Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 17.2019
2019.04.22 — 2019.04.28
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Russia rejects West's attempts to impose its values on other nations — Putin (Россия отвергает попытки Запада навязать свои ценности другим народам - Путин) / Russia, April, 2019
Keywords: vladimir_putin, quotation, political_issues

"Regretfully, certain Western nations lay claims for becoming the world's sole leader," he said

MOSCOW, April 25. /TASS/. The cooperation between Russia and China has become an important factor of stabilization amid West's attempts to become the sole and uncontestable leader on the international arena, Russian President Vladimir Putin told China's Renmin Ribao newspaper.
"The Russian-Chinese cooperation in foreign policy is an important factor in stabilizing global affairs, especially because our countries have overlapping or close stances on the key present-day issues," the Russian leader said in an interview published on Thursday ahead of his visit to the country.
"Regretfully, certain Western nations lay claims for becoming the world's sole leader," Putin continued. "They have been trampling upon the norms and principles of the international law; resorting to blackmail, sanctions and pressure; trying to force whole countries and peoples accept their values and questionable ideals."

"We totally disagree with such approaches," the Russian leader said.

He said that in order to improve the international situation and shape a more fair and democratic world order, Russia and China continue to closely coordinate their steps on the most pressing global and regional issues and to "cooperate closely" within the leading multinational organizations, such as the United Nations, G20, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) group of nations and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.

"At the same time, we are always open for cooperation and joint work with all those who share our views, with those who are interested in developing inter-state relations on the inviolable basis of the UN Charter and the international law," Putin said.

The Russian president will visit China on April 26-27 to take part in the second One Belt One Road international cooperation forum.
Minutes of the 11th Meeting of BRICS Heads of Intellectual Property Offices Signed (Подписан протокол 11-го совещания глав ведомств интеллектуальной собственности БРИКС) / China, April, 2019
Keywords: concluded_agreements, top_level_meeting

The 11th Meeting of BRICS Heads of Intellectual Property Offices (BRICS HIPO) was held in Cape Town, South Africa from April 15 to 16 local time. Commissioner Shen Changyu of the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA), President Cláudio Vilar Furtado of the National Institute of Industrial Property of Brazil (INPI), Director General Grigory Ivliyev of the Federal Service for Intellectual Property of Russia Federation (ROSPATENT), Controller General Shri O.P. Gupta of the Office of the Controller-General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks of India (CGPDTM) and Commissioner Rory Voller of the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission of South Africa (CIPC) led delegations respectively and attended the meeting. President Saule Tlevlessova of the Eurasian Patent Office (EAPO) attended opening sessions of the meeting as a nonvoting delegate on invitation. Minutes of the 11th Meeting of BRICS HIPO was signed in the meeting.

Shen Changyu pointed out that 2019 was the seventh year of cooperation among the BRICS IP offices. With closer relations of cooperation, more practical cooperation content and more fruitful achievements, the BRICS IP Cooperation Programme had been playing a more and more significant role in the international IP industry. During the two days of meeting, the BRICS IP offices had in-depth discussions on issues of IP strategy of medium, small and micro-sized enterprises, national IP strategies and enhancement of public awareness, personnel training, data exchange and information services, management of overstocked patent applications and strengthening of cooperation at international forums; consensuses were reached and remarkable achievements were made. Shen Changyu remarked that he hoped for the BRICS IP offices to further implement the BRICS Summit Declaration and the Joint Statement on Strengthening Intellectual Property Cooperation , and promote IP to play a more significant role in promoting cooperation among BRICS countries.

The meeting approved the template for BRICS IP public awareness enhancement and the management framework document of the BRICS IP cooperation website, and passed and signed the minutes of the 11th Meeting of BRICS HIPO. It was confirmed in the meeting to continue to hold BRICS Intellectual Property Examiner Training Seminars and promote the BRICS countries to cooperate on exchanges of patent information and data. The meeting also decided to extend the BRICS IP cooperation to the fields of design and trademark.

