Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum

Monitoring of the economic, social and labor situation in the BRICS countries
Issue 6.2024
2024.02.05 — 2024.02.11
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
The West is turning inward. Here's how the Brics+ countries can surpass it (Запад поворачивается внутрь себя. Вот как страны БРИКС+ могут его превзойти) / UAE, February, 2024
Keywords: brics+,expert_opinion

The West is turning inward. Here's how the Brics+ countries can surpass it

The 10-member grouping is getting wealthier, but prosperity needs to be sustained and inclusive

Alittle more than a month into 2024 and it feels as if we have been holding our collective breath for weeks. It feels as if we are waiting to see how the many pressures – disruptions to Red Sea shipping, the risk of conflict spilling over from Gaza to Lebanon, Iraq, Iran and other parts of the region, and the rapid proliferation of artificial intelligence technology – will shape global trade and economic growth this year.

Observers are naturally watching the traditional great powers – the US, China and Russia – for indications of how such forces will be managed. To an extent, the American presidential election in November could have the most bearing on all of the above, as the dwindling field of candidates fight to dominate the minds of voters seemingly most concerned about how increased levels of migration over their southern borders will be managed.

The growing influx of migrants is, like climate change, not a single-country issue. These are examples of our 21st-century "Butterfly effect" and speak to the urgency with which we need to come up with multifaceted solutions.

Movement of people – legal and illegal – across regions and continents is nothing new, of course. The reasons that drive them to leave home are almost unchanged across history. What is different now is the ability of authorities, experts and the media to view this movement happening in real time and wherever it might be visible in the world.

People carry aid distributed by the International Organisation for Migration and the United States Agency for International Development after flash floods triggered by heavy rains in Herat, Afghanistan. AFP

An anti-migration atmosphere dampens the movement of wealthier people while doing little to deter those without those financial means
The knee-jerk response to this migration trend is to try to stop it. In the UK, the US and Europe, this has proved to be an unsuccessful approach. Yet it is unlikely that policymakers will stop trying, given the political realities of being accused of supporting migration.

One consequence of an anti-migration atmosphere in the West is that it dampens the movement of wealthier people while doing little to deter those without those financial means, who have little choice but to seek sanctuary so far from home in order to find security, stability and economic opportunity.

A recent report highlighted how the citizens of the Brics+ grouping of nations, for example, have significantly less economic mobility than those residing in the most advanced economies. That is despite Brics – originally Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – together having more purchasing power than the G7 and the rising number of wealthy individuals residing within those five countries.

According to the Henley Passport Index, passport holders from Brics's original member countries can access, visa-free, just 21 per cent of the world, on average, compared to those from G7 nations who combined can access more than 80 per cent without requiring a prior visa.

Saudi Arabia along with the UAE, Egypt, Iran and Ethiopia joined Brics on January 1, doubling its membership to 10. This has boosted the wealth that it contains. Dubai hosts 72,500 millionaires, of whom 212 are centi-millionaires and 15 are billionaires, while Abu Dhabi is home to 22,700 resident millionaires, including 68 centi-millionaires and five billionaires.

Dubai has been ranked the third-wealthiest city in Brics+, while Abu Dhabi placed 10th on the list, according to the report by Henley & Partners and New World Wealth. Five Chinese cities figured among the 10 wealthiest metropolises in the grouping, with the capital Beijing ranked the wealthiest Brics+ city, home to 125,600 millionaires, including 347 centi-millionaires and 42 billionaires, the research showed.

Shanghai ranked second with 123,400 ultra-wealthy residents, while Mumbai and Shenzhen round out the top five list.

The result of this strange contradiction regarding the lower mobility of Brics+ citizens will be that wealthier nations will also lose investment opportunities that they might otherwise have obtained. When people put their money in a country, regardless of the project and sector, they like to be able to easily visit and see first-hand how that funding is being put to work. If they cannot or are discouraged from doing so, they will keep their money elsewhere. In an era of high interest rates, it is no easy thing to make up the investment gap that could emerge as a result of these trends.

Dominic Volek, group head of private clients at Henley & Partners, says that the extended Brics community will probably create new opportunities for themselves going forward at the expense of other regions. It's important to note that over the next 10 years, private wealth is projected to grow very quickly in India, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, China, Ethiopia, South Africa and Egypt.

Yet wealth is only one side of the argument. To meet the challenge of rising levels of economic and political migration, there will have to be a total focus on prosperity. This is far more than wealth; it is when all people have the opportunity and freedom to thrive, according to the Legatum Prosperity Index. For prosperity to be sustained and inclusive – which it must be to attract investment and talent – it should conserve the environment, emphasise well-being of people, and prioritise culture.

The Legatum ranking annually puts northern European nations at the top of their list. Such data only adds to the belief that to find prosperity, one would do best to seek it out there rather than in other regions. Yet it is clear that immigrants are not encouraged to go there any more under all but the narrowest circumstances.

But a vacuum must be filled, and the cold shoulder being offered in the West could ultimately spur a greater emphasis on prosperity that is led by the emerging economies.

                The UAE's BRICS Membership: A Growing Role for the Global South (Членство ОАЭ в БРИКС: растущая роль глобального Юга) / Russia, February, 2024
                Keywords: brics+, global_governance

                Our world is not static; the year 2023 witnessed heightened interest in the role of the Global South in shaping the international order.

                The Concept of the Global South

                The idea of the Global South is increasingly connected to the individual or collective efforts of developing countries in actively shaping international outcomes and their demands for a more equitable share in global decision-making processes.

                A key conclusion drawn during the 10th Abu Dhabi Strategic Debate (ADSD), convened by the Emirates Policy Center in November 2023, was that the Global South is now playing an increasing role on the world scene, affecting – directly or indirectly – the balance between great powers, primarily through the roles of medium-sized powers.

                During the debate, the panellists argued that in the wake of the Ukraine conflict, the Global South had shown an increasing desire for non-alignment, refrainment from global polarisation, the prioritisation of national interests, and the diversification of partnerships.

                However, considering the Global South as a homogenous, distinct, or separate bloc has "deep analytical flaws." It is also an obstacle to serious engagement with the non-Western world. Moreover, using the Global South as a category and frame of reference makes it much harder to understand the complex realities of different countries and regions, given the actors' intertwined interests and priorities.

                However, this does not rule out the need for necessary reforms in the international order to reflect new changes and interactions that reshape several aspects of our lives and the patterns of international relations.

                Critics argue that the Global South concept oversimplifies the nature and scope of a diverse array of countries. It fails to capture the economic, political, and cultural realities of the countries it groups together. However, these views might unfairly assess the idea for what it does not include rather than what it represents. Its value lies in highlighting the shared struggle these countries face in influencing the management of the world order compared to the Global North, which also lacks a homogenous identity.

                From Economic to Geopolitical

                Since August 2023, we started talking about BRICS+ after an invitation was extended to six new countries, including the UAE and Saudi Arabia, to join the group. This is the group's first expansion since 2010, which would add new financial, oil, logistical, and human power.

