Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 18.2017
2017.04.24 — 2017.04.30
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Gamechanger: India, Pakistan & Iran Joining BRICS Shanghai Cooperation Organization (Геймченджер: Индия, Пакистан и Иран вступают в Шанхайскую организацию сотрудничества БРИКС) / India, April, 2017
Keywords: International relations, Shanghai Cooperation Organization, cooperation, opinion

Pakistan and India are two nuclear countries locked in decades of Western induced political intrigue. That may become history soon as the two traditional enemies begin rubbing their elbows with the rest of the members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

The China-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is one of those organizations which are implementing the humongous "One Belt, One Road" project, which aims to revive the ancient Silk Road that facilitated the peaceful exchange of goods and culture across Eurasia, between 120 BCE – 1450s CE.

BRICS is consist of countries, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Considering that the "B" in BRICS has been compromised by a Wall Street coup a year ago [here], the group can only extend its membership through the SCO, and for the group to provide a mechanism for India and Pakistan to talk about how they can cooperate from the standpoint of mutual benefit is a welcome development indeed.

Lavrov believes accession of India, Pakistan to SCO will 'make history'

ASTANA, April 21. /TASS/. The accession of India and Pakistan to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will make history and increase the organization's global influence, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday following the Astana meeting of the SCO Foreign Ministers Council.

"We have considered a package of documents to be committed to the heads of state for approval, first and foremost, these documents concern decisions on completing the membership process for India and Pakistan," the Russian top diplomat said. "It would be no exaggeration to say that it will prove to be a historical event which will increase the organization's global influence. After India and Pakistan become members, the SCO will include as many as 43% of the world's population while its member states will account for 24% of global gross domestic product."

Lavrov said that Friday's meeting had been "the decisive stage of the preparations for the next SCO summit" scheduled to be held in Kazakhstan's capital of Astana on June 8-9.

The Declaration on the Establishment of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization was singed in China's Shanghai in June 2001 by six founding states – Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Afghanistan, Belarus, India, Pakistan, Iran and Mongolia currently enjoy observer status while Sri Lanka, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Cambodia and Nepal are dialogue partners. The membership process of India and Pakistan began in 2015.

Russia's top diplomat says Iran fully meets SCO membership criteria

ASTANA, April 21. /TASS/. Iran now fully meets the criteria of Shanghai Cooperation Organization membership, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said after a meeting of the SCO foreign ministers on Friday.

"Iran is next in line (for SCO membership). Many said so today. It has settled all issues related with UN Security Council sanctions," Lavrov said. "Now it is in full compliance with SCO membership criteria. We hope that the heads of state will be able to consider the beginning of the procedure to make Iran a full-fledged member (at the SCO summit – TASS) in Astana in June."

Among other documents discussed by the SCO foreign ministers, Sergey Lavrov singled out a draft convention on countering extremism. "This is a very important and innovative document, which formulates for the first time the tasks to counter extremist ideology, extremism as a phenomenon that undermines countries' stability," he said. We hope that this convention will too be approved by our countries' leaders."

Aside from countering extremism, which involves sharing intelligence data and taking coordinated actions against those who are behind terrorism in every member state, the sheer size of their economies and population would be a formidable force to reckon with.
Kazakh president speaks in favor of admission of India, Pakistan, Iran to SCO
MOSCOW, June 23. /TASS/. Possible admission of India, Pakistan and Iran to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is an important step in the development of the Eurasian Economic Space, President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev told TASS.

In an interview with First Deputy General Director of TASS Mikhail Gusman the Kazakh leader said: "The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is a very important organization across the Eurasian space … Now it is a very important step – in Tashkent, we will admit new members: India and Pakistan. After it we are going to consider the terms of admission of Iran … It is a response to the challenge of the times."

Political intrigue has been rendered ineffective now that the geopolitical giants are talking to one another, peacefully.

This is not good for the Grand Chessboard of Zbigniew Brzezinski who prefers the Balkanization of Eurasian states, so that the Khazarian Mafia could exploit the massive gas and oil reserves in the region.

With China and Russia initiating peaceful collaboration and protecting this region from Western exploitation simply means the complete collapse of Western hegemony.

Add to that is the highly coordinated move to dump the fiat dollar, and the West will have a perfect storm.

These are the reasons behind the continuing #RussiaDidIt Western media hysteria.

Trump, on the other hand, is torn between cooperating with China, and calling it the currency manipulator. His closest adviser Ivanka Trump, whom he admitted to have prodded him to drop Tomahawk cruise missiles on Syria, has a possible conflict of interest working in the White House and having business with China, all at the same time.
WASHINGTON — The Trump family has vowed to keep its vast financial interests separate from the government. But on Tuesday, a possible conflict of interest came to light involving the president's daughter and top adviser, Ivanka Trump.

China gave her business potentially lucrative provisional trademark approvals the day she and President Trump were having dinner with the Chinese president at the Trump estate in South Florida.

Not only that, Trump himself has financial interests in China, too.
BEIJING — President Trump has won preliminary approval to register 38 new trademarks in China for industries including restaurants and advertising, business interests that could add to criticism over potential conflicts.

As a businessman, Mr. Trump has amassed a vast portfolio of trademarks around the world, as he seeks to protect his brands and his products. Those trademarks, at times, clash with the vision of a populist president who has espoused an "America First" strategy.

China has been among the biggest targets for his business prospects. Including the latest batch, his companies have filed for at least 130 trademarks in China since 2005 for restaurants, bars, hotels, brokerage services, advertising and management consulting.

The man is all over the place. He just profited from the rise of Raytheon stock value after the massive bombings in Syria.

We can forgive all of that if only he had pursued his "draining of the swamp" right off the bat. But until now, only those die hard Trump fanatics continue to dream that that is really the case "behind the scenes."

But that is not what's happening right in front of our faces.

'No doubt' Our Villain of the Season has Weapons of Mass Destruction

Mattis: 'No doubt' Syrian regime has chemical weapons, April 21, 2017

"There can be no doubt in the international community's mind that Syria has retained chemical weapons in violation of its agreement and its statement that it had removed them all. There is no longer any doubt," Mattis told reporters.

Full text of Dick Cheney's speech, August 27, 2002

Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us. And there is no doubt that his aggressive regional ambitions will lead him into future confrontations with his neighbors …

"Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it."― Edmund Burke

The American Dream lives on.
Joint Communiqué on the occasion of the Launch of the South Africa-China High Level People-To-People Exchange Mechanism (PPEM) (Совместное коммюнике по случаю запуска механизма международного обмена Южной Африки и Китая) / South Africa, April, 2017
Keywords: South Africa, China, international relations, cooperation
South Africa

1. On 24 April 2017, the Minister of Arts and Culture, Mr Nathi Mthethwa, hosted the Vice-Premier of State Council of the People's Republic of China, Ms Liu Yandong in Pretoria, South Africa, for the launch of the South Africa-China High-Level People-to-People Exchange Mechanism (PPEM).

2. During the State Visit of His Excellency, President Xi Jinping to South Africa in December 2015, His Excellency President Jacob Zuma and President Xi Jinping agreed to establish the South Africa-China High Level People-to-People Exchange Mechanism.

3. The objective of the PPEM is to deepen mutual understanding between the peoples of South Africa and China and to enhance people-to-people exchanges and cooperation in areas of, among others, culture; international relations; education; communication; health; science and technology; sports; tourism; women affairs and youth.

4. Following the launch of the PPEM, the following side-events took place; the South Africa-China High-Level Seminar on Thought Exchanges Dialogue, launch ceremony of the South Africa-China Science Park Cooperation, China-Africa Youth Festival, Africa-China Health Ministers' Conference. In addition, the Chinese government donated medical equipment to Steve Biko Academic hospital.

5. To further strengthen bilateral cooperation and provide the platform for future cooperation, three Agreements and three Memoranda of Understanding were signed in the areas of Arts and Culture, Higher Education and Training, Communication and Science & Technology.

6. Vice Premier Liu Yandong paid a Courtesy Call on His Excellency, President Jacob Zuma and they both expressed their satisfaction that the PPEM has been launched to further strengthen the South Africa-China Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Relations.

