Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 47.2019
2019.11.18 — 2019.11.24
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Key BRICS initiatives sound warning for Western leaders (Ключевые инициативы БРИКС звучат предупреждением для западных лидеров) / Canada, November, 2019

Andrew Hammond is an associate at LSE IDEAS at the London School of Economics

The BRICS meeting of presidents and prime ministers from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa finished last week with warnings about trade protectionism and unilateralism from developed countries. The bloc was originally formed for its economic potential, yet it has also seen political co-operation rise to the fore amid concerns that it could become an anti-Western bloc standing up to what Chinese President Xi Jinping called "bullying."

This growing political bent is exemplified by several key initiatives. First, the creation of the New Development Bank (NDB), an alternative to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, which will finance infrastructure and other projects in the BRICS countries, and a related US$100-billion special currency reserve fund. One driver for the new bank is the perception that it will allow the BRICS governments to better promote their political interests abroad.

Another initiative, perceived to challenge U.S. dominance in information technology, was most recently discussed in August when BRICS communications ministers signed a letter of intent to co-operate in the sector. This builds on plans, first proposed in 2012, for a potential optical-fibre cable system to carry telecommunications between the BRICS countries, partly as means to try to evade the purview of Western intelligence agencies, including the U.S. National Security Agency.

These examples underline the hunger of the BRICS to become even bigger political (not just economic) players, raising fears in some quarters that the bloc could, ultimately, become a unified anti-Western alliance. The five countries encompass about 25 per cent of the world's land coverage and global gross domestic product, and about 40 per cent of the world's population.

To be sure, the BRICS countries (like others across the world) have shared concerns about key elements of the prevailing global order, including Donald Trump's trade tariffs, which Mr. Xi called "bullying" last week. However, it is unlikely, for the immediate future at least, that this will mean the BRICS countries will move decisively beyond an increasingly institutionalized forum for emerging market co-operation.

Part of the reason for this is the heterogeneity of the club. Take the example of China's periodic tensions with India, including over border issues, which can adversely impact relations between the two.

At the same time that BRICS are stepping up their political co-operation, there is growing skepticism of the relevance of the group as an economic club. Standard & Poor's (S&P) last month highlighted the diverging long-term economic trajectory of the five countries.

China and India have seen generally robust economic performance over the past two decades, contrasting with often-disappointing results in Brazil, Russia and South Africa, S&P said. And this means that there is growing uncertainty over whether the bloc will fullfil the prediction of British economist Jim O'Neill – who originally coined the BRICS concept – that it will overtake the Group of Seven′s collective economic output in around a decade and a half.

Yet, with BRICS already accounting for around a quarter of global GDP, their overall growth is already having a major global impact. World Bank research, for instance, has showed that for the first time in some two centuries, overall global income inequality – one, but not the only, measure of economic inequality – appears to be declining.

This is being driven by BRICS and other emerging markets – the collective economic growth and very large populations of India and China, in particular, have lifted a massive number of people out of poverty, driving this greater overall global income inequality trend.

At the same time, however, there is an opposing force: growing income inequality within many countries. It is this factor that has also assumed growing political salience recently helping fuel populist, nationalist politicians including Mr. Trump.

The net global trend for the past 200 years has been toward greater overall income inequality, yet there is increasing evidence in the past two decades that the "positive effect" of growing income equality between countries – spurred by BRICS and the development of the global South – is superseding the "negative effect" from increasing inequality within countries.

It is unclear whether the BRICS and wider development of the global South has enough momentum to keep driving forward a more equitable world order. This will depend, largely, on the same twin issues of whether emerging markets generally continue growing robustly, and also whether the trend toward rising income inequality within countries is sustained.

On the first issue, the trajectory of the global economy will very likely continue to shift toward the South, but the remarkable wave of emerging market growth of the last generation may now decelerate. On the second issue, it is not set in stone that ever-growing income inequality within countries will continue, but it is unclear whether there is the political will to address it in many countries.

