Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 12.2019
2019.03.18 — 2019.03.24
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Prospects of Brazil-Russia Relations Under the Bolsonaro Administration (Перспективы бразильско-российских отношений при администрации Болсонаро) / Russia, March, 2019
Keywords: political_issues, expert_opinion

Caio Henrique Dias Duarte, Researcher at the Law School of the University of São Paulo; Director of the University of São Paulo's Network for Diplomacy and National Defense Studies – special for InfoBRICS

With the start of the Bolsonaro administration, Brazil-Russia relations became somewhat of an uncertain terrain under the principiological verve of Mr. Araújo, the new head of the Ministry of Foreign Relations, historically known as Itamaraty. If one is to try and provide an insight of what this represents for the maintenance and construction of relations between Brasília and Moscow, it is necessary to look at the speeches of Mr. Araújo, as the effective actions of his mandate in the House of Rio Branco are, if not scarce, mainly retreats of fanned ones, such as the proposed move of Brazil's embassy in Israel to Jerusalem or the exit from the Paris Agreement.

Having this in mind, one will need to analyse Brazil-Russia relations considering both the official narrative being implemented by the administration and the internal struggle for control of foreign policy between conflicting areas of the Bolsonaro administration, such as the military and the ideological sect, of which Araújo is a part of. This article hopes to provide a vision of possibilities in this sense, not deepening itself in any particular cases.

The Official Narrative

Ernesto Araújo is an unparalleled indication to his post. Only recently promoted to Ambassador, he has never served as head of an Embassy abroad, what is called in the jargon of the House a junior Ambassador. His indication came as a surprise to an institution that is usually headed, if not by older politicians with a penchant for diplomacy, by seasoned diplomats. His name was suggested by far-right ideologue Olavo de Carvalho to the President's inner circle, in a move that in Russia would be as if someone like Aleksandr Dugin could suggest someone to be head of the MID. His purge of older diplomats to favour peers of his generation was seem as striking the core notion of continuity of the Ministry: as much as the Chancellor is entitled a centralizing position, he is limited by the principles that guided centuries of work since the Portuguese towards the maintenance and effective usage of soft power in what has been dubbed a diplomacy of knowledge.

Nonetheless, centralization under a political figure for the management of the institution is not an unknown practice for the Kremlin. Mr. Lavrov follows a tradition of long and proficuous mandates as the head of MID, and foreign policy is known to have been maintained from the Romanovs and Soviets to this day as a matter of the State, where continuity is a must. Brazil also followed this tradition, with an unparalleled prestige of its diplomatic corps both locally and abroad. With Mr. Araújo, we see a rupture of the set of principles that guided Brazil's diplomacy from the times of the Empire to this day, but not without opposition, as his retreats in his confrontative strategy with China or Venezuela after complaints from the military wing of the government have shown.

In the opening class of the Rio Branco institute, Araújo said to the new class of diplomats that he believed foreign policy to be not a State Policy, but something subject to internal politics and to the need to project the beliefs of the people to the world. He also boasted about the need to align with the United States, as he did in several articles, with the aim of protecting a judeo-christian civilization.

At the same time, Araújo has advocated for a christian alliance between the United States, Russia and Brazil against what he calls a globalist axis composed by the american left, China and Europe. With his sympathy for the more authoritarian countries of the Visegrad Group and for nationalist politicians, such as Salvini in Italy, he constructs a new narrative of foreign policy being a clash of civilizations, slavery to globalism versus freedom under nationalism. But policy-wise, one is led to ask: what does this means to Russia and to the initiatives that it develops with Brazil?

From Text to Action

Russia and Brazil being both countries entitled a strong worldview under the classical definition of Kennan, himself an expert in Russian foreign relations, leads us to think of the practical interaction under such ideological directives. We might then look at some of the issues at stake to grasp possible courses of action and assess how Brazil's relation with the Kremlin might unravel from the new worldview of this administration.

A Holy Alliance

One is then led to consider how this revised Holy Alliance is to work, given the historical conflicting worldviews between Moscow and the United States, exemplified in issues such as cyber security, NATO and even Syria and Ukraine.

If Brazil, disregarding the economical competition with the United States and taking the blow in losing a fair market share in products such as the soy intake in China, is to align with US interests and principles, breaking a "moral" and "civilizational indifference" in foreign policy, as Mr. Araújo hopes to do, he would be achieving some of his goals, such as abandoning what he calls a commercialist orientation of Brazilian diplomacy. But then again, does this mean that Brazil would side with the US in confronting Russia over Crimea, abandoning a neutral and responsible position in this issue? With his hopes of promoting Brazil to major non-NATO ally in the coming Bolsonaro-Trump meeting, it is hard to grasp how Russia could take part in Araújo's Holy Alliance, as NATO expansion is seen as a threat to Russia's integrity and sovereignty in the region.

