Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum

Monitoring of the economic, social and labor situation in the BRICS countries
Issue 17.2022
2022.04.25 — 2022.05.01
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Ukraine war: China facing pressure to condemn Russia at BRICS summit (Война на Украине: Китай столкнулся с давлением, чтобы осудить Россию на саммите БРИКС) / India, May, 2022
Keywords: expert_opinion, political_issues

Even as Xi Jinping tries to improve China's global image in order to boost his chances of grabbing a third term in power, the commitments that his country has made in this regard over the last few months have the potential to worsen the Asian country's 'friendly' relations with Russia, a media report said.

President Xi will have to face Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the BRICS Summit in June. The Chinese are saved from the embarrassment of having to host the Indian head of government in Beijing even as New Delhi accuses them of illegally holding on to Indian territory as the Indian PM will be attending the meeting virtually, Tibet Press reported.

Still, when the BRICS nations discuss the Russia-Ukraine conflict, all eyes will be on China as China's Ladakh incursion is similar to the Russia-Ukraine situation in the sense that both amount to blatant disrespect for the sovereignty of the countries they intrude into, the report said.

The BRICS nations would also want to hear from Russia - a member of the organisation - on when the conflict might end, the report further said, adding, that New Delhi has already reminded Moscow of the 'New Delhi Declaration' of BRICS.

Paragraph 22 of the New Delhi Declaration adopted on September 9 last year reaffirmed the commitment of the BRICS nations "to the principles of non-interference in the internal affairs of States and reiterate that all conflicts must be resolved by peaceful means and through political and diplomatic efforts in line with international law, in particular the UN Charter."

"We underscore the inadmissibility of the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes and principles of the United Nations," the declaration read.

As the BRICS chair, China will be in a tricky position. Will it defend Russia or question the Ukraine invasion? The New Delhi Declaration is as valid for China as it is for Russia. And there will not be enough wriggling room as all the leaders would be physically or virtually present, the report said.

As it is, China is aware it is the only BRICS member that has not yet spoken to Russia to resolve the dispute through dialogue and diplomacy, the report added.

Another concern for China's image has been India's refusal to attend the BRICS summit in person.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is said to have explored the possibility of an in-person BRICS Summit when he met his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar on March 25. But India politely refused to attend it in person. That is seen as a tacit reminder of China's adamance over vacating Ladakh, the report said.

There is also pressure on China from Europe. NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg a few days ago called on Beijing to "clearly condemn" Russia's war in Ukraine.

"China should join the rest of the world in condemning, strongly, the brutal invasion of Ukraine by Russia. China has an obligation as a member of the UN Security Council to actually support and uphold international law, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine is a blatant violation of international law," Stoltenberg reportedly said.

China cannot deny the fact that there is pressure on it, the report concluded, saying that the pressure is also in the form of the caution from the US that any country trying to relieve the pressure of western sanctions on Russia will also face those sanctions.

Opinion – Mathias Alencastro: War in Ukraine generated another surprising development: the resurgence of the BRICS (Мнение – Матиас Аленкастро: Война на Украине породила еще одно неожиданное событие: возрождение БРИКС) / Italy, May, 2022
Keywords: expert_opinion, political_issues

It is commented with irony that the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, motivated to advantage Moscow and inaugurate a new geopolitical era, ended up strengthening the West. However, another surprising development has received less attention from observers: the resurgence of the BRICS.

After mournfully celebrating the bloc's 20th anniversary last year, member countries Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa seemed ready to go their separate ways.

The ambitions of China, whose GDP has grown 18 times since 2001, have created friction within the group. Under Narendra Modi, India began a pro-Western, Atlanticist turn with the entry into the Quad, the Washington-led dialogue group for containing Beijing. Inspired by Bolsonarista madness, Brazil tried to align itself with Trump's United States and adopted violent anti-China rhetoric.

Tormented by a domestic crisis, South Africa has lost relevance both inside and outside Africa. Russia's headlong plunge into the war could have imploded the bloc. But the opposite happened.

War in Ukraine The daily newsletter for you to understand what happens in the war between Russia and Ukraine

The explanations for the almost unanimous reaction of the BRICS to the conflict between the West and Russia go beyond the anti-imperialist solidarity and the frenetic articulations of the Kremlin to prevent its isolation.