Taken overall, while the relevance of the BRICS as an economic club is increasingly questioned, they have helped drive what appears to be the first period of sustained movement toward greater global income equality for 200 years. While this is a hugely significant achievement, the fragile process could yet go into reverse, especially if growth in China and India flattens significantly.
BRICS on the ball? (БРИКС на высоте?) / India, November, 2019
Keywords: summit, expert_opinion

The 11th summit of the BRICS grouping comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa was held in Brasilia last week. Pitted as a counterweight to G7, the combine of developed economies, BRICS represents the world's top emerging economies and claims to serve as a bridge between the developed and developing world. What are its current concerns and priorities? Questions are also being raised about its efficacy and impact.

Brasilia outcome

With Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro as the chair, BRICS was supposed to go into a slow mode. Instead, it hosted 116 meetings of leaders, ministers and others. During Brazil's chairship, the grouping reported 30 new outcomes, initiatives and documents. The latest summit needed a 73 para-long Brasilia Declaration to spell out the leaders' shared worldview and spectrum of their work.

However, it is difficult to identify new elements in the BRICS's endeavour to strengthen and reform the multilateral system. The "urgent need" to reform the UN, the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund and other international organisations was stressed once again, even as little progress has occurred on this score. Interest in open and free trade was reiterated, despite growing protectionist tendencies. On expansion of the UN Security Council, BRICS exposed its disunity yet again by sticking to the formulation that refuses to go beyond China and Russia supporting the "aspiration" of Brazil, India and South Africa "to play a greater role in the UN".

Much to India's satisfaction, the commitment of BRICS to counterterrorism seems to be getting strengthened. Its working group on countering terrorism has expanded its activities through five thematic subgroups that deal with terrorist financing, use of Internet for terrorist purposes, countering radicalisation, issue of foreign terrorist fighters, and capacity building. If these exertions make India more secure, they will be most welcome.

Where the BRICS shows signs of advancing is in the economic domain. Here, five facets need to be highlighted. First, the New Development Bank (NDB), the grouping's flagship achievement, has 44 projects with its lending touching $12.4 billion, in just five years. This is not a small gain, but the bank needs to grow as "a global development finance institution". A move is now afoot to open its membership selectively. The summit leaders are understood to have agreed on the criteria and probably on a list of nations as possible new members, although a formal decision has been left to the bank's board of governors. NDB has opened its regional centres in South Africa and Brazil, and will do so in Russia and India in 2020.

Second, with a successful Contingent Reserve Arrangement in the bag, BRICS governments are set to establish a local currency Bond Fund. But the earlier proposal to launch a credit rating agency remains shelved due to internal differences.

Third, business promotion among member-states has been accorded a new salience. The BRICS Business Council held a substantive dialogue to foster cooperation in areas ranging from infrastructure and energy to financial services, regional aviation and digital economy. Its cooperation with the NDB is being encouraged. The national trade promotion agencies signed an MoU on cooperation among themselves. A BRICS Women Business Alliance was created, both as a women empowerment measure and as a tool to bring "a distinctive perspective on issues of interest for the business community."

Fourth, following up on the decisions taken at the previous summit, operationalisation of the Partnership on New Industrial Revolution is underway. It is focused on cooperation in digitalisation, industrialisation, innovation, inclusiveness and investment. This partnership will be concretised by establishing industrial and science parks, innovation centres and business incubators.

Fifth, the stress on developing people-to-people interaction remains unchanged, with each chair-country drawing up a calendar of activities to strengthen links of culture, arts, sports, media and academic exchange.

To what avail?

The contribution of BRICS to project the perspectives of developing economies is laudable. However, by hosting outreach meetings with countries in its neighbouring (or broader) region, each chair (with Brazil's exception) gave the impression that BRICS would do more for them. But the NDB has been lagging behind on this score. It needs to start extending loans for projects in non-BRICS countries to create a solid constituency of supporters. Also, is such a plethora of meetings really essential? Do the results justify the expenditure? India's representatives should ask, do they help the poor and vulnerable sections of the BRICS community? Finally, BRICS should ponder if in the short term it needs to focus on fulfilling existing commitments instead of taking on new ones.