                After this expansion, which started in January 2024, and considering the changing dynamics in the international environment, there is growing talk of the possibility that BRICS, or BRICS+, might move from being a mere bloc focusing primarily on trade and economics, into a group with broader geopolitical interests and priorities. The group's recent meeting in November 2023 on the Gaza War signalled that it had transcended the economy in the group's interests and preoccupations.

                This issue is raised despite realising its difficulty, especially when there are tangible differences and competition among its members with regards to several regional and international issues and geopolitical priorities. Signs of fragility are also observable in the Global South amid its growing presence.

                Either way, the voice of BRICS+ is more vital – even necessary – on international issues than ever in reflecting multilateralism in the global order. It amounts to not giving up on any voice that might make a positive and supportive difference in the need for an international order that represents all of us, not one group or another.

                The group is calling for a multi-lateral global order that respects state sovereignty, advocates the reconsideration of sanctions policy, and supports the choices by states to use their local currencies.

                This happened between the UAE and India in July 2023 as bilateral or multi-lateral trade seem to be the BRICS member countries' core priorities and those nominated to join the group. In the summer of 2023, the UAE and India signed agreements to establish a framework promoting the use of local currencies in cross-border transactions and fostering cooperation in connecting their payment systems. Following the deal, India initiated the purchase of UAE oil using Indian rupees, contributing to the expansion of trade between the two countries.

                At the Johannesburg 2023 Summit, governors of central banks and finance ministers were tasked by member states to identify mechanisms to reduce their exposure to perceived global financial threats. Some options and proposals are expected to be presented and discussed during this year's BRICS Summit in Kazan, Russia.

                In 2001, the emerging-market group BRICS, comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, collectively represented 19 percent of global GDP in purchasing power parity terms. With additional countries poised to join the bloc, this share has surged to 36 percent. The figure is anticipated to climb to 45 percent by 2040, surpassing more than double the economic weight of the Group of Seven (G7) major advanced economies.

                Global Economic Transformation

                The rapid rise of the BRICS nations is transforming the global economy, with their growing economic influence potentially causing a significant shift in global power dynamics. Despite this, a lack of cohesion within the bloc poses a challenge and may hinder the realisation of ambitious goals some of its members set.

                The UAE considers its BRICS membership as a strategic opportunity to expand trade and access new markets. There are plans to allocate more capital to the New Development Bank, which was established by BRICS two years ago. The UAE asserts that its BRICS membership is not intended as a pivot away from the United States. Instead, joining the BRICS bloc aligns with the UAE's commitment to supporting multilateralism globally as the country aims to enhance trade relations with the Global South.

                As one of the few nations managing a sovereign wealth capital exceeding a trillion US dollars, the UAE is a major shareholder in the Development Bank, the financial institution the BRICS grouping established. This bank is designed to provide loans for development projects in emerging markets.

                The UAE Ministry of Finance hosted the BRICS Board of Directors meetings in Dubai from November 27-28, 2023, marking the first such meeting in the UAE and the region. The UAE aims to leverage innovative financing tools, underscoring the country's commitment to diversity in supporting development for the well-being and prosperity of people and nations worldwide.

                As Dr. Anwar Gargash, the Diplomatic Adviser to the UAE President, highlighted during the 10th ADSD, the UAE is strategically "turning its attention eastward to cultivate partnerships with countries such as India, Japan, China, South Korea, and Indonesia." The UAE envisions significant prospects and opportunities for growth and diversification in the East. Notably, the UAE perceives no conflict between its West and East relations. He said that, instead, it aims to intensify connections, forge bridges between nations, and expand opportunities, emphasising that it is deemed necessary while achieving this balance may be challenging.

                The increasing misconception of the nature and scope of the Global South's activity can create a significant setback for more constructive North-South cooperation. Engaging with the Global South effectively requires the Global North to recognise and adapt to these changing geopolitical realities, focusing on mutual benefits and respecting national sovereignty.

                              Israel – BRICS: Limits of Integration (Израиль – БРИКС: пределы интеграции) / Russia, February, 2024
                              Keywords: expert_opinion, political_issues

                              The BRICS association consistently demonstrates an interest in accepting new members into its ranks, including representatives of the Middle East. However, Israel, which maintains friendly relations with most of the current member countries of the association, has not yet expressed its readiness to move closer to BRICS. At the current stage, this circumstance can be attributed to the IDF operation against Hamas, which requires not only a concentration of efforts on combat operations, but also the unconditional support from a key global ally, the United States. Israel has reacted negatively toward Iran's joining BRICS. However, it seems that the Israeli motivation to refrain from integration in reality looks much broader.

                              The emergence of the association of Brazil, Russia, India and China occurred for Israel during the period of the Ehud Olmert government. This administration concentrated on regional issues, which were determined by the Second Lebanon War and the participation of the Foreign Ministry under the leadership of Tzipi Livni in the preparation of the conference on the Middle East peace settlement in Annapolis. As a result, the emergence of BRIC (at that time) attracted virtually no attention from Israel's diplomatic corps. The first Ekaterinburg BRIC summit in 2009, which coincided with the start of Benjamin Netanyahu's second cabinet, did not radically change the situation.

                              Despite the attempt by the then-authorities of the Middle Eastern country to transform their foreign policy course in contrast to their predecessors, in the case of BRICS it was not possible to follow the path of the "Customs Troika" - at a certain stage, the most popular integration project in Israel in which Moscow was a participant. The growing desire for rapprochement with the alliance of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan was influenced by Israel's attempt to diversify international ties against the backdrop of tense relations between Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet and the administration of Barack Obama. A significant role in setting priorities at the time was played by Avigdor Lieberman, who headed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and promoted the expansion of interaction with the former USSR, where he himself was from. In the case of BRICS, there were no similar lobbyists in Israeli political circles.

                              Continuing comparisons, the factor of the association's expansion did not serve as a catalyst for interest. For example, Israel's attention to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization began to increase in the context of the possibility of granting Egypt the status of SCO dialogue partner. The transformation of BRIC into BRICS occurred after the accession of South Africa, which has tense relations with Israel. In addition, BRICS did not offer additional forms of interaction more familiar to a Middle Eastern state that is part of the NATO Mediterranean Dialogue and has an Association Agreement with the EU.

                              As a result, only in 2017, Israel finally began to attach importance to expanding contacts with the BRICS in a way which was noticeable at the official level. Commenting on the results of the 9th BRICS summit in the Chinese city of Xiamen, Israeli Minister of Industry and Trade Eli Cohen, who had visited China a few months earlier, emphasised the good prospects of the association of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa in the context of opportunities for diversifying international economic ties. At the same time, a potentially attractive opportunity for Israel was the chance to expand cooperation with partners outside its region, compensating for losses from a predominantly unfriendly neighbourhood.

                              Apparently, China was considered a key partner in the BRICS for the Israeli authorities, which was reinforced by the parallel development of bilateral contacts between the Benjamin Netanyahu government and Beijing. Russia did not play a central role in the Israeli understanding of BRICS, which can be explained by the nature of bilateral relations, where the political and diplomatic track traditionally overshadows economic cooperation. However, at the current stage, characterised by confrontation between Moscow and the West, this feature has, rather, a positive effect on Russian-Israeli relations. Without denying the aspirations of BRICS in the sphere of transforming the world order familiar to Washington and Brussels, Israel places greater emphasis on the US confrontation with China rather than with Russia, thereby understanding the cooperation within the association not as a mechanism for circumventing anti-Russian sanctions, but as an element of Beijing's policy to ensure itself greater stability in the face of global instability.