During the meeting, the BRICS IP offices also exchanged views on hot topics including cost reduction for PCT of universities, WIPO standards, WIPO's external offices, and language expansion of the Madrid System and the Hague System. INPI will serve as the chairman of the BRICS IP Cooperation Programme for one year since April 2019.

On April 14 local time, Shen Changyu had bilateral talks respectively with heads of INPI, ROSPATENT, CIPC and CGPDTM, and exchanged opinions on strengthening bilateral cooperation and other IP topics of common interests.

Cooperation Between BRICS Nations Can Help Achieve Sustainable Development Goals (Сотрудничество между странами БРИКС может помочь в достижении целей в области устойчивого развития) / Russia, April, 2019
Keywords: expert_opinion, cooperation, sustainable_development

What is the mission of the BRICS nations in the achievement of the 17 sustainable development goals set by the UN? That was the question experts discussed at a round table on the sustainable development goals and BRICS hosted by the Analytical Center.

Pavel Knyazev, Deputy Head of the Department for Foreign Policy Planning of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, noted that BRICS play an important role in global politics and economy. "Over time the five nations have become an important proponent of the polycentric world idea. Acting through collective decisions we should be able to meet the present-day economic, social and environmental challenges that are holding us back from meeting the sustainable development goals," Mr. Knyazev noted.

The notion of BRICS initially emerged as a global economic phenomenon in the context of the global financial crisis, Georgy Toloraya, the executive director of the National Committee for BRICS research, noted. And this function must remain key for the organization. BRICS nations will only be able to achieve sustainable development goals if they manage to implement their national strategies that include the key targets of sustainable development.

Meanwhile, Leonid Grigoriev, the chief adviser to the Head of the Analytical Center, is of the opinion that today the BRICS nations have significant differences in production, consumption and environmental situation, which means that when they develop their national strategy each country must first and foremost consider its own priorities in the context of its current level of development.

The round table participants noted that as the digital economy is gathering steam the BRICS nations should more closely cooperate on the re-industrialization of their economies and on achieving technological breakthroughs. Specifically, the experts suggested paying closer attention to the development of international e-trading platforms.

"The BRICS association has created a framework for solving major problems," Mr. Toloraya added. "The main long term goal here is to formulate a new socio-economic development model for the BRICS nations and other friendly countries that will meet the needs of our time."

It should be reminded that the Analytical Center heads up the work on the voluntary national review of the achievement of the sustainable development goals. The review will cover both the sustainable development indicators as well as the measures and projects that are supposed to help achieve the sustainable development goals.

Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
One Belt One Road is an Ambitious Concept and Needs Tactics to Match (Один Пояс Один Путь - амбициозная концепция, которой нужно соответствовать) / United Kingdom, April, 2019
Keywords: expert_opinion, obor
United Kingdom
Author: Jim O'Neill

Five years ago I listened to Chinese President Xi Jinping unveil his vision for the Belt and Road Initiative at the Boao Forum for Asia in Hainan province.

The excitement about the potential of linking up so many historically important countries along the old Silk Road, all the way through to Europe, was so easy to be swept up in.

Whether it be neighbouring Kazakhstan or distant but crucially located Austria, the conceptual benefits could be huge. For someone like myself, with a background in international economics and especially development economics, I realised just how transforming this could be.

Not only does economic theory suggest that international trade and cross-border investment boost economic growth in a win-win way, but there is a huge amount of evidence that this in fact happens. Whether it be Singapore, to take one example in Asia, or Switzerland, in Europe, there are countless examples. Indeed, China itself, since beginning to open up 40 years ago, has perhaps benefited more than many realise from just these two forces, both of which lie at the core of the BRI concept.

People may not realise the potential scale of what a successfully implemented BRI could unleash.

I created the acronym BRIC when, in 2001, I first highlighted the potential for the economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China to become important to the world. (The acronym was later expanded to BRICS with the inclusion of South Africa.) In 2003 colleagues and I first showed that by the late 2030s these four combined could become economically larger than the G7 countries.

