Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 44.2019
2019.10.28 — 2019.11.03
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Premier Li meets South African deputy president (Премьер-министр Ли встретился с заместителем президента Южной Африки) / China, October, 2019
Keywords: top_level_meeting

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang meets with South African Deputy President David Mabuza at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, Oct. 29, 2019. (Xinhua/Ding Haitao)
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang met with South African Deputy President David Mabuza Tuesday in Beijing, calling on the two sides to promote bilateral relations for new development.

Noting that South Africa is an important African country, Li said the continued development of bilateral relations is beneficial to China-Africa cooperation.

China is ready to work with South Africa to consolidate mutual political trust and promote practical cooperation and people-to-people exchanges to push for new development in bilateral relations, he said.

"Both China and South Africa are developing countries and have broad common interests," said Li, adding that China stands ready to work with South Africa to closely communicate and coordinate in international and regional affairs and enhance cooperation in multilateral mechanisms such as the UN and BRICS, to jointly safeguard developing countries' interests and maintain regional and world peace.

Mabuza, who is on an official visit to China and will co-chair the seventh plenary session of the China-South Africa Bi-National Commission with his Chinese counterpart, offered his congratulations for the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.

He thanked China for its long-standing support for South Africa and African countries' development and conveyed his admiration for China's great development achievements.

Mabuza said his country is willing to learn from China's development experience, deepen practical cooperation across the board with China and push bilateral relations to reach a new level.
South Africa and China meet to review bilateral political and economic relations (Южная Африка и Китай встречаются для обзора двусторонних политических и экономических отношений) / South Africa, October, 2019
Keywords: top_level_meeting, cooperation
South Africa

The Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms Candith Mashego-Dlamini, participated in the 10th South Africa-China Strategic Dialogue, in conjunction with the Sixth Meeting of the Sub-Committee on Foreign Affairs, which was hosted by the Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China, Mr CHEN Xiaodong, on 30 October 2019, in Beijing, China.

The Strategic Dialogue was established in 2008 and is one of several structured bilateral mechanisms between South Africa and China. The Strategic Dialogue specifically provides a platform for the review of bilateral political and economic relations between the two countries.

The Deputy Ministers also discussed the preparations for the 7th South Africa-China Bi-National Commission, which will take place in Beijing, on 31 October 2019.

The Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, has expressed her satisfaction with progress made under the South Africa-China Strategic Dialogue. China is one of South Africa's top trading partners and the two countries are engaged in discussions on various key issues which fall within the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

The Strategic Dialogue further provided an opportunity for the two principals to discuss cooperation in multilateral for a, such as the United Nations, the G20, and BRICS, among others.

Deputy Minister Mashego-Dlamini also congratulated China on the 70th Anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.

Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
African Development Bank, New Development Bank Partner to Deliver Life-changing Projects for Millions of Africans (Африканский Банк Развития, новый партнер НБР для реализации жизненно важных проектов для миллионов африканцев) / China, October, 2019
Keywords: ndb, concluded_agreements, economic_challenges, investments

Washington, D.C. October 28, 2019 − The African Development Bank and the New Development Bank have signed an agreement to promote new impact projects to improve lives of millions of Africans.

Under the deal, the New Development Bank − a multilateral development bank established by BRICS countries of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – will work with the African Development Bank to jointly identify, prepare and co-finance projects in countries of mutual interest.

The two institutions signed a Memorandum of Understanding agreement on 18 October, on the sidelines of the World Bank annual meetings, formalizing the partnership and general cooperation between them.

"Through this cooperation, we will realize our shared objectives of promoting economic and social development, and deliver sustainable development and infrastructure projects at scale that change the lives of millions," African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina said, following the signing.

Projects to be targeted cut across clean energy, transport infrastructure, irrigation, water resource management and sanitation, sustainable urban development, and economic cooperation and integration.

"This MoU creates a platform for sharing knowledge and deepening synergies between the African Development and NDB. The two banks will consider each other as 'preferred' partners and will harness their respective resource advantages and professional expertise, to build a long-term, stable and mutually beneficial relationship," K.V. Kamath, President of the New Development Bank, said.

About New Development Bank

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

About African Development Bank

The African Development Bank is a multilateral development bank established to contribute to the sustainable economic development and social progress of its regional members individually and jointly, thus contributing to poverty reduction. AfDB is committed to scaling up investment and implementation of its Ten Year Strategy 2013–2022 by zeroing in on five priority operational areas: Light up and Power Africa, Feed Africa, Industrialize Africa, Integrate Africa and Improve the Quality of Life for the People of Africa.

South African Deputy President Mr. David Mabuza Pays Courtesy Visit to NDB (Заместитель президента Южной Африки г-н Дэвид Мабуза совершил визит вежливости в НБР) / China, November, 2019
Keywords: ndb, cooperation, top_level_meeting

South African Deputy President Mr. David Mabuza led a high level delegation on a visit to the New Development Bank (NDB) headquarters in Shanghai, China on November 01, 2019. Deputy President Mabuza was welcomed by NDB Vice President & CFO Mr. Leslie Maasdorp and met with NDB President Mr. K.V. Kamath, to discuss issues including the Bank's projects in South Africa.

Deputy President Mabuza had a one on one meeting with Mr. Kamath, followed by a high level meeting with the Bank's Vice-Presidents, and the South African delegation.

"The coming into full operation of the bank and the growth of the portfolio of projects that it funds is encouraging. It is living up to the vision that the leaders of the BRICS member countries of ensuring that inclusive growth and development is realised as part of the South South Cooperation," said Deputy President Mabuza.

Deputy President Mabuza implored the leadership of the Bank to be resolute in execution of its mandate and to build a lasting institution. For this to be achieved, the Bank would require long term planning and discipline in implementation. He further called on the bank to continue on its drive for diversification of its staff, including gender inclusivity and in bringing on board of young talent to its ranks.

Addressing the event, Mr. Kamath made reference to the Bank's regional office in Johannesburg, which was opened for business in 2017. "The Africa Regional Centre is fully operational, and it has helped the NDB make progress in South Africa. Our regional office undertakes a growing range of work, beginning with project identification and preparation," stated Mr. Kamath.

He indicated that the opening of a regional center makes a difference, as seen in South Africa, and that the Bank would use learnings from ARC in other member countries of the NDB.

Mr. Kamath stated the Bank has a very strong pipeline of projects from South Africa. Currently, the Bank's portfolio of approved projects from South Africa has 7 projects with loans aggregating to the equivalent of USD 1.9 bln, namely:

  • 4 projects with USD-denominated loans aggregating to USD 1.16 bln
  • 3 projects with ZAR-denominated loans aggregating to ZAR 11.35 bln
In April 2019, the NDB hosted its 4th Annual Meeting in Cape Town South Africa where the Bank announced it would be ramping up operations in South Africa and strengthening its project pipeline in the country. The Bank is fully committed to bridging the infrastructure gap in South Africa, supporting projects tailored to the country's needs and fully respecting its development priorities and strategies.

South African projects approved in 2019 are:

The high level South African delegation included Ms. C. Mashego-Dlamini, Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation; Ms. M. Sotyu, Deputy Minister Environment, Forestry and Fisheries; Mr. F. Majola, Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry; Ambassador A. Sooklal, Deputy Director-General: Asia and Middle East, and Mr. Paul Mashatile, the Treasurer-General of the governing party.

