Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 8.2019
2019.02.18 — 2019.02.24
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
India's Fight Against Terrorism: China's Silence Speaks Volumes (Борьба Индии с терроризмом: молчание Китая говорит о многом) / USA, February, 2019
Keywords: expert_opinion, national_security
Author: Prarthana Basu

The Pulwama attack has once again drawn attention to China's equivocal stance on Pakistan-based terror outfits.

India has yet again become the victim of cross-border terrorism and insurgency. An attack in the Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir cost the lives of over 40 Central Reserve Police Force troops. Afterward, countries across the globe expressed deep condolences and resolutely spoke out against terrorism. While India continues to stand its ground firmly in denouncing terrorism, the Pulwama attack lays bare the difficulty of the fight against Pakistan's state sponsored terrorism and the ineffectiveness of the measures India has been taking at the international level, in various multilateral organizations such as in the United Nations, BRICS, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. When terrorist and insurgent groups strike, India retaliates with counter measures and pre-emptive strikes but it continues to suffer the costs of terrorism domestically.

Now the question largely remains as to how India will try to advance its cause on the international stage, especially the UNSC and give a befitting ultimatum to Pakistan, which indeed has proven largely responsible as it continues to act as a "safe haven" for the various terrorist organizations. The key issue, as it has been for decades, is China's ability to block any action targeting Pakistan, its "iron brother," for supporting terrorism.

The Adversary: JeM and Masood Azhar

Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), a Pakistan-based terrorist organization, has been operating since the early 2000s and actively participating in violence and causing instability in the Jammu and Kashmir region. JeM's primary motive remains the separation of Kashmir from India and merging it with Pakistan. JeM has been associatedwith many terrorist attacks on Indian soil, from the 1999 hijacking of Indian Airlines flight 814 in Khandahar to the 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament.

These events gained prominence after the 9/11 attacks and the global war on terrorism was initiated. India's inherent struggle with terrorism was highlighted and this led many other countries — such as the United States, United Kingdom, France, Japan, South Korea, and even the United Nations — to declare a ban on JeM as a terrorist organization. By then, Pakistan was also forced to act responsibly and was pressured to impose a ban on the various terrorist organizations thriving on its soil. However, Pakistan's authorities conveniently let go of the arrested militants and Masood Azhar, the leader of JeM, was released under a court order. He has remained free ever since.

Azhar allegedly kept a low profile from his base in Bahawalpur, Pakistan for years after the 2008 Mumbai attacks, but resurfaced in 2014, voraciously speaking against India and the United States and boasting of having hundreds of suicide killers, ready to create havoc, at his beck and call. JeM has ever since been actively recruiting and gathering forces via madrassas or Islamic schools (an issue that has not escaped notice in Pakistan). JeM maintains the United States and India as its two biggest enemies and also seeks to drive the American forces out of Afghanistan.

The International Response

On February 15 in New Delhi, Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale called for a meeting of around 25 heads of mission of various countries such as South Africa, Japan, Germany, the United States, China, the U.K., and others. In this meeting, Gokhale spoke about how Pakistan has been actively perpetuating terrorism and using it as an instrument of state policy. He said, "Pakistan must take immediate and verifiable action" against JeM and immediately stop other associates of the groups in creating any further nuisance. India vowed to isolate Pakistan diplomatically from here on unless action is taken. It also withdrew Pakistan's "Most Favored Nation" status.

Many countries have expressed their sorrow, unambiguously condemned this terrorist attack, and supported India's stance at this hour of grief. Countries such as the United States and Russia have strongly condemned the act and have made thorough remarks on the subject. The White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders released the statement saying, "The United States condemns in the strongest terms the heinous terrorist attack by a Pakistan-based terrorist group that killed over 40 Indian paramilitary forces and wounded at least 44 others." The press release also remarked, "The United States calls on Pakistan to end immediately the support and safe haven provided to all terrorist groups operating on its soil, whose only goal is to sow chaos, violence and terror in the region." This would implies the future will see more intensive cooperation and strengthening of ties between the United States and India on counterterrorism.

Russian President Vladimir Putin also spoke against the terrorist attack. He also called for "punishments" of the perpetrators, who were responsible for such a "heinous act." The message also implied unwavering support in the efforts of counterterrorism operations and partnership in fighting against terrorism.

China Stays Silent Yet Again

Meanwhile, China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi issued a statement on the attacks in India, expressing his condolences for the country and stressing that terrorism remains the common enemy of mankind. The "Chinese side resolutely opposes and strongly condemns all forms of terrorism," Wang insisted. Strangely, though, his remarks fail to mention either the terrorist organization responsible (JeM) or the leader of that group (Masood Azhar) – much less the state backing them both (Pakistan). Most states made it a point to deliberately reference the perpetrator of the attack.

This, however, comes as no surprise. Every time India has appealed at the United Nations Security Council to designate JeM chief Masood Azhar as a "global terrorist," China has single-handled vetoed the action. Beijing continues to remain silent on the reasoning behind its decision. India has been pushing for that listing since the infamous 26/11 Mumbai Attacks, but every time its discussed in the UNSC, China has placed a "technical hold" on the matter.

Now with another terrorist attack infuriating India's populace, the mystery behind this Chinese silence remains unsolved. While most attribute China's apparent silence as a favor to Pakistan, as both continue to maintain their "all-weather friendship," others argue that China holds India responsible for granting political asylum to the Tibetan leader Dalai Lama, whom Beijing equates to Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) leader Hafiz Saeed.

China's stand on the listing of Masood Azhar as a global terrorist by the UNSC was brought up at a recent press conference. Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang on Friday responded that "As for the issue of listing, I could tell you that the 1267 Committee of Security Council has a clear stipulation on the listing and procedure of terrorist organizations." He also maintained that China would abide by proper rules and regulations to "handle the relevant sanctions issue in a constructive and responsible manner."

