Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 34.2020
2020.08.17 — 2020.08.23
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Brics Foreign Ministers Likely to Meet Virtually Because of Covid (Министры иностранных дел стран БРИКС могут встретиться виртуально из-за Covid) / Russia, August, 2020
Keywords: foreign_ministers_meeting, covid-19

After having explored the idea of hosting a physical meeting of Brics foreign ministers, Russia seems to have finally agreed to have the meeting, a precursor to the Brics summit later in the year, in the virtual mode only.

Russia, in fact, had proposed a physical meeting of the foreign ministers of both Brics and SCO on September 10. The Brics meeting, official sources said, is now likely to take place virtually late this month or early September because of the epidemiological situation.

There is still no word on the SCO meeting, a forerunner to the summit later. Russia currently holds the chairmanship of both Brics and SCO and plans to host both summits in St Petersburg in October.

According to diplomatic sources, Russia was keen to physically host the foreign ministers' meetings as it didn't want the engagements to be reduced to just a formality in the form of a video conference. Moscow is apparently still keen on having the SCO meeting in the physical presence of the ministers as the Eurasian group's agenda is relatively more complex with its focus on political and security issues.

The SCO heads of government meeting are scheduled to take place in India on November 30 this year. The government had said in January this year that heads of government of all 8 member-states, including Pakistan, will be invited for the meeting "as per established practice and procedure" of SCO. Whether or not the meeting takes place, as government sources said, will depend on the Covid-19 situation then.

The foreign ministers' meetings, as planned by Russia, would have also meant foreign minister S Jaishankar coming face to face with his Chinese and Pakistani counterparts, Wang Yi and Shah Mahmood Qureshi respectively, for the first time after the current border standoff was first reported in early May. While India has ruled out "business as usual" with China until there is a complete disengagement of forces along the LAC and de-escalation in the border areas, the government has also said India will continue to engage with China on multilateral fora like SCO and BRICS.

Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
Should you invest in the BRICS today? We take a look a decade after Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa were tipped for growth (Стоит ли инвестировать в БРИКС сегодня? Мы смотрим на десятилетие после того, как Бразилия, Россия, Индия, Китай и Южная Африка начали расти) / United Kingdom, August, 2020
Keywords: research, investments, expert_opinion
United Kingdom

  • Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa were grouped together formally in 2010 to form BRICS
  • These were developing economies, tipped for massive growth
  • We find out how they've fared and what their prospects are now
This year marks a decade since 'the BRICS' was coined as shorthand for the investment strategy that argued its emerging market members could grow faster than their developed counterparts.

Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa were all considered a strong bet for growth between 2010 and today - not all of their economies have delivered.

While some - notably China and India - have already become respected players in the technology sector, many economists believe it will be 2050 before the majority of manufactured goods, services, and raw materials are supplied by these nations.

The acronym 'BRIC' was coined in 2001 by British economist Jim O'Neil and represented four rapidly developing countries behind the shift in global economic power away from the developed G7 economies - South Africa was officially added in 2010

The BRICS countries' unifying criteria are high economic growth and large size in terms of population and area, though the countries vary greatly in terms of economic development, structure, and interests.

In 1990, its members represented 11 per cent of global GDP, and had grown to 30 per cent by 2014. However Scott Spencer, of BMO Global Asset Management, believes they are still very much emerging markets, though towards the top end of the category.

But how far into their journey to becoming developed markets has each nation got? And how likely is the prediction, that they will be among the world's leading economies in 30 years, to come to fruition?

We spoke to industry experts about how they think the BRICS countries have fared over the past decade and whether they're on track to becoming the booming markets renowned economist Jim O'Neill said they would be when he coined the acronym back in 2010.

Brazil rocked by political scandal

Brazil has fared the worst out of its BRICS peers both year-to-date and over the long term.

From the time the acronym was coined in 2001 to when it became an official institution with the addition of South Africa, the Brazilian economy grew from $559billion to $2.21trillion.

