Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 5.2020
2020.01.27 — 2020.02.02
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
BRICS countries building multipolar post-Western world order – professor (Страны БРИКС строят многополярный постзападный мировой порядок - профессор) / South Africa, January, 2020
Keywords: cooperation
South Africa

Through responding to armed conflict and deviating from preferred Western foreign policy, BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – are actively involved in building a multipolar and post-Western world order.

These were the views of University of the Witwatersrand International Relations Professor Malte Brosig, speaking at the launch of his book The role of BRICS in large-scale armed conflicts, in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

Brosig pointed out that since the first formal BRICS summit in 2009, BRICS countries had emerged as pivotal players on the international scene.

"How far multipolarity reaches and what it entails is still up to debate but there are hardly any scholars who doubt that power is increasingly dispersed around various actors in contrast to its concentration in a few hands," he explained.

Brosig argued that while there was no consensus on how global order changes, there was an implicit consensus that BRICS members, though not exclusively, were key drivers of this change.

Meanwhile, criticism highlights the internal divisions and economic and security competition that exist between members of the group which is practically hampering convergence between these five countries.

This, Brosig said, undercut the influence BRICS had in international affairs, adding that this criticism, while correct in its empirical analysis tended also to fail to recognise the basic value of a foreign policy grouping.

Brosig went on to say that his book uncovered that BRICS were more likely to respond with coercive means if armed conflict was in relative proximity and power capabilities were readily available to be used.

Instead of formulating dyadic analyses about BRICS following a moderate reform or a revisionist trend, he said his book was interested in exploring BRICS' positioning toward large-scale armed conflict.

He cited that exploring BRICS' response to armed conflict as it affected global order was important.
Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
BRICS Countries Need to Deepen Innovation Ties: Report (Страны БРИКС должны углублять инновационные связи: доклад) / India, January, 2020
Keywords: cooperation, innovations

"BRICS countries need to promote networking between chambers of commerce and industry, business councils, professional associations and unions, intensify collaboration between business entities through joint projects, trade fairs and exhibitions in the hi-tech sector," said Igor Bogachev, CEO of Zyfra.

Cooperation on developing high-end technologies shall become an important point of the agenda for BRICS countries during Russia's presidency, says a report of Zyfra Company, a digital solutions vendor in the growing market of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

"BRICS countries need to promote networking between chambers of commerce and industry, business councils, professional associations and unions, intensify collaboration between business entities through joint projects, trade fairs and exhibitions in the hi-tech sector," said Igor Bogachev, CEO of Zyfra.

According to the report, the countries shall consider the opportunities to jointly implement digital solutions for mining industry, machinery, oil and gas and metallurgy, as well as share their best practices, such as implementation of robotic mining equipment and real-time machine monitoring and manufacturing data collection systems.

"We have not yet learned how to create the prerequisites for medium-sized companies and small business to learn about each other. This is a task that we need to resolve together. Digitalization is not a dialogue between major companies, but rather a dialogue between major companies and medium-sized and small ones. What small companies are creating in terms of IIoT and AI has not yet been created by big ones – it has not been created by anyone, for that matter," added Bogachev.

On January 1, Moscow took over the one-year chairmanship of the BRICS group (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). Russia plans to carry out about 150 activities at various levels during its chairmanship, which will culminate in July, when St. Petersburg will host the next BRICS summit. The five countries' leaders will hold another meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in the Saudi capital of Riyadh in November.

"Alongside, innovation companies from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa shall consider the meeting on the sidelines of the Business Twenty (B20), which is the official G20 dialogue with the business community," he said.

According to procedure, each BRICS member takes over the group's chairmanship for a year. Russia last chaired BRICS in 2015, when a summit took place in Ufa. Russia also presided over the group back in 2009, before BRIC turned into BRICS following South Africa's accession.

The Zyfra Report has analyzed scientific projects and commercial rollouts in the field of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning conducted by research organizations and companies from 27 countries. The largest number of publications are in the USA (32%), China (12%) and Germany (10%). India has also made it to the top 10 countries (5%).