China's stonewalling of an international rebuke to Azhar – and by extension Pakistan — has been one of the greatest hindrances in the relationship between India and China, alongside everlasting issues pertaining to border disputes, the Dalai Lama, and the trade disparity. Both countries take part in many international and multilateral initiatives such as BRICS and SCO, the latter of which denounces terrorism strongly and thus provides a platform for India to denounce Pakistan's state sponsored terrorism (as Pakistan too became a member of SCO). But the blacklisting of Masood Azhar, and China's inadequate response, has become an irritant for India. As the Pulwama attack continues making news and the country may be gearing up to fight back, the India-China tug-of-war on the matter remains at a stalemate.

Prarthana Basu is a Research Assistant at the Institute of Chinese Studies, New Delhi.

Izvestia: German politician sees BRICS as way to salvage INF deal («Известия»: немецкий политик видит в БРИКС способ спасти ДРСМД) / Russia, February, 2019
Keywords: expert_opinion, national_security

In order to save the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty), it is necessary to renew the inspection mechanism and bring in specialists from such neutral countries as BRICS, leader of the German Bundestag Defense Committee from the Left Party Alexander Neu told Izvestia. He noted that scrapping the treaty directly affects security in Europe, and therefore the EU must also try to influence this situation. In addition, the politician spoke about the upcoming European elections.

According to Neu, it is necessary to save the agreement. When highlighting the United States, he noted that unfortunately, the German leadership is not putting enough pressure on Washington to demand that it complies with its obligations under the treaty, and such a soft approach is widespread in all NATO countries, he noted. Therefore, Berlin needs to use all its political weight to unite countries interested in maintaining the INF and to urge Washington to call off a new arms race.

It is necessary to create a new inspection mechanism with neutral and qualified experts, for example, from such BRICS countries as South Africa, the politician added. According to him, this would be a way out of the catastrophic situation.

Talking about the upcoming Ukrainian elections, Neu said he believes that even if, contrary to expectations, Poroshenko wins the elections, the West will again agree to cooperate with him. Thus, the incumbent Ukrainian president will do everything possible to achieve this, since the support of the United States and the European Union guarantees his status quo.
Critical time for SA to assert itself in international relations (Критическое время для СА заявить о себе в международных отношениях) / South Africa, February, 2019
Keywords: expert_opinion, cyril_ramaphosa
South Africa

By Klaus Kotzé Given the forthcoming national and provincial elections, this year will inevitably be dominated by domestic politics. But 2019 should be a year in which SA capitalises on new international opportunities and carefully repositions itself as a credible and legitimate voice in global affairs.

Earlier this month SA rejoined the UN Security Council for a two-year term as one of the 10 non-permanent members. This alone will put the country's foreign policy under greater scrutiny — internationally, if not at home.

President Cyril Ramaphosa and international relations minister Lindiwe Sisulu's public postures in the final months of 2018 provided insight into how the sixth democratic government will position itself globally after the elections. They have set out to recapture SA's moral authority and reacquire strategic global influence. The recent reversal at the UN General Assembly from abstaining to voting to condemn human rights abuses in Myanmar signals a decided reorientation of SA's foreign policy.

Ramaphosa's promise of a "new dawn" transcends the preceding era and introduces a dynamic approach to policy. His active engagements at multilateral organisations and with international partners present a renewed opportunity to advance SA's interests through international means and ways. The president's charm offensive to garner foreign investment is clearly aimed at bolstering the domestic economic project, tactically advancing his electoral drive.

Ramaphosa's diplomatic and rhetorical skills were on full display during his maiden visit to the UN. He tactically deployed SA's most potent diplomatic weapon: the legacy of Nelson Mandela. The president sought to assert international influence by unveiling a statue in commemoration of the global icon.

As the principal guest of a one-day "peace summit" convened by UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres on the eve of the annual general assembly in September 2018, Ramaphosa evoked the overlap between Mandela's values and that of the UN — a clear attempt to reposition SA as a responsible global citizen committed to the international rule of law, after the eccentricities of the Jacob Zuma era.

In doing so, Ramaphosa leveraged Mandela's gravitas as an international statesman, advocating a "more representative, equal and fair UN". His call that "we must resist any and all efforts to undermine the multilateral approach" is a calculated, internationalist response to a global order that is threatened by the US's change of strategy towards unilateralism.

Ramaphosa's endorsement of principled multilateral reform claims an authoritative, independent vantage. It is from this vantage that SA has the most to gain. Unlike his predecessor's pursuit of national and continental interests through narrow anti-western tactics, Ramaphosa can truly advance the national interest as well as representative global governance by presenting a sovereign embodiment of international norms and values.

Increased discord among the security council's veto-bearing powers has opened significant influence for non-permanent members. SA rejoins the security council at a precarious and opportune time. It must enact a judicious and coherent programme. Its seat at the table lends it the opportunity to help steer ongoing matters that have for too long simply been managed. The situation in Yemen and South Sudan, for example, requires decisive leadership.

The volte-face on the Myanmar vote is an encouraging sign that signals active responsibility. Sisulu has announced that votes will henceforth be cast individually and upon direction from the executive. This circumvents an often recalcitrant diplomatic establishment and advances an active foreign policy that serves the national interest. Sisulu made it clear: "We want to usher in a new era where SA can lift itself out of poverty and inequality and regain its stature in the world … We want SA to be once again a moral compass and a voice of reason in a world increasingly overcome with selfish, narrow interests."

To do so she will have to streamline her bloated department, improve institutional capacity and offer clearly defined policy objectives. A review panel has been established, including experienced hands such as Aziz Pahad and Ayanda Ntsaluba, which bodes well for a meaningful turnaround strategy.

