Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 12.2022
2022.03.21 — 2022.03.27
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Indian External Affairs Minister Highlights Growing Partnership Between India and Brazil (Министр иностранных дел Индии подчеркивает растущее партнерство между Индией и Бразилией) / Russia, March, 2022
Keywords: foreign_ministers_meeting, quotation, cooperation

External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar met Brazilian Secretary for Strategic Affairs Admiral Flavio Rocha and highlighted the growing partnership between India and Brazil.

"Pleasure to welcome Brazilian Secretary for Strategic Affairs Admiral Flavio Rocha. India and Brazil have a growing partnership. We work together at the G4, UNSC, G20, IBSA and BRICS. Discussed the relevance of strategic autonomy in an uncertain and a volatile world," tweeted Jaishankar.

Notably, India and Brazil are strategic partners which share a close and multifaceted bilateral relationship. The two countries also cooperate in multilateral fora such as UN, including G-4, other UN bodies, as well as plurilateral fora such as IBSA, BRICS, BASIC and G-20.

Lavrov discusses situation in Ukraine with ambassadors of BRICS countries (Лавров обсудил ситуацию в Украине с послами стран БРИКС) / Russia, March, 2022
Keywords: sergey_lavrov, quotation

The Russian top diplomat stressed that the "unprecedented economic war against Russia and the sanction pressure on it blatantly violate key norms of international law"

MOSCOW, March 22. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with the ambassadors of BRICS nations in the format of a working breakfast to discuss the situation in Ukraine, the Russian foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

"The sides discussed current issues on the international agenda with a focus on the situation in and around Ukraine," the ministry said. "Sergey Lavrov presented a detailed analysis of the reasons of the Ukrainian crisis and provided exhaustive explanations on the issues of ensuring security of civilians, including foreign nationals, organizing humanitarian corridors, offering assistances to refugees and other people who need it."

The Russian top diplomat stressed that the "unprecedented economic war against Russia and the sanction pressure on it blatantly violate key norms of international law," the ministry said,

Apart from that, the diplomats exchanged views on the development of strategic partnership within the association. "They reiterated their commitment to developing dialogue between the five member nations, including within major international formats," the ministry added.

Europe showed its unreliability as partner, says Russian top diplomat Lavrov(Европа показала свою ненадежность как партнер, считает высокопоставленный российский дипломат Лавров) / Russia, March, 2022
Keywords: sergey_lavrov, quotation

Russia had a record high figure of trade with Europe for many years, the Foreign Minister pointed out

MOSCOW, March 23. /TASS/. European countries demonstrated its unreliability as partners and Moscow will be considering possible cooperation proposals based on a "qualitatively new stance," Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Wednesday.

"We are not shutting our door if Europe changes its mind," he said. "However, there must be an understanding, as I have said before, that we will not be dependent on anyone. Europe showed its unreliability as a partner."

"We will grow stronger, including with the help of the EAEU [the Eurasian Economic Union], SCO [the Shanghai Cooperation Organization], BRICS [Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa] and other mechanisms. After that we will be considering projects, proposed for the mutual implementation, from the qualitatively new stance," Lavrov added.

The foreign minister stressed that after gaining its present-day form of the nationhood, Russia was willing to cooperate with all parties, which expressed reciprocal readiness based on equality, mutual benefits, bilateral respect and the search for a balance of interests and compromise.

"This is why we had a record high figure of trade with Europe for many years and it stood at $430 billion in 2010, 2011, 2012," Lavrov said. "However, when Europe waivered and experienced humiliation from Ukrainian ultra-radicals after the Maidan [riots], when all of its guarantees were spit upon and it [Europe] was shelved away from all plans, which neo-Nazis aimed to implement, Europe tried to compensate its feebleness by accusing us of everything," the Russian minister said.

Malaysia, Vietnam oppose anti-Russian sanctions — Prime Minister

"Under such situation, when someone tries to balance and then a left-side support is taken away suddenly, one should obviously intensify the work in the eastward direction, as simply as that," Lavrov continued.

The minister noted that the trade between Russia and China was up by 50% last year totaling $145 billion, while China is also in work on cooperation within the frames of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).

"We have SCO, where we also in work on major trade and economic as well as infrastructure projects along with the issues of security," he said. "We also have BRICS, which established the Bank of Development and which operates actively, including under such uneasy present-day situation. Finally, we have the RIC - Russia, India, China."

