Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 44.2020
2020.10.26 — 2020.11.01
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
The 2000 Declaration on Strategic Partnership between India and Russia (Декларация 2000 г. о стратегическом партнерстве между Индией и Россией) / Russia, October, 2020
Keywords: expert_opinion, concluded_agreements, political_issues

On October 3, 2000, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and President Vladimir Putin cemented India-Russia bilateral ties with the signing of the historical agreement, the "Declaration on the India-Russia Strategic Partnership." Two decades since the signing of the agreement, bilateral relations are hailed to have chartered new levels of cooperation amid fast changing regional and global scenarios. While shouldering mutual interests and concerns, the strategic partnership has been at the cusp of litmus test, as it has endured events such as the 9/11 terrorist attack, colour revolutions, the Georgian War, the economic depression in 2008, the 26/11 Mumbai attack, the Crimean referendum and its aftermath and the current COVID-19 pandemic. It is therefore worth reflecting on the two decades of a seemingly positive bilateral engagement between India and Russia. It is important to analyse how the agreement signed in 2000 has played a role in the continuum of ensuring the mutual understanding, peaceful cooperation and reliability between the two strategic partners. This is also an opportunity to critically evaluate the magnitude of our strategic relationship and the changes in the foreign policy priorities since 2000. Given the current global context, the key question is how prepared are India and Russia for insulating the strategic partnership amid the challenges in the post pandemic world?

The Declaration of Strategic Partnership (2000) was signed at a time when the momentum in the bilateral relations between India and Russia post-Soviet collapse had fatigued due to several factors. But the most crucial factor of them all was the renewal of the 1971 Indo-Soviet Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation in 1993. The renewed 1993 Treaty had almost written off the bilateral engagement, as Russia clarified that it was no longer willing to make any defence commitment during the time of any external military threat to India – a key security clause (Article IX) that constituted the very core of the 1971 Indo-Soviet Treaty.

The Strategic Partnership Treaty signed in 2000 gave a new lease of life as it restored India-Russia relations to respectable levels.Both the countries realised the need to develop a multifaceted bilateral cooperation in all possible spheres of defence, energy, space, nuclear, science and technology etc. India's strategic partnership with Russia since then has been unique, intense and substantive in many ways. Mainly, the Treaty led to the institutionalization of high level political interactions through annual bilateral summits – a key feature of the agreement to foster extensive collaboration and dynamism in the partnership. The twenty annual bilateral summits held so far between India and Russia have in particular seen major agreements and initiatives undertaken to strengthen the partnership to higher levels.

Additionally, in 2010, the bilateral ties were further elevated with the signing of the "Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership." Arguably, the partnership between the two countries has been successfully reflected in many instances at regional and global platforms. India, along with BRICS member states, abstaining its vote during the United Nations General Assembly referendum against Russia for its accession of Crimea in 2014 and Russia's unequivocal support to India on the Kashmir issue are few cases in point.

Regarding strategic partnership in sensitive spheres of cooperation between India and Russia, defence cooperation continues to be one of the major boosters for engagement between the two countries. India has acknowledged Russia's contribution in assisting the former in military power projection and preserving its national security interests. Although in recent times there is downgrading in the purchase of Russian defence equipment by India, the cooperation in this sphere has been unassailable given that it has progressed from buyer-seller relations to joint research development and production, high-end technology transfer that has encouraged India's quest for indigenous defence capabilities. From the induction of INS Vikramaditya to the joint production of BrahMos missile, India-Russia defence cooperation has achieved new capacities through acquisitions and joint development. In fact, Russia's resurgence as a military power in recent times is conducive to India's domestic initiatives such as the Make in India project. The finalising of the S-400 missile defence system agreement between India and Russia despite the threat of imposition of CAATSA sanctions has shown India's predictable resistance to external pressures given its historical ties with Russia.

Indo-Russian nuclear cooperation constitutes an important element of our strategic partnership. The Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP) has become one of the biggest success stories of India-Russia cooperation. As Unit 1 and Unit 2 start commercial operation, the process for reactor buildings of Units 3 and 4 have already begun. With the construction of 12 nuclear power plants planned, India-Russia nuclear cooperation has indeed reached new heights. India, Russia and Bangladesh signed a trilateral agreement in March 2018, for the construction of a NPP in Rooppur, Bangladesh.

Energy diplomacy has been another major element of the strategic partnership, since Russia, an export-oriented energy country, will aim to leverage its energy card with India, an import-oriented energy market. India's interests in the Arctic, for instance, especially energy resources, are a crucial aspect for India's growing energy security needs. India received its very first delivery from Russia's Arctic LNG Plant. This is seen as a great step towards strengthening India-Russia energy cooperation.

The bilateral partnership, which has a global strategic connotation, has seen both the countries enthusiastically promote the idea of building a multipolar world order and changing the global financial structure. In this regard, both India and Russia have envisaged promoting a harmonious global order based on international law and collective decision-making that includes developing countries and is not monopolised by developed countries alone. India and Russia, along with other players such as China, have succeeded in establishing non-western organisations such as BRICS and SCO. The member states have, within their capabilities and limitations, established mechanisms that address economic and strategic interests, such as the New Development Bank. While BRICS and SCO have become tools of political signalling on issues related to global affairs, there however exist asymmetries among the member states with regard to economic growth performance, distribution of resources and military strength. Additionally, although China is a member of such multilateral organisations, at the individual level Beijing has exercised assertive posturing that has caused concern in India. This can be seen by its irrational border claims and actions in the Indian Ocean region. The role of Russia especially during the time of crisis between India and China is therefore anticipated to be non-partisan and meaningful.

When the Treaty of Strategic Partnership was signed in 2000, the world was at the brink of a war on terrorism after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre. Both India and Russia, at their respective level, joined the bandwagon on the global war on terror. Both parties, as bilateral partners which have been victims of terrorist attacks, voiced their interests and concerns in combating terrorism and related activities. India and Russia have therefore cooperated at bilateral and multilateral levels. For instance, through Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure, SCO member states participate in joint anti-terrorism exercises. India and Russia also share the mutual interest of preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their possible acquisition by terrorist groups.

While both India and Russia assert their distinctive identity in world politics respectively, the strategic partnership has seen close coordination of foreign policy interests to a wide range of international and regional issues. Both countries firmly believe that intensification of the Indo-Russian strategic partnership can help respond to the challenges thrown up by global changes in a more effective way. While both India and Russia have a diverging approach on the Indo-Pacific narrative, one cannot deny that the two countries understand the need for strengthening maritime security and freedom of navigation in accordance with the universally accepted principles of international law. This includes combating piracy at sea and providing humanitarian aid during natural disasters. The two countries have shown keen interest in restoring peace and stability in Afghanistan. Eurasian integration has been a key priority in the India-Russia strategic partnership. Russia understands that in its quest for "greater Eurasia," India is a vital player for its huge market potential, economic growth performance, military strength and enhanced position in international affairs.

Strategic partnership in space, science and technology has been a bulwark in the bilateral relations between India and Russia since the Soviet era and has continued to remain one even today. In fact, both countries have agreed to expand their relations in the aerospace sphere, an area of traditional cooperation for decades. More than 500 joint projects involving scientists and research institutes from both countries have been undertaken within the framework of various initiatives since 2000.

While critically evaluating the two decades of strategic partnership between India and Russia, it is tempting to compare India's strategic partnership with other major global players and the strategic partnership that it shares with Russia. The new realities of the dynamic nature of international relations have definitely posed a challenge to the partnership. The pursuing of an all-alignment foreign policy has caused a certain level of discomfort in the bilateral relations. India's growing proximity with the U.S. and Russia's compromised defence cooperation with China and mending of ties with Pakistan in recent times has caused anxiety in the strategic partnership between India and Russia. One possible inference that one can draw is the constant comparison to the current India-Russia partnership with that of the nostalgia of Indo-Soviet ties. But one needs to bear in mind that compared to the strategic partnership that both India and Russia share with other major players, there are limitations and shrouded with lack of trust. India's defence relations with U.S., for instance, is yet to make any substantive development in joint production and restrictiveness about its technology compared to Russia's generosity to sharing defence technology and Russia's relations with Pakistan is eclipsed with lack of trust and understanding. As for Russia-China relations, there is growing speculation of a possible role reversal in the partnership given China's growth in global politics in recent times.