7. Vice Premier Liu Yandong also held bilateral meetings with Co-Chairperson, Minister Nathi Mthethwa and the Minister of International Relations & Cooperation, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and they noted that 2018 will mark 20 year celebrations of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

8. To celebrate the launch of the PPEM and to promote cultural diplomacy, cultural performances from both South Africa and China took place at the State Theatre in Pretoria on 25 April 2017.
Statement by Ambassador LIU Jieyi,Permanent Representative of China to the UN,at the High-level SDG Financing Lab on behalf of BRICS (Выступление Постоянного представителя Китая при ООН Посла Л.И. Цзеи в High-level SDG Financing Lab от БРИКС) / China, April, 2017
Keywords: China, international relations, cooperation

Distinguished President,

Fellow delegates,

As China has earlier this year assumed the BRICS' Chairmanship for the year 2017, I will deliver the following statement on behalf of the BRICS member countries, on the subject matter under discussion.

At present, the world economic recovery remains fragile and beset by three prominent problems of lack of dynamism, inadequacy in global governance and imbalance in development. The global trade and investment are in stagnation and the multilateral trade system is being affected. 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. 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.

Financing for development is the key to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Assured and predicable financial flow is indispensable to the realization of sustainable development, particularly by developing countries. 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 mobilize adequate resources for the realization of sustainable development by all countries, especially developing countries.

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.

Firstly, there is a need to strengthen political will and meaningfully implement the Monterrey Consensus; the Doha Declaration on Financing for Development and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. 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. Developed countries should bear the primary responsibility in financing for development, honor their ODA 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. 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. 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.

Secondly, there is a need to expand financing channels and prioritize financial support for the implementation by developing countries of the 2030 Agenda. Implementing the 2030 Agenda is a common task for all countries. However, developing countries face special difficulties and challenges in fulfilling this task and thereby needing global support. The international community needs to focus its attention on addressing the needs of developing countries in financing for development. 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, etc. 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. Financing cooperation should be strengthened within the framework of international development institutions such as the World Bank, and the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). 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.

Thirdly, there is a need to improve the global economic governance and create an enabling international environment for development. The international community should bear in mind the overarching goal of win-win cooperation and work to create a favorable external environment for developing countries. 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. 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. 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.

Mr. President,

BRICS cooperation started in 2006. Owing to the commitment of its members, BRICS countries have set a paradigm of unity and cooperation to cope with challenges. The New Development Bank (NDB) and the Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) of BRICS have contributed greatly to the global economy and strengthened the international financial architecture. BRICS looks forward to a constructive intergovernmental engagement in the upcoming ECOSOC forum on financing for development follow-up and obtaining substantial and fruitful outcome. BRICS is ready to exert great efforts to advance international cooperation on financing for development, and push forward the comprehensive implementation of the Monterrey Consensus, the Doha Declaration on Financing for Development and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, thus contributing to the realization of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

I thank you.
South Africa wants to learn from China's experience on governance (Южная Африка хочет извлечь уроки из опыта Китая в области управления) / China, April, 2017
Keywords: South Africa, China, international relations, cooperation
Author: An Baijie in Beijing and Wang Mingjie in Pretoria, South Africa

South African President Jacob Zuma said that his country is willing to learn from China's experience on governance to achieve more rapid development.

Zuma made the remarks while meeting with visiting Vice-Premier Liu Yandong at the president's residency in Pretoria on Tuesday.

Zuma asked Liu to extend his sincere wishes to President Xi Jinping and added that he was glad to see the quick implementation of the consensus reached between the two presidents on the establishment of the China-South Africa High-level People to People Exchange Mechanism.

The mechanism covers areas like education, culture, science and technology, health, youth, media, think tanks, tourism and sports.

On Monday, Liu attended and presided over the first meeting of the mechanism. Xi said in a congratulatory letter to the meeting that the mechanism is the first high-level dialogue between China and any African country to focus on people-to-people and cultural exchanges.

The official launch of the mechanism will provide more opportunities for the people of both countries to participate in the development of South Africa-China relations and enjoy the benefit brought forward by the development of bilateral ties, Zuma said.

South Africa will never forget China's support during the country's anti-apartheid fight, Zuma said, while expressing willingness to speed up his country's development through deepening ties with China.

The president appreciated China's constructive role in safeguarding international peace and security and spoke highly of China's contribution to global economic development.

Zuma also expressed gratitude toward China's efforts to help African countries to achieve self-development, and he hoped to keep close communication and coordination with China under such frameworks as the United Nations and BRICS.

Liu extended Xi's sincere wishes to Zuma. She said that the China-South Africa relationship is enjoying its best period under the leadership of the two presidents.

The two countries have deepened political mutual trust continuously, made fruitful achievements in practical cooperation, and supported each other on issues of core interests and major concerns, Liu said.

The first meeting of the mechanism has been held successfully, and boosted people-to-people exchanges between the two countries in the future, she said.

China is willing to make joint efforts with South Africa to push forward these exchanges and enhance cooperation in areas including production capacity, energy, resources and infrastructure, Liu said, adding that the comprehensive strategic cooperation will benefit the people of both countries.

Mentioning that both China and South Africa are big powers in the G20 and BRICS, Liu said China would like to enhance communication with South Africa in international affairs to safeguard the interests of developing countries.

South Africa talks may result in exchanges (Переговоры в Южной Африке могут привести к обмену мнениями) / China, April, 2017
Keywords: South Africa, China, international relations, cooperation
Author: Zhang Yunbi

The first talks between China and South Africa on people-to-people exchanges and culture was praised on Monday by President Xi Jinping, who said it would "build a foundation" of public support for the ties and stimulate cultural exchanges.

The talks were led by visiting Vice-Premier Liu Yandong and South African Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa, who co-chaired the meeting.

Xi, in a letter of congratulation following the first meeting, said the China-South Africa High-Level People-to-People and Cultural Exchanges Mechanism, as the talks are called, is the first high-level dialogue between China and any African country for pushing people-to-people and cultural exchanges.

It also is an important action that would lead to implementing the results of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation Johannesburg Summit in 2015, Xi said.

The mechanism covers areas like education, culture, science and technology, health, youth, women, press, think tanks, tourism and sports, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said earlier this month.

South African President Jacob Zuma said in a congratulatory letter that the mechanism's launch is more evidence the two nations have a good relationship.

Further, he said, it will boost mutual understanding and lift the ties to greater heights.

Both China and South Africa are major developing countries and members of BRICS, an organization of five emerging nations: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

In recent years, a comprehensive strategic partnership between the two nations "has maintained a robust momentum of development and has brought tangible interest for the two peoples", Xi said.

Xi also said China is ready to join with African countries including South Africa to usher in a new era of China-Africa cooperation.

When addressing the meeting on Monday, Liu noted that among the African countries, South Africa has received the largest number of Chinese students and Confucius Institutes.
Promoting pragmatic collaboration between Chinese and African SMEs (Содействие налаживанию прагматичного сотрудничества между китайскими и африканскими малыми и средними предприятиями) / China, April, 2017
Keywords: International relations, China, South Africa, cooperation, sustainable development
Author: Cao Yingying

This year's China International Small and Medium Enterprises Fair, scheduled to be held in Guangdong province in October, will advance the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and Africa and promote the inclusive and sustainable development of SMEs in China and various countries, according to Xu Lejiang, vice-chairman of the organizing committee and vice-minister of industry and information technology.

Xu said at a news conference on Monday that the annual fair, known CISMEF, helps Chinese SMEs to go global and foreign SMEs to access the China market.

This year's fair adds two co-hosts: South Africa and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, he said.

"Under the framework of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation and the BRICS cooperation mechanism, the joint hosting of the event will further promote pragmatic collaboration between China and South Africa in industry, trade and economics," he said.

Thabo Thage, the consul general of South Africa in Shanghai, said SMEs contribute more than half of his country's GDP.

"We expect that CISMEF will help to enhance our current trade patterns by increasing China's sourcing of value added products from South Africa," Thage said.

Serving as a co-host of the fair for the first time, South African will select key companies to showcase the diverse nature of its economy, he added.

The main venue for the fair, which is due to be held on Oct 10-13, is slated to be the Poly World Trade Center Expo in Guangzhou, capital of the province in South China.

Two other events are to be held later that month in Shunde, a manufacturing hub in the province.

The first, which will run from Oct 12 to Oct 15, will focus on intelligent manufacturing and businesses involved in the national Internet Plus strategy aimed at promoting the integration of internet technologies with traditional industries.

The second, to be held on Oct 20-23, will focus on smart construction materials and home appliances, as well as energy conservation products and technologies.
China's role in steering the future of globalization (Роль Китая в управлении будущим глобализации) / China, April, 2017
Keywords: China, international relations, global governance, opinion
Author: He Yafei

Globalization stands at a crossroads, making it necessary for us to fully comprehend the trends before drafting diplomatic policies.