Rajiv Bhatia, a former High Commissioner to South Africa, is Distinguished Fellow, Gateway House

BRICS mechanism opens new spaces for cooperation (Механизм БРИКС открывает новые просторы для сотрудничества) / China, November, 2019
Keywords: cooperation

Kids and Glory, the first documentary co-produced by the BRICS countries premiered in Brasilia, Brazil recently. In the documentary, teenagers of different races run on the same soccer pitch; crowds cheer on the bleachers; young soccer players shed sweat and tears for their dreams; presenting splendid yet touching stories.

The documentary marks another attempt by the BRICS countries in joint film production after they co-produced the three movies of Where Has Time Gone?, Half the Sky and Neighbors.

This time the cooperation has gone deeper and more extensive, opening new spaces for people-to-people and cultural exchanges among the BRICS countries.

Located on four different continents and spanning across the northern and southern hemispheres, the BRICS countries all enjoy long histories and splendid cultures. They are important symbols of the diversity of human civilization.

Though separated by mountains and rivers, the people of the five countries share a fine tradition of mutual learning since ancient times. Carrying on the tradition and tightening the bond of communication, the BRICS countries are now building closer people-to-people ties and enhancing mutual trust, so as to solidify the basis for in-depth cooperation.

Cultural and people-to-people exchanges have always been a priority for China in promoting BRICS cooperation. The success of the Ninth BRICS Summit held in China's Xiamen two years ago has further energized the cooperative mechanism. The dual-engine of economy and politics is now incorporated with cultural connotation. As a result, the BRICS partnership has rooted deeper in people's hearts and gained stronger public support.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said at the 2017 BRICS Summit in Xiamen that "Mutual understanding and friendship among peoples is crucial to enhancing BRICS cooperation and building extensive partnerships". A year later, he underscored at the 2018 BRICS Summit in Johannesburg that "We should aim at greater people-to-people connectivity and more popular support for BRICS cooperation through extensive exchanges in cultural, educational, health, sports, tourism and other areas." These remarks by the Chinese President indicated the significance of people-to-people and cultural exchanges to the BRICS cooperation.

Under the joint efforts of the BRICS countries, a series of exchange activities have been carried out since 2017. For instance, they co-produced films and hosted BRICS film festivals, held high-level media forums and BRICS Games. Besides, they also initiated a number of activities such as the BRICS Think Tanks Council, the BRICS Academic Forum, the BRICS Political Parties, Think-tanks and Civil Society Organizations Forum, the BRICS Young Diplomats Forum, the BRICS Youth Summit and the BRICS Young Scientist Forum.

With "people" being put at the center, the people-to-people and cultural exchanges among the BRICS countries have experienced accelerated speed of development at a deeper level.

The practices of the of BRICS countries in their exchanges and mutual learning prove that based on mutual respect and mutual understanding, countries with different social systems can inclusively co-exist with each other; countries on different development paths can work with each other; and countries with different cultures and values can learn from each other.

As the people-to-people and cultural exchanges among BRICS countries are gaining increasing momentum, different cultures are being respectively appreciated and jointly forming a harmonious chorus.

This manifests the BRICS spirit of openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation, a common aspiration shared by the BRICS countries and even the global people, and the only way to build a community with a shared future for mankind.

Chinese, Russian FMs pledge to cement coordination, cooperation (Главы МИД Китая и России обещают укрепить координацию и сотрудничество) / China, November, 2019
Keywords: sergey_lavrov, wang_yi, foreign_ministers_meeting

NAGOYA, Japan -- Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov agreed on Saturday to further strengthen coordination and cooperation within multilateral frameworks between the two countries.