The existence of a Russian Civilization, to use the jargon of the Chancellor, is incompatible with accepting a strong foreign military presence in its borders, and one doesn't need to go all the way back to Nicholas I and the Official Nationality l to be aware of this.

Also, if this alliance is to face what Araújo calls a globalist China as well, Brazil would have to create a path for Russia to find reasonable to confront its biggest trade partner. This also shows his lack of articulation inside the government, because being the chinese Brazil's biggest commercial partner, a rendezvous with the Chinese Ambassador had to be promoted to attenuate the tension caused by the Chancellor's and the President's remarks in that sense, with plans of a presidential trip to China being announced to remedy the situation.

Relations with Europe

The destiny of the thousands of migrants that arrive in Europe are a divisive issue inside the continent and also in the European Union's relations with Russia. Visegrad countries such as Poland took a stand in this when they voted against the Global Pact for Migration. Nonetheless, Russia is one of the countries that voted for it, aware of the needs of several of its citizens abroad. Having been one of the main articulators of the pact, it came as a shock the announcement that Brazil would leave the Global Pact for Migration, as it shares the same problem than Russia and has a small intake of migrants, with a fairly good share of cultural integration.

This solely-rhetoric move from the Bolsonaro administration will hardly bring Russia and Brazil closer in an anti-migrant agenda, as the concerns of the Kremlin are in assuring support for what can be defined as the Ruskii Mir, or Russian World, in a term that resembles Mr. Araújo's vision, but is far from idealistic in the policy-making of the MID, specially considering the protection of ethnic russians in countries such as Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova, hostile to such minorities.

BRICS and other organizations

If the Holy Alliance is really the goal of Brazil's foreign policy, going against a multilateral agenda dubbed as globalist, then the cooperation in the BRICS' many fronts is to be severely undermined. Still, with the pressure of agribusiness and the military sector of the government, stability with China is something that will probably remain unaltered. One can expect that the pragmatic forces of economy will not allow for a full anti-China turn in diplomacy, as they have begun to show. But with the Government's need to keep its declaration in tone with an anti-globalist rhetoric, Brazil's presidency of the BRICS and its further participation in the group for the following years will remain more economically-oriented. If Russia's participation in international organizations is oriented by a pragmatic nationalism, Brazil will see its interaction with said organizations under an internal struggle for harmonizing histrionic rhetoric with economic needs of a stagnated economy.

This agribusiness pressure is possibly what will force the stabilization of Brazil in the WTO, a much criticized organization under the Government wing of Araújo and his peers, or other organizations such as the Mercosur. More political organizations, such as the Unasur, will probably experience a period of lack of activity from Brazil, if not the termination of participation altogether. In the Russia-Brazil axis, this could mean a need to expand participation in joint-ventures, but will hardly happen if the alignment with the US is pursued.

An example was the presence of Mr. Araújo in the failed anti-Iran meeting in Warsaw. The Kremlin and the Trump administration couldn't be more divergent in their views of how to work with Tehran, and siding with the US necessarily distances Brazil from Russia

Venezuela and the alignment with the United States

The most pressing issue in Latin America is Venezuela and the crisis of the Maduro regime. Russia's position in supporting Maduro with China has allowed for its survival, and Moscow's cooperation with Caracas, both in the economic and the military fields, gave it time and strength.

Brazil's alignment with the US in that sense can only distance Brasília and Moscow, diverging from an expected collective lead for a transition in a third-way solution for a regime transition. While the Kremlin works with Maduro and considers an organized government transition, Brazil's Araújo considered the possibility of a military intervention. This is not to say that Brazil's or Russia's approach necessarily could achieve real progress -during the left government of Rousseff and the Workers' Party, sympathetic to Maduro, no changes were achieved either- but that with Brazil supporting Washington's position hardly any constructive dialogue will be done with Russia. This would go in line with the principiological approach that Araújo aims to implement, being a hard-line anti-communist, but at the same time, when asked in a live interview on what Brazil should do regarding Kim Jong-Un, he sided with Trump, saying that the dictator was not as bad as it seems.

This shows how close to Washington and in conflict with Moscow the administration will get, regardless of principles. But the inexperience of the Chancellor and the internal struggles in the government are what might accidentally benefit if not the growth at the very least the preservation of Brazil-Russia cooperation. Examples of this conflict of interests include the spontaneous offer to hosting a US military base, profoundly criticized by the military and then abandoned to the now-in-force tutelage of the Chancellor in sensitive defense decisions -in a meeting of the Lima group on Venezuela he agreed on ending all military cooperation with Caracas, ignoring the fact that most of the information on the regime is obtained through contact between the armed forces of both countries, triggering a reaction by the military.

More than a principiological commitment, Mr. Araújo's peculiar alignment with the Trump administration's worldview can only mean one thing for Moscow: an unreliable partnership, subject in its preservation to reasoning from more experienced sectors of the Government, and that lacks knowledge of Russia's national interest and needs. Just recently he said that Brazil would "pressure" Russia and China to support Mr. Guaidó in Venezuela. If one is to paraphrase a great writer and thinker, as Mr. Araújo is so fond of doing in his speeches, when it comes to bilateral relations with Moscow, it is all confusion in the house of Araújo.