One big strategic question that will need to be answered by the Ramaphosa administration is how it will seek to benefit from the Brics grouping. SA's influence and role within this informal grouping may appear to be waning. Yet Brics is a potentially potent tool that has been misperceived and underutilised. Instead of an anti-western mechanism, Brics is a cogent, co-operative regime engendering representative global governance. It is reformist, not revolutionary. As a member of this exclusive group, SA holds leverage to shape its perception, direction and execution.

Responding to global instability, Brics is building beyond its rhetorical form. Dubbed Brics Plus, this novel concept heralds a distinct, expanded platform to embody and sustain what has become a precarious multilateral order. Brics Plus remains poorly defined. SA, which initiated the Brics outreach mechanism, a precursor to Brics Plus, has the opportunity to inject it with its constitutional values and diverse and reconciliatory ethos.

Brics Plus provides an indirect means to charge regional, continental and southern relations from a position of power, securing influence from the south and recognition from the north. SA's seat at the security council and its membership of Brics must be used to counter Zuma's Manichean foreign policy and the false narrative obliging a choice between sides in a new cold war.

By taking an independent, normative stance SA could assume greater regional and global power, accelerating the tide towards an imminent multipolar world order. SA should aim to be one of the many "poles" in this complex, fractured global disorder — on the one hand seeking to defend multilateralism where it can be defended on a principled or reformed basis (such as on the UN security council), while on the other hand finding new opportunities to exert influence (such as through Brics Plus or as an independent player).

In 2019, this strategic approach should be developed and then clearly articulated and executed. Such a sovereign strategy cannot only promote SA's international interests but also serve the campaign to reclaim the captured state — joining the dots between domestic and international policy.

Klaus Kotzé recently completed his PhD at the University of Cape Town's Centre for Rhetoric Studies, on the subject of the Brics grouping and its strategies of persuasion.

Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
Six adventurous single-country fund ideas (Шесть авантюрных идей фонда для одной страны) / United Kingdom, February, 2019
Keywords: expert_opinion, economic_challenge
United Kingdom

Excitement about the Brics economies may have waned, but there is still compelling potential for impressive gains from individual nations.

The Bric group of countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) captured investors' imagination back in 2001 when Goldman Sachs' chief economist at the time, Jim O'Neill, coined the term. This new investment theme spawned a raft of fund launches, and investors piled in. Then in 2010 South Africa joined the group to turn Bric into Brics.

However, the popularity of the Brics has since waned because of economic uncertainty. Three of the Brics are now included in the 'fragile five' – countries Morgan Stanley deems overly dependent on unreliable foreign investment. Assets under management dwindled and fund groups quietly closed their portfolios – even Goldman Sachs, which merged away its fund in 2015.

That said, investors cannot afford to ignore these markets: the five Brics countries together are tipped to account for a third of world GDP by 2020. However, with only a handful of Brics funds now available, single-country funds may be a better way to tap into Brics potential.

Brazil moves to new beat

Latin America's largest economy and the world's ninth largest is underpinned by commodities, making it vulnerable to oil price falls. Some lingering effects from the region's debt crisis of the 1980s are still being felt, with Brazil's debt-to-GDP ratio set to hit 90%.

Meanwhile, corruption remains a problem. By the time the impeachment of former president Dilma Rousseff began in 2015, Brazil's economy was halfway through its worst-ever recession. A new far-right president was elected in October 2018 with a mandate for fiscal reform.

Ryan Hughes, head of active portfolios, at AJ Bell, says: "In its recent elections Brazil chose a pro-business president , according to some." He notes that recent stockmarket performance has been strong, but that Brazil remains out of favour. "Brazil's market has done incredibly well over the past year, but many investors will have missed out. Fund managers' allocations to the country have been very low. That said, the new president's policies could ignite interest in the region. Petrobras issues have dominated, but Brazil is a massive market and a huge economy, and it has a skilled workforce, so there is a lot of potential there if the country can sort out its politics."

Fund pick: There is a limited choice of Brazil funds, with just three funds in Investment Association sectors. Of these, BNY Mellon Brazil Equity has been the best performer, having returned 140% over three years, according to FE Analytics data. It is managed by Rogério Poppe in line with the group's focus on capital preservation. The fund has just $88 million (£69 million) under management. It counts banks, miners and, of course, oil giant Petrobras among its top 10 holdings.

There are more Latin America funds to choose from, some of which have heavy weightings to Brazil, and off er diversification through exposure to Chile and Mexico, but these funds come with their own risks. Neptune Latin America had 61% in Brazilian equities at the end of November 2018 and has returned 85% over the past three years. However, Hughes says he would be more inclined to buy a broader emerging market fund for exposure to Brazil.

Values attract in Russia

Russia has been making headlines for US election tampering and the poisoning of a former Russian spy and others in the UK, triggering economic sanctions from the West.

Russia's economy is heavily reliant on exports of oil, gas and other commodities, so investing in its markets requires steely nerve, as these can be highly volatile. However, Russia fund managers say political noise often overshadows the country's fundamental strengths. They point to cheap stockmarket valuations, a buoyant oil price and Chinese demand for Russian exports.

Hughes says it is difficult to get Russia exposure without buying a single-country fund, but the nature of the market means this comes with significant sector concentration. The Russian stock market is 62% energy, for example, and there is stock-specific risk, with companies such as Rosneft, Gazprom and financials stock Sberbank making up a large part of the index.

"It is a challenging area to invest in," says Hughes. "People who invest there tell you the stockmarket is incredibly cheap – on very low price-to-earnings (p/e) ratios – but it has been beaten up by political risk. The market is up 80% over three years, so it is not to be sniff ed at, but it fell by 40% when Russia decided to annex Crimea, so it is incredibly volatile and can be swung by politics. You can't ignore that, no matter how cheap companies are."