There are three rules on globalization that remain unchanged.

First, the socio-cultural evolution of human society, in direct contrast with Francis Fukuyama's prediction, continues to develop.

Second, the democratization of international relations cannot be reversed.

Third, the international order and institutions established since the end of World War II will continue to play their roles.

However, three diversions in the process of globalization are notable.

First, the United States, as a key leader of the globalization process, is now seeking to change the rules of the game in its own favor.

Second, the fiasco of economic neoliberalism calls for new thinking and solutions for the global governance.

Third, China as a rising power has become an important driving force in reshaping the world.

In response to both its own needs and the world's, China has played its role in global governance by providing public goods according to its capability. Big events like the G20 Hangzhou Summit last year, the upcoming Belt and Road forum in Beijing and BRICS Summit in Xiamen illustrate China's efforts to contribute to the world.

Institutions like the G20, BRICS, SCO and AIIB, which China is endeavoring to promote in order to give developing countries more say and decisive rights in global governance.

Facing the challenges, Chinese leaders have also come up with new thinking and solutions on global governance like the Belt and Road initiative based on mutual negotiation, co-building and benefit-sharing. The construction of a global partnership network and a human community with a shared destiny is expected to cast light on the global problems.

The world needs China and vice-versa. The future of China depends on the extent to which the biggest developing country participates and steers globalization and its management.
Investment and finance in BRICS
Investment opportunities in Sri Lanka (Инвестиционные возможности в Шри-Ланке) / India, April, 2017
Keywords: investment and finance, Sri Lanka, Chamber of Commerce and Industry, meeting

BRICS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY organised a seminar on investment opportunities in Sri Lanka at HIGH COMMISSION OF SRI LANKA. The agenda behind the seminar was to look up for the investment opportunities in various sectors of Sri Lanka. The major topics of discussion were:

  • Why Sri Lanka
  • General economic situation of Sri Lanka
  • Infrastructure and access
  • Where to invest
  • Export performance
  • Preferential access to key markets
  • Preferential access to Indian market
  • Key exports
The opening remarks by H.E. Mrs. Chitranganee Wagiswara, High Commissioner kick start the session. She recounted the available opportunities and friendly relations between Sri Lanka and India. Also BOP account of Sri Lanka shows favourable balance towards India. The highest number of tourists to Sri Lanka are from India. She mentioned about top Sri Lankan companies namely Brandix, Mclarens Holdings, etc. Very precisely she talked on the economy of Sri Lanka that is mainly service oriented and anticipating Sri Lanka to get along with BRICS nations via BRICS Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Dr. BBL Madhukar, Secretary General of BRICS-CCI gave a speech highlighting the importance of investment in Sri Lanka. He intimated that India being a self reliant nation can either export or even set up some food processing units in Sri Lanka which imports most of the food items. Sri Lanka being the centre of world's busiest sea routes can help India to connect with many other countries like Singapore.

Sumedha Ponnamperuma, Minister Counsellor (Commercial), Sri Lanka High Commission addressed the gathering. He ascertained about the key export goods namely Garments, Rubber, Ship building, Sri Lankan Gems, Ceylon Tea, Ceylon Cinnamon, Fish exports and services namely value added logistic service and IT/BPO. He enlisted the pros of investing in Sri Lanka because of its connectivity, infrastructure & access, ease in doing business, educated workforce, quality of life, an open economy, technology and innovation. The potential areas of investment includes Logistics, Real estate, Infrastructure, Tourism, IT/BPM, Agriculture and fisheries, Education and Export manufacturing. He even stated that Sri Lanka is producing an electric car that is capable of reaching 60mph in mere 3.6 seconds.

This was followed by Q & A session. H.E. Mrs. Chitranganee Wagiswara expressed her gratitude towards attendees for their patient hearing and being a part of this seminar.
Trade jumps between Xiamen and BRICS countries (Скачки в торговле между Сямынем и БРИКС) / China, April, 2017
Keywords: China, Xiamen, trade, statistics

Local Customs officials said recently that imports and exports through the port of Xiamen to BRICS countries in the first quarter of the year hit 10.3 billion yuan, up 63 percent year-on-year. Imports totaled 7.1 billion yuan, up 114 percent, while experts hit 3.1 billion yuan, up 9.2 percent.

India became the largest BRICS trade partner via Xiamen, with combined trade volume of 3.2 billion yuan, up 51 percent and representing over 31 percent of Xiamen's total foreign trade with BRICS countries. Trade with Brazil totaled 2.9 billion yuan, followed by South Africa at 2.5 billion yuan.

Major products imported from BRICS countries in the first quarter included iron ore valued at more than two billion yuan, chrome ore valued at 510 million yuan and 230 million yuan in manganese ore. Major export categories included mechanical and electrical products at 1.4 billion yuan and LCD panels at 260 million yuan.
Hungary to take part in Congress Hall construction for BRICS summit (Венгрия примет участие в строительстве Конгресс-зала для саммита БРИКС) / Russia, April, 2017
Keywords: Congress Hall, summit, construction, Chelyabinsk, Hungary
Author: Tatiana Kanunnikova

Governor of the Chelyabinsk region, Boris Dubrovsky, has invited experts from Hungary to participate in major investment projects in the region, particularly in the joint construction of the Congress Hall in the city of Chelyabinsk.

Mr. Dubrovsky appealed with this initiative to the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Hungary to Russia, Janos Balla, the press office of the region's Governor said on Wednesday.

The opening of the honorary consulate of Hungary took place on Wednesday in Chelyabinsk with the participation of Janos Balla and the regional Governor.

"At the meeting held after the opening of the honorary consulate of Hungary... Boris Dubrovsky and Janos Balla discussed the possible participation of Hungarian parties in major investment projects in the region. In particular, the Governor proposed the Hungarian side to take part in the construction of a Congress hall in Chelyabinsk for the summits of SCO and BRICS in 2020", the report reads.

Janos Balla proposed to discuss this issue at the upcoming St. Petersburg international economic forum with the participation of potential investors and representatives of Hungarian banks operating in Russia.
Turkey may become member of BRICS bank (Турция может стать членом банка БРИКС) / Turkey, April, 2017
Keywords: New Development Bank, Turkey, membership, cooperation

Noting that membership is required in order to benefit from the projects of the development bank established by the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries, Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Şimşek said they are seriously considering becoming a member of the bank.

Turkey is considering joining the New Development Bank (NBD), established by the BRICS countries, in 2014. Speaking at the 32nd Ordinary General Assembly Meeting of the Turkish Contractors Association (TMB) Şimşek said: "Membership is required in order to benefit from the projects they will provide. We are seriously considering becoming a member right now just for that."

The deputy prime minister said it is easier to do business in countries where the law works properly, but also where the profit margins are not as high as other countries. Pointing out that they will also focus on newly emerging countries and Africa in this sense, Şimşek highlighted that the reason why they brought up the issue of membership to the African Development Bank and the African Development Fund in 2007 was to benefit from those resources.

Explaining that there is a new development bank established by the BRICS countries, Şimşek stressed that membership is required in order to benefit from the projects they will provide. Recalling that they also became a member of an infrastructure bank whose establishment was completed last year under China's leadership, Şimşek said, "Our goal is to make it easier for you to go and participate in projects financed by investment, development banks and infrastructure funds and to provide financing when you undertake a project there."
The BRICS: A Hamstrung Alliance (БРИКС: альянс, связанный по рукам и ногам) / India, April, 2017
Keywords: Economics, cooperation, crisis, opinion
Author: Amritangshu Bandyopadhyay

The Great Recession of 2008 served as a reminder to the emerging markets to insulate their economies from the pitfalls of a global recession.

In response to this, four emerging markets Brazil, Russia, India, and China joined hands to form a coalition in 2009 called the BRIC. In 2010, South Africa provided this alliance a foothold in Africa, and the alliance expanded to form the BRICS, including South Africa.

The alliance conducts its business through a policy of mutual benefit and non-interference allowing each partner to make independent trade deals with other members of the group.

Though its underlying purpose is to promote growth and prosperity, even to the extent of securing loans for a partner in times of recession and inflation, the alliance is more of a manifestation of a protest against the dominance of Western-based financial institutions.

Yet the potential, which led to the creation of this association, has hardly transformed them into economic super-powers when it comes to their GDP per capita growth and standards of living.

The transition from an emerging market to an actual economic super-power has not been that smooth, as the alliance members face massive hurdles from state-based ownership, rampant corruption, and subsequent high-scale inflation.