Russia's military operation in Ukraine

On February 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed decrees at a ceremony in the Kremlin recognizing the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) and the Lugansk People's Republic (LPR). Putin met with DPR leader Denis Pushilin and LPR leader Leonid Pasechnik, and signed treaties with them on friendship, cooperation and mutual aid between Russia and both republics.

President Putin said in a televised address on February 24 that in response to a request from the heads of the Donbass republics, he had decided to carry out a special military operation in order to protect people "who have been suffering from the Kiev regime's abuse and genocide for eight years." The Russian leader stressed that Moscow had no plans to occupy Ukrainian territory.

The Russian Defense Ministry had reassured earlier that Russian troops are not targeting Ukrainian cities, and were limited to conducting surgical strikes and incapacitating Ukrainian military infrastructure, insisting that there is no threat whatsoever to the civilian population.

China to host 14th BRICS Summit with focus on 'new era of global development' (Китай примет 14-й саммит БРИКС, посвященный «новой эре глобального развития») / China, March, 2022
Keywords: summit, chairmanship

China is poised to host the 14th annual summit of the BRICS group of emerging economies comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa later this year with an emphasis on fostering high-quality partnership among the group members with a vision of ushering in a new era of global development, Beijing announced Wednesday.

The last two BRICS Summits were hosted online through video conference by Russia and India respectively due to the pandemic. It is not yet confirmed if the summit this year will follow the same format or will be held in person.

Announcing the theme for the summit as 'Foster High-quality BRICS Partnership, Usher in a New Era for Global Development,' the Chinese Foreign Ministry said public health and vaccine cooperation have been identified as among the key areas of BRICS cooperation this year, as the world continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a first step, the BRICS Vaccine Research and Development (R&D) Center was officially launched in an online ceremony on Tuesday, marking the five countries' step closer to vaccine joint research, plant co-construction, authorized local production, and mutual recognition of standards.

Initially, the national centers of all the BRICS countries will build Internet-based virtual centers to form a network of BRICS vaccine R&D centers. Later, when conditions are ready, the establishment of physical centers will be started after comprehensive feasibility assessments.

"At present, the pandemic is still dragging on across the world. The establishment of the BRICS Vaccine R&D Center demonstrates the determination of BRICS countries to focus on vaccine cooperation, deepen public health cooperation and build a 'BRICS line of defense' against COVID-19," Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at a daily media briefing Wednesday.

"We hope that the Vaccine R&D Center will pool the strengths of BRICS countries, further promote scientific and technological cooperation among BRICS countries, enhance the five countries' capability of preventing and controlling infectious diseases, contribute to the global fight against COVID-19 and make new contributions to international public health cooperation," he added.

BRICS pushes to make vaccines a global public good

The BRICS Vaccine Research and Development (R&D) Center was officially launched in an online ceremony on Tuesday, March 22, 2022. /BRICS2022

The five countries have expressed their commitment to make vaccines a global public good; enhance capacities for preventing infectious diseases and responding to public health emergencies; and conduct exchanges and cooperation ranging from vaccine development to epidemiological surveillance.

At the online launch ceremony for the BRICS Vaccine R&D Center, China's Science and Technology Minister Wang Zhigang said the center represents pragmatic cooperation between BRICS countries to jointly address common challenges in public health. He said that China will work with other BRICS countries to use the center's launch as an opportunity to promote exchanges and cooperation on vaccine R&D and testing.

The BRICS countries, particularly China and India, have donated over 1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines through various international organizations and initiatives. "The BRICS have played a constructive role in facilitating the accessibility and affordability of vaccines, and provided great energy for developing countries' fight against the pandemic," Wang Zhigang said.

India's Minister of Health and Family Welfare Mansukh Mandaviya said the center will be instrumental in streamlining and promoting vaccine research among BRICS countries. "The BRICS Vaccine R&D Center is a welcomed initiative for cooperating with other countries and sharing experiences for mutual benefits. This will save lives and livelihoods, and propel us toward economic recovery for the citizens of BRICS countries and the world," he said.

Mandaviya said India, which is sometimes hailed as the 'Pharmacy of the World' due to its booming pharma industry, is willing to offer its robust vaccine manufacturing industry for developing vaccines for the BRICS countries.