Fund pick: Hughes's fund pick is Baring Russia run by Michael Levy, who has a long track record of investing in the region. The fund is small (valued at just $38 million), but Hughes says this is unsurprising as "it is hard to see any Russia fund gaining much traction". He emphasises that a fund such as this should make up only a very small position in most portfolios.

India a growth hot spot

As he enters his fifth year in office, India's progressive prime minister Narendra Modi has enacted sweeping tax reforms and attracted record foreign direct investment into the country. India's services-led economy has overtaken China's as the fastest-growing in the world. But with a general election coming in May, there is uncertainty about what will happen next.

Adrian Lowcock, head of personal investing at Willis Owen, says: "We've had some investor interest in India, as Modi has kept the country's profile high, but recently it has struggled with a higher oil price and a stronger dollar. The market sold off when the US was sabre-rattling with Turkey."

Fund pick: A handful of India funds and investment trusts were among the worst performers of 2018. One of these was the £848 million Jupiter India fund, which lost investors 21% in 2018, due to its exposure to underperforming small- and mid-cap stocks.

Lowcock still rates the fund, though. He likes manager Avinash Vazirani's research-intensive investment process: He says: "Vazirani conducts his own research and also uses external resources to find ideas. He aims to identify under-researched stocks with strong growth prospects, which has led him to favour mid- and small-cap firms over benchmark heavyweights.

"However, he prioritises capital preservation, so he invests in high-quality companies with strong fundamentals. Investors should be aware that given the unconstrained nature of the portfolio and its large exposure to smaller-cap stocks, the fund can go through short periods of underperformance."

China still tempts

China's meteoric rise has seen it become the world's largest economy on some measures, but its growth has been slowing for some time. In the third quarter of 2018, the economy recorded its weakest GDP growth since the peak of the global financial crisis, but it is still on track to grow by 6.6% in 2018.

Known as the workshop of the world, China has become an innovator in its own right and is opening up its marketplace to welcome foreign investors. But it is in a bear market: its CSI 300 index was the biggest loser of 2018, down 25% over the year as investors exited Chinese stocks over the country's trade spat with the US. Meanwhile, manufacturing has been contracting, although the services sector is picking up the slack.

Lloyds Bank has tipped China as the biggest investment opportunity for 2019, pointing to lower interest on bank loans, a weak renminbi, which could boost exports, and improving trade relations with the EU.

Fund pick: For China exposure, Lowcock tips Fidelity China Focus, managed by Jing Ning using a benchmark-aware approach with a value tilt. He says: "The manager focuses on companies that have been disregarded by the market for economic or company-specific reasons but have the potential for turnaround over the long run. Ning has demonstrated her ability to add value in Chinese equities over the longer term while sticking to her value approach." The £3.5 billion portfolio counts Tencent, Alibaba and China Mobile among its top 10 positions.

South Africa sounding

South Africa, the latest addition to the Brics group of countries, is known for its natural resources wealth, but it suffers similar struggles with corruption to those faced by other Brics nations. Last year Cyril Ramaphosa took over from Jacob Zuma as president, pledging reform, which has boosted investor sentiment on the country. However, Africa's second-largest economy still faces structural challenges. Disappointing GDP data saw it fall briefly back into recession last year for the first time since 2009. Despite being home to some well-managed companies, it has struggled with a large current account deficit, a skills shortage and high exposure to the commodities cycle.

Fund pick: Some exchange traded funds track the South African market, and equity funds that invest across Africa are available, but these might be too racy for an average investor. South Africa's stockmarket performance over recent years has been broadly in line with the wider MSCI Emerging Markets index, so it might be worth buying a general emerging markets fund for less concentrated exposure to South Africa. Templeton Global Emerging Markets, run by Chetan Sehgal, has nearly 10% in South Africa (as at 2 January) and has delivered a top-quartile return of 60% over three years.
BRICS and Its Impact on the World (БРИКС и его влияние на мир) / China, February, 2019
Keywords: expert_opinion, economic_challenges, rating

BRICS is an organization of five nations – Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. Initially, the group was named as BRIC. With the addition of South Africa in 2010, the current name was adopted. With individual economies performing very well, BRICS is poised to play a major role in shaping international trade and politics.

BRICS is home to more than 40 percent of the world's population. It has a combined nominal GDP of around US$18.6 trillion and accounts for about 23 percent of the gross world product. Having such a large population and a huge economy under them, BRICS has a lot of clout in the international community. The philosophy of BRICS is guided by the policy of non-interference.

However, what is worrying is that though India, South Africa, and Brazil are vibrant democracies, Russia and China are former and current communist nations that have a long history of suppressing individual freedoms. Some experts believe that these two nations might seek to utilize the BRICS platform as a means to expand their ideological influence. This is definitely a problem for the U.S.

While India, South Africa, and Brazil are allies of America, both China and Russia have a long-term agenda to harm the United States. As such, the U.S. intelligence networks consistently track every move made by the organization to identify which policies need to be countered. This allows the U.S. to use its allies in BRICS to ensure that the organization never adopts a policy that is against American interests.

Better than the S&P 500?

Though it is early days in 2019, most countries in the BRICS seem to be already outperforming the S&P 500. In fact, emerging markets as a whole have been performing very well since the start of the year.

While the S&P 500 had grown by only 8.4 percent by the end of January, MSCI China surged by almost 12 percent in the same month. The VanEck Russia ETF trailed close with a surge of 12.7 percent while the MSCI Brazil profited the most with an 18 percent gain last month. The MSCI Emerging Markets Index rose by 9.43 percent for January.

However, the growth does not seem to have legs as far as Russia and China are concerned. Brazil is the only country with an economy on an upward trend. Russia is growing, but at a slower pace. And though China showed growth in the first month, most investors are pretty negative on growth prospects of the country over the year due to its trade conflict with the US.