                              Such conclusions for Israel are not accidental, but are a consequence of its own foreign policy and foreign economic priorities. Some of them are related to the desire to maintain and expand the number of Middle Eastern states with which official diplomatic relations are maintained. Among Israel's existing partners in the Middle East, as of January 1, 2024, BRICS included Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. Saudi Arabia, also initially named among the five new members of the association, reported at the WEF session in Davos that it had not fully completed the integration process, although it did not completely reject it for itself. In this regard, it is critically important for Israel to make it clear that the entry of so-called moderate regional regimes into BRICS, although not in the interests of the United States, does not contradict American positions on principle. This circumstance is especially important in the context of the extension of the Abraham Accords to Saudi Arabia, since such a step would require the active support of the White House.

                              From an economic point of view, Israel admits to the great potential of BRICS, which further strengthens by the involvement of new countries. However, experts from the Middle Eastern country believe that its full implementation will only be possible in around 2030, which means that at least there is no need to rush with its own integration with the BRICS. In addition, at the current stage, the Netanyahu government is under serious pressure from the United States, which is seeking to contain contacts between Israel and China. Finally, the situational limiter to building up ties with BRICS remains the association's disinterest in building interregional free trade zones, while such agreements are of great importance for Israel.

                              However, despite the lack of steps towards rapprochement with the BRICS, factors that the Israeli leadership cannot ignore are already clearly visible. First of all, we are talking about the gradual consolidation of the positions of the BRICS member countries on current international issues. The November extraordinary summit of the association on the situation in the Middle East demonstrated, first, the desire to take into account the opinion of representatives of the region who received an invitation to the meeting before the official completion of the procedure for joining BRICS. Second, although the final declaration was not adopted, the tendency of the participants to make concessions in the interests of a common opinion became noticeable, which has a double effect for Israel. On the one hand, South Africa, which was critical of the IDF's actions, was forced to accept a softening of the general rhetoric. On the other hand, Brazil, which previously condemned the attack on Israel on October 7, 2023, agreed with the call for a ceasefire and the protection of Palestinian civilians, guided, among other things, by considerations of its chairmanship of the UN and participation in BRICS.

                              The effect of Iran's joining BRICS is also important. While Israel was focused on confronting the nuclear programme and the growing regional presence of its main enemy, Tehran took a significant step towards strengthening its international political and economic position, including through rapprochement with the Middle Eastern states which were friendly to Israel.

                              Thus, given the presence of a certain integration potential, the issue of Israel joining BRICS is irrelevant, both from a procedural point of view and in the context of the interests of each of the parties. However, the expansion of the association to the Middle East and attempts to develop a consolidated position on the problems of the region play the role of altering the positioning of BRICS in Israel's foreign policy coordinates.

                              Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.
                                            BRICS emerges as fresh avenue for strengthening Ethiopian-Russian ties — ambassador (БРИКС становится новым каналом для укрепления эфиопско-российских связей — посол) / Russia, February, 2024
                                            Keywords: brics+,cooperation

                                            Cham Ugala Uriat noted that diplomatic and political relations between Ethiopia and Russia are very strong

                                            MOSCOW, February 5. /TASS/. BRICS will become a new platform to develop relations between Ethiopia and Russia, as stated by Ethiopian Ambassador to Moscow Cham Ugala Uriat at the Russian-Ethiopian business forum at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI) of Russia.

                                            "Last week there was a big meeting of sherpas and sous-sherpas of BRICS. Thus, BRICS will become another platform where we (Ethiopia and Russia - TASS) will be able to explore our relations," the ambassador said.

                                            He noted that diplomatic and political relations between Ethiopia and Russia are very strong. "These relations should be supported by economic relations," the diplomat said. "There are many opportunities that we can work on and strengthen our economic relations. So we welcome it."

                                            The first meeting of the sherpas and sous-sherpas of the BRICS countries within the framework of the Russian presidency, which also included representatives of the countries that became full-fledged members of the association on January 1, 2024, took place on January 30 - February 1 in Moscow.

                                            The BRICS Group has gone through two waves of expansion since its founding in 2006. In 2011, South Africa joined the original cohort, which included Brazil, Russia, India and China. In August 2023, six new members were invited to join the association at once - Argentina, Egypt, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Ethiopia, but at the end of December Argentina refused to join. BRICS has been a ten-member organization since January 1.

                                                          Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Pankin's interview with TASS Agency, February 5, 2024 (Интервью заместителя Министра иностранных дел Александра Панкина агентству ТАСС, 5 февраля 2024 г.) / Russia, February, 2024
                                                          Keywords: mofa, quotation

                                                          Question: Russia has assumed the CIS chairmanship and BRICS chairmanship this year. How does the EAEU cooperate with these international organisations?

                                                          Alexander Pankin: First of all, I would like to note that both associations are priority partners for the EAEU.

                                                          The EAEC and the CIS Executive Committee interaction is based on the Memorandum on Intensified Cooperation and the Action Plan to implement it until 2025, adopted pursuant to this Memorandum. In 2023, the CIS states that are not EAEU members repeatedly took part in its events as guests of honour. I think this is a fine tradition confirming that the EAEU has no closer friends and partners than the CIS states.

                                                          In turn, cooperation with BRICS seems an interesting and promising item on the EAEU's international agenda. The EAEU is interested in a dialogue with BRICS in areas of mutual interest, such as trade regulation, transport and logistics, etc.

                                                          In this matter, we have much to offer and show to our partners and we can also profit by their experience.

                                                          I am certain that Russia's chairmanships of the CIS and of BRICS in 2024 will promote cooperation with the EAEU.

                                                                        Briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, Moscow, February 7, 2024 (Брифинг официального представителя МИД Марии Захаровой, Москва, 7 февраля 2024 г.) / Russia, February, 2024
                                                                        Keywords: mofa, quotation

                                                                        Question: Aeroflot has just resumed regular air service with Vietnam. Could you please describe bilateral relations as they stand as of the end of 2023? What can you say about Vietnam's outlook for joining BRICS?

                                                                        Maria Zakharova: First, bilateral relations with Vietnam are making steady progress which is facilitated by the political dialogue between the leaders of the two countries. I would like to remind you that last year President Putin held talks with the President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Vo Van Thuong, on the sidelines of the Third International Belt and Road Forum in Beijing. State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin (October 2023) and Chairman of United Russia Party and Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev (May 2023) visited Vietnam last year as well.

                                                                        Our mutual commitment to deepening comprehensive strategic partnership amid the unprecedented transformation of the global geopolitical landscape was reaffirmed during these contacts.

                                                                        Our relations are gradually adapting to new realities. Trade with Vietnam was up by 7.8 percent in January-November 2023 compared to the same period in 2022 and reached $4.5 billion. We are working with our Vietnamese friends to find ways to overcome existing challenges. This theme was central during the meeting of the bilateral intergovernmental commission on trade, economic, and scientific-technical cooperation held in Hanoi in April 2023.