Russian Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said the center showcases BRICS' commitment to providing assistance to the global population, such as making vaccines more effective and available to combat existing and future biological threats.

"BRICS countries unite over 40 percent of the world's population, and the potential of our scientific communities is at a high level," he said, adding that there is a need to intensify efforts against other infectious diseases including tuberculosis, AIDS and influenza.

BRICS 2022 official website launched

A screenshot of the homepage of the official website for the 14th BRICS Summit. /BRICS2022

An official website for this BRICS Summit – – has been launched to disseminate more information on the event and collaboration between the BRICS countries.

"Information on related events, including the launch of the BRICS Vaccine R&D Center, can be found on the website. You are welcome to learn more about BRICS activities under China's chair on the website," Wang Wenbin said.

The "BRICS cooperation conforms to the historical trend of a multi-polar world and economic globalization, helps steer the changing international order in a more equitable and reasonable trajectory, and serves the common interests of the international community," the official communique on the website reads.

"For this reason, BRICS cooperation has been widely acclaimed and supported by countries around the world particularly the emerging markets and developing countries, making BRICS a positive, stable and constructive force in international affairs," it adds.

"As the BRICS Chair of 2022, China looks forward to working with BRICS partners and making full use of the 14th BRICS Summit to promote the BRICS spirit of openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation, strengthen practical cooperation in all fields and embark on a new journey of BRICS cooperation," emphasizes the website's page on the summit.
Twenty years of BRICS: political and economic transformations through the lens of land / Mihika Chatterjee, Ikuno Naka (Двадцать лет БРИКС: политические и экономические преобразования сквозь призму земли / Михика Чаттерджи, Икуно Нака) / United Kingdom, March, 2022
Keywords: research, political_issues, economic_challenges
United Kingdom


November 2021 marked the 20th anniversary of the conception of BRICS. Two decades have passed since the acronym BRIC – Brazil, Russia, India, China – was brought into our popular vernacular by Jim O'Neill, an economist at Goldman Sachs.1 His influential paper, entitled 'Building Better Global Economic BRICs' (O' Neill, 2001), analysed the spectacular economic growth this group of countries were set to experience, and the implications of these future trends for international political economy. For enthusiastic consumers of the report and detractors alike, the term BRICs (where the 's' at the end denotes plural) and its embedding within unambiguously optimistic economic predictions by a leading investment bank, was a clear indication of how these countries were being constructed as profitable investment destinations to which global financial flows could be directed. The external acronym, in fact, served as an impetus for the leaders of the four nations to act on the economic optimism surrounding them, when they first met in 2006 alongside the UN General Assembly. Delegates from the four countries met more formally in Yektarinburg, Russia in 2009 to give an institutional form to 'BRICs.' In the initial period that followed, the BRICs became an aspirational bloc with its own internal dynamics: they held yearly summits, had diplomatic ambitions, made commitments to large-scale infrastructure projects within their national boundaries as well as transnational ones in their regions. They flexed their economic muscle by establishing a new lending institution – the New Development Bank – and challenging the hegemony of European and North American countries in international finance.

In 2011, South Africa joined this country grouping as an economic outperformer in the Global South – an emerging economy and a young democracy – taking the BRICs to BRICS, where the 'S' now stood for its newest member. With this addition, the BRICS countries accounted for 26% of the global landmass and 20% of the total global GDP (Saran, 2015, p. 626). While sceptics and cautious enthusiasts variously described the BRICS as a kind of 'loose association,' a 'Potemkin village' (Pomeranz, 2013), or a 'club of coincidence' (Saran, 2015), this grouping undoubtedly comprised of countries with common economic aspirations and similar ideas on the type of multilateralism and shifts in global political economy that would be required to achieve them. It is these underlying economic aspirations that have served to reinvigorate the flow of capital within and across BRICS countries amidst a financing vacuum within a post-financial crisis world. In 2017, nearly a decade after the 2008 financial crisis, the BRICS accounted for 19% of global investment inflows (Garcia & Bond, 2019, p. 226). Much of these financial flows have been channelled into capital-intensive land-hungry infrastructure projects.