This so-called 'mini-IMF', which boasts of one-fifth of the world's GDP, failed to curb the economic recession in Brazil.

Brazil was hit by high inflation and a tremendous decrease in foreign direct investment chiefly because of the persistent implementation of socialist policies under the 'Lula model', named after Brazil's most popular president in recent history Lula da Silva. The model involved big social-welfare schemes which served as a template for South American countries in their battle against class struggle.

Four years after Dilma Rousseff, Silva's successor, took office, commodity prices dropped worldwide and growth rates dipped sharply.

Socialist policies and the state-capitalism model of government in leading countries like Russia and China, have not resulted in enormous economic growth. For instance, China's economic growth of 12% in 2010 has now come down to a relatively modest 6.7% in 2016. In a report by the International Monetary Fund, it was stated that China's economic growth is expected to slow towards 5.8% by 2021.

In South Africa, economic growth has barely blossomed since Jacob Zuma came to power in 2009. South Africa's economy is in crisis, yet the country's finance minister, Pravin Gordhan, was stripped of his position earlier in April for advocating a capitalist economic model. The value of South African currency, the rand, has halved against the dollar over the past five years, and unemployment has reached 27 percent.

Privatization has long been resisted by sections of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), the first democratically-elected party in South Africa. The ANC recently announced an increase in tax rates, with minimal tax relief, to combat the ever-growing problems of inflation, corruption, and recession.

The only member of this alliance that is actually showing signs of economic progression, through 'An Ease of doing Business' model, is India. India has jumped twelve places to 130th and expects to move up at least thirty more by 2018-2019.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has kicked off the ambitious Startup India Movement. The government program aims to fill gaps in the economy for the growth and development of startups and will aim to boost digital entrepreneurship in the grassroots.

All this has been possible since the deeply-regulatory All-India Congress fell from power yielding the federal government to a more lenient, pro-growth right wing party in 2014.

These problems are culturally and socially rooted in the countries. People of these socialist countries, who come under this umbrella, embrace heavy government subsidies and leftist policies aimed at providing free-cost education and health services. As for state-run corporate businesses, they arrange their business models around patterns of state patronage and subsidy. Consequently, the structure becomes progressively more dysfunctional and less easy to reform.

Although this alliance began with an ambitious project, they are spluttering at present, facing both political uncertainty and stagnant economies.
Working Meeting Between President Of The Federative Republic Of Brazil Michel Temer And Ndb President K.v.kamath (Рабочая встреча Президента Федеративной Республики Бразилия Мишеля Темра и президента НБР К.Камата) / China, April, 2017
Keywords: New Development Bank, Brazil, Economics, cooperation, meeting

On 26 April 2017, Mr. Michel Temer, the President of the Federative Republic of Brazil and Mr. K.V.Kamath, the President of the New Development Bank met in Brasília. The meeting took place during the first official visit of the NDB President to Brazil.

During the meeting, Mr. K.V.Kamath highlighted that the NDB is interested in financing urban development projects in Brazilian municipalities as well as other infrastructure and sustainable development projects in the country.

The Bank is seeking to develop partnerships with other regional development institutions, such as Corporación Andina de Fomento (Development Bank of Latin America, CAF) and Fondo Financiero para el Desarrollo de la Cuenca del Plata (Financial Fund for the Development of the River Plate Basin, Fonplata) to identify opportunities for action in South America, said Mr. K.V.Kamath.

The New Development Bank was created with an objective of financing infrastructure and sustainable development projects in Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa and other emerging economies and developing countries. In 2016, the Board of Directors (BoD) of the Bank approved seven investment projects in the areas of green and renewable energy and transportation for a total of over US$ 1.5 billion.
NDB, Fonplata sign memorandum on strategic cooperation in Brazilia, Brazil (НБР и Fonplata подписали меморандум о стратегическом сотрудничестве в Бразилиа, Бразилия) / China, April, 2017
Keywords: New Development Bank, Brazil, Economics, cooperation, memorandum

New Development Bank and Fondo Financiero para el Desarrollo de la Cuenca del Plata (Financial Fund for the Development of the River Plate Basin, FONPLATA) signed today a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Strategic Cooperation to formalize their commitment to work together and explore specific areas of potential cooperation within respective mandates. The MoU was signed by Mr. K.V.Kamath, the President of the NDB and Mr. Juan E. Notaro Fraga, the Executive President of FONPLATA in Brasilia, Brazil. The signing ceremony was witnessed by His Excellency Mr. Dyogo Oliveira, the Minister of Planning of Brazil.

According to the MoU, cooperation between the two institutions includes exchange of information and consultation in the areas of sustainable infrastructure, energy, water and sanitation, environment; promotion of co-financing for development projects and the provision of technical assistance in countries of mutual interest; exchange of human resources, such as researchers and experts as well as other items.

"NDB and Fonplata were both set up to build brighter, greener future and provide new opportunities to people in their respective member countries. By collaborating and learning from each other we can multiply the positive impact of what we do. Today I am pleased to sign the Memorandum which is a statement of intent to jointly work and contribute to global sustainable infrastructure development," said Mr. K.V.Kamath.

"With this agreement, Fonplata confirms its role as a key player in the development of Latin America as well as its willingness to join forces with other development organizations, such as the NDB. I have no doubt that our partnership will have a significant impact for Brazil and our other member countries and its citizens, especially the most vulnerable," said Juan Notaro.

Background information

NDB is a multilateral development bank established under the Agreement on the New Development Bank between the Governments of the Federative Republic of Brazil, the Russian Federation, the Republic of India, the People's Republic of China and the Republic of South Africa with the purpose of mobilizing resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging market economies and developing countries to complement the existing efforts of multilateral and regional financial institutions for global growth and development.

FONPLATA is a multilateral financial institution, established under the Constitutive Agreement signed by the Republic of Argentina, the Plurinational State of Bolivia, the Federative Republic of Brazil, the Republic of Paraguay and the Republic of Uruguay. Its mission is the financing of studies, projects and programs aimed at fostering the harmonic development and integration of its member countries, especially in rural and border areas of its member countries.
NDB President, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Brazil discuss main themes of the Bank's agenda in Brazilia (Президент НБР и министр иностранных дел Бразилии обсуждают основные темы повестки дня Банка в Бразилиа) / China, April, 2017
Keywords: New Development Bank, Brazil, Economics

Brasilia – On 25 April 2017, Mr. K.V.Kamath, the President of the New Development Bank met with Mr. Aloysio Nunes Ferreira, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Brazil during the first official visit of the NDB President to Brazil. During the meeting, the main themes of the Bank's current agenda, including the process of institutional consolidation and the expansion of membership were discussed.

The NDB was created in July 2014 at the BRICS Summit in Fortaleza 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. Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa have equal representation in the Bank.

In 2016, the NDB approved seven projects in the five BRICS countries, totaling over USD 1.5 bln. The NDB Board of Directors approved the provision of USD 300 mln to BNDES, Brazil's national bank for economic and social development for supporting renewable sub-projects in solar, wind, hydropower and other areas.
BRICS Bank Grants 300 mln Loan to Brazil's Renewable Sector (Банк БРИКС выделил 300 млн. долларов на развитие возобновляемого сектора в Бразилии) / India, April, 2017
Keywords: New Development Bank, Economics, investments, Brazil

The New Development Bank, jointly founded by the BRICS countries, and the Brazilian Development Bank have decided to give a loan of USD 300 million to develop the South American country's renewable energy sector.

The loan agreement was signed by Xian Zhu, vice president and chief operations officer of the NDB and Marcelo Siqueira, legal director of Brazilian Development Bank.

K V Kamath, the president of the NDB, was among those present on the occasion.

The loan has been sanctioned to facilitate sustainable development of energy infrastructure of Brazil through investments in at least five renewable energy and associated transmission projects.

A part of the loan has also been earmarked for the purpose of on-lending by BNDES to projects by way of debentures, a statement by the NDB said.

This would assist BNDES in its efforts to develop an alternative financing source for renewable energy projects and facilitate in further development of secondary market for infrastructure financial instruments.

It is estimated that the loan will enable investments that will add around 600 MW to the Brazilian power generation capacity.

"Today's signing is another milestone in the history of the Bank. In collaboration with our member countries and development partners, the NDB is supporting clean energy projects. These projects fill critical infrastructure gaps and contribute to sustainable development. This partnership with BNDES will also, I believe, support Brazil's sustainable development," Kamath said.

Jointly founded by the BRICS - Brazil, India, China and South Africa - and headquartered in Shanghai, NDB was formally opened in July last year.