                                                                        Mutually beneficial cooperation continues in the oil and gas sector as part of the activities of oil and gas exploration and production companies, such as Vietsovpetro and Rusvietpetro, operating in Vietnam and Russia, respectively. Necessary conditions have been created for their stable and effective operation going forward.

                                                                        GAZ vehicles are assembled in Vietnam at the GAZ-Thanh Dat joint venture. In 2023, 1,150 vehicles were assembled, and a portion of the output was shipped to Laos and the Philippines.

                                                                        We focus on research and education ties. Region-to-region contacts have intensified, including with the participation of Moscow and St Petersburg, and the Rostov and Kaluga regions. Last July, Days of Russian Culture were successfully held in this Southeast Asian country.

                                                                        Much work has been done to restore direct regular air service between our countries which is important, because Vietnamese resorts were widely popular with Russian tourists before the pandemic (in 2019, more than 570,000 of Russian tourists visited the Socialist Republic of Vietnam). Resuming flights between Moscow and Ho Chi Minh City and hopefully to other cities will be instrumental for rapidly increasing tourist exchanges.

                                                                        The likelihood of Vietnam joining BRICS is widely covered. This question should be addressed to the Vietnamese side. We operate on the belief that joining the association is a matter better left to a specific country and its people to decide whether they want to go down this path. Vietnam is a dynamically developing economy and a prominent representative of the Asian region. If our Vietnamese partners are interested in consolidating interaction with the association, we will be willing, alongside other BRICS members, to consider possible ways of integrating Hanoi into this format.

                                                                        To provide an example, I can cite significant added value that could be obtained if the Vietnamese representatives were to participate in the Outreach/BRICS Plus events. Moreover, in light of the instruction issued by the leaders following the Johannesburg Summit (August 22-24, 2023), we could refine the modalities for a partner country category and compile a list of possible candidates. This option could be considered as well. In any case, according to the BRICS traditions, decisions regarding such matters need consensus support from all members of the association. In any case, it all starts with the country's decision.

                                                                                      BRICS Driving Emerging New Global Architecture (БРИКС развивает новую глобальную архитектуру) / Russia, February, 2024
                                                                                      Keywords: global_governance, expert_opinion

                                                                                      An association of five emerging economies popularly referred to as BRICS under Russia's presidency (2024) has begun its work with the first meeting of of Sherpas/Sous-Sherpas, held January 30 – February 1, with participation of new countries – Ethiopia, Egypt, Iran, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. The meeting wholeheartedly noted substantial contributions in shaping the 2024 agenda and comprehensive plan of activities scheduled to take place in the Russian Federation. During its chairmanship of BRICS, Russia will do its best to find solutions to economic, policy and humanitarian issues, to strengthen common consensus and approaches with partner countries.

                                                                                      During the meeting, chaired by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Russia's Sherpa in BRICS, Sergey A. Ryabkov, the priorities of the association were outlined. Representatives of Russian ministries and departments gave detailed briefings on key areas of cooperation. The importance of implementing a number of Russian initiatives was noted, in particular, the launch of an Integrated Early Response System to the risks of mass infectious diseases, the establishment of an Industrial Competence Center based on UNIDO, the BRICS Medical Association and a specialized journal, and strengthening cooperation in the field of transport and tourism.

                                                                                      As part of the implementation of the instructions of the leaders of the BRICS countries following the results of the XV summit of the association (Johannesburg, August 22-24, 2023), discussions continued on the modalities of the category of BRICS partner states, as well as increasing the role of national currencies and payment instruments in cross-border transactions of the "ten" countries. All participants in the meeting confirmed their focus on further constructive work within the three "baskets" of the BRICS strategic partnership: in the field of politics and security, economics and finance, culture and humanitarian ties.

                                                                                      It was pointed out that it's about time to tackle extraordinary challenges and to steer the association towards creating a more fairer and interactive world. A quick analysis shows that the present situation is engulfed with new conflicts and unprecedented threats that endanger further sustainable development. But in a conscientious manner, BRICS is set to handle the collective tasks and priorities, the fragile situation in Ukraine, the human catastrophe emerging from the horrific Israeli war against Palestine and its impact on the Middle East and the Mediterranean.

                                                                                      At the same time, Ukraine appeared in the discussions. It was pointed out that Russia pays great attention and respects the initiatives put forward by the BRICS countries regarding a settlement in Ukraine. This includes the Brazilian initiative, the proposals of the People's Republic of China, and the outstanding role of the Republic of South Africa in discussing and promoting approaches to a potential peace settlement.

                                                                                      In addition, BRICS is also targeting result-oriented work and opportunities in the developing countries, especially those in the Global South. Its invaluable platforms are available to ensure cohesive and sustainable responses to the challenges, and for fostering cooperation and for renewed multidimensional partnerships, for instance, with Africa.

                                                                                      Despite dozens of applications to join, BRICS added only five new members on January 1, 2024. Unsurprisingly, Argentina turned down its invitation, citing sovereign right to make such as a final decision based on domestic problems and limited internal resources. At present, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bolivia, Cuba, Honduras, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestine, Senegal, Thailand, Venezuela and Vietnam are all awaiting an invitation to join BRICS after filing an official membership application.

                                                                                      Over those three days (Jan. 30 – Feb. 1) the meeting held ten working sessions, during which representatives of Russian ministries and departments, business and academic circles presented detailed briefings on key areas of cooperation in BRICS and the initiatives of the Russian chairmanship in the association. BRICS partners have assured to lend their support for the chairmanship plans and their readiness to vigorously work together this year.

                                                                                      Fruitful and constructive discussions took place on a number of pressing issues in the fields of trade and investment, transport and energy, technology and innovation, and sustainable development. They exchanged views on strengthening cooperation in the fields of education, healthcare and sports, and confirmed their focus on maintaining and deepening ties between business and experts.

                                                                                      This year members will work to implement the BRICS Economic Partnership Strategy until 2025, including by strengthening supply chains, developing the digital economy, supporting small and medium-sized businesses, stimulating tourist flows, and interaction in the field of transport. They are aimed at launching the BRICS Contact Group on Climate and Sustainable Development, initiated by the Russian side.

                                                                                      It noted the great potential for cooperation between the BRICS countries in the field of healthcare, and hope that this year the practical work of the Integrated Early Warning System for the risks of mass infectious diseases will be launched. The meeting plans to facilitate the connection of new countries to the BRICS Vaccine Research Center. There was also the proposal to create a Medical Association and a BRICS specialized journal. They welcome the start of the functioning of the Working Group on Nuclear Medicine.

                                                                                      Under Russia's presidency, BRICS will also continue focusing on strengthening cooperation along anti-terrorism, anti-corruption and anti-drug lines, as well as in the field of international information security, and continue coordinating the approaches of the BRICS countries to resolving key foreign policy issues, including at such international platforms as the UN, G20, and WTO.

                                                                                      They also consider it important to increase humanitarian ties between our peoples, contacts between ordinary people, and expand opportunities for mutual enrichment of the countries included in the association.

