and China, are permanent members of the UN Security Council, while India aspires to be one. Though apparently an unlikely troika due to the historical differences between New Delhi and Beijing, what binds the group together is the now strong partnership between Beijing and Moscow and the time-tested relations between Moscow and New Delhi. So, in a sense, Russia becomes the bridge between India and China, since it enjoys strong relations with both. Moreover, the RIC forms the core of both the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and the BRICS.

For Russian President Vladimir Putin, the RIC meeting on the side-lines of the G 20 was a message to the West that despite their shunning him, he still has friends like India and China. For China, the RIC provides a platform where it can push its interests in Eurasia. As for India, well, it is in a geostrategic sweet spot today. It is being wooed by everyone -- from the smaller powers in East Asia to the bigger powers like the US, Russia and China. The RIC summit is a reflection of this new found status. India would do well to give RIC the same importance as the JAI group. The drawback if India focuses only on groupings like the Quad and the JAI is that these groupings essentially revolve around the Indo Pacific and will confine India to being only a maritime power when it is actually both a maritime and continental power. It is important for India as an aspiring power to be able to thwart China's aspirations of being a hegemon in both the maritime and continental spheres. India cannot cede geostrategic space in the Eurasian supercontinent to China if it wants to be a great power and it understands that Russia alone will not be able to prevent the emergence of China as a hegemon in Eurasia. Moreover, the RIC is important for India's ambitions for a variety of reasons.

As the Eurasian supercontinent regains its primacy in world affairs and as the interests of India, Russia and China deepen and clash in the region, it would be useful to have a platform to discuss areas of cooperation and understand the differences.

Moreover, any holistic, stable security architecture on the Eurasian landmass cannot develop without having Beijing, Delhi and Moscow on board and the RIC offers the ideal forum for this.

Even though India, China and Russia may disagree on a number of security issues in Eurasia, there are areas where their interest converge, like, for instance, on Afghanistan. Primarily, none of them wants an Afghanistan, which is a haven for terrorist activities. So, they could work together as part of the RIC to ensure stable peace in Afghanistan and by extension, in Central Asia.

The trio could also contribute to creating a new economic structure for the world. The US, under President Trump, apparently wants to break down the current economic and political order. While the existing structure is not satisfactory, the RIC could offer some suggestions which could be acceptable to the US. Regular RIC interactions could also help the three countries identify other issues where they have congruent views like the volatile situation in the West Asia, particularly on issues like the sanctions on Iran.

With Russia being a major exporter of energy and India and China being major consumers, the three countries could discuss the creation of an Asian energy grid, which could go a long way in ensuring energy security for the region as well as allow these countries to determine prices suitable to them.

They could work together on disaster relief and humanitarian assistance. Finally, with the Northern Sea Route opening up due to climate change, the RIC has a common interest in ensuring that it is not left to the West and Russia alone and that India and China make the transition from rule followers to rule makers by helping formulate some of the rules governing the Arctic route.

The RIC summit is a continuation of the turnaround in India's foreign policy after Modi's summit meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Wuhan and President Putin in Sochi earlier this year. It is an assertion of India's strategic autonomy, which will hopefully continue well after the general elections early next year.

Global balances shift from BRICS to TRICS (Глобальный баланс переходит от БРИКС к ТРИКС) / Turkey, December, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, political_issues
Author: Kerem Alkin

The "yellow vests" protests in France offered U.S. President Donald Trump an opportunity to voice his intense criticism of the Paris Agreement and the discussions concerning a European army. However, the issue is not limited to this. The Washington-based International Investigative Journalists Consortium's, close to the U.S. administration and Hungarian-American investor George Soros' Open Society Foundations, operations to uncover cross-border financial and tax transactions of world-renowned people and companies targeted Russian President Vladimir Putin and former British Prime Minister David Cameron, who hates Soros, with the Panama Papers, documents leaked in 2016 that detail financial and attorney-client information for thousands of offshore entities.