However, there are few stumbling blocks in India-Russia defence cooperation, especially the shifting trends in partnership, for example defence engagement between Russia and China. Russia's current cooperation with China has emerged exclusively, as it includes cooperation in sensitive fields, such as strategic missile defence, hypersonic technology, and the construction of nuclear submarines. With Russia now collaborating with China on sensitive military equipment, allowing for the latter to be well equipped with similar and more advanced capabilities, China is a major security concern for India. Hence, given the way warfare has evolved over the years, collaboration in advanced future weapon systems, including quantum technology and artificial intelligence, should be enhanced further between India and Russia.

Indo-Russian relations are undoubtedly at the cusp of a litmus test. Nonetheless, the strategic partnership should see the future of Asia beyond the U.S. and China factors, and both India and Russia can play a decisive role in promoting their mutual interests in the region.

The rapid and uncontrollable spread of COVID-19 in the past seven months has impacted the global order and the interconnected systems. Reflecting the spirit of the partnership in times of crisis, India coordinated with Russia in organising the repatriation of Russian nationals. Russia also welcomed India's goodwill gesture to send medical supplies to help fight the virus.

Critics have often pointed out that the strategic partnership is yet to achieve its full potential, given the fact that some of the spheres of cooperation continue to be remain obsolete, for instance, the economic relations. Additionally, given nearly 70 years of diplomatic relations, soft power capabilities, cultural diplomacy, academic exchange programmes, and labour migration are at an imperceptible status.

Trade and investment remains the weakest link in our strategic partnership and falls far short of our potential, which unfortunately is not commensurate with our high-level political cooperation. Post the announcement of the Strategic Agreement in 2000, which largely promotes the strengthening of economic relations between India and Russia, the trade cart received much required upgrade. Potential areas of trade have been explored, which include trade and investment, energy, nuclear, science and technology, pharmaceuticals, IT, steel, diamonds, fertilizers, infrastructure, heavy engineering and food products. Exploring economic prosperity, sustainable development, and free movement of people, information, knowledge, ideas and greater institutional links has also become crucial.

In fact, both countries have set a target of $30 billion worth of trade turnover and $30 billion investment in each other's country by the year 2025. It is also heartening that new options are being explored to further expand the domain of economic cooperation, Eurasian integrity, regional cooperation, free trade agreements, connectivity and trade corridors have gained the utmost importance in the annual bilateral summits in the past two decades. The two countries have also set up mechanisms such as Intergovernmental Commissions. For example, Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technological and Cultural Cooperation (IRIGC-TEC), the International North South Transport Corridor and the Eurasian Economic Union, which have emerged as immediate priority areas for strong economic cooperation between the two countries.

The Russian Far-East is another region for potential economic engagement. India's presence in the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) is aimed at developing trade, commerce, investment, railway infrastructure, steel plants, defence, space, ports and shipping. India has successfully participated in the annual EEF, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi calling for an "Act Far East" policy and announcing $1 billion line of credit for the development of the Far East. Other than these developments, our economic ties are focused on exploring the potential of sub-regional cooperation. Sub-regional cooperation has emerged as one of the prospective areas of cooperation and regional connectivity to add further impetus to the economic cooperation between India and Russia. The key goal is to cement and institutionalise cooperation between the States and Union Territories of the Republic of India and Provinces of the Russian Federation.

To further bolster India's FAR ambitions, an Indian Chief Ministers delegation of four Indian states led by the Commerce and Industry Minister of India Piyush Goyal visited Vladivostok to explore the opportunities and potential of business to business (B2B) cooperation in the FAR. With the introduction of the Russian Homestead Act and India being host to one of the largest agricultural farmers' immigration in the world, the need for both India and Russia to tap the potentials of agricultural sector is crucial. Regional connectivity needs due attention, hence the successful execution of alternative economic corridors and maritime trade corridors, such as Chennai-Vladivostok, needs prompt engagement.

The major impact of the pandemic has prompted countries to explore alternate market destinations and shifts in the business environment. The crisis has opened opportunities for countries such as India and Russia to reposition themselves in the global supply chain. Russia, with its efforts to attract investment to the Far East, and India, with its huge manpower and existing available manufacturing units, should be endorsed as potential and suitable alternatives for manufacturing, instead of developed nations.

Despite the seemingly successful bilateral relations between India and Russia, the strategic community is incomplete if there is shortfall in establishing strong people-to-people engagement. Since the Soviet collapse, bilateral relations have seen minimal cultural diplomacy, academic exchange and labour migration. Perhaps new vistas of cooperation could be explored to promote soft power capabilities between the two countries, such as cinema, which has always been one of the most successful foreign policy tools to enhance cultural exchange and people-to-people contact between countries.

The film industry is a great medium for spreading narratives, and in India movies have an immense following as well as impact on the minds of the population. India and Russia collaborated in movie production during the Soviet era, however, the trend did not last long due to the fall of the Soviet Union, among other factors. The time is right for both India and Russia to collaborate in the entertainment industry, especially through joint production of movies and creating powerful narratives related to bilateral cooperation. India and Russia must concentrate more on the content of the movie rather than joint production alone, as for the audience the content matters more than the producer. Moreover, it can have an everlasting impact on the minds of the Indian population if the content projects a Russian character aiding/collaborating with an Indian protagonist in a movie in bringing down an antagonist. Also, the Indian movie industry is always on the look for exotic locations in foreign lands. Hence, in order to attract the Indian movie industry, Russia could look into easing travel and other shooting permissions within its jurisdictions. Such an effort would not only bring closer industry ties, but also be able to showcase the Russia and its rich culture to the Indian population, thereby acting as a window of promotion for Russian tourism.

Regarding geopolitical realignment, today the global community is seeking pragmatic internationalism. The role of India and Russia is crucial in their efforts to diffuse the multipolar world system. This is also relevant for regional alliances to actively engage politically and economically, which should help bilateral relations between the two countries elevate to a higher pedestal in post-pandemic world order.

The current global situation has given rise to some daunting challenges for the partnership once again. Some of the challenges in the post pandemic world are linked to the disruptions being caused to the international order by traditional and non-traditional threats such as climate change, cyber security, health security, data protection, secure communication challenges etc. Nurturing hopes for stability and prosperity in Eurasia in the post pandemic world, bilateral relations between India and Russia and their proactive role in regional mechanisms such as SCO, Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), and Russia-India-China (RIC) are viewed as an integral part of this construct. Regional connectivity needs due attention including the successful execution of alternative economic corridors and maritime trade corridors.

In conclusion, the signing of the milestone agreement in 2000 was the outcome of developments that took place in bilateral relations between India and Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union. The main aim of the agreement was to elevate the partnership to new level of cooperation and put speculations and uncertainties in the relationship to rest. Over the past twenty years of relations, the partnership has seen many ups and downs. Nonetheless, this has not allowed any major damage that could impact or lead to any serious conflict of interest between the two countries. Having said that, the coveted relations built over the years cannot be taken for granted. In this regard, apart from political elites and bureaucrats playing a crucial role in enhancing the relations, academicians, artists, students, the research community, think tanks and educational institutions should contribute to forming the true essence of the partnership. The youth, in particular, need to draw inspiration from each other's rich history and cultural relevance, carrying forward the vision for a long-term partnership. The engagement of both countries in the international ecosystem in the post pandemic world has become even more relevant, as it has given rise to new challenges and opportunities. The strategic partnership between India and Russia nevertheless needs to insulate the mutual interests from challenges that emerge from within and from external factors. Perhaps, the need for a reality check and serious introspection will be crucial as the challenges are only set to grow given the dynamism of international relations.

China condemns COVID-19 blame game during BRICS forum (Китай осуждает обвинение в COVID-19 на форуме БРИКС) / USA, October, 2020
Keywords: covid-19, cooperation, political_issues, top_level_meeting

Oct. 28 (UPI) -- Beijing denounced the "politicization" of the coronavirus pandemic during a virtual BRICS parliamentary forum, while calling for greater coordination among Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Li Zhanshu, China's chairman of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, said Tuesday the partnership among the BRICS countries needs to be strengthened, Xinhua reported Wednesday.

"Cooperation between legislative bodies must be deepened under the BRICS mechanism," Li said, referring to the five major emerging national economies. "The cooperation mechanism should be perfected and various friendly exchanges between lawmakers and representatives should be promoted to further strengthen the BRICS partnership."