                                                                                      The BRICS association sees a growing interest of friendly, like-minded states around the world in developing cooperation with BRICS. They are impressed by the basic principles on which interaction is based: compliance with international law, respect for each other's interests and the right of each state to a sovereign choice of development path. Responding to the desire of a wide range of countries to strengthen ties with BRICS, the association has begun to develop modalities for the category of partner states of the association. It is envisaged also to actively use the outreach/BRICS plus dialogue mechanisms to interact with third countries to make significant contributions to achieving practical results in all areas of the strategic partnership.

                                                                                      Newcomers at BRICS

                                                                                      BRICS welcomed its newcomers including Ethiopia, Egypt, Iran, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, based on the decision by BRICS leaders made in Johannesburg, officially became full-fledged members from January 2024. Egypt expects Russia's BRICS chairmanship to address the challenges in the area of food and energy security, Egyptian Deputy Foreign Minister and head of the country's delegation in BRICS, Ragui al-Etrebi said at the meeting.

                                                                                      "We are perfectly aware of the fact that gradual integration and new members completely joining the BRICS work is a serious challenge. However, we are convinced that under the skilled management, everything will be managed to successfully solve each of those challenges," the official said.

                                                                                      He further touched other important issues such as finances, deepening of cooperation in such areas as investment and trade, industrial transformation, the use of ICT [information and communications technologies] for the interest of development, boosting maritime transport, logistics, as well as solution of problems of the lack of food and energy security.

                                                                                      Tehran expects the shift to payments in national currencies within BRICS to increase during Russia's chairmanship, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister on economic issues, the republic's BRICS Sherpa Mehdi Safari said at the meeting. It was connected with ways to more actively use national and local currencies and payment tools in cross-border transactions in order to reduce the negative side effects of the current dollar-dominated global economic system.

                                                                                      The Iranian side plans to participate actively in BRICS events this year, the diplomat added. "We are also ready to work on all necessary solutions and documents for the 16th BRICS summit in Kazan in October," he noted. "As far as 2024 is concerned we hope that the economic and financial direction of cooperation, in particular, the issues of the banking sector, payment instruments, cancellation of cross-national currency and the use of national currencies will be solved."

                                                                                      Lavrov's Thoughts at BRICS meeting

                                                                                      Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at a BRICS sherpa and sous-sherpa meeting on January 31, also outlined the agenda parameters – related to the objective processes underway and deep transformation of international architecture. This also connects the present-day notion of multilateralism and the popular slogan of inclusiveness intended change the global politics, security and the economy.

                                                                                      "Washington and its European satellites are spending vast amounts of money to contain Russia, in stark contrast to the Western capitals' approach to the Global South, especially the African countries. There are cases where support for Ukraine is financed by suspending projects in Africa and the Middle East," according to Lavrov.

                                                                                      Nevertheless, the Global Majority – the states of Eurasia, the Asia-Pacific region, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean – gain a stronger foothold in the world system. Most of these countries are increasingly asserting their national interests and identities and striving for genuine strategic independence in pragmatic pathways.

                                                                                      In principle, Russia's BRICS chairmanship is "Strengthening Multilateralism for Equitable Global Development and Security" – and as BRICS is an association with mutual principles for the Global South and East. Its basic principles are based on mutual respect, a sovereign choice of development path and the implementation of the fundamental principle of the UN Charter, that is, the sovereign equality of states.

                                                                                      Lavrov spoke about visible impact of the turbulent geopolitical situation, the key trends of forming a multi-polar world, emphasised the growing impact of the cultural and civilisational factor on world politics, and the importance of facilitating various cooperation mechanisms that would be resistant to the destructive actions of unfriendly countries. He also pointed to successful creation of the New Development Bank (NDB) and the BRICS Vaccine Research and Development Centre.

                                                                                      BRICS Vaccine R&D Center

                                                                                      In March 2022, BRICS made one more huge step forward, perhaps driven by the Covid-19 pandemic that spread across the world, to launch finally the BRICS Vaccine R&D Center strongly backed by China. Under the leadership of Russia, it first proposed cooperation on countering infectious diseases as a priority for BRICS. The final joint declaration of the 2015 BRICS summit in Ufa, Russia, contains instructions by the leaders to work consistently on managing the risk of disease outbreaks.

                                                                                      "We are concerned about growing and diversifying global threats posed by communicable and non-communicable diseases. It has a negative impact on economic and social development, especially in developing and in the least developed countries," stated the 2015 BRICS declaration.

                                                                                      Among the group, China and India are ready stepping up to share information, and experiences with BRICS members, conduct joint research and develop drugs and vaccines based on respecting each other's sovereignty and national conditions. Later during the rotating chairmanship of South Africa, it firmly re-proposed the creation of full-scale coordinating research and development center and planned to be located in Johannesburg, South Africa.

                                                                                      Nevertheless, there has not been any practical achievements in that direction. But as China took the helm of BRICS, effective from January 2022, experts and research analysts have since showed deep interests. Finally, March 22 marked the launch the BRICS Vaccine Research and Development Center, involving the heads of relevant agencies from the five countries. The initiative to establish the BRICS Vaccine R&D Center, as said earlier, was incorporated in the final declaration of the BRICS summit in Johannesburg, South Africa (July 26-27, 2018).

                                                                                      It has brought together leading research institutions and companies in the member states – the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Brazil), the Anatoly Smorodintsev Research Institute of Influenza (Russia), the Indian Council of Medical Research (India), the Sinovac Life Sciences company (China) and South African Medical Research Council (South Africa).

                                                                                      The main objective is to share best practices and strengthen practical cooperation in research, development, production and distribution of vaccines to ensure their greater availability as BRICS countries account for 40% of the global population and the potential of research is at the highest level. It makes possible to swiftly respond to biological threats, coordinate efforts to control infectious diseases and ensure protection of the population.

                                                                                      China's Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin explained, during his regular media briefing on March 23, that the BRICS Vaccine R&D Center and workshop on vaccine cooperation would be a network of internet-based virtual centers, and the establishment of physical centers would only begin after comprehensive feasibility assessment.

                                                                                      The establishment of the BRICS Vaccine R&D Center demonstrated the determination of BRICS countries to focus on vaccine cooperation, deepen public health cooperation and promote public health, scientific and technological cooperation among BRICS countries. It was first Russia's initiative to establish the BRICS Integrated Early Warning System for preventing mass infectious disease risks, but the Center was created during the Chinese chairmanship of the BRICS.

                                                                                      BRICS New Development Bank

                                                                                      The New Development Bank (NDB), created by the BRICS countries, works proactively on financial issues concerning projects in member countries. The agreement on establishing the BRICS New Development Bank was reached on July 15, 2014 in Brazil's Fortaleza. The bank's starting capital was set at $100 bln. The Shanghai-headquartered bank has been set up to finance infrastructure projects and projects for sustainable development of BRICS and other developing countries.

                                                                                      Over the years, the bank has approved over 100 projects for a total of more than $33 billion in areas such as transportation, water supply, clean energy, digital and social infrastructure, and urban construction. In 2021, the NDB began expanding its membership and admitted Bangladesh, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay as its new member countries. It has the second representative office in South Africa.

