Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 17.2017
2017.04.17 — 2017.04.21
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Why Washington is Terrified of Russia, China (Почему Вашингтон так напуган Россией и Китаем) / Russia, April, 2017
Keywords: Russia, China, USA, cooperation, international relations, politics
Author: Pepe Escobar

The Russia-China strategic partnership, uniting the Pentagon's avowed top two "existential" threats to America, does not come with a formal treaty signed with pomp, circumstance - and a military parade.
Enveloped in layers of subtle sophistication, there's no way to know the deeper terms Beijing and Moscow have agreed upon behind those innumerable Putin-Xi Jinping high-level meetings.

Diplomats, off the record, occasionally let it slip there may have been a coded message delivered to NATO to the effect that if one of the strategic members is seriously harassed — be it in Ukraine or in the South China Sea – NATO will have to deal with both.

For now, let's concentrate on two instances of how the partnership works in practice, and why Washington is clueless on how to deal with it.

Exhibit A is the imminent visit to Moscow by the Director of the General Office of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Li Zhanshu, invited by the head of the Presidential Administration in the Kremlin, Anton Vaino. Beijing stressed the talks will revolve around – what else — the Russia-China strategic partnership, "as previously agreed on by the countries' leaders."
This happens just after China's First Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli, one of the top seven in the Politburo and one of the drivers of China's economic policies, was received in Moscow by President Putin. They discussed Chinese investments in Russia and the key energy angle of the partnership.

But most of all they prepared Putin's next visit to Beijing, which will be particularly momentous, in the cadre of the One Belt, One Road (OBOR) summit on May 14-15, steered by Xi Jinping.

The General Office of the CCP – directly subordinated to Xi — only holds this kind of ultra-high-level annual consultations with Moscow, and no other player. Needless to add, Li Zhanshu reports directly to Xi as much as Vaino reports directly to Putin. That is as highly strategic as it gets.

That also happens to tie directly to one of the latest episodes featuring The Hollow (Trump) Men, in this case Trump's bumbling/bombastic National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. HR McMaster.
In a nutshell, McMaster's spin, jolly regurgitated by US corporate media, is that Trump has developed such a "special chemistry" with Xi after their Tomahawks-with-chocolate cake summit in Mar-a-Lago that Trump has managed to split the Russia-China entente on Syria and isolate Russia in the UN Security Council.

It would have taken only a few minutes for McMaster to read the BRICS joint communiqué on Syria for him to learn that the BRICS are behind Russia.

No wonder a vastly experienced Indian geopolitical observer felt compelled to note that, "Trump and McMaster look somewhat like two country bumpkins who lost their way in the metropolis."

Follow the money

Exhibit B centers on Russia and China quietly advancing their agreement to progressively replace the US dollar's reserve status with a gold-backed system.
That also involves the key participation of Kazakhstan – very much interested in using gold as currency along OBOR. Kazakhstan could not be more strategically positioned; a key hub of OBOR; a key member of the Eurasia Economic Union (EEU); member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO); and not by accident the smelter of most of Russia's gold.

In parallel, Russia and China are advancing their own payment systems. With the yuan now enjoying the status of a global currency, China has been swiftly promoting their payment system, CIPS, careful not to frontally antagonize the internationally accepted SWIFT, controlled by the US.

Russia, on the other hand, has stressed the creation of "an alternative," in the words of Russian Central Bank's Elvira Nabiullina, in the form of the Mir payment system — a Russian version of Visa/ MasterCard. What's implied is that were Washington feel inclined to somehow exclude Russia from SWIFT, even temporarily, at least 90 percent of ATMs in Russia would be able to operate on Mir.
China's UnionPay cards are already an established fixture all across Asia – enthusiastically adopted by HSBC, among others. Combine "alternative" payment systems with a developing gold-backed system – and "toxic" does not even begin to spell out the reaction of the US Federal Reserve.

And it's not just about Russia and China; it's about the BRICS.

What First Deputy Governor of Russia's Central Bank Sergey Shvetsov has outlined is just the beginning: "BRICS countries are large economies with large reserves of gold and an impressive volume of production and consumption of this precious metal. In China, the gold trade is conducted in Shanghai, in Russia it is in Moscow. Our idea is to create a link between the two cities in order to increase trade between the two markets."

Russia and China already have established systems to do global trade bypassing the US dollar. What Washington did to Iran — cutting their banks off SWIFT – is now unthinkable against Russia and China.

So we're already on our way, slowly but surely, towards a BRICS "gold marketplace." A "new financial architecture" is being built. That will imply the eventual inability of the US Fed to export inflation to other nations – especially those included in BRICS, EEU and SCO.

The Hollow Men

Trump's Generals, led by "Mad Dog" Mattis, may spin all they want about their need to dominate the planet with their sophisticated AirSeaLandSpaceCyber commands. Yet that may be not enough to counter the myriad ways the Russia-China strategic partnership is developing.

So more on than off, we will have Hollow Men like Vice-President Mike Pence, with empurpled solemnity, threatening North Korea; "The shield stands guard and the sword stands ready." Forget this does not even qualify as a lousy line in a cheap remake of a Hollywood B-movie; what we have here is Aspiring Commander-in-Chief Pence warning Russia and China there may be some nuclear nitty-gritty very close to their borders between the US and North Korea.

Not gonna happen. So here's to the great T. S. Eliot, who saw it all decades in advance: "We are the hollow men / We are the stuffed men/ Leaning together / Headpiece filled with straw. Alas! / Our dried voices, when / We whisper together / Are quiet and meaningless / As wind in dry grass / Or rats' feet over broken glass / In our dry cellar."
Trump's NSA bluffed. No sunlight between China and Russia (АНБ Трампа блефовало. Нет просвета между Китаем и Россией) / India, April, 2017
Keywords: International relations, China, Russia, USA, politics
Author: M K Bhadrakumar

The Chinese Foreign Ministry announced earlier today that the Director of the General Office of the Communist Party of China Li Zhanshu will visit Russia on April 25-27 at the invitation of his counterpart, head of the Presidential Administration in the Kremlin Anton Vaino. The Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said in Beijing that the two officials will discuss China-Russia relations "as previously agreed on by the countries' leaders" and that the Chinese side is confident that the visit will further galvanize Sino-Russian ties. (TASS)

Li will be the second top Chinese official visiting Moscow in April. President Vladimir Putin has received the First Vice-Premier of China Zhang Gaoli (who is also a member of the Standing Committee of the Politburo of Chinese Communist Party) at the Kremlin on April 13, which was, incidentally, the day after the visit by the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Moscow.

Zhang is one of the economic czars in the Chinese system and his talks with Russian officials focused on Chinese investments in Russia and energy cooperation. But part of his brief was to prepare for Putin's "working visit" to Beijing in the context of the One Belt One Road summit on May 14-15, which will be inaugurated by President Xi Jinping.

Li's forthcoming talks in the Kremlin will be of exceptional importance. It is only with Russia that Chinese Communist Party Central Committee's apex organ (which comes directly under party General Secretary Xi) has such an institutional arrangement of annual consultations – although Russia is not a communist country. Li is a key aide to Xi and his counterpart Vaino reports directly to Putin. The symbolism is at once evident. At an operative level, the unique arrangement ensures that the dynamics and verve of the China-Russia relationship unfailingly receives the personal attention of Xi and Putin. In sum, it underscores that the two countries attribute the highest priority to their relationship.

The timing of Li's visit is particularly significant. The Donald Trump administration has been bragging openly last week that a special chemistry has developed between the US president and Xi following their meeting in Florida on April 7-8 and that China is now actively helping the US to handle the North Korea problem. Besides, both Trump and his National Security Advisor HR McMaster have openly boasted that China's abstention in the UN Security Council vote on Syria last Wednesday was due to this wonderful personal chemistry between the two presidents.

Incredibly enough, McMaster virtually went on to boast in a TV interview with ABC on Sunday that Trump has succeeded in creating distance between China and Russia over the Syrian question. McMaster claimed that Russia has been badly isolated in the UN Security Council. (It is a nonsensical claim, as is apparent from the BRICS Joint Communique of April 12 adopted at Visakhapatnam on Syria, which virtually backs the Russian position.)

Conceivably, McMaster is a novice in international diplomacy and his inexperience showed in the ABC interview. But then, he happens to be Trump's NSA and even if he is a bumbling Lt. General and a babe in the woods of world politics, his voice carries authority. McMaster said:

"What we do know is that, in the midst of responding to the mass murder of the Syrian regime, the president (Trump) and the first lady hosted an extraordinarily successful conference, summit, with President Xi and his team. And not only did they establish a very warm relationship, but… they worked together as well in connection with the response to the mass murder on the part of the Assad regime in connection with the U.N. vote. I think President Xi was courageous in distancing himself from the Russians, isolating really the Russians and the Bolivians… And I think the world saw that, and they (Xi) saw, well, what club do you want to be in? The Russian-Bolivian club? Or the — in the club with the United States, working together on our mutual interests and the interests of peace, security."

McMaster probably thought, out of sheer naivety, that with these harsh words, he'd deal a knockout punch to the Russians. No matter Trump's game plan to drive a wedge between China and Russia by exploiting Xi's interest in a 'new type of major country relations' with US, it is preposterous that Beijing will allow any erosion to the Sino-Russian entente. The point is, for both China and Russia, their number one priority in world politics will be to push back at US hegemony and there is no daylight possible here between them for a foreseeable future. Simply put, the relationship has created 'strategic depth' for both countries to safeguard their core interests, while also navigating specific concerns at any given point vis-a-vis the United States.

We will never know whether Li's is a routine visit or has been conceived against the backdrop of the Trump administration's mischief to create misunderstandings in the Russian-Chinese ties. At any rate, Beijing seems to be going the extra league to underscore the highest priority that it attaches to the preservation of China's mutual trust with Russia. Li's trip to Moscow and his consultations at the Kremlin can only make Trump and McMaster look somewhat like two country bumpkins who lost their way in the metropolis.
Regional Cooperation Important in Sino-Russia Ties: Russian Official (Региональное сотрудничество важно в отношениях между Китаем и Россией: официальный представитель России) / China, April, 2017
Keywords: International relations, China, Russia, politics
Author: Ma Xiaowen

Alexey Dymin, Governor of Russia's Tula Region, promoted Tula, a region located 180 km south of Moscow, as an attractive destination for Chinese investors in Beijing on April 20.

"Regional cooperation is important in China and Russia relations," said Dymin, adding that Tula's vicinity to Moscow, developed infrastructure, qualified personnel and favorable investment climate are its main advantages.

Tula was home to the famous writer, Leo Tolstoy, and is known for its honey cookies, tea, weapon factories and abundant historical features.

And the city is also one of Russia's largest end markets. In 2016, the region's investment volume in fixed capital amounted to 112.6 billion roubles ($2 billion), compared with 2015's 105 billion roubles ($1.87 billion).

Li Huilai, assistant minister for China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, echoed Dymin on the role of regional cooperation. Li called for more Chinese enterprises to invest in Tula or start businesses there. Also, he said China welcomes quality goods from Tula.

The two countries have maintained constant high-level exchanges. Dymin reconfirmed that President Vladimir Putin will attend the pending Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, which is expected to open in Beijing in May, and the BRICs Xiamen Summit in September.

Li said China and Russia ties are at the best period of development in history and President Putin's visits are expected to scale up all-round exchanges and cooperation.
Saudi Arabia Switching to BRICS in Response to US Congress 911 Blackmail (Саудовской Аравия переключилась на БРИКС в ответ на шантаж Конгресса США по поводу 11 сентября) / USA, April, 2017
Keywords: International relations, USA, Saudi Arabia

After realizing that the US Congress's move to allow the filing of charges against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for its supposed role in the "terrorist" attack on New York in 2001 could be Washington DC's way of putting the House of Saud on notice — that it, too, is not exempt from its two-faced foreign policy, and could be a future target for a regime change once it ceases to be a willing subject to systematic extortion, like what's being done with Japan for decades right after the Second World War, the House of Saud continues to engage Russia for a possible common ground.