China Wants BRICS Nations To Take The World Stage (Китай хочет, чтобы страны БРИКС заняли мировую сцену) / Belgium, March, 2019
Keywords: expert_opinion, political_issues

Countries with emerging economies are looking for a bigger say in international politics.

They believe their economic clout should earn them more places on influential international bodies to reflect their new status.

The call came from China's President Xi Jinping in an address to BRICS nations who feel as the engine powering the world economy, they should have a louder voice on the global stage.

One specific target is the World Bank, which he believes is dominated by Western governments to the detriment of developing nations.

"BRICS countries should push for a more just and reasonable international order," Xi told an appreciative audience at the closure of the summit.

"We should work together to address global challenges."

The BRICS nations – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – have burgeoning economies and huge populations.

Enlarging the BRICS club

Even though Brazil is pulling out of recession, they account for a massive slice of the world market for goods and services.

The BRICS nations also want to enlarge their club, some invited some powerful allies to the talks.

Egypt, Guinea, Tajikistan, Thailand and Mexico joined the summit as observers and potential candidates for BRICS membership.

"Leaders from the BRICS countries are determined to work toward another golden decade," said Xi.

The Chinese leader also cast an eye over US President Donald Trump's attitude to international relationships, although he was not mentioned by name.

"Multilateral trade negotiations make progress only with great difficulty and the implementation of the Paris Agreement has met with resistance," Xi said.

Trump criticised

"Some countries have become more inward-looking, and their desire to participate in global development cooperation has decreased."

Xi's comments come as China seeks to gain more influence by funding infrastructure projects in developing countries.

Although he does not see Western nations as enemies, he views developing and emerging economies as closer trade partners.

The summit follows his announcement of Silk Road, a $900 billion vision of a new world orderled by China.

He outlined his benevolent plans to link China with foreign markets with road, rail and shipping routes mainly funded by his government.

Xi wants to build a global marketplace spanning more than 60 countries, many of which have no money to invest.
Press review: NATO bid for Brazil may jolt BRICS and US eyes 'Star Wars' after INF failure (Обзор прессы: заявка НАТО на Бразилию может потрясти БРИКС, и США увидят «Звездные войны» после провала INF) / Russia, March, 2019
Keywords: jair_bolsonaro, political_issues, national_security

Media: NATO's invitation to Brazil could spell trouble for BRICS

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has wrapped up his three-day official visit to Washington, which culminated in his meeting with US President Donald Trump, Rossiyskaya Gazeta writes. At the news conference, the White House occupant made a bombastic statement, inviting Brazil to join NATO. Although Bolsonaro declined to give a direct answer, just confirming that this issue had been discussed, it is expected that this week Brazil would launch consultations on potential NATO membership.

This year, Brazil is hosting a BRICS summit, an association of five major emerging national economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Speaking on how Brazil's possible accession to NATO could affect the development of ties with its BRICS partners, Academic Director of the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute of Latin American Studies Vladimir Davydov told the paper that "these issues are not solved quickly and by the time any decisions linked to NATO are taken, Brazil's chairmanship in BRICS will come a close."

Brazil seeks to become a superpower, which has access to global settlement mechanisms and it's important for it to have a positive relationship with China, India and Russia, the expert noted. "Brazil's elite is interested in keeping the reputation of an autonomous force," Davydov said, adding that not everything declared by Bolsonaro would be implemented. Brazil will continue meeting its commitments to BRICS, but its activity in the group is highly likely to diminish.

Now the issue of Brazil's role in solving the Venezuelan crisis has taken a new angle, Director of the BRICS Center at the MGIMO Institute for International Studies Lyudmila Okuneva told Nezavisimaya Gazeta. Should the invitation be accepted, the alliance would force Brazil to act in solidarity. For Russia, the issue of Brazil's possible NATO membership is also of special importance. It's unclear how Brazil's NATO aspirations will be combined with its BRICS membership, the expert notes.
What's behind NATO's invitation to Brazil? (Что стоит за приглашением НАТО Бразилии?) / Russia, March, 2019
Keywords: jair_bolsonaro, political_issues, national_security

Brazil can be designated as a major non-NATO ally,or maybe a NATO ally, U.S. President Donald Trump said.

Trump said he was strongly considering NATO membership for Brazil as he welcomed Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to the White House.

"As I told President Bolsonaro, I also intend to designate Brazil as a major non-NATO ally - or ... maybe a NATO ally. I'll have to talk to a lot of people but maybe a NATO ally - which will greatly advance security and cooperation between our countries," Reuters cited the U.S. leader as saying.

Trump also said he supported Brazil's efforts to join the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a club of the world's advanced economies.