Take note that the same leak also revealed Swiss and Luxembourg documents from the Rothschild family's French representative, Baron Elie de Rothschild, the Duchy of Luxembourg (who is close to the family), and from the family's lawyers. This is why the rise of the yellow vests is also regarded as a reflection of the big battle between the Rothschilds, who support French President Emmanuel Macron, and Soros.

Now, let's take a look at Brazil's newly elected president, Jair Bolsonaro. Similar to Britain's Brexit from the EU project, Brazil's "Braxit" from the BRICS, which was founded as an alternative to the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an economic, political and financial think tank of the Atlantic Alliance under the leadership of China and Russia, is being discussed. What a coincidence that Bolsonaro was also a candidate of Pentecostals, conservative Christians who feel close to Israel, like the evangelicals in the United States. This is why, when he was elected president, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu enthusiastically celebrated him. Interestingly, Brazilian presidents Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Dilma Vana Rousseff's governments advocated that the Palestinians should determine their own destiny.

For this reason, it is being discussed that Bolsonaro, completing the process started by previous President Michel Temer, will take Brazil back to the North-West axis controlled by the U.S. instead of being part of BRICS, which focuses on the South-East axis with two countries coming from communism, China and Russia. China reacted to Bolsonaro's East Asia trip, which included South Korea, Japan and Taiwan.

Add to that China sending a diplomatic note to Canada - meaning that there will be serious consequences - for the arrest of Huawei's heir and the company's CFO, Meng Wanzhou. At the last G20 summit in Argentina, it wasn't very surprising that Turkey was invited to the South-East axis, TRICS, instead of Brazil. To emphasize again, over the next 25 years Turkey and India will shape the global political economy.

Trade wars continue at full speed

In the midst of all this, after Meng's detention on charges of violating sanctions against Iran, she was released on bail of $7.47 million on the condition she wear an electronic monitor and returned to court on Feb. 6. However, the anger in China is not calming down and reactions continue to escalate every day. Shenzhen-based electronic parts manufacturer Menpad decided to fine their staff, equal to the value of their devices, if they continue to use Apple products. The Nanchong Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai has announced that it will end the membership of companies using Apple products. The information technology company RYD in Sichuan indicated that it will provide a 15 percent incentive to its personnel who buy Huawei mobile phones.

On the Atlantic front, on the other hand, the European Court of Justice, the highest judicial body of the European Union, ruled that Britain could unilaterally revoke leaving the EU. This means that Britain can opt out of Brexit as long as negotiations with the EU continue. With this decision, the House of Commons can consider a third option of not leaving the EU on top of the options of contractually and unreservedly separating, following the postponed vote in the U.K. Parliament. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Theresa May pulled through the vote of confidence demanded by the members of Parliament from her party with 200 votes in favor and 117 against. If the result was against her, she would have had to resign.

One last point with regard to the global trade wars I've been discussing in this column is that the European Parliament has ratified a historic and very large-scale free trade agreement between the EU and Japan. We will witness the repercussions of these two strong players signing this comprehensive trade agreement, while the U.S. is cultivating a trade and exchange rate war with strong actors such as the EU, Japan and China.
Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
LETTER: Ride to Eskom's rescue (Письмо: Поездка на помощь Эскому) / South Africa, December, 2018
Keywords: rating, economic_challenges
South Africa

With Eskom owing more than R400bn and struggling to keep our lights on, perhaps the Energy Intensive User Group and willing businesses and households, could lend working capital to Eskom in exchange for an electricity price that is lower than the prices in competing Brics [Brazil, Russia, India and China] economies.

If accepted, Eskom will be compelled to use energy experts such as Chris Yelland, possibly relaxing affirmative action. Eskom will also have to be pushed into business rescue to slash unacceptable wages and contracts, and deliver an ultra low energy price to the Republic.