The Deputy President also had an opportunity to meet with the Bank's South African staff.

Background Information

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

Payments linkage by China, Russia and India can challenge SWIFT hegemony (Связь платежей между Китаем, Россией и Индией может бросить вызов гегемонии SWIFT) / China, October, 2019
Keywords: economic_challenges, cooperation

An alternative to the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) global payment system, which is being drawn up by China, Russia and India, has a fair chance to end the dominance of the US dollar in the global financial sector, Chinese analysts said Tuesday.

Russian news outlet RT reported Monday that China, Russia and India are working on an alternative to SWIFT that would connect an eye-catching 3 billion people in the three BRICS emerging economies.

Huang Qifan, a former mayor of Southwest China's Chongqing Municipality with a reputation of being a financial expert, on Monday openly blasted SWIFT, saying that it - along with the Clearing House Interbank Payments System (CHIPS) - is being degraded into a financial tool of US long-arm jurisdiction and global hegemony.

SWIFT is an interbank, nonprofit cooperative organization that provides transaction clearance services for its member banks. SWIFT takes strictly neutral positions. However, the US has great influence on the organization, to the point that it is capable of controlling SWIFT, industry observers said.

CHIPS is an important component of SWIFT, as well as the key method for converting payments into the US dollar, processing transactions, and making electronic payment transfers and clearances. CHIPS deals with cash flows, while SWIFT is for information communication.

Huang is seen as the architect of the miracle of Southwest China's Chongqing, the nation's fourth provincial-level municipality, which had a record run of double-digit economic growth. He said at the Shanghai Bund Summit that SWIFT is out of date, inefficient and extremely expensive.

According to RT, Russia, India, and China aim to connect their financial messaging systems to bypass SWIFT.

Russia's financial messaging system SPFS will be linked with China's Cross-border Interbank Payment System (CIPS). India plans to combine the Central Bank of Russia's platform with a domestic service that is under development.

Iran, which is under US sanctions, also seeks to develop a joint alternative to SWIFT.

Experts said that Russia's boundless energy supplies, China's huge consumer base and India's young population may be a magic formula to form a viable alternative to SWIFT. They also noted that it will be part of the effort to dismantle US global financial hegemony.

Zhou Yu, director of international finance under the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, said that a connectivity program among the three countries' respective systems is a better way to augment influence in cross-border trading than building up that influence bit by bit over time.

Zhou said the effects of a linkage among systems is like the merger of two bourses -- and much faster in building up influence.

"Given the likelihood of the trade war morphing into a financial war or currency war, China also feels more than ever the urgency of beefing up its financial independence and sovereignty," Zhou told the Global Times on Tuesday.

This effort could also expedite the yuan's internationalization.

Media reports said in June that Chinese banks are also under the threat of US financial crackdowns.

Global efforts

Globally, several countries including Venezuela, Iran and Russia are working on ways to bypass US hegemony in the financial sector, after the US used SWIFT to carry out its sanctions.

The US is trying to dictate its rules and conditions to other states in the world through trade, tariff and sanctions pressure, said Igor Sechin, CEO of Rosneft, one of the world's largest oil companies.

Rosneft ditched US-dollar payment for its oil exports on, switching to the euro, the company announced on October 24.

Sechin said that financial monopolies can and should be resisted, and that the share of the yuan in cross-border settlement can increase from the current 2-5 percent to a more significant value in 10 years as the role of the Chinese economy grows, according to a press release Rosneft sent to the Global Times on October 25.

"Creating an alternate SWIFT arrangement for Russia's, China's and India's monetary transfers will allow them to set up a more modern and locally grounded arrangement. It will also provide them with autonomy from a singular system that makes these three subservient to Western-controlled financial transactions," Swaran Singh, an Asian expert at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Singh said that India supports the creation of alternate financial governance systems, such as a BRICS reserve currency pool and more recently, a credit-rating agency.

Arduous task

Zhu Jiejin, an international relations professor at Fudan University who follows BRICS developments, highlighted the difficulties in the drive to see SWIFT move from its central role in the global financial system into one of many alternatives.

"The drive will be extremely difficult, if not to say utterly impossible," Zhu said, noting that conflicts of interest among member countries in such an arrangement may ground the initiative.

SA-China strengthen trade, investment cooperation (ЮАР и Китай укрепят торговое, инвестиционное сотрудничество) / South Africa, November, 2019
Keywords: top_level_meeting, concluded_agreements, trade_relations, investments
South Africa

Deputy President David Mabuza arrived in Shanghai, China, on Friday for the trade and investment leg of the 7th South Africa–China Bi-National Commission (BNC).

The Deputy President is on a working visit to China to strengthen the South–South co-operation and the already existing bilateral, political and economic relations between South Africa and China.

This year, the two countries celebrate the 21st anniversary of their diplomatic relations, cemented on the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Agreement that was signed in 2010.

The Agreement prioritised, amongst others, improving the structure of trade between South Africa and China by working towards a more balanced trade profile and encouraging trade in value-added manufactured products such as wool, chemical wood pulp and copper.

Currently, South Africa has a total of about 26 companies investing in China with a capital expenditure of R88 billion between January 2003 and August 2019.

China on the other hand has a total of 88 companies investing in South Africa with a capital expenditure of R116 billion over the same period.

"Whereas South Africa and China enjoy solid economic relations, we are determined to increase the amount of trade and investment between the two countries particularly in the areas of agricultural produce, value-added goods, technology and investment in infrastructure development among others.
"China remains our largest trading partner and we believe both our countries have much to benefit from this partnership," said Deputy President Mabuza.

During his time in Shanghai, the Deputy President is scheduled to engage with close to 100 business leaders and representatives at the China-SA Business Forum.

The Deputy President will use the engagement to assure business leaders of the increased ease of doing business in South Africa as well as the many incentives adopted by the South African Government to enable more direct foreign investment.

Deputy President Mabuza will also officially open the South Africa Import Pavilion at the Greenland Global Community Trading Hub, which allows tangible access from all over the world to buy more South African products and thus promote more trade and investment.

Furthermore, Mabuza will hold a bilateral meeting with the President of the New Development Bank otherwise known as the BRICS Bank, whose Headquarters are in Shanghai, as well as meet with South African senior officials who are in the employ of the Bank.

The Deputy President will be accompanied by the Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Candith Mashego-Dlamini, Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Fikile Majola, Deputy Minister Maggie Sotyu of the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, as well as senior government officials. –
S. African companies to showcase products at 2nd CIIE in Shanghai (Южноафриканские компании представят свою продукцию на втором CIIE в Шанхае) / China, October, 2019
Keywords: economic_challenges, trade_relations

JOHANNESBURG, Oct. 29 (Xinhua) -- South African companies will showcase their products in the second China International Import Expo (CIIE) next week where they hope to penetrate the Chinese market, said a South African government official on Tuesday.

South Africa's Deputy Minister of the Department of Trade Industry and Economic Development Nomalungelo Gina said the event will give the companies an opportunity to increase their footprint in China.

"Our continuous participation in the CIIE will contribute significantly in helping us to increase the export of value-added products to China. There are concerted measures underway to promote value-added goods and services by broadening the export base and increasing South Africa's market share in China," said Gina.

She stated that the country's participation will contribute in strengthening both political and economic bilateral relations between South Africa and China.