The other members, starting with China and India, saw the BRICS as the most appropriate forum to strike a balance between unavoidable support for Moscow and preserving its integration with the global economy.

In the new world, characterized by fierce competition between superpowers, the bloc emerged as a safe haven for the old multilateralism. Not by chance, its next summit, scheduled for June, will be the most scrutinized in the last decade. For Brazil, which has been adrift since the failure of Bolsonar diplomacy, the return of the BRICS could accelerate its international reintegration.

For that, the priority must be to consolidate other agendas besides the delicate military question. At a time when India is suffering from a heat wave straight out of a science fiction book, deepening cooperation in the fight against the climate crisis, in addition to organizing around technology and industry hubs, seems like evidence.

A more ambitious and innovative approach would be to link BRICS development to other priority integration mechanisms for Brazil. In South America, the shared currency project presented by Fernando Haddad and Gabriel Galípolo in this Sheet dialogues with the agenda of reorganization of the financial system, China's absolute priority in the era of supersanctions, and, at the same time, meets the challenge of strengthening Brazilian negotiating power vis-à-vis Eurasian trading partners.

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The future of relations between Brazil and African countries, powerhouses of agribusiness, will also invariably be built around the relationship with China and India, which bring together more than 40% of humanity. The next decade should confirm that Beijing and New Delhi will be the only BRICS countries to fulfill the prophecy of Jim O'Neill, creator of the acronym, and achieve global power status.

It is up to Brazil to transform frustration into a new strategic agenda.
Why the West has struggled to make Putin a pariah on the world stage (Почему Запад изо всех сил пытался сделать Путина изгоем на мировой арене) / Australia, May, 2022
Keywords: expert_opinion, political_issues

Russian President Vladimir Putin made four major miscalculations before he launched his invasion of Ukraine. He overestimated Russian military competence and effectiveness and underestimated the Ukrainians' will to resist and determination to fight back.

He was also wrong in his assumption that a distracted West would be unable to unite politically in the face of the Russian attack and that the Europeans and the United States' Asian allies would never support far-reaching financial, trade and energy sanctions against Russia.

Leaders from BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries that are among 'the rest' pose for a photo with Vladimir Putin in 2019. From left, South Africa's Cyril Ramaphosa, China's Xi Jinping, India's Narendra Modi and Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro. AP

But he did get one thing right: he correctly estimated that what I call "the Rest" – the non-Western world – would not condemn Russia or impose sanctions. On the day the war broke out, US President Joe Biden said the West would make sure that Putin became a "pariah on the international stage" – but for much of the world, Putin is not a pariah.

For the past decade, Russia has been cultivating ties with countries in the Middle East, Asia, Latin America and Africa – regions from which Russia withdrew after the Soviet Union's collapse in 1991. And the Kremlin has assiduously courted China since the annexation of Crimea in 2014. When the West sought to isolate Russia, Beijing stepped in to support Moscow, including by signing the massive "Power of Siberia" gas pipeline deal.

The United Nations has voted three times since the war began: twice to condemn Russia's invasion and once to suspend it from the Human Rights Council. These resolutions passed. But tally up the size of the populations in those countries that abstained or voted against the resolutions, and it amounts to more than half of the world's population.

In short, the world is not united in the view that Russia's aggression is unjustified, nor is a significant part of the world willing to punish Russia for its actions. Indeed, some countries are seeking to profit from Russia's current situation. The reluctance of the Rest to jeopardise relations with Putin's Russia will complicate the West's ability to manage ties with allies and others – not only now, but also when the war is over.

'No limits' partnership

Leading the Rest in refusing to condemn Russia is China. Without the understanding that China would support Russia in whatever it did, Putin would not have invaded Ukraine. The Russian-Chinese joint statement on February 4, signed when Putin visited Beijing at the beginning of the Winter Olympics, extols their "no limits" partnership and commitment to push back against Western hegemony.

According to the Chinese ambassador to the United States, Chinese President Xi Jinping was not informed of Putin's plans to invade Ukraine when the two met in Beijing. Whatever Putin actually said to Xi – whether it was a wink or something more explicit – we will probably never know.