Three of these four countries are critically placed for the BRI, with China at its eastern edge and India and Russia in key geographic places. If the continuing development of the BRI just achieved major increases in trade between China and these two, that in itself could have huge positive trade and foreign direct investment consequences, not just for these countries, but also for satellite nations of each of the three.

In some ways the BRI is the first major global initiative that modern China has embarked upon, and it is hardly surprising that there may be some serious challenges. Obviously, China is unique in many ways, including its political system and its interplay with business.

It is also unique in that, for such a large country, in its modern incarnation it has understandably completely prioritised domestic development. The launch of the BRI changes this and brings China's uniqueness into so many other countries.

I have some specific ideas to help reposition the BRI. First, China should invite some other key Asian countries to feel empowered to influence the path of the initiative. A seemingly radical idea would be to encourage India to influence the next stage. Whenever I have discussed this idea with seasoned Asia watchers they think I am either joking or very naive, due to the two countries' tricky historical relationship. An undiplomatic response might be, "If China can't really engage India, then the whole project cannot really be serious." After all, China and India are immediate neighbours, part of the same BRIC political small club, and the only countries with billion-plus populations. If the BRI is truly ambitious, then it requires serious ambition.

Second, why not invite some non-Chinese expert entities to devise a code of best practice for BRI project financing that would guide how infrastructure projects might be financed? Such an approach might even help improve the operational efficiency of Chinese companies.

Third, China should seek a group of trusted helpful countries, possibly involving the most advanced countries such as Britain to help with these two ideas and perhaps others. An even more radical idea might be to invite the United States to be such a trusted ally as part of some truly ambitious trade deal. Apart from anything else, it would demonstrate to the US that the BRI is not about China trying to impose its will on the world.

What is for sure is that the underlying ambition of the BRI concept is so ambitious it requires equally ambitious tactics to ensure its success.

Jim O'Neill is chair of Chatham House. This article was originally produced and published by China Daily.

Collaboration between India and Russia in the oil and gas sector / Zoya Burbeza (Сотрудничество между Индией и Россией в нефтегазовой сфере / Зоя Бурбеза) / Russia, April, 2019
Keywords: expert_opinion, economic_challenges, cooperation
Author: Zoya Burbeza

In 2017, Russia and India celebrated the 70th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations. Throughout this period, Russia and India have always had warm relations on the government level as well as between their people and business circles. As Russia and India continue to develop relations, both countries have deep common interest in strengthening their collaboration in the oil and gas sector and taking it to the new strategic level.

India is the third largest energy consumer in the world. It has a steadily growing energy demand and it is a major energy importer. India relies on imports for 80% of its petrol and 50% of its natural gas demand. Russia is the key global producer and exporter of oil and gas. Thus, the strategic needs and requirements of both countries coincide. Already strong cooperation in the energy sector can significantly extend to new sources such as Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).

Since India has a fast-growing energy demand, it needs to secure energy imports at a reasonable price. By 2040, India's oil demand is expected to rise to 10 million barrels/day (bpd) from 4 million bpd at present. This is the equivalent of the entire oil export of Russia or Saudi Arabia and it is not clear that either of these major oil exporters can increase their exports as fast as India's growing oil demand will increase by 2040 (and there is a long list of other countries whose energy demands are growing fast). By 2040, gas consumption is projected to increase to 175 billion cubic meters (bcm) up from ~50 bcm at present.

The only way to meet this demand is through imports and, quite importantly, at the price which would not slow down India's economic growth. India's annual energy consumption has grown at a compounded rate of 6% over the last decade.

The Gulf countries and Nigeria are important suppliers of petrol globally and to India in particular. However, these countries are susceptible to internal or external shocks and instability. Armed conflicts, social unrest and terrorist attacks in a major oil or gas exporting country or region can cause supply shocks and price spikes. This has happened many times in the recent past. Therefore, it is critically important for India to diversify its energy sources not only to secure required supplies but also to hedge against major disruptions in any one energy producing country or region on which it depends.