Typically, Machine Learning techniques have been used in discrete manufacturing (44%), in the process industry (22%) and in the electric power industry (11%). A further 23% of projects belong to the industries where AI applications are at early stages of development.

"The main barrier for commercial projects in BRICS countries is a lack or absence of data which correctly describes undergoing process. Successful results are mainly achieved by interdisciplinary groups consisting of data scientists, IT specialists and industry experts," said Igor Bogachev.

BRICS countries have been also called upon to organize hackathons to solve problems linked to the AI applications, as well as to build bridges with universities and the academic community in general to solve more fundamental problems in the area of Artificial Intelligence and bring the subsequent results into commercial use.

"We believe that there is a huge opportunity for significant breakthroughs in the IIoT and AI market for the companies from BRICS countries. There is still no obvious leader in that market, the market is just forming. Therefore, young companies in this area have a chance to take a prominent place," he added.

The Economic Times

Political Events
Political events in the public life of BRICS
Nirmala Sitharaman's revival efforts bear fruit; India's quarterly growth faster than G7, BRICS (Усилия Нирмалы Ситхарамана по возрождению приносят свои плоды; Квартальный рост Индии быстрее, чем G7, БРИКС) / India, February, 2020
Keywords: economic_challenges

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's efforts to revive the economy have started to appear on the ground, helping to regain the lost momentum of the GDP. "A series of government stimulus measures, coupled with a low-interest-rate environment, are likely to spur demand and investment in 2020 and to produce a rebound in full-year real GDP growth, to 6.1% (up from an estimated 4.9% in 2019)," said a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit. Surprisingly, among the BRICS and G7 countries, India is likely to have recorded the fastest rate of quarterly growth in the October-December quarter. India is expected to retain the top spot in the January-March quarter as well.Over the December-ending quarter, India's real GDP growth has been estimated to have grown by 1.6 per cent on-quarter and is estimated to grow further at 1.9 per cent in the current quarter. However, it is also said that the strong headline figure was artificially boosted by the dismal performance of the Indian economy in the previous quarter amid weak consumer sentiment and tepid investment. Due to sluggish global growth in 2019, the EUI report also estimates that the previous quarter economic performance was weak across the G7 and BRICS countries. The slow global growth has been attributed to the combined effect of global trade tensions, a sharp deceleration in real GDP growth in the US, China and India, renewed volatility in emerging markets, and political uncertainty in a number of European countries.Meanwhile, India's year-long slowdown may not continue for long as early indicators suggest a recovery in the growth. 11 of the 16 non-financial indicators such as the output of passenger vehicles, commercial vehicles, motorcycles, CIL and refinery output, hydroelectricity generation, non-oil merchandise exports, and rail freight traffic recorded an improved on-year performance in Q3 FY2020, compared to the previous quarter. Credit Rating agency ICRA has also anticipated a pickup in the real GVA and GDP growth.
In Moscow, Preparations for the Upcoming BRICS and SCO Summits Were Discussed (В Москве обсуждались вопросы подготовки к предстоящим саммитам БРИКС и ШОС) / Russia, January, 2020
Keywords: summit, chairmanship

An interdepartmental meeting was held in Moscow concerning preparations for the assembly of the Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the BRICS Leaders' Summit, which will be managed by Anton Kobyakov, Advisor to the President of the Russian Federation and Deputy Chairman and Executive Secretary of the Organizing Committee to prepare and support the Russian Federation's presidency of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in 2019–2020 and the BRICS Summit in 2020. The meeting was attended by departmental and agency representatives involved in the preparation of the two events.

Anton Kobyakov, Advisor to the President of the Russian Federation and Executive Secretary of the Organizing Committee to prepare and support the Russian Federation's presidency of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in 2019–2020 and the BRICS Summit in 2020, noted, "The main purpose of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and BRICS is to strengthen the mutual trust as well as the political and economic cooperation of the member countries. This year, Russia has been given the important task of hosting and presiding over the gathering of these organizations. To meet this responsibility, Russia is relying on highly qualified professionals with extensive international experience. I am confident that the systematic cooperation of the relevant departments will ensure that these major international events will meet the highest standards."