Without mentioning the United States by name, Li criticized China's detractors who blame Beijing for the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We must stand against politicizing the coronavirus, stigmatizing and labeling, as well as passing on and avoiding responsibility" for the pandemic, Li said.

Last week during the final presidential debate, U.S. President Donald Trump described COVID-19 as a "horrible disease that came from China," while defending his administration's handling of the virus.

Li is not the only Chinese official criticizing the United States.

Last month, Li Gao, the head of the environment ministry's climate change office, hit back at U.S. critics who accused China of ignoring its pollution problems while continuing to release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Li Gao said it is the United States, not China, that began to withdraw from the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change mitigation.

On Wednesday, Li Gao said China is scheduled to launch a national emissions trading system.

China's carbon market will develop from regional pilot schemes to a nationwide trading system. The system is being delayed and is to be launched between 2021 and 2025, he said.

China first went public with its plans to launch emissions trading in 2017.

BRICS has come of age, can create an empathetic new world order (БРИКС достиг совершеннолетия, может создать чуткий новый мировой порядок) / China, October, 2020
Keywords: expert_opinion, economic_challenges

The sixth BRICS Parliamentary Forum, currently under Russia's chairmanship, will take place on October 27. Due to social distancing rules and international travel challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, the conference is being held via videoconferencing. The forum's theme is "BRICS Partnership for Global Stability, Shared Security and Innovative Growth: Parliamentary Dimension."

BRICS is an acronym coined for the powerful and influential alliance of five major emerging national economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The BRICS grouping of like-minded countries aims to promote peace, security, development and cooperation in the world. It also aims at making a positive impact on the development of humanity and establishing a more equitable and fair world.

Interestingly, all members of BRICS are also members of the G20 group of countries, an international forum for the governments from 19 countries and the European Union which seeks to promote international financial stability.

According to World Population Prospects (2019) published by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, BRICS take up about 27 percent of the world land surface and comprise about 41 percent of the global population. In 2018, the aggregate GDP of the countries totaled an estimated 23.2 percent of the world's GDP.

With such a rich and solid background, BRICS is core to the world's social, economic and even political and moral destiny. This is very critical in the prevailing socioeconomic confusion and devastation caused by COVID-19, especially with the U.S., the erstwhile global leader, either incapable or unwilling to act as the world's benchmark. In the spirit of bilateral relations between BRICS nations, the world needs a new philosophy based on non-interference, equality and mutual benefit.

According to a communique from the host country, "Russia will propose to discuss with the colleagues, members of the parliaments of the BRICS countries, issues of strengthening of key international institutions, such as the UN and the World Health Organization. Issues of building a system of international relations on the principles of mutual respect and respect for sovereignty will be also discussed."

Moreover, the delegates will discuss legislative initiatives aimed at improving healthcare systems, social protection and economic recovery in the context of the coronavirus pandemic. The proposals that will be formulated at the end of the forum will be crucial not only to improving the standards and quality of life of BRICS citizens, but also informing the necessary strategies of other developing countries.

The BRICS grouping is both a lighthouse and a compass that can help anchor the rest of the developing world. Almost everything that the developed Western world has to offer is now available in the five top developing economies. Economically, scientifically and technologically, BRICS is at par with the developed countries, making it a natural choice for cooperation.

With COVID-19 exposing the soft underbelly of some superpowers like the U.S., the United Kingdom and France, it is high time the BRICS countries stepped up their confidence levels and potential global leadership role. The global investment and ideological climate is now conducive for deeper South-South cooperation.

Over the years since inception, the BRICS countries have achieved higher economic rankings. China became the largest global economy in 2010, while the following year, Brazil was ranked the sixth largest. India is the 10th largest economy in GDP terms, Russia is the nine largest, and South Africa is at number 26 in global economic rankings. This solid combination is a sufficient support system for the weaker economies, even as the BRICS bloc propels itself to higher levels of growth.

Whichever way the November 3 presidential elections in the U.S. go, the old order is no longer tenable where Big Brother dictates how other countries should run their internal affairs, or even how and which countries should relate with one other. Neither will the zero-sum game be feasible in a world that is getting accustomed to the noble ideals of multilateralism, cooperation and partnership in the quest for win-win outcomes and mutual benefit.

Therefore, the BRICS forum should strive to consolidate and coordinate the countries' positions and actions in international organizations, primarily the UN and its associated bodies and organs. The grouping has previously discussed global environmental, political, peace and security issues in relevant international forums.

As the natural hub of the BRICS grouping, China has been leading from the front in helping the world come up with a new order devoid of selfishness and exploitation. With China's guidance and inspiration, BRICS can play a crucial role in promoting a balanced global governance system, which will help eradicate hegemonic tendencies among some powerful countries.
Africa to benefit from sustainable inclusive development: BRICS official (Африка получит выгоду от устойчивого инклюзивного развития: официальный представитель БРИКС) / China, October, 2020
Keywords: sustainable_development, expert_opinion

JOHANNESBURG, Oct. 30 (Xinhua) -- South Africa and other African countries will benefit from sustainable inclusive development, said BRICS Business Council South African Chapter Chairperson Busi Mabuza on Thursday.

Mabuza said the BRICS Business Forum, which closed on Oct. 28, discussed lessons from participants' experiences towards a common vision for sustainable inclusive development.

"We have agreed on the importance of a shared and common vision for sustainable inclusive development. The meeting took place at a time of great economic uncertainty that is aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic," the chairperson said.

"However, we are encouraged by the promising signs of recovery emerging in our respective economies," she said.

The BRICS Business Council has called for closer cooperation between government, business and civil society to ensure no one is left behind in the post-pandemic economic recovery.

Mabuza believes that not only South Africa but also Africa as a whole will benefit from the great initiatives from BRICS and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

"Throughout the ten sessions over the last ten days, the South African delegation gave emphasis to the benefits that will flow from the AfCFTA which offers a market of more than 1.3 billion people with the majority of the population under the age of 25," Mabuza said.

This, she added, offers an emergent young middle class that promises a dynamic environment for entrepreneurship, especially in the digital economy.

BRICS is an acronym for five major emerging countries -- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, which together represent about 42 percent of the global population, 23 percent of global GDP, 30 percent of world territory and 18 percent of global trade. Enditem

Greetings to participants and guests of the Sixth BRICS Parliamentary Forum (Приветствие участникам и гостям Шестого Парламентского форума БРИКС) / Russia, October, 2020
Keywords: vladimir_putin, top_level_meeting, speech

Vladimir Putin sent greetings to the participants, organisers and guests of the Sixth BRICS Parliamentary Forum.

The message reads, in part:

"Cooperation between representative government bodies is a major component of BRICS strategic partnership. It is only natural that the Forum that unites chamber speakers, national parliament members, leaders of major political parties and experts is playing a growing role in the public life of the BRICS Five.

This year, the Forum's agenda is consonant with the main theme and priorities of Russian BRICS chairmanship. You are to discuss many urgent issues of international relations and exchange the experience of developing parliamentary democratic institutions. Coordination of national legislative initiatives in healthcare, social protection and economic recovery during the coronavirus pandemic obviously require special attention.

I hope your discussions will be constructive and fruitful, and will help build up multilateral inter-parliamentary ties in all key areas and promote friendship and understanding among our nations."

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov's welcoming address to the participants of the 9th BRICS Trade Union Forum, October 30, 2020 (Приветственное слово заместителя министра иностранных дел Сергея Рябкова участникам IX Профсоюзного форума БРИКС, 30 октября 2020 г.) / Russia, October, 2020
Keywords: speech, top_level_meeting, cooperation

Esteemed friends and colleagues,

I would like to welcome the participants of the 9th BRICS Trade Union Forum. Over the years this forum has become a high-demand venue for communicating and exchanging experience between trade union representatives in the BRICS countries.