Sixteen other countries have major non-NATO ally status, including South Korea, Australia, Argentina and Kuwait. The designation makes it easier for those countries to purchase U.S.weapons and collaborate on other security issues.

Director of the Institute of Strategic Planning and Forecasting, Professor Alexander Gusev, speaking to Vestnik Kavkaza, noted that NATO found itself in a situation where it has no other option but to expand beyond the Euro-Atlantic region. "NATO is the North Atlantic bloc with only two countries outside of Europe, while the remaining 27 are European countries. The situation is stalemate because countries delay payments and pay to the Alliance budget really reluctantly," he named the first reason for inviting Brazil to NATO.

"In political terms, the situation in NATO is not very simple as well. There are countries that are already beginning to disobey the United States, primarily in Eastern Europe, except Poland and the Baltic States. And in Brazil, the pro-American president has come to power; impeachment of Dilma Rousseff confirmed the U.S. intentions to rule the whole world, including such a major economic power of Latin America, like Brazil. Therefore, such a statement was made, because the U.S. needs to strengthen NATO in any way, and it's not necessary that the new members should be from Europe, the main thing is to obey Washington," Alexander Gusev said.

"In addition, Brazil is a member of BRICS, and it is very important for Americans to tear it away from Russia and China. Trump has far-reaching plans: after Brazil, the question of including Argentina in the Alliance may be considered. Much will be determined by the global situation, mainly by positions of Russia and China - if they take steps to curb the Americans, the process of expanding NATO beyond the Euro-Atlantic can be stopped, although the Americans, of course, will not abandon such attempts," the political scientist said.

"Washington will unite with anyone just to resist Russia and China, which is gaining momentum," the director of the Institute of Strategic Planning and Forecasting concluded.

Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
BRICS Bank to Lend Up to $780 Million to South Africa's Eskom (Новый банк развития БРИКС предоставит южноафриканской компании Eskom кредит на 780 млн долларов) / United States, March, 2019
Keywords: ndb, economic_challenges, concluded_agreements
United States
Author: Roxanne Henderson

The New Development Bank plans to lend as much as $780 million to Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. for infrastructure projects this year as the ailing South African power utility battles to keep power supply steady.

Eskom, which on Wednesday entered a seventh day of controlled power cuts, is contending with operational and financial challenges, threatening the productivity of Africa's most-industrialized economy. The government is considering various interventions to turn the company around, including a $4.8 billion bailout over three years and splitting the organization into three parts to help contain costs.

The NDB, back by the so-called BRICS nations of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, is in talks with the government about loans that could alleviate some of the pressure on the country's electricity grid, the lender's president, K.V. Kamath, said by phone.

The development institution is rolling out a $180 million loan to Eskom to build transmission lines and is considering two further projects in 2019, he said. The first is a $480 million loan that will pay for retrofitting flue-gas desulfurization equipment to make the Medupi power plant compliant with new environmental standards. The second is a further $300 million facility to improve the country's battery-storage capacity, Kamath said.

Critical Infrastructure

"Power is now a critical element in South Africa's infrastructure and at this point in time it is imperative that we work with the government in alleviating this problem," Kamath said. Medupi will have about 4,800 megawatts of installed capacity once completed.

The plan to split Eskom into generation, transmission and distribution units is heartening, Kamath said. "We are equally clear that this won't happen overnight, so there is always a need to extend a hand during the transitioning process and that's what we are doing."

BRICS Bank to Boost S. African Loans as Much as $600 Million

The funding planned for Eskom will make up most of the $900 million the NDB will extend in South Africa in 2019. By the end of the year, the lender will have roughly $2.4 billion of loans in the country, Kamath said. Eskom didn't respond to requests for comment.

The NDB was started in 2015 to support sustainable infrastructure projects across its emerging-market members. The Shanghai-based bank will have extended $7.5 billion to $8 billion across its members by the end of year, bringing its total to assistance to BRICS nations to about $15 billion.
China reports rising exports of cultural products (Китай сообщает о росте экспорта продуктов культуры) / China, March, 2019
Keywords: trade_relations

China's exports of cultural products rose 4.9 percent in 2018 from the previous year to US$92.53 billion, the Ministry of Commerce said.

Exports of Chinese arts and crafts gained 9.9 percent from one year earlier, while publication exports added 5.9 percent.

Exports to countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative rose to a record high of US$16.29 billion, while exports to BRICS nations and Latin America surged 18.1 percent and 14.5 percent, respectively. BRICS stands for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Private enterprises played a bigger role last year, with exports accounting for 55.4 percent of the total, up 2.2 percentage points year on year.

Imports of cultural products jumped 10.3 percent to US$9.85 billion last year. The surplus stood at US$82.68 billion, up 4.3 percent year on year.