In this Introduction, we reflect on the BRICS countries, exploring the politics that underlie these nations' dynamic economic and political transformations over the past 20 years. We do so, more specifically, through the lens of land where these larger transformations have come to be expressed. In the last two decades, the BRICS countries have undergone dramatic land-use transformations or initiated large-scale infrastructure projects within the regions of which they are a part, for example: China's attempts at re-establishing the Silk Road Economic Belt across Europe, Asia and Africa; in India, the Modi Administration's plan to develop 100 smart cities connected by bullet trains; Moscow's aspiration to build the Russian Far East into a 'new economic bridge' between Europe and Asia through the development of Advanced Special Economic Zones; and, the expansion of industrial large-scale farming in Brazil and South Africa, are all manifestations of the BRICS visions for 'sustainable' and 'smart' development.' These land-use transformations are results of shifting economic interests and priorities, as well as imaginations about their past and future. Since "the state, market and politics are deeply intertwined within the lives of land' (Sud, 2021, p. 9), processes and practices through which land is developed and transformed reveal the workings of economic and social power (Hall et al., 2015). Land then serves as a compelling medium through which one can pin down the combination of political and social institutions and economic interests that ground spectacular amounts of capital as 'investment' in BRICS countries.

This Special Section and our reflections here in this Introduction emerged from an interdisciplinary conference held at the University of Oxford's Department of International Development in 2019 and the discussions that have ensued since. At the time, our intention was to reflect on the large-scale land transformations taking place in the BRICS bloc organised across three broad spatial themes: 1) Belts, Corridors, Zones; 2) Trading Floor, Real Estate, the City; and, 3) Farms, Forests, Commons. We identified these spaces as important for critical reflection on the BRICS countries because they represent spaces of contestation: between the planned and unplanned, formal and informal, the rural and urban, of shifting economic interests and priorities. The negotiations within these contested spaces, thus, merit our attention.

The set of papers published in this special section of the ODS represents a slice of these initial inquiries. They are diverse in terms of frameworks and methodologies – papers by Tim Zajontz (China in Zambia), and Asmita Kabra and Buddhatiya Das (conservation in India) use the concepts of 'accumulation by dispossession' and 'regime of dispossession' respectively to shed light on the logics of capital accumulation at the transnational and national level. Papers by Daniela Barbosa, Edmundo Oderich, and Angela Carmana (soy production in Brazil) and Yimin Zhao (urbanisation in China) provide ethnographically informed analyses and deploy the concepts of 'cosmopolitics' from political ecology and 'performativity' and 'multidimensionality' respectively to complicate politics over land at the subnational level. Through the lens of 'land,' however, these papers capture how local politics combine with larger structural economic forces in BRICS to actualise financial flows in BRICS. In doing so, they also provide an account of the changing nature of the state and its institutions in BRICS nations. Specifically, in highlighting the ways in which formal rules of land governance are bent, modified, revised, and abandoned to accommodate the newer demands of capital as well as visions of sustainable development (smart 'urbanisation' in the case of China, and 'conservation' in the case of India), the state can no longer be neatly categorised as a 'developmental,' 'predatory,' or 'Party-state.' The state's control of land through legal and bureaucratic manoeuvrings in India, and deployment of local party officials and discourses in China reveal how the state remains formidable yet flexible to incorporate 21st century visions of 'development.'

Academic scholarship on the implications of BRICS as an entity – the power of its pooling together of economic resources, or its political valence as a discursive formation – is relatively underdeveloped. Exceptions exist, such as the interconnected changes in industrial policy in the BRICS (Santiago, 2020), and the reproduction of imperialist logics in amassing natural resources and labour cheaply, emanating from its location as a 'Southern' bloc in the era of globalisation (Garcia & Bond, 2019). The BRICS grouping has served as an empirical context for comparative analysis for a number of topics and issues, such as urban housing (Tiwari, Rao, & Day, 2016), but also cumulative learning by analysing lessons from each of the composite units on water conservation and wastewater management (Singh, Milshina, Tian, Gusain, & Bassin, 2020).