This forum is an important element in the BRICS system of economic and humanitarian ties. Much experience of cooperation has been gained since the first meeting in this format in December 2012. Common interests and aspirations of the trade unions have promoted the expansion of the forum's agenda and made discussions more substantive. Productive and efficient joint work has made it possible to substantially broaden the forum's ties with authoritative multilateral agencies. I am pleased to note that the mechanism for coordinating the positions of the five member states on key issues on the agenda of the International Trade Union Confederation has been established and continues growing stronger. Dialogue with the International Labour Organisation has acquired a regular character. Considering the contribution of the BRICS countries to the world economy (about a quarter of the global GDP) and the fact that over 40 percent of the world's population live in our countries, the BRICS Trade Union Forum can and must make a substantial contribution to the agenda of the global trade union movement.

Historically, trade unions have played a leading role in consolidating international solidarity. Today this is more in demand than ever before. Against the backdrop of growing competition between countries, and the attempts by some groups of states to maintain their global domination to the detriment of genuine multilateral cooperation, the dialogue between people, public representatives and trade union associations is becoming particularly relevant. Its goal is to restore trust and find effective collective responses to the challenges facing the world, including socio-economic problems. There is simply no alternative to a multilateral approach.

During the Russian chairmanship, this forum is being held via videoconference for the first time due to coronavirus restrictions. The pandemic continues exerting serious impact on practically all areas of our lives, including the socio-economic development of our countries. This year, the five member countries have taken large and diversified measures to minimise the negative consequences of the coronavirus crisis. They have primarily been focused on efforts to maintain economic activity, preserve jobs and prevent a decline in the living standards of their citizens. These objectives are not easy and must be tackled in a package and in close cooperation between the state, businesses and employee representatives.

Trade union associations are capable of making their own contributions to implementing the Sustainable Development Goals, primarily by ensuring the right to a decent job, and promoting the rights of employees, including women, and their social protection. In this context, representatives of the BRICS trade union associations must display solidarity and consistency in working for this purpose.

The era of rapid ICT development and innovation production solutions is demanding more labour productivity and workforce quality. In this context, trade union associations are faced with the task of ensuring the comprehensive protection of the rights of working people and the opportunity to develop these rights, in cooperation with the state and corporate executives.

It is no less important to maintain employment in traditional occupations. It is necessary to ensure an opportunity for professional retraining and the timely vocational training of employees in the midst of technical progress and development of communication and means of production. The functions and experience of trade unions can be very helpful in this respect.

We welcome any further cooperation between the Trade Union Forum and the five-party mechanism for meetings among the BRICS labour ministers and the Business Council. I am confident that these contacts make it possible to consider the interests of the state, businesses and personnel in building a paradigm of cooperation for the future. They will also add substance to this cooperation.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin has clearly set the priorities for our chairmanship and entire five-party cooperation – to facilitate an increase in the living standards and quality of life of the BRICS nations. It is gratifying that the practical activities of your forum are aimed at fulfilling this task.

I am convinced that the participants in this forum will be able to create common approaches to resolving existing problems with due account for cultural, historical and economic traditions in an atmosphere of understanding and consideration for each other's interests, which is typical for the BRICS countries.

I wish you success in this work, productive discussions, and of course, good health! Thank you!

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's greetings to the BRICS Business Forum hosts and participants (Приветствие Министра иностранных дел России С.В.Лаврова организаторам и участникам Делового форума БРИКС) / Russia, October, 2020
Keywords: mofa, sergey_lavrov, top_level_meeting, speech

I bid the BRICS Business Forum hosts and participants a cordial welcome.

This event has established itself as a popular communication platform for entrepreneurs and representatives of the BRICS government agencies.

This forum is an effective mechanism for promoting trade, economic and investment ties between our countries. Closer practical interaction between business circles has made it possible to significantly strengthen our countries' trade and economic cooperation. The member states' mutual exports grew by 45 percent from 2015 to 2019.

BRICS is facing new ambitious goals, and the business community can lead the effort to achieve them. Primarily, the issue is about digital transformation, the efficiency of public-private partnership mechanisms, labour skills in an innovation-based economy and the social protection of citizens. Strengthening interaction between business and the state is of particular importance.

In the year of the Russia's BRICS chairmanship, we pay special attention to expanding economic cooperation between our countries. In particular, this is what the updated Strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership is designed to achieve. It will be submitted for approval by the leaders at the 12th BRICS Summit.

The search for new drivers of economic growth is becoming particularly important amidst crisis-laden national economies, the global system in general being aggravated by the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. In this context, the theme of today's Forum – BRICS Business Partnership: Common Vision for Sustainable Inclusive Development - sounds particularly relevant.

The way we understand it, inclusiveness means, primarily, collective efforts to overcome common challenges and take into account the interests of all members of the international community. Russia invariably advocates equal interaction between the states without a hidden agenda or the use of unfair competition and with the utmost respect for international law. Adherence to these principles can ensure sustainable development of our planet.

I wish you good health, every success and productive work for the benefit of strengthening ties between our countries. I am convinced that your joint work to build and deepen business contacts will help improve the quality of life and prosperity for all people in the BRICS countries.

World faces threat of global security system take-down, says Russian speaker (Мир столкнулся с угрозой срыва глобальной системы безопасности) / Russia, October, 2020
Keywords: quotation, top_level_meeting, global_governance

MOSCOW, October 27. /TASS/. The US pullout from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty) and possible refusal to extend the Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START) could dismantle the whole global system of strategic security, Speaker of the Russian Federation Council (upper house of parliament) Valentina Matviyenko.

"The unilateral exit of the US from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty was a very dangerous step, now we are facing the threat of non-extension of New START as it expires in February 2021. The consequences of such impulsive actions can dismantle the whole global system of strategic stability and security," she told the Sixth BRICS Parliamentary Forum held by videoconference.

The speaker underlined that there are a lot of issues on the world arena, but only international cooperation based on principles of trust, respect and openness can ensure global stability and common security.

On August 2, 2019, the United States formally withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, signed by the Soviet Union and the United States on December 8, 1987. It applied to deployed and non-deployed ground-based missiles of intermediate range (1,000-5,000 kilometers) and shorter range (500-1,000 kilometers). The US motivated its actions by Russia's alleged refusal to comply with the American ultimatum-like demand that the new 9M729 cruise missiles be eliminated as violating the INF Treaty. Moscow vehemently dismissed all accusations, saying that the technical parameters of the 9M729 missiles are within the parameters allowed by the treaty and laid counterclaims to Washington. In September 2018, the news emerged that Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested to leaders of some countries, including NATO allies, introducing a moratorium on deployment of such intermediate-and short-range missiles in Europe and other regions, but the US practically rejected the proposal.

On Monday, Putin reaffirmed Russia's commitment to the moratorium on deployment of land intermediate-and short-range missiles until "American missiles of similar classes turn up" in certain regions.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov's video message to the BRICS Business Forum, Moscow, October 28, 2020 (Видеообращение заместителя министра иностранных дел Сергея Рябкова к Деловому форуму БРИКС, Москва, 28 октября 2020 г.) / Russia, October, 2020
Keywords: mofa, speech, top_level_meeting

Colleagues, friends,

Greetings to all of you. Let me begin by thanking the head of the Russian chapter of the BRICS Business Council, President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation Sergey Katyrin for organising this event. Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic around the world prevented us from welcoming our dear guests from the BRICS countries in our capital city Moscow. At this stage, working remotely seems to be the best way to promote cooperation between our five countries.

The coronavirus swept across the globe in a matter of months, changing the way we live. It has tested the global political and economic frameworks and international institutions. Nation states also face unprecedented challenges. We have yet to assess the consequences of the pandemic and come up with collective approaches for overcoming them. The "corona crisis" has demonstrated that our countries are interconnected, that the challenges we face today transcend borders. This has shown that these challenges are interconnected.

You know the current macroeconomic situation. The world economy has entered a recession. Global GDP is shrinking, and so are international trade, investment and demand for key exports. The global value chains are being disrupted, while financial markets are in constant state of turbulence. And there are many other problems we face today, and will have to deal with in the future.

The crises in the economy and trade could make the world more prone to conflict and seriously undermine international cooperation, further exacerbating the deficit of trust. The gap between the rich and the poor is once again growing. Our common goal is to prevent the most negative scenarios from materialising.

Against this unfavourable backdrop, we are witnessing attempts to make a political issue out of the COVID-19 pandemic. We believe that this is the worst thing to do at a time when we need to work together to fend off today's threats.