At the interdepartmental meeting in Moscow, participants outlined the preparedness of St. Petersburg's infrastructure, logistics and the transportation system, and the accommodations of summit participants and official delegates. The outline of the cultural programme was specifically discussed, with special consideration given to participants' spouses, venue design, souvenirs, media support, and the organization of a summit exhibition showcasing various Russian export-oriented products.

Special attention was given to how Russia would prepare to host the summits of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and BRICS, which will be held in 13 Russia regions.

Sergey Ryabkov, Russia's BRICS Sherpa and Deputy Foreign Minister said, "During Russia's presidency of the BRICS association, over 150 events. As of today, the preparatory work of those responsible for each event is on schedule."

A separate topic of discussion was the informal meeting of BRICS leaders, which will be held on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Saudi Arabia on 21 and 22 November 2020.

Following the meeting, additional instructions were given, including new deadlines.

The summits of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and BRICS will be held in St. Petersburg on 21–23 July 2020.
World of work
Social policy, trade unions, actions
Philanthropy in the BRICS Countries (Филантропия в странах БРИКС) / South Africa, February, 2020
Keywords: social_issues, expert_opinion
South Africa

The Russian Donors Forum is a partner organisation in the Global Exchange to which Trialogue also belongs. This network unites country-based corporate societal engagement organisations to advance the corporate sector as a global force for good. In 2019 the Philanthropy Research Centre at Ural Federal University in Yekaterinburg, in partnership with the Russian Donors Forum, embarked on research on philanthropy in the world's five largest emerging economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS), including the development of the philanthropic culture and the influence of the economy on philanthropic patterns in these countries over the past two decades.

The research consisted of desktop research and 27 in-depth interviews with corporate and private foundations in each of the five countries (five in Brazil, seven in Russia, six in India, three in China and six in South Africa). It is one of the first attempts to collect and analyse data on the size of the total philanthropic sector in the BRICS countries, the factors and characteristics of its development, spending priorities, and the role of socially responsible business and individual donors.

Economic overview

Radical socioeconomic and political changes, as well as rapidly developing economies that have contributed to increased levels of inequality are key factors that have led to the rise of philanthropy in the BRICS countries.

Amidst the global financial crisis, BRICS showed considerable gross domestic product (GDP) growth per capita, averaging 5.4% annually between 2008 and 2017. As a result, in recent years the aggregated size of the GDP of BRICS has exceeded 15% of the global GDP. According to forecasts, annual GDP growth per capita between 2023 and 2030 will decrease slightly, to about 4.5%, which exceeds similar forecasts for any block of developed economies, as well as for other countries with developing economies. Based on these higher rates of growth, it is predicted that the GDP of BRICS will exceed a quarter of global GDP by 2022.

Despite impressive economic growth in recent years, the gap in income and living standards between more and less prosperous segments of the population is also growing in almost all BRICS countries.

The Gini coefficient is a statistical measure often used to gauge economic inequality by measuring income distribution or, less commonly, wealth distribution among a population. The index ranges from 0 to 100: a country with an absolutely even distribution of income, in which each person receives the same income, will have a Gini index of 0; a country with a completely unequal distribution, in which one person receives all the income, and all the rest do not earn anything, will have an index of 100. According to 2013 World Bank data, most of the countries with the highest Gini coefficients, and therefore the highest inequalities, were in Africa and Latin America. South Africa has the highest levels of inequality among BRICS.

Philanthropic investment per country

China had the largest absolute amount of annual private donations, at $23.4 billion (2018), while South Africa leads in terms of philanthropy to GDP ratio, with an indicator of 0.56% (2018). Russia is in second place with a share of philanthropy to GDP of 0.39% (2018), and India is in the middle position with 0.36% (2018). In comparison, the volume of philanthropy in the United States represented 2.1% of GDP (2018).

Development priorities per country

As in South Africa, education is the most popular development sector for companies across all BRICS countries. There is also some evidence that corporate giving in all of the five countries is becoming more strategic.