"As a fellow member of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), participating in exhibitions like these will boost intra-BRICS trade and investment," said Gina.

She noted that China wants to import products and services valued at more than 10 trillion U.S. dollars and this present an opportunity to enter the huge Chinese market.

Gina said the annual CIIE is an international public platform provided by the Chinese government for all the countries in the world to discuss major issues of foreign trade, world economy and global economic governance.

China will host the second CIIE in Shanghai on Nov.5-10.

New World Disorder. Who to Blame and What to Do (Новый Мировой Беспорядок. Кто виноват и что делать) / Russia, October, 2019
Keywords: economic_challenges, expert_opinion

Poverty, hunger, collapses in the foreign exchange market, world crises – all these phenomena still plague modern society. The increase in labour productivity, robotisation, and achievements in modern science have not managed to eradicate socio-economic problems. RANEPA experts weigh in on how to narrow the development gap between countries.

Raw Patch in Global Economy

Today, economic growth and prosperity are hindered by the tense situation in the world – information wars, sanctions, an arms race. According to experts at RANEPA (Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration ), international organisations (G20, International Monetary Fund, BRICS) cannot cope with the current problems at hand including the growth of inequality, a digital development gap between countries, an increase in public and private debt, negative human impact on the environment and increased competition in energy and new technologies.

It would seem that there are already quite a lot of problems, but, countries continue to hamper global economic development, aggressively defending their national interests. Sanctions and counter-sanctions imposed by states against each other and their support by third countries, often contrary to their own national interests, lead to limited global economic growth.

Financial globalisation (interdependence) also remains a serious challenge. It leads to crisis phenomena occurring in large developed countries and rapidly spreading around the world. Thus, the leading position of the dollar in the international market led to the global financial and economic crisis in 2008 when US real estate prices plummeted.

Policy of Egoism

According to experts, productive cooperation is hindered by the economic policies of leading developed countries (primarily the United States), which introduce instability to the global economy. The United States has "excessive privilege" as an issuer of international currency, and is least vulnerable to crises.

Any economic actions by the United States, even within the country, will have an impact on the global community. Thus, US protectionist policy, restricting the import of goods to protect the interests of local producers, affects other countries' exports. Businesses lose major customers and profits, and this results in growing geopolitical tensions which complicate the process of bridging economic gaps between countries.

Protectionism is a policy of "egoism" in the global market. And this is not the best solution in the context of financial globalisation; we can recall the Great Depression and the global crisis of the 1930s when countries tried to solve their problems individually by closing borders and introducing duties on the import of goods.

"No country can overcome the accumulated problems on its own; there is no alternative to multilateralism. The G20 remains the main forum for international economic cooperation, the hub of global network governance, including key international organisations and members of informal institutions, (the G8/G7 and BRICS, the oldest club of developed industrial economies and the youngest club of the largest developing countries)", Marina Larionova, Director of the Center for International Institutions Research (CIIR), Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA), said. Economic Balance: Utopia or Reality?

It's necessary to combine the efforts of economically developed and developing countries to solve problems.

Experts say it is crucial to complete the reform of the International Monetary Fund and develop a new formula for calculating quotas or member state votes. It is necessary to redistribute votes in favour of emerging markets and developing countries and implement a gradual transition from one reserve currency to several.

RANEPA researchers believe the proposal to create a supranational reserve currency is still relevant. The concentration of trade and financial transactions in several currencies make the world economy vulnerable to possible adverse scenarios in the economies of the states that issue these currencies.

Other tasks that demand a collective solution include; fighting against base erosion, developing tax rules to govern the digital economy, creating mechanisms and rules to regulate financial markets, accounting for the emergence of new technologies and digital currencies, and harmonising multilateral trade agreements in the field of electronic commerce.

Nevertheless, experts say that the growth of geopolitical tensions makes it extremely challenging to bridge the gap between the principle of national sovereignty and the need for a supranational institute to manage the global economy.

"The ideas of Keynes, Triffin, Camdessus and Stiglitz on the creation of a global (supranational) reserve centre/bank or empowering the IMF with such competencies will be considered utopic at least until the next global crisis. Hopefully, the G20, which still retains confidence, will be able to use its potential to transform the global economic management system, but to do this, developed and developing countries need to combine their efforts and abandon the principle of club loyalty", Marina Larionova noted.
De-Dollarisation: BRICS Financial Messaging System to Boost Trade in Local Currencies - Analyst(Дедолларизация: система финансовых сообщений БРИКС для стимулирования торговли в местных валютах - аналитик) / Russia, October, 2019
Keywords: economic_challenges, expert_opinion

New Delhi (Sputnik): Financial messaging systems help to securely communicate, reconcile, and manage the data in transactions within and between banks, both locally and internationally.

Three members of the BRICS (association of emerging economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) trade bloc, Russia, India, and China, have decided to connect their financial messaging systems to bypass SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Finance Telecommunication), an international money transfer network.

Reports say Russia's financial messaging system SPFS (System for Transfer of Financial Messages) will be linked with the Chinese Cross-border Interbank Payment System (CIPS). While India does not have a domestic financial messaging system yet, it plans to combine the Central Bank of Russia's platform with a domestic service that is in development.

Russia has been developing SPFS in sync with various new mechanisms, such as BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), New Development Bank (NDB), and the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), as a supplement to the existing governance mechanisms.

"The fact remains that the establishment of these mechanisms is the outcome of the Bretton Woods System that has been on shaky grounds after the 2008-09 financial crisis as well as the Euro crisis. The protectionist tendencies along with weaponising economic sanctions by some on the others will certainly force countries to shift to other mechanisms", Professor B.R. Deepak, trained in Chinese history and India-China relations at Peking University and Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, explains. Reflecting on the potential benefits that India may enjoy by joining the Russian financial messaging system, Deepak says: "As far as India is concerned, it joining the new system may work well as far as trading in local currencies is concerned. However, to replace the transactions in dollars outside the bloc would be difficult as most of its trade is outside the BRICS bloc".

The new system may hide India's transactions from the US, but the deals may not go unnoticed, therefore, the fear of sanctions will still loom, he says.

Indian banks have also been the victim of frauds due to the misuse of SWIFT. The Punjab National Bank (PNB) suffered a fraud of $1.77 billion, as SWIFT was allegedly manipulated by PNB employees to let diamond merchant Nirav Modi channel money illegally.

About the new system being secure from such transactions, Deepak says that the scope of fraud remains, unless complete transparency and honesty is in place.
Why You Shouldn't Buy BRICS Funds Anymore (Почему вы не должны больше покупать фонды БРИКС) / USA, October, 2019
Keywords: expert_opinion, economic_challenges

BRICS are more important now than when the concept was coined two decades ago, but only thanks to outperformers China and India. Investors should look no further for growth.

The BRICS grouping of nations has captured the public imagination since first identified and set apart at the start of this century. These were five of the most exciting economies and markets in the world, countries that offered investors the prospect of above average returns for sustained periods of time.

But BRICS makes no sense in 2019. That's the implication of a new report to that effect from Standard & Poor's.


Simply put, the Asian BRICS nations (China and India) have been too good. Or the others have been too bad.

Either way, the five countries no longer share more similarities than differences. Investors would be better off focusing on China and India alone, or emerging markets in general, rather than buying any BRICS-focused funds.