As with a well-established strand of literature, discussed in the next section, we focus on individual countries. The brief but contested potential of BRICS as a cohesive bloc has been in decline in recent years (Amanor & Chichava, 2016). In fact, Mawdsley (2019) argues that the initial cohesion is increasingly impossible to sustain amid differing and at times even conflicting political interests amongst the BRICS nations. Heightened India–China hostility in recent years and the muted economic performance of Brazil and South Africa have undermined the BRICS' potential for co-ordinated geopolitical influence and economic policies, respectively. Yet, the BRICS meet annually, with the latest round being held in September 2021 under the chairmanship of India. Additionally, the New Development Bank remains active, even if its initial glimmer has dimmed. The Bank, in fact, has gone on to admit Bangladesh, UAE, Uruguay, and most recently Egypt as members eligible for borrowing for infrastructure development within its borders and in other emerging economies (NDB, 2021). Even if the BRICS coalition exists in its reduced-form, interrogating questions of political economy – economic interests, power, and governance – in the constituent countries is a vital and reasonable choice because Brazil, India, China and South Africa continue to be economic hegemons in their respective regions, and remain important as drivers of 'Southern-led' investment in the Global South more generally.

Our endeavour to reflect on land transformations in BRICS countries has been only partially realised in this Special Section; a glaring shortcoming in putting together this collection through the pressures of the pandemic is that we were not able to canvass and retain articles that focused on these themes in Russia and South Africa. This disadvantage, we believe, is partially mitigated by our efforts in drawing on the illuminating keynote address delivered by Ruth Hall, bringing in insights from the existing scholarship on the two countries, and in offering tentative ideas on the broader implications of land-driven development projects on the future of BRICS.

Time for BRICS to redefine global geopolitics, economic order (БРИКС пора пересмотреть глобальную геополитику и экономический порядок) / South Africa, March, 2022
Keywords: expert_opinion, global_governance, political_issues
South Africa

By Koffi Kouakou

It is not a conspiracy nor a theory. The talk of US superpower unipolarity and the new cold war is old. Today, the real talk is about the new-new world order.

It's about redefining and creating a more inclusive geopolitical and geo-economic world order. The invasion of Ukraine by Russia creates more impetus for the coming order, possibly a multipolar world and sets a new turning point in world history.

But the coming new world order, from unipolar to multipolar, is very uncertain and uncomfortable to the US and its allies, rightly so. Peering through a looking glass of this new world, one might ask – so what's next? Who or which nations will lead the world?

Remember a decade or so ago the BRICS club – the group of nations that is made up of Brazil, Russia India, China and South Africa? Remember how it was viewed as an organised conspiracy or economic secret society with a mythical image to overtake the US and its allies? Yes, it still exists.

But what happened to it in the meantime? It seems to have gone into a coma for the past few years, bereft and fragmented by ideological divisions among its members into global West and global South alliances.

The BRICS nations, as a strategic alliance, were sold to the world as the emerging bloc of power that would challenge the US-led capitalist world hegemony and help establish a new global financial architecture and geopolitical order.

Politically, economically, militarily, technologically, socially and culturally, the BRICS nations represent a powerful bloc in world power status. The combined map of geography, history, demography, population sizes, combined economic outputs, technologically and culture are on their side.

They have an estimated combined population of 3.23 billion people, which is over 40% of the world population, over more than a quarter of the world's land area over three continents, and account for more than 25% of global GDP for $23.53 trillion, with many of the top and fast-growing nations in the world.

Indeed, leading the fight of the new world order, the BRICS nations, with their strengths and weaknesses, established the New Development Bank to compete with the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and bankroll fast paced and large juggernaut infrastructure development projects and the China-led Belt and Road Initiative across the world.

More importantly, the central proposition of the emerging BRICS bloc was and remains the assertion of their independence from a dominated US sphere.

Fast-forward to the Ukraine crisis, clearly the realignment of the BRICS bloc politically, economically, militarily and socially is of great importance given the pre-eminent involvement of two of their key members, Russia and China.

The geopolitics of the new world order is changing rapidly with the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, and the possible resurrection of a stronger BRICS could usher in a realignment of nations into new competing ideologies.

In an age of geopolitical disorder, the emergence of a Global South economic bloc is indeed a game changer. What is going on more broadly is the emergence of an alliance of global South nations, led by China and Russia, that seek to break the US dominated hegemony over the world.

The good news is BRICS is realigning on the back of the Ukraine war. The bad news is the uncertainty that hangs over the future of the geopolitics order. There are enormous implications and emerging lessons to learn from Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

First, they challenge the current US-led international order. It's a "violent eruption of the geopolitics tectonic", says US historian Alfred McCoy. But the world must avoid another world war by escalating war tensions in Ukraine by ramping up sanctions and economic warfare on Russia, China and their allies. And a regime change in either Moscow or Beijing must be out of the question.