According to a 2016 survey conducted by the Group of Institutes, Foundations and Enterprises, corporate and foundation funders directed their spend to education (84% of funders), youth development (60%), culture and art (51%), environmental activities (47%) and human rights activities (43%). Business representatives noted that the quality of education is being discussed at various levels in the country, spurred by the motto 'everything for education'.

In Brazil, business's social contribution is not only measured by the amount of money donated, but by the effectiveness of programming and the systemic impact created in each sector. Interviews with Brazilian business representatives found that companies:

  • Tend to support projects for two to five years

  • Are committed to evaluating the effectiveness of their social investments

  • Strive to support projects that have a degree of financial self- sustainability

  • Select local implementing partners and non-profit organisations (NPOs) that demonstrate the best results

  • Do not seek to replace government – which should bear the main responsibility for social development– but rather support the state in the implementation of its policies.

Animal welfare and wildlife receive the most support from individual donors in Brazil, where 72% of donors are women and 51% prefer to donate online.


While there are many companies that still engage in traditional grantmaking, some companies are beginning to support NPOs and development sectors more strategically. Companies tend to run social programming in the communities in which they operate and align their activities with executive interests.

Companies prioritised the following goals when developing their social strategies:

  • Increasing business sustainability and community presence (85% of companies)
  • Addressing social problems (62%)
  • Strengthening employee competence and corporate culture (13%)
The majority of corporate social funding went to education (supported by 87% of companies), ecology (79%), development of local communities (80%), and healthcare (75%).


In 2018, the government spent $29.2 billion on social development and the private sector invested $9.8 billion. With the government remaining the largest contributor to the social sector, India is now seeing the growth of private philanthropy. According to the recent Bain report, private funding grew at a rate of 15% per year between 2014 and 2018, while public funding increased at about 10% per year. The segment of individual philanthropy has seen strong growth – 21% per year in the past five years.

The majority of corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds in India are directed to education (32% of CSR funds), healthcare
(26%) and environmental protection (14%). Access to sanitation and lowering mortality rates among newborns and mothers are often among top priorities. Although Indian corporations and foundations are trying to align their programmes with the UN SDGs, close collaboration with the government is a greater priority, as they believe that it will make their projects more sustainable in the longer term.


China has the largest population in the world and the largest GDP calculated in international dollars.

Unlike Brazil and India, the predominant share of charitable donations reflected in official statistics falls on the share of the corporate sector – 60% to 70%, citizens' contributions make up about 20%. According to the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), just 7% of the country's population participated in charity in 2016, implying significant growth opportunities. Individual participation in charity has fluctuated over the past few years. The sector suffered from natural disasters that stimulated short-term donations, as well as from scandals that reduced the trust and willingness of the population to donate. The total amount of donations from individuals decreased by 60% from 2011 to 2014, but has since recovered, increasing in aggregate annual terms by more than 60% from 2014 to 2016. This trend will continue as disposable income increases, and as the rapid development of digital infrastructure (such as internet, mobile, etc.) expands access to charitable organisations.

Funds are predominantly channeled to education, poverty eradication, health and wellbeing, and sustainable cities and regions.
Grade 5 pupils get BRICS maths certificates (Ученики 5 класса получают сертификаты БРИКС по математике) / South Africa, January, 2020
Keywords: social_issues
South Africa

A group of Grade 5 pupils at Mitchell's Plain Primary School took part in an online BRICS maths competition and were awarded certificates for their participation on Friday January 24.

The ceremony, held at their school, was attended by Western Cape Education Department officials, said their mentor and former Grade 4 maths teacher, Florence Gamanie.

They had a trial session where they could rehearse different questions and a final session that would determine their mark.

The competition took place last year for Grade 4 pupils and Ms Gamanie said they had worked hard and diligently.

Jenna Leukes, 10, said she had enjoyed taking part in the competition, parts of which had been difficult, and others easier.

"I enjoyed the session in both rounds, it was fun and exciting," she said.

The competition took place from Wednesday November 13, last year until Friday December 13.

Another participant, Sasha-Lee Steyn, 10, said she loves maths and that the online test had challenged her to do her very best.

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