It is time that we start thinking about shaping the contours of the post-pandemic world. The only way to make the global architecture resilient is by relying on the UN Charter, and the key principles that are well known: the sovereign equality of states, non-interference in their domestic affairs, peaceful conflict resolution and respect for international law. These remain relevant today, as we mark 75 years since the end of the Second World War and the establishment of the United Nations.

Overcoming the economic fallout from the crisis is a priority. In this context, we need to focus on restoring the global economy, driving growth and expanding trade, as well as repairing the industrial chains. We cannot forget about climate change, sustainable development and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. I think the BRICS countries will have to look past this horizon to proactively contribute to shaping the long-term global agenda.

The business community in our five countries has a special responsibility in this regard. Businesses are uniquely equipped to swiftly adapt to a new reality, and create much needed jobs during major crises like the current one. This is a huge asset. The BRICS governments will continue to support businesses in every possible way. In this context, the BRICS Business Forum and Business Council are essential for devising effective solutions to support micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.

Female entrepreneurship within BRICS deserves special attention. We are satisfied with the fact that, together with our partners, we have created the Women's Business Alliance, a non-governmental initiative to promote direct business contact among female entrepreneurs in the five countries. The alliance held its inaugural meeting via videoconference on July 20, chaired by the head of the alliance's Russian chapter, Anna Nesterova. During the meeting, the participants outlined the possible areas of cooperation for this organisation. They expressed their commitment to working together on joint projects in digital development, and e-learning, tourism, healthcare, food production, the creative economy, green business and the textile sector.

The 12th BRICS Summit is scheduled to take place via videoconference on November 17. Together with our BRICS partners, we remain proactively involved in preparing for this event, which will be the highlight of the Russian Chairmanship in 2020. We hope that these efforts will help BRICS achieve tangible results in promoting cooperation among its participants, including with the support of the Business Council and the Business Forum.

To conclude, I would like to emphasise that Russia will seek to promote greater connectivity within the BRICS format and create conditions for launching promising business projects. By working together, we can add substantial momentum to the development of our countries in the interests of our people.

I wish you every success in your work.

BRICS Business Forum participants review their work (Участники Делового форума БРИКС отзываются о своей работе) / Russia, October, 2020
Keywords: top_level_meeting, business_council

On 20-28 October, the key annual event of the BRICS Business Council, the BRICS Business Forum, held under the motto BRICS Business Partnership: Common Vision for Sustainable Inclusive Development, was held via videoconference.

About 90 speakers, officials, businesspeople, representatives of financial institutions and public organisations from all BRICS member countries took part in the forum.

During the three days of nine panel sessions, the participants discussed the current areas of cooperation between the BRICS countries including industry, trade, digital technologies, agriculture, healthcare, energy, the environment and women's entrepreneurship. According to the participants, these forum sessions were held at a high substantive level, which made it possible to exchange experience in overcoming the pandemic's impact and to present initiatives and long-term cooperation plans in all areas.

The forum received greetings from Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov who wished them success and productive work in promoting ties between the BRICS countries.

The forum concluded with the plenary session on 28 October under the chairmanship of Sergei Katyrin, President of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and current Chair of the BRICS Business Council. Taking part in the meeting were chairs of the national chapters of the BRICS Business Council and the New Development Bank.

Video remarks were also sent by Russian Minister of Economic Development Maxim Reshetnikov, Russian Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov as well as Sergei Ryabkov, Deputy Foreign Minister and Russia's BRICS Sherpa.

Deputy Foreign Minister and Russia's BRICS Sherpa, Sergei Ryabkov, noted that it was necessary to mitigate the growth of negative factors in international affairs, including in the economy.

"Disagreements are growing and the potential for conflict is building up as well as the gap between the rich and poor countries. This must be overcome, and BRICS countries' role here is essential," the deputy minister noted.

Updating the BRICS Strategy for Economic Partnership 2025 is a priority item on the trade and economic agenda under Russia's chairmanship in BRICS.

According to Minister of Economic Development Maxim Reshetnikov, the strategy's main goal is to achieve sustainable socioeconomic development in the BRICS countries and create new opportunities for everyone: large and small businesses, investors, women, youth and the elderly, as well as for the sustainable development of the BRICS countries.

Russian Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov spoke about several issues related to the development of industrial cooperation within BRICS.

"In addition to measures to stabilise the domestic situation, we are looking for new solutions and new points in industrial cooperation and the expansion of trade and economic relations with our partners," the minister said in his video remarks.

Various issues of cooperation and experience in addressing certain problems were raised in the speeches of the heads of the BRICS Business Council national chapters: Jackson Schneider of Brazil, Onkar Kanwar of India, Xu Lirong of China and Busi Mabuza of South Africa, who also noted that it was necessary to develop women's entrepreneurship within BRICS and the role of the Women's Business Alliance.

President of the New Development Bank Marcos Troyjo talked about the basic areas the bank planned to focus on and noted that the New Development Bank would have to play a key role in restoring and developing the BRICS economies after the COVID-19 pandemic.

In reviewing the BRICS Business Forum, the participants stressed the importance of closer than ever cooperation and coordination between governments, businesses and civil societies in order to provide comprehensive and timely support for people and economies during the pandemic.

The Roscongress Foundation, a socially oriented non-financial development institution and a major organiser of international conventions, congress, exhibitions, business, social and sporting, public, and cultural events, is in charge of organising events as part of the Russian Federation's chairmanship in the BRICS association.

Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
BRICS Business Forum Trade and Investment Cooperation: A path for the future (Деловой форум БРИКС, Торгово-инвестиционное сотрудничество: путь в будущее) / Greece, November, 2020
Keywords: expert_opinion, business_council
Author: Kester Kenn Klomegah

On October 28, the BRICS Business Council (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) during the forum reviewed its joint work for the previous years, discussed at length current business issues and, in particular tried to choose a path for the future. The Business Council was launched at the BRICS Summit in 2013 in Durban. Since its establishment, the BRICS Business Council has made its primary task to increase or broaden trade and investment among the member countries.

While it has recorded a considerable success and positive performance, this year has been different due to the spread of coronavirus. That has not deterred them but rather the BRICS plans to turn the disease-climate into a platform to search for new drivers of trade and economic growth in the subsequent years.

In 2020, Russia holds rotating leadership of the BRICS. Consequently, the meeting was coordinated from Moscow by the head of the Russian chapter of the BRICS Business Council, President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation Sergey Katyrin. It is worth to explain that the BRICS Business Forum held with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation and the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation.

Ahead of the opening, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov sent a special message of greetings, and the Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov addressed the participants. In his address, Ryabkov noted that by working together, the group could add substantial momentum to the development of trade and investment among members, and in the interests of population. In assessing the consequences of the pandemic, he urged the group to come up with collective approaches for overcoming them.

"The world economy has entered a recession. Global GDP is shrinking, and so are international trade, investment and demand for key exports. The global value chains are disrupted, while financial markets are in constant state of turbulence. There are many other problems we face today, and will have to deal with in the future," he told the participants.

"The crises in the economy and trade could make the world more prone to conflict and seriously undermine international cooperation, further exacerbating the deficit of trust. The gap between the rich and the poor is once again growing. Our common goal is to prevent the most negative scenarios from materializing. Against this unfavorable backdrop, we are witnessing attempts to make a political issue out of the COVID-19 pandemic. We believe that this is the worst thing to do at a time when we need to work together to fend off today's threats," Ryabkov pointed out.

According to him, overcoming the economic fallout from the crisis is a priority. In this context, there is the need to focus on restoring the global economy, driving growth and expanding trade, as well as repairing the industrial chains. He added, "We cannot forget about climate change, sustainable development and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. I think the BRICS countries will have to look past this horizon to proactively contribute to shaping the long-term global agenda."

In an optimistic vision for the future, the business community in the five countries has a special responsibility in this regard. Businesses are uniquely equipped to swiftly adapt to a new reality, and create much needed jobs during major crises like the current one. This is a huge asset. The BRICS governments will continue to support businesses in every possible way. In this context, the BRICS Business Forum and Business Council are essential for devising effective solutions to support micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.

Besides, there were plenary sessions held under theme: "COVID-19 and the economic development of the BRICS countries: problems and actions" and "Challenges and opportunities for sustainable development: pathways to a green economy."

The BRICS countries represent the key economies of their regions and therefore have a special responsibility to develop actions to contain the COVID19 pandemic. They bear the main burden on the development and implementation of a policy of economic recovery from the consequences of the pandemic.