China's trading partners of cultural products became more diverse, with the United States, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Japan as the major markets for cultural products exports from China.
Political Events
Political events in the public life of BRICS
Statement delivered by Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, H.E. Mr Luwellyn Landers, at the Second High Level Meeting on South-South Cooperation, on 20 March 2019 (Выступление заместителя министра международных отношений и сотрудничества Х.Е. Г-н Лувелин Ландерс на втором совещании высокого уровня по сотрудничеству Юг-Юг 20 марта 2019 года) / South Africa, March, 2019
Keywords: ndb, speech, economic_challenges
South Africa

Mr President,

It is an honour and privilege for me to attend and participate in the deliberations of this important conference.

I wish to thank the government of Argentina for their generosity and excellent efforts in hosting us.

South Africa aligns itself with the statement that was delivered by the Group of 77 and China.

I would also like to congratulate you on your election as President of this important Conference. My delegation has every confidence in your ability to steer the Conference to a successful outcome.

Mr President,

Growing inequality within and among states threatens the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which are essential for the creation of a more inclusive world where no one is left behind. Despite the 2015 commitment by our Leaders on the means of implementation, the sad reality is that there remains serious funding gaps for the implementation of this agenda.

This Conference therefore presents a unique opportunity to review lessons learned from the past four decades and to contemplate the contribution of South-South Cooperation for the effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
Mr President,

South-South Cooperation is one of the foundational pillars of South Africa's foreign policy. The Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Continent and the global South therefore continue to occupy a central priority in our foreign policy.

On the role of South-South Cooperation in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, we reiterate the importance and relevance of the Nairobi Outcomes Document which asserts that South-South Cooperation and its agenda must be set by countries of the South. We will continue to resist any attempt to re-define the role, scope and principles of South-South Cooperation, hence our reiteration that North-South Cooperation is still the core for development cooperation. South-South Cooperation and Triangular Cooperation are therefore complementary to North-South cooperation and not a substitute thereof.

Mr President,

The role of multilateral trade in growth and economic development of countries, particularly developing countries cannot be overemphasized. We recognize the significant contribution of regional trade and its ability to promote sustainable development. In this regard, African leaders have agreed to the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area that would be one of the largest regional Free Trade Areas (FTAs) in the world.

The private sector continues to provide an enabling environment for job creation and economic development. Investment by South African private companies and state owned entities into Africa continues to grow and South Africa is ranked as one of the largest sources of Foreign Direct Investment into the continent.

In the context of the IBSA Fund, South Africa contributes meaningfully in supporting international efforts to eradicate poverty and end hunger in developing countries and the global South. In this connection, the IBSA Fund received global recognition through the United Nations South-South Partnership Award; the UN MDG Award and the South-South and Triangular Cooperation Champions Award.

Other initiatives include our cooperation within BRICS and the creation of the New Development Bank (NDB). The Bank provides financing for 30 infrastructure and sustainable development projects. By the end of 2018, the Bank's total lending volume, stood at approximately 8 billion US Dollars.

Additionally, our African Renaissance Fund remains an important vehicle for providing support to the continent in peace building; conservation of cultural heritage; agriculture and food security, capacity building and other forms of technical cooperation, as well as humanitarian aid. On the latter, I wish to express our condolence to the Government and people of Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe that were negatively impacted by the recent cyclone Idai. We pledge our support to the recovery efforts and call on member states of the United Nations to contribute to the humanitarian efforts in these countries.

Mr President,

To unlock the potential of developing countries, a robust global partnership with developed countries remains key. In recognizing the different levels of development, Official Development Assistance (ODA) remains vital for developing countries, especially in Africa and in the least developed countries (LDCs).

As we improve the industrial capacity and diversity of developing countries, the role of the private sector should therefore complement and not replace ODA as developing countries transition and expand their industrial base and transition from aid to trade.

This necessitates a commitment to promote a universal, transparent, rules-based, open, non-discriminatory, inclusive and equitable multilateral trading system with the World Trade Organization as its anchor, and the conclusion of the Doha Development Round.

Further, Mr President,

As one of the means of implementation, cooperation in science, technology and innovation requires comprehensive approaches that incorporate capacity building, access to knowledge and financial resources. Such cooperation should acknowledge local absorptive capacity, and must be executed in a manner that does not replace nor undermine efforts to strengthen endogenous technological and innovation potential.

Mr President,

Illicit financial flows (IFFs) are a major challenge to development, especially in Africa. There is thus a need for the UN to establish at its Headquarters in New York a dedicated universal body to deal with the scourge of IFFs.
In conclusion,

We thank the UN system for its efforts to enhance the role and impact of the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation.

We believe however, that more can be done by strengthening the Office with financial, human and budgetary resources.

As we gather here forty years since the historic meeting on South–South Cooperation, we can rightfully be proud of our collective achievement. We dare however, not become complacent. The challenges ahead and the task confronting all of us are huge.

As we collectively reflect on this important task ahead, I am reminded by the words of our former President Thabo Mbeki, wherein he asked "whether, as a collective, our efforts are sufficient to accelerate the outcomes of major UN conferences and summits outcomes that are critical to the development of the lives of billions of people we represent."

