Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 24.2019
2019.06.10 — 2019.06.16
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Leading powers should cooperate to solve contemporary problems, says Russian envoy to US (По словам российского представителя в США, ведущие державы должны сотрудничать для решения современных проблем) / Russia, June, 2019
Keywords: quotation, political_issues

Antonov said that Russia is interested in "stable and predictable" relations with the United States

WASHINGTON, June 13. /TASS/. Russia believes that present-day problems can be efficiently solved only in cooperation of the world's leading powers, Russia's US ambassador Anatoly Antonov has said.

"We are convinced that problems of the modern world can be efficiently solved only through serious and fair cooperation among the leading powers and their unions. We believe that teaming up to solve real, not imaginary threats is the most important task. Terrorism is one of those major threats," he said during the Russia Day celebration at the Russian embassy in Washington.

Antonov said that Russia is interested in "stable and predictable" relations with the United States.

"We, as the world's biggest nuclear powers, are vested with special responsibility to ensure strategic stability and security," he went on.

The diplomat added that Moscow is ready to cooperate with any country, willing to establish relations "based on mutual recognition of [national] interests and on search for mutually acceptable compromises."

According to the ambassador, Russia's approach to solving key international problems is shared by the majority of states members of the United Nations, BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

"In other words, Russia is not fighting against someone, it fights for solving all problems on the basis of equality and [mutual] respect," he said.

"Russia is an influential and responsible member of the international community," the ambassador went on. "We are not seeking to impose our will on anyone and strictly observe the international law.

"Our foreign policy priorities are no secret," he said. "Our goals are clear: ensuring safety at our borders and creating favorable external conditions for Russia's sustainable internal development.".
Interview: Brazilian party VP praises China's white paper for denouncing U.S. fallacies on trade (Интервью: вице-президент бразильской партии хвалит «белую книгу» Китая за то, что она осудила ошибки США в торговле) / China, June, 2019
Keywords: trade_relations, political_issues

RIO DE JANEIRO, June 10 (Xinhua) -- China's recently published white paper on trade consultations with the United States "unmasks the fallacy of U.S. arguments in favor of the trade war," a senior Brazilian party leader has said.

"It is an enlightening piece, and at the same time a proud and active response from China," Walter Sorrentino, vice president of the Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB), told Xinhua in a recent interview.

Earlier this month, the Chinese government issued a white paper on the China-U.S. economic and trade consultations, denouncing U.S. unilateral and protectionist measures, criticizing its backtracking on the two countries' trade talks, and expounding China's stance on trade consultations and pursuit of reasonable solutions.

"This position projects China's intention to contribute to the new stage of globalization and cooperative multipolarity, to speed up world development, and to promote the global economy and trade," Sorrentino said.

Sorrentino, who also serves as PCdoB's national secretary of politics and international relations, stressed that the world has yet to recover from the 2007-2008 financial crisis -- the global economy is stagnant, unemployment is high, as is poverty and inequality.

In the face of this situation, China has an important role, given its willingness to lead in a scenario of cooperative multipolarity, "opening strategic opportunities for self-determined, sovereign and sustainable development for nations in the process of development or in a struggle against neocolonialism," he said.

On the other hand, the U.S. strategy of protectionism and trade wars represents "a false response to the economic crisis," Sorrentino noted.

In Latin America, the actions of U.S. President Donald Trump's administration represent a great obstacle to many countries and their struggle to achieve sovereign development.

Sorrentino suggested that Brazil should strengthen its position in international trade through boosting trade relations with China and promoting integration with the BRICS, consisting of Russia, India, and South Africa as well as China and Brazil.

Comparing China with Brazil, Sorrentino said: "We are among the countries with the largest territories, population and gross domestic product."

"We are members of BRICS," he continued, "which represents an articulation ... (that) provides mutual benefits ... (is) in opposition to protectionism and trade wars such as those promoted by the United States."