Russia is responding positively to the Saudi initiative, and already the two are defying the pressure from the latter's long-time "ally."

Russia Calling the Shots on 'American Playground' in Middle East

Sputnik / Evgeniya Novozhenova

Russia continues to develop relations with Saudi Arabia, Washington's longstanding ally in the Middle East. In addition to the ongoing cooperation in the energy sphere, the two countries are expected to launch lucrative investment projects and probably start working together in the defense sector.

Russia continues to compete with Washington on the US' traditional "playground" in the Middle East.

On April 6, the Russian Foreign Ministry made an important statement on the Palestinian-Israeli settlement, recognizing East Jerusalem as the capital of the future Palestinian state and West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Commenting on the issue, Israeli political analyst Avigdor Eskin told Sputnik that Russia has surpassed the US by recognizing West Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

"The current statement regarding the recognition of West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel reflects a warm and friendly atmosphere [between Russia and Israel]. This is highly appreciated," the Israeli political analyst underscored.

"Russia is much closer to the region and has a deeper understanding of the situation. If Trump remains 'under siege' and doesn't prevail for the rest of his term, we might expect a stronger Russian influence," Eskin predicted.

But that is not all.

On Monday a Russian parliamentary delegation, headed by Federation Council Chair Valentina Matvienko, concluded its visit to Saudi Arabia, Washington's other key ally in the Middle East.

Assessing the results of the summit, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said that contacts between Moscow and Riyadh are expanding at various levels.

"Indeed, there is a deepening of mutual understanding between our countries; contacts are taking place at all levels," he said during a meeting with the head of The King Salman Center for Humanitarian Aid and Relief.

As expected, the cooperation in the oil and gas spheres had become the centerpiece of the negotiations between Russia and Saudi Arabia. Moscow and Riyadh continue to take steps to reduce oil production to balance the market.

The countries have fully complied with all their obligations under the agreement between OPEC and other oil-producing countries.

"Russia and Saudi Arabia acted as guarantors of the implementation of this agreement, and I am sure that this cooperation will continue, because no one is interested in a chaotic development of events [in the oil market]," Matvienko said, as quoted by RIA Novosti.

Interestingly enough, following the oil price slump, there was speculation that Washington had persuaded Riyadh to dump prices to spite Russia. However, Moscow and Riyadh are currently successfully working together to establish an equitable pricing strategy in the energy market.

Furthermore, although Riyadh remains close to the US, the Kingdom didn't support anti-Russian sanctions imposed by other Washington's allies, including Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

In addition, the Russians and their Saudi counterparts discussed the prospect of cooperating in the defense sector. While the details of the talks have yet to be disclosed, it is known that in late 2016, Saudi Arabia showed interest in potentially purchasing Russian S-400 Triumf air defense systems.

"This has been stated by Saudi Arabian representatives themselves when they visited multiple exhibitions, presentations and shows where Russia showcased these systems, such as the exhibition in Abu Dhabi [the International Defense Exhibition and Conference, IDEX]and events organized in Russia, so there is nothing new here, there is an interest," Russian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Oleg Ozerov told Sputnik in early November 2016.

In February 2017 Industry and Trade Minister of Russia Denis Manturov confirmed that Russia and Saudi Arabia were discussing Riyad's prospects for acquiring Russian military aircraft and "land weapons."

It is no secret that Washington has long been Riyadh's key arms provider and the country boasts an annual defense budget second to only that of the United States and China. Recent developments show that Russia is beginning to compete with the US for the Kingdom's lucrative military contracts.

Meanwhile, Matvienko revealed that the Russian Direct Investment Fund and the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund will launch joint projects worth $3 billion before the end of this year.

"The Russian Direct Investment Fund and the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund are cooperating successfully. Thanks to them, projects worth some $600 million have been implemented. Before the end of the year, projects worth $3 billion should be launched," she said.

However, there are also bumps in the road regarding Russo-Saudi relations: Riyadh and Moscow have completely different approaches toward Syria and Iran. On the other hand, the two countries have similar views regarding the resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

"Moscow and Riyadh have similar positions on the resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict," Deputy Chairperson of the Council of the Federation Ilyas Umakhanov told RIA Novosti.

"As for Syria, we have very serious differences regarding the fate of [Syrian] President Bashar al-Assad, but Russia and Saudi Arabia agree that there can be no military solution to this crisis," he said.

According to Matvienko, Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud may visit Russia by the end of 2017.

What this illustrates is that Russia has departed from its age old policy of not taking any proactive role in global affairs, now that more and more countries have grown weary and tired of the incessant warmongering from the Western side,

… and are looking for a more positive leadership that they can only find from Vladimir Putin.

Likewise, Saudi's growing engagement with East Asia and Russia will only result to a stronger cooperation with the BRICS Alliance and ASEAN countries, and will further alienate the kingdom from the West.

They don't want to be used as a tool again for Western terror aggression anywhere in the world.

Just a week ago, the current chairman of the ASEAN, Rodrigo went to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for an official state visit.

The Philippine president is known for his censor-free anti-CIA sentiments in front of foreign leaders. This occasion is no exception.

Duterte's tour to the Middle East also included visits to Bahrain and Qatar.

The geopolitical realignment continues with the recent port call to Manila by the Russian navy.

This is just a prelude to Duterte's state visit to Russia soon.

As for Saudi Arabia, 800 US families are already filing a lawsuit against it relating to the controlled demolition directed by Dick Cheney. But the former has already made its decision to leave the deplorables on their own.

Since, this realignment is a very long process, and the deplorables are still holding great positions of power, it is only wise to expect some bumps along the way.

Brics: more action, less howling, please (Брикс: больше действий, меньше воя, пожалуйста) / South Africa, April, 2017
Keywords: opinion, international relations, politics, credit rating agency
South Africa
Author: Victor Kgomoeswana

As with the Bretton Woods institutions or the International Criminal Court, Africa must do more than just howl about injustice. Corrupt leaders and their apparatchiks in Africa like to blame our colonial past to shield their incompetence and impropriety. They must not do the same with the planned Brics credit rating agency. South Africa, a leading economy on the continent, has been downgraded to junk status. The last time it was sub-investment grade was when Nelson Mandela was president. With Standard & Poor's downgrading the country, followed by Fitch, defenders of mediocrity have chosen to attack the agencies for their bias towards America and how betrothed they are to owners of capital. Granted, Standard & Poor's, Moody's and Fitch – all American – have been found wanting for missing more blatant sovereign and systemic risks in the past. For their omissions and oversights, these agencies have been fined billions of dollars. Will the Brics agency be any different, though? The Brics member countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – have been talking about creating their own rating agency to rival the big three.

Speaking in October, Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi expected this rating agency to "further bridge the gap in the global financial architecture".

Along with the Brics Bank and its initial $100 billion capital injection, the rating agency is a necessary cog in the new world order – which is increasingly being dominated by developing economies. The importance of having pro-development investors, banks and related agencies is undisputed. There are two problems with this line of thinking, however, which Brics and Africa must resolve upfront to deliver the intended impact.

The first risk is mistaking pro-development for lack of standards. Although pro-development could mean being more sensitive to the needs of the developing world, it could also imply more stringent criteria for ratings and lending. It is not uncommon to hear of development financial institutions being described as "just like commercial banks" when assessing applications for funding. What else can a lender – development finance institution or commercial bank – do but minimise the risk of default?

Lending money – be it for development impact or financial return – requires vigilance in uncovering any risk the borrower will fail to repay the loan. If the risk is higher than the possible development impact and/or desired financial return, no money will change hands. Any expectation that the Brics development bank will somehow lend money to projects that are not viable or not packaged properly must be managed.

This applies to the Brics rating agency too. Those opposed to the big three rating agencies are going sound as if they expect poor governance and sovereign risk in developing countries, including Africa, to be overlooked by the alternate rating agency – if and when it takes off. They will not be overlooked. In fact, some sub-investment grade countries could find themselves in the same situation under the Brics agency.

The second risk is the disproportionate role of the non-African members of the Brics bloc. South Africa is the only representative of the continent. Whether South Africa can sufficiently represent the interests of its 53 fellow African countries without prejudice is debatable. Being the smallest and slowest-growing economy of the Brics countries, South Africa's influence ought to be anchored in its ability to harness the African collective behind its participation in the bloc. So far, its stance at Brics has not been pan-African enough. Even if it consults with the AU before Brics meetings, it has not done a great job communicating that.

Plagued by persistent perceptions and incidents of Afro-phobia; poor economic growth; unemployment; sub-standard education; political ructions within the ruling party and the downgrade by the big rating agencies, South Africa is not as well positioned to represent the aspirations of Africa as it was 10 years ago. The consequence of this is China, Russia, India and Brazil will do to Africa what Western countries have been doing all along. They will do this behind the cover of Brics. Proceed with caution!
BRICS: Financing for development key for 2030 Agenda (БРИКС: финансирование развития - основное в повестке 2030 года) / China, April, 2017
Keywords: investment and finance, sustainable development, poverty, cooperation

UNITED NATIONS - Financing for development is the key to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the guideline to end poverty in the world by 2030, the BRICS told a high-level UN meeting on Tuesday.

The statement came as Liu Jieyi, the Chinese permanent representative to the United Nations, was taking the floor at the UN meeting on the financing for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on behalf of the member countries of the BRICS, which groups Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

This is the first time for the bloc to air its views on important global issues since its establishment in 2006. China has earlier this year assumed the BRICS' presidency for the year of 2017.

"Financing for development is the key to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development," Liu said. "Assured and predicable financial flow is indispensable to the realization of sustainable development, particularly by developing countries."

The SDGs serve as the blueprint for global development efforts for the years running up to 2030.

Liu urged the international community to take a strategic and long-term view of financing for development, and to actively advance international cooperation in this area at the national, regional and international levels.

All these efforts should be made based on renewed and enhanced global partnership for sustainable development, to "mobilize adequate resources for the realization of sustainable development by all countries, especially developing countries," he said.

"Economic globalization has suffered setbacks and we have witnessed the rise of inward-looking and protectionist tendencies in some countries' policies and the growth of 'anti-globalization' thinking," he noted.

"International cooperation for development is faced with daunting challenges of declining political will, dwindling resources and fragmentation of efforts. Financing for development is confronted with ever greater difficulties," he said.

Against such a backdrop, he said, "BRICS hopes that this meeting will help all parties to foster consensus and stimulate political will so as to mobilize needed resources and take international cooperation in financing for development to a new height, thus providing strong impetus to the global effort to implement the 2030 Agenda."

"The global success of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development is essential for our collective peace and common development," he said.

"As North-South cooperation is the main channel of development financing, the international community must uphold the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities' (CBDR) and push North-South cooperation to continue to play its key role," he said.

Developed countries should bear the primary responsibility in financing for development, honor their official development assistance commitments, fulfill the commitments under Technology Facilitation Mechanism, help developing countries with capacity building and offer further debt reduction and market access to developing countries, he said.

South-South cooperation is not a substitute to North-South cooperation, but an expression of solidarity among peoples and countries of the South, based on their shared experiences and objectives, Liu said.

In allocating development resources, priority should be given to areas that bear most directly on people's livelihood and development of developing countries, such as poverty eradication, infrastructure development, health, education, he said.

Parties may, in ways that best suit their countries' situation, actively further enhance joint financing models like tripartite or multi-party cooperation among developed countries, developing countries and multilateral development institutions, he said.

"Financing cooperation should be strengthened within the framework of international development institutions such as the World Bank, and the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)," Liu said. "Meanwhile, there is a need to explore innovative financing in a progressive and orderly way with a view to finding meaningful ways of financing for development."

There is a need to improve the global economic governance and create an enabling international environment for development, he said.

"We should expedite the reform of the international financial system, increase the representation and voice of emerging markets and developing countries, and create a stable economic environment and a fair regulatory environment for countries to work together for development and share in the fruits thereof," he said.