Second, during these general uncertainties about the coming newnew world order, the BRICS nations must be more explicit to the world about what they intend to do with their newfound global powers, responsibly, if they emerge as new hegemons.

Third, they unleash new opportunities for a possible just and inclusive geopolitics on how the world might be differently governed again. Finally, traditionally ill-prepared nations in Africa must brace for the coming geopolitical turbulence ahead, understand global affairs anew and carefully find the world order alignment that suits their interests.

The geopolitics of the world has changed with the bold assertion of a brutal Russian hard power invasion of Ukraine. The world is on edge, gasping for what to come next.

As such, the scenarios for tomorrow are daunting to imagine. However, many new "worlds" could arise from the ashes of the uncomfortable geopolitical crisis in Ukraine.

So far, one multipolar-world club is speaking out loudly – BRICS is Dead, Long Live BRICS . But can the BRICS nations pull off one of the greatest geopolitical world power grabs of the century? The answer to this rhetorical question is in the wind.

Hopefully, a new-new world order, led by the BRICS bloc, will not emerge from a crisis to another catastrophic bloody global war. But I doubt it, given the aggressive hysteria and panic driven US-led nations. Let's trust that sanity prevails for a peaceful world order in the future, new or not.

* Kouakou is the Africa analyst and senior research fellow at The Centre of Africa China at the University of Johannesburg

Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
Brazil Wants Russian Cooperation with Its Nuclear Submarine (Бразилия хочет, чтобы Россия сотрудничала с ее атомной подводной лодкой) / Russia, March, 2022
Keywords: cooperation, national_security

Uriel Araujo, researcher with a focus on international and ethnic conflicts.

On March 16, Brazilian newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo reported that, during his "controversial" February trip to Moscow, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to support the country's nuclear submarine project. Brazil's Alvaro Alberto, which is under construction for the Brazilian Navy by the Brazilian state-owned defense company Itaguaí Construções Navais (ICN), could be the first nuclear-powered submarine in the southern hemisphere.

Bolsonaro did it because Washington had offered to provide such technical help but failed to do so. According to an unnamed military source, during the entire "cooperation" process, the American authorities always asked its counterparts in Brasilia for more information and kept stalling for time and faffing about and so already in 2018 (before Bolsonaro's inauguration) it had become clear to the Brazilian Foreign Service - known as Itamaraty after the Palace that houses it - that these negotiations would not go anywhere. In 2020, the project was experiencing delays in its schedule, and faced with an uncooperative ally (Washington) and concerned about this situation, the Itamaraty started to look for alternatives.

Thus, initial talks with Moscow started. Being the second largest power in this field after the United States, Russia was naturally a good candidate. Bolsonaro's presidency however initially slowed the process. His then new chancellor, Ernesto Araújo, is a staunch advocate of what experts have described as an unconditional alignment with the US (even when getting not much in return) and therefore he vetoed the negotiations with Russia and took the issue back to the Defense Ministry. In 2020, Russian-Brazilian talks resumed, this time with support from the so-called "military wing" of Bolsonaro's administration. Araújo's resignation accelerated the contacts with Russia. He resigned from his office in March 2021, after intense pressure from Brazilian senators due to his vicious words and actions towards some vital foreign partners of Brazil, particularly China.

According to Folha, Flávio Rocha, a Brazilian admiral who is also Secretary of Strategic Affairs for the Presidency, traveled to Moscow at the end of 2021, with a mission to discuss some points pertaining to Russian-Brazilian cooperation in this matter. During Bolsonaro's February trip to Russia, the Brazilian president told journalists he was interested in nuclear cooperation "for the propulsion of our submarine". This is not the only possible Moscow-Brasilia strategic cooperation, though. As part of Bolsonaro's official visit, in February, Bento Albuquerque, the Brazilian Minister of Energy, met with Anton Kobyakov, adviser to the President of the Russian Federation. About the meeting, the Brazilian official stated that Rosatom's (the Russian state-owned nuclear company) participation in the construction of the Angra 3 plant was discussed. Brazil is reconsidering the completion of its third nuclear plant, by 2026 - it has been suspended since 2015.