The surge in January 2019 is said to have been caused by the pullback in 2018. This made BRICS investments undervalued, thereby attracting investors who poured their money into emerging markets at the start of the year. "The current recovery in emerging market assets is not a relief rally… It is the start of a reverting move," Gabriel Gersztein, global head of emerging markets for BNP Paribas in Sao Paulo, said to Forbes.

Iran deal and Venezuela

BRICS has been a strong opponent of U.S. sanctions against Iran that are aimed at making the Middle Eastern country change its policies regarding the missile development program and stop its support for militant groups in the region.

BRICS nations argue that any sanctions on Iran that will negatively affect oil supplies is bad for their economies. China and India, being highly populated nations, will have difficulty in finding alternate suppliers. Taking into account this factor, the U.S. has often made exceptions to both countries when it comes to importing oil from Iran.

An ideological clash developed within BRICS over the ongoing Venezuela crisis. While Brazil sided with the U.S. against the current president Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela, Russia declared its full support to Maduro.

Though representatives from both Brazil and Russia have maintained that their opposing views on Venezuela will not affect the bilateral relationship between them, it would be interesting to see what happens if the U.S. decides to militarily intervene in Venezuela to oust the Maduro regime.

'Time For Business To Roll Up Its Sleeves' («Время для бизнеса засучить рукава») / South Africa, February, 2019
Keywords: expert_opinion, quotation, business_council
South Africa

What is your first point of focus as the chair of the South African chapter of the BRICS Business Council?

It is still early days. I am just lucky I was appointed to the BRICS Council last year… In my few months, my sense was that the sister countries in BRICS were much more organized in terms of what it is they are looking for and in bringing a coordinated voice of business. We were still trying to get there in terms of coordinating our efforts and channeling our objectives and making sure we agree on the priorities.

I look forward to, first of all, picking up from where others left off. This is a council that has been around not long after 2010, and it has a long-enough track-record.

I think where things have been done well, we just need to make sure they are done better. Where there are gaps, I'd like for us to close those gaps. On the administrative side, I have noticed our sister countries, the business councils of the other countries, are much more coercively organized, more streamlined, business has a very strong voice and business facilitates all of it.

I would like to see that engagement with all corners of business, big and small. I think there is room for everybody there. If one looks at the African continent, the majority of the population is young people. If we sit in those meetings without understanding the voice of the youth, without talking to and addressing the issues of the youth, we will be left behind.

I think it is an opportunity to make sure business rolls up its sleeves and we actually benefit from the linkages our political principles have cemented.

As a woman in leadership, how will you navigate this space?

It is one that also challenges me ideologically. I never wanted to be labeled 'the first black woman [in anything]', and yet I have worked most of my life in environments where it has been lonely just by the mere fact that when the guys are talking rugby, I want to talk about something else.

Rugby is great, I also enjoy that, but it is also good to talk about other things. One success factor when one is thrown into such environments is to [bring] others in deliberately. I'd love to demonstrate to the women out there that there are opportunities such as these and we need to be there and we need to show up at our best in terms of our game.

We need to work diligently because when it comes to the results and output, the assessment won't be based on whether you are a man or woman, it will be based on what you deliver tangibly. South Africa has an opportunity to make the other BRICS countries aware that women have to be at the table and we do it through our actions rather than just talk.

What is on the 2019 agenda for business in South Africa?

With this being new days, I believe in consultation. I believe in making sure I understand the mandate I have been given. I understand what the Department of Trade and Industry is about, and their focus on creating export opportunities because that will grow our trade.

I understand their focus on empowerment, because as a country we do need to see a better profile and reflection of society in the economic space. The focus will continue to be on trade and investment, as we move along, I would like for us to do this in an inclusive manner.

Which sector will South Africa prioritize?

I would definitely take a cue from the president's [Cyril Ramaphosa] focus on agriculture. Agriculture is fantastic for this continent because we have land, we have the people and if you look outside South Africa, there is water. The resources are there.

The other side of the coin is that agriculture can be a great employment opportunity. Agriculture is getting more technical and technology-intensive and that excites me. If we had a trading bloc arrangement, we will be talking much bigger opportunities within the country.
Political Events
Political events in the public life of BRICS
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's remarks and answer to a media question during the joint news conference following talks with Foreign Minister of the Republic of Zambia Joseph Malanji (rus) / Russia, February, 2019
Keywords: mofa, speech

Ladies and gentlemen,

My Zambian colleague, Foreign Minister Joseph Malanji, and I have had useful, constructive talks.

We noted that our relations are invariably friendly and are based on the principles of equality and respect for each other's interests, as well as shared views from the time of the struggle against colonialism and decolonisation under UN auspices.

It was emphasised that our Zambian friends remember our country's contribution to the establishment of Zambian statehood and training personnel for the country's key industries. This year marks the 55th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our countries. We agreed to duly mark this anniversary.

We discussed issues on the bilateral agenda in view of the results of the meeting between President Vladimir Putin and President Edgar Lungu which took place in Johannesburg on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in July last year. We have a shared commitment to developing mutually beneficial cooperation in the political, economic, scientific, technological, legal and humanitarian fields. We also considered the prospects of simplifying visa requirements. Our colleagues pointed out Zambia's good tourism potential. I hope our citizens will be interested.

We agreed to energetically promote the substantial potential of trade and investment cooperation and establish direct contacts between business circles, considering the interest which Russian companies show in cooperation with their Zambian colleagues in agriculture, construction, the supply of machinery and equipment, and information technology.

We spoke positively about the implementation of intergovernmental agreements to cooperate in the use of the nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and to build the Nuclear Science and Technology Centre in Zambia. This is one of the promising projects which could become a driving force of our cooperation.

We are dynamically promoting cooperation in the traditional sphere of educating Zambian students at Russian universities. Later they usually find jobs back home in fields requiring high qualifications. This academic year the Russian government has funded over 140 state scholarships, including 30 scholarships to train experts in the nuclear power industry. Currently 650 Zambian citizens are being trained in Russia.