The Bank supports the efforts of other financial institutions and establish a network of global, regional and local partnerships with multilateral and national development banks as well as other institutions and market players, the statement said.
Will China-led Development Banks Get the Coveted Boost to Shape a New Financial World Order?(Получит ли возглавляемый Китаем Банк Развития столь желанный рост к формированию нового финансового мирового порядка?) / South Africa, April, 2017
Keywords: New Development Bank, AIIB, Economics, financial system, opinion, credit rating agency
South Africa

The two development banks established under Beijing's leadership, widely seen as China's tools to help shape a new financial world order, are seeking ratings from international rating agencies to pave the way for future borrowing and the issuance of bonds.

The Shanghai-based New Development Bank, commonly known as the BRICS Bank, and the Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), are seeking credit ratings from Moody's, Standard and Poor's and Fitch Ratings, a vital step for them to borrow money in global capital markets and a key factor in deciding their financing costs.

Lenders such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank have obtained top-notch credit ratings from the major rating houses, but it is not yet clear if the two China-led banks will receive the same recognition.

The lenders, together with China's domestic institutions such as the Silk Road Fund and the China Development Bank, will be the key players financing China's ambitious "Belt and Road" international trade initiative.

Chinese President Xi Jinping will host the first "Belt and Road" summit in Beijing next month, with 28 state leaders confirming they will attend, to sell China's vision of reviving old trade routes.

The New Development Bank (NDB) with an initial capital base of US50 billion - China, Russia, Brazil, India and South Africa each paying US10 billion - started operations in July 2015, but the sovereign ratings of Russia, Brazil and South Africa have since declined.

"The next key milestone for the NDB is to obtain international ratings. We have started the process and are in conversations with international rating agencies," Leslie Maasdorp, vice-president and chief financial officer of the lender, said in an interview with the South China Morning Post. "Over the next six months, we anticipate we will complete the process."

The bank obtained a AAA-rating from two Chinese domestic rating agencies, helping it to sell 3 billion yuan (US435 million) worth of bonds in the mainland bond market last year.

Maasdorp said the bank plans to sell more yuan bonds in 2017. In addition, the bank will try to "access the offshore rupee market" and "raise hard currency or US dollar bonds".

There is no immediate demand for funds at the AIIB, but the lender has met potential investors regularly and seen international rating agencies to gradually build up its presence with the aim of becoming a global bond issuer, said its treasurer Soren Elbech.

"As soon as we get the ratings, we will set up a fund raising programme, hopefully by the end of this year," Elbech said at a conference in March. The AIIB has to convince potential global investors that it is not designed exclusively for China's economic diplomacy if it wants to become a global issuer, Elbech said.

The New Development Bank said earlier this month it was working on details to accept applications for new members. "The NDB has always been open to new members," Maasdorp said.

The BRICS group of nations are to dilute their equity in the bank to 11 per cent each from the current 20 per cent. Another 25 per cent of the shareholding will go to other emerging markets or developing countries, with 20 per cent reserved for developed countries if any want to join.

The AIIB has a much larger membership, 70 including Hong Kong after a round of expansion in March, despite the absence of the United States and Japan.

Brazil has best current account result since 2005 (Бразилия имеет лучший результат с 2005 года) / Brazil, April, 2017
Keywords: Brazil, economics, investment and finance

Central Bank data shows that Brazil is stronger in the international scenario, more resilient against external crises

After the measures taken by the government to reorganise the economy and help Brazil become more productive, the country is now stronger in the international scenario. Central Bank (BC) data shows that Brazil has managed to achieve a surplus for the current account in March: the metric ended the month with US$ 1.4 billion in the blue.

According to the BC, the result is the first positive for the month of March since 2005 (when the surplus was of US$ 1.7 billion). In short, a current account surplus means Brazil sold more abroad than it bought from other countries. The metric also includes all exchanges of the country with the rest of the world, whether financial or goods or services.

A contributing factor to the positive number is the higher amount of foreign investments Brazil has managed to attract to its productive sector: these inflows added to US$ 7.1 billion in March. Compared to the same month last year, they represent a 27.9% increase

Destination of investments

The Central Bank figures also show that these resources were not concentrated in a single sector. All segments of the economy received foreign investment in March, five of which stood out for their performance: Oil Products (US$ 1.37 billion), Retail (US$ 1.02 billion), Vehicles (US$ 664 million), Telecommunications (US$ 591 million) and Cellulose (US$ 578 million).
IMF: "Reforms return growth and credibility to Brazil" (МВФ: «Реформы возвращают рост и доверие к Бразилии») / Brazil, April, 2017
Keywords: Brazil, economics, recession, IMF

International Monetary Fund report shows that Brazil is on track with reforms that favour the country's growth

According to IMF estimates, with the pension reform and other structural changes, Brazil will be able to leave recession to rebuild its credibility and fiscal sustainability. The entity expects that, as of 2020, the country will once again generate primary surpluses (i.e. create additional revenue to pay debt interests). Also according to the IMF, 2020 will also be the year in which Brazil will manage to save 0.7% of GDP to keep public accounts in the blue.

The assessment includes a report published this Wednesday (19 April) during the institution's "spring meetings" in Washington DC. The document recalls the importance of the public spending ceiling approved in Brazil, adding that the measure will be further complemented by the pension reform currently under review by the National Congress.

According to the IMF, the spending cap and other reforms will help reduce Brazil's fiscal imbalance quickly. The fund said that "in Brazil, where pensions and other benefits account for about half of federal spending, the success of the strategy to contain costs will depend on pension reform, whose disbursements have shown strong growth in real terms".


In the report, the IMF also made a number of projections for the public finances. Forecasts project that the year will end with a primary deficit of 2.3% of GDP. With the reforms, this hole should decrease gradually, first to 1.1% of GDP in 2018 and then continue to improve in 2019 (-0.2% of GDP), 2020 (-0.7%), 2021 (-1.1%) and 2022 (-1.6%).
BRICS must invest in Brazilian cities, says NDB chairman (БРИКС должен инвестировать в бразильские города, говорит председатель NDB) / Brazil, April, 2017
Keywords: investment and finance, New Development Bank, Brazil, meeting, cooperation

During a meeting with President Temer, the Chairman of the New Development Bank suggested joint action with other development institutions of South American countries as a solution to help foster local economies

The Chairman of the New Development Bank, Kundapur Vaman Kamath. said this Wednesday (26) that the financial institution is interested in financing urban development projects in Brazilian municipalities and in infrastructure concessions. Founded in 2014, the institution is also known as the Brics Bank and by the acronym NBD.

Kamath attended a a meeting with President Michel Temer at the Presidential Palace. "We are looking at various options in Brazil, and one specific area is working with municipalities," said the chairman. He said he also attended meetings with the head of the General Secretariat of the Presidency, Moreira Franco, who is responsible for the Grow Project and the Investment Partnership Programme (PIP).

According to Kamath, the bank is interested in participating in the new wave of long-term investments in Brazil, which will be headed by infrastructure auctions and public works concessions. "We also discussed the concessions programme being implemented [by the Brazilian government], to see how we could participate [in these projects]."

The NBD chairman added that the institution has been seeking to develop partnerships with other regional development banks, such as the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF) and the Financial Fund for the Development of the River Plate Basin (Fonplata), to identify opportunities for action in South America.
Political events in the public life of BRICS
China to overhaul economic laws (Китай пересмотрит экономические законы) / China, April, 2017
Keywords: China, Domestic Policy, Economics

Chinese authorities are looking for ways to fast-track economic reform, moving focus from an economy that is based on manufacturing and industry toward consumer-driven services.

On Monday, they began to examine ways to amend the Standardization Law of 1989 which governed all aspects of social and economic development in the country.

At the time, the law was a main driver for industrial, technical and construction output; it has not been amended since.

Chinese legislators now want to include other scopes into the 1989 Law as a means of driving growth in those sectors.

The amendments of several articles of the 1989 law will include applying standards on services and social management.

"As the country's economy and social conditions have evolved, some of the law's existing clauses are out of date," Tian Shihong, head of the Standardization Administration of China, said in remarks carried by local news agency Xinhua.

Other sectors that will be added to fall under the Standardization Law include agriculture and environmental production.

The latter has been a key concern for the Chinese government as earlier in the year it ratified the Paris Agreement on climate change in a bid to reaffirm its commitment to curbing harmful emissions

Since then, the government said it aims to develop an "ecological civilization framework," as the country continues to grapple with toxic air pollution levels.