Consumers, taxpayers and the national treasury will all be spared the pain of a no-benefit bailout.
How the New Silk Roads are merging into Greater Eurasia (Как Новые Шелковые Пути сливаются в Большую Евразию) / China, December, 2018
Keywords: expert_opinion, economic_challenges, trade_relations

The concept of Greater Eurasia has been discussed at the highest levels of Russian academia and policy-making for some time. This week the policy was presented at the Council of Ministers and looks set to be enshrined, without fanfare, as the main guideline of Russian foreign policy for the foreseeable future.

President Putin is unconditionally engaged to make it a success. Already at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum in 2016, Putin referred to an emerging "Eurasian partnership".

I was privileged over the past week to engage in excellent discussions in Moscow with some of the top Russian analysts and policymakers involved in advancing Greater Eurasia.

Three particularly stand out: Yaroslav Lissovolik, program director of the Valdai Discussion Club and an expert on the politics and economics of the Global South; Glenn Diesen, author of the seminal Russia's Geoeconomic Strategy for a Greater Eurasia; and the legendary Professor Sergey Karaganov, dean of the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs at the National Research University Higher School of Economics and honorary chairman of the Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, who received me in his office for an off-the-record conversation.

The framework for Great Eurasia has been dissected in detail by the indispensable Valdai Discussion Club, particularly on Rediscovering the Identity, the sixth part of a series called Toward the Great Ocean, published last September, and authored by an academic who's who on the Russian Far East, led by Leonid Blyakher of the Pacific National University in Khabarovsk and coordinated by Karaganov, director of the project.

The conceptual heart of Greater Eurasia is Russia's Turn to the East, or pivot to Asia, home of the economic and technological markets of the future. This implies Greater Eurasia proceeding in symbiosis with China's New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). And yet this advanced stage of the Russia-China strategic partnership does not mean Moscow will neglect its myriad close ties to Europe.

Russian Far East experts are very much aware of the "Eurocentrism of a considerable portion of Russian elites." They know how almost the entire economic, demographic and ideological environment in Russia has been closely intertwined with Europe for three centuries. They recognize that Russia has borrowed Europe's high culture and its system of military organization. But now, they argue, it's time, as a great Eurasian power, to profit from "an original and self-sustained fusion of many civilizations"; Russia not just as a trade or connectivity point, but as a "civilizational bridge".

Legacy of Genghis Khan

What my conversations, especially with Lissovolik, Diesen and Karaganov, have revealed is something absolutely groundbreaking – and virtually ignored across the West; Russia is aiming to establish a new paradigm not only in geopolitics and geoeconomics, but also on a cultural and ideological level.

Conditions are certainly ripe for it. Northeast Asia is immersed in a power vacuum. The Trump administration's priority – as well as the US National Security Strategy's – is containment of China. Both Japan and South Korea, slowly but surely, are getting closer to Russia.

Culturally, retracing Russia's past, Greater Eurasia analysts may puzzle misinformed Western eyes. 'Towards the Great Ocean', the Valdai report supervised by Karaganov, notes the influence of Byzantium, which "preserved classical culture and made it embrace the best of the Orient culture at a time when Europe was sinking into the Dark Ages." Byzantium inspired Russia to adopt Orthodox Christianity.

It also stresses the role of the Mongols over Russia's political system. "The political traditions of most Asian countries are based on the legacy of the Mongols. Arguably, both Russia and China are rooted in Genghis Khan's empire," it says.

If the current Russian political system may be deemed authoritarian – or, as claimed in Paris and Berlin, an exponent of "illiberalism" – top Russian academics argue that a market economy protected by lean, mean military power performs way more efficiently than crisis-ridden Western liberal democracy.

As China heads West in myriad forms, Greater Eurasia and the Belt and Road Initiative are bound to merge. Eurasia is crisscrossed by mighty mountain ranges such as the Pamirs and deserts like the Taklamakan and the Karakum. The best ground route runs via Russia or via Kazakhstan to Russia. In crucial soft power terms, Russian remains the lingua franca in Mongolia, Central Asia and the Caucasus.

And that leads us to the utmost importance of an upgraded Trans-Siberian railway – Eurasia's current connectivity core. In parallel, the transportation systems of the Central Asian "stans" are closely integrated with the Russian network of roads; all that is bound to be enhanced in the near future by Chinese-built high-speed rail.