Meeting on the sidelines of the Group of 20 (G20) Foreign Ministers' Meeting, Wang said that thanks to joint efforts from both sides, pragmatic cooperation between the two countries has witnessed rapid development, with cooperation at local levels being significantly improved, as this year marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Russia.

China is ready to work with Russia to plan high-level exchange of visits next year, jointly celebrate the 75th anniversary of the victory of World War II, host a successful China-Russia year of scientific and technological innovation, and further enrich the China-Russia relations in the new era, Wang said.

Faced with increasing unilateralism and uncertainties in the world, China and Russia have reached consensus on upholding multilateralism and maintaining international strategic stability, he said.

The two sides should further strengthen coordination and cooperation within multilateral frameworks such as BRICS, and safeguard multilateralism and multilateral trading system so as to contribute to world peace and stability, Wang added.

Lavrov said Russia and China have conducted effective bilateral coordination as well as within multilateral frameworks such as the G20 and BRICS.

He said Russia is willing to keep close business contacts with China and deepen cooperation in various fields.

Russia advocates upholding the principles of equality, justice and win-win in international relations and opposes certain country undermining universally recognized international rules, Lavrov said.

The two sides also exchanged views on the situation of the Korean Peninsula and other international and regional issues of common concern.

Russia May Hold BRICS 2020 Summit in Extended Formats - Foreign Ministry (Россия может провести саммит БРИКС-2020 в расширенном формате - МИД) / Russia, November, 2019
Keywords: summit

Russia may hold next year's BRICS summit in the so-called Outreach Dialogue and BRICS Plus formats, a senior diplomat with the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

"The Outreach Dialogue and the Plus formats are aimed primarily at involving other countries in the work of our organization to discuss current problems, challenges and issues. Probably, these formats require institutionalization, and this may be [put] on BRICS' short-term agenda. We are not abandoning the idea of holding the 2020 summit in those formats," Adviser for the Foreign Policy Planning Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry Mikhail Malkov said during a roundtable discussion organized by the Rossiya Segodnya news agency.

The BRICS Outreach Dialogue is a regional cooperation format, launched by South Africa during its presidency in 2013, that aims at involving regional neighbors of the host country in BRICS activities. The BRICS Plus concept, meanwhile, envisions a more global format of cooperation that allows the engagement of countries from all over the world.

Russia is to chair the bloc in 2020.

BRICS: Modi's Foreign Policy Pivot (БРИКС: внешняя политика Моди) / India, November, 2019
Keywords: narendra_modi, expert_opinion

BRICS, which in many ways is redefining multilateralism and multiculturalism, has emerged as a template for cooperation between emerging powers and a useful instrument for India to fight the agenda-setting monopoly of Atlantic powers, writes Sanju Verma.

By Sanju Verma

BRIC was formed as a formal grouping in Saint Petersburg in September 2006, with the 1st official summit being held in June 2009 at Yekaterinburg in Russia. BRIC became BRICS only in 2010, with the entry of South Africa, in addition to already existing members - Brazil, Russia, India and China.

All BRICS nations are members of the G20 group. BRICS make up almost 42% of the world's population, 23% of the global GDP, about 17% of the world trade, almost 50% of world economic growth and 26.6% of the world area.

In a breakthrough at the 6th BRICS Summit in Fortaleza in Brazil 2014, India got the presidency of the New Development Bank (NDB)— the name that Narendra Modi had endorsed. It was launched with an initial capital of $50 billion after the leaders signed the "Fortaleza Declaration". While China walked away with the bank's headquarters, to be located in Shanghai, Modi got Beijing to agree on equal shareholding rights for all members.

NDB's Articles of Agreement specify that all members of the United Nations could be members of the bank, however, the share of the BRICS nations can never be less than 55% of the voting power. From an Indian perspective, BRICS has emerged as the voice of developing countries on diverse issues like WTO, climate change, inclusive development and mutual cooperation in areas including trade, finance, health, agriculture, energy, space, culture, education, technology and IT.