"Governments at all levels should remember that clear waters and green mountains are invaluable assets," said Chinese President Xi Jinping.

In recent weeks, the Chinese government has set up task forces, rapid response teams and hotlines and has begun encouraging the public to participate in campaigns against violators. It will increase environmental inspections and crackdown on polluters.

The amendments to the Standardization Law are also expected to introduce mandatory standards on national and ecological security, and health and safety.
Brazil debates Sustainable Development Goals (Бразилия обсуждает цели устойчивого развития) / Brazil, April, 2017
Keywords: Brazil, political events, domestic policy, sustainable development

Initiative highlights the Brazilian government's commitment to international targets to be achieved by 2030

The United Nations member countries, including Brazil, have new challenges to meet by 2030. As part of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), these countries have committed to meeting 169 targets through integrated actions between ministries, public bodies and agencies.

The subject was discussed at a meeting held this Tuesday (25) with the Brazilian Minister of Science, Technology, Innovation and Communications, Gilberto Kassab, and the National Social Liaison Secretary of the Presidency of the Republic, Henrique Vila da Costa Ferreira.

"The MCTIC has a great responsibility before all ministries in ensuring that the federal government can set its example by adding priorities, enhancing actions and creating conditions to monitor what happens in Brazil, in any dimension," said Kassab.

The 2016-2030 SDGs succeed the Millennium Development Goals (the MDGs, established for the 2000-2015 period). Due to its international protagonism in achieving the MDG targets, Brazil got a seat on the UN High-Level Group that monitors the worldwide implementation of the Agenda 2030.

According to Secretary Vila, the initiative marks the government's commitment to the international targets. "It's a long-term agenda that deals with topics that are absolutely fundamental for the Brazilian population: poverty, sanitation, child mortality. These are major goals, and they constantly relate to our problems."

Agenda 2030

In 2015, UN member countries undertook the commitment to implement a universal and integrated agenda, entitled "Transforming Our World: the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development".

The Brazilian government was tasked with the role of guiding coordinated and integrated actions to implement the agenda at the national level.

"It's a global agenda for sustainable development that gather together nearly 200 UN countries. Several actions are underway in Brazil, including integration actions and calls to governance. The idea is to have our internal agencies understand the targets internally so they can contribute to this agenda through their programmes, projects and initiatives," said Henrique Vila.

Here are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals:

1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere;

2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture;

3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages;

4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all;

5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls;

6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all;

7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all;

8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all;

9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation;

10. Reducing inequality within and between countries;

11. Make cities and inclusive human settlements, secure, resilient and sustainable;

12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns;

13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts;

14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development;

15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss;

16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels;

17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.
Temer: "The goal is to get the country out of the recession" (Теймер: «Цель состоит в том, чтобы вывести страну из рецессии») / Brazil, April, 2017
Keywords: Brazil, economics, recession, political events

President told Spanish news agency Efe that the economic policy reforms underway are already boosting confidence for foreign investors, including from Spain

The main goal of the federal government is to rescue the country from recession. The statement was made by Brazilian President Michel Temer during an interview with the Efe news agency. He told the Spanish journalists that he intends to be remembered as "someone who reshaped the country".

Temer mentioned that tax reforms are necessary to get the country out the economic crisis it is currently facing. "My government's biggest achievement will be to put the country back on track" One of the reforms underway is in the pension system, the bill for which is currently being reviewed by the National Congress.

"The idea is that whomever takes over the Brazilian government in 2019 will find an organised country, especially in light of the reforms we are implementing," he said, adding that other reforms, such as the ceiling for public spending, have also helped balance the government budget.

Temer also mentioned the official visit to Brazil by the Spanish President of the Government, Mariano Rajoy, which begins this Monday (24). "We, the Brazilian government, have a lot of interest in this interaction between Brazil and Spain via Spanish investments and, even further, are making the necessary reforms (to attract investment)," he pondered.

According to the Brazilian president, the agreements signed between Brazil and Spain are going to boost the privatisation and concession programme now underway. More than 60 productive sectors have already been covered, including ports, airports and highways.

"This is the result of the credibility, the confidence that Brazil is regaining, both from domestic and foreign investors," the president said. For Temer, Spanish investments should focus on the privatised sectors, such as telephony in Brazil, in which Spanish companies already have a stake.

Bilateral Relationship

Spain became one of the largest global investors in Brazil. In 2016, the stock of Spanish investment in the country reached US$ 64 billion, raising the European country's position to 11th in the ranking of top destinations of Brazilian exports.
Chamber passes bill modernising labour relations (Палата приняла законопроект о модернизации трудовых отношений) / Brazil, April, 2017
Keywords: Brazil, political events, domestic policy, labour protection, laws

Proposal strengthens collective bargaining agreements and regulates intermittent work and temporary jobs, among other measures

This Wednesday (26), the Chamber of Deputies (Brazil's lower house of congress) approved, by 296 votes to 177, the basic text of the bill that modernises labour relations in the country. Aiming to provide a much-needed boost to the labour market and increase legal certainty for companies, the new legislation provides that collective bargaining agreements can prevail over the law on certain matters and unions will no longer be required to assist workers in the termination of employment contracts.

With the changes, workers and companies can better adapt to changes in the current reality of the labour market, which is more dynamic, and the levels of informal work are also expected to decrease. The amendments proposed to the basic text are still being reviewed by the legislature.

Some of the major improvements the new bill introduces to Brazil's current labour code (the so-called Consolidation of Labour Laws, or CLT) include the prevalence of agreements between employers and employees over laws, regulations for intermittent and temporary work and more flexibility on how employees can spend their vacation days, which are part of the 16 issues for which the new law would allow bargaining agreements to override the law.

The text approved also provides for safeguards to protect workers. For example, arrangements such as working hours and compensatory time can now be more flexible, but other rights guaranteed by the Constitution, such as the right to the "13th salary" (a one-month-wage yearly bonus provided for in law) may not be reduced or changed.

In addition, the text also prohibits the dismissal of an employee and his/her immediate rehiring as an outsourced supplier. Under the proposal, employees who are dismissed are subject to a "quarantine" of 18 months before they can be hired under a different system from the one through which they were originally hired.

One of the main economic measures of the federal government, the modernisation of the CLT will help reduce the backlog of labour courts and greatly simplify work relations for several professional categories, some of which are governed by seven different pieces of legislation.
World of work
Social policy, trade unions, actions
Africa: Life and Coal - the Other Way Africa Can Leapfrog On Energy (Африка: жизнь и уголь - другой путь, по которому Африка может скакнуть в энергетике) / South Africa, April, 2017
Keywords: Africa, world of work, energy
South Africa
Author: André Breedt

Off-grid renewables are not the only, or the best, way for the power-starved continent to increase energy generation and reduce emissions.

Ever since Africa's mobile revolution eliminated the need for expensive fixed-line telecoms, the idea of the continent "leapfrogging" the rest of the world has become gospel.

Both inside and outside the continent, commentators have for years enthused about the possibility of Africa skipping the arduous steps taken by other regions of the world and launching straight into more advanced technologies.

This idea has been particularly strongly advocated in the area of energy. Rather than following the path of developing more traditional on-grid forms of power generation, many argue that Africa can jump straight to renewables and off-grid technologies.

Businesses such as the Swedish company TRINE have tried to make this a reality. Under its model, customers get use of solar kits to generate electricity, paying for the equipment in monthly instalments. Already, nearly 100,000 people across Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Senegal and Uganda are signed up.

Ventures such as this are tapping into a massive potential market. Sub-Saharan Africa is by far the least electrified continent, with an estimated 632 million people without basic energy - more than half the global total. Spain alone generates about as much electricity as the region's 48 countries put together.

Add to this state of affairs the need to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, and the appeal of Africa overtaking the rest of the world and going straight into renewable off-grid alternatives is obvious.

But unfortunately, things aren't so simple. Africa can and should leapfrog the rest of the world on energy, but not necessarily in the ways that are usually proposed.

Power for all?

The idea of rolling out off-grid solar technology in Africa has clear attractions. But it should be noted that Africa is not the only region trying to use localised solar panels to make up for an inadequate power grid. In India, Narendra Modi's "Power For All" pledge has involved installing solar panels in thousands of villages.

This has brought greater electricity access to some, but residents of these newly "electrified" villages continue to suffer from a highly intermittent and uncertain supply. Particularly in the winter, people are plunged into darkness early in the evening as the energy runs out, forcing villagers to turn to highly polluting kerosene lamps. The technology as it stands is insufficient to provide the kind of consistent and reliable supply needed.