"In Brazil, we believe we should not be dependent on anyone, but interdependent in sharing the advantages of autonomous, sovereign development, towards a new type of governance in a world with deconcentrated power, where multilateralism imposes itself," he added. Enditem

Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
2019 CIGI-Ipsos Global Survey on Internet Security and Trust (Глобальное исследование CIGI-Ipsos 2019 года по вопросам безопасности и доверия в Интернете) / France, June, 2019
Keywords: digital, research, rating, economic_challenges

With most (86%) admitting to having fallen victim to it. three-quarters (78%) are concerned about online privacy & majority (53%) feels more concerned about this, compared to one year ago.

The findings of a recent Ipsos survey conducted on behalf of the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) reveal that fake news is very much a global epidemic and that its impact is widespread. The poll of over 25,000 interviews in over 25 economies finds that well over four in five (86%) online global citizens believe they've been exposed to fake news. Among them, nearly nine in ten (86%) report having initially believed that the news was real, at least once. Indeed, the results suggest that misinformation is woven deep within the fabric of social media, most notably on Facebook, where as many as two-thirds (67%) report encountering fake news. Other common sources of fake news include: social media platforms more generally (65%), websites (60%), YouTube (56%), and television (51%).

The vast majority think fake news is made worse by the Internet (87%) and negatively impacts political discourse in their country (83%). Among those who feel it has negatively impacted politics in their country, there is plenty of blame to go around when it comes to the source of fake news, with a multitude of economies viewed as being responsible for its disruptive effects, led by the United States (35%), Russia (12%), and China (9%). There is considerable variation by economy, however, with Canadians (59%), Turks (59%), and Americans themselves (57%) among the most likely to hold the US responsible. By contrast, those living in Hong Kong (39%), Japan (38%), and India (29%) are most likely to blame China, whereas citizens of Great Britain (40%) and Poland (35%) most frequently cite Russia. Online trolls (81%) and social media platforms (82%) are most commonly identified as the actors responsible for spreading fake news, though governments (own government: 68%; foreign governments: 71%), social media (75%) and regular Internet users (72%) are also thought to play a part.

It's not surprising then that most global citizens back countermeasures aimed at curbing fake news, particularly ones involving social media, with well over four in five supporting the termination of social media and video sharing service accounts linked to fake news (84%) as well as the removal of fake news posts or tweets, on social media and video sharing service sites (85%). The vast majority (87%) also support better education for Internet users on how to identify fake news. Although many would like to see more done, figuring out who should police and determine what constitutes fake news poses a great challenge. There is no clear consensus as the highest proportion feel this should either fall under government jurisdiction (17%) or be the responsibility of Internet users themselves (16%). Twelve percent (12%) think social media companies should have a role, as an adjudicator of this. Some have already taken matters into their own hands, as two in ten (20%) report having reduced their social media usage or used a news fact checking website (24%) in response to fake news, while around one in ten unsubscribed from traditional media outlets (12%), used the Internet less often (11%), and closed their Facebook (8%), Twitter (6%) or other social media accounts (9%) completely. More commonly, however, global citizens say that fake news has reduced their trust in media (40%) and government (22%).

While cybercriminals continue to be the leading source of distrust in the Internet (at 81%; +1 pt), among the one in four (26%) global citizens who say they do not trust the Internet, there has been a significant year-over-year increase in the proportion who cite social media companies (75%; +5) and search engines (65%; +5). And while the lion's share of this increase has been driven primarily by the Middle East & Africa (social media: 80%; +14 & search engines: 70%; +16), North Americans continue to be far more likely to view social media (88%; +6) and search engines (74%; +4) as contributing to their distrust.

Half (49%) indicate that their distrust in the Internet has compelled them to disclose less personal information online and sizeable proportions say they will take greater care when securing their device (40%) and use the Internet more selectively (39%), because they do nottrust it.

Given the increased skepticism towards social media, it's perceived role in the transmission of fake news, and as a source of Internet distrust, it should come as no surprise that three-quarters (78%) of global citizens are concerned about their online privacy, and a majority (53%) say they feel more concerned about this, compared to just a year ago. Fewer than half are confident that any of the algorithms they are using are unbiased, with social media news feeds ranking the lowest (at 32%), on this metric. Similarly, only about half (48%) agree that their government does enough to safeguard their online data & personal information, with citizens in the European (45%), North American (38%), and G-8 economies (39%) among the least likely to agree with this statement.