Iran and Turkey are conducting their own versions of a pivot to Asia. A free-trade agreement between Iran and the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) was approved in early December. Iran and India are also bound to strike a free-trade agreement. Iran is a big player in the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), which is essential in driving closer economic integration between Russia and India.

The Caspian Sea, after a recent deal between its five littoral states, is re-emerging as a major trading post in Central Eurasia. Russia and Iran are involved in a joint project to build a gas pipeline to India.

Kazakhstan shows how Greater Eurasia and BRI are complementary; Astana is both a member of BRI and the EAEU. The same applies to gateway Vladivostok, Eurasia's entry point for both South Korea and Japan, as well as Russia's entry point to Northeast Asia.

Ultimately, Russia's regional aim is to connect China's northern provinces with Eurasia via the Trans-Siberian and the Chinese Eastern Railway – with Chita in China and Khabarovsk in Russia totally inter-connected.

And all across the spectrum, Moscow aims at maximizing return on the crown jewels of the Russian Far East; agriculture, water resources, minerals, lumber, oil and gas. Construction of liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants in Yamal vastly benefits China, Japan and South Korea.

Community spirit

Eurasianism, as initially conceptualized in the early 20th century by the geographer PN Savitsky, the geopolitician GV Vernadsky and the cultural historian VN Ilyn, among others, regarded Russian culture as a unique, complex combination of East and West, and the Russian people as belonging to "a fully original Eurasian community".

That certainly still applies. But as Valdai Club analysts argue, the upgraded concept of Greater Eurasia "is not targeted against Europe or the West"; it aims to include at least a significant part of the EU.

The Chinese leadership describes BRI not only as connectivity corridors, but also as a "community". Russians use a similar term applied to Greater Eurasia; sobornost ("community spirit").

As Alexander Lukin of the Higher School of Economics and an expert on the SCO has constantly stressed, including in his book China and Russia: The New Rapprochement, this is all about the interconnection of Greater Eurasia, BRI, EAEU, SCO, INSTC, BRICS, BRICS Plus and ASEAN.

The cream of the crop of Russian intellectuals – at the Valdai Club and the Higher School of Economics – as well as top Chinese analysts, are in sync. Karaganov himself constantly reiterates that the concept of Greater Eurasia was arrived at, "jointly and officially", by the Russia-China partnership; "a common space for economic, logistic and information cooperation, peace and security from Shanghai to Lisbon and New Delhi to Murmansk".

The concept of Greater Eurasia is, of course, a work in progress. What my conversations in Moscow revealed is its extraordinary ambition; positioning Russia as a key geoeconomic and geopolitical crossroads linking the economic systems of North Eurasia, Central and Southwest Asia.

As Diesen notes, Russia and China have become inevitable allies because of their "shared objective of restructuring global value-chains and developing a multipolar world". It's no wonder Beijing's drive to develop state-of-the-art national technological platforms is provoking so much anger in Washington. And in terms of the big picture, it makes perfect sense for BRI to be harmonized with Russia's economic connectivity drive for Greater Eurasia.

That's irreversible. The dogs of demonization, containment, sanctions and even war may bark all they want, but the Eurasia integration caravan keeps moving along.

BRICS Countries Commit to Enhanced Collaboration in the Financial Sector (Страны БРИКС обязуются расширять сотрудничество в финансовом секторе) / China, December, 2018
Keywords: off_docs, concluded_agreements, economic_challenges

BRICS countries are committed to strengthening their institutions and enhancing collaboration in infrastructure and financial cooperation, South Africa's National Treasury said in a document sent to media.

This is according to the 2018 BRICS Finance and Central Banks Outcomes Document (the Outcomes Document) published by the National Treasury.

The Outcomes Document was jointly produced by BRICS Ministers of Finance and Central Bank Governors in order to take stock of the outcomes achieved under the "BRICS in Africa: Collaboration for Inclusive Growth and Shared Prosperity in the 4th Industrial Revolution".