But however one interprets that claim, it is undeniable that China has supported Russia since the invasion began. Beijing abstained on UN votes condemning Russia and voted against the resolution to suspend the country from the Human Rights Council. Chinese media reiterate, with some fidelity, Russian propaganda about "denazifying" and demilitarising Ukraine and blame the United States and NATO for the war. They have questioned whether the Bucha massacre was carried out by Russian troops and have called for an independent investigation.

But there is some equivocation in the Chinese position. They have also called for an end to hostilities and have reiterated that they believe in the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all states – including Ukraine. China has been Ukraine's top trading partner, and Ukraine is part of the Belt and Road Initiative, so Beijing cannot welcome the economic devastation that the country is experiencing.

Nevertheless, Xi has chosen to ally with fellow autocrat Putin, and they share deep grievances against a US-dominated world order they believe has neglected their interests. They are determined to create a post-Western global order, although they differ in what this order should look like.

For China, it would be a rules-based order in which China has a much greater role in setting the agenda than it currently does. For Putin, on the other hand, it would be a disruptive world order with few rules. Both countries are allergic to Western criticisms of their domestic systems and their human rights records.

China and Russia both need each other in their joint quest to make the world safe for autocracy. Xi would not like to see Putin defeated. Hence, despite China's discomfort at the scale of violence and brutality in Ukraine and the risks of escalation to a wider war, it remains unwilling to speak out against Russia.

Major Chinese financial institutions have so far complied with Western sanctions, though. After all, China's economic stake in relations both with Europe and the United States is far larger than with Russia. Moreover, given the extensive Western sanctions against Russia, Beijing must be wondering what the Western reaction might be were it to invade Taiwan. The Chinese are undoubtedly studying the sanctions carefully.

India hedges its bets

The other major holdout against criticising Russia has been India, the world's largest democracy and a US partner in the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or the Quad, with Japan and Australia. India abstained on the three UN resolutions and has refused to sanction Russia.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called reports of atrocities against civilians in Bucha, Ukraine, "very worrying," and India's ambassador to the United Nations said the country "unequivocally condemn[s] these killings and support[s] the call for an independent investigation," yet neither Modi nor the UN ambassador blamed Russia for them.

Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar has said Russia is a "very important partner in a variety of areas", and India continues to purchase Russian arms and oil. Indeed, India obtains two-thirds of its weapons from Russia and is Moscow's top arms customer. US Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland has admitted that this stems partly from Washington's reluctance to supply India – a leader in the nonaligned world during the Cold War – with more weapons. The United States is now contemplating stronger defence co-operation with India.

Modi has several reasons for refusing to condemn Russia. The China factor is key. India views Russia as an important balancer against China, and Russia acted to defuse Indian-Chinese tensions after their border clashes in 2020.

Moreover, India's Cold War tradition of neutrality and scepticism toward the United States has created considerable public sympathy for Russia in India. Going forward, India will have to balance its traditional security relationship with Russia against its new strategic partnership with the United States in the Quad.

Russia's return to the Middle East

One of Putin's major foreign-policy successes during the past decade has been Russia's return to the Middle East, reestablishing ties with countries from which post-Soviet Russia withdrew and establishing new ones with countries that had no previous ties with the Soviet Union.

Russia is now the only major power that talks to all countries in the region – including Sunni-led countries such as Saudi Arabia, Shiite-led countries such as Iran and Syria, and Israel – and has ties with all groups on all sides of every dispute. This cultivation of Middle Eastern countries has been in evidence since the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine war.

Although most Arab countries voted to condemn Russia's invasion in the first UN vote, the 22-member Arab League subsequently did not. Many Arab countries abstained in the vote suspending Russia from the Human Rights Council. Staunch US allies including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Israel have not imposed sanctions on Russia. Indeed, Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman have spoken twice since the war began.

Israel's position is largely determined by Russia's support for Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria, where both Russian and Iranian forces are present. Israel negotiated a deconfliction agreement with Russia that enables it to strike Iranian targets in Syria. Israel fears that antagonising Russia could endanger its ability to defend its northern border. It has sent a field hospital and other humanitarian assistance to Ukraine – but no weapons. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett even briefly acted as a mediator between Russia and Ukraine, but his efforts proved unsuccessful.