"The BRICS looks forward to a constructive intergovernmental engagement in the upcoming ECOSOC (the UN Economic and Social Council) forum on financing for development follow-up and obtaining substantial and fruitful outcome," he said.
We Should Work Together to Oppose Trade Protectionism: BRICS (Мы должны работать вместе, чтобы противостоять торговому протекционизму: БРИКС) / India, April, 2017
Keywords: International relations, trade, WTO,China, politics

The BRICS nations have asked the international community to work together to oppose trade protectionism and create an equitable and transparent global trade and investment environment amid the rise of "inward-looking" tendencies and anti-globalisation thinking.

"The global trade and investment are in stagnation and the multilateral trade system is being affected. Economic globalisation has suffered setbacks and we have witnessed the rise of inward-looking and protectionist tendencies in some countries' policies and the growth of 'anti-globalisation' thinking," China's Permanent Representative to the UN Liu Jieyi said in his address to the High-level Sustainable Development Goals Financing Lab on behalf of the BRICS Group.

He said there is a need to improve the global economic governance and create an enabling international environment for development.

"We should work together to create an equitable, open and transparent international trade and investment environment, oppose trade protectionism and push for an early completion of the Doha Round negotiation of the WTO (World Trade Organisation," he said here yesterday.

China, which assumed the BRICS presidency for 2017, said developed countries should bear the primary responsibility in financing for development, honour their ODA (Official Development Assistance) commitments, fulfill the commitments under Technology Facilitation Mechanism, help developing countries with capacity building and offer further debt reduction and market access to developing countries.

"As North-South cooperation is the main channel of development financing, the international community must uphold the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities" (CBDR) and push North-South cooperation to continue to play its key role.

"Attention should be given to the alignment of ODA with the countries' situations and actual needs of developing countries in order to better meet their development concerns," Jieyi said.

"Each country has primary responsibility for its own economic and social development. South-South cooperation is not a substitute to North-South cooperation, but an expression of solidarity among peoples and countries of the South, based on their shared experiences and objectives," he said.

"The BRICS group also called for expediting the reform of the international financial system, increase the representation and voice of emerging markets and developing countries, and create a stable economic environment and a fair regulatory environment for countries to work together for development and share in the fruits.

"Major economies need to strengthen macro-economic policy coordination, reinforce the regulation of the international financial market and build a stable, pluralistic and risk- resilient international monetary system so as to avoid systemic risks caused by drastic policy fluctuations which will produce negative spill-over effects on developing countries," Jieyi said.

He added that international cooperation for development is faced with the daunting challenges of declining political will, dwindling resources and fragmentation of efforts.

However financing for development is the key to the implementation of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development.

"The international community needs to take a strategic and long-term view of financing for development and actively advance international cooperation in this area at the national, regional and international levels based on renewed and enhanced global partnership for sustainable development, to mobilise adequate resources for the realisation of sustainable development by all countries, especially developing countries," he said.

He also underlined the need to strengthen political will and meaningfully implement the the Doha Declaration on Financing for Development and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.
Sister Cities: Moscow and Delhi Agree to Push for More Economic Engagement (Города-побратимы: Москва и Дели договорились активизировать экономическое сотрудничество) / India, April, 2017
Keywords: Russia, India, international relations, cooperation

Senior officials from Moscow and Delhi have agreed to work towards broadening the economic engagement between the two sister cities. The sides discussed the inter-city cooperation at a session of the Business Council for Cooperation with India that was held in Moscow.

At the session, Sergei Cheremin, head of the Department of Foreign Economic Relations of the Moscow government, spoke about the work of the council over the past 12 months. The council's members had agreed a year earlier to work on promoting tie-ups in the pharmaceutical, energy and digital trading industries. Cheremin said he hoped that an agreement would be signed between Moscow and Delhi about the cooperation in 2018-20.

"This year we are planning to the work on international business projects and in the organization of business missions," Vladimir Padalko, the vice president of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said at the session. "We are also planning to attract more partners from India and to intensify the work in the profile committees of our council."

Padalko also mentioned that a new TV channel called Big Asia was going to be launched in June. This channel will be dedicated to Asian countries including India. The channel will focus on news, cultural, political and economic issues in Asia.

The founders of the channel hope that it will be a media platform that helps Russians understand India better.

Vikram Singh Punia, head of pharmaceutical company Pharmasynthez compared the relationship between Russia and India with two classmates who moved to different countries after graduation and have different interests now, but still preserve close friendly ties.

"Our countries need to preserve and develop business contacts," he said. "Indian pharmaceutical companies can share their experience with their Russian colleagues, and at the same time successful Russian medical practices can be implemented in India."
Remarks by H.E. Yang Jiechi State Councilor of the People's Republic of China At the Opening Ceremony of 2017 First BRICS Sherpa Meeting (Комментарий Государственного советника Китайской Народной Республики Ян Цзечи на церемонии открытия первого собрания координаторов БРИКС в 2017 году) / China, April, 2017
Keywords: China, BRICS Plus, 2017 First BRICS Sherpa Meeting, cooperation, international relations

Governor Shi Taifeng,
BRICS Sherpas,
Dear Colleagues,

Good afternoon. Welcome to Nanjing, Jiangsu for the First BRICS Sherpa Meeting. Known as the "land of fish and rice", Jiangsu enjoys a long history and splendid culture, and has made great progress in its economic and social development through reform and opening-up. I wish to thank the Jiangsu provincial government and Nanjing municipal government for their thoughtful arrangements of this meeting. To quote a line from a Chinese poem, now is the season when "the vernal wind has greened the Southern shore again". It's also a season of sowing. I believe the efforts by the Sherpas, important aids to the leaders, will sow the seed of success for the summit. Thank you for your hard work and dedication.

Dear Colleagues,

The ninth BRICS Summit will be held in the Chinese city of Xiamen, Fujian Province from 3 to 5 September this year. It will be yet another opportunity for China to host BRICS leaders following the Sanya Summit in 2011. President Xi Jinping places high importance on the Xiamen Summit, and looks forward to working with other leaders to build on the fruitful outcomes of the Goa Summit and previous BRICS summits to ensure the success of the Xiamen Summit and inject fresh impetus to BRICS cooperation.

BRICS cooperation started in 2006. The 10 years that followed has been a decade of hard work and great achievements. Thanks to the commitment of all members, BRICS has grown into a big tree laden with fruits. We have stood together in face of challenges to perform a miracle of economic development and set a paradigm of South-South cooperation.

Ten years on, BRICS, once an investment term in some economic report, has gained global visibility and become a shining example of cooperation among emerging markets and developing countries. The BRICS mechanism did not come about by chance. Its inception conformed to the evolving international landscape and the shifting balance of power, echoed the strong aspiration of emerging markets and developing countries for a bigger role in international affairs, and answered the call of people across the world for a joint response to global challenges, thus serving the common interests of the international community. Today, BRICS has grown into an important force for promoting global growth, improving global governance and advancing democracy in international relations.

The reason why BRICS cooperation has come a long way to get where it is today in an ever-changing world is manifold. Guided by a philosophy of shared interests, we have assisted each other in our pursuit of development and delivered real benefits to our people. We have prioritized economic cooperation and established an all-dimensional, wide-ranging and multi-tiered partnership that covers political, economic and people-to-people exchange and cooperation. And with a commitment to equity, justice and development, we have made our voice heard in international and regional affairs and put forth BRICS proposals, thus making major contribution to world peace and prosperity. An important message from the decade-old BRICS cooperation is that whatever difficulties may lie ahead on our way toward common development, great trust in each other and abiding faith in our cooperation will sustain BRICS cooperation against all odds.

Dear Colleagues,

We live in an era of great change and adjustment, when both opportunities and challenges abound. Peace, development and mutually beneficial cooperation remain an aspiration widely shared by the international community. The world economy has resumed growth, a new round of technological revolution and industrial evolution are in the making and the trend of innovation and reform is gaining momentum. According to the IMF, BRICS countries and other emerging markets and developing countries contributed 80% of global growth in 2016.

On the other hand, the global recovery is not solidly based and growth remains weak. Quite a few emerging markets and developing countries have encountered headwind in their economic development, and to close the gap between the South and the North and that between the poor and the rich remains an arduous task. Economic globalization is suffering setbacks. Protectionism is coming back. Geopolitical conflicts keep emerging, terrorists forces are wreaking havoc, and traditional and non-traditional security risks get intertwined. There is a significant rise of uncertainties in the world's political and economic situation.

In such a complex and fluid environment, we need to stay confident and jointly tackle challenges and seize opportunities for common development. Our journey over the past decade is the very source of our conviction that our endowment as well as our advantage as a latecomer remain unchanged and that our development is gaining momentum, not losing steam. The internal impetus and huge potential for BRICS cooperation remain unchanged and the space for such cooperation is expanding, not shrinking. The historical trend of BRICS playing a bigger role in international affairs remains unchanged and the international expectation on BRICS is growing, not declining. From this new starting point, we should and can usher in a still more brilliant decade of BRICS cooperation.

On 1 January, President Xi Jinping sent letters to President Vladimir Putin, President Jacob Zuma, President Michel Temer and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, initiating BRICS cooperation in 2017. In his letters, President Xi stressed China's wish to discuss with fellow BRICS members on the theme of Stronger Partnership for a Brighter Future at the Xiamen Summit to review past experience, build consensus and work out a blueprint for future cooperation. This is what President Xi expects from the Xiamen Summit and the future of BRICS development. It is also what China will be working for during its BRICS chairmanship in 2017.

To be specific, China hopes that the following areas will be priorities in preparations for the Xiamen Summit.

- Enhance unity and coordination in improving global governance. With our role shifting from participants to pace-setters of global governance, we BRICS countries should and can contribute more BRICS wisdom in addressing global challenges. That, however, does not mean we will impose our will on others. Rather, we will run our own affairs well while trying to provide more public goods and working with other countries to build a community of shared future for mankind and find a new path of global governance featuring wide consultation, joint contribution, win-win cooperation and shared benefits.

We need to step up communication and coordination on major international and regional issues, champion multilateralism centered around the United Nations and promote political dialogue and negotiation as the means to settle disagreements in order to safeguard peace and stability in the world. We need to make full use of such platforms as the G20 and work with other major economies to find new sources of global recovery and deliver strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth. It is important that we uphold and develop an open world economy, jointly oppose trade protectionism, facilitate healthy development of economic globalization, and foster an enabling external environment for the development of all countries. We need to advance the reform of global economic governance and increase the representation and voice of emerging markets and developing countries.

- Deepen practical cooperation for win-win results. Practical cooperation has featured prominently in BRICS cooperation. Thanks to ten years of unremitting efforts, BRICS cooperation in economic, financial, trade and some other areas has yielded rich fruits, including such pioneering and landmark achievements as the New Development Bank and the Contingent Reserve Arrangement. That said, resource complementarities of our five countries are yet to be fully tapped and cooperation channels in many fields fully explored. There is vast space for BRICS practical cooperation.

We need to facilitate inter-market linkages through trade and investment, strengthen financial integration and enhance infrastructure connectivity. It is important that we step up coordination on macroeconomic policies, advance structural reform and increase synergy of our development strategies. We must ensure the success of the New Development Bank and the Contingent Reserve Arrangement to bring real benefits to the people of not only our five countries but also other emerging markets and developing countries. We should further tap our cooperation potential, identify more converging interests in areas such as trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, e-commerce, financial market connectivity and innovation-driven development, and carry out more result-oriented cooperation programs that can deliver economic and social benefits, so that BRICS cooperation will be constantly renewed and reinvigorated to serve inter-connected growth.

- Increase people-to-people exchanges to win greater popular support for BRICS cooperation. We BRICS countries come from four continents, and each has its unique and profound cultural heritage. The vibrant and colorful people-to-people and cultural exchanges that we have had in recent years have significantly boosted the traditional friendship and mutual understanding among our people.

Amity among our people is crucial for the future of BRICS cooperation. It is important that we act upon the agreement of our leaders to support our business and academic communities, media, think tanks, cultural groups and people from all walks of life in carrying out multi-dimensional, friendly people-to-people and cultural exchanges. Events such as the BRICS Culture Festival, Film Festival, Sports Games and High-Level Meeting on Traditional Medicine are excellent opportunities for our people to learn more about each other and lend their support to BRICS cooperation. We should also introduce more enabling policies to encourage more substantive people-to-people and cultural cooperation, which will in turn help sustain BRICS overall cooperation.