The National Treasury said in the Outcomes Document that in the course of South Africa's BRICS Presidency, the National Treasury and the South African Reserve Bank co-chaired the BRICS Finance Track which is responsible for the coordination of work by member countries on economic and financial sector initiatives.

Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors agreed to reinforce institutional frameworks of the New Development Bank (NDB), increase and diversify the development of projects across the bank's regions and member countries.

"BRICS countries continue to emphasize the need to remain vigilant in guarding against inward-looking policies and developments that are weighing on global growth prospects and market confidence in emerging market and frontier economies," said the Treasury in a statement.

According to the Outcomes Document, the BRICS countries are committed to communicate their macroeconomic and structural policies in a clear manner and work towards strengthening policy coordination. They advocated for the continued use of fiscal, monetary and structural policies to forge strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth.

China Economic Net
China to Provide USD 76 Million for BRICS Economic Initiative (Китай предоставит 76 миллионов долларов для экономической инициативы БРИКС) / United States, December, 2018
Keywords: ndb, investments, quotation, xi_jinping
United States

China will provide USD 76 million for a BRICS economic and technology cooperation plan and another USD 4 million to support the projects of the bloc's New Development Bank, President Xi Jinping announced. Calling on the five nation grouping to forge unity to jointly advance solutions for international peace and development, Xi said the BRICS countries should make economic globalisation open and inclusive, and beneficial to all.

"I wish to announce here that China will launch the economic and technical cooperation plan for BRICS countries with 500 million yuan [about USD 76 million at the current exchange rates] for the first term to facilitate policy exchange and practical cooperation in economic and trade field," Xi said at the opening of the plenary session at the BRICS Summit in Xiamen.

Prime Minister along with other leaders of the BRICS countries participated in the meeting. Xi also said China will contribute USD four million for the New Development Bank (NDB) setup by the BRICS countries.

The money was meant for project preparation facility to support the business operation and long-term plans of the bank, he said. "We need to make the international order more just and equitable. Our ever closer ties require that we five countries play more active in global governance. Without our participation, many pressing global challenges cannot be effectively resolved," he said.

On the broader future role for BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), Xi said the grouping should speak in one voice and jointly present solutions to issues concerning international peace and development. "This meets the expectation of the international community and will help safeguard our common interests," he said.

"We should remain committed to multilateralism and basic norms governing international relations, work for new type of international relations and foster peace and stable environment of all countries," Xi said. He said the BRICS countries should build open economy, support multilateral trade regime and oppose protectionism.

"We need to advance the reform of the global economic governance, increase the representation and voice of the emerging markets and developing countries and inject new impetus to advance efforts to address the development gap between north and south and boost global growth," he said. Xi said the grouping should endeavour to promote practical economic cooperation.

Despite the achievements the bloc has made, the potential for cooperation has yet to be fully unleashed, Xi said. The five countries' foreign investment totalled USD 197 billion in 2016, but only 5.7 per cent took place between BRICS members, he said.

The BRICS countries should increase cooperation in sectors such as trade and investment, monetary and financial areas, connectivity, sustainable development, innovation and industrial cooperation, he said. Outlining the progress of the BRICS, he said the group of emerging economies launched African regional centre of the New Development Bank.

The BRICS countries also decided to setup BRICS model of e-port network and reached extensive agreements on taxation, e-commerce, local currency bond, public private partnership, the network of financial institutions and services. He also called for promoting more closer ties between people of the BRICS countries.

"Amity between the people holds the key to sound state-to-state relations. Only with the intensive care can the tree of friendship and cooperation grow," he said. "The job well done in this regard will keep the BRICS cooperation vibrant. He said the important consensus reached at the leadership level to promote people-to-people exchanges is being translated into reality.

He said the past decade has seen the unremitting efforts of the BRICS countries in pursing development and deepening partnership. It is beginning in the history of BRICS cooperation, he said.