On international and regional issues we hold shared views on respect for international law, the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states and their right to choose their own destiny. We agreed to continue maintaining close contacts, above all in the UN, in the interests of examining ways to manage challenges and threats facing all countries today, including terrorism, certainly. We are grateful to our Zambian friends for supporting Russian priorities in the UN.

In turn, we support Zambia and other African countries in the UN, promoting decisions aimed at supporting Africans in the settlement of various conflicts and crises on their continent. It is clear that these conflicts can only be resolved peacefully by political and diplomatic means. We support respective initiatives and approaches of the African Union and sub-regional African states.

On the whole, I believe the talks were quite useful. We expect Zambian representatives at the forums that are to take place in Russia this year, including the International Legal Forum in St Petersburg in May, the International Economic Forum in St Petersburg in June and at some other events. I am sure that their participation in these events will make it possible to flesh out the agreements that are taking shape between us to further advance our relations.

Question: How do you assess US President Donald Trump's latest threats to the Venezuelan military? Is there a danger of US military interference in Venezuela?

Sergey Lavrov: We are concerned about what is happening with respect to Venezuela. Threats made by the US are actively supported and promoted by the Venezuelan opposition, which is directly encouraging outside interference. This is definitely a violation of the UN Charter and direct interference in that sovereign country's internal affairs. If you listen to some representatives of the US Administration, you get the impression that diplomacy is completely discounted and all diplomatic propriety has been abandoned. Compared with some of these statements containing direct threats, the Monroe Doctrine looks almost like a paragon of diplomacy.

As for the feasibility of military interference in Venezuela's internal affairs, even the countries of the region and the European states that joined the chorus demanding an early presidential election and even regime change in Venezuela, are still not willing to allow military interference. I do not know how much this will restrain those politicians in Washington who will stop at nothing to steer the resolution of the problem to their own benefit. We still hope that reason will prevail. There is a proposal under the so-called Montevideo Mechanism which is on the negotiating table now. We very much hope that opposition leader Juan Guaido will respond to initiatives based on inclusive dialogue between all political forces in Venezuela. Seeking victory in the political struggle by provoking an invasion, either direct or disguised as a humanitarian operation, will not bring the result he is expecting. That result can be achieved only through inclusive dialogue, compromise and agreements. Only in that case will it be durable. Any acts of violence will only entrench the problem. I hope that everyone understands this.
Remarks by L N Sisulu, Minister of International Relations and cooperation on the occasion of the DIRCO media engagement, 19 February 2019 (Выступление министра международных отношений и сотрудничества Л. Н. Сисулу по случаю встречи МИД со СМИ, 19 февраля 2019 г.) / South Africa, February, 2019
Keywords: mofa, speech
South Africa

Deputy Minister Landers
DIRCO senior officials
Members of the media

Introduction: RSA General elections

1. This morning we hosted our Quarterly engagement with members of the Diplomatic Corps, this is in-line with our commitment to keep the Diplomatic Corps informed of all important policy directions and events in the country. This engagement was important because it is the last one before our national elections scheduled for May the 8th. We also invited the IEC and the Diplomatic Police to join our engagement this morning to ensure that any questions that needed to be answered are attended to. The briefing touched on a number of issues, some of them l will touch on here this morning. We covered the coming elections as l said, report from the AU Summit, our priorities in the United Nations Security Council, challenges at ESKOM and measures being put in place to address those challenges, and other key developments in the country. As usual our engagement is frank, honest and designed to share information and also to share experiences from their own countries.

South Africans voting abroad

2. I met with the IEC commissioners led by the Chairperson and the CEO and the team from the Department. They both briefed me on the logistics and the legal requirements expected of our Missions abroad to provide infrastructure to support the IEC for South Africans abroad to register, verify their names on the voters roll and also vote. Voter registration went very well. l have directed all Heads of Missions and Consular Generals to ensure that the IEC is given all necessary support for South Africans to exercise their rights.

3. I must also use this opportunity to indicate that we have also just finalised a new cohort of diplomats who are increasing the necessary capacity in all our Missions. Over 60 young, dynamic career diplomats from DIRCO will join our Missions across the world. These are not Ambassadors or Consular Generals but diplomats who will strengthen our capacity in all our Missions to lead the coordination of the President's vision of mobilising investments from across the world. By the end of March 2019 most of them would have arrived at their Missions and that will also increase capacity to assist with the elections duties. In June this year we will send another team of diplomats to strengthen our capacity in Missions on trade, political work, consular services and visa management.

32nd AU Summit

4. We have just come back from the successful 32nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU). There were a number of issues on the agenda of the AU Summit. These included Peace and Security on the Continent and an update on the developments related to the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) with South Africa submitting its Instrument of Ratification of the Agreement on the latter.

5. Key Decisions of the 32nd AU Summit included that the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) shall be an Organ of the Africa Union. The Summit welcomed the Africa Governance Report developed by the APRM. The report will enable African states to enhance good governance and share best practices at both country and continental levels. Member States were urged to develop national governance reports as a self-assessment tool for promoting good governance in line with the recommendations of the APRM Report.

6. The 32nd AU Summit also took decisions on a number of issues such as the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), institutional reform of the AU, post-2020 partnership with the European Union (EU), the election of the Bureau of the Assembly of the African Union for 2019, reform of the United Nations Security Council and the establishment of a continental operational centre in Khartoum for combating irregular migration.

7. We wish well the new Chairperson of the AU, HE President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the Chairperson of the AU for 2019.

8. As you know South Africa was elected by all Member States as Chairperson for 2020 and as First Vice President for 2019. We have said that South Africa being a member of the UN Security Council at the same time will take this opportunity to push for the implementation of the AU agenda to 'Silence the Guns by 2020' and also to address the plight of women and children in conflict areas. Our President is passionate about empowering young people and the importance of peace and stability as a catalyst for infrastructure development and economic growth. During this time we will work to achieve all this with SADC and the Continent.