India also needs to urgently improve its energy mix in favour of cleaner types of energy. Currently, coal has a 60% share in India's energy mix. This is double the global average. Poor quality of urban air and global warming require India to reduce its reliance on coal which is one of the dirtiest but also one of the cheapest types of fuel available. India has abundant sources of clean energy. However, its supply is not sufficient to satisfy India's energy demand and it is also intermittent. The most logical option is to increase imports of natural gas which would both replace coal and complement clean energy supplies smoothing out peaks and troughs so characteristic of clean energy supply. Natural gas can also be used in vehicles. This would both decrease reliance on expensive oil and reduce air pollution.

From the Russian point of view, at present Russia's primary export market for its energy is the European Union (EU). Although Europe accounts for around 80 per cent of Russia's gas exports and 65 per cent of its oil exports and Europe heavily depends on Russian energy imports, imposition of Ukraine-related sanctions have clearly demonstrated how dangerous it is for Russia to have such heavy dependence on the EU market.

However, the main threat to Russian exports to Europe is not the sanctions, which theoretically can be lifted, but the major changes that have taken place in the energy market over the last 15 – 20 years (especially in Europe).

First, the shale revolution which started in the U.S. is having significant and increasing impact on the EU energy market. The shale revolution has only not increased production of oil but also of natural gas. First shipments of the U.S. LNG have already started to arrive in Europe. This trend is only likely to accelerate as the cost of producing and transporting LNG continues to drop significantly and as other countries besides the U.S. such as Qatar, Australia continue to increase their LNG production and export capacity. This trend of diversification away from Russian energy supplies is also fuelled by the strong desire of most European governments to reduce their dependence on Russian energy supplies.

Second, European market has followed the Asian market with a fierce competition between oil producing counties trying to offset losses suffered during the period of low prices by increasing their market share. The first delivery of Saudi oil to Poland in September 2016 was a direct consequence of this.

Third, growing popularity and improving technology enables EU to turn to renewable energy. This represents if not an immediate but certainly a medium and long-term threat to Russian dominance of the EU energy market. European countries are reducing hydrocarbon consumption, including through introduction of renewables and energy efficient technologies.

It is almost exclusively developing countries that account for the growing energy demand, with China and India alone making up half of that growth. India is increasing its oil imports faster than any other country in the world, including China.

As a result, Russia needs to acquire new customers for its oil and gas exports to urgently diversify its export markets and reduce its dependence on the EU export market. Investing in downstream assets in energy importers such as India is a good way to secure new long-term strategic customers.

At present, energy collaboration between Russia and India is focused on nuclear energy and oil investments. However, Russia accounts for less than 1% of India's energy imports which represents a significant opportunity for growth. India's energy imports from Russia are less than $1 billion. Collaboration in new areas such as LNG, natural gas mobility and financial markets for energy could represent a particularly effective way to develop partnership between Russia and India in the energy sector. Indian oil companies have several investments in Russian oil fields which exceed $10 billion.

Collaboration in the LNG sector represents a particularly vibrant, logical and mutual beneficial area. On one hand, Russia needs to find new markets for its gas as the EU seeks alternative sources of supply and the U.S. becomes a gas supplier. Building infrastructure to convert Russian natural gas into LNG and exporting it via tankers would open up the world market for Russian gas exports. So far, Russia has only one operational LNG terminal in Sakhalin with another one under construction. On the other hand, for India, LNG is the only viable way to increase imports of natural gas required to fuel its economic growth. India has four operational LNG import terminals with nine more proposed or under construction. These terminals can become the destination for Russian LNG exports.

From the legal point view, the vast majority of contracts between Russian and Indian companies have been signed under the English law with the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) being by far the most preferred venue for dispute resolution. In addition to the English law being the golden standard of legal practice worldwide, Indian business circles have a long history of commercial and cultural ties to the UK. They are extremely comfortable concluding business transactions under the English law. Many Indian business people have established second homes in London or have even moved their primary residence to London even if they continue to have strong business ties and business activity in India.