- Strengthen institution building and improve cooperation platforms. Our cooperation system has been steadily enriched and improved in tandem with the progressive development of the BRICS mechanism. As our cooperation continues to grow in breadth and depth, the cooperation mechanisms should keep up with the developments and provide stronger support for our cooperation in the political, economic, cultural and other fields.

We need to harmonize the various cooperation mechanisms and make sure that our cooperation is well-coordinated and coherent and that the consensus of successive summits is truly followed through. The role of the Meeting of National Security Advisers, the Meeting of Foreign Ministers and the Sherpa Meetings should be better leveraged. While making good use of the existing mechanisms such as the Business Council and Think Tanks Council, we may also explore new mechanisms and platform in areas such as innovation and culture. We should carry out more outreach dialogue to benefit more parties with our cooperation, foster a "BRICS+" model of open cooperation, and set up a more broad-based South-South cooperation platform for the common development of emerging market economies and developing countries.

China hopes and believes that following the BRICS spirit of openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation, we BRICS countries can further enhance our cooperation and ensure a brighter future for the common development of our five countries. We will build a South-South cooperation platform of greater global influence and work for a brighter future for the economic and social development of emerging markets and developing countries. And we will promote a fairer and more equitable international order and usher in a brighter future for global peace and development.

Dear Colleagues,

Blessed with gorgeous mountains and rivers, Nanjing has been home to numerous legendary figures in Chinese history. I'm sure that by having the 2017 First BRICS Sherpa Meeting in the city of Nanjing, you will have deep, thorough exchanges, provide insights for BRICS cooperation, and help China to get its BRICS chairmanship and preparations for the Xiamen Summit to a good start. I'm confident that with the joint efforts of our five countries, the Xiamen Summit will deliver fruitful outcomes and bring about an even brighter future for BRICS countries.

Thank you.

S Africa says committed to BRICS membership (ЮАР заявляет о приверженности членству в БРИКС) / China, April, 2017
Keywords: South Africa, international relations, cooperation

South Africa is committed to the BRICS bloc of leading emerging economies and hopes being a member helps address the country's various challenges, a senior official said Thursday.

While addressing a seminar in Pretoria on Thursday, Dave Malcomson, chief director at South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation, said the country is satisfied with the progress achieved by the bloc and wants to continue using it to address the country's triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality.

Malcomson said BRICS will assist the industrialization process in South Africa and the whole African continent by supporting infrastructure, investment facilitation and an upgrade of the manufacturing sector.

"We want to use BRICS to promote South South cooperation, change global architecture, respond to global challenges and bring about peace in the world," he added.

China will host the 2017 BRICS Summit in September as the current chair. The bloc will discuss global economic growth, promote cooperation and development then.

Noting that BRICS members, namely, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, have coordinated and cooperated in multilateral global bodies over major global issues such as climate change, Malcomson said the bloc will always remain relevant to global affairs.
BRICS dilemma, folly or curse? (Дилемма БРИКС: глупость или проклятие?) / South Africa, April, 2017
Keywords: opinion, international relations, politics, Russia, South Africa, India, New Development Bank
South Africa

IT WAS never meant to be anything more than a political union, similar in status to the non-aligned states. Economically, only two of the five BRICS nations, China and India are doing well, the rest are all currently in junk status. Russia was junked in 2015, followed by Brazil in 2016 and South Africa in 2017. In many respect it is Russia which has tilted BRICS in favour of junk, and has lead the pack in this regard, with the result, there is now a Good BRICS and a Bad BRICS story.

Goodness BRICS

Let's take a look at what is good here. So far as the China is concerned, the need to create markets for its overproduction of goods has meant that it is forced to continue investing in overseas markets, and the result is largely of benefit to us.

South Africa, an outlier so far as size is concerned, has seen several deals involving, variously, the creation of an entire city in Modderfontein, the relocation of a Hisense television factory to our shores, and the latest investment of 11Bn Rand towards a new car factory in PE. So in addition to our ample resources and export market, there is now significant beneficiation of goods within the country, in an evolving relationship, all producing goods which in turn end up in the West.

India, another global leader, has taken a slightly different tack. The past decade has seen successive major investments by Asian-based entrepreneurs in the South African economy. Beginning with Lakshmi Mittal, who bought former state-owned ISCOR shortly after democracy, to create ArcelorMittal. More recently the Indian billionaire Anil Agarwal bought a substantial stake in Anglo American, a traditional dual-listed South African business, which has relocated its headquarters to London. The pattern is thus one of picking up bargains, arguably to the benefit of stakeholders. Though trade between the two countries is booming, this is often however at the cost of local clothing and textile workers.

Badness BRICS

Where trade with the two Asian economic giants of BRICS has tended to benefit South Africa. The reverse is true when it comes to Russia. Instead of buying out state-owned enterprises (SOEs) as in Mittel, relieving taxpayers of an unnecessary drain on the treasury, or simply just investing money, the Russian strategy has been instead to hijack the remaining SOEs whilst foisting projects upon us of dubious merit. In effect it is Russia which has engaged in what can only be called a form of state capture, and neocolonialism.

The proposed Rosatom nuclear deal along with its many intrigues under Malusi Gigaba is very bad for South Africa, both economically and politically. Apart from the fact that the deal will result in an unnecessary 1Trn Rand expenditure from the treasury on nuclear technology already past its sell-by-date, — bringing to a halt and seriously compromising a highly successively renewable energy programme — it will not only relieve the country of taxpayers money, but will also remove scarce foreign exchange.

If implemented the Rosatum deal would commit South Africa to paying forward for its electricity in Dollars for the next 60 years — a currency that Russia desperately needs in order to balance its own books. In effect no money is being invested by Russia as such. Instead, the country would borrow money on the open market against its forward production, in order to buy moribund technology from Russia in a similar deal already concluded with Saudi Arabia. The 'sukuk deal' financed Medupi and Kusile in this way, and albeit local technology which benefitted, the resulting finance model is no doubt to the ultimate detriment of the economy. See how Saudi money dried up.

The political problem of having one BRICS chief

Politically, both Russia and China have been an uneven, and mixed bag. Whereas, the demands of a China First policy has meant sacrificing trade partners such as Taiwan, and thus local Taiwanese communities, (so too local buddhist communities over Tibet), the belligerent Putin agenda has tended to cast a massive shadow over South Africa's foreign policy. Hence the Zuma administration silence when it comes to atrocities in Syria and the Ukraine and our increasingly frosty relations with the G8. Bear in mind that South Africa is still a member of the G20 and also the Commonwealth.

So far as Brazil is concerned, there isn't much that has been put on the table by the Cinderella nation besides the import of rubber and tires, and South Africa needs to be realistic when it comes to dealing with trade with the South American continent. If Brazil emerges from its own crisis, it might provide opportunities for trade with South Africa in the near future, especially if we can export local solutions instead of importing junk bonds.

Despite South Africa possessing the largest community of persons with Indian heritage anywhere in the world outside of India, the country has had very little influence over policy. South Africa could certainly benefit from greater cultural and scientific exchange between the two nations.

The BRICS bank dilemma

According to economist , the newly created BRICS Bank is all really an expensive illusion. It will take at least another five decades or 50 years for this institution to have any real effect insomuch as the post-Bretton Woods power-play is concerned. See Mbuyiseni Ndlozi's piece in the Daily Maverick for another take on this important issue. What South Africa desperately needs though, is not a bail-out as such, but rather a better credit line to avoid being strangled by the S&P and Fitch downgrade. A state of affairs entirely of our own making.

Unless the country is able to borrow money at reasonable interest rates, on the capital markets, much of its developmental agenda under the current government will come unstuck, while consumers in the domestic SADC economy will find themselves gradually squeezed by interest rates, which are already at historical high levels. The fallout is bound to affect the African Union, and one can only suggest we seemed to be doing a lot, lot better when the narrative was that of an exceptional, big player in our own African backyard.

The solution isn't to raise interest rates in the hope that investment from hedge fund managers in the West will pour in along with yet another gamble on local and emerging markets, or to import problems from failing states, but rather to attend to the many problems inherent to the BRICS strategy and its overall impact on the AU. This could mean China and India coughing up a lot more than simple investment dollars. It will also mean, trimming back Russian political influence, which to date has tended to outweigh all the other BRICS players combined, even if this means a major rethink, such as a retreat to a more simple BICS-AU relationship. Leaving the R out as in Rouble, could do a lot more for the Rand than maintaining a highly flawed relationship with a troubling administration, one which contradicts most of our domestic human rights outlook.
After Dalai Lama row, three Indian ministers to visit China signalling thaw in bilateral relation (После скандала с Далай-Ламой, три индийских министра посетили Китай с сигналом смягчения напряженности в двусторонних отношениях) / India, April, 2017
Keywords: International relations, China, India, Dalai Lama, One Belt One Road, politics
Author: Saibal Dasgupta

BEIJING: At least three Indian ministers including foreign minister Sushma Swarajare expected to visit China in connection with the upcoming BRICS summit in the country's Xiamen city. The visits come amid repeated Chinese warning that bilateral relationship has been badly damaged by the recent visit of the Dalai Lama to Arunachal Pradesh.

The official website of the BRICS has put up a detailed schedule of meetings by ministers of the five countries, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. As a member, India is expected to attend all the meetings at the ministerial level from June onward, sources said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to attend the final summit in September. Finance minister Arun Jaitley, Commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Power minister Piyush Goyal are expected to visit China to attend minister-level meetings of BRICS and the meeting of its financing agency, the National Development Bank, in June and July. National Security Advisor Ajit Doval is also due to attend a security related meeting of BRICS, sources said.

In fact, China is already trying to soften its tone towards India, and gradually take the focus away from the Dalai Lama controversy. China is keen to persuade India to participate in an international conference on its One Belt, One Road (OBOR) program in May, and make a success of the BRICS meetings.

Earlier, Chinese foreign ministry had accused India of encouraging the Tibetan leader to play politics in Arunachal Pradesh, which borders China's Tibet region, and threatening its core interests in Tibet. The ministry's comments on the issue was far less aggressive on Monday.

"We urge the Indian side to observe its commitment on Tibet related issues and implement our consensus namely they should not use Dalai Lama to undermine the interests of China. Only in this way can we create a good atmosphere to the settlement of the boundary question," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang, said on Monday. He reiterated that the visit will have "a negative impact for the bilateral relations and also the boundary question negotiations".

China is almost desperate to ensure Indian presence in the Belt and Road Forum, which will be attended by heads of states from 20 countries. Beijing also expects British prime minister Teressa May to attend. But most of the other attendees with be leaders of countries like Pakistan which borrow heavily from China, and depend on it to build their infrastructure. An Indian presence will give a lot of credibility to the conference.

India is reluctant to join because one section of OBOR, the China Pakistan Economic Corridor passes through Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, and threatens Indian claim over the area. New Delhi feels China is trying to legitimize Pakistani claim over the area by constructing infrastructure in the disputed area.

Sources said India is unlikely to participate in the Forum until China agrees to make a clear statement that it is not supporting Pakistani claim over the disputed PoK area. The name, China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) itself gives credibility to Pakistan's illegal control over the disputed area, Indian sources said.
'BRICS Plus' can become new integration model for world economy: EDB chief economist («БРИКС Плюс» может стать новой интеграционной моделью для мировой экономики: главный экономист ЕАБР) / China, April, 2017
Keywords: China, BRICS Plus, EDB, New Development Bank, cooperation, opinion

MOSCOW — The expansion of BRICS, known as "BRICS Plus", could become a new model of integration in the global economy, chief economist of the Eurasian Development Bank (EDB) Yaroslav Lissovolik said on Sunday.

"Integration proceeded previously as a rule on a regional basis, and BRICS offers a system of diversified integration that provides for a consistent movement towards rapprochement on different continents and in different regions of the world," he said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua, adding that the expansion of BRICS would be aimed at increasing the availability of integration processes.