World Economic Forum, Davos, Switzerland

9. Before departing for Davos President Ramaphosa hosted a breakfast with all stakeholders to outline his priorities for the visit. He indicated that he is going to Davos to say to the world that "South Africa is open for business" and that message was communicated to business and different world leaders attending the annual event. The President engaged with CEOs whose companies are invested in South Africa, he also met with the Presidents of Brazil, Botswana and Rwanda. The meeting with the President of Brazil was particularly significant as he is the incoming Chair of BRICS, and President Ramaphosa is the outgoing Chair of BRICS. They exchanged notes on key issues affecting and requiring attention of BRICS members. I must indicate at this stage that all BRICS members have received a schedule of BRICS meetings for 2019; all meetings, these include meetings of offices, Ministerial and the Heads of State Summits. This a clear commitment of Brazil to BRICS.

State visit to India and Celebrations of Republic Day

10. From Davos the President travelled to India for a State visit and as Chief Guest of India on Republic Day. This invitation demonstrates our good and historic diplomatic and trade relations with India. The Republic Day was a beautiful event which fosters national pride and patriotism. The President also travelled with a business delegation. At the end of the business meetings it was agreed that DENEL will again trade in India, that SAA will finalise all logistics to again have a direct route to India among key trade and investments decisions. The Minister of Trade and Industry did outline in his statement key decisions from the business meetings.

Mozambique working visit

11. The President also travelled to Mozambique early this year on a one-day working visit to discuss bilateral, SADC, regional issues and international developments. After the meeting a joint communiqué was issued; it is on our website and it details all the engagements and all the decisions.

Elections on the African Continent

12. We pride ourselves as the SADC region and African Continent for holding regular general elections in which our people choose their leaders and governments. While there are still a few pockets of challenges in various countries, I believe we are making strides towards greater democratisation. In 2018 we witnessed a sizeable number of countries going through elections. These included amongst others, Zimbabwe, the DRC, Cameroon, Gabon, Mali and Madagascar where South Africa were integrally involved in ensuring that there was a free and fair election. This year we have a number of countries that will hold elections. These include ourselves, Botswana, Benin, Algeria and Nigeria.

13. Again we must congratulate the people of the DRC for a peaceful transition of power. As you know South Africa is a good friend of the DRC for many years, we have our soldiers there and we continue to work with them to deepen democracy and to support them to develop all necessary government infrastructure. l must say this to you, that the DRC has the potential to lift the SADC region and African continent out of poverty. Its mineral deposits, its fertile soil and its location in the Continent make the DRC a critical catalyst for industrialisation, mining and provision of energy. We are very proud of the people of the DRC and we wish them well.

14. President Ramaphosa met with President Tshisekedi on the sidelines of the AU Summit to reassure them of our full support as they build their country. We also call on our business people to explore opportunities there. l will also be visiting the DRC in the near future to meet my counterpart to discuss how we can assist them to achieve all their goals. We believe South African businesses, with their modern technology and systems have a lot to offer in the SADC region and the Continent, and they must spread their wings. The SADC region and the Continent are open for business. We challenge businesspeople to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area, the peaceful atmosphere on the Continent region and the growing infrastructure which makes it easier to trade and manage logistics. We live in the best of time for business.


15. I must start by wishing Vice President Chiwenga a speedy recovery. I am informed by our High Commissioner in Harare that he travelled to India for medical attention.

16. We have noted developments in Harare following the recent protests, we have also noted all decisions taken by President Mnangangwa. We remain available to support the Zimbabwe Government and its people whenever they need us. We are neighbors and the ties that bind us are very deep.

17. We are preparing for a Bi-national meeting with Zimbabwe on March 12, 2019, our President will lead the delegation to Harare, l thought by now sanctions imposed on the Zimbabwe Government and its people would be lifted to enable the country to start afresh after all the challenges they have gone through. We call on the EU and particularly the United Kingdom (UK) to give the Government and the people of Zimbabwe a chance to change their situation by urgently lifting the sanctions. Without lifting the sanctions the Government of Zimbabwe will never be able to address its economic challenges, and this is compromising the political gains achieved since the coming in of the new President.

Western Sahara

18. Last year the Heads of States and Governments of the South African Development Committee (SADC) resolved to hold the Solidarity Conference for Western Sahara, which remains the last colony on the African continent. We are pleased to confirm that South Africa and Namibia will jointly host this SADC conference from 25-26 March 2019 here at the OR Tambo Building. Deputy Minister Landers is working with SADC and the Namibia Government is leading our logistics team and all the preparations.

SADC facilitation process in the Kingdom of Lesotho

19. Since the SADC Facilitation Team under Retired Deputy Chief Justice Moseneke commenced with the facilitation process in July 2018, the reform process in the Kingdom of Lesotho has been progressing smoothly. The reform process is aimed at addressing constitutional reform, the security sector, legislative and public sector.

20. The Facilitation Team has conducted numerous meetings with Basotho stakeholders and all the stakeholders are on board and have pledged their full commitment to the reforms. A second multi-stakeholder national dialogue is scheduled for 20 to 22 February 2019. Deputy Minister Mhaule is busy with this important assignment.

21. It bears noting that SADC gave Lesotho the deadline of May 2019 to conclude the constitutional and security sector reforms; we expect the deadline to be met.

United Nations Security Council

22. Since taking our seat on January 1st of this year as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council we have done very well considering the number of key hot-spot issues that the Security Council has dealt with in recent weeks, including the situation in the DRC and Venezuela.