There were of course only four nations in the original BRIC designation, as formulated by the then-Goldman Sachs economist Jim O'Neill. South Africa became the fifth nation at the end of 2010 on the invitation of the others, having long lobbied to get in.

The leaders of the BRICS nations formalized the grouping when they began meeting together, as they did for the first time in 2009. They went on to form the Shanghai-based New Development Bank to fund projects in the various countries.

The combined economic performance of the BRICS nations since 2001 justifies the halo of optimism that surrounded them as a concept. But it comes from two members rather than the grouping as a whole.

"Both China and India have maintained stable pro-growth economic policies for two decades, despite their very different political systems, and have gained a larger role in the world economy," primary credit analyst Joydeep Mukherji and the S&P research team write in their report. "In contrast, the comparatively poor long-term performance of the other three countries has diminished their global economic role."

The size of the BRICS relative to the world as a whole has in fact shrunk. The five nations made up 45% of world population in 2001; that has fallen to 42% as of 2018.

China and India have outperformed global growth since the BRICS concept formed. But Brazil, Russia and South Africa have underperformed the global average since then.

The five nations accounted for 18.7% of the world economy at the start of this century. The figure is now 32.7%, one-third of the world's economy in those five countries. But China and India alone make up 26.5% of world economic activity, or one-quarter. China has risen from 7.4% to 18.7% of global economic activity; India has climbed from 4.2% to 7.8%.

India is the poorest of the BRICS countries, with per-capita GDP of only US$1,923 per year, and annual income of around the same. But it has been the most-stable economically as a nation. Its credit rating was upgraded twice by S&P and has been steady since the financial crisis.

Despite any change in administration, India has pursued investor-friendly development strategies. These have sustained investor confidence and ensured persistently high growth. India has in 2019 surrendered and then recaptured pole position as the world's fastest-growing major economy, its 5.6% growth forecast for this calendar year due to rebound to 6.8% in 2020, according to Oxford Economics, and remain above 6.0% for the better part of the next decade.

China, with greater central control and a history of massaging the data, is due to see growth fall below 6.0% in 2020, to 5.7%, from 6.1% for this year. Its US$13 trillion economy can't increase at a breakneck pace anymore, although both India and China should be supported by rapid increases in consumer spending and the domestic economy.

One-party China has none of the democratic "distractions" experienced in the other BRICS nations. Regardless of the leader, the Communist Party dictatorship has maintained broad continuity and predictability in its economic policy, S&P notes.

Brazil and Russia have been far more volatile. In Brazil, periods of economic stress have been interspersed with business friendly, financially responsible governments such as that of now-imprisoned ex-president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Lower commodity prices fed into policy mistakes made by former president Dilma Rousseff, and there's been a period of policy paralysis since that has done Brazil few favors.

Russia has been the most-unpredictable BRICS performer. It had a good run from 2000 through 2006, featuring strong industry and good oversight of public finances. High oil prices also helped.

The Russian economy was hit hard after the financial crisis in the West, contracting almost 8% in 2009. It also entered recession in 2014-15, as commodity prices took a turn for the worse. Oil and gas revenues alone still make up more than half of Russian exports. Now, despite a relatively stable patch in the economy, geopolitical tensions and sanctions raise the risk of further instability.

South Africa initially justified its ascension to the BRICS, with strong pre-financial crisis growth. But its economy contracted 1.5% in 2009, eked out narrow gains in the two-year period after that, and has now had a run since 2015 of declining GDP per capita. Poor economic performance has exacerbated poor government management of assets such as the power company Eskom, which currently can't keep the lights on nationwide. The huge debt ladled on the electricity company even drags down South Africa's sovereign credit rating.

Prospects look sunnier under current President Cyril Ramaphosa, who has come from a very successful career in the private sector to deliver some real-world ruthlessness in curbing government largesse. This year the South African economy will be near-flat, with growth of only 0.3%, according to Oxford Economics, but it should be close to 1% the year after and 2% and above from 2022 out.

Brazil and South Africa have not lived up to the economic aspirations that underpinned the concept of the BRICS nations, in the eyes of S&P. Brazil is actually, and surprisingly, less important to the world now than it was two decades ago. South Africa has struggled to shake the shackles of corruption and ineptitude in public circles. Russia has structural problems outside the energy sector and a volatile economy, coupled with a lack of imagination from its centralized decision making.

Investors in search of the optimism and turbo-charged growth that first dusted the BRICS with magic powder need look no further than China and India to find those attributes. The BRICS as a whole don't function as they should; two decades after they were formed, it's time to disband the concept in the public consciousness. It's to Asia that investors should turn for better prospects.
'BRICS' Is About Geopolitics, Not Economics («БРИКС» - это геополитика, а не экономика) / USA, October, 2019
Keywords: expert_opinion, economic_challenges, political_issues
Author: Leonid Bershidsky

S&P says the acronym no longer makes much financial sense. But the idea is more politically relevant than ever.

BRICS, one of the most powerful concepts to emerge in political economy this century, makes little sense today, S&P Global Ratings said in an emailed note last week. But even if that's true for economic analysis, the acronym coined by Goldman Sachs analyst Jim O'Neill has predicted the current geopolitical reality, which isn't served well by 20th century institutions.

The acronym stands for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, the latter a late addition that wasn't in O'Neill's original 2001 paper or its 2003 sequel (which used "BRICs," as a plural). Both reports predicted that the first four of the non-Western economies eventually would account for a much bigger share of global economic output, overtaking large European economies, and told investors they'd be wrong to miss the opportunity to get involved in this global shift.

The idea often has been dismissed as a marketing tool, a way to put a flashy label on something no one could have missed, namely the growth of the big emerging economies. Those who see it that way could feel vindicated by the S&P note's suggestion that "the diverging long-term economic trajectory of the five countries weakens the analytical value of viewing the BRICS as a coherent economic grouping."

But, like many other serendipitous ideas, O'Neill's has been transformed by the way the world has changed since the early 2000s. It doesn't really matter that the BRICS aren't growing at the same pace. They're still all playing major roles in reshaping the world.

As the S&P note correctly points out, putting the five countries in the same basket economically is increasingly questionable. India and China have consistently exceeded the rating firm's growth predictions since the turn of the century. Russia and South Africa have failed to meet them since about 2005, Brazil since 2010. Of course, the five nations have greatly increased their combined economic heft since the turn of the century — but only thanks to China and India. Brazil, Russia and South Africa's shares of global output have actually shrunk since 2000.

Uneven BRICS

The combined share of BRICS countries in global economic output, taking into account purchasing power parity, has increased thanks to China and India

As the five countries' economic models and policies have diverged, so did the paths of their credit ratings. China's went up four rungs on the S&P ladder to A+, while the others never got that high: Russia and India are five steps below today, and South Africa and Brazil seven and eight below, respectively.

This divergence suggests that O'Neill made a mistake in betting on the future champions. He could have gone with Indonesia and Vietnam instead of Brazil and Russia (acronym VICI, "I conquered" in Latin) and then someone could have added Nigeria (VINCI, as in, you know, Leonardo da Vinci) — and it would have made more sense in terms of growth trajectories, while the combined share of global output would have remained the same at 32.6%.