"Looking ahead BRICS cooperation is set to achieve greater development and play even a bigger role in international affairs," he said. He called on the member nations to join hands to "usher in a second golden decade of BRICS cooperation and deliver greater benefits to the people of five countries and around the world".

Lakeland Observer

World of work
Social policy, trade unions, actions
Goeman Bind HTO Bi Annual round table conference on CSR, ethics and sustainable business (Goeman Bind HTO провел круглый стол на тему КСО, этики и устойчивого бизнеса) / India, December, 2018
Keywords: social_issues, sustainable_development

Goeman Bind HTO, an international not for profit Think Tank and Research Advisory firm today held the Bi Annual Round table Conference on CSR, Ethics & Sustainable Business at The Indian Habitat Centre, New Delhi.

The aim of the round table was to bring in the business leaders, policy leaders, academia, senior government officials and leaders from think tanks & NGOs on one platform to discuss and deliberate the opportunities and challenges of CSR.

Some of the eminent personalities who attended the round table are Smt. Ratna Vishwanathan, Head, Strategic Partnerships - UNDP, Shri CS Ajay Goel, President, Society of CSR and Investor Protection, Dr. Samar Verma Sr. Program Specialist IDRC, Dr. Sanjay Goyal, Academician, Formerly Dean & Pro-VC, Dr. BBL Madhukar, Founder Director General of BRICS Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Former CMD, MMTC Ltd., Ms. Geeta Sekhon, Global Consultant, United Nations, Shri Rakesh Munjal, Managing Trustee, Delhi High Court Advocates Welfare Trust & Executive, Chairman, SAARCLAW - India Chapter, Shri. Hemant Batra, Founder & Chairman, Kaden Boriss and Vice President of SAARCLAW, Prof. Savita Gautam, Ph.D. Teri University, M.SC., JNU, Dr. Neeti Shikha, Expert Leader, Goeman Bind HTO to name a few.

The opening remarks were made by Shri BBL Madhukar (Founder and Director General of BRICS Chamber of Commerce & Industry) wherein Shri Madhukar laid emphasis on, "We should aim to look at the motive behind the companies CSR programs. CSR activities should be designed not only to meet the needs of the target stakeholders but should also be sustainable which is paramount to companies' existence.

It should also be noted that many organisations undertake CSR only to comply with the law and not in its spirit. Also there is a need to put in place a system to gauge compliance where the programs can be evaluated and reported."

The panel discussion on "Corporate Social Responsibility, Ethics and Sustainable Business" was moderated and chaired by Shri BBL Madhukar. The discussion majorly focused on accessing the mandatory CSR regime in India and evaluating their ethical dimension. The round table also talked about the CSR expenditure, its beneficiaries and drive towards business sustainability. The panel also discussed about the role of having CSR as an alternative funding source for all developmental projects in the country.

Commenting at the roundtable, Dr. Neeti Shikha, Expert Leader, Goeman Bind HTO said, "India's CSR landscape requires more evidence based research for channelizing funds effectively. There is a huge disparity in the need for CSR amongst various states and the channelization of funds. Often the funds are provided to states which are relatively well off or those states that have a huge industrial/resource base. As per our research paper it thus shows that CSR is not being used effectively to address the socio-economic needs of the Country. Various organisations along with the government should also look at creating a policy framework for effective allocation of funds in a need based manner and ways to measure on-ground effectiveness."

Dr. Sanjay Goyal, Academician, Formerly Dean & Pro-VC Designate said, "We need to look at CSR in terms of its requirements not only today but 30- 40 years from now. It is important to engrain the concept of shared value between business and societies to make CSR more intrinsic to our society. We need to look at creating platforms where 100% of the businesses goals are aligned for value generation for both business and society."

The round table discussion brought together various stakeholders to explore and deliberate on channelizing CSR expenditure by the companies as a new opportunity at hand. The group discussed how government policies should be designed to see the mandatory CSR contribution as an investment rather than a legislative burden.

The panel also discussed that there is requirement to revisit the policies so that the distribution of such funds can be used for regions where development is needed the most. The panel also concluded that CSR contribution from India's listed companies can be used as a great source for funding development projects in India, which will eventually make both society and business more sustainable.