However, even if off-grid solar initiatives could provide a steadier source, the potential would still be highly limited. Such solutions may be able to power remote villages, benefiting several households. But in order for African countries to truly develop and industrialise, energy capacity will need to be increased on a huge scale.

Renewables can be part of that, but especially given governments' limited financial resources, the region needs to expand power generation in the most reliable, efficient and cost-effective way possible. At the moment, that means large-scale production, including the use of fossil fuels. Renewable energy sources may be getting cheaper, but they are still economically unviable for many governments.

Sub-Saharan Africa must of course be part of tackling climate change. But especially given that the region has contributed the least to the problem yet faces many of the direst consequences of it, the burden should not lie with a power-starved Africa.

Old energy, new technologies

This reality is well-understood on the continent.

The African Development Bank's "New Deal on Energy for Africa", which aims to provide universal access to energy for all Africans by 2025, explicitly includes fossil fuels. In 2016, the then chair of the African Union Commission, Nkosozana Dlamini-Zuma, commented: "coal will be part of the energy mix. I don't think it should be the sole source of energy but it will be part of the mix".

And earlier this month, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan argued that "the cost of transitioning to renewables may be prohibitively high in the short term - especially for countries that use their sizeable endowments of coal and other fossil fuels to generate energy".

Indeed, coal currently accounts for around 24% of all electricity generated in Africa, and the continent will struggle to develop without tapping into its plentiful coal deposits. Although World Bank financing may have shifted away from fossil fuel projects, investors from China and elsewhere have jumped into the fray. Meanwhile, both the BRICS New Development Bank and the African Development Bank have made developing coal a priority for development.

Relying on fossil fuels may seem like a conservative and environmentally-damaging approach. But if done the right way, Africa can still leapfrog the rest of the world and curb global carbon emissions at the same time.

Once again, India offers some key lessons. There, ground-breaking carbon capture technologies have passed the proof-of-concept hurdle and are now offering systems that can be implemented in existing or new power plants to mitigate the impact of burning fossil fuels.

The Indian government also has plans to take up to 40GW of ageing coal plants offline and replace them with supercritical ones. According to Power Minister Piyush Goyal, this transition to new technologies will have an even greater impact on reducing emissions than the 100GW India is planning in renewables.

In fact, the latest iterations of coal power plants emit less than 100g of CO2 per kilowatt-hour of electricity generated. That's almost as little as a traditional photovoltaic solar panel.

As India is experiencing, renewables can be costly and intermittent, and struggle to provide enough baseload power. It hopes that investing in supercritical coal power plants can bridge the gap and satisfy both climate commitments and energy security.

The debate over energy sources remains heated, but one universal point of agreement is that Africa's chronic energy poverty needs to be solved as quickly as possible.

Leaving 632 million Africans without power not only means that 2-4% of GDP growth is squandered annually, but it means that 255 million people are forced to seek healthcare in facilities with no electricity. It means that four million people (primarily women and children) die each year because they are forced to burn wood and dung for heating and as cooking fuel.

Continent-wide electrification will save millions of lives. This cannot wait, and as Annan put it earlier this month: "African governments [must] harness every available energy option, in as cost-effective and technologically efficient manner as possible, so that no one is left behind".
8th BRICS HIPO (Head of Intellectual Property Offices) Meeting at, NEW DELHI 6th & 7th April, 2017. (8-я встреча БРИКС-РОИС (руководитель отдела интеллектуальной собственности), Нью-Дели, 6-7 апреля 2017 года.) / India, April, 2017
Keywords: BRICS HIPO, India, World of Work, Russia, Rospatent

The 8th BRICS HIPO (Head of Intellectual Property Offices) meeting was held at New Delhi under India's Chairmanship. The meeting was chaired by Shri O.P.Gupta , Controller General of Patents , Designs and Trade Marks and GI. All Head of IP offices from the BRICS countries ledtheir delegation in this meeting. Altogether 17 participants from BRICS countries participated in the said event. Shri Rajiv Aggarwal, Joint Secretary, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of Indiadelivered the keynote address.

The meetingreviewed the progress of IP cooperation between the BRICS countries in the past years and also deliberated and adopted documents within six cooperation areas based on the BRICS IPR Cooperation Roadmap programme.During the year India successfully conducted BRICS Examiners Training program and Coordinators meeting at Nagpur, besides 7th BRICS HIPO Meeting at Geneva on the sidlines meeting of WIPO General Assemblies.

During the two days meeting, the BRICS IP offices held talks on topics such as "Exceptions and Limitations" & "Markush Structure related Inventions"; "IP and Development" and also exchanged views on subjects such as joint comparative studies on specific topics of IP law and IP distance education, IP Classification,Traditional Knowledge, common views on the issues of working committee meetings at the WIPO and other international fora etc. After the two days delibrations , the BRICS IP offices unimousely adopted and signed the summary report of the meeting.

On the sidelines of this two days meeting, CGPDTM-India also conducted three bilateral meetings with Rospatent-Russian Federation, INPI-Brazil and SIPO-China respectively. The bilateral meetings were held on cooperation activities in areas of examination of IP Applications and IP training and expert exchanges in automation, data exchange protocols, ISA/IPEA, TKDL database etc.

AMR as a Key Issue for BRICS and Low-Middle Income Countries (Противомикробная резистентность как ключевой вопрос для стран БРИКС и стран с низким и средним уровнем дохода) / Switzerland, April, 2017
Keywords: Healthcare, opinion, world of work
Author: Garance Fannie Upham

1) The BRICS and LMI countries (Brazil, Thailand, etc.) have recently insisted in WHO fora that the issue of pharmaceutical resistance should not allow global health policy setting to forget 'access' because more people die yearly from lack of access to antibiotics than from resistance to medicines. Today this message has begun to be heard : United Nations Access campaign and other fora have revived a worldwide access to medicines campaign.

2) Resistance is a global phenomenon and low income countries and communities will have a harder time facing this problem, especially because of weak health care systems.

3) There is a tendency among doctors treating middle class patients in LMICs to prescribe latest antibiotics because they are informed about the 'resistance' issue, so they prescribe strong, last state of the art meds 'just in case', but in doing so, they fuel resistance in their own settings. The same error exists, of course, in well-to-do countries.

4) The lack of diagnostic tools, diagnostics laboratories and personnel, means that antibiotics are prescribed needlessly, for example, for children with diarrhea while most of it may be viral or parasitic in origin. And hospitals do not provide the full course of treatment (even when cheap generics are there), forcing poor parents unto the black market where substandard drugs may be offered.

5) To reduce demands on antibiotics in poor countries, the first, essential policy action would be to invest in safe potable water and sanitation. The London School of Economics did a remarkable study (The Impact of Water and Sanitation on Diarrheal Disease Burden and Over-Prescriptions of Antibiotics) on four countries : Brazil, India, Indonesia and Nigeria and their analysis was that close to 500 million cases of childhood diarrhea every year in these 4 countries would be prevented by implementation of WASH (Water- Sanitation- Hygiene), a study commissioned by the UK based Review on AMR (report number 6), March 2016.

6) There is an urgent unmet need for 'Infection Prevention and Control', ie patient safety and health care workers safety in health care systems. But no one is putting in the effort. Even in Ebola devastated countries, the funding went to Zika after the Ebola immediate crisis was over, leaving health structures as dirty as before and thus as dangerous in the time of AMR as could be. The WHO DG Dr Chan initiated safe injection campaign a couple of years ago, has been limited to pilots in 4 countries for lack of funding, leaving intact the estimated 6 billion estimated dirty injection practices per year in health care systems. The campaign for 'Smart (Non-Reusable) Syringes' will be relaunched at the May 10-12 WHO World Forum on Medical Devices, in Geneva this year.

7) The HIV AIDS epidemic has no end in sight (Cape Town AIDS conference outcome): yet PLWHIVAIDS will be the first affected by AMR, and are already the first to die from AMR because a) opportunistic infections may also be the drug-resistant type b) they will be more at risk from contracting a drug-resistant infection in health care because they will be more frequently in these, c) they are at risk from antiretroviral-resistant HIV (both acquired or health system transmitted). See Nigel Livesley, ASSIST USAID program in AMR Control 2016.