For many Middle Eastern countries, their stance toward Russia is also shaped by their scepticism about the United States as a sometimes unreliable partner in the region and their irritation at US criticisms of their human rights records. The only truly pro-Russian country is Syria, whose leader, Assad, would be long gone were it not for Russian military support.

Africa and America's backyard

Russia's return to Africa in recent years and the support the mercenary Wagner Group gives to embattled leaders there have produced a continent that has largely refused to condemn or sanction Russia. Most African countries abstained in the vote condemning Russia's invasion, and many voted against suspending Russia from the Human Rights Council. South Africa, a democratic member of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) group of emerging economies, has not criticised Russia.

For many African countries, Russia is seen as the heir to the Soviet Union, which supported them during their anti-colonial struggles. The Soviet Union was a major backer of the African National Congress during the apartheid era, and the current South African leadership feels gratitude toward Russia. As in the Middle East, hostility toward the United States also plays a role in influencing African views of the invasion.

Even in the United States' own backyard, Russia has its cheerleaders. Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua have supported Moscow – as expected – but others have also refused to condemn the invasion. Brazil, a BRICS member, declared a stance of "impartiality," and President Jair Bolsonaro visited Putin in Moscow shortly before the invasion and declared himself "in solidarity with Russia". Brazil remains highly dependent on imports of Russian fertiliser.

More disturbing was Mexico's refusal to present a common North American front with the United States and Canada and condemn the invasion. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador's Morena party even launched a Mexico-Russia Friendship Caucus in the lower house of the country's Congress in March, inviting the Russian ambassador to address the caucus. Traditional leftist 1970s-style anti-Americanism may explain a large part of this embrace of Russia, and it presents Russia with new opportunities to sow discord in the West.

A stronger NATO

The Rest may represent more than half of the world's population, but it is the poorer half, composed of many less developed countries. The West's combined GDP, economic power and geopolitical heft far outweigh the influence of those countries that have refused to condemn the invasion or sanction Russia.

Nevertheless, the current divisions between the West and the Rest will shape whatever world order emerges after the war ends. The two key countries are China and India, which will ensure that Putin will not be an international pariah after the conflict ends. Indeed, Indonesia, the host of the next G20 Summit in November, has said it will welcome Putin's presence. However, it has also extended an invitation to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

In the aftermath of this brutal war, the United States will have enhanced its military presence in Europe and will likely permanently station troops in one or more country on NATO's eastern flank. If one of Putin's long-standing goals is to weaken NATO, his war against Ukraine has achieved the exact opposite, not only reviving the alliance but also giving it new purpose after Afghanistan and, with the likely accession of Sweden and Finland, expanding it.

NATO will return to a policy of enhanced containment of Russia as long as Putin remains in power and possibly thereafter, depending on who the next Russian leader is.

But in this 21st-century version of the Cold War, non-Western countries will refuse to take sides the way many had to during the original Cold War. The nonaligned movement of the Cold War years will re-emerge in a new incarnation. This time, the Rest will maintain their ties to Russia even as Washington and its allies treat Putin as a pariah.

Russia's economy will be diminished, and if it succeeds in creating a "sovereign internet" it will de-modernise and become ever more dependent on China. But it will remain a country with which a significant number of states will still be quite content to do business – and quite careful not to antagonise Moscow.

Angela Stent is a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and the author of Putin's World: Russia Against the West and With the Rest. She is a former national intelligence officer and also served in the Office of Policy Planning at the US State Department.
BRICS+ 2.0: Toward A Polycentric World Order (БРИКС+ 2.0: к полицентричному мировому порядку) / Jordan, May, 2022
Keywords: expert_opinion, quotation

The following is an interview with Yaroslav Lissovolik , a program director at the Valdai Discussion Club in Russia.

Adriel Kasonta: When it comes to regional cooperation in the Global South, traditional (Western) integration theories don't seem to be giving justice to this non-Western phenomenon, especially when BRICS is concerned. Would you be so kind as to explain the nature of BRICS in the context of the South-South cooperation and tell our readers Russia's role in this project?

Yaroslav Lissovolik: The role of BRICS is first and foremost [to expand] the possibilities for the Global South to forge ahead with economic modernization. This may involve not only measures aimed at boosting South-South cooperation, but also cooperation with the advanced economies.