Perhaps heightened levels of concern vis-à-vis online privacy can be traced to a perceived lack of awareness about data protection and privacy rules. As it currently stands, just two in five (44%) would self-assess themselves as being at least somewhat aware of the data protection and privacy rules in their economy, with citizens in developed economies such as Japan (16%), Canada (26%), and Australia (31%) scoring among the lowest, on this metric.

To help ease some of these concerns, better product security and more specifically, product certification markings are becoming increasingly important. Over the past year, there has been a significant increase in the proportion of global citizens who feel that product security certification markings are important, when buying products (91%; +4). For a product valued at $1k, global citizens are willing to pay as much as 30-35% extra for these markings. Citizens living in developing economies tend to assign the most relative value to such markings.

Better product security, irrespective of certification markings, is clearly important as well. On balance, global citizens are willing to pay about thirty percent (30%) more for better product security, though as many as three in ten won't pay anything else, figures which are consistent across all Internet-enabled devices, regardless of type. Citizens in developing economies are once again more willing to pay extra for better product security as those in the developed world generally expect strong security, from the onset. Most (73%) global citizens would prefer to have their online data and personal information stored on physically secure servers located in their own economy.

Feeling Left Behind? New Technologies A Mystery To Most

Well under half of global citizens are at least somewhat familiar with cryptocurrencies (36%), the Dark Web (24%), and blockchain technologies (22%). There is limited regional variation in terms of familiarity with the Dark Web, though stated familiarity with cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies is much higher in the BRICS economies.

There is a clear consensus, regarding the dark web, as two-thirds (66%) of global citizens would like to see it terminated, including majorities in every economy, despite the benefits cited by its users. Only about one in ten (12%) claim to have ever accessed it, of which a plurality (39%) say they did this in order to remain anonymous online, including over half (55%) of North Americans who have accessed it. Just fourteen percent (14%) of those who have ever used the Dark Web say they use it on a daily basis. Daily usage of the Dark Web is highest in the Americas (North America: 26%; LATAM: 21%) and lowest in the APAC (10%), Middle Eastern & African (10%) economies.

Just one in four (25%) global citizens plan to use or purchase cryptocurrencies, within the next year. Intended use in developing economies, such as LATAM (40%) & BRICS (39%) is about four times higher than in the more developed economies of Europe (11%), North America (11%), and the G-8 (12%), more generally.

Finally, most of those who are aware of blockchain technologies think they have the potential to be tremendously impactful, in the future. Within this group, there is an overarching belief (at 67%) that blockchain technologies should be implemented as widely as possible and most think they will affect every sector of the economy (68%) or have an impact rivalling the advent of the Internet (67%). Three in five expect this technology to displace traditional financial services (61%) and think it should be used in both national (60%) and local elections (59%). Slightly fewer, though still a majority, expect that blockchain technologies will displace traditional government services (55%). Across all metrics, these beliefs are most prevalent in the developing economies of the world.
A Blow to Dollar? China Calls on Russia to Boost Transactions in National Currencies (Удар по доллару? Китай призывает Россию активизировать операции в национальных валютах) / Russia, June, 2019
Keywords: economic_challenges, political_issues

Moscow has repeatedly called on its trading partners to abandon dollar-denominated transactions in light of the US using its currency to pressure other states to fall in line with Washington's agenda.

China's Vice President Wang Qishan has called on Russia to boost financial cooperation between the two states, namely by increasing the usage of national currencies in bilateral trade. In addition to this, Wang Qishan suggested supporting the Russia-China forum on investments.

The Chinese politician's statements are in line with an offer from Russian President Vladimir Putin, who suggested that both China and Mongolia join the Russian Central Bank's financial messaging system and increase the use of national currencies in mutual trade. The president stressed that many countries, specifically Russia, are expressing interest in abandoning the current practice of using the dollar amid instability in global financial markets.