8) The tuberculosis epidemic is wide and continuing and latest estimates of drug resistant TB in India are that real figures are 2 to 3 times higher than reported up to now. (The Lancet, Aug 24th 2016, estimates from drug sales). Yet TB, from India to Eastern Europe, or Greece, is intimately linked with poverty, overcrowded slums, poor nutrition, or helminthic parasitic pollution of the water supply (study in South African slums). Besides better point of care diagnosis for TB and TB drug susceptibility, there is an urgent need for better housing, nutrition, better working conditions for the poor of the world, as well as for the jail inmates. Let us not forget that HIV fuels tuberculosis and that tuberculosis fuels HIV in turn (NIAID 1996)

9) The dumping of untreated waste from antibiotic manufacturing in emerging countries (where most of worldwide medicine production is based) as well as a number of wealthier countries, combined with the dumping of waste from meat and fish industries (both antibiotics residues and meat waste with bacteria resistant to antibiotics) into rivers and soil is a global problem. There is an urgent need for State regulations to forbid this dumping as it is one of the main source for the creation of bacterial genes resistant to antibiotics which have demonstrated the capacity for worldwide travel. There is an urgent need to demand and impose that corporations and manufacturers, as well as hospital structures, use proper technologies to treat their waste and not release them in the environment. Some industries have called for responsibility in this regard (DSM Sinochem). There is an urgent need for cleaner practices and more respect for meat industry workforce as indicated in the new book "Chickenizing", a first history of food production.

10) While the need for new antibiotics is very real, does it mean that reward for R&D should be equal to the one billion dollar expected income from sales of just one anti-cancer drug or one anti-HIV drug? There is an urgent need to think through a public inter-governmental system to reward public or private innovation in antibiotics with an adequate Prize system. There is also the need to examine the potential of plants (90% of plants used in traditional medicines have not been researched, says Cassandra Quave, Emory University in AMR Control 2016), as well as to invest into R&D in other avenues such as the use of phages (viruses which exist in nature, specific to bacterias). The Pasteur Institute is organizing a Phage day on April 27, 2017.

In the face of this there is, unfortunately, a tendency to ask for extended or even 'lifelong' patents, and prices to be multiplied a 10 to 100 fold or more.


Too many global programs on AMR (most of them, in fact) start with behavior modification:

– patients called 'users' should behave better and not ask for antibiotics from prescribers, and should take their prescription to the end (the later recommendation has no scientific basis, except for special long term treatment diseases like tuberculosis);

– doctors should behave better (and prescribe less);

– hospitals should prescribe less (while sometimes their income is related to their sales of meds!),

– veterinarians should prescribe less (but there too, their income may be tied to their sales),

Perhaps, indeed, all true (or most of it).

Yet, the underlying hypothesis is that of the economic 'free agent' in the 'free market'- whereas the response ought to be from the standpoint of public interest and public health.

Doctors must also have a certain degree of freedom and guidelines not put people with co-infections at risk. We need fundamental research on co-infections and take it into consideration in programs (helminths and TB, helminths and HIV, measles and bacteria, etc.)

There is a need to STOP BLAMING THE VICTIM and take public health responsible action.

In the face of AMR the need is for PUBLIC INTEREST INVESTMENTS and orientation: clean environment, access to clean water, stronger and much cleaner health systems, regulations for public health, and stronger investments in public universities basic research.

At the same time, and contrary to the 'evidence-based' quick fix and solutions, the issue of AMR poses a challenge to the health system as a whole.

There is an urgent need to develop a 'patient based system', which does not mean one where the patient is treated as a mythical 'free consumer' but, rather, a 21rst century science based health system which goes to the patient instead of demanding that the patient travel to treatment in LMICs. With internet, video capsules in gastroenterology, ambulatory surgery, diagnostic at the point-of-care and from a distance, clean water generation, solar and other electricity producing innovations, we could envision a very modern form of primary and secondary health care:

AMR poses that global challenge: implementing the Right to Health for All.
BRICS Business Council Held the April Multilateral Teleconference (Деловой совет БРИКС провел апрельскую многостороннюю телеконференцию) / China, April, 2017
Keywords: China, international relations, cooperation, Business Council

The April teleconference of the BRICS Business Council was held at 18:00pm (Standard Beijing Time) on April 26, 2017. The meeting was hosted by Mr. XU Chao, Secretary General of China BRICS Business Council, and also attended by Ms. Silvia Menicucci from CNI of Brazil, Ms. Elena Gaiazova from CCI of Russia, Mr. Naveen Kapur from Apollo Tyres Ltd. of India, and Ms. Hannah Millar from Sekunjalo Investment Limited of South Africa.

The meeting fully discussed a series of topics including the eight key deliverables, three major activities of the Council this year, and the general structure and timetable of the Annual Report to be submitted to the BRICS Heads of State at Xiamen Summit.

BRICS Business Council holds a teleconference every month since its establishment in March 2013. The monthly teleconference is an effective working mechanism that facilitates work of the Council, ensures information sharing, and cements friendship among BRICS business communities.
Five-country coproduction to open BRICS film festival (Произведение, созданное пятью странами совместно, открывает кинофестиваль в БРИКС) / China, April, 2017
Keywords: China, film festival, world of work
Author: Xu Fan

Chinese filmmaker Jia Zhangke has teamed up with four established directors from Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa to make a movie.

Where Has the Time Gone is a feature-length coproduction that will be the opening film at the upcoming 2nd BRICS Film Festival, to be held in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province, from June 23 to 27.

The movie consists of five short stories, 18 minutes each, done by the five directors.

Each film, done in the local language, portrays the country's unique culture, says Jia.

Besides Jia, the other directors are Walter Salles from Brazil; Aleksey Fedorchenko from Russia; Madhur Bhandarkar from India and Jahmil X.T.Quebka from South Africa.

The directors are all masters in their own right.

For instance, Salles' Central Station was nominated for the Oscars in the best foreign language category in 1999, and Quebka is seen as one of the best directors in South Africa thanks to A Small Town Called Descent (2010) and Of Good Report (2013).

Jia is internationally known for his socially conscious films, such as Still Life, a Golden Lion winner in Venice in 2006; and Mountains May Depart, nominated in Cannes in 2015.

Most of Jia's early movies are based in his province of Shanxi, which is also the case with his short piece in Where Has the Time Gone.

Called Revive, the tale, starring Zhao Tao, his favorite actress, is about a couple's decision to have a second child.

"It (the film) is a blend of social reflection and comedy, and my personal views about time," says Jia.

Jia, 47, who is also the chief producer of the project, says that language barriers and the pace of work were biggest challenges for the five-nation coproduction.

But art travels across borders.

"Where Has the Time Gone is a universal theme. It struck a chord with all the directors, They each use a unique narration style to explore the topic," he says.

The movie, backed by Chinese studios, will open across the Chinese mainland in September.

Ma Li, director-general of the International Cooperation Department of the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, says the festival is expected to prompt more coproductions with BRICS countries.

He Lyvzhang, vice-secretary of the Sichuan provincial government, says the festival, which will be held in China for the first time, is a cinematic event which aims to be a cultural bridge among BRICS nations.

Up to 30 movies from the five countries will form part in the festival.

Chinese director Xie Fei, who won a Golden Bear at Berlin in 1993 for The Women from the Lake of Scented Souls, will head the jury at the event.

Comprehensive reports, BRICS research materials
Abstract: BRICS and the Global Investment Regime (Отрывок: БРИКС и Режим глобальных инвестиций) / Israel, April, 2017
Keywords: global investment regime, FDI, research
Author: Yoram Z. Haftel

What role do Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (BRICS) play in the global investment regime and what policies do they espouse? How can we account for similarities among and differences across these countries with respect to their approach to international investment agreements (IIAs) and investment arbitration? What are their implications for the future of this regime? This study addresses these questions by situating emerging market economies in the persistent North-South divide, that is endemic to the global politics of foreign direct investment (FDI). Surveying the policies of the five countries since the 1980s, it shows that all were initially motivated to provide foreign investors with protection against political risk in order to attract FDI. As their own position in the global economy has changed and the rules of the regime itself have evolved, the investment policies of the BRICS countries have transformed, albeit in distinct ways. China and, to a lesser extent, Russia appear broadly content with the current state of affairs. Brazil, India, and South Africa, on the other hand, seem to object to current rules, which they view as overly protective of foreign investors at the expense of host state regulatory space. I argue and show that two factors – the amount of FDI outflows and regime type – usefully account for the observed variation across BRICS' international investment policies, but that more research is needed to fully understand this matter. Regardless its sources, the diversity between the BRICS countries suggests that the prospects of them shaping the rules of the global investment regime, either individually or collectively, are rather bleak.
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