In a similar fashion, in the last three decades since the collapse of the USSR, many Russian business figures have established their residencies and business operations in London. In the process of doing so, they have become very familiar and comfortable with concluding international business transactions under the English law. Despite all the media coverage and publicity, recent deterioration of political and government relations between Russia and the UK has had little impact on the appetite of the Russian business community to continue living and operating out of London.

This makes the English law a natural and preferred legal framework for concluding deals between Russian and Indian companies. When it comes to corporate disputes or litigation, London and the English law certainly remain the main venue and vehicle.

Both Russia and India have very distinct and ancient cultures. This certainly carries over and translates into very distinct business culture in both countries which places a lot of emphasis on personal relationship, trust, mutual respect, traditions and informal verbal agreements. Therefore, when it comes to dispute resolution and litigation, in addition to having competent solicitors with the deep knowledge and experience of the English law, it is important to have firms with both strong Russian and Indian desks which can help to smooth out relations and find a common ground. There are very few law firms in London which combine very strong knowledge of the English law and strong Indian and Russian desks in the same firm.

Having this mixture of legal and cultural knowledge is often the most critical factor and the "secret ingredient" which allow to successfully resolve disputes and settle litigation cases at the right stage in the process and, thus, avoid exorbitant cost and publicity of protracted legal battles which often drag for many years and costs tens of millions if not hundreds of millions of pounds.

Political Events
Political events in the public life of BRICS
South Africa at the Polls: a Rising Power Cools Down (Южная Африка на опросах: растущая сила остывает) / South Africa, April, 2019
Keywords: expert_opinion, political_issues
South Africa
Author: Michal Onderco

On May 8, South Africans will be heading to the polls for the sixth time in the country's post-apartheid history. As in the previous elections, the ruling African National Congress is certain to win, and nearly all pollsters suggest that the party will win a handsome majority. The pre-election debate is dominated by domestic issues (as in almost all countries in the world), but South Africa is an important international actor. Historically, South Africa's foreign policy has reflected the views and priorities of the African National Congress. Ahead of the elections, what can we say about the future direction of South Africa's foreign policy? If party manifestos are any guidance, we might say South Africa is getting ready for a time-out from the global politics.

South Africa's foreign policy is important for Africa but also for the world. Not only it is a political leader of the African continent, it also holds a rotating seat in the UN Security Council for the third time in history in 2019–2020, and it is a member of the BRICS grouping of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. Over time, BRICS came to play an important role in South African foreign policy — the 2014 South African White Paper on Foreign Policy (document similar to National Security Strategy in the United States) talks about BRICS in the loftiest ways: "South Africa will actively participate in the BRICS, whose members are reshaping the global economic and political order."

In the not so distant past, the African National Congress went back to its roots as a revolutionary movement. The official discussion document, supporting the deliberations at the party's 2015 general council, quoted Lenin's theory of revolutionary struggle as a source of guidance, and spoke about the end of the Cold War in terms of the victory of imperialism over socialism. A similar document from 2017 continued on the anti-imperialist note (though without quoting Lenin) and underlined the need to fight against the Western domination (while lambasting "right-wing narrow nationalist movements, for example as expressed in the form of the Trump's America first doctrine"). While ideologically such statements were out of step with the arguments made even in fellow BRICS countries, they were used to support arguments against the US hegemony, something that BRICS countries generally shared. Importantly, they also showed that the African National Congress cared about foreign policy, and thought systematically about it.