The session "Challenges and Opportunities for Sustainable Development: Pathways to a Green Economy" discussed an agenda for action on climate change and finding ways to sustain economic, industrial and energy development while reducing carbon emissions. The session participants concluded that it is necessary to study carefully the directions of sustainable economic development in the current situation.

Russian Chamber President Sergey Katyrin referenced BRICS Business Forum 2020 as "business marathon" and noted that nine panel sessions discussed topical areas of cooperation, and these include industry, trade, digital technologies, agriculture, healthcare, energy, ecology and women's entrepreneurship.

According to forum documents, the three-day forum, both online and offline, brought together about 90 speakers, representatives of government bodies, financial institutions, business and public organizations from all countries of the association. The main topic of the forum this year was "Business Partnership of the BRICS: a Common Vision of Sustainable Inclusive Development" – and that "inclusiveness" refers to the collective efforts to overcome common challenges.

One of the main tasks is updating the Strategy for Economic Partnership of BRICS until 2025, to continue identifying promising directions for developing business cooperation among BRICS countries. In addition, the plan also focuses on business-to-business engagements in the interests of creating tangible inter-trade transactions and exploring investment opportunities among the member countries.

Minister of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation Denis Manturov highlighted, in particular, some issues of the development of industrial cooperation within the BRICS. The heads of the national parts of the BRICS Business Council – Jackson Schneider (Brazil), Onkar Kanwar (India), Xu Lirong (China), Busisiwe Mabuza (South Africa) – spoke about various issues of interaction, exchanged ideas and experiences in solving urgent problems and challenges that currently face the group.

They discussed the impact of the pandemic on industrial production, ways to restore the economies of the BRICS countries, the possibility of digitalization and automation in creating a favorable climate. They also considered the development of women's entrepreneurship within the BRICS and the role of the Women's Business Alliance, which began its activities in the year of Russia's chairmanship in BRICS.

The BRICS Business Council will meet to sum up and approve the annual report on November 10. That will be ahead of the XII BRICS Leaders' summit scheduled for November 17. The theme of the meeting of the leaders is "BRICS Partnership in the Interests of Global Stability, Common Security and Innovative Growth."

Russia last chaired BRICS in 2015, held a summit in the provincial city of Ufa in Bashkortostan. Russia also presided over the group back in 2009, before BRIC turned into BRICS following South Africa's accession. The five BRICS countries together represent over 3.1 billion people, or about 40 percent of the world's population.

BRICS Bank Provides Member Nations with Over $10 BILLION in Emergency Assistance to Fight Pandemic (Банк БРИКС предоставляет странам-членам экстренную помощь на сумму более 10 миллиардов долларов в борьбе с пандемией) / Russia, October, 2020
Keywords: ndb, investments, covid-19

The potential of the BRICS nations is unique, and the group's New Development Bank (NDB) is showing high financial efficiency during the global Covid-19 crisis, Russian representatives at the Sixth BRICS Parliamentary Forum said.
Approximately 60 projects in BRICS countries totaling about $20 billion have been approved, the chairman of the Russian State Duma, Vyacheslav Volodin, who chaired the virtual event via videoconference on Tuesday, said.

The NDB has responded to the pandemic in a timely and effective manner and announced the creation of a special lending mechanism to deal with the aftereffects of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the chairwoman of Russia's Federation Council, Valentina Matviyenko. She said that in total, $4 billion has already been allocated for projects to assist in the recovery of the BRICS economies, with the entire aid package exceeding $10 billion.

BRICS Parliamentary Forum ©
In April, the bank established the Emergency Assistance Facility to meet the needs of its member countries. Emergency loans could be used to finance direct expenses related to the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic or provide support for government measures contributing to economic recovery.

The Shanghai-based NDB, which was established in 2014, provides funding for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in emerging economies. With capital of up to $100 billion, it aims to continue issuing financial products denominated in the local currencies of its member countries – China, Russia, Brazil, India, and South Africa.
NDB registered RMB 20 billion bond program in China Interbank Bond Market (НБР зарегистрировал программу выпуска облигаций на сумму 20 млрд юаней на межбанковском рынке облигаций Китая) / China, October, 2020
Keywords: ndb, economic_challenges

The New Development Bank (NDB) has successfully registered its second RMB Bond Programme in the China Interbank Bond Market and received the Letter of Registration (Zhong Shi Xie Zhu, 2020 No. RB5) from the National Association of Financial Market Institutional Investors (NAFMII) on October 28, 2020. The NDB has been granted approval to raise up to RMB 20 billion in the China Interbank Bond Market within two years of the Programme registration date. The proceeds of the Programme will be used to finance infrastructure and sustainable development projects in the Bank's member countries.

Bond offerings under the Programme will be eligible to institutional investors in the China Interbank Bond Market as well as offshore RMB investors through the Bond Connect scheme between Mainland China and Hong Kong.

Agricultural Bank of China, Bank of China, Bank of Communications, CITIC Securities, China Construction Bank, China International Capital Corporation, Credit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank (China), DBS Bank (China), Deutsche Bank (China), HSBC Bank (China), Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and Standard Chartered Bank (China) have been appointed as the joint lead underwriters of the Programme.

"Raising local currency finance in BRICS countries, and on-lending in local currency is core to the NDB's funding strategy. In this regard, we have become a regular bond issuer in the China Interbank Bond Market and have strong confidence in its depth and liquidity. The NDB is pleased to have received strong recognition and support from investors to date," said Mr. Leslie Maasdorp, NDB VP & CFO. "The NDB places special emphasis on the development impact of its projects, with a commitment to contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Therefore, we are currently exploring the feasibility of issuing an SDG-linked RMB bond and working with UNDP to test the application of SDG impact standard for bonds under the approved RMB bond Programme in China Interbank Bond Market."

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. 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) and Analytical Credit Rating Agency (ACRA).

World of Work
Russian experts to discuss the launch of BRICS Women Business Alliance (Российские эксперты обсудят запуск Делового альянса женщин БРИКС) / Russia, October, 2020
Keywords: cooperation, social_issues

On 27 October, at 12pm Moscow time, a news conference on the launching of the BRICS Women Business Alliance will be held at the Izvestia Multimedia Information Centre's press centre.

The following speakers will discuss the development of women entrepreneurship as an important part of global business, as well as the practical efforts of the BRICS Women Business Alliance to promote the role of women in the national economies of the five countries:

– Galina Karelova, Deputy Speaker of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation
– Anna Nesterova, Head of the Russian National Chapter of the Women Business Alliance, Head of the BRICS Business Council Working Group on Digital Economy (Russian Chapter)
– Mikhail Kalugin, Head of the BRICS Office of the Foreign Policy Planning Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry
– Olga Belyavtseva, entrepreneur, Member of the Russian National Chapter of the BRICS WomenBusiness Alliance
– Yelena Chashchina, entrepreneur, Member of the Russian National Chapter of the BRICS Women Business Alliance
– Yelena Marinina, Deputy CEO of the Roscongress Foundation and Director of the Innosocium Foundation, the social platform of the Roscongress Foundation, Member of the Russian National Chapter of the BRICS Women Business Alliance.

The idea of creating a women business association was initially proposed by business community at the First International Women Congress of the SCO and BRICS countries held in Novosibirsk in the summer of 2017. In September 2017, the Russian initiative was supported by its partners at a Meeting of the BRICS Business Council in Shanghai.

Streaming will be available at Izvestia's website at

The BRICS Business Forum 2020 was named "business marathon" by the CCI of Russia's President, Sergey Katyrin (Деловой форум БРИКС-2020 назван «бизнес-марафоном» президентом ТПП России Сергеем Катыриным.) / Russia, October, 2020
Keywords: business_council, quotation, top_level_meeting

The BRICS Business Forum is the annual key BRICS BC event, but this year the pandemic has made its own adjustments and it was not held in Moscow and St.Petersburg, as planned, but in several online sessions. Three days were devoted to panel sessions, and on October 28 the final plenary session of such a business marathon took place.

That year, the BRICS Business Forum was held with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation and the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation. The forum received a welcoming address from the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov with wishes of success and fruitful activities for the benefit of strengthening ties between the BRICS member states.