As we reflect on this question, we must agree that more can and should be done in the interest of our collective humanity.

I thank you.

Modi govt consistently introduced much needed 2nd gen reforms: FM Arun Jaitley (Правительство Моди последовательно вводило столь необходимые реформы 2-го поколения - глава МИД Арун Джейтли) / India, March, 2019
Keywords: quotation, political_issues

Finance minister Arun Jaitley said the Narendra Modi-led NDA government had systematically and consistently introduced the much-needed second-generation reforms.

Jaitley highlighted taxation reforms, measures to curb black money, enactment of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, demonetisation, steps to check inflation, promoting cooperative federalism, rollout of the Ayushman Bharat scheme, social sector investment and infrastructureNSE -0.57 % development as among the government's 14 game changing decisions.

Five years is not a long period in the life of a nation. It can, however, be a turning point in its direction for progress, he said, citing the example of 1991 and describing it as important watershed in Indian history.

Continuing his 'Agenda 2019' series of blogs, Jaitley said on Monday that then Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao was confronted with an economic crisis and the situation compelled reforms. Many in the Congress party lacked the conviction to support reforms, he said. After the initial two years from 1991-1993, the Congress party became apologetic about the reforms.

That is probably the reason why efforts to erase the memory of Narasimha Rao from the Congress Party's contemporary history is still work in progress, he pointed.

Jaitley further said the National Front government partly rationalised direct taxes and the first NDA government took key decisions with regard to infrastructure creation and prudent fiscal management.

The UPA governments between 2004-2014 got stuck with slogans rather than economic expansion. Jaitley said Prime Minister Modi's government was elected when India was already a part of the 'Fragile Five' and the world was predicting that India's 'I' will be knocked off from the 'BRICS'. The government had no options and it was committed to reforms. 'Reform or Perish' that was the challenge before the Indian economy.

Therefore, the government systematically and consistently introduced several reforms spread over a five-year period, which will go down in India's economic history as the 'Second Generation' of reforms that were much needed, Jaitley said.

"I have outlined above only fourteen game changing decisions of the government which impacted the economy. The economy expanded at a rate faster than any other country in the world. Our revenues went up and we ensured that the benefit of prosperity and the first right to the exchequer going to the poor is maintained," he said.

It will be the government's endeavour to maintain this direction in future also, said Jaitley, who heads the publicity committee of the BJP for the general elections. The BJP is seeking to return to power amid the opposition's efforts to present a united fight to unseat it in the electoral battle beginning on April 11.
World of work
Social policy, trade unions, actions
ADB readies for face-off with AIIB, NDB in India (АБР готовится к столкновению с АБИИ и НБР в Индии) / India, March, 2019
Keywords: social_issues

New Delhi, March 24 As fledgling multilateral development banks AIIB and NDB are making inroads in Asia and beyond, the 52-year-old Asian Development Bank (ADB) took the offensive with a massive recruitment outreach in India, a major client in the region.

The Manila-based ADB issued an advertisement on Saturday reaching out to mid and senior level international development professionals in India for career presentations to be held in Delhi, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Chennai and Bengaluru from April 1 to April 9.

The first-of-its-kind recruitment outreach event by ADB comes at a time when the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the New Development Bank (NDB) established by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) are still building their teams.

The move to touch base with the crème de la crème of the development professionals in India in 20 crucial sectors like agriculture, education, health, energy, climate change, finance and urban development is seen as a pre-emptive bid by the Japan and US-led bank.

Though there are no visible signs of any direct conflict yet, chances of different approaches, lending modalities and policy solutions while competing for same clients leading to unhealthy competition is real despite massive infrastructure financing gaps in the region.

"If it (outreach) is only India specific, it should raise question marks as to the intent. It may be pre-emptive and/or is trying to set an axis which involves India much more in ADB and thus weans it away from the new banks," economist and statistician Pronab Sen told .

Both AIIB (referred to as China's World Bank) and NDB (also known as BRICS Development Bank), which started operations in 2016 are more representative of emerging markets where developing countries have better voting rights as per their contribution to global economy.

"The World Bank is totally dominated by the US and to slightly lesser extent by the European Union. The ADB is totally dominated by Japan... A proper development bank should actually have its guiding principles arising from the developing countries themselves which both these institutions (AIIB and NDB) are designed to do," Sen said, supporting the decentralization in development financing.

The largest stakeholders in ADB are Japan and the US with nearly 13 per cent voting shares each while China has the largest voting power at 26.16 per cent in AIIB followed by India (7.51) and Russia (5.92). In NDB, all five members share 20 per cent stakes each.

As to the charge that the new MDBs are being dominated by China, Sen said if that actually happens and the Chinese domination becomes much, then it will become part of the bigger geo-political game where all is about influencing policies of individual countries.

"If these are more democratic institutions then they offer a very valuable offset to the existing banks. They may make the operations of the existing multilateral institutions more sensitive to the needs of developing countries," the former Chief Statistician of India said.