During the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, Putin slammed the US government for turning the dollar into a tool to put pressure on other countries. He also called on other states to review the dollar's current status in light of Washington's behaviour.

The trend of abandoning the US currency has been seen in a recent report on the economies of the BRICS countries, which include both Russia and China, as they have reduced the use of the greenback in mutual trade by 20%. Additionally, according to the latest report, China has slashed its share of US Treasury securities by $67.2 billion, or 5.6%, over the last year, while at the same time actively boosted its gold reserves.

Beijing has been engaged in a costly trade war with the US since 2018, with hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of goods being slapped with hefty tariffs by both sides. Since the end of last year, the two countries have been negotiating a new trade deal to end the conflict, but this has so far been unsuccessful.

Recently, US President Donald Trump introduced another round of 20% tariffs on around $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, citing a lack of progress in talks with Beijing. He also threatened to impose heavy duties on another $325 billion of goods if the sides do not ink a trade deal in the near future, adding that he has a feeling that a breakthrough could happen at the G20 summit in Japan.

Moscow has also suffered from unilateral American actions after the US started imposing sanctions against Russia under various pre-texts. The Kremlin has slammed these moves as tools of unfair competition and is challenging them at the World Trade Organisation.

Russia dumped most of its holdings in US government bonds in 2018 amid one of the sanctions waves, focusing instead on buying gold. In recent years, Moscow has also actively been promoting the idea of switching to national currencies in trade with various foreign partners, such as Turkey, India, and China.

SA's SMEs must benchmark with BRICS peers in digital economy (Малые и средние предприятия ЮАР должны сравниться с коллегами по БРИКС в цифровой экономике) / South Africa, June, 2019
Keywords: Business_Council, economic_challenges
South Africa
Author: Samuel Mungadze

South African small and medium enterprises (SMEs) need to benchmark their success with peer countries in the BRICS community if they are to prosper in the digital economy, according to the South African BRICS Business Council (SABBC).

Speaking from Russia, Sunil Geness, who is representing SABBC at the BRICS XI International IT Forum, said technology will enable future growth in SMEs in South Africa and collaborations among the BRICS countries are important and must be encouraged.

"There is a big focus here on bringing the SMEs into the digital economy and leveraging the benefits of the fourth industrial revolution. Our representation and participation ensure South Africa has a voice among the developing nations in agenda-setting for the digital economy," he said.

Geness is chairperson of the South African BRICS Business Council Deregulation Working Group. He is also former president of the Information Technology Association and played a vital role on the ICT Job Summit Task Team to get commitment from the industry to create 75 000 jobs in the next three years. He is a member of SAP's Global Digital Government team.

South African SMEs are already reeling under the fast-changing digital innovations, which are causing massive market disruptions.

The most recent research by Ricoh revealed SMEs in the country are in danger of falling victim to digital disruption, regulatory requirements and economic shifts that are fundamentally changing their markets. 34% of the 3 300 SME leaders surveyed from across 23 countries, including SA, said they will go out of business by 2020 if they fail to innovate in response to these changes.

Geness, who opened the IT for Development Exhibition with the deputy governor of Russian town Khanty-Mansisky, pointed out that in focus at the gathering was artificial intelligence (AI), which he urged businesses in SA to understand better.

He explained: "We have had bilateral discussions, talks on new technological developments, artificial intelligence, and technology transfers, which our people should take advantage of, even embarking on exchange programmes to learn some more on the innovations and how they will impact on their business. AI is important; if we learn we will be competitive across the world."

The 11th conference of the BRICS and SCO countries focuses on digital transformation, smart cities, cyber economics and e-business, with 52 countries participating.

Geness explained the BRICS countries have all acknowledged the importance of technology that decides their future, and it is time for business, including SMEs, to set a clear direction in terms of participation in the digital economy, benchmarking and collaborations.

"It's good that we have some business leaders who are here in Russia with us, who are witnessing how technology and innovation can assist them in their own markets. We advise that it's time for businesses across South Africa to take a more active position and be part of the digital economy. We shall also be addressing harmonisation of the legal frameworks in the economic sector, with a key focus on the digital economy," he said.