Vietnam, India, Nigeria, Indonesia and China have the same combined share of global economic output, taking into account purchasing power parity, as the BRICS countries

That, however, wouldn't have captured the geopolitical reality as well as the BRICS concept does. Responding to criticism of his brainchild, O'Neill has pointed out that his 2001 paper was meant to question the adequacy of the contemporary global economic governance system. Indeed, he suggested clearing the European spots in the G-7 for some of the emerging powers; Germany, France and Italy could share one seat as euro area members. The resulting group, O'Neill argued, would better reflect the changing economic setup.

That, of course, never happened. But emerging economies did gain more power when it comes to global government. The G-20 is arguably a more effective body today than the G-7. At any rate, far-reaching changes in global tax regimes are being discussed in the larger forum, while the G-7 lately has been unable to agree on much at all.

The BRICS countries, meanwhile, have turned out to be a valuable support group for each other. Their leaders hold a summit every year (next month, they're scheduled to meet in Brazil). Devoid of access to the top jobs in international financial organizations and development institutions, which still nearly always go to Westerners, they've set up the New Development Bank to finance infrastructure projects in the developing world. Voting rights in it aren't weighted by the size of the countries' economies. Four years after starting operations, it has a $10.2 billion loan book; that's relatively small, but the NDB is one of the word's biggest multilateral development banks by paid-in capital.

If one considers O'Neill's original idea a marketing device, it appears to have worked better on BRICS leaders than on international investors, who have long since noticed the differences in growth patterns. Not coincidentally, four of these leaders are the world's top authoritarians, the people most eager for an alternative to the global dominance of the U.S.: Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin, Jair Bolsonaro and Narendra Modi. Are they impressed by an acronym an analyst thought up 18 years ago or are they drawn together by something stronger than that?

Economic power, of course, is hugely important in international relations, but it's not the only reason countries are powerful. Russia's military strength and risk appetite make it a global player despite a moribund economy that's stifled by authoritarian rule. Brazil and South Africa are leading regional powers no matter how they mismanage their economic affairs. That's why the S&P note mentions BRICS' "political salience" even as it puts in doubt the concept's value to a credit analyst.

These nations — as well as other populous and often economically dynamic countries in Africa and Asia — are still, like in 2001, outsiders in the global financial system. That is still run by the U.S. and Europe, to a greater degree than their shrinking share of global output would appear to warrant.

Losing Their Edge

The U.S. and the EU account for a shrinking share of global economic output, taking into account purchasing power parity

In that sense, O'Neill's old idea is still highly relevant. If he failed to predict exactly which countries would outperform on growth, he had the right idea about developing nations' quest for a bigger role in global decision-making. That quest continues, regardless of which letters can be added to the original acronym, and which taken out of it, based purely on economic growth.
Political Events
Political events in the public life of BRICS
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's answer to a question from Vremya news show on Channel One regarding the 90th birth anniversary of Yevgeny Primakov, Moscow, October 29, 2019 (Ответ на вопрос Министра иностранных дел Российской Федерации С.В.Лаврова для программы «Время» на «Первом канале» к 90-летию со дня рождения Е.М.Примакова, Москва, 29 октября 2019 года) / Russia, October, 2019
Keywords: sergey_lavrov, quotation

Question: What did Yevgeny Primakov contribute to Russia's foreign policy?

Sergey Lavrov: We have been often accused recently of turning away from the West and towards the East. Yevgeny Primakov was appointed foreign minister after we had turned away from everyone excluding the West in the first half of the 1990s. Moreover, we looked upon the West as petitioners asking it to give us a place in the world that was presented as the triumph of liberal democracy and the end of history. According to Francis Fukuyama, the end of history meant that the Western world, or the collective West, has no and cannot have any rivals. Yevgeny Primakov assumed office at a time when our relations with nearly all other countries were chilled. He had to act in constrained conditions marked exclusively by pro-Western inertia. As a visionary, he knew that a policy can only be sustainable if it takes modern day realities into account. He predicted the realities of a multipolar world with new centres of economic growth, financial might and, consequently, political influence.

These centres have appeared. A multipolar world has become an objective reality that is taking shape right before our very own eyes. This historical process will take a long time, but Yevgeny Primakov foretold it at a time when the rise of this reality was not at all obvious to many others. He started implementing this idea by proposing cooperation within the Russia-India-China (RIC) triangle. This format was created and is still effective up to this day. This year, the RIC foreign ministers held their 16th meeting.

RIC was the forerunner of a more advanced and novel format, BRICS. When five countries from different continents promote common approaches to the global economy and politics, it is the embodiment of multipolarity and multipolar diplomacy. This alone has added Primakov's name to global history. Moreover, the foreign policy principles he formulated alongside the concept of multipolarity have since then constituted the basis of Russia's foreign policy concept, including its autumn 2016 edition. These principles imply, first of all, the defence of national interests without resorting to confrontation; pragmatism; and a multidirectional policy, which suggests readiness to cooperate with any country around the world if there is reciprocal willingness based on mutual respect, equality and a balance of interests. These are seemingly simple things, but they really do work. If we rely on these principles, we will attain the result that meets the interests of your state, your country and your nation.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's remarks at the meeting of the IMEMO RAS Academic Council, on the 90th birth anniversary of Yevgeny Primakov, Moscow, October 28, 2019 (Выступление Министра иностранных дел Российской Федерации С.В.Лаврова на заседании Ученого Совета ИМЭМО РАН, посвященном 90-летию Е.М.Примакова, Москва, 28 октября 2019 года) / Russia, October, 2019
Keywords: sergey_lavrov, speech

Mr Dynkin,

Ms Primakova,


I am happy to have this opportunity to speak at the meeting of the IMEMO RAS Academic Council, on the 90th birth anniversary of Academician Yevgeny Primakov, an outstanding statesman, diplomat and scientist. At present, the holding of many events linked with this date is nearing completion. The pinnacle event is scheduled for tomorrow. This is the unveiling of a monument to Yevgeny Primakov in the square outside the Foreign Ministry.

I would like to use this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to IMEMO RAS and its leaders for their careful and respectful attitude towards the memory of Yevgeny Primakov, for their efforts to preserve and popularise his legacy. Our current meeting is a graphic evidence of this. I will also mention the Primakov Readings which Alexander Dynkin, President of IMEMO RAS, has already spoken about. They are held every year. They really gather the renowned experts in international relations from Russia and abroad and are a venue for very interesting debates on the most pressing issues of our time.

Many of those present were lucky not only to be acquainted with Mr Primakov but also to work under his leadership. I am one of them. I think it would be correct to say that the majority of those who worked with Mr Primakov at one time or another consider him their genuine teacher. This is no surprise. He was a personality of global dimensions, and his activities were diverse and all-embracing. Mr Primakov was only guided by the interests of our homeland and brilliantly coped with the most difficult tasks in every assignment he was given. Mr Dynkin gave us some examples today. He won immutable authority of our citizens who highly valued his professional and personal qualities. He made a priceless contribution to the consolidation of Russian statehood and the promotion of Russia's position in the world. It is with good reason that President of Russia Vladimir Putin called Mr Primakov "a great citizen of Russia."

As far as I know, Mr Primakov's intelligence and scientific work will also be discussed today. I see representatives of our intelligence and scientific circles here, those who worked with Mr Primakov. I would like to speak in more detail about his diplomatic experience. His arrival at Smolenskaya Square in January 1996 took place at a very difficult time when Russia was facing a host of grievous internal and external problems. Many people in the world believed that after the collapse of the USSR the bipolar system was over for good, having been replaced by the unipolar system with a decision-making centre in Washington. To recall Francis Fukuyama, they saw this as the end of history.