According to Lissovolik, "BRICS Plus" is an important initiative "aimed not at expanding the very core of the association and including the largest developed countries, but at increasing its openness and accessibility to integration for the states of the developing world."

Earlier last month, Minister of Foreign Affairs of China Wang Yi said that China would explore expansion modalities for "BRICS Plus" and build a wider partnership by holding dialogues with other major developing countries and organizations, so as to turn Brics into the most-influential platform for South-South cooperation in the world.

Currently, the BRICS group has five member countries: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, and potential new member countries reportedly include Mexico, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

"The proposals of Minister of Foreign Affairs of China Wang Yi regarding the expansion of the BRICS partnership zone are not only timely in the light of China's presidency in BRICS, but they are also aimed at giving new impetus to integration processes in the complicated conditions of protectionism spread in the world economy," Lissovolik said.

The expert called BRICS an ideal platform for increasing the level of accessibility of integration for developing countries.

"The largest countries in the developing world - BRICS countries - are present in almost all key regions of the world, so the talk is about creating a platform for exchanging trade and investment preferences," Lisovolik said.

At the same time, he believes "BRICS Plus" system should interact with developed countries, and in this process the role of China is paramount.

"China's role here is very important, because the Silk Road project links the developing countries with the developed ones, the East and the West, so it can become one of the key chains in terms of megaprojects linking the North, South, West and East," he said.

While underlining China is becoming the world economy leader in promoting openness and integration, Lissovolik also pointed out that the mechanism of implementation and the principles of "BRICS Plus" system are not yet defined.

"The principle of openness of partnerships declared within the framework of the 'BRICS Plus' system and the role of this factor in giving greater stability to the world economic development are extremely important," Lissovolik said.

Lissovolik noted that "BRICS Plus" countries should form an alliance in key international organizations, including the WTO, in order to defend their interests and negotiate with developed countries on liberalization in trade and investment spheres.

It is noteworthy that BRICS is strongly supported by the rapprochement between Russia and China observed in recent years, Lissovolik said.

"With more active participation of other major players in the implementation of investment projects, this cooperation can lead to the formation of a powerful Eurasian belt in world geo-economics," he said.

According to Lisovolik, the New Development Bank (NDB) of BRICS would eventually solve many of the problems developing countries face, in particular those related to infrastructure development and stimulating investment cooperation between participating states.

The NDB is a multilateral development bank of BRICS countries created to mobilize resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging economies. Fully operational in 2016, the bank approved that year loans involving financial assistance of over $1.5 billion for projects in the areas of green and renewable energy, and transportation.
Country to draft job skills plan with BRICS partners (Страна разработает план навыков работы с партнерами из БРИКС) / China, April, 2017
Keywords: China, cooperation, First BRICS Employment Working Group Meeting, New Development Bank, international relations, politics
Author: Hou Liqiang in Yuxi

China plans to draft a skills-training action plan with other BRICS nations, Hao Bin, an official of the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, said on Wednesday.

The action is aimed to get rid of poverty and enhance cooperation of labor and employment research organizations so that developing countries have a greater voice in global governance.

Hao, who is the ministry's director of international cooperation, spoke at the 2017 First BRICS Employment Working Group Meeting, a preparatory meeting for a conference of labor and employment ministers of BRICS countries - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The conference will be in Chongqing in July.

"China plans to get rid of poverty and build a moderately prosperous society by 2020," Hao said. "Skills training is one of the approaches for meeting the challenging target.

"Meanwhile, poverty is also a problem for other BRICS states. We hope we can work with others to draft an initiative or action plan to lift people out of poverty with the help of skills training."

With inadequate capacity in labor and employment research, developing countries have a weak voice in global governance compared with Western countries, he said.

He said the BRICS countries need to harmonize their positions on a series of common concerns that have arisen with technological innovation - for example, the unbalanced labor structure, how to protect the rights and interests of laborers, and the sustainable development of the social security system.

Steven Kapsos, head of data production and analysis at the International Labor Organization, said, "In comparison with the rest of the world, the BRICS region has seen a much larger structural transformation since 2000, which has led to a higher share of employment in industry and an increasingly skilled workforce.

"By 2020, we project that 17 percent of BRICS workers will be in high-skilled occupations, up from around 10 percent in 2000.

"Skills and education policies must take these trends into account to ensure that workers in BRICS countries have the skills that are in demand in the labor market."

He added that the informal economy - sectors that are not taxed or monitored - is "another significant challenge" in some BRICS countries.

"Where data are available, the informal economy represents a considerable, although wide-ranging, share of the labor market."

Representatives of other BRICS nations also called for enhanced cooperation in information sharing to deal with the new situation.

Sipho Ndebele, chief director of South Africa's Department of Labor, said it's "very critical" to unify the labor market indicators - for example, how unemployment is measured - so that BRICS countries will be able to develop responses that can help solve challenges of common concern.

He said he hopes China, which has a large population and massive challenges in employment, will share its experience with other BRICS countries as references for them to respond to challenges.
Brazil-Russia agricultural trade to reach $10 billion in five years (Оборот сельскохозяйственной продукции между Бразилией и Россией за пять лет достигнет 10 млрд долларов) / Brazil, April, 2017
Keywords: Brazil, Russia, agriculture, trade

Brazilian government expressed interest in expanding meat and dairy trade with Russia over the next five years

The secretary of International Relations for Agribusiness of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply (MAPA), Odilson Ribeiro e Silva, said this Tuesday (18 April) that Brazil and Russia are working to bring bilateral agricultural trade flows from US$ 5 billion to US$ 10 billion over the next five years.

The statement was made during the 4th meeting of the Brazil-Russia Agriculture Trade Committee. Brazilian Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi will meet Russia's Deputy Agriculture Minister Evgueny Gromyko this Wednesday (19) to reinforce the Brazilian government's interest in expanding agricultural trade with Russia.

The Brazilian government has expressed its desire to expand meat (beef, pork and poultry) and dairy trade with Russia. The Russian authorities, in turn, have expressed their intention to increase exports of fish, specially cod.

Brazil has already licensed three Russian fish establishments for imports, a number Russia wishes to expand by adding 108 fisheries producers to the list of accredited exporters.

In addition to bilateral trade, the participants also discussed the granting of prelisting, i.e. when an exporting country's health authorities indicate specific exporting establishments to the importing country. They also addressed issues related to investments, scientific and technological cooperation and participation in trade shows and conferences to promote agribusiness products and increase bilateral trade.

The next meeting between the two countries will take place in 2018 in Russia
Press release on Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov's meeting with PRC Foreign Ministry Special Envoy for BRICS Wang Xiaolong (Пресс-релиз о встрече заместителя министра иностранных дел России Сергея Рябкова с спецпредставителем МИД КНР по БРИКС Ван Сяолун) / Russia, April, 2017
Keywords: China, Russia, international relations, partnership, cooperation

On April 17, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov met with PRC Foreign Ministry Special Envoy for BRICS Wang Xiaolong, who was in Moscow for consultations on Russian-Chinese BRICS cooperation.

The officials discussed priorities in consolidating the strategic partnership at BRICS, further development of the multi-faceted cooperation within the Five, and preparations for the key events during this year's Chinese presidency: the informal meeting of BRICS leaders on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hamburg in July, the BRICS Summit on September 3-5 in Xiamen (PRC), and a number of ministerial meetings.
A huge BRICS focus on skill training (Основной акцент БРИКС на профессиональное обучение) / India, April, 2017
Keywords: First BRICS Employment Working Group Meeting, New Development Bank, cooperation, international relations, politics

Brazil Russia, India, China and South Africa will collectively put together a plan aimed at skills-training that will encourage productivity and in turn, lead to a poverty alleviation.

Speaking at the First BRICS Employment Working Group Meeting held in Beijing on Wednesday, director of the Chinese Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, Hao Bin said: "China plans to get rid of poverty and build a moderately prosperous society by 2020. Skills training is one of the approaches for meeting the challenging target," reports China Daily.

"Meanwhile, poverty is also a problem for other BRICS states. We hope we can work with others to draft an initiative or action plan to lift people out of poverty with the help of skills training."

A meeting between the BRICS Labour and Employment Ministers in Chongqing, China is scheduled for July.

The with existence of the $100 billion BRICS Bank and a currency reserve fund, it was only a matter before discussions concerning labour cooperation were needed.

Russia has previously praised the International Labour Organisation bfor being instrumental in setting up the BRICS Labour Ministers forum.

Labour rights issues is a common concern among the BRICS countries, taking poverty and corruption into account.

According to BRICS Post, "unorganised workers in India constitute 93 per cent of the country's total workforce with no social security coverage, while China makes almost half of the world's goods", despite coming under fire for 'overlooking' some of the worst working conditions for its migrant workers.

South Africa has one of the highest unemployment rates in the world.

The BRICS nations make up approximately 43% of the world's population.
Investment and finance in BRICS
IMF projects GDP growth for 2017 and 2018 (МВФ прогнозирует рост ВВП Бразилии в 2017 и 2018 годах) / Brazil, April, 2017
Keywords: Brazil, GDP, economics, IMF

IMF expects Brazil to come out of recession before the end of this year. Predictions also point to gradual, moderate growth

The Brazilian economy is reacting and getting ready to grow again after two years of economic recession. The forecast is by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which is projecting 0.2% growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for Brazil this year and has revised its forecast for 2018 upwards (to between 1.5% and 1.7%).

"The gradual recovery will be supported by reduced political uncertainty, easing monetary policy, and further progress on the reform agenda", explains the "World Economic Outlook" report released by the institution on Tuesday (18).

In the document, the IMF argues that Brazil's decreasing inflation continue to surprise, making room for interest rates to drop more rapidly in the coming months. The institution predicted that Brazil will come out of recession this year, part of a gradual, moderate recovery.

In addition, the report points to the importance of economic reforms that can attack the "unsustainable" trajectory of public spending.

Citing pension reform, the IMF maintains that corrective measures in the economy are important to achieve fiscal balance in the medium term, in addition to restoring quality of life after two consecutive years of GDP contraction.
A Good Start for China's National Economy in the First Quarter of 2017 (Хороший старт для экономики Китая в первом квартале 2017 года) / China, April, 2017
Keywords: China, Domestic Policy, Economics, Statistics

Since the beginning of 2017, under the leadership of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China with General Secretary Xi Jinping as the core, people from all regions and departments implemented the arrangements made by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, adhered to the general working guideline of making progress while maintaining stability, steered the new normal in economic development with the new development philosophy, and advanced the supply-side structural reform. As positive changes kept emerging and major indicators performed better than expected, the national economy maintained the momentum of steady and sound development from the second half of last year, getting off to a good start in 2017 and laying a solid foundation for accomplishing the whole-year growth target.

According to the preliminary estimates, the gross domestic product (GDP) of China was 18,068.3 billion yuan in the first quarter of 2017, a year-on-year increase of 6.9 percent at comparable prices. The value added of the primary industry was 865.4 billion yuan, up by 3.0 percent; the secondary industry 7,000.5 billion yuan, up by 6.4 percent; and the tertiary industry 10,202.4 billion yuan, up by 7.7 percent. The GDP of the first quarter of 2017 went up by 1.3 percent on a quarter-on-quarter base.

1. Planting Structure was Optimized; Agricultural Production was Generally Stable

The planting intention survey on 110,000 rural households showed that the planting area intended for rice went down by 0.3 percent; wheat down by 0.8 percent; corn down by 4.0 percent; soja up by 8.1 percent; and cotton down by 0.7 percent. Currently, the winter wheat grew well, with the sown area of high- and medium-vigor seedlings accounting for 84.8 percent of the total. The output of pork, beef, mutton and poultry was 22.49 million tons, a year-on-year growth of 0.2 percent, among which the output of pork was 14.68 million tons, up by 0.2 percent. The number of pigs registered was 410.95 million, a year-on-year growth of 0.1 percent and 191.49 million pigs slaughtered, a year-on-year growth of 0.2 percent.