But this had fallen back down to $1.87trillion almost a decade later in 2019 and the 2015-16 commodity slump saw the country enter a multi-year slowdown with up to 30 per cent spare capacity in the economy in the past few years.

Omotunde Lawal, head of emerging markets corporate debt at Barings, said one of the most notable changes over the past two decades for Brazil, has been the discovery of pre-salt oil reserves in 2006, which currently account for around 48 per cent of national oil production.

The other is the infamous Lava Jato scandal.

She says: 'Lava Jato - otherwise known as operation car wash - was and is an ongoing criminal investigation which shook Brazil to its core. However it also gave a much needed kick to the corruption culture which was endemic in Brazil.'

Investment outlook

Lawal's view on Brazil is to see longer term positives coming from the country tackling the corruption issue.

'This has helped with a cleaner slate for the corporate sector and has helped many businesses improve their environmental, social, and corporate governance credentials at a time when the investment community is increasingly focusing on ESG,' she adds.

Foreign investor sentiment has swung back and forth during this time, and more recently, the country's risk assets have underperformed due to economic, political and coronavirus-related volatility.

The Brazil Corporate Emerging Market Bonds Index returned just 0.14 per cent during the first six months of the year versus the wider LATAM Index which is up 0.64 per cent.

Brazil has been one of the most affected countries by the coronavirus, with the second highest number of confirmed cases and deaths in the world at 3.4million and 110,000 respectively.

As a result, GDP forecasts for 2020 are for a decline in the range of 5.5 per cent and 5.7 per cent.

Lawal adds there is an increasing expectation that Brazil could see an improved recovery in the second half of the year despite balancing reopenings and Covid-19 containment measures with a subsequent recovery in GDP growth in 2021 between 3 per cent and 3.5 per cent.

Stock picks

Despite poor performance, Lawal and the emerging market debt team at Barings still see some attractive opportunities in Brazilian corporate bond space.

She said: 'Brazil still has some interesting investment opportunities. Its spreads continue to seem cheap within the emerging market context, with average yields as at 31 July of 5.5 per cent, relative to 3.8 per cent in Chile, 4 per cent in Mexico and against the average Latin America yield of 5.2 per cent.

'We like oil and gas with companies such as Petrobras, metals and mining - Vale, CSN, Gerdau - and the protein space with the likes of JBS, Marfrig, BRF foods and Minerva.'

However Lawal remains concerned about Brazil's financial sector due to the expectation of deterioration in asset quality from the fallout of the pandemic.

'Corporate and household sectors have enjoyed better access to credit than they perhaps would otherwise have,' she added.

'The expectation is when these stimulus measures end, we will see a spike in non-performing loans across the global banking sector, with the Brazilian banks no exception.'

Russia 'attractive if prepared to take the risk'

Russia has also faced its own headwinds over the years, in the shape of sanctions, political strain and oil price volatility, which continues to be a major indicator of the direction of the Russian market.

Oleg Biryulyov, manager of JPMorgan Russian Securities investment trust, believes overall the Russian market has always remained attractive for those investors prepared to take the risk.

He said: 'Russia offers a number of attractive investment opportunities in world-class assets across the energy, basic materials and domestic industries.

'There is also good value in precious metals businesses such as Polyus, Russia's largest gold producer, which currently offers relatively high dividend yields.'

How has Russia performed?

Russia hasn't performed particularly well since the start of 2020, with the MSCI Russia index down 17 per cent. However, over five years it is up 121 per cent and 47 per cent over 10.

It's a slightly better picture for Biryulyov's trust, which is down almost 10 per cent year-to-date though it has returned 60 per cent for any longer-term investors.

He says: 'The Covid-19 crisis has had a significant impact on the country with oil prices falling significantly. However by the end of April, as world central banks introduced multiple stimulus packages, global markets did indeed move towards a level of stability.'