Fast forward to 2019, and the electoral manifesto of the African National Congress squeezed foreign affairs to ten bullet points offering mainly mild mainstream goals, which seemed as if cut out from a manifesto of a European centrist party: Boosting regional trade, supporting development, building infrastructure, supporting peace in the region, increasing presence at the United Nations, using the seat at the UN Security Council to promote peace and security, supporting climate change. None of these goals have the ideological firepower of the yesteryear, but more importantly, they show that foreign policy has declined in importance for the country's ruling party. Even the ambition to reform the UN Security Council, present in the 2014 manifesto and a long-standing staple of the African National Congress-led South African foreign policy, is gone. Tellingly, there is no reference to BRICS. The manifesto's foreign policy section offers no out-of-the-box thinking, and the goals are mild. The difference is immense: the African National Congress has historically seen its role as a part of the revolutionary movement, but now someone has poured buckets upon buckets of ice water on the revolutionary spark. That someone is most likely Cyril Ramaphosa — a former labour union leader turned negotiator with the apartheid regime turned a business tycoon — who became the new leader of the African National Congress in 2017, and a few months later, the country's president. He is seen as someone interested primarily in domestic policy, and not in rocking the boat abroad. The manifesto reflects those views.

The main opposition party does not fare much differently. The main challenger, the Democratic Alliance, has managed to sandwich foreign affairs on a single page in their manifesto. The ideas in this manifesto revive Nelson Mandela's old article in Foreign Affairs, in which he wrote that "human rights will be the light that guides our foreign affairs." The Democratic Alliance admits that future foreign policy will have to balance interests and ideals, something that South African scholars agreed has been a challenge for the country in the post-apartheid era, but how it will do so is unclear. The manifesto reads a bit like the early post-apartheid documents of the African National Congress, with the emphasis on regional trade, conflict prevention, and support for the International Criminal Court thrown in. The last of these is not a small thing — South Africa threatened to walk out of the court, then reversed its position, and now remains in a political limbo.

The party that consistently polls third is the Economic Freedom Fighters, an opposition party started by Julius Malema the former leader of the African National Congress Youth League. The signature policy proposal of the Economic Freedom Fighters — expropriation of land without compensation —foreshadows the party's radical platform. Its foreign policy proposal is, however, most detailed. It is a firecracker of a proposal: its strong anti-imperialism is obviously thanks to the promotion of policies such as "isolation" of Botswana for hosting a U.S. military base; calling for International Criminal Court prosecutions of "warlords such as Tony Blair and George Bush;" and supporting boycotts, divestment, and sanctions against Israel. It hopes to find inspiration in the Chinese development model and rejects the neoliberal economy. In this sense, the proposal looks like a copy-cat of the African National Congress of a few years ago. Naturally, there are inconsistencies and double standards: why single out Botswana when the United States has bases in a number of other African countries? Why isolate Israel, but not even mention Morocco by name, when supporting the anti-colonial struggle of the Western Saharan people? It is, however, also novel in a number of new pan-African ideas (which might be incredibly difficult to put in place if the party ever won the elections). Such ideas include the support for regional institutionalization, promotion of an African court, "a borderless Africa," a continent-wide single currency, "fight [against] African leaders who want to stay in power forever," support for African Union's interventions in African countries, and promotion of a single pan-African language (Kiswahili). In other words, the anti-imperialism of the Economic Freedom Fighters has driven a pan-African agenda like the African National Congress never had. In a way, it resembles some supporters of the European integration, who supported it to counterbalance the United States.

When South African voters go to the polls in May, they will not probably care too much about their preferred party's foreign policy. But the paucity of foreign policy views promoted by the two leading parties are a sign for the future — a wannabe rising power, who once wanted to upend the international system, is taking a cool-down period.

World of work
Social policy, trade unions, actions
F4F Heroes: 14-year-old BRICS Good Will Ambassador to Participate in 2019 Football for Friendship (Герои F4F: 14-летний посол доброй воли БРИКС примет участие в 2019 году в программе «Футбол для дружбы») / United Kingdom, April, 2019
Keywords: social_issues
United Kingdom

MOSCOW, April 23, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Ananya Kamboj will participate for the third time in the International Children's Social Programme Football for Friendship. The programme is run by Gazprom PJSC, the official partner of the UEFA Champions League, and its final events will take place in Madrid from May 28 to June 2. The 14-year-old school girl from India has gained wide recognition at the project thanks to her participatory citizenship, journalist professionalism, and diverse range of educational activities in her home country.