Further, Geness said: "We are also exploring ways BRICS and SCO countries can forge greater digital trade."
NDB President Affirms Strong Growth Outlook for Bank's Project Pipeline in Russia at SPIEF 2019 (Президент НБР подтвердил хорошие перспективы роста проектов Банка на ПМЭФ 2019) / China, June, 2019
Keywords: quotation, economic_challenges

At St. Petersburg International Economic Forum 2019 (SPIEF), Mr. K.V. Kamath, the President of the New Development Bank affirmed strong growth outlook for the NDB's project pipeline in Russia and its commitment to supporting infrastructure development agenda of the Russian Government, in line with the Bank's mandate.

Currently, the NDB's portfolio of approved projects has six projects from Russia with loans aggregating to USD 1.5 billion, said Mr. K.V. Kamath at the Forum. The NDB will continue to scale up its operations in Russia, including by providing financing in a wide range of currencies, mitigating risks faced by borrowers and supporting the national capital market, he added. The Bank is firmly focused on delivering on its mandate of mobilizing resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging economies and developing countries, stressed the NDB President.

The NDB President spoke at a panel session "Integration vs Protectionism: The Role of Development Institutions in the Creation of a Common Economic Space in Greater Eurasia," organized by VEB.RF, highlighting that the NDB is a multilateral bank for emerging markets and developing countries that is built on mutual respect and collaboration. The NDB's approach to development funding is led by the needs of its member countries and the Bank is uniquely positioned for helping to bridge the infrastructure funding gap by mobilizing innovative solutions and utilizing a range of financial instruments to bring new investors into infrastructure development.

At the Forum, the NDB delegation discussed potential cooperation with Russian counterparts during a number of working meetings, including meetings with Mr. Oleg Belozerov, CEO of Russian Railways; Mr. Igor Shuvalov, Chairman of Vneshconombank (VEB.RF); Mr. Andrey Beliyaninov, Chairman of Eurasian Development Bank's Management Board; Mr. Dmitry Pankin, President of Black Sea Trade and Development Bank (BSTDB). The delegation also met senior representatives of NLMK, Norilsk Nickel (Nornickel), Sovcombank, Russian Ecological Operator. In line with the Bank's focus on financing projects on sub-national level, the delegation discussed potential projects with the heads of Karelia Region, Moscow and Moscow Region, St. Petersburg and Leningradskiy Region, Sverdlovsk Region.

St. Petersburg International Economic Forum is an annual international conference dedicated to economic and business issues. Over the last decade, SPIEF has become a leading international platform for the discussion of key economic issues facing Russia, emerging markets, and the world as a whole.

Background information

The NDB was established by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa to mobilize resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging economies and developing countries, complementing the existing efforts of multilateral and regional financial institutions for global growth and development. To fulfill its purpose, the NDB will support public or private projects through loans, guarantees, equity participation and other financial instruments. According to the NDB's General Strategy, sustainable infrastructure development is at the core of the Bank's operational strategy for 2017-2021. In August 2018, the Bank received AA+ long-term issuer credit ratings from S&P and Fitch.

World of work
Social policy, trade unions, actions
Academic peer-reviewed journal "BRICS Law Journal" (Академический рецензируемый журнал «Юридический журнал БРИКС») / Russia, June, 2019
Keywords: research, expert_opinion

The BRICS is an acronym for an association of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, evolved from mere investment lingo to an organized network, in the process assuming a greater geopolitical role aimed at institutional reforms that shift global power. All five countries adhere to principles of inclusive macroeconomic and social policies and are focusing on responsible national growth strategies. The BRICS Law Journal is a platform for relevant comparative research and legal development not only in and between the BRICS countries themselves but also between those countries and others. The journal is an open forum for legal scholars and practitioners to reflect on issues that are relevant to the BRICS and internationally significant. Prospective authors who are involved in relevant legal research, legal writing and legal development are, therefore, the main source of potential contributions.

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