The JPMorgan Russian Securities trust has returned almost 60 per cent over the past decade

Where are the investment opportunities?

As recent performance suggests, Russia isn't faring too well at the moment.

But an interesting development over the past two years that Biryulyov highlights is stocks paying high levels of dividends; a trend he expects to continue.

He says: 'The Russian market yields 6 per cent from dividends, with room for potential further increases. We do, however, remain mindful of the continued market volatility, which is continuing to weigh on sentiment.

'But despite market uncertainties, we continue to find long-term growth opportunities in sectors that have minimal correlation to the oil price, such as technology.'

Within the sector, Biryulyov likes Yandex, a multinational technology company whose revenues have increased as it has diversified its business interests.

He adds: 'While its online advertising and taxi services have been hit, its search engine, blogging, video streaming and various delivery services have boomed during lockdown.'

A more politically stable India

Like its BRICS peers, and ultimately the reason behind the hype around the countries involved, India had a high nominal GDP growth rate a decade ago, largely driven by consumption.

David Cornell of Ocean Dial said the coronavirus has flared just as India was showing signs of a recovery in demand

However, an investor in 2010 would have had cause to hesitate before allocating money to India with a fiscal deficit of 6.5 per cent of GDP - an 11-year high - while inflation was double digits with real interest rates negative and rising.

A weak coalition government was unable to pass legislation and was facing the onset of high profile corruption scandals. 2010 also coincided with India's worst ranking in the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business Index at 139 out of 190 countries.

David Cornell, manager of the India Capital Growth fund, said this period was also characterised by high demand driven by global liquidity and excessive government spending, but insufficient supply leading to inflation.

He adds: 'Today the reverse exists. Demand has collapsed as credit availability has shrunk due to inflation targeting, stronger banking sector balance sheet disclosure standards, and anti-corruption measures such as the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code.'

Meanwhile the election of Prime Minister Modi has provided the political stability necessary for supply side reforms while infrastructure has dramatically improved.

The impact of the coronavirus

Unfortunately, the coronavirus has flared at a time when India was showing signs of a recovery in demand.

Cornell says: 'While the temptation is to be quick to judge, it's too early to opine how it has handled the pandemic, particularly as comparisons with other countries are difficult as few others face similar challenges on a similar scale with a similar toolkit – a large and densely populated country with a free media and democratically accountable decision makers.

'The rate of new infections, concentrated in the metro-cities is concerning while the rate of recovery and the current lack of spread into the hinterland is encouraging.

'Similar to everywhere else, the number of new cases has to come down in the near term for demand to have a chance of recovering.'

The election of Prime Minister Modi in India has provided political stability

A sustainable growth story

Over the long-term, India is one of the BRICS nations that has done reasonably well and its potential remains strong.

Historically dependent on flighty risk capital, now the likes of Google, Facebook, Amazon, Walmart, Berkshire Hathaway have committed serious investment into the country, while Apple has just announced its plan to have 10 per cent of its global manufacturing sourced from India within five years.

Cornell adds: 'India is transitioning from a volatile, boom and bust, liquidity driven economy to a steadier and more sustainable growth story that is attracting a different type of investor.

'Compared to 2010, inflation is low, interest rates are coming down, and growth (corona-depending) is bottoming.

'Political stability has allowed a rules-based system to replace a patronage driven one. The world views India differently now and for good reason.'

Is China still a BRIC?

China is without a doubt the best performer of the BRICS with a huge return of 138 per cent since 2010 and even 17 per cent since January despite being the origin of the coronavirus outbreak.

When the world was emerging from the global financial crisis 10 years ago, China's GDP was just over $5trillion. It is now $14trillion. Meanwhile the economy is now five times larger than the UK, which over the same period, only grew from $2.4trillion to $2.8trillion.

Colm McDonagh, of Insight Investment, BNY Mellon, says China's growth over the past decade has been enormous and it is now an economy too big for any investor to ignore.