BRICS is not about confrontation with the developed world, nor is it about forsaking the Bretton Woods institutions in favor of any successor organizations – in fact [Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa] all openly acknowledge the importance of such global institutions as the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO.

Yaroslav Lissovolik. Rather, what the BRICS propose is to complement the existing framework of global organizations with new institutions, as well as to allow for more optionality and more possibilities for the Global South economies to pursue various modernization paths and models in line with their national priorities and development needs.

As regards Russia, since the creation of the BRICS grouping, Russia [has seen] its role within bloc as one of the engines of building alliances with the developing economies and thus diversifying its trade and investment in favor of the Global South.

The Global South realm is likely to become an increasingly important part of Russia's trade structure in the coming years as well as a key platform for the use of BRICS national currencies and BRICS payment systems.

AK: It seems that the conflicting interests of the Global North and the Global South nations make it impossible to solve current climate, environmental and migration problems worldwide. If this observation is correct, then is the emergence of regionalism the cure to this ill within the current global governance framework?

YL: In my view the current framework of global governance is indeed out of sync with the development needs of the world economy, and the North-South divide is only one of the many manifestations of such a disconnect. There is also of course the severe underinvestment in human-capital development, most notably in the sphere of health care.

Perhaps the most patent manifestation of the shortcomings of the current global construct is the sharp increase in income inequality within countries and the"inequality of opportunity" between the developed and developing economies in terms of their integration into the global economy.

Regionalism can play an important role in allowing developing countries to become more integrated into the world economy. Greater activism on the part of the Global South in creating regional and trans-regional alliances will allow the developing world to close the"integration gap" with the advanced economies.

In terms of figures, several years ago the average number of [free-trade agreements] for the least developed countries was 0.3 agreement per country, while for the most advanced economies this measure reached 14.7 (a difference of more than 40 times). If other types of integration arrangements are included into the calculation, then the corresponding figures are 1.6 and 16.8 respectively, leaving a more than tenfold differential between the two groups of countries.

AK: Can we say that regionalization and globalization are complementary processes? If yes, then how does it work when it comes to the BRICS example?

YL: In my view there are important complementarities as well as tensions/contradictions in the interplay between globalism and regionalism. Regional integration blocs may be perceived as substitutes with respect to global institutions such as the WTO. In cases where regional integration arrangements are introvert and resort to high protectionist barriers, the effect is trade diversion and an adverse impact on globalization.

In the case of BRICS members, we are witnessing a more open and inclusive approach to regionalism, something that should impart positive effects on the openness of the global economy. One case in point is the largest regional integration grouping in the world that was spearheaded by China together with ASEAN – the creation of this regional bloc is an important contribution to the trade liberalization and openness in the global economy.

Another aspect associated with BRICS is the cooperation among the regional integration arrangements where BRICS countries are members. In particular, the Eurasian Economic Union in the past several years signed memoranda of understanding with the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR ) and the African Union .

This coordination between the regional integration arrangements of BRICS countries (what may be referred to as the"integration of integrations") is one of the most promising tracks of cooperation in building a more inclusive system of governance that via regionalism becomes accessible to small economies from the Global South.

Such a platform for the cooperation of regional integration arrangements is all the more important given that there is currently a major gap in the global-governance construct, whereby there is no mechanism of horizontal coordination/cooperation among regional integration arrangements – this is despite the growing importance of regionalism in the past several decades in the sphere of trade and investment liberalization.

While such a platform at the global level could theoretically emerge on the basis of a regional offshoot of G20 (a regional 20/R20 – as per the Valdai Club's proposal at the T20 meeting in Tokyo in 2019), in practical terms BRICS appears to be the grouping that is increasingly intent on pursuing the path of establishing closer cooperation among the regional arrangements and their development institutions.

AK: Maria L Lagutina, in her peer-reviewed article titled"BRICS in the world of regions," sees BRICS as a reformer of international order. What is your take on that?

YL: Maria Lagutina's research in the sphere of BRICS and regional development has been an important contribution for scholars working in this field – her most recent article titled"The regional dimension of BRICS cooperation" on BRICS and regionalism does suggest that there may be possibilities for using the potential of South-South regionalism in the context of BRICs cooperation in building a polycentric system of global governance.