                                                                                      As an association, it follows the same trends but on a global scale. BRICS represents a cooperation network for regional and subregional processes in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. BRICS association boasts an aggregate GDP, in terms of purchasing power parity, that has reached about one third of the global value and has exceeded that of the G7 countries. BRICS accounts for 30 percent of dry land and 45 percent of the world's population, a substantial part of the global production of oil and other resources, and about 25 percent of global exports. In a nutshell, the association now has the ability to form a global agenda by consistently upholding the interests of the Global Majority.

                                                                                                    Russia, Greater Eurasia and Modern International Politics (Россия, Большая Евразия и современная международная политика) / Russia, February, 2024
                                                                                                    Keywords: expert_opinion, global_governance

                                                                                                    Russian policymakers, it seems, are operating under the assumption that country's interaction with its most important partners, in terms of its development and stability in Eurasia, cannot be dependent on the dynamics of the conflict between Russia and the West.

                                                                                                    Moscow's current tasks for achieving its development goals include: strengthening natural economic ties with its closest friendly neighbours, preventing threats from radical religious movements, stabilising links with its southern neighbours, developing economic partnerships with China, India and other countries of the World Majority, and strengthening new international associations in Eurasia and beyond. These are no less important than the outcome of the confrontation with the West. Moreover, they were all developed as national foreign policy initiatives long before the escalation of the conflict with the United States and Europe, although they received new impetus from the changes associated with it. Moreover, it would be wrong to think that if this impulse becomes less, the current priorities of Russia's foreign relations will also change.

                                                                                                    In this regard, it is now extremely important for Russia to build a strategy in Eurasia and beyond, regardless of how quickly the goals of the Special Military Operation in Ukraine are achieved, as well as the general objectives in the field of European security formulated officially at the end of 2021. The expansion of BRICS is already becoming Russia's most important task as this year's chair of the association. The agenda of Greater Eurasia is formed by strengthening cooperation mechanisms within the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), maximising the opportunities inherent in the nature of the CIS, and developing Eurasian economic integration amid new conditions as well as its interaction with ASEAN countries.

                                                                                                    Ultimately, Russia is already at the centre of a whole system of international institutions and partnerships, each of which has a unique character inherent in the future international order, not in the past one.

                                                                                                    It is important for Russian foreign policy to be equally adaptive to the demands that are associated with this, and able to benefit not only itself, but also the future of Eurasia, as a space of equal strategic cooperation between sovereign states.

                                                                                                    Russia's Greater Eurasia's strategy is formed under the influence of several basic factors. First, it cannot develop in isolation from how Moscow sees a new, fairer international order. It is based on respect for international law and the sovereign equality of states, and does not allow exclusive opportunities for one state or group. Greater Eurasia, due to its geopolitical position, is the strongest material foundation of this order, since the states located there naturally consider the security of their neighbours as part of their own. This cannot be typical of the United States and Western Europe, since their position is geographically isolated, which allows for the construction of dividing lines and the implementation of policies aimed at fuelling conflicts outside the narrow community of Western countries.

                                                                                                    Second, cooperation in Greater Eurasia inevitably relies on the global structures of the new international order, among which the central place is occupied by BRICS, the expansion of which has become the most important international event of 2023. During its chairmanship of the group, Russia will have to consider, as a whole, issues related to the development of BRICS and the strengthening of international cooperation in Greater Eurasia. The overall strategic mission of BRICS - strengthening the sovereignty of the countries of the world and increasing the degree of democracy in international politics - reflects the objectives of interaction in Eurasian organisations and institutions. At the same time, Russian diplomacy apparently will take into account the restrictions that exist in a number of new BRICS countries, as well as Eurasian states in connection with their relations with Western countries. Not all participants in regional cooperation are large and powerful powers which are immune to pressure from the United States and Europe. This vulnerability is partly contributed to by the legacy of the transition from the Soviet economic model to the market one, during which some CIS countries developed special ties to and a dependence on the West.

                                                                                                    Third, the movement of Greater Eurasia towards more intense internal integrity cannot and will never be able to be carried out within the framework of the leadership model characteristic of all international institutions of the past. In Greater Eurasia, three of the four most important powers of the modern world are located – Russia, India and China, each of which balances the others, which is a guarantee against the formation of an unequal model of relations. Unfortunately, the nature of international politics is such that large states inevitably strive to "nationalise" common institutions and governance mechanisms at the global and regional levels in a way that reflects their own interests. We can only count on a balance between them, which makes it impossible for one power to achieve leadership. In Greater Eurasia, such a balance is fairly convincing, which should reassure medium-sized and small countries that their foreign policy will not be dictated by a major player, and that there is no alternative. So far, many of the medium and small countries of Eurasia are also turning to external powers, such as the United States, in order to emphasise their independence in relations with large neighbours. However, as the West's resources are depleted and the region shifts to more selfish behaviour, such a strategy will become less and less pragmatic. Russian policy in Greater Eurasia, however, will always be able to take into account the diversity of interests and values of regional partners, rely on their sovereignty and proceed from the fact that the right to independent decisions is the main value of what we call the World Majority.

                                                                                                    Finally, painstaking work on the practical "interconnection" of different forms of institutional and informal interaction between the countries of the region will remain important for Russian policy in Greater Eurasia. Due to its geographical location, Russia is present in most regional forums and formats, and its diplomatic experience includes various types of cooperation within their framework. The process of cooperation between the Eurasian Economic Union and China, which is promoting the Belt and Road initiative, still continues, the SCO agenda is becoming more diverse, and the Collective Security Treaty Organisation is occupying its unique niche. At the same time, the other major Eurasian powers - China and India - do not have the potential to create integration associations comparable in their degree of mutual openness to the EAEU. These are countries that, with few exceptions, do not have formal allies – they are the "lonely planets" of world politics. This can be seen as a challenge, since it means that there is no habit of limiting one's capabilities, but it can also be positive, since it does not lead to the creation of closed integration associations or close alliances in Greater Eurasia. The task that will inevitably be present in the activities of Russian diplomacy is the "conjugation" of their national interests and the dynamics of the development of structured forms of international cooperation in a huge region.

                                                                                                    In general, the richness and diversity of the agenda for interaction between the countries of Greater Eurasia creates for Russia a huge number of promising areas of foreign policy that do not directly depend on the dynamics of the ongoing conflict with the West. Practical successes here will become in the coming years an important incentive for Eurasian countries to achieve national development goals and establish a new international order in which there will be no place for dictatorship and the division of states into a privileged group and an exploited majority.
                                                                                                                  Investment and Finance
                                                                                                                  Investment and finance in BRICS
                                                                                                                  The BRICS Wealth report: Challenging the Global economic order (Отчет BRICS Wealth: вызов глобальному экономическому порядку) / Russia, February, 2024
                                                                                                                  Keywords: economic_challenges

                                                                                                                  The total investable wealth currently held in the BRICS bloc amounts to USD 45 trillion and its millionaire population is expected to rise by 85% over the next 10 years, according to the inaugural BRICS Wealth Report.

                                                                                                                  The total investable wealth currently held in the BRICS bloc amounts to USD 45 trillion and its millionaire population is expected to rise by 85% over the next 10 years, according to the inaugural BRICS Wealth Report, published by international investment migration advisory firm Henley & Partners in partnership with global wealth intelligence firm New World Wealth.