23. The rotational Presidency of the Security Council for the month of February is held by Equatorial Guinea and as part of their programme of work, Equatorial Guinea had scheduled a high-level Presidential debate held on 4th February on "Threats to international peace and security: Impact of mercenary groups on regional peace and stability". South Africa in the debate reiterated our firm commitment to working with fellow African states and Security Council members to address the challenge of mercenary activities and its negative impact on peace and stability, both regionally and internationally.

Venezuela situation

24. Some of our priorities in the United Nations Security Council include strengthening efforts aimed at achieving peace and security in the world and respect for international law and rule of law at both domestic and international levels. Democracy means that citizens must choose their government, It is mainly for these reasons that we have called on the people of Venezuela to be given space to resolve their challenges. I receive daily reports from our Mission in Venezuela on this matter.


25. With regard to Iraq, we have noted with concern a report by the Secretary General of the United Nations which paints a bleak picture about increased violence against women and children in the country. We call on all UN member states to rally behind the efforts of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq and the UN Children's Fund. This will go a long way in addressing the immediate needs of women and children in Iraq.

26. We also welcome a call by the UN envoy to Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert for an end of political infighting in the country. The political infighting in Iraq has denied its citizens peace and stability. We believe that the time has come for all parties concerned to put their differences aside for the interests of the Iraqi people.


27. Firstly on behalf of the South African Government l would like to convey our condolences to the Hanekom family. Our High Commissioner in Maputo is seized with this matter, he is in contact with the late Mr Hanekom's wife and family

South African citizens arrested in China and across the world for VISA violations

28. It is of concern that some South African citizens continue to find themselves in conflict with the law in the People's Republic of China despite DIRCO's repeated appeals that all persons traveling to China or any other country must ensure that they obtain legitimate and correct documentation. We are aware that there are still a small number of South Africans remaining in detention in China.

29. DIRCO remains in contact with the Chinese authorities in an effort to find a solution to the current challenge and to encourage the Chinese authorities to take harsh action against those involved in the defrauding and misleading of young South Africans who seek to travel to China. We have noted recent arrests of some agents in China and we are monitoring the cases.

30. It is encouraging that the Travel Smart Campaign launched by DIRCO in 2018 is yielding positive results. More and more South Africans are heeding the message that we wanted to spread through the campaign; which is that South Africans must travel on valid documents, not engage in any illegal activities, respect the laws of the countries they are visiting and make contact with South African diplomatic missions in the countries they are travelling to. We have the contact details of all our diplomatic missions on the DIRCO website.

Update on MTN staff in Uganda

31. We have received a number of calls and enquiries about the situation of MTN in Uganda. We are aware of the deportation of the MTN executives by the Uganda Government, and we are engaging our Ugandan counterparts through diplomatic channels. Uganda and South Africa have good diplomatic and trade ties, a number of South African companies are operating there. We will continue to monitor this situation and to engage with the Ugandan Government.


32. We are encouraged by the wave of democratisation, commitment to peace and institutions of democracy and government in the SADC region and the Continent. South Africa believes strongly that we must focus our attention in ensuring that we silence the guns, that we have regular elections and peaceful transitions on the Continent. Peace and stability is a catalyst for infrastructure and economic development; we will continue through our work in SADC, the AU, the UN and UNSC to work with all partners to achieve peace and stability.


Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's opening remarks at talks with Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Zambia Joe Malanji, Moscow, February 20, 2019 (Вступительное слово Министра иностранных дел России С.В.Лаврова в ходе переговоров с Министром иностранных дел Республики Замбии Дж.Маланджи, Москва, 20 февраля 2019 года) / Russia, February, 2019
Keywords: mofa, speech

Mr Minister,


We are glad to welcome you in Moscow.

Your visit comes in the year of the 55th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our countries. Our relations have been defined by partnership throughout this period both in terms of our bilateral agenda and our cooperation at the UN and other international fora.

We attach special importance to the first meeting between President of Russia Vladimir Putin and President of the Republic of Zambia Edgar Lungu on the margins of the BRICS summit in Johannesburg in July 2018, which took place in a businesslike and friendly atmosphere. Today we have a good opportunity to build on that discussion and the understanding reached in the course of it, and to discuss current bilateral topics such as political dialogue and partnership in the field of peaceful nuclear energy, economic ties, security interaction and humanitarian contacts. No doubt that your assessment of the situation in Africa, where Zambia is playing a key role in integration and peacekeeping, is of special interest to us.

Once again, welcome.
World of work
Social policy, trade unions, actions
BRICS gives Zambia 20 slots for executive leadership program (БРИКС дает Замбии 20 мест в программе для руководителей) / Zambia, February, 2019
Keywords: social_issues

THE BRICS Institute has offered 20 slots to Zambia for its Executive Leadership Program.

BRICS Institue Executive Head, Dr. Shiphra Chisha said the program targets very senior executives and policy makers such heads of Companies corporates or heads of ministries.

She said the participants could take the whole program in all five member states or choose the programs out of the five.

The program which takes the participants to then capitals of BRICS member states of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa and is a practical executive management initiative aimed at developing world class leaders to help foster real economic growth and shared prosperity between nations.

The programs comprise five modules delivered in two monthly intervals over a period of one year in BRICS member states.

She said the first executive leadership program will be held in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil to coincide with the BRICS Summit to be held in Brazil.

She said the program includes master classes that will be given by world-class and renowned business and economist personalities.

And Zambia High Commissioner to South Africa, His Excellency Emmanuel Mwamba said his office will work closely with the Industrial Development Corporation(IDC) and relevant ministries to ensure that Zambia's leaders from policy and the corporate participated in the program.

The BRICS Institute is an independent institute, directed by an advisory council comprising of members of the BRICS countries.

In this program it has partnered with Regenesys Business School.

The leadership program prepares participants to understand an over view of the economy and history of BRICS and opportunities and challenges in doing business with those countries.

It also gives technical insights to how these countries became the leading emerging economies in the world in the last 30 years.
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