2. Growth of Industrial Production Accelerated with Profit for Enterprises Rising Rapidly.

In the first quarter, the year-on-year real growth rate of total value added of the industrial enterprises above designated size was 6.8 percent, 1.0 percentage point faster than that of the same period last year, 0.8 percentage point faster than the whole of last year. An analysis by types of ownership showed that the value added of the state holding enterprises went up by 6.2 percent year on year; collective enterprises up by 0.5 percent; share-holding enterprises up by 6.9 percent; and enterprises funded by foreign investors or investors from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan up by 6.9 percent. In terms of sectors, the value added of the mining dropped by 2.4 percent on a year-on-year base, the manufacturing grew by 7.4 percent and the production and supply of electricity, thermal power, gas and water grew by 8.9 percent. The industrial structure continued to improve. The value added of high-tech industry and equipment manufacturing industry grew by 13.4 percent and 12.0 percent year on year respectively, 6.6 percentage points and 5.2 percentage points faster than that of the industrial enterprises above designated size as a whole, 2.6 percentage points and 2.5 percentage points higher than the whole of last year. The sales-output ratio of the industrial enterprises above designated size reached 97.2 percent. In March, the total value added of the industrial enterprises above designated size went up by 7.6 percent year on year, 1.3 percentage points faster than that in the first two months of 2017, or up by 0.83 percentage point month on month.

In the first two months of 2017, the total profits made by industrial enterprises above designated size was 1,015.7 billion yuan, up by 31.5 percent year on year, 23.0 percentage points faster than the whole of last year. The profit rate from principle business of industrial enterprises above designated size was 5.92 percent, 0.8 percentage point higher than that of the same period last year.

3. Service Industry Grew Fast and Maintained Strong Expansion.

In the first quarter, the index of national services production increased by 8.3 percent year on year, 0.1 percentage point higher than that of the same period last year. Specifically, information transmission, software and information technology services, and transport, storage and postal services maintained high growth rates. The growth rates of wholesale and retail trade and accommodation and catering trade picked up considerably. In March, the index of national services production increased by 8.3 percent year on year, 0.1 percentage point faster than that of the first two months, and same as that of the same period last year.

In March, the business activity index for services was 54.2 percent, 1.0 percentage point higher than that of February, 1.1 percentage points higher than that of the same month last year, continuing the expansion trend. Specifically, the business activity index for sectors like retail trade, air transport, postal services, internet and software information technology services, monetary and financial services, capital market services, and insurance all kept within the expansion range of over 55 percent.

4. The Investment in Fixed Assets Grew Steadily and the Floor Space of Commercial Buildings for Sale Continued to Decrease.

In the first quarter, the investment in fixed assets (excluding rural households) was 9,377.7 billion yuan, a year-on-year growth of 9.2 percent, 1.1 percentage points faster than the whole of last year, 0.3 percentage point faster that than in the first two months of 2017. Specifically, the investment by the state holding enterprises reached 3,308.7 billion yuan, a rise of 13.6 percent; private investment reached 5,731.3 billion yuan, up by 7.7 percent, 1.0 percentage point faster than that in the first two months, accounting for 61.1 percent of the total investment. The investment in the primary industry was 233.5 billion yuan, up by 19.8 percent year on year; the secondary industry 3,509.4 billion yuan, up by 4.2 percent, among which the investment in manufacturing was 2,932.5 billion yuan, up by 5.8 percent; and the tertiary industry 5,634.9 billion yuan, an increase of 12.2 percent. The investment in infrastructure was 1,899.7 billion yuan, an increase of 23.5 percent. The investment in high-tech industry increased by 22.6 percent, 13.4 percentage points faster than the total investment. The funds in place for investment in fixed assets in the first quarter were 10,608.1 billion yuan, down by 2.9 percent, 5.1 percentage points less than that in the first two months. The total investment in newly-started projects was 6,201.5 billion yuan, a drop of 6.5 percent year on year. In March, investment in fixed assets (excluding rural households) grew by 0.87 percent month on month.

The total investment in real estate development in the first quarter was 1,929.2 billion yuan, a year-on-year growth of 9.1 percent, 2.2 percentage points faster than last year, and 0.2 percentage point faster than the first two months. In particular, the investment in residential buildings went up by 11.2 percent. The floor space started was 315.60 million square meters, up by 11.6 percent year on year. Specifically, the floor space of residential buildings newly started went up by 18.1 percent. The floor space of commercial buildings sold was 290.35 million square meters, up by 19.5 percent. The floor space of residential buildings sold was up by 16.9 percent. The total sales of commercial buildings were 2,318.2 billion yuan, a growth of 25.1 percent. Specifically, the sales of residential buildings were up by 20.2 percent. The land space purchased for real estate development was 37.82 million square meters, up by 5.7 percent year on year. By the end of March, the floor space of commercial buildings for sale was 688.10 million square meters, 17.45 million square meters less than that at the end of February. The funds in place for real estate development enterprises in the first quarter reached 3,566.6 billion yuan, up by 11.5 percent year on year.

5. Market Sales Maintained Stable and Online Retailing Grew Fast.

In the first quarter, the total retail sales of consumer goods reached 8,582.3 billion yuan, a year-on-year rise of 10.0 percent, 0.4 percentage point less than the whole of last year. Specifically, the retail sales of the enterprises above the designated size stood at 3,746.0 billion yuan, up by 7.9 percent. Analyzed by different areas, the retail sales in urban areas reached 7,339.8 billion yuan, up by 9.7 percent, and the retail sales in rural areas stood at 1,242.6 billion yuan, up by 11.9 percent. Grouped by consumption patterns, the income of catering trade was 919.6 billion yuan, up by 10.8 percent; and the retail sales of goods were 7,662.7 billion yuan, up by 9.9 percent. In particular, the retail sales of the enterprises above designated size reached 3,524.8 billion yuan, an increase of 7.9 percent. Upgraded consumer goods grew fast. The retail sales of cultural and office goods went up by 14.8 percent; communication equipments up by 11.0 percent; sports and recreational articles up by 17.3 percent; furniture up by 12.6 percent, and building and decoration materials up by 14.8 percent. In March, the total retail sales of consumer goods rose by 10.9 percent year on year, 1.4 percentage points faster than the first two months, an increase of 0.84 percent month on month

In the first quarter, the online retail sales reached 1,404.5 billion yuan, a year-on-year growth of 32.1 percent, among which the online retail sales of physical goods were 1,067.4 billion yuan, an increase of 25.8 percent, accounting for 12.4 percent of the total retail sales, a year-on-year increase of 1.8 percentage points.

6. Total Value of Imports and Exports Increased Rapidly with Improved Structure of Foreign Trade.

The total value of imports and exports in the first quarter of 2017 was 6,198.6 billion yuan, an increase of 21.8 percent year on year, while that of the whole of last year went down by 0.9 percent. The total value of exports was 3,326.8 billion yuan, up by 14.8 percent; the total value of imports was 2,871.8 billion yuan, an increase of 31.1 percent. The trade balance was 454.9 billion yuan in surplus. The percentage of general trade increased. In the first quarter, the import and export of general trade increased by 23.2 percent, accounting for 56.2 percent of the total value of the imports and exports, an increase of 0.6 percentage point compared with the same period last year. The export of mechanical and electronic products still took the lead. In the first quarter, the export of mechanical and electronic products increased by 15.1 percent, accounting for 58.1 percent of the total value of exports. The imports from and exports to some countries along the Belt and Road went up. In the first quarter, the exports to Russia, Pakistan, Poland, Kazakhstan and India increased by 37.0 percent, 18.7 percent, 19 percent, 69.3 percent and 27.7 percent. In March, the total value of imports and exports was 2,314.2 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 24.2 percent. The total value of exports was 1,239.3 billion yuan, up by 22.3 percent, and the total value of imports was 1,074.9 billion yuan, up by 26.3 percent.

In the first quarter, the export delivery value of industrial enterprises above designated size reached 2,794.6 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 10.3 percent. In March, the export delivery value of industrial enterprises above designated size reached 1,073.7 billion yuan, up by 12.9 percent.

7. The Consumer Price Increased Mildly and the Increase of Industrial Product Price Slowed Down.

In the first quarter, the consumer price went up by 1.4 percent year on year, 0.7 percentage point less than the same period of last year. Specifically, the price went up by 1.5 percent in the urban areas and 1.1 percent in the rural areas. Grouped by commodity categories, prices for food, tobacco and alcohol went down by 0.8 percent year on year; clothing up by 1.2 percent; housing up by 2.4 percent; articles and services for daily use up by 0.6 percent; transportation and communication up by 2.0 percent; education, culture and recreation up by 2.5 percent; medical services and health care up by 5.1 percent; other articles and services up by 3.6 percent. In terms of food, tobacco and alcohol prices, prices for grain went up by 1.3 percent, pork up by 0.9 percent, fresh vegetables down by 18.8 percent. In March, the year-on-year consumer prices were up by 0.9 percent, 0.1 percentage point more than that of February and down by 0.3 percent month on month.

In the first quarter, the producer prices for industrial products went up by 7.4 percent year on year, while that of the same period last year went down by 4.8 percent. In March, the producer prices for industrial products went up by 7.6 percent year on year, 0.2 percentage point less than that in February. In the first quarter, the purchasing price for industrial producers was up by 9.4 percent year on year; In March the price went up by 10.0 percent year on year, and 0.5 percent month on month.

8. Residents' Income Grew in Line with the Economic Development and Rural-Urban Disparity Continued to Narrow Down.

In the first quarter of 2017, the national per capita disposable income was 7,184 yuan, a nominal growth of 8.5 percent year on year or a real growth of 7.0 percent after deducting price factors. The growth rate of income was 0.1 percentage point higher than that of GDP. In terms of usual residence, the per capita disposable income of the urban residents was 9,986 yuan, a real growth of 6.3 percent after deducting price factors. The per capita disposable income of the rural residents was 3,880 yuan, up by 7.2 percent in real terms. The per capita income of the urban residents was 2.57 times of that of the rural residents, 0.02 less than the same period last year. The median of the national per capita disposable income was 6,067 yuan, a nominal increase of 6.7 percent. The per capita expenditure nationwide was 4,796 yuan, a nominal increase of 7.7 percent, or 6.2 percent after deducting price factors. By the end of February, the number of rural migrant workers was 172.53 million, which was 4.54 million more than the same period last year, or up by 2.7 percent. The monthly income of migrant workers was 3,482 yuan, a year-on-year increase of 6.4 percent.

9. The Supply-Side Structural Reform was Intensified and the Economic Structure was Further Optimized.

Efforts of cutting overcapacity, reducing inventory, deleveraging, lowering costs and strengthening weak links have made new progress. In the first quarter, the capacity utilization rate of industrial enterprises above designated size was 75.8 percent, 2.0 percentage points higher than that in the fourth quarter of 2016. The output of coal decreased by 0.3 percent year on year. At the end of March, the floor space of commercial buildings for sale decreased by 6.4 percent year on year, 3.2 percentage points more than that at the end of last year. The asset-liability ratio and cost of industrial enterprises both decreased. At the end of February, the asset-liability ratio of the industrial enterprises above designated size was 56.2 percent, 0.6 percentage point less than the same period last year. For the first two months, the cost for per-hundred-yuan turnover of principle business of the industrial enterprises above designated size was 84.91 yuan, 0.28 yuan less year on year. The investment in weak areas grew rapidly. In the first quarter, the investment in the management of ecological protection and treatment of environment pollution, management of public facilities, agriculture and management of water conservancy increased by 48.1 percent, 27.4 percent, 24.6 percent and 18.3 percent respectively, or 38.9 percentage points, 18.2 percentage points, 15.4 percentage points and 9.1 percentage points higher than the total investment.

The industrial structure continued to be optimized. In the first quarter, the value added of the tertiary industry accounted for 56.5 percent of GDP, 17.8 percentage points higher than that of the secondary industry. The demand structure was further improved. In the first quarter, the final consumption expenditure's contribution to GDP was 77.2 percent. New driving forces grew fast. In the first quarter, the value added of strategic and emerging industries went up by 10.3 percent year on year, 3.5 percentage points faster than that of the industries enterprises above designated size. Energy conservation and consumption reduction have achieve stable progress. In the first quarter, the energy consumption per unit of GDP dropped by 3.8 percent year on year.