Also, India has to maintain the balancing act between Russia-China on the one side and the US on the other. While India's stature in global affairs in the last five years under its dynamic Prime Minister Narendra Modi has seen an unprecedented rise, the current crop of BRICS leaders too are opinionated personalities — from Chinese President Xi Jinping to Russian President Vladimir Putin to Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro. Hence the shrewd deftness with which South Block, in the last five years under Modi, has taken the lead in galvanising BRICS to take a strong stand against terrorism, putting aside conflicting domestic agendas, is commendable.

Last year at the 10th BRICS Summit, the joint working group on counter-terrorism decided to constitute sub-working groups in five areas: terrorist financing; use of Internet for terrorist purposes; countering radicalisation; the issue of foreign terrorist fighters; and capacity-building.

During meetings of National Security Advisers of BRICS, India's NSA Ajit Doval put forward a proposal to host a BRICS workshop on digital forensics in India. Brazil also made terrorism one of the priorities for its presidency. It held the first BRICS seminar on Strategies for Countering Terrorism. The focus on countering global terrorism will be even more pronounced this year at the 11th BRICS Summit in the wake of recent terrorist attacks on Israel on 12th and 13th November 2019, with Israel being bombarded by over 250 rockets and missiles by the radical Islamic Jihad and Palestinian militants.

That BRICS put counter-terrorism on top of the agenda has been a huge diplomatic victory for Narendra Modi and India as was evident even in the BRICS Summit in Xiamen in September 2017, with China as the chair, despite the strained ties at that point,due to the standoff in Doklam.

Again at the 10th BRICS Summit in Johannesburg, Partnership on New Industrial Revolution (PartNIR) which is a programme of partnership among BRICS nations that sought to focus on maximising the opportunities arising from the Fourth Industrial Revolution/New Industrial Revolution, showcased how India under Modi has taken the lead in making intra BRICS trade, commerce, investments and people to people connect, the cornerstone of its global messaging.

Coming back to the 11th BRICS Summit in Brasilia in Brazil, it has been an excellent opportunity for India to lay the foundation for hosting the 2021 Summit, scheduled in India after the last BRICS Summit that took place in Goa in 2016. India will also be hosting the G20 Summit in 2022, and the current summit is an opportunity to harmonise the two agendas from New India's perspective. PM Modi also expressed satisfaction that MOU between trade promotion agencies of BRICS will help to achieve the target of USD 500 billion intra-BRICS trade target going forward, among other things. He also mentioned about India's programme of Fit India and proposed for a BRICS Youth Summit to promote Start-Ups and Hackathons.

This year in 2019, "BRICS-- Economic Growth for an Innovative Future" was the theme. In the Summit, apart from Brazil's decision to allow visa free entry to Indians and agreement on bilateral cooperation in areas like bio fuels, post harvest technologies and animal husbandry, clearly, Xi Jinping's invite to PM Modi to China for the 3rd informal summit between the two nations in 2020, hogged headlines.

This is significant as it comes close on the heels of the 2nd informal Summit at Mamallapuram in Chennai last month between the two world leaders. The leaders further reviewed the ongoing preparations for the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and China in 2020. The leaders also reiterated the importance of maintaining peace and security in border areas and exchanged views on many issues including RCEP, WTO and BRICS.

Besides China, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at Brasilia garnered attention. It was the 4th meeting of the two leaders in 2019, after Modi's visit to Vladivostok in September 2019, underpinning how Russia is one of the pivots of Modi's foreign policy outreach. The two leaders noted that the USD 25 billion bilateral trade target by 2025 has already been achieved. They further decided to hold the 1st bilateral regional forum between Russian Provinces and the Indian States in 2020, to do away with the trade barriers at the regional level. Russian President Vladimir Putin highlighted the potential of the Arctic region in natural gas and invited India to invest in the region.