In his opening remarks, Sergey Katyrin named BRICS Business Forum 2020 "business marathon" and noted that the forum participants at nine panel sessions discussed topical areas of cooperation between the BRICS countries: industry, trade, digital technologies, agriculture, healthcare, energy, ecology, women's entrepreneurship, etc.

About 90 speakers, representatives of government bodies, financial institutions, business and public organizations from all countries of the association took part in the forum. According to the participants' assessments, all sessions of the forum were held at a high level; the participants not only exchanged experiences on overcoming the consequences of the pandemic, but also talked about new initiatives and long-term plans for interaction in all areas.

The main topic of the forum this year was "Business partnership of the BRICS countries: a common vision of sustainable inclusive development", which means that "inclusiveness" is, first of all, collective efforts to overcome common challenges. "I am sure that it is from these positions that we will continue to build our joint work in the Business Council," stressed Sergey Katyrin.

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Ryabkov addressed the meeting participants, who, in particular, drew attention to the need to slow down the growth of negative factors in international affairs, including economic ones. Contradictions are growing, conflict potential is heating up, the gap between rich and poor countries is widening. All this must be overcome, and the role of the BRICS countries is very important here, the Deputy Minister noted.

One of the main tasks in the framework of the trade and economic agenda of Russia's chairmanship in the BRICS was the updating of the Strategy for Economic Partnership of the Union Countries for the Period up to 2025, in the development of which the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation played an important role (with support of CCI of Russia). The Minister of Economic Development of the Russian Federation Maxim Reshetnikov spoke about the main provisions of the Strategy and promising directions for developing business cooperation between the BRICS countries.

Minister of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation Denis Manturov highlighted, in particular, some issues of the development of industrial cooperation within the BRICS.

The heads of the national parts of the BRICS Business Council - Jackson Schneider (Brazil), Onkar Kanwar (India), Xu Lirong (China), Busi Mabuza (South Africa) - spoke about various issues of interaction and experience in solving urgent problems. They discussed the impact of the pandemic on industrial production, ways to restore the economies of the BRICS countries, the possibility of digitalization and automation in creating a favorable climate. They also considered the development of women's entrepreneurship within the BRICS and the role of the Women's Business Alliance, which began its activities in the year of Russia's chairmanship in BRICS.

Summing up the results of the plenary session, Sergey Katyrin said that the Annual meeting of the BRICS BC will be held on November 10, at which the results of the work of the BRICS Business Council will be summed up and the annual report will be approved.

The XII BRICS Summit will be held online on November 17, 2020. The topic of the meeting of the leaders is "BRICS Partnership in the Interests of Global Stability, Common Security and Innovative Growth". The annual report of the BRICS BC will be presented to the leaders of the five states.

BRICS and the Western-Centric Global Film Industry: Possibilities of the Digital Era (БРИКС и западно-ориентированная глобальная киноиндустрия: возможности цифровой эры) / Russia, October, 2020
Keywords: movie, digital

Despite the economic and geopolitical rise of non-western emerging powers, the global film industry still remains, in many ways, western-centric. The West's hegemony in the field of cinema, among other implications, yields the U.S. and certain European countries substantial political dividends. In fact, this hegemony is in part based on the western powers' direct state intervention. However, nowadays, the global film industry is rapidly transformed by digital technology, as the tremendous success of Netflix streaming service clearly demonstrates. This situation offers the BRICS countries a chance to participate in the creation of a new, digital global film industry by jointly launching its own streaming service. Such an endeavour is not only commercially viable but also would shape the global cultural scene, making it more diverse and fair.

The West's Hegemony in the Global Film Industry

In the recent decades, the West (defined in this study as the United States, Britain and the EU) has lost its uncontested dominance on the global arena in terms of economy and geopolitics, as the new economic powerhouses such as China have emerged and the globe has entered the era of the multipolar world order. However, there is a certain field in which the West still remains a singular hegemon: a field which has, as surprising as it may sound to some, significant importance for the international political affairs. This field is the global film industry.

The West's hegemony in this field rests on several pillars. First, although some countries challenge and even overtake the western leaders in terms of the number of national feature films produced, the international box office is dominated by American movies. For example, in 2019, the top-10 highest-grossing films in the worldwide box office were all American, English-language pictures. Second, western film industries — American, French, Italian — are extremely powerful brands. For a long time, they operated on the global market virtually without any competition and firmly cemented their place not only in the box office but also in tastes and minds of generations of movie-goers. American film companies, thanks to steady and substantial revenues both from the international market and the domestic market (which remains the world's largest, despite the dramatic growth of China's), are able to produce large-budgeted blockbuster films with the leading movie stars and advanced visual effects; naturally, it is extremely hard, it at all possible, for foreign competitors to challenge these box-office juggernauts.

A less obvious but vitally important aspect of the West's hegemony in the field of cinema is the fact that it actually hosts and controls all the world's most notable film festivals and awards. The so-called "Big Three" of the world's most prestigious film festivals (Cannes film festival, Venice film festival and Berlin film festival) are located in economically and politically leading European countries, and the American Academy Awards (Oscars) remain, by a large margin, the most important award ceremony in the field. It can be observed that these awards are disproportionately often given to European and Northern American countries [1]. By systemically awarding Western films and filmmakers, West-based festivals and award ceremonies endow them with prestige and strengthen the position of the West as the world's cultural hegemon and arbiter.

Here is how scholar Roy Armes explains the West's dominance in the field of cinema in his 1987 book, Third World Film Making and the West:

"Though now widely distributed throughout the world, the cinema is the product of only a limited number of Western countries at a particular recent point in their historical development. For all Third World countries, then, film is an imported form of communication. Moreover, whatever cinema may have become with the passing of time, its emergence cannot be ascribed solely to artistic aspiration or disinterested scientific endeavour." [2]

Since the Armes book's publication, the state of international affairs has changed dramatically. However, the West's dominance in the field of cinema (which, as the scholar implies, was originally based not on artistic reasons, but on their economic power and governmental policies) remains unchallenged. Some of what he refers to as "Third World countries" have achieved substantial economic growth, but the West still controls the world's most important awards and, to a large extent, the film distribution system, which gives it cultural and political dividends.

The Role of Film Industry in International Politics

Over the course of the last few decades, considerable attention has been given to culture as a factor in international affairs. The concept of "soft power" developed by Joseph Nye has become particularly influential and is often used as a framework for numerous academic studies dedicated to this problem. Nye defined soft power as "the ability to affect what other countries want… [that] tends to be associated with intangible power resources such as culture, ideology, and institutions" [3]. These days, foreign policy strategies of numerous countries include statements of the importance of their national culture, and nations strive not only to possess military and economic might, but to exert cultural influence (or soft power) on the global arena.

One of the most widely recognized sources of countries' cultural diplomacy is cinema. The film industry has been considered a resource of soft power of the USA, France, India and other nations. In a study dedicated to the role of the American film industry as a tool of U.S. soft power, researcher Yang Li vividly expressed this fact in the following manner:

"The American dream embodied by Hollywood movies appeals to people all over the world... As a result, the American dream gradually becomes a universal dream. By depicting the United States as a land of infinite possibility and opportunity, Hollywood movies win the hearts and minds of global viewers… thus greatly promoting American soft power."

A particularly important role in the creation of prestige and global cultural influence is played by institutions such as film festivals and other cultural arbiters. It is not uncommon, for example, that Oscar wins and nominations are considered to be important factors in international politics. To name a few such cases, Vlad Strukov's article is dedicated to the discussion of soft power gained by Russia thanks to Oscar nomination received by Andrei Zvyagintsev's motion picture Leviathan [4] ; David Leheny argues that Japan's foreign policy strategy has been influenced by Miyazaki Hayao's Spirited Away being awarded with Oscar for Best Animated Feature.

Developed countries have always recognized the importance of film industry and used direct state support to strengthen their national film producers and awards to gain global cultural influence and soft power. For instance, consider the "Big Three" of elite European film festivals. The world's oldest film festival — Venice festival — was founded in 1932 with "strong support from Italy's fascist government"; Cannes film festival was established by the French government with the direct support from the U.S. and Britain specifically as an alternative for Venice festival to counter Fascist Italy's cultural influence; Berlin film festival was initiated by the American officer and "functioned as an American instrument in the Cold War." [5] As another example, the U.S. government's alliance with the film industry dates to as far as "prelude to World War One"; state subsidies and support have played an important role in making Hollywood the global "dream factory."