Back then, Primakov was one of the few who managed, as they say, to "get a glimpse beyond the horizon" and to predict the evolution of the world order towards multipolarity implying a multiplicity of power centres and development models. I don't think I need to tell this audience in detail that life has proved the correctness of his assessments. The world is changing right before our eyes, and is becoming more diverse and democratic. New growth centres continue to strengthen their positions and to achieve impressive results relying on the principles of independence, state sovereignty and cultural and civilisational identity. Associations based on collegiality, mutual respect and consideration for each other's interests rather than the discipline of the rod are becoming more authoritative and influential. The G20 is one of them, even though the West was forced to create it after it realised that neither the G7 nor the G8 were capable of resolving every issues, since the key states of Asia, Latin America and Africa were not represented there. BRICS and the SCO, that is, the organisations where our country is an active member, are also on that list.

Yevgeny Primakov resolutely rejected the policy of following in the wake of the "historical West" led by Washington, as was often the case in the first half of the 1990s. When Mr Primakov became head of the Foreign Ministry, he quickly and clearly articulated and put into practice conceptual foreign policy principles which Russian diplomacy continues to rely on today. I don't remember him telling us to write down things that were absolutely necessary in the left column, and things that the Foreign Ministry will never do in the right column. I don't think he filled out the right column when working in intelligence, either. In any case, he formulated principles which included a multi-vector approach, independence, autonomy and pragmatism. These provisions are included in every edition of the Concept of Russia's Foreign Policy and remain the main strategic benchmark in our routine work.

Mr Primakov focused a lot on CIS policy, all the more so as he personally knew many of the leaders of the newly independent states. He was well aware of all the ramifications of the disintegration of the Soviet Union, in which he was born and matured and became a statesman. So, he strongly advocated the preservation of centuries-old and all-encompassing ties uniting our peoples.

His multi-format and "multi-speed" efforts to expand and augment intra-CIS integration collaboration (but always under the principles of equality, mutual respect and consideration for each other's interests) received wide acclaim. The Treaty on Establishing the Community of Russia and Belarus that evolved into the Union State under a 1999 treaty was the first step during this multi-speed and multi-format integration.

Time has proven the correctness of the line of this multi-speed and multi-format movement on post-Soviet space. Today, associations like the Union State, the Eurasian Economic Union, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation and the CIS have asserted themselves as very important elements of stability and security in the Eurasian region. For example, I would like to note expanded intra-EAEU collaboration where we have managed to come a long way over a short time period – from the elimination of customs barriers to establishing a common goods, services, capital and workforce market, even though with some difficulties which still persist and which reflect each participant's desire to obtain the maximum possible economic benefits. Meanwhile, the agenda looks years ahead into the future, including formation of a common energy resources market.

The expanded foreign ties of this integration policy highlight its successful nature. Several dozen countries and sub-regional associations ranging from Asia and Latin America to Africa are interested in talks on concluding free trade agreements with the EAEU. Some have been signed and are entering into force.

Work continues on merging the Eurasian Economic Union with China's Belt and Road Initiative. All this creates conditions for the initiative to forge a Greater Eurasian Partnership, as suggested by President of Russia Vladimir Putin, that would involve the EAEU, the SCO and ASEAN member countries, as well as any other countries on our enormous Eurasian continent.

Yevgeny Primakov, who was guided by the logic of multi-polarity, made a substantial contribution to expanding cooperation with the countries of the Asia Pacific region, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America. It was he who suggested launching trilateral collaboration in the Russia-India-China (RIC) triangle, which was also mentioned by Mr Dynkin today. This time-tested format continues to develop. In February, China hosted the 16th meeting of the Russian, Indian and Chinese foreign ministers. RIC ministers of economics, social and cultural-humanitarian sectors also meet. There are plans to hold Russian-Indian-Chinese cultural-humanitarian festivals and to cooperate in the area of television broadcasting. Russia, India and China are a time-tested triangle that facilitated the creation of BRICS. As I see it, BRICS now ranks among the most important pillars of the emerging polycentric system and is a model of multipolar diplomacy. The five main continents are represented, and all we have to do is include Australia in BRICS, but this can be accomplished in the next stage.

Mr Primakov always focused his efforts on firmly upholding the national interests of Russia. That said, he never pursued a confrontational approach. He persistently explained that a strong Russia (the goal of his policy) must not be seen as a threat. He managed to move towards a multi-directional foreign policy without damaging Russia's diplomatic efforts in the West. He adjusted the Western slant that existed in our policy due to the neglect of numerous opportunities Russia had in the south and the east.

As I mentioned, he was tough in upholding our national interests, like during his famous turn-around over the Atlantic, but he combined this firmness and the upholding of immutable principles of inter-state communication with the goal of reaching commonly acceptable results, negotiability, and realism in assessing the world situation and simply combined everything with common sense. He knew perfectly well that going out with a bang would not resolve anything, that it was possible and necessary to discuss even the most entangled issues. His diplomatic style was distinguished by its amazing ability to win over his negotiating partners and eventually to come to terms with them and reach compromises, and not only with his supporters but also with his opponents. All these qualities won him enormous respect among leaders and his colleagues abroad.

A consistent opponent of archaic "zero sum" games, Mr Primakov always believed it was impossible to overcome the world's many problems without broad interstate cooperation. He was convinced that any existing differences must not prevent countries from pooling their efforts in settling crises and conflicts and countering the common threats of terrorism, drug trafficking, organised crime and WMD proliferation. Mr Primakov's philosophy remains fully current now that the international community still has so many serious issues – from reaching long-term reconciliation in the Middle East and North Africa to ensuring international information security.

Mr Primakov played a special role in Middle Eastern affairs, which he knew inside and out. He understood better than others the dangers of "geopolitical engineering" and "democratising" this region without due respect for its peculiarities. Regrettably, the West failed to listen to his knowledgeable opinion. Those who went into Iraq, Libya and Syria were like a bull in a china shop. We see the results of their activities today: destroyed statehood, outbursts of terrorism, erosion of the ethnic and religious mosaic and a large-scale migration crisis. The consequences of the ventures by the United States and its allies will still have to be overcome. As you know, this is what we are doing by primarily facilitating the eradication of terrorism in Syria and promoting the resolution of humanitarian issues, the return of refugees and the launching of the political process. We believe that for all intents and purposes this will definitely begin with the work of the Constitutional Committee in Geneva this week.

Mr Primakov's style was always distinguished by his very careful attitude towards people and the desire to understand their problems. During the difficult socio-economic situation in the country when he was the Foreign Minister, Mr Primakov did all he could to improve the working conditions of the ministry's staff. In doing this he preserved the personnel of the domestic diplomatic service and facilitated the return to the ministry of some diplomats that sought jobs in the private sector or in agencies with better financial prospects during those lean years.

Later, while holding high-ranking positions in the Russian Government, the State Duma Federal Assembly and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr Primakov not only continued to display interest in foreign policy but also actively joined the efforts to settle a number of international crises. His suggestions and prompts were very helpful to us. The importance of situational analyses he conducted at IMEMO was mentioned earlier. I endorse these words wholeheartedly.