'It is not only a major player in the global economy but also has the second largest bond market in the world, having overtaken Japan in earlier this year,' he says.

'For investors seeking income, there are opportunities in both government and corporate bonds which were not available a decade ago because China had not yet opened up its market.

'There are opportunities now in sectors such as financials, industrials and property. In the equity market, companies such as Alibaba and Tencent are now global players rivalling US tech companies.'

McDonagh feels China no longer fits into the BRICS category, in many ways, as it appears to have more in common with developed markets today, and at Insight, China is classed as such.

Insight's McDonagh thinks China no longer fits into the BRICS and is now a developed market

Greater access for international investors

One significant factor in China's progression has been the opening of its economy over the past 10 years allowing more access for international investors.

Although expanding access has been a draw, other key attractions are the sheer size of the Chinese market and the introduction of the One Belt One Road Initiative, a global infrastructure development strategy set out by its government in 2013.

McDonagh says: 'The strategy has extended China's trade lines globally and had a significant impact on the number of countries and companies now in China's economic orbit providing opportunities for investors.

'China is now a serious global player seeking to rival the US. In the past, the global economy has been very much impacted by the US, it used to be that if the US sneezed the rest of the world would catch a cold.

'Going forward we expect to see the same with China over the next 10 years. The level of consumption from China will continue to have a huge impact on the rest of the world.'

Opportunities for investors

Investment opportunities for China are strong and are not going away. But investors considering any global investment, still need to do their homework.

Trade tensions with the US will likely continue and there may well be some clustered outbreaks of the coronavirus, though recovery is still expected to be strong.

'China has a huge opportunity set, but like every economy, there are areas you would not wish to invest in,' says McDonagh. 'Investors must delve deep to ensure they have the full picture and are investing in opportunities where the financials are secure.

'With its growth and scale, the Chinese market will continue to be a considerable part of investment portfolios, especially those seeking income.

'We expect China to continue to grow in size, and rival the economic sphere of influence that the US has occupied.'

South Africa: A gold mine entrenched in corruption

South Africa was not an original 'BRIC' nation but was added in 2010, with the grouping renamed to BRICS to reflect the expanded membership.

At this time, the country was the host of the World Cup which helped build upon its infrastructure and telecommunications network, which it still benefits from today.

In 2010, demand for precious metals was high, with South African mining companies being among the largest stocks in the world, and this also remains the case today.

However South Africa has been impacted by economic mismanagement for many years, with Jacob Zuma at its helm for almost a decade.

Nick Price, of Fidelity's emerging markets equity team, says: 'Today, we see little in the way of progress, despite a change in leadership.

'Hopes that Cyril Ramaphosa would successfully address entrenched corruption, and drive necessary reforms have been met with disappointment, while the global pandemic delivers a further blow to this beleaguered economy.'

How does its economy fare today?

It is therefore no surprise that South Africa has had little growth over the past 10 years, with the MSCI South Africa index returning just shy of 20 per cent over that time.

The country has high levels of entrepreneurism and therefore small businesses, though many are suffering through the current challenging environment.

Price adds: 'The government does not have the balance sheet to support the economy with adequate fiscal manoeuvres. The specific nature of the current crisis means economies with a higher exposure to SMEs will take longer to recover.

'All in all, the outlook for the South African economy remains weak, dented by severe underinvestment and continued delays to economic reforms.'

The manager says South Africa remains very much an emerging market today.

Fidelity's Nick Price believes the investment outlook for South Africa remains weak

Should you invest?

Price says it is 'abundantly clear' that the pessimistic view of South Africa at the moment is reflected in valuations and that investors should be 'extremely judicious in allocating capital into its market, ensuring there is sufficient margin of safety'.

However he still believes some areas of the market are particularly interesting and recently increased exposure towards South Africa in the Fidelity Emerging Europe, Middle East and Africa fund.

'Of course, investing in all emerging markets comes with risks, but we increased the exposure primarily via positions in exporters,' he says.