Brazilian submarine aspirations are part of an ambitious project: if successful, it will make Brazil the seventh country globally to field nuclear submarines - after the US, Russia, the UK, France, China, and India. In this case, the South American country shall also become the first to join the exclusive group of nuclear submarine operators since 1987, when India started employing its INS Chakra. The Brazilian project can be traced back to a 2008 France-Brazil strategic partnership which also included technology transfer and support for constructing four enlarged (conventionally-powered) Scorpène-class submarines. It has tremendous strategic and geopolitical importance for Brasilia. Some voices in the Naval War School, based on the Malvinas War experience, argue that a nuclear submarine is needed to defend the so-called Blue Amazon - the Brazilian exclusive economic zone.

Of course, the current war in Ukraine puts the arrangement regarding Russian nuclear cooperation in jeopardy, due to massive international pressure against any type of military negotiation with Moscow. Bolsonaro faced harsh criticism, both domestically and abroad, especially from the US, over his February 16 statement - "we are in solidarity with Russia."

Both Bolsonaro's remarks and his administration's negotiations with Moscow seem to mark the end of the so-called "unconditional alignment" with Washington. Such an alignment is exemplified by quite bizarre news reported on March 15 by the New York Times. According to it, Jonathan and Diana Toebbe, the American couple who pleaded guilty last month in a espionage case, tried to sell military secrets, two years ago, to Brazil. The secrets pertain to the technology behind nuclear reactors powering US submarines. Until then, the identity of the country they approached was not known. In a remarkable demonstration of loyalty, in a world where everyone spies on everyone else, the Toebbes offer of cooperation with Brazilian military intelligence was handed to the FBI legal attaché in the country. The Brazilians worked with the FBI, and the couple was thus arrested. The Brazilian authorities insisted their cooperation with Washington in this case was not publicly disclosed, for obvious reasons. As a result Washington did not provide Brasilia with the promised technical cooperation, it would seem that Brazilian trust in its American ally was not reciprocated.

While Bolsonaro voiced his "solidarity" with Russia in February, a few days later, Brasilia voted for a draft U.N. Security Council resolution "deploring" the Russian military operations in Ukraine. It was the only BRICS country to do so: India and even China both abstained from the vote. This vote in any case does not amount to supporting the heavy sanctions against Russia or anything like that. Last week, on March 17, at least five vessels headed to Russia with about 200,000 tonnes of Brazilian raw sugar - an unusually high volume. The current sanctions have boosted the Russian demand for food staples such as sugar.

In general, Brasilia has stuck to a non-committal stance over the current Ukrainian conflict. Considering Brazilian agricultre's heavy dependence on Russian fertilizers and the possibility of nuclear cooperation, such neutrality would be the wisest pragmatic stance. Moreover, Brazilian diplomacy is historically committed to peace, and the 2010 Tehran Declaration, when Brazil mediated the agreement that required Iran to send low-enriched uranium to Turkey, is an example of Brazil's potential as a negotiator.

NDB Board of Directors Held Its 34th Meeting, Approved Two Projects (Совет директоров НБР провел 34-е заседание, утвердив два проекта) / China, March, 2022
Keywords: ndb, top_level_meeting

On March 22, 2022, the Board of Directors (Board) of the New Development Bank (NDB) held its 34th Meeting in a virtual format.

The Board approved the following two project proposals:

FONPLATA Sustainable Infrastructure Project

The Board approved a loan of USD 50 million to Fondo Financiero para el Desarrollo de la Cuenca del Plata (FONPLATA, Financial Fund for the Development of the River Plate Basin), an international organization formed by Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. The loan proceeds will be on-lent by FONPLATA to large and medium-sized municipalities and federal states in Brazil for financing multi-sector projects focusing on improving local infrastructure, such as water and sanitation, social housing, transport, tourism enabling and urban infrastructure. The FONPLATA Sustainable Infrastructure Project will contribute to Brazil's efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular, SDG 9: build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization, and foster innovation.

Desenvolve SP Sustainable Infrastructure Project

The Board approved a loan of USD 90 million to Desenvolve São Paulo (DSP) for on-lending to sustainable infrastructure sub-borrowers in the public and private sectors in the state of São Paulo. By partnering with DSP, the NDB will be able to reach smaller municipalities and private sector companies that are currently not eligible to access funding from multilateral development banks, supporting post-pandemic sustainable economic recovery. NDB loan proceeds will be used for on-lending to investments in key local infrastructure such as sustainable urban development, clean energy and irrigation, water resource management and sanitation.