The actions of Western governments who had established their dominance in the international film system have been proven beneficial, as they still pay political dividends. However, nowadays this long-running system changes dramatically, as digital technologies transform film industry — offering emerging powers a chance to make it more equal, to substitute one hegemon with numerous cultural centers around the globe, to give the people from various continents a voice and representation.

Success of the "Netflix model" and the Birth of the New Global Film Industry

The process that transforms the global film industry is the advance of a digital business model pioneered by Netflix. Netflix, originally a DVD rental company, launched its streaming media service in 2007. The astonishing success of Netflix's digital effort led entertainment and IT giants like Disney and Apple to follow their steps, as they launched their own streaming services more recently.

In short summary, Netflix streaming service operates the following way: its consumers pay for subscription to watch movies and TV series from its digital library. Originally, this library consisted of content produced by other companies, but in recent years Netflix actively produces its own series and films.

Table 1 represents the growth in the number of Netflix subscribers: from 2015 to 2019, it more than doubled, with the service's consumer base expanding particularly swiftly on foreign markets. Netflix's success is a clear demonstration of the digitalization trend in the global entertainment industry. Table 2 further represents this trend: it shows changes in the total size of the global theatrical (box office), digital (both home and mobile) and physical (DVD and Blu-ray sales and rentals) entertainment markets from 2015 to 2019. The digital entertainment market's size skyrocketed, increasing almost threefold in four years.

The reasons for Netflix's success and its impact are discussed in detail in the article by Georgii Paksiutov [6]. First, Netflix employs the highly effective automatic recommendation system. Second, Netflix's business model enjoys the benefits of vertical integration, as the company controls its whole value chain from the decision to produce the content to its final consumption. Third, Netflix uses advanced techniques of consumer behavior analysis which are based on machine learning algorithms: the thorough knowledge of consumers' demand allows the service to produce the very content its subscribers desire to watch.

The scope and swift pace of digital services' conquest of the global film market is so impressing that it is fair to call it a birth of a new film industry, rather than just a modification of the previously existing one. As renowned film scholar John Belton articulates it: "The advent of digital cinema… does not mark the death of traditional cinema but its resurrection in digital form" [7].

The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified the film industry's digital transformation dramatically. Numerous states across the globe implemented social distancing and quarantine measures, with film theaters being closed or limited in operations. Release and production of some major motion pictures has been postponed, with the theatrical box office collapsing and people turning to digital services for entertainment purposes.

Nowadays, we witness the events which would shape the face of the global film industry for the decades to come. When the global film industry was taking its shape and scope in the first half of the twentieth century, there were no powers besides the West who had the economic, politic and cultural resources to step in and participate in this process. But nowadays, the situation has different — there are powerful non-Western states that can partake in the creation of the new, digital film industry and make it more equal and culturally diverse, if they seize this opportunity. The BRICS countries, particularly, are in a great position to take such actions.

Digitalization of the Global Film Industry: Possibility for BRICS

It would be a very promising endeavor to launch a joint BRICS project drawing on the experience of Netflix — not simply an Internet-based streaming service analogous to Netflix, but a project utilizing the strength of national film industries of the BRICS countries and suitable for their markets. In these countries, there already are similar Internet services (Chinese iQIYI and Russian Premier, to name a few), but a joint, cooperative effort could be much better suited to compete on the global arena.

First, a unique competitive advantage such service would have is the fact that the BRICS countries represent four continents — Europe, Asia, Africa and South America. Thus, BRICS' joint streaming service would face no cultural barriers in advancing on virtually any of the film markets throughout the world.

Second, BRICS member countries have no shortage in film industry professionals and impressive talents. The countries also have some of the world's most reputable learning institutions in the field of cinema, such as Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography (VGIK) (Russia), Beijing Film Academy (China), Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute (India) and others.

Third, the BRICS countries have a significant record of successful efforts and a skilled workforce in the fields of digital technology, artificial intelligence and data analysis, which are vital components for a successful streaming media.

Another important reason why a joint effort would be more able to compete with the giants like Netflix than any service from a particular the BRICS country is the massive size of the combined BRICS film market. In 2019, China was the world's second largest theatrical film market, India — seventh largest, Russia — tenth; combined BRICS film market would be the world's largest. Many of these consumers are now turning to digital entertainment services, and this process was intensified by the COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions. Having an immediate access to this vast market would be a great advantage for a BRICS' streaming service.

Of course, such a project would face a variety of challenges including, but not limited by, the competition from already established services such as Netflix or Amazon Prime and the risk of losses caused by online piracy. However, if it fair to say that if a non-Western cultural power sets to achieve a global success, digital technology would be crucial for such an effort (like in case of K-pop, the South Korean popular musical industry which gained international prominence thanks to an effective digital transformation strategy [8] ), and this observation becomes especially relevant in the post-COVID-19 world.

BRICS' streaming service could be ambitious and challenging venture, truly global in its scope. Swiftness in decision-making and the realization of the vision would be incredibly important for such a project, as its potential competitors like Netflix expand at outstanding rate.

The film industry is more than just an entertainment business. It is a means of communication, a medium which both allows people to express their worldview and shapes the worldview of its viewers. BRICS' participation in the development of the global digital film industry could make it more diverse, could empower artists from around the globe who currently don't have access to foreign audiences and thus contribute to the cause of international peace-building and to the creation of a truly democratic, multipolar global cultural scene.

Text published upon the results of the BRICS International School Contest for BRICS Young Leaders.

1. Georgii Paksiutov, "Soft Power and Cultural Capital of Nations: The Case of Film Industry" (In Russ.), World Economy and International Relations, 2020 (In print).

2. Georgii Roy Armes, Third world film making and the west, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987, p. 35.

3. Georgii Joseph S. Nye, "Soft power", Foreign policy, 1990, pp. 166-167.

4. Georgii Vlad Strukov, "Russian 'Manipulative Smart Power': Zviagintsev's Oscar nomination, (non-) government agency and contradictions of the globalized world", New Cinemas: Journal of Contemporary Film, 2016, №. 1, pp. 31-49.

5. Georgii Marijke de Valck, Film festivals: From European geopolitics to global cinephilia, Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2007, pp. 47-48, 52.

6. Georgii Georgii Paksiutov, "Netflix's Business Model: Economic Value and Sociocultural Impact " (In Russ.), Vestnik of the Plekhanov Russian University of Economics, 2020, №. 3, pp. 145-156.

7. Georgii John Belton, "If film is dead, what is cinema?", Screen, 2014, №. 4, p. 466.

8. Georgii Jimmyn Park and Nobuko Kawashima, "Wrestling With or Embracing Digitization In the Music Industry: The Contrasting Business Strategies of J-pop and K-pop", Kritika Kultura, 2018, №. 30, pp. 40-41.

BRICS' Projects on Combating COVID-19 May Be Presented Next Month - Brazilian Embassy (Проекты БРИКС по борьбе с COVID-19 могут быть представлены в следующем месяце - посольство Бразилии) / Russia, October, 2020
Keywords: covid-19, innovations, social_issues

The BRICS group of countries' projects for combating the coronavirus pandemic may be presented in November, Paulo Cesar do Valle Torres, a second secretary of the Brazilian Embassy in Moscow, said.

"Within the BRICS, we have an initiative to collect projects to combat the coronavirus.

The results will be presented at a meeting in November, possibly before that," Torres said at the fifth BRICS Young Diplomats Forum in Kazan.

On October 14, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said that the BRICS countries were working on the creation of a warning system for risks and epidemiological threats.


BRICS Journal of Educational Research, Issue - 3 & 4 July-December 2020 (Журнал исследований в области образования БРИКС, выпуск - 3 и 4, июль - декабрь 2020 г.) / India, October, 2020
Keywords: social_issues, research

About the Journal

BRICS Journal of Educational Research (BRlCSJER), is a peer reviewed International journal published on behalf of M.M. Deemed to be University, Mullana-Ambala.

BRICSJER publishes papers of original research-work related to one or other aspects of education. The Journal is published quarterly in the months of March, June, September and December every year.

Vol. 10 No. July-December (2020): Vol - 10 | Issue - 3 & 4 July-December 2020
Published: 2020-10-21

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