'For dollar-earners, local currency weakness is helpful, as it deflates the costs associated with operations, and boosts their competitiveness.

'Here, we initiated positions in gold miners. An environment of loose monetary policy and uncertainty is set to support the pricing environment for commodities such as gold and other precious metals.'

Given a weaker macroeconomic backdrop, Price remains more cautious towards domestic names but believes commodities will continue to play a critical role in determining the outlook.
The new industrial policy: A chance for the BRICS countries / Alexander Kurdin, Andrey Shastitko (Новая промышленная политика: шанс для стран БРИКС / Александр Курдин, Андрей Шаститко) / Russia, August, 2020
Keywords: research, economic_challenges

This paper is aimed at investigating the ways of overcoming imbalances concerning competition and industrial policies. The central principles of combining industrial and competition policies have been formulated on the basis of a discussion of challenges and opportunities for interaction in the field of industrial and competition policies in developing countries in general and BRICS in particular. When setting priorities, it is essential to pay attention to those sectors that demand highly qualified resources and that are characterized by relatively strong competition; industrial policy design should be more competition- and innovation-friendly, which, in its turn, means orientation at supporting companies on an equal basis instead of favoring one specific company; industrial policy should be based on a pragmatic approach that involves a cost-benefit analysis of providing assistance to a particular sector.
Contemporary global economic crisis: Some conclusions for Russia and BRICS (taking into account Kondratieff long waves) / Viktor Tatuzov (Современный глобальный экономический кризис: некоторые выводы для России и БРИКС (с учетом длинных волн Кондратьева) / Виктор Татузов) / Russia, August, 2020
Keywords: economic_challenges, research

The article is devoted to the origins of contemporary economic crises (2008–2020). The author suggests a relatively novel approach to the study and forecasting of the economic life of the BRICS countries and other regions within the framework of the modern Kondratieff long waves hypothesis.

The author recalls that in the mid-twenties, after analyzing the results of a sufficiently deep crisis in 1920–1921, Kondratieff drew a conclusion that even more destructive perturbations in the world economy were approaching (having thus predicted the Great Depression of 1930s). In particular, Kondratieff wrote about the downswing phase of a long wave – a long turbulent period of economic instability (a period of deep economic crises).

According to some Russian economists, today's preservation of the downswing phase was correctly predicted in the framework of modern modifications of Kondratieff's theory. Based on the hypothesis of long waves, the author predicted the global economic crisis of 2008–2010 in2006, and in the summer of 2014, he predicted many turbulent years for Russia (in particular, economic crises). The author warned of a possible aggravation of the global situation in early 2019, and such aggravation happened in 2020.

Taking into account Kondratieff long waves, some new risks for the BRICS countries are analyzed in this article. In particular, the author argues that by the end of 2020, Russia's real GDP may considerably shrink. In 2020, Russia seems to be able to take into account and use the previous experience of other BRICS countries which largely succeeded in mitigating external shocks in 2009 (for example, the experience of China and India).

In search of the contours of the post-COVID Sustainable Development Goals: The case of BRICS / Sergey Bobylev, Leonid Grigoryev (В поисках контуров Целей устойчивого развития после COVID: на примере БРИКС / Сергей Бобылев, Леонид Григорьев) / Russia, August, 2020
Keywords: research, covid-19, sustainable_development

The global COVID-19 pandemic and an unexpected recession of a dangerous magnitude have provided strong reasons to look at the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) from three points of view: the SDGs as a victim of the recession 2020; the SDGs as an opportunity for better coordination on the way out of recession; and the SDGs as an object of modernization for better adaptation to the realities on "the global ground". The BRICS countries are, naturally, the primary group of interest for developing and implementing the SDGs on the global scale as a way of catching up. "Pandemic protocol" and additional indicators are proposed as an urgent update to several SDGs.
World of Work
Inclusive growth essential for poverty alleviation in BRICS states (Инклюзивный рост необходим для борьбы с бедностью в странах БРИКС) / China, August, 2020
Keywords: social_issues, economic_challenges

Eradicating poverty is high on the list of both the Millennium Development Goals and Sustainable Development Goals. Both the MDGs and SDGs were endorsed by the heads of state or government of the 190-plus member countries of the United Nations, including BRICS.