While it is yet to be seen to what extent the new MDBs will become a more democratic voice of developing countries, the ADB's human resources team is fanning out in the world's fastest growing economy presenting its strategic overview and gaining mindshare.

Interested participants have been asked to register for the "free" sessions with their education and specialisation details. They are also to visit a specific recruitment page titled 'Recruitment Mission India, April 2019' to express their interest in ADB's employment opportunities.

However, entry to the sessions or seat availability will be confirmed by ADB by March 28.

Brics design new publication with comparable statistics between countries (БРИКС разрабатывает новую публикацию с сопоставимой статистикой между странами) / Brazil, March, 2019
Keywords: research, rating, sustainable_development
Author: Eduardo Peret

The IBGE hosted the 10th Technical Meeting of the National Statistical Offices of Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), held this week in the IBGE headquarters in Rio de Janeiro (RJ). This is the third time that the event is held in Brazil, which aims at producing a joint annual publication with statistics comparing the member countries.

In the opening session, Susana Cordeiro Guerra, president of the IBGE stated that "the cooperation provides the opportunity to improve the exchange of experiences and enrich the array of information available to the respective governments and societies".

The IBGE will be in charge of consolidating the information sent by the countries - Photo: Licia Rubinstein/IBGE News Agency This was the first of two annual meetings. After discussing the format and content of the joint publication, the IBGE will be in charge of consolidating the data, tables and images provided by the partner institutions. The result will be presented in the Brics Summit, scheduled for November in Brasília (DF).

For Roberto Sant´Anna, IBGE´s advisor of International Relations, "the interaction between the institutions is key to the block, because it provides governments with a number of official statistical information on several subjects, which will help them in their decisions".

He also explained how is the international comparison between the data collected and analyzed by countries with different profiles. "Comparability works because the official statistics follow international standards, especially those related to the classifications, concepts and definitions. Concerning labor, for instance, we use the standard of the International Labor Organization, except for local specificities", concludes Sant´Anna.

The representative of India, Onkar Prosad Ghosh, highlighted that this is one of the most important events for the Brics. "India has one of the oldest statistical systems in the world and faces specific challenges due to its super population, only surpassed by China. Whenever big and different countries gather to produce unified data for a long period like the last ten years, this has a very important international meaning".

The Sustainable Development Goals - SDGs are also at stake in the meeting. "India has just published its first document on this subject. We are eager and confident that the exchange of experiences will be enriching, towards a unique platform with concepts in common", concludes Ghosh.
HSE Launches India Corner at the School of Asian Studies (В Школе востоковедения НИУ ВШЭ открылся «Индийский кабинет») / Russia, March, 2019
Keywords: social_issues

HSE Rector Yaroslav Kuzminov and His Excellency Mr. D. B. Venkatesh Varma, Ambassador of India, formally opened the Corner with a ribbon cutting ceremony and the lighting of a ceremonial lamp before giving opening remarks. The event included a lively round table with eminent scholars, experts, and executives from India and Russia who discussed the phenomenon of start-up companies as well as potential areas for cooperation. The event concluded with Indian refreshments and friendly conversation.

A Bright Idea

The idea of opening the India Corner at HSE was conceived in 2016 by Professor Alexey Maslov, Head of the School of Asian Studies, and Indian Embassy Chief of Mission, Yojna Patel. The idea was to start a specialized programme dedicated to Indian Studies with a focus on economic issues in and related to India.

Given HSE's position as one of Russia's top Universities and a leader in economics and social sciences in Eastern Europe and Eurasia, the University made for a perfect partner for the government of India in organizing and conducting high-profile events—talks, round-tables, specialist visits, expert dialogues, etc.—not only to highlight India's accomplishments in the economic sphere in recent years, but also to share ideas and stimulate engagement to further bolster its aims for inclusive growth in times to come, with Russia as a critical partner.

The Beginning of Strengthened Partnership

With financial and infrastructural support from the Ministry of External Affairs of India, HSE's India Corner will serve as a focal center that will help identify ideas and possibilities for strengthening the special strategic partnership between India and Russia. This will further help leading Indian academic institutions and universities, particularly those leading in the economic sphere, to collaborate with HSE.

After a brief introduction by Vice Rector Ivan Prostakov, Rector Kuzminov gave his opening remarks to the launch ceremony. 'We see today's event not only as the establishment of Indian Corner, but as a symbolic step in the cooperation of Russia and India in economics, culture, education and science.'

Rector Kuzminov also noted that the biggest hurdle to bilateral cooperation is a lack of cultural understanding, in that it greatly impedes the ability of people in business and at municipal and local levels to communicate effectively with their international counterparts. In combating this challenge, 'I believe it is up to the universities, especially, to broaden mutual cooperation in the sphere of culture and education,' he said.