The leaders also reviewed the progress made in the Infrastructure sector, especially railways including raising the speed of the Nagpur-Secunderabad sector railway line. The leaders further noted cooperation between India and Russia in the Defence sector and Civil Nuclear Energy. Prime Minister Modi accepted the Russian President's invitation to participate in Russia's Victory Day celebrations in 2020.

In the final analysis, BRICS 2019 focussed on strengthening cooperation in the fields of science, technology, innovation and the digital economy. The annual summit also aimed to advance cooperation in the fight against transnational crime, especially organized crime, money laundering and drug trafficking.

BRICS, which in many ways is redefining multilateralism and multiculturalism, has emerged as a template for cooperation between emerging powers and a useful instrument for India to fight the agenda-setting monopoly of Atlantic powers, in its quest for a greater role in global governance. Above all, if BRICS has furthered the cause of a multipolar world, the credit for this unarguably goes to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's foreign policy outreach that is both inclusive and global in its approach, but with "India first", being the guiding diktat.

The author is an economist, chief spokesperson of BJP Mumbai and author of the bestselling book "Truth & Dare--The Modi Dynamic"

Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
BRICS as a factor for sustainable peace, cooperation and mutual respect (БРИКС как фактор устойчивого мира, сотрудничества и взаимного уважения) / Russia, November, 2019
Keywords: summit, declaration, expert_opinion

The final declaration of the summit presents the common position of the BRICS nations – sustainable peace, cooperation and mutual respect, RISS expert Mikhail Belyaev says. "BRICS also should take into account the positions of many developing countries that have already reached a high level of living standards, especially Brazil and South Africa," he added.

A separate section of the BRICS declaration is devoted to cooperation in financial regulation. The BRICS declaration urges international organizations to act in the interests of developing countries and follow the sustainable development agenda, which was adopted by the UN. RISS expert also drew attention to some goals envisaged by the BRICS declaration. This is the creation of a single platform for mutual settlements (like SWIFT), which will be independent from the USA. He also recalled the importance of the New Development Bank.

"BRICS countries continue working in other global international organizations, such as the IMF, UN, World Bank, WTO. The creation of similar organizations doesn't mean that the BRICS member countries are on the path to isolationism. This only indicates these countries' stance in the context of international financial, economic, and political relations," M.Belyaev pointed out.

BRICS Nations Discuss Creation of New Crypto for Unified Payment System (Страны БРИКС обсудили вопрос создания новой криптовалюты для единой платежной системы) / Russia, November, 2019
Keywords: digital, economic_challenges

According to one official in attendance, members of international association BRICS discussed the creation of a new cryptocurrency at a recent summit.

On Nov. 14, Russian financial news outlet RBC reported that the director-general of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) Kirill Dmitriev said that the BRICS Business Council supported the idea of creating a single payment system for settlements between the member countries at the 11th annual BRICS Summit in 2019, held in Brazil.

Creating a "BRICS" cryptocurrency?

The member nations — namely, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — are reportedly planning to develop a single payment transaction system between the member countries, which could be carried out in a still-to-be-developed "BRICS" cryptocurrency. Dmitriev said:

"An efficiently operating BRICS payment system is capable of stimulating settlements in national currencies and ensuring the stability of settlements and investments between our countries, which form more than 20% of the global influx of foreign direct investment."

The director of the RDIF pointed out that the development of the single payment system and its integration will be "an important factor in the economic partnership between the BRICS countries in the face of increasing non-market risks of the global payment infrastructure."

The annual BRICS summits continue to focus on strengthening unity between the member nations in the fields of science, technology, innovation and the digital economy. The annual summit also aims to advance the countries' cooperation in the fight against organized crime, money laundering and drug trafficking.

Association of German banks argues for digital euro

The BRICS member nations are not the only ones who are considering the creation of a new cryptocurrency. At the end of October, the Association of German Banks (Bankenverband), presented a position paper in which they make several arguments for the creation of the digital euro.