As a member of the UN as well as BRICS, China's contribution to global poverty reduction is much more than its contribution to global economic growth, which is estimated to be about 30 percent. So, since China's unprecedented economic growth has been called a "miracle", the fact that China is set to eliminate absolute poverty by the end of this year can be seen as "a dream come true".

There is no doubt that the fast economic growth in China and India has played a key role in reducing poverty in the two countries. Slower but positive growth-before the novel coronavirus pandemic broke out-also helped the other BRICS countries to lower their poverty rates. Indeed, economic growth helps reduce poverty, provided that income distribution remains the same or improves. But if income inequality worsens, the impact of positive growth can be offset, even reversed-meaning poverty will increase.

The relevance and significance of inequality can be understood by imagining a country with no inequality. In this hypothetical case, everyone gets the same share of the national income, and if long-term per capita income is higher than the poverty line, there will be no poverty.

The impacts of growth and inequality on poverty are interlinked and the growth-inequality-poverty relationship is complex. But it is still possible to assess their roles in making China's dream come true and to analyze how the other BRICS economies can reduce poverty. This can be done by attributing changes in the poverty rate to growth (the so-called growth impact) and changes in the inequality level (the distributional impact). Such an analysis is informative and useful, as it can help policymakers to rework or adjust their development strategies, and focus on either growth or distributional concerns, or both.

The results of such an analysis indicate that growth has played a much more important role than inequality in reducing poverty in all BRICS countries. Changes in income distribution either had negligible impact on the poverty rate or actually entailed increase in poverty.

In particular, rising inequality in China and India hampered the progress of poverty alleviation work. In other words, China and India could have achieved even better results had their income distribution not deteriorated over time.

Rising income gaps could also hurt growth and the poverty alleviation work, because they put psychological pressure on the poor-even compel some to engage in criminal activities out of desperation-and contribute to sluggish demand. For example, rising income inequality in China is a main cause of insufficient domestic demand that affects the profitability of enterprises. Having difficulty in selling their products and services, enterprises hold on to future investment, which hurts economic growth.

It is thus important for governments, including those in BRICS economies, to promote growth and at the same time contain, if not reduce, inequality. This will lead to inclusive growth, and ensure that sufficient attention is paid to the poor and vulnerable groups when designing and implementing various policies.

Especially, greater efforts should be made to ensure the poor do have equal access to education and healthcare services, because education and health represent the fundamental elements of human capital and are key determinants of people's well-being or poverty.

In short, all BRICS countries have made progress in poverty alleviation work, even though the progress has been uneven due to their different growth rates and the levels of inequality in their societies. But despite growth playing a dominant role in poverty reduction, it would be a mistake to overlook inequality, because a high level of inequality directly undermines growth potential and indirectly offsets the beneficial impact of growth on poverty reduction.

The author, former director and head of Poverty and Inequality Group at the Asian Development Bank, is a distinguished professor at and director of the Institute of World Economy, Fudan University.

The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

Pandemic generates exponential increase in the number of cybercrimes worldwide (Пандемия приводит к экспоненциальному увеличению числа киберпреступлений во всем мире) / Russia, August, 2020
Keywords: covid-19, digital, expert_opinion

Lucas Leiroz, research fellow in international law at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

Cybercrime has increased globally in recent months, mainly due to the global pandemic of the new coronavirus and the need to stay home and make more use of technology. These needs are being explored by cybercriminals and intelligence and cyberwar agencies to widen their scope. The universalization of the internet has undoubtedly brought many benefits and material improvements to humanity. But the point is that the burden of using the network is that we are exposed to numerous risks. Spread of cyber viruses, malware, scams, data theft, espionage and many other criminal variants are examples of the risks that accompany the benefits brought by the internet.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Internet use has been raised to a level never seen before. With the adoption of social isolation measures in the world, many services previously performed in person were transferred to teleworking platforms with the aim of reducing the risk of contagion. Therefore, the practice of cybercrime has also seen incredible growth. Between February and April 2020, the global financial sector recorded an increase of more than 200% in the number of cyberattacks.