Ambassador Varma, too, underscored the significance of the occasion for Russia and India. 'This is not only a symbolic occasion, but an occasion where we step into the future.' And in light of the two countries' economic similarities—both Russia and India have growing and modernizing economies, and both countries exist in a complex world in which international political and economic systems are changing rapidly—there is great potential for cooperation. 'We need to find ways in which to minimize the risks and maximize the opportunities, and we can do this together in terms of partnerships' he said. 'As we modernize our economies, we need good partnerships at the research and developmental levels. And this center will definitely step in as a forum where we can bring together new ideas, new talent, young blood.'

In addition to announcing that the Indian Embassy will continue and deepen its support of the Corner and that the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) will also be partnering with the Embassy and India Corner, Ambassador Varma had some exciting news for HSE students. The Observer Research Foundation (ORF, an independent think tank based in India) will be offering to host and fully fund two young scholars from HSE to conduct work on India or India-Russian relations in India for up to 3 months.

As Professor Maslov stated, the India Corner is not just for the School of Asian Studies, and not just for those engaged with India, but 'a place for all—an open space for dialogue and cooperation.'

Following the ceremony was a round-table co-moderated by Professor Alexey Maslov, Head of the School of Asian Studies, and Mr. Anjan Das, Executive Director of the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), on 'Why Venture Unicorns Grow Quickly in India'.

India ranks third worldwide (behind China and the US) in start-up growth, so this topic presented a particularly rich area for potential cooperation between India and Russia. A range of HSE scholars and Russian and Indian executives, entrepreneurs, and experts representing CII and select successful companies participated in the discussion. Speakers included Shashank Bijapur, CEO, and Madhav Bhagat of the start-up SpotDraft, Vsevolod Rozanov, Chief Deputy CEO of Sistema Asia Fund, Anton Loginov, Deputy Minister of Investment and Innovations of Moscow Oblast, Glev Ivanshentsov, VP of the Russian International Affairs Council, Oleg Teplov, CEO of VEB Innovations, and Sammy Kotwani, Chairman of the Indian Business Association, Olga Kulikova, Business Ambassador of Business Russia. A host of eminent personalities from various Russian Ministries, think tanks, economists, academicians, Indologists, business-organizations and media-persons were also in attendance.

Though dedicated to the topic of start-up companies, the round table touched upon a wide range of potential areas of collaboration between India and Russia, including cultural exchange and media. For example, as Glev Ivanshentsov suggests, why not start a promotional campaign for Indian cinema in Russia? Or, as Professor Olga Solodkova of the School of International Regional Studies noted, why not open an Indian Centre in Moscow?

Building upon a Tradition of Cooperation

The India Corner is not the first collaborative endeavour between HSE and Indian institutions. In fact, HSE currently has five agreements with institutions of India—one on student exchange and four on cooperation in fields including Law, Computer Science, and Statistics, as well one involving the HSE campus in Nizhny Novgorod.

HSE first developed contacts with Indian partners through their mutual cooperation in BRICS Network University, where HSE is a participant university in energy, BRICS research, ecology, water resources and pollution control, economics, ecology and water resources. In the field of economics, HSE is the coordinator in BRICS NU of Russia, the head of which is Professor Alina Shcherbakova of the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs.

In 2017, the Embassy of India in the Russian Federation, in connection with the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and the Russian Federation, acted as a partner of the XVIII April International Scientific Conference on the problems of economic development and society. The conference was attended by 2 honorary speakers from India (with the financial support of the Embassy of India): Professor Arunava Sen of the Indian Statistical Institute and Professor Ashwini Deshpande of The Delhi School of Economics.
In the period of 2016-2018, there were seven research projects conducted jointly with Indian specialists with the support of the HSE's Basic Research Programme.
Russia places second in BRICS military-sports championship in Brazil (Россия заняла второе место на военно-спортивном чемпионате БРИКС в Бразилии) / Russia, March, 2019
Keywords: social_issues, rating

RIO DE JANEIRO, March 23. / TASS /. The management team of physical training and sports of the Russian Armed Forces took the second place in the team event at the BRICS open championship (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) in military sports all-around, which ended on Friday in Brazilian Rio de Janeiro, one of the team coaches Vyacheslav Anoshin told TASS on Saturday.

The competition began on Wednesday at the UNIFA air force base and lasted three days. On the first day, the athletes fought the best in shooting from a distance of 300 meters and overcoming an obstacle course. The best result among the Russians on the first day was demonstrated by one of the leaders of the Russian team, Ivan Dryukhanov, who won the bronze in both disciplines.

On the second day, Russian Kristina Tikhonovich took second place in swimming and throwing grenades. Her teammates Ivan Dryukhanov and Igor Zamotaev lost in grenade throwing to their Chinese colleagues.

The games ended on Friday with cross-country competitions. Among men, the hosts overcame the distance of eight kilometers, and among women, the leader of the four-kilometer race was Daria Podchinenkova, who eventually finished third in the individual standings. In the team championship, both male and female, the Russians placed second, losing to the national teams of Brazil and China, respectively.
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