News Digest from the SPbPU Representative Office in Shanghai (Дайджест новостей от представительства СПбПУ в Шанхае) / Russia, December, 2018
Keywords: soial_issues

A series of major events took place last November in Shanghai with participation of the SPbPU Representative Office. Please read in the news digest from the Office about cooperation within BRICS, major international exhibitions and a series of new cooperation agreements, as well as about new visiting professors coming to Polytechnic University this semester.

New joint laboratories

An agreement on the creation of a joint laboratory of topological insulators and quantum computing was signed between SPbPU and the Shanghai Institute of Technical Physics, PRC Academy of Sciences. Topological insulators are a new but rapidly developing area of research in physics. Scientists all over the globe are interested in this phenomenon: calculations show that the energy efficiency of devices with topological insulators can be several times higher than conventionally used. The plan is that groups of researchers from SPbPU and the Shanghai University will be implementing joint projects on studying this scientific phenomenon.

SPbPU has signed another agreement with the Shanghai Institute of Technical Physics of the PRC Academy of Sciences and LLC Management of PuE Business Incubator. Within the frame of the agreement, the parties intend to establish a laboratory for studying hybrid reconfigurable computing platforms. In the course of joint work, the scholars are going to develop a special hardware computational platform on the basis of which researches on a new concept of computing will be conducted.

SPbPU at the China International Import Expo Exhibit

Employees of the Representative Office took part in the forum of the First China International Exhibition of Imported Goods (China International Import Expo; CIIE). This year, the event had more than 400 thousand participants from all over the world. They all got together in the gigantic pavilion of the exhibition to discuss current trends in medicine, commerce, automotive, information technology, etc.

Russia participated in the CIIE in the guest of honor status. Specifically for our country, a national exposition was organized, demonstrating major international projects of Russian companies. In the course of the exhibition, Chairman of the PRC Xi Jinping, the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation D.A. MEDVEDEV, Minister of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation D.V. MENTURES visited the Russian stand, as did Heads of States and Governments of 17 other countries.

St. Petersburg Polytechnic University took part in the internal forum of the exhibition. On behalf of our university, the Shanghai office staff introduced their Chinese colleagues to the main activities of SPbPU and met with other participating universities and organizers of CIIE.

Our stand at Xi'an Global Hard & Core Technology Industry Expo 2018

Another exhibit, in which the Representative Office in Shanghai acted on behalf of SPbPU, was the global conference on innovative technologies. The event took place within the frame of the "One Belt - One Way" initiative and had more than 1000 participants. The honorable guests of the exhibition were Nobel Prize winners George Smoot, Ada E. Yonath, Dan Shechtman, Arieh Warshel and Avram Hershko, as well as scholars and experts from various fields, leaders of industrial enterprises, and key investors from China and other countries.

Polytechnic University had its individual stand at this event, sponsored by the Committee for Science and Engineering of Xi'an. A number of business meetings had follow-up: in particular, active negotiations are going on with Kaihua Electronics Co. Ltd on collaboration in the sphere of civil engineering, i.e., the development of elevators and lift cranes.

Video conference on the cooperation within the frame of BRICS

In late November 2018, a "BRICS 2017-2019" video conference took place at the Representative Office; SPbPU and its key partner in the Shanghai region East China Normal University (ECNU) participated in it. The event was focused on the BRICS's grants received in 2017 – 2019 by Russian, Chinese, and Indian scholars.

In particular, the parties discussed the recent successful project supported by BRICS: an indoors tracking system. Russian and Chinese scholars had been developing this project together with their colleagues from the Indian Institute of Technology Rourkee. The application submitted by an international research group got the top jury's assessment and was included in the A-category of grants.

Work plans for the near future were outlined in the course of negotiations.