Although cyber-attacks occur worldwide, some regions are particularly more unprotected. Latin America and the Caribbean, for example, are not sufficiently prepared to face the attacks that occur in cyberspace, according to the study 'Cybersecurity, risks, advances and the way forward in Latin America', carried out by the Organization of American States in partnership with the Development Bank. The study claims that cyberattacks recorded in Latin America and the Caribbean have increased, targeting mainly financial institutions on the continent. In the same vein, Russia has seen an alarming increase in the number of attacks. According to data from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, cybercrimes have grown by 82% in the country and there is an expectation of continued growth in such crimes over the next five years.

The crimes with the highest increase in cases were the ones of computer fraud. Criminals are becoming increasingly adept at using false information to obtain financial benefits through virtual means. Although most recent reports are related to financial crimes, a point that should also be highlighted is the strategic importance of the internet in contemporary times from a military point of view. Cyber warfare is currently one of the most active sectors for armed forces and intelligence agencies around the world. It is known, for example, that the CIA employs hackers and complex criminal networks specializing in cybercrimes as cyber warfare and cyber espionage agents, as was evident in a recent cyber-attack scandal against China.

Taking all this into account, we can make important reflections on the importance of the internet in modern society and on the risks that involve the improper use of this technology. The only way to prevent the inappropriate use of a resource indispensable to society is through its regulation by law. Although almost all States already have laws that regulate some issues related to the internet, there is still no international mechanism available on the topic, which prevents the creation of a base document for national legislation and the strengthening of international cooperation to fight cyber delicts.

At this point, for example, such international organizations as the BRICS can play an essential and innovative role. Cooperation between the countries of the group for the creation of a backup system separate from ordinary servers must be urgently resumed and put into practice. Although negotiations on the subject began years ago, little real progress has been made. Currently, ten root internet servers are located in the USA, representing almost a monopoly in the provision of this service, which greatly increases the risks to global cybersecurity.

An integrated cyber defense agreement in the BRICS and the construction of the group's internal root servers would create the largest digital fortress currently in existence. The proliferation of intranets and the creation of international treaties on the internet are two indispensable mechanisms for global digital security, which, however, must be planned together, being inefficient in isolation. A mere international treaty on the internet issue will be useless if there is still a concentration of servers in a country that employs hackers in its state agencies. What must be done is a joint action to create local domains and international regulation - serving as the basis for new national laws. Only in this way will emerging countries - the biggest victims of cyber-attacks - be able to deal with the challenges of a world that will become increasingly dependent on this technology.

Russia's Covid-19 Vaccine Deliveries Likely to Prioritise CIS, BRICS (Поставки российской вакцины против COVID-19 могут стать приоритетом для стран СНГ и БРИКС) / Russia, August, 2020
Keywords: covid-19, social_issues, cooperation

Countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and other friendly nations are likely to be the first foreign recipients of the Russian Covid-19 vaccine, named Sputnik V, according to Professor Ruslan Abramov of Plekhanov Russian University of Economics.

Last week, Russia registered the world's first Covid-19 vaccine, developed by the Moscow-based Gamaleya Institute with support from the Russian Defence Ministry and the Direct Investment Fund (RDIF). According to RDIF CEO Kirill Dmitriev, the country has already received preliminary requests for 1 billion vaccine doses from over 20 countries.