Ananya Kamboj at the presentation of her book at the 2018 International F4F Forum. "I have always believed that it is imperative to pay particular attention to both sport and cultural education of children. That is why Nine Values promoted by Football for Friendship programme are so important – they encourage children to develop both on a football field and in life," Ananya notes.

The Nine Values of the F4F programme are friendship, equality, fairness, health, peace, devotion, victory, traditions, and honour. Every year at the Nine Values School are organized lessons for all the participants of the programme. Many children launch their own social projects when they come back home. Ananya Kamboj wrote a book, "My Journey from Mohali to St. Petersburg", in which she told about the Nine Values of the programme and her impressions from communicating with peers at the project.

After participating in F4F in 2018, Ananya became a Good Will Ambassador of BRICS countries. She participated in various large projects in India, including Lean India Summit and She's Mercedes. The Young Journalist regularly visits schools in Deli where she tells the students about Football for Friendship and the Nine Values.

In 2019, for the first time in the history of the project, Ananya Kamboj has received the invitation to speak on behalf of all the Young Ambassadors of the world at the 2019 Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Youth Forum at the UN Headquarters.

In May, Ananya will take part in the International Children's Social Programme Football for Friendship for the third time. She will give a speech at the International Football for Friendship Forum on May 30, 2019, on the third day of the final events of the programme in Madrid.

Official Internet resources of the programme:

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Related Links
BRICS Films Feature Women's Lives (Фильмы БРИКС показывают женскую жизнь) / China, April, 2019
Keywords: movie, social_issues

"The film touches my heart," said Guo Fenglian, a female deputy to the National People's Congress. "I can feel their love for the society, family members and life."

Half the Sky, a movie made by five female directors from five BRICS countries, was previewed in Taiyuan City, the capital of North China's Shanxi Province, on April 21. Half the Sky is based on Mao Zedong's famous aphorism — "Women hold up half the sky."

It is the second movie co-produced by five BRICS counties. As an anthology, it consists of five short stories (The Dumpling, Homecoming, Online Lovers, Mother's Holidays and Suspicion on Gender), which explore constraints of traditional thoughts and family roles on women in the New Era.

"It is a big step forward in international cultural cooperation when we are making the movie together, which can deepen the mutual understandings of the BRICS countries and promote more cooperation in other fields," said Elizaveta Sitshova, a Russian filmmaker.

It is worth mentioning that Liu Yulin, director of The Dumpling, the Chinese short film, is a new-generation director of China.

Representing China, Liu's 18-minute movie is about an estranged relationship of mother and daughter using the traditional Chinese food as the clue.

"Dumpling symbolizes family reunion during the Spring Festival. I integrated some Chinese cultural elements in the film, no matter the living environment of the protagonist, the decorations or background music, so audiences from around the world can see what Chinese people's real lives are." said Liu .

Jia Zhangke, who supervised the shooting of the film, noted, "Dedicated to women, the film enables me to understand them and see how they realize self-fulfillment."

Half the Sky is to be screened nationwide in China this May.

South Africans aren't victims – we earn more than any other Brics nation (Южноафриканцы не жертвы - мы зарабатываем больше, чем любая другая страна Брикс) / South Africa, April, 2019
Keywords: expert_opinion, economic_challenges, social_issues
South Africa
Author: Mike Schüssler, Moneyweb

South Africans must stop thinking like victims or we'll become them.

South Africans are the world's worst-off citizens. For many in South Africa, there is no doubt that we are the poorest of the poor – striking teachers state as a fact on the evening news that they are the most impoverished workers in the country.

Next week, the municipal workers will say the same. Miners, doctors and even our former president have all complained about their own poverty.

When the minimum wage was imposed in South Africa, there was an outcry that it was not enough.