Generally speaking, the national economy in the first quarter has maintained the momentum of steady and sound development. Economic growth rate picked up slightly; structural adjustment was continued; innovation and development gathered speed; people's livelihood was improved steadily and effectively; positive factors were accumulated; all showing a good start of the national economy. However, we should also be aware that the conditions are still complicated abroad, that the structural contradictions are prominent at home, and that the momentum of stable but progressing economy should be further consolidated. Next step, we should rally closely around the CPC Central Committee with General Secretary Xi Jinping as the core, put in practice the guiding principles of the Central Economic Work Conference and the arrangements made in the Report on the Work of the Government, stick to the general working guideline of making progress while maintaining stability, implement the new development philosophy, insist on the mainline of supply-side structure reform, appropriately expand the aggregate demand, effectively shape social expectations, strengthen the role of innovation in driving development, "roll up our sleeves to work harder", so as to sustain the good momentum for a steady and sound development of national economy.
Electronic visas to inject R$ 1.4 billion in the economy (Электронные визы принесут 1,4 млрд. реалов в экономику) / Brazil, April, 2017
Keywords: Brazil, visas, economics, investments and finance, tourism

Special system for visa issuance, initially valid for US, Canada, Australia and Japan will contribute to boost international tourism and the Brazilian economy in two years

Tourists coming from the US, Canada, Australia and Japan will have an easier time requesting entry into Brazil as of the end of 2017. The entire visa process (application, payment of fees, analysis, granting and issuance) for visitors from these countries will be doable online, and concluded within an estimated 48 hours.

This easier application process, part of the Tourism+ Brazil Plan launched last week by the Ministry of Tourism, will bring a major boost to the sector. With this measure, the forecast is that the facilitated entry will inject R$ 1.4 billion in the economy in two years.

For the Embratur president, Vinicius Lummertz, the visa requirement is the most important barrier for the growth of foreign tourism in any country.

"Today, tourism accounts for about 9% of Brazil's GDP (Gross Domestic Product). Numbers from the WTTC (World Travel and Tourism Council) indicate that countries may experience 5% to 25% growth in tourism revenue by reducing entry visa requirements", Lummertz explained.

According to the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), the facilitation of travel can generate up to 20% increases in flows between destinations.

Largest sources of tourists

The measure primarily affects those four countries, considered strategic due to the number of tourists and travel spending they generate. In 2016, 849,000 tourists from the U.S, Canada, Australia and Japan came to Brazil – or 15% of the total 6.6 million foreign tourists who visited the country last year. They spent R$ 539 million in the Brazilian economy.

During the Olympic and Paralympic Games, Brazil issued a temporary waiver in the diplomatic policy of reciprocity for travellers from these four countries. The experience saw a 55.31% increase in the number of foreigners from the beneficiary countries over the same period in 2015.

According to a survey by the Ministry of Tourism, 82% these tourists said that the visa waiver would facilitate their return to Brazil.

Visa Policy

Brazil's visa policy is based on the principle of reciprocity. This means that persons from the US, Canada, Australia and Japan, countries that require visas of Brazilian citizens for entry into their territories, will also need authorisation to travel to Brazil.

The electronic visa aims to facilitate the entry of these tourists into Brazilian territory. Subsequently, Brazil expects the initiative to be extended to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, India and China. Currently, Brazil has bilateral agreements for visa exemption with about 90 countries.
Over 90% of tourism entrepreneurs intend to expand investments (Более 90% туристических предпринимателей намерены расширить инвестиции) / Brazil, April, 2017
Keywords: Tourism, Brazil, investments and finance, economics, business

Survey by the Ministry of Tourism shows the 80 largest companies in the sector expect an average 6.2% increase in revenue growth

Almost 90% of entrepreneurs in the tourism sector are likely to expand investments in the area. That is the conclusion of the Annual Tourism Economic Outlook Survey (Pacet), commissioned by the Ministry of Tourism to the Getulio Vargas Foundation (FGV).

In the air transport, car rental and tour operator segments, all respondents said they will make investments. Expectations are also high in the lodging and accommodation (94%), event organising (82%) and travel agency (82%) segments.

For 81% of respondents, the expectation is for growth, supported by the perspective of resumed economic growth and increased number of Brazilians travelling in the country. According to the study, 14% of respondents believe revenue will stagnate, and only 5% think the market will contract. The survey heard representatives from the 80 largest tourism companies in the country.

"The results show that tourism is an activity with major potential to contribute to the improvement of the country's economic scenario at this delicate moment. At the Ministry of Tourism, we are working hard to provide the best business environment and help attract investments to the industry," said Tourism Minister Marx Beltrão.

Last week, his Ministry launched Tourism+ Brazil, a package of measures to reduce bureaucracy in the sector and help create jobs and income through tourism.


Respondents claimed to be planning to spend an average 6.2% of revenue to make investments in 2017. The car rental segment averaged the highest rate of investment (23.8%), followed by event organising (8.7%) and the lodging and accommodation sector (8.2%).

As for consolidated revenues, the expectation is for 7.4% growth compared to 2016. The most positive scenarios were identified in the tour operator (14.5%), car rental (12.8%) and travel agency (11.5%) segments.

Against a high unemployment backdrop, the good news is that the labour market is expected to present small growth of 0.2%, with highlight to the event organising (4.7%), travel agency (2.3%) and air transport (1%) sectors. Aiming to leverage this scenario, the Ministry of Tourism has just launched a new e-learning technology platform (Brasil Braços Abertos, or "Brazil with Open Arms"), with 80 hours of online classes.

Last year, the surveyed segments saw a small growth of 0.3%. The best results were observed in the event organising (18.6%), car rental (6.2%) and lodging and accommodation (5.1%) segments.

As for the work force, the number of workers decreased by 5.9%, with the largest downsizes in travel agencies (17.8%) and tour operators (11.2%).
China Q1 GDP increased 6.9% from a year earlier (ВВП Китая за первый квартал увеличился на 6,9%) / China, April, 2017
Keywords: China, Economics, NBS, Investments, GDP

China's economy posted a forecast-beating growth rate in the first quarter of 2017, with GDP up 6.9 per cent from a year ago, official data showed Monday.

The reading, the quickest increase in 18 months, was above the full-year target of 6.5 per cent and the 6.8-per cent increase registered in the fourth quarter of 2016, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

GDP reached 18.07 trillion yuan ($2.63 trillion) in the January-March period.

NBS spokesperson Mao Shengyong said the economy had achieved a rosy start this year, during Monday's conference.

"Generally speaking, the national economy has continued with stable and sound momentum in the first quarter as growth rebounded moderately and economic adjustment was steadily promoted," Mao said.

GDP was up 1.3 per cent on a quarter-on-quarter basis.

Beside the headline figures, other major indicators also showed a resilient economy.

The value-added industrial output expanded 6.8 per cent year on year in the first quarter, compared with the 5.8-per cent increase in the same period a year ago, and the fixed-asset investment grew 9.2 per cent, quickening from the 8.1 per cent registered in the whole 2016.

"China's economic structure is improving and new momentum is gathering," Mao said.

The service sector rose 7.7 per cent year on year in the first quarter, outpacing a 3-per cent increase in agriculture and 6.4 per cent in the secondary industry. It accounted for 56.5 per cent of the overall economy.

Consumption, another significant driver of economic growth, contributed to 77.2 per cent of the GDP increase in the first quarter.

China added 3.34 million new jobs in the first quarter, according to NBS data.

Mao believes the Q1 data shows that China has laid a solid foundation to realize its full-year economic target.

The government trimmed this year's growth goal to around 6.5 percent last month from a range of 6.5 to 7 per cent for 2016, a move expected to provide more wiggle room for reforms.

The world's second largest economy rose 6.7 per cent year on year in 2016, the weakest annual expansion in 26 years but still an enviable pace around the globe.
IMF raises Brazil 2018 growth forecast (МВФ повысил прогноз роста Бразилии в 2018 году) / India, April, 2017
Keywords: Brazil, economics, recession, IMF

Brazilian Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles has hailed recent economic activity data as a sign that the country is solidly moving out of recession.

The Central Bank's IBC-Br index rose 1.31 per cent in February, the bank said Monday.

It also revised January economic activity up 0.62 per cent.

Meirelles says the latest data indicates the Brazilian economy will show
"meaningful growth rate" by the end of 2017.

The minister's optimism comes less than a week after the Central Bank announced it would cut the benchmark Selic interest rate by 100 base points to 11.25 per cent – the most severe cut in nearly eight years.

Analysts expect the Bank to continue its monetary easing approach until 2018 whereby the rate falls to between 8 and 8.5 per cent.

The monetary easing policy is expected to boost consumer demand by offering cheaper credit and encouraging foreign investors to inject funds in the country.

The Central Bank is also hoping that Brazil's runaway inflation rate continues to fall.

The International Monetary Fund believes this boosts the potential for the economy – which has contracted a total of 8 per cent since 2014 – toward a more robust recovery.

The IMF on Tuesday revised up its 2018 GDP growth from 1.5 to 1.7 per cent

The new data and IMF outlook mark a significant turnaround from two months ago when the national statistics agency showed unemployment worsening despite the government's efforts to put the country back on the business track.

The news that 12.9 million of 102 million in the workforce are unemployed, according to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), may be slightly offset by the fact that inflation rates are slowly falling.

Last year, it hit 10.7 per cent but has lately started to decline coming close to the desired 4.5 – 6.5 per cent rate range.

Official government data released in January showed that consumer prices in 2016 rose by just 6.29 per cent, well within the Central Bank's range.

The economy in 2016 contracted by about three per cent as the worst recession in nearly a century continues to challenge hopes of a recovery.

But for this year, the economy will probably grow less than 1 per cent some analysts expect.
World of work
Social policy, trade unions, actions
Filmmaker Madur Bhandarkar to represent India at BRICS Summit this year (Кинорежиссер Мадхер Бхандаркар представит Индию на Саммите БРИКС в этом году) / India, April, 2017
Keywords: BRICS Film Festival, China, India, filmmaking
Author: Rashmi Shrivastava

For the upcoming BRICS Film Festival, to be held in China this June, five filmmakers from India, China, Russia, Brazil and South Africa are coming together to make five, 18-minute shorts on the theme, `Where has the time gone', that will be screened as a full length feature film. The five-day festival is aimed at offering a platform to members of film industries from the aforementioned countries to explore areas of cooperation in cinema, culture and cuisine.

National award winning Madhur Bhandarkar will represent India, alongside globally-feted storytellers, Brazilian Walter Salles (The Motorcycle Diaries fame), Chinese director-screenwriter Jia Zhangke, Russian storyteller Aleksey Fedorchenko and South African filmmaker Jahmil XT Qubeka.

Chinese director Jia Zhangke will work as executive producer to put all 5 short films on the same theme, together to make a feature film that will release in China in September followed by other countries.

Madhur who is currently working on the script for his short film says, "I am excited about being a part of a project with senior filmmakers whose work I have revered."

The theme this year 'Where has the time gone' talks about the hurried and busy lifestyle that the current generation has and how there is no time for family and friends the way it used to be when there were no gadgets.

Madhur's next film Indu Sarkar starring Kirti Kulhari about a stammering poetess that has the backdrop of emergency declared during Indira Gandhi Govt. is slated to release on 21 July this year.
The BRICS Bank needs a bold and participatory strategy for sustainable development (Банку БРИКС необходима смелая и основанная на участии стратегия устойчивого развития) / Brazil, April, 2017
Keywords: New Development Bank, Annual meeting, Economics, opinion
Author: Juana Kweitel, Ana Toni, Gretchen Gordon

The NDB has up until now operated largely in the dark, with little to no transparency about proposed projects or real engagement with civil society.

This month, the BRICS New Development Bank (NDB) concluded its second Annual Meeting, under the theme of "Building a Sustainable Future". Now that the NDB is up and running and issuing financing for development projects, a key question on the minds of those watching the bank, is what is the NDB's strategy for sustainable development?