"Priority is likely to be given to friendly countries and countries with the difficult epidemiological situation. Among possible recipients are primarily CIS nations, China, India, Brazil, Serbia and other eastern European countries. However, a wider outreach is not ruled out," Abramov, who heads the university's department of public and municipal administration, told Sputnik. At the same time, it is premature to talk about Sputnik V as a commercial project, the expert believes, noting that Russia will first satisfy its own needs.

BRICS countries agree on enhancing cooperation in standardization (Страны БРИКС договорились об усилении сотрудничества в области стандартизации) / Russia, August, 2020
Keywords: cooperation, concluded_agreements

On 19 August, Mr Alexei Abramov, Head of Federal Agency for Technical Regulation and Metrology of the Russian Federation (Rosstandart), chaired a Meeting of the Heads of BRICS National Standardization Bodies via a videoconference.

The Meeting saw the presence of Mr Ricardo Fragoso, Director General of the Brazilian National Standards Organisation (ABNT), Ms Jodi Scholtz, Group Chief Operating Officer of the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS), Mr Cui Gang, Vice-Administrator of the Standardisation Administration of China (SAC), Director-General of Standards Innovative Management Department of the State Administration of Market Regulation (SAMR) and Mr D.K. Agrawal, Deputy Director General For Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS).

The experts discussed mechanisms for promoting cooperation between the BRICS countries in the field of standardization and highlighted the role of the national standardization agencies in responding to emergencies such as the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.

Thus, in order to expedite the introduction of new standards for medical items and personal protective equipment (PPE) in Brazil during the pandemic the period for public discussion of draft standards was shortened from 60 to 30 days. India has adopted a number of new standards for medical items and is currently developing a new standard for collection and disposal of used PPE. China has come up with a number of initiatives to develop international standards, in particular, requirements for contactless delivery, design and building infectious diseases units in clinics and hospitals. In Russia, during the most critical period of the pandemic, in order to increase the volume of medical items and PPE production a free access was provided to over 50 international, interstate and national standards as well as unprecedented access to technical specifications of PPE manufacturers.

The Heads of the relevant bodies also discussed a Draft Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in the field of standardization between the BRICS countries and the work of the BRICS Information and Share Platform in standardisation.

"BRICS is an acknowledged format for international cooperation, which has a number of priorities, including ensuring security in the use of ICTs, countering terrorism, developing integration of payment systems, outer space research, strengthening cooperation in the energy sector. Standardization mechanisms can make a real contribution to pursuing the above-mentioned priorities," Alexei Abramov emphasised.

The quality of competition law institutions and enforcement (Some comparative empirical evidence from BRICS and other countries) / Vasiliki Bageri, Yannis Katsoulacos (Качество институтов антимонопольного законодательства и правоприменения (некоторые сравнительные эмпирические данные из стран БРИКС и других стран) / Василики Багери, Яннис Кацулакос) / Russia, August, 2020
Keywords: research, fas

Empirical work on the influence of competition policy relies on the construction of indicators for measuring certain attributes of the relevant laws and institutions that can be hypothesized to influence the "quality" of these laws and institutions and hence their effect on competition and economic performance. This paper contributes to the methodological literature on indicators of the quality of Competition Law Institutions & Enforcement (CLI&E) and to the empirical literature relating to the measurement of these indicators in different countries. It presents the results of a recent empirical study, which objective has been to measure indicators of the quality of CLI&E, using data collected through a Questionnaire based survey of competition authorities in a large number of countries and data available from international organisations for these countries. The measurement of the indicators relies on a new methodology that focuses on the factors influencing the extent to which CLI&E improves competition and so enhances economic performance.

The overall conclusion is that the three BRICS countries included in our survey (Brazil, Russia and South Africa) are coming closer to the advanced jurisdictions in terms of the specific features of the countries' institutional and legislative set-up relating to CLI&E but still lag far behind in terms of the general conditions (economic, political, institutional, and socio-cultural) influencing the intensity of competition in a country.

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