The Board was briefed on the project implementation and disbursements and updated on the project pipeline. The Board approved the proposed amendments to the General Conditions for Sovereign Loans and Loans with Sovereign Guarantee and reviewed the loans to sub-national governments without sovereign guarantee. The Board provided guidance on the utilization of the Project Preparation Fund. The Board took note of the 2021 Annual Report on Multi-tranche Financing Facility.

The Board approved proposed amendments to the following policies: Accounting Policy and Measurement, Provisioning and Write-Off Policy, Debt Instrument Financing Policy and Internal Audit Policy. The Board also approved the Bank's Operational Procedures for Private Placements.

The Board also received updates on funding programmes and LIBOR transition, and took note of the 2021 Treasury Investment Portfolio Annual Report.

The Board was updated of the membership expansion and provided guidance on the Bank's General Strategy: 2022-2026.

The Board agreed that its next meeting be held on May 18, 2022, followed by the 7th Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors scheduled to take place on May 19, 2022.

The 22nd Meeting of the Audit, Risk and Compliance Committee and the 18th Meeting of the Budget, Human Resources and Compensation Committee took place virtually on March 9, 2022 and March 10, 2022 respectively.

Background Information

New Development Bank was established with the purpose of mobilizing resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging market economies and developing countries, complementing the efforts of multilateral and regional financial institutions for global growth and development.

According to the NDB's General Strategy, sustainable infrastructure development is at the core of the Bank's operational strategy. 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
BRICS team up on vaccine research (БРИКС объединяется для исследований в области вакцин) / China, March, 2022
Keywords: covid-19, research, cooperation

The BRICS nations-Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa-will enhance collaboration in vaccine research, manufacturing and certification to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and make vaccines more accessible and affordable for developing countries, officials said.

The five countries have also launched an initiative to make vaccines a global public good, enhance capacities for preventing infectious diseases and responding to public health emergencies, and conduct exchanges and cooperation ranging from vaccine development to epidemiological surveillance.

At the online launch ceremony for the BRICS Vaccine R&D Center and workshop on vaccine cooperation on Tuesday, Science and Technology Minister Wang Zhigang said the center represents pragmatic cooperation between BRICS countries to jointly address common challenges in public health.

The BRICS countries have donated over 1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines through various international organizations and initiatives, Wang said.

"The BRICS have played a constructive role in facilitating the accessibility and affordability of vaccines, and provided great energy for developing countries' fight against the pandemic," he said.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a news conference on Wednesday that the center is currently a cloud platform consisting of a network of research institutions and vaccine developers from BRICS countries, and construction of the physical facility will begin in due course.

Public health and vaccine cooperation will be key areas of collaboration for BRICS countries this year, he said.

"We hope the vaccine R&D center can pool the strengths of the five countries, deepen BRICS sci-tech cooperation, improve prevention and control capabilities for infectious diseases, and contribute to the global fight against the pandemic," Wang Wenbin said.

Blade Nzimande, South Africa's minister of higher education, science and technology, said on Tuesday that the BRICS partnership involves a strong commitment to joint ownership and shared responsibility, and South Africa is excited and committed to participate in the initiative.

The BRICS Vaccine R&D Center should also explore the use of new technologies, such as artificial intelligence and big data, to help countries improve their science systems' capacities to prevent and tackle global health challenges, he said.

Mikhail Murashko, Russia's health minister, said in a video address that the center showcases BRICS' commitment to providing assistance to the global population, such as making vaccines more effective and available to combat existing and future biological threats.

"BRICS countries unite over 40 percent of the world's population, and the potential of our scientific communities is at a high level," he said, adding that there is a need to intensify efforts against other infectious diseases including tuberculosis, AIDS and influenza.

"It is highly important to support this initiative with BRICS mechanisms," he said.

Mansukh Mandaviya, India's minister of health and family welfare, said the center will be instrumental in streamlining and promoting vaccine research among BRICS countries.

"The BRICS Vaccine R&D Center is a welcomed initiative for cooperating with other countries and sharing experiences for mutual benefits," he said. "This will save lives and livelihoods, and propel us toward economic recovery for the citizens of BRICS countries and the world."

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