Chinese professors are coming to SPbPU in December

Another meaningful November meeting at the Representative Office was dedicated to choosing Chinese professors to go to lecture for SPbPU students. Already this December, leading specialists from Jiao Tong University and ECNU are coming to Polytechnic University to teach lectures at the Institute of Metallurgy, Mechanical Engineering and Transport; Institute of Physics, Nanotechnology and Telecommunications and Institute of Engineering and Construction.
South Africa in BRICS (ЮАР в БРИКС / Russia, December, 2018
Keywords: social_issues

The development of friendship between peoples: the expert assessed the baton of the expedition "the Great teacher of the BRICS", South Africa

Information portal of the Nation News reports that the cities of South Africa held the baton of the peacekeeping expedition "the Great teacher of the BRICS". This event was held in the framework of the anniversary of South Africa's chairmanship in the BRICS and the centenary of the birth of the great South African politician Nelson Mandela.

The expedition was organized as a peace-building cultural research event, which was attended by students of the South African republics, the specialists of the Institute of Asia and Africa of Moscow state University, employees of the marketing Agency Brand South Africa, employees of the administration of the Durban Fund of memory of Nelson Mandela (Johannesburg) and many other organizations. This action for the first time brought together representatives of all BRICS countries.

Moscow state University expert Natalia Piskunova believes that this peacekeeping expedition demonstrated to South Africans that Russia is trying to interact with the Republic not only at the political but also at the cultural level.
Women Ministry urges ANC to investigate Mabe sexual harassment allegations (Министерство женщин призывает АНК расследовать обвинения Мебе в сексуальных домогательствах) / South Africa, December, 2018
Keywords: Womens_Forum, social_issues
South Africa

The Department in the Presidency responsible for Women has urged structures within the African National Congress (ANC) to fast track the investigation into sexual harassment allegations against the party's national spokesperson Pule Mabe.

"The department is saddened that men in positions of authority continue to use their positions to coerce women into engaging in inappropriate activities.

"Recent accusations by the personal assistant of Mabe joins a long list of grievances by women in workplace environments that are meant to be professional and ethical spaces of work," the Minister for Women, Bathabile Dlamini, said.

Dlamini said it is clear that unequal power relations between men and women in the workplace lead to situations in which men solicit sexual favours in exchange for career advancement.

"Businesses and organisations need to review their sexual harassment policies and ensure that perpetrators of sexual abuse, workplace victimisation, and bullying are dealt with. Organisations committed to gender equality need to ensure that all allegations of sexual misconduct are investigated thoroughly while guarding against victim blaming and secondary victimisation," Dlamini said.

She reiterated the call for women to speak out on all forms of gender based violence.

BRICS Women's Forum

Meanwhile, the department convened the first Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa (BRICS) Senior Officials and Experts Meeting, where a concept note on the establishment of a BRICS Women's Forum, which would be taken to all governments for further consideration, was finalised.

The two-day meeting, held in Pretoria from 11-12 December 2018, sought to develop a common approach to the development of the proposed BRICS Women's Forum.

The gathering follows the 10th BRICS Summit held in Johannesburg from 25-27 July 2018, which looked to collaboration for inclusive growth and shared prosperity in the 4th Industrial Revolution, and emphasized the role of women in promoting inclusive development.

The meeting noted that despite progress in advancing the status of women, gender inequality persisted in BRICS countries and across the globe.

The BRICS Women's Forum could provide an important platform to exchange best practices and forge partnerships across BRICS countries to promote women's advancement.

Among its key objectives would be the promotion of women's full participation in political, social and economic life and promote women's issues within the broader BRICS agenda.

"The BRICS Women's Forum aims to identify common challenges facing women and share best practice in responding to gender inequalities at a socio-economic level, as well as to improve women's participation in decision-making and leadership.

"The forum will further help ensure that BRICS countries accelerate the implementation of international obligations and commitments on the advancement of women, as set out in the various international instruments on women's empowerment such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW, 1979), the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (1995) and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development," the department's Acting Director-General, Annette Griessel, explained.

Brazil, which will be assuming the chairmanship of BRICS in 2019, was tasked with convening the next meeting. –
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