I am convinced that many future generations of diplomats will continue to verify their views with his professional and intellectual legacy. We at Smolenskaya Square will always remember Mr Primakov as our mentor, teacher and friend.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's article about Yevgeny Primakov from the book titled The Unknown Primakov: Memoirs, published in Russian Business Guide, October 2019 (Статья Министра иностранных дел Российской Федерации С.В.Лаврова, посвященная Е.М.Примакову (из книги «Неизвестный Примаков. Воспоминания»), в журнале «Путеводитель российского бизнеса», октябрь 2019 года) / Russia, October , 2019
Keywords: sergey_lavrov, quotation

Of special importance for us diplomats was the period in Yevgeny Primakov's life when he was our foreign minister. His appointment to Smolenskaya Square marked a turning point in the country's foreign policy when conditions were created for the restoration of Russia's international standing. Primakov knew better than many others that its unique geographical location and centuries-long history, as well as its huge potential and its status as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, predetermined its independent and multi-directional foreign policy.

His vision of trilateral interaction in the Russia-India-China format, which these three countries are still widely using, paved the way to the subsequent creation of the BRICS group, which has since become an integral part and a key pillar of the rising multipolar world.

Yevgeny Primakov was never on the side of confrontation. His famous U-turn over the Atlantic was not an attempt to increase tension in the world but a reminder that dialogue with Russia is only possible on equal terms and that international relations must be based on international law. Primakov knew that diplomacy cannot succeed without personal contacts and used his intellect, knowledge and talent for open communication based on mutual respect to develop good relations with the overwhelming majority of his foreign colleagues.

Primakov's work style deserves special mention and, I am sure, will become the yardstick for many generations of Russian diplomats. Despite a busy schedule, Primakov never lost sight of the smallest details of international developments, going deep into the most complicated and controversial issues he had to deal with. He demanded the same approach from his subordinates. He detested cliché solutions and superficial and ill-considered opinions and views.

He rallied our team and directed our efforts towards finding effective solutions to the large-scale problems that were facing Russia. I remember that in May 1998 a large group of foreign ministry personnel, including Yevgeny Primakov, were awarded prestigious state decorations for their contribution to Russia's foreign policy. I was in that group; at that time, I worked as Russia's Permanent Representative to the UN. We posed for a photograph after receiving the decorations. Yevgeny Primakov was in the centre, smiling his wise and open smile. This photograph is one of my favourites. It stands on my office desk in Smolenskaya Square.

Many foreign politicians respected Primakov's position of principle. Henry Kissinger spoke about this at a dinner party given by the Israeli Ambassador in New York in January 1996. When one of those present asked the patriarch of American diplomacy what he thought about Primakov's appointment, considering that his predecessor suited the West very well while the new minister holds completely different views, Kissinger replied that he always preferred working with people who had a clear vision of their national interests.

Putin will skip APEC summit in Chile (Путин пропустит саммит АТЭС в Чили) / Russia, October, 2019
Keywords: vladimir_putin, summit

MOSCOW, October 30. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin will take part in the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) summit but will skip the APEC summit in Chile in mid-November, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

"The president plans to take part in the BRICS summit, which will be held in Brasilia. He will go there on a three-day trip," he said.

According to the Kremlin spokesman, "Russia will be represented at the APEC summit in Chile at another but likewise high level."

A decision to cancel his visit to the summit of the APEC member economies in Chile is unrelated to mass riots in Santiago and is due to a large number of internal events, according to Peskov.

"No, this is not related to local riots. Indeed, such a possibility (of the visit to Chile) was considered. At the same time, we never announced it. Currently, Putin's program does not stipulate such a trip due to internal events and the need to deal with internal Russian problems," the Kremlin spokesman said.

The protests that grew into mass riots and clashes with the police erupted in the Chilean capital on October 14 after the authorities decided to hike subway fares. The riots later spread to other Chilean cities. In this situation, Chilean President Sebastian Pinera announced introducing a state of emergency in the capital and other populated areas and had to cancel public transport fare hikes. According to the authorities' data, 19 people died in the riots.

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit will be held on November 16-17. US President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping are expected to be among its participants.

The BRICS summit, in which Putin plans to take place, will be held in Brazil on November 13-14.

World of work
Social policy, trade unions, actions
Fourth BRICS Media Forum adopts action plan (Четвертый Медиа Форум БРИКС принимает план действий) / China, November, 2019
Keywords: media, concluded_agreements, cooperation

Media representatives from the BRICS countries discussed the development of new media technologies and adopted an action plan to promote cooperation at the fourth BRICS Media Forum on Thursday.

The forum, which was held on Oct. 30-31, gathered nearly 100 representatives from 55 mainstream media organizations of the group's member countries -- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

With the theme of "Strengthening Media Cooperation in Building the BRICS Community with a Shared Future," the forum, jointly organized by China's Xinhua News Agency and Brazil's CMA Group, is aimed at deepening media exchanges and pragmatic cooperation among the BRICS countries.

Chen Peijie, China's consul general in Sao Paulo, said in her opening ceremony speech that the achievements of BRICS cooperation and the bloc's international influence cannot be separated from the media's efforts.

As the BRICS cooperation enters its second "golden decade," media cooperation will be crucial, she said.

He Ping, editor-in-chief of Xinhua News Agency, said in a keynote speech at the event that the world is undergoing profound changes unseen in a century, and the BRICS countries need more than ever to take on global responsibilities.

As chroniclers of history, the BRICS media are shouldering the important task of promoting cooperation and face a rare opportunity to work hand in hand for progress, He said.

He proposed four initiatives to strengthen the cooperation of the BRICS media.

He suggested that the BRICS media popularize the bloc's development, and actively reflect economic, cultural, social and environmental achievements made by the BRICS countries.

He then called for telling stories of people-to-people exchanges.

He also proposed building a digital media that keeps pace with the times and jointly promote the development and application of new technologies.

Moreover, He called for broadening the areas of exchanges and mutual assistance. He said the BRICS media need to expand cooperation in news reporting, professional training, personnel training, financial information services and think tank exchanges.

Jose Sanchez, co-chairman of the forum and president of financial information provider CMA Group, said in his speech that the media of the BRICS countries should jointly raise their voices to promote a more fair international public opinion landscape.

Heads and representatives of Russia's Sputnik news agency, India's The Hindu Group and South Africa's Independent Media also addressed the forum.

At the closing session, an action plan for 2019-2020 BRICS media forum was adopted.
TASS and Xinhua discuss cooperation plans for 2020 (ТАСС и Синьхуа обсудили планы сотрудничества на 2020 год) / Russia, November, 2019
Keywords: media, cooperation

RIO DE JANEIRO, November 1. /TASS/. Cooperation between TASS and Xinhua news agencies has been very close and intensive in 2019 both on the bilateral platform and in the framework of international organizations, TASS First Deputy Director General Mikhail Gusman said on Thursday after talks with Xinhua's editor-in-chief He Ping.

"Special attention was paid to successful organization of the joint photo exhition by TASS and Xinhua in Moscow dedicated to the 70th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between our countries, which China's Chairman Xi Jinping visited during his visit together with Russian President Vladimir Putin," Gusman said. He added that Xinhua's editor-in-chief also thanked TASS for an invitation to the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) in June and for an opportunity to meet with the Russian leader.