While it is true that it may not feed and clothe a family of four if only one person in a household works, it is not low by international and relative standards.

Yes, our minimum wage is low. It is only the 53rd highest in the world. A more complete picture, however, would include the fact that another 105 countries have minimum wages with purchasing power lower than ours. And there are 30 states that do not have a minimum wage.

Sectoral minimum wages are higher

Furthermore, many of our sectors have sectoral minimum wages way above the national minimum wage – and in many of them, the number of people on the minimum wage is less than 10% of the total.

Remember too that for a developing country, SA spends a lot on social income grants – more than almost all other developing countries as a percentage of GDP. Moreover, free water and power are also part of the social wage as is free housing. Transport costs as a percentage of income are high but most other costs are relatively low.

The South African average monthly formal sector salary is the 18th highest out of the 50 countries we have purchasing power parity adjusted wage data on.

In 2017 South Africans in the formal sector had a higher wage than those in Sweden, Japan, New Zealand, and 10 other countries in the rich world – the 34 countries that are members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

We can buy more than most

South Africans who work in the formal sector earned more than any of our Brics partners in the formal sector. We could buy four-and-a-half times what an Indian employee could and three times that of a Brazilian and twice that of a Chinese or Russian worker, in purchasing power parity terms.

Even in nominal rand terms, South Africans earned more than those in 29 countries, while only 26 countries earned more than us – mostly rich and advanced countries, along with some bigger developing markets.

Even in simple dollar terms, South Africans earn more than any Brics partner country. This is not news to those who read the tri-annual UBS report on prices and earnings around the world, which shows very similar levels of relatively high earnings by South Africans.

Leaders who plead poverty

South Africans obviously do not believe this, and the report is not widely published, but in order to make decisions about protests and strikes, we should make informed decisions at least as far as hurting our economy is concerned.

Our leaders probably do not know these facts either as they are so wrapped up in a victim mindset and perceptions of their own poverty that we are all in danger of being exploited.

But nothing is further from the truth! The problem is the vast numbers of people in the unemployment queue who have nothing or are underemployed by only having 'piece' work.

Demanding more without delivering more

Our productivity is, by some production measures, quite poor. In terms of workers employed in crude steel production, for example, SA workers produce less steel per employee than those in India, Malaysia and China. (Even America and other developed countries in part cannot compete with Chinese production per worker and firms often import their basic steel. Hence the tariffs in steel all over the world.)

SA steel production accounted for 2.2% of world steel production in 1987. We fell to less than 0.35% early in 2019.

Not only does South Africa now produce less steel while the world is increasing production, but the Eskom fiasco is also likely to reduce our ability to produce.

Like Zimbabwe, South Africa is in danger of losing its entire steel industry in the next decade due to these low productivity levels and high cost structure.

In vehicle production, we seem to fare better but we are still nowhere close to the best. And our wages on the factory floor seem reasonable, particularly when one compares them to the likes of Thailand and Turkey.

Yet we are forced to allow massive tax breaks and other subsidies in vehicle production to make it work. A few years ago National Treasury estimated the subsidies to be in excess of R18 billion a year.

Yet motor vehicle production is not keeping its market share in the world either. Despite the massive subsidies, SA is not keeping up despite the positive headlines you may read. Again power blackouts and cost increases will hurt here too.

SA has dropped from the world's biggest gold producer to eighth place this year. The output ranking has dropped in coal, iron ore and even wool production.

If South Africa wants to avoid being a victim of its own victimhood it needs leaders who have the courage and wisdom to inform the public that those of us lucky enough to have a formal sector job have far less to complain about.

The unemployed can complain – but those of us in formal work are generally not as poor as we have led ourselves to believe.

If we are not careful and productive we will believe ourselves poor. Why? Because we demand more without delivering more productivity compared to the rest of the world. This year Sri Lankans, for example, will probably become richer than us.

South African production struggles to compete and we lose jobs and income to other countries.

The graphs above show the results of the worrying trends.

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