The banks said that a cryptography-based digital euro should be created on the condition that a concurrent, common, pan-European payments platform is also established, further adding:

"The user of a digital euro – whether man or machine – must be clearly identifiable. This requires a European or, better still, a global identity standard. With every form of digital money, customers should be identified using a standard that is just as strict as that which banks and other obligated entities are required to apply under current legal framework pursuing the combat against money laundering and terrorist financing."

NDB and BNDES sign a new Memorandum of Understanding (НБД и BNDES подписывают новый Меморандум о взаимопонимании) / China, November, 2019
Keywords: ndb, concluded_agreements

On 13 November 2019, the New Development Bank (NDB) and the Brazilian Development Bank (Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Economico e Social – BNDES) signed a new Memorandum of Understanding to continue and enhance the cooperation between the two institutions. The Memorandum was signed by Mr. K.V. Kamath, the President of NDB, and Mr. Gustavo Montezano, the President of BNDES, following the opening of the seminar on NDB and Brazil: Strategic Partnership for Sustainable Development, which took place in Brasília, Brazil.

As a continuation of the first Memorandum of Understanding between NDB and BNDES signed in 2015, the new Memorandum aims to expand the cooperation framework between the two institutions for joint initiatives across a wider range of areas of mutual interest.

Under the new Memorandum, the parties are envisaged to exchange knowledge on topics related to infrastructure and sustainable development; explore opportunities to co-design mechanisms for infrastructure investments; perform joint research on topic of mutual interest; and provide mutual training and capacity building through collaboration and staff exchange programs.

Mr. K.V. Kamath pointed out that Brazil offers great investment opportunities, and the strategic partnership between NDB and BNDES plays an important role in translating these opportunities into concrete projects, as well as catalysing additional investment from other BRICS countries to Brazil.

Mr. Gustavo Montezano said that BNDES is willing to work jointly with NDB to address common challenges faced by development banks across BRICS countries. "Your success in Brazil is our success. Our role here is to open the doors of Brazil to investors who come here with purpose and, obviously, with financial return. We want to be this facilitator" said Mr. Montezano.

Background Information

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

Investment conference shows confidence in SA's economy (Инвестиционная конференция демонстрирует уверенность в экономике ЮАР) / South Africa, November, 2019
Keywords: economic_challenges
South Africa

Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu says the recent investment conferences signal a strong vote of confidence in the South African economy.

Addressing reporters at a Post Cabinet briefing on Thursday in Pretoria, the Minister said Cabinet has reflected on the positive outcomes of the South African Investment Conference (SAIC) and the Africa Investment Forum (AIF) held from 5 to 7 November and from 11 to 13 November, respectively.

"R363 billion worth of investment commitments were announced at South Africa's second SAIC and about US$40 billion worth of investment commitments were announced at the AIF," he said.

Mthembu said the paper and pulp giant Sappi and brewing giant Heineken were amongst several other companies to pledge billions of rands.

Last year, the first investment conference netted commitments worth R300 billion and drew pledges from, amongst others, international e-commerce giant Amazon, Aspen Pharmacare and Rwanda-based technology company, Mara Corporation.

"All these investment commitments continue to confirm that President Cyril Ramaphosa remains on course on the planned investment target of R1.2 trillion over five years," he said.

In the past week, the Tshwane Automotive Special Economic Zone (SEZ) announced investments that are expected to attract about R3.6 billion and create 6 700 direct jobs.

"Ford SA, which will operate from this SEZ, plans to increase production of its Ranger bakkie from 520 to 720 vehicles per day for both international and domestic markets.

"The Japanese company, Isuzu, also announced a R1.2-billion investment into its local production in Port Elizabeth, which will boost the economy of the Eastern Cape," the Minister said.

He said Cabinet has expressed deep appreciation and thanked all investors and participants for another successful investment conference.

Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa (BRICS) Summit

Meanwhile, Cabinet has welcomed the outcomes of the 11th BRICS Summit which took place in Brasilia, Brazil, under the theme: "Economic Growth for an Innovative Future".

President Cyril Ramaphosa and other BRICS leaders also interacted with the BRICS Business Council to strengthen and promote economic, trade, business and investment ties amongst BRICS members.

"Cabinet welcomes the adoption of the BRICS Summit Declaration by Heads of State," the Minister said.

He said the declaration involves a commitment to combat under-invoicing of imported goods, and measures to boost global demand and growth.

"It further cements efforts to further our cooperation on topics, which include investment in e-commerce and micro, small and medium enterprises."

South Africa's BRICS membership strategically positions the country towards increased trade, investment, tourism, capacity-building, skills and technology transfers, which are key in the country's drive to address the triple challenge of unemployment, poverty and inequality. –

World of work
Social policy, trade unions, actions
Russian alternative to Wikipedia to be fully launched by summer of 2022, says publisher (Российская альтернатива Википедии будет полностью запущена летом 2022 года, заявляет издатель) / Russia, November, 2019
Keywords: social_issues, media

MOSCOW, November 21. /TASS/. An online project that is being created based on the Great Russian Encyclopedia will be fully launched by the summer of 2022, Executive Editor of the Great Russian Encyclopedia and scholarly publisher Sergei Kravets said in an interview with TASS.

"The project, which began in July, is anticipated to take 33 months. It will be completed by the spring or summer of 2022," he specified.

According to Kravets, the online encyclopedia does not have a name yet, but its creators would like its name to refer to the Great Russian Encyclopedia.

When choosing name options, the creators looked into the results of public opinion polls conducted in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Novosibirsk and Yekaterinburg. They sought to figure out what the Great Russian Encyclopedia was associated with in people's minds. "As many as 35% of students are aware of its existence, they consider it to be reliable but a bit outdated. As for professors, nearly 100% are acquainted with the encyclopedia and believe it to be fundamental and reliable. If we create something new, we need to maintain continuity, credibility, depth and reliability, but at the same time, we should eliminate its antiquatedness and reach out to new areas," the executive editor pointed out.

"This is why the name should probably be preserved," he added.

Translation into other languages

The Wikipedia-style Russian online encyclopedia may be translated into other languages in the future, Sergei Kravets said in an interview with TASS. According to him, BRICS countries — Brazil, India, China and South Africa — are particularly interested in it.

"Our colleagues in BRICS countries have a great need for an encyclopedia, because they are unwilling to use Britannica. Universal encyclopedias are a very rare thing. There are national ones, and in fact, there are three huge reputable encyclopedias at the moment, which include Britannica, the [German-language] Brockhaus Enzyklopadie and us. A thing to note is that we have the least number of readers because the Russian language is not widely used nowadays," Kravets emphasized.

According to the executive editor, there are researchers and editors who can translate the GRE web portal into other languages but it will require significant expenditures. "In theory, we have such a task on our hands because many countries are interested in our encyclopedia content. About 22-23% of our information is Russia-related, while everything else is general content," Kravets added.

Initiation ceremony

The Great Russian Encyclopedia web portal will be presented at a conference in Ufa on November 21. "It will involve our regional colleagues, encyclopedia experts, because we plan to actively cooperate with regional experts, going even as far as creating regional encyclopedias on our web portal," Kravets explained. According to him, about 270 people are currently working on the project. Besides, users who succeed in proving their competence will participate in drafting some of the encyclopedia's articles.

Its launch is scheduled for late spring in 2022. Apart from including information and research content, the web portal will also offer controversial articles and host debates.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a meeting of the Russian Language Council on November 5 that unlike Wikipedia, a digital version of the Great Russian Encyclopedia could become a source of reliable information.

Kravets added that apart from the web portal, work was also underway on a digital version of the Great Russian Encyclopedia, which had been published in 2004-2017 and needs to be updated.

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