                                                                                                                  There are currently 1.6 million individuals with investable assets of over USD 1 million in the grouping of the world's leading emerging economies, including 4,716 centi-millionaires or 'centis' (with more than USD 100 million in investable assets) and 549 billionaires.

                                                                                                                  The original BRICS cohort comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa added substantial new financial firepower and geopolitical clout with the inclusion this month of new Middle East and North Africa (MENA) members Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. The BRICS bloc now represents more than 45% of the world's population and accounts for a larger share (nearly 36%) of global GDP than G7 countries (30%) when adjusting for purchasing power parity (PPP).

                                                                                                                  CEO of Henley & Partners, Dr. Juerg Steffen, says BRICS is now a highly influential player in the global economy, presenting attractive new opportunities for investors, entrepreneurs, and talented high-net-worth individuals. "The inclusion of MENA countries is not just a political realignment but a recognition of their growing economic stature. The region, historically pivotal due to its energy resources, is now asserting a more diversified economic role. For investors worldwide, MENA's growing participation in BRICS opens a realm of possibilities beyond the region, offering access to fast-growing consumer markets, strategic geographic positioning, and unique cultural and business environments."

                                                                                                                  The new report reveals that in the last decade, private wealth grew by a remarkable 92% in China, which is now home to 862,400 millionaires, including 2,352 centi-millionaires and 305 billionaires. India follows in 2nd place in the BRICS HNWI ranking, with 326,400 millionaires, including over 1,000 centis and 120 billionaires, and wealth growth soaring by 85% over the past 10 years. The UAE's millionaire population has also shot up since 2013, by 77%, and the Middle East's leading wealth hub is now home to 116,500 millionaires, including over 300 centis. The past decade has also seen robust private wealth growth in Saudi Arabia and Ethiopia, with their millionaire populations rising by 35% and 30%, respectively.

                                                                                                                  Commenting in the BRICS Wealth Report, leading personal finance and investment expert Jeff D. Opdyke says "nations once considered 'developing' or 'emerging' or the pejorative 'third world' are now dynamic economies that are changing the global order. Economically, non-Western nations — with BRICS at the vanguard — are pushing the globe into a new reality: An emerging economic, social, and monetary status quo that is upending what the world has accepted as normal for nearly eight decades."

                                                                                                                  As Dr. José Caballero, Senior Economist at the IMD World Competitiveness Center in Switzerland points out in the report, "BRICS as an organization offers a set of dynamic markets with relatively stable political systems that could influence the future of the global economy. The strength of these economies lies for some in the dynamism of their SMEs sectors and for others in the agility of their political systems. As an intergovernmental organization, therefore, the members of the expanded BRICS complement one other, which in turn ensures the sustainability of their creation of wealth."

                                                                                                                  Even though BRICS now controls more of the world's GDP PPP than the G7, its citizens have significantly less economic mobility than those residing in the most advanced economies. According to the Henley Passport Power Index, the average percentage of global GDP that passport holders from BRICS countries can access visa-free is just 21% compared to those from G7 nations who collectively enjoy access to over 80% of global GDP on average without requiring a prior visa.

                                                                                                                  Dominic Volek, Group Head of Private Clients at Henley & Partners, says the extended BRICS community will create new opportunities in the investment migration sector, "both for investors seeking greater access to BRICS member states and for those within BRICS countries looking to improve their global access and passport power. Residence and/or citizenship by investment programs can play a transformative role in attracting debt-free capital and talent and fostering a more interconnected and powerful ecosystem."
                                                                                                                                A revamped BRICS CRA to model IMF blueprint? (Обновленный CRA БРИКС для моделирования плана МВФ?) / Russia, February, 2024
                                                                                                                                Keywords: economic_challenges, expert_opinion

                                                                                                                                On February 7th Russia hosted an online meeting of Deputy heads of the Central Banks and Ministries of Finance of BRICS economies. One of the key themes on the agenda was the reform of the international financial system as well as the revamping of the BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement (BRICS CRA). The latter initiative may turn out to be the single most important initiative in the BRICS financial cooperation track after the creation of the New Development Bank (NDB) nearly 10 years ago. The question at this stage is whether the reform of the BRICS CRA is going to be material enough to make it an effective instrument of assisting developing economies in stabilizing their macroeconomic dynamics. The ample experience of the IMF may serve as a guide in shaping the modalities of the BRICS CRA, though there may also be a need for new approaches in shaping the framework of the arrangement to take into account the values and priorities of the Global South.

                                                                                                                                The BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) is an arrangement for the provision of liquidity and precautionary financial resources to cope with actual or potential short-term balance of payments difficulties. The importance of revamping the BRICS has been one of my long-standing calls with respect to making the financial track of BRICS cooperation more effective[1] – as argued in one of my articles last year "the BRICS CRA in its current form is not capable of addressing the needs of developing economies… the Global South should create institutions that can emulate and surpass the success stories that have been built on the basis of the Bretton Woods international organizations"[2]. Indeed, since its creation in 2014 the BRICS CRA remained on the sidelines despite at times significant needs experienced by BRICS economies to receive financial resources and policy advice in stabilizing their macroeconomic frameworks.

                                                                                                                                In charting the future contours of the BRICS CRA the experience of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will be an important guide. If the BRICS CRA is to start providing liquidity resources to member economies, it will need to borrow extensively from the IMF's conditionality framework and the wide array of borrowing instruments developed by the IMF over the past decades. It may also emulate the Fund (that has agreements and a Concordat with the World Bank) in building a "BRICS concordat" with other development institutions of the Global South such as NDB and the regional financing arrangements (RFAs) in which BRICS countries are members. In fact, it was the IMF that pioneered the regular dialogues with regional financing arrangements (RFAs), including the BRICS CRA – in this respect the BRICS CRA could build its own network of alliances that may span the Bretton Woods institutions as well as the regional financing arrangements (RFAs) from the Global South and the developed world.

                                                                                                                                But while there may be a wealth of features that could be taken on board by the BRICS CRA from its Bretton Woods analog, there may also be differences pertaining to conditionality as well as the distribution of votes in the decision-making process. With respect to the latter, the BRICS CRA in further expanding its membership could aim for a more balanced distribution of countries' shares compared to the Fund, where glaring imbalances are slow to be bridged. With respect to conditionality, the BRICS CRA may explore the possibilities of placing greater emphasis in its financing arrangements on the attainment of ownership of the stabilization program by the recipient economies. The BRICS CRA conditionality approach could also place more emphasis on growth and trade liberalization with more care accorded to the risks associated with drastic stabilization measures for the social indicators of BRICS economies. There may also be a need for coordination with the IMF over extending resources to countries that already have a Fund arrangement to avoid cross-conditionality problems. Operationally, the BRICS CRA may become one of the channels of greater use of national BRICS currencies in the financial operations of BRICS platforms and institutions.