The NDB, launched by the governments of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa in 2015, began slowly and cautiously with several small-scale energy projects in each of the BRICS countries. The institution is now eying larger infrastructure investments as it sets ambitious targets to expand country membership, move into the private sector, and double lending annually.

As the NDB finalizes a five-year strategy to chart the institution's future course, it still remains for now the new kid on the block, with only 10 billion USD in available capital as compared to its much larger sister, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank with 57 founding members and subscribed capital of 100 billion USD. If it is to make its mark it will be from how it does development finance, not how much development finance it does.

The NDB was created with an aspiration of promoting transformative infrastructure and sustainable development through South-South cooperation. And in that regard, it has adopted some interesting innovations, such as lending in local currency. In its Social and Environmental Framework, the NDB sets forth some interesting core principles, including inclusive and sustainable development, climate change, and gender equality. Yet to make this vision a reality will require a clear strategy that includes bold investment targets and clear sustainability criteria for project selection and evaluation.

Sustainable development is no easy mission and it doesn't happen without a clear plan. The NDB needs to take conscious steps to avoid the trap of the development banks that have gone before it – financing ill-conceived mega-infrastructure or extractive energy projects that may be a boon to a few corporate elites, but do not actually serve national development. In many cases these projects have actually exacerbated the "underdevelopment" of the Global South – stripping away productive resources and natural capital, while increasing poverty.

Born at the same time as the Paris Agreement on Climate, the NDB must use that agreement as its guiding principle. In this way, to be truly environmentally sustainable, the NDB must make a bold commitment to prioritize low-carbon, resource efficient, clean technologies that limit pollution, support climate mitigation, and protect biodiversity and critical habitats. The NDB should prioritize investment in appropriate-scale infrastructure and renewable energy projects, such as wind and solar, which often have less access to financing. It should refrain from investing in fossil fuels or large-scale hydropower projects that bring significant adverse impacts for the climate as well as for the health and livelihoods of local communities. In this way the NDB could strategically position itself as leverage for developing countries to access the large amounts of global climate finance and to position themselves as a solution to climate change and the future of a decarbonized economy.

Regarding social sustainability, the NDB must enact strong standards and undertake due diligence to avoid adverse impacts, such as forced evictions or labor abuses, that often come with traditional infrastructure development. To actually be a force for development, NDB will need to explicitly prioritize pro-poor, transformative investments that address inequality and exclusion. Projects should be gender-responsive, appropriate scale solutions that increase access to affordable, quality, goods and services, especially for the extreme poor and the most marginalized populations. This means looking at innovations in social infrastructure such as housing, education, and health and sanitation facilities, as well as off-grid solutions to promote affordable energy access to underserved populations.

Most importantly, the NDB needs a sustainable modus operandi. That means promoting public participation in development processes and being accountable to those who will be impacted by its financing – those who ideally should be the beneficiaries of development. The NDB has up until now operated largely in the dark, with little to no transparency about proposed projects or real engagement with civil society. To operate sustainably and ensure that projects actually meet local development needs, the NDB must develop formal mechanisms for meaningful consultation with and participation of affected communities and civil society groups in project design and implementation as well as policy and strategy development. The NDB will also need an effective accountability mechanism to resolve complaints from local communities.

Charting a direction for a development bank that is truly new and sustainable is not easy. It will require the NDB to be both bold in its commitment to social and environmental sustainability and inclusive in its execution.
Why China Could be a Game Changer for Global Health (Почему Китай может изменить ход игры для глобального здравоохранения) / China, April, 2017
Keywords: China, healthcare, WHO, G20
Author: Charlotte Röhren

With its growing international integration, China is becoming a major actor in global health issues.

Many of today's greatest risks to global health originate in China. The latest outbreak of avian flu has claimed more than 160 lives since October 2016, triggering memories of earlier pandemics like SARS. The virus H7N9 has not yet spread to other countries, but according to international health authorities, it does have pandemic potential. According to Lloyd Risk Assessment, seven out of 20 cities most at risk of initiating a human pandemic are located in China, with an estimated GDP of $80 billion at risk for those seven cities.

As the world's biggest consumer of human and animal antibiotics, China, whose health system is notorious for the over-prescription of antibiotics, also poses an increasing threat of spreading antimicrobial resistance. Antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria have become one of the biggest health concerns of our era, triggering urgent warnings from the World Health Organization (WHO).

China is not only a source of many serious global health problems, however. Increasingly, it also offers solutions. China was one of the first countries to provide a significant amount of financial, technical, and human resources to the three African countries that were affected by the Ebola outbreak in 2014. China's quick and decisive response to this crisis was an important milestone in its growing integration in global health governance.

Beijing has furthermore pushed health cooperation more broadly as part of its foreign policy outreach. Since 2011, the BRICS Health Ministers have held annual meetings to discuss their cooperation, with China's active participation. China-African health and medical cooperation is widely seen as a success story and a symbol of Beijing's growing role as a provider of South-South support. So far, there have been six roundtables and two Ministerial Forums on China-Africa Health Development, involving 40 African countries as well as representatives from the African Union, WHO, and UNAIDS. This January, China and the WHO signed a Memorandum of Understanding on health issues within China's Belt and Road Initiative, which aims to revive maritime and land trade routes between China and Europe. The MoU deals with health emergencies and with the certification of Chinese medicines and vaccines.

Yet, compared to China's international economic and political weight, as well as to the relevance of the health issues at stake, China is not sufficiently engaged in multilateral global health governance. China's financial and technical contributions to the core funding of the WHO in relation to its GDP is far below the recommended share of 0.1 percent of GDP and also significantly below that of other BRICS countries. Apart from that, Beijing has not shown strong commitment to recent global health initiatives such as the Coalition of Epidemic Preparedness Innovation (CEPI), which was initiated at the 2017 World Economic Forum in Davos. The initiative supports the development of vaccines to prevent outbreaks like Ebola.

As host country for the G20 Summit in Hangzhou last year, China missed the opportunity to prioritize global health issues. The topic was almost completely absent from the agenda, and only the persistence of countries like Germany led to a discussion and a mention of the threat of rising antimicrobial resistance in the communiqué.

The German G20 presidency has now announced that global health will be a key deliverable of the Hamburg summit. To this end, the G20 Health Working Group has started its work last December and the first G20 Health Ministers' Meeting will be held in May in Berlin.

It is in China's own interest to engage in these discussions and related initiatives. The Chinese representative to the G20 Health Working Group will need a strong mandate to participate in global health initiatives. Beijing can also send a strong signal by scaling up its financial and technical contributions to the WHO and other UN organizations dealing with global health issues.

China has a lot to gain from taking a more active role. Not only would its own population benefit from improving the safety net against global health threats, but China could also reap economic and reputational benefits from more engagement. China is already the largest producer of the frontline antimalarial drug artemisinin as well as the main producer of active pharmaceutical ingredients for Africa's HIV medicines. Hence, the Chinese economy could benefit from rising exports of healthcare and pharmaceuticals. A stronger role in global health would also improve China's image as a leading power willing to shoulder international responsibility.

Traditional donor countries would certainly welcome stronger Chinese involvement as an opportunity to share responsibilities toward Africa and the wider global South. They could also benefit from information sharing with China, which increasingly faces similar challenges as industrialized countries, for example when it comes to adjusting its health system to demographic change.

The biggest beneficiaries of a greater Chinese role would be people and communities with limited access to healthcare and low levels of preparedness for pandemics and other infections. Ensuring their health and well-being would be in line with the third of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals. Due to China's size and relevance, Beijing's increased engagement could be a game changer for global health.

Charlotte Röhren contributed to the Research Program on Foreign Relations and International Security at the Mercator Institute for China Studies from January to March 2017. She is currently studying for her MA in International Relations in Berlin and Potsdam after completing her BA in Chinese, Development Studies and Economics at SOAS, University of London, and Beijing National University.
BRICS Film Festival, Which will be Held in China this June (Кинофестиваль стран БРИКС пройдет в Китае в июне этого года) / India, April, 2017
Keywords: Film Festival, China, world of work

The upcoming BRICS Film Festival, which will be held in China this June, will have five filmmakers from India, China, Russia, Brazil and South Africa come together to make five, 18-minute shorts on the theme, 'Where has the time gone', which will be screened as an anthology. The five-day festival is organised to offer a platform to members of film industries from the above countries to explore areas of co-operation in cinema, culture and cuisine, reports Mumbai Mirror.

And so, Madhur Bhandarkar will represent India, alongside globally renowned filmmakers like Brazilian Walter Salles of The Motorcycle Diaries fame, Chinese director-screenwriter Jia Zhangke, Russian storyteller Aleksey Fedorchenko and South African filmmaker Jahmil XT Qubeka.

Madhur who should finalise the script by next week reveals that it is a human interest story and told the tabloid, "I am excited about being a part of a project with senior filmmakers whose work I have revered. It's a challenging theme."

He added that after the premiere on June 21, the film will have a theatrical release in China in September, followed by other countries. "I will make sure that I keep a show in India too," said Bhandarkar.
The first BRICS Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting in 2017 held in Baden-Baden, Germany (Первые встречи министров финансов стран БРИКС и Совета управляющих Центрального банка в 2017 году состоялись в Баден-Бадене, Германия) / India, April, 2017
Keywords: meeting, world of work, cooperation, China, Germany

The first BRICS Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting under the Chinese Chairmanship was held in Baden-Baden, Germany on March 17th. The Meeting was co-chaired by Mr. XIAO Jie, Finance Minister of China and Mr. ZHOU Xiaochuan, Governor of the People's Bank of China. Finance ministers and central bank governors from BRICS countries, and the President of the New Development Bank attended the Meeting and discussed various issues including macroeconomic situation and policies, coordination of G20 financial issues and financial cooperation among the BRICS members, and agreed on the work program for this year.

The participants appreciated the leading role the Chinese Chairmanship played in advancing the BRICS financial cooperation and welcomed the financial cooperation proposals presented by the Chinese Chairmanship. They also affirmed their support to China's hosting of the BRICS FMCBG Meetings in 2017 and a successful Xiamen Summit.

28 heads of state, leaders to attend Belt & Road summit in Beijing (28 глав государств, лидеры примут участие в саммите «Один пояс, один путь» в Пекине) / China, April, 2017
Keywords: One Belt One Road, China, cooperation, international relations, world of work

28 heads of state and government leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, have confirmed they will attend the Belt and Road summit in Beijing on May 14-15.

On Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Chinese President Xi Jinping will host the round table summit of the leaders. Dubbed 'One Belt, One Road,' the plan is to revive an ancient trading route stretching from Asia to Europe.

Beijing and Moscow have also indicated they have reached consensus on integrating China's ambitious One Belt One Road plan with Russia's Eurasian Economic Union.

The Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation will be held from May 14 to 15 in Beijing.

"China has invested more than 50 billion U.S. dollars in countries along the Belt and Road since proposing the initiative in 2013," He Lifeng, head of the National Development and Reform Commission, said in early March.

China's One Belt, One Road initiative aims to create a modern Silk Road Economic Belt and a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road to boost trade and extend its global influence.
The ancient Silk Road connected China and Europe from around 100 B.C.

The 6,000-km road linked ancient Chinese, Indian, Babylonian, Arabic, Greek and Roman civilizations.

A map unveiled by state agency Xinhua shows the Chinese plans for the Silk Road run through Central China to the northern Xinjiang from where it travels through Central Asia entering Kazakhstan and onto Iraq, Iran, Syria and then Istanbul in Turkey from where it runs across Europe cutting across Germany, Netherlands and Italy.

The maritime Silk Road begins in China's Fujian and ends at Venice, Italy.

The network would include building railways, highways, oil and gas pipelines, power grids, Internet networks, maritime and other infrastructure links.

In 2014, China announced a $40 billion Silk Road Fund to strengthen connectivity in the Asia-Pacific region.

After the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the Silk Road could be the second China-led project in recent months to attract a flurry of EU participation.

China's President Xi Jinping said earlier that he hoped its annual trade with the countries involved in Beijing's plan to create a modern Silk Road would surpass $2.5 trillion in a decade.
Made on