Gusman noted that at the 4th BRICS media forum in Brazil's Sao Paolo, participants discussed in detail the plans for joint events in 2020 in the context of celebrating the 75th anniversary of defeating Nazi Germany and imperialist Japan. "In the practical sense, issues on the agenda of the upcoming November world media summit in Shanghai were discussed," he said. Moreover, representatives of media outlets confirmed readiness to exchange professional delegations for sharing experience, especially in the sphere of internet technologies and audio-visual media.

On behalf of TASS, Gusman thanked Xinhua for taking the main responsibility for organizing the 4th BRICS media forum in Sao Paolo. The next BRICS media forum will be held in 2020 in Russia's Novosibirsk.
Media from BRICS countries discuss ways to counter fake news (СМИ стран БРИКС обсуждают способы противодействия поддельным новостям) / Russia, November, 2019
Keywords: media, cooperation

RIO DE JANEIRO, November 1. /TASS/. The media community of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) countries has suggested to create a common digital platform to check the information reported by other media and to counter the distribution of fake news, according to the plan of action approved on Thursday by participants in the 4th BRICS media forum in Brazil's Sao Paolo.

This platform may be used to counter the inaccurate coverage by international media of BRICS cooperation and actions, as well as to strengthen the authority of the media of the BRICS countries. The participants in the meeting also supported the creation of a common news platform for BRICS countries in accordance with the Capetown agreements of 2018. Such platform would facilitate the promotion of media products from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Among participants in the media forum are representatives of around 40 media outlets from BRICS countries, including TASS news agency. At the forum, participants discussed the role of the media in promoting practical cooperation within BRICS and global multipolarity, as well as development of new media technologies.

The next BRICS media forum will be held in 2020 in Russia's Novosibirsk.

Commentary: BRICS media should play greater role in shaping global public opinion (Комментарий: СМИ БРИКС должны играть более важную роль в формировании общественного мнения) / China, October, 2019
Keywords: media, expert_opinion

SAO PAULO, Oct. 31 (Xinhua) -- At the fourth BRICS Media Forum that kicked off here on Thursday, nearly 100 media representatives from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa called for reshaping a global public opinion dominated by Western news organizations.

Since the launch of the BRICS media mechanism in 2015, media cooperation among members has continued to deepen through high-level forums, exchanges and joint reporting.

However, as BRICS cooperation enters its second decade, BRICS media outlets need to work together to meet present challenges in the global news media space.

Group executive for marketing and communication of Independent Media in South Africa Lutfia Vayej said at the forum more BRICS-related stories need to be told.

"We must share more information on economic growth, we must describe the successful outcomes and achievements of the BRICS cooperation -- in other words, we must convey the BRICS spirit and voice," she said.

By stepping up reports on investment policies and market demands, the media can deliver more comprehensive and efficient information to potential investors.

The world today is facing such prominent threats as unilateralism and protectionism. Faced with such challenges, BRICS media need to speak in one clear voice to support multilateralism in order to bolster an open world economy.

Western media have long dominated international public opinion. They can easily twist or tarnish a certain developing country's image, and interpret the country's policies and development models with bias.

BRICS media can play a key role by offering unbiased information to the public and make their own voices heard on major issues of global importance.

Finally, in addition to external challenges, the BRICS media also need to cope with evolution from within. The development of new technologies has had a tremendous impact on traditional media, with the global media industry facing tremendous change.

To better apply such new technologies as artificial intelligence, big data, Internet of Things and virtual reality to news production and distribution requires pooling the wisdom of BRICS media groups.

BRICS media should seize the opportunity provided by the new wave of media development and reverse their disadvantageous position in shaping global opinion.

For more than a decade, BRICS countries have been a prominent force in improving global governance and made tremendous contribution to global economic growth.

BRICS cooperation has now entered a new stage, and media in the BRICS countries should join hands even tighter to help turn the bloc's vision of a second "golden decade" into reality.

"Peoples' BRICS" to be held concurrently with BRICS Summit in November («Народный БРИКС» пройдет одновременно с саммитом БРИКС в ноябре) / Brazil, October, 2019
Keywords: summit, cooperation, social_issues

People's movements, unions, and parties will debate common issues between Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa

Researchers and activists from five countries will debate about imperialism, economic and political crisis, solidarity, and integration / Handout People's movements, labor unions, and political parties from the five countries that are members of the BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa – will gather in Brasília, capital of Brazil, on Nov. 11 and 12 for the Peoples' BRICS.

The event was planned to happen concurrently with the BRICS Summit, in which government representatives will meet two days later, also in the capital of Brazil.

Researchers and political activists from the five countries will debate about topics such as imperialism, economic and political crisis, international solidarity, and the integration between the peoples.

Approximately 300 people are expected to attend the event. Confirmed participants include representatives of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA); the Safai Karmachari Andolan, an Indian movement of Dalits (a group that is considered to be untouchable and often subjected to brutal violence in Indian society's caste system); and the Russian Academy of Sciences.

João Pedro Stedile, from the national board of Brazil's Landless Workers' Movement (MST), a co-organizer of the Peoples' BRICS, supports that the official summit between governments, which will be held on Nov. 13 and 14, is superficial.

"The BRICS Summit will gather governments and presidents. We fear that their agendas will be nothing more than trade agreements and financial talks for projects to be funded by the BRICS bank," Stedile says.

"The BRICS were proposed as a regional association aiming exactly to expose the imperialism of the United States, of the economic domination, of the dollar, and of the manipulation of other international organizations, such as the IMF [International Monetary Fund], the World Bank, and the WTO [World Trade Organization]," the Brazilian landless leader adds, pointing out the goals established when the BRICS were first established.

The organizers of the "Peoples' BRICS" are also concerned about how ultraconservative forces have been advancing in countries such as Brazil and India, which poses new common challenges, including to stop foreign interests from impacting election processes through the media and social media.

"Brazil and India have right-wing governments characterized as neo-fascist governments. Brazil's government is completely subservient to the interests of the United States government. Meanwhile, India has contradictions with the US government, even though it is right-wing on a domestic level," Stedile argues. "The South African government is neo-developmentalist, but under conditions in which the economic and social apartheid remains. Next to Brazil, these are the most socially unequal countries, with the widest wealth gap."

Nalu Faria, from Brazil's national board of the World March of Women, points out that one of the biggest challenges is to pursue international unity as the working class in the five countries have been struggling with setbacks. "The geopolitical dispute has changed in the world. And we, as the people, have to be closely associated with each other in order to put our demands and our sovereignty first," she says.

"It's our strength as the organized people that will, in this geopolitical dispute, guarantee or build this sense of change that is able to dismantle all this system of oppression, exploitation, discrimination. We want to forge the struggle from an anti-capitalist perspective, understanding that capitalism is a patriarchal, racist, LGBT-phobic, nature-depredating model," Faria adds.

Make sure to stay tuned as Brasil de Fato will have a special coverage of the Peoples' BRICS Summit on Nov. 11 and 12 in Brasília.

Check out the Peoples' BRICS Summit schedule:

Nov. 11, 2019 – Monday

Discussion 1: Imperialism, International Geopolitics, Role of BRICS and the People

Discussion 2: Economic, Social and Environmental Crisis and Development Alternatives from the People

Nov. 12, 2019 – Tuesday

Discussion 3: International Political Crises and People's Struggles

Discussion 4: Challenges of Internationalism, Solidarity and the Integration of Peoples
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