                                                                                                                                Finally, the BRICS CRA could become the key center of analyzing macroeconomic performance and macroeconomic risks across the BRICS+ and the Global South space – much like the IMF has evolved into a key source of macroeconomic expertise on the global economy. At this stage, there is a palpable lack of analysis of Global South macroeconomic developments undertaken by the developing economies themselves. There could be ample scope to build research capabilities by the BRICS CRA together with the UN economic institutions such as the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). In the end, revamping the BRICS CRA is an opportunity to provide a different perspective on international platforms of macroeconomic stabilization or as framed by Brazil's G20/T20 presidency to "re-think the world". And it is crucial that this re-imagining of how the world economy could be stabilized by impulses from the Global South is done in close cooperation with the trail-blazers from the Bretton Woods. Amid intensifying global risks and headwinds, the IMF and advanced economies would benefit from a more structured and organized effort at macroeconomic stabilization coming from the developing world.

                                                                                                                                Image by rupixen via Pixabay



                                                                                                                                              Political Events
                                                                                                                                              Political events in the public life of BRICS
                                                                                                                                              Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's remarks at a gala meeting devoted to Diplomatic Worker's Day, Moscow, February 9, 2024 (Выступление Министра иностранных дел С.В.Лаврова на торжественном заседании, посвященном Дню дипломатического работника, Москва, 9 февраля 2024 года) / Russia, February, 2024
                                                                                                                                              Keywords: quotation, sergey_lavrov

                                                                                                                                              Dear friends,

                                                                                                                                              Today we are celebrating a traditional annual holiday – Diplomatic Worker's Day. I declare this gala meeting, dedicated to Diplomatic Worker's Day, open!

                                                                                                                                              * * *

                                                                                                                                              At the beginning of these meetings, we always recall our comrades who passed away. The year that has passed since the last Diplomatic Worker's Day is no exception. Let's honour their memory with a minute of silence.

                                                                                                                                              * * *

                                                                                                                                              By tradition, we receive congratulations from our national leaders. In our daily work, we invariably feel comradely assistance and support from our colleagues in the Presidential Executive Office as well as from the various ministries and departments. I would also like to note the messages of congratulations from the Chairs of the Federation Council and the State Duma, the heads of parliamentary committees and federal executive government bodies, the regions of the Federation, and representatives of the business and cultural communities.

                                                                                                                                              We are grateful for the high assessment of our work and will continue to honestly fulfil our duties in the entrusted area.

                                                                                                                                              The trust given to our diplomats by our national leadership compels us to assume increasing responsibility especially considering the numerous challenges and opportunities that exist in the international, foreign policy activities at this turning point in the world's development. This is not the first time that our country is at the peak of geopolitical processes. This is why Russia's place in the emerging multipolar world and the future of the world itself largely depends on us, on our dedication and a correct understanding of the priorities.

                                                                                                                                              The US-led collective West is not letting up in its attempts to impose an unfair unipolar global arrangement on the world. With this aim in mind, it is trying to exert pressure on all those who are in the way of its hegemonistic plans, those who, like Russia, support democratisation of international life and its development on the enduring principles of international law, primarily the principle of the sovereign equality of states.

                                                                                                                                              Acting together with the countries of the global majority, our associates in the international arena, we will continue working for the unconditional guarantees for our lawful interests in regional security based on the principle of an indivisible Russia. The Foreign Policy Concept, a new version of which was approved by President Vladimir Putin in Match 2023, is instrumental in this work. In accordance with this strategic planning document, Russia is fulfilling the unique mission of providing global balance and consideration for the interests of all states involved in international communication.

                                                                                                                                              The hybrid war unleashed by the West against those who object to its global striving to maintain its domination is creating not only obstacles but also impetuses for strengthening versatile ties with our allies and partners in the global south and the global east, with all countries, political forces and public circles that are motivated to conduct constructive cooperation with Russia. An impetus is created to give up illusions that are still nurtured in some places. We will continue working with them in our efforts to create a fairer world arrangement that is designed to ensure the wellbeing of all humanity while preserving its cultural, religious and civilisational diversity.

                                                                                                                                              This is the priority goal in our work with our closest allies in the CSTO, the EAEU, the CIS, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and in the framework of the Union State of Russia and Belarus. We intend to continue consolidating our strategic partnerships with the PRC, India, Brazil, South Africa, Algeria, Egypt, Syria, Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua and a vast number of other countries that share our conceptual approaches to the world situation and the prospects for the development of our common planet. We attach primary importance to reaching the goals of Russia's current presidency in the Commonwealth of Independent States and the expanded BRICS.

                                                                                                                                              We focus in particular on advancing BRICS' relations with regional and sub-regional association from the Global South, such as the African Union, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, ASEAN, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the League of Arab States, and the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf. This is an engaging area of work because as an organisation with global reach, BRICS can effectively amplify its voice by establishing connections with these sectoral and regional entities, ensuring a louder and weightier voice for the Global Majority. We will continue to play an active role in Eurasian associations, such as the CSTO, the EAEU, and the SCO. To effectively address international priorities, we leverage Russia's participation in the G20, APEC, the East Asia Summit mechanisms, and other multilateral associations.

                                                                                                                                              We will continue to work within the G20, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum, the East Asia Summit mechanisms, and other multilateral associations that include the participation of Western representatives. We have significantly strengthened our positions and forced the G7 and its allies to drop the attempts to impose their unilateral approaches and to seek a balance of interests. This trend is plain for everyone to see. It showed itself in recent meetings of APEC, the G20, and East Asia Summits and is gaining momentum.

                                                                                                                                              We will do our best to help further strengthen the SCO in the interests of effectively addressing pressing international issues and promoting our concept for strengthening Eurasian security across the board.

                                                                                                                                              In the forthcoming period, the diplomatic service will focus on ensuring the proper conduct of the presidential election in Russia, including setting up polling stations abroad, facilitating international observation of elections in Russia, including in Crimea, the Donetsk and Lugansk people's republics, and the Kherson and the Zaporozhye regions.

                                                                                                                                              Mobilising existing staff and intellectual resources is a mandatory component of professional success in the current geopolitical situation. We are reallocating these resources in the central office and foreign missions in order to prioritise the most promising areas which primarily include countries of the Global Majority, the Global South, and countries in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America. This work has been a challenge.

                                                                                                                                              The national diplomatic service has always been known for its creative approach to problem-solving, the ability to adapt to the demands of the time while remaining faithful to our good traditions. It is important for each of us (in a fast-moving world with new factors affecting all spheres of life) to keep bettering ourselves and to combine time-tested methods of classical diplomacy with innovative approaches and techniques.

                                                                                                                                              The ministry's top officials focus on ensuring continuity as well. Former employees play a major role in mentoring young diplomats who will carry the banner of Russian diplomacy high in the 21st century.

                                                                                                                                              While setting high expectations for our employees' performance, we will continue to do our utmost to strengthen social protections for our staff, ensure decent compensation, and create positive work and recreational environments. We are aware of the issues and needs faced by our veterans and always keep them in focus.

                                                                                                                                              In closing, I would like to offer my heartfelt wishes to everyone in this room, all our colleagues who are unable to attend, the territorial staff of our Ministry, the foreign mission employees, especially the former members of the diplomatic service, on the occasion of our professional holiday.

                                                                                                                                              I wish you good health, success, and new achievements for the good of Russia.

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