In particular she notes in her article that"within BRICS a multi-layered governance system is emerging that effectively combines the mechanisms of regional and global governance."

I share the view that BRICS has the ingredients of serving as a platform for transforming the current system of global governance in the direction of greater openness and inclusiveness. All BRICS countries are present in all of the main regions of the Global South; they have created new institutions such as [the New Development Bank] that prioritize sustainable development and greater cooperation along the South-South axis.

While there may be occasional difficulties and disagreements among members, the overall track-record of BRICS cooperation provides a firm foundation for further progress in building a polycentric and inclusive global governance system.

AK: While it is fair to say that Russia is the spiritus movens behind turning Jim O'Neill's idea into a political reality by adding"B" into his RICs concept, China originated the idea of"BRICS+." Could you tell us a bit more about this project? What are its strengths and weaknesses?

YL: BRICS+ is an innovative concept that opens up myriad possibilities to pursue cooperation between BRICS and their partners from the Global South. It is not about the expansion of membership of the BRICS itself but rather the concept is directed at building multiple frameworks for cooperation between the BRICS economies and the various circles of friends/partners.

One track that is already being implemented is the expansion in the membership of the New Development Bank (NDB) – in effect projects in connectivity, green development, etc become available for a greater array of countries from the Global South.

Another possible track is the creation of an aggregation platform for the regional arrangements in which the BRICS countries are members.

This platform may be augmented/reinforced by a platform for the regional development institutions (regional development banks and regional financing arrangements), in which BRICS countries are members.

In one of my recent articles I proposed what I called the"BRICS+ 2.0" framework that would be based on the cooperation among the regional integration blocks and their development institutions in which BRICS countries are members.

The added flexibility element in such a platform would be the plurilateral character of such cooperative BRICS+ platforms, leaving open the possibility for bilateral and plurilateral agreements to complement the core network of regional alliances formed by BRICS countries and their respective regional neighbors.

There are also discussions about the possibility of a BRICS++ framework that would open up the possibilities for the BRICS economies and their regional partners to cooperate with advanced economies in regional arrangements (such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership ) as well as in development institutions (the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank being a case in point).

The BRICS+ framework allows the BRICS to share their development and their growth impulses with the rest of the Global South. This may be particularly important during global downturns as the BRICS+ framework may serve as an anti-crisis platform through the stimuli delivered from the BRICS and their development institutions to their regional partners.

At the same time there may be objective difficulties with a swift implementation of the BRICS+ project as it involves close coordination and consensus among its members on the future pathways for building these"circles of friends."

After the BRICS+ summits in 2017 and 2018 in China and South Africa respectively, Brazil under Jair Bolsonaro opted not to conduct BRICS+ meetings.

Nonetheless, the BRICS+ project is likely to be back on track in 2022 during China's chairmanship in the BRICS, and in the coming years it is likely to be one of the key items on the BRICS agenda because ultimately it is what the mission of the BRICS is all about – to share development and growth with the rest of the world, rather than being introvert and focused exclusively on intra-BRICS cooperation.

AK: The financial crisis of 2008 is seen as a critical element in strengthening the narrative of multi-polarization and the moment when globalization has entered a new stage of development. Is it possible that the current crisis related to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine can catalyze further redistribution of power centres, thus strengthening BRICS?

YL: While it may be a popular tenet that crises stimulate economic development and reforms (this dictum was frequently made with respect to the need for reforms in Russia on the back of low oil prices), it is always preferable for the global economy to have the capability to change and reform without crises as the agent of transformation.

In this regard, the real catalyst of the strengthening of BRICS (and BRICS+ more broadly) will be the sizable demand in the global economy for new international financial centers, new reserve currencies, new modernization success stories.

The world economy is in"shortage mode" and in need of greater divergence rather than convergence towards one standardized model of development. The BRICS offer precisely what the world economy needs at this juncture – a greater set of development models, institutions, projects and platforms for integration of the countries of the Global South into the world economy.

Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
Interview: Green investment to be major growth driver for China, New Development Bank VP says (Интервью: «Зеленые» инвестиции станут основным двигателем роста Китая, заявил вице-президент Нового банка развития) / China, May, 2022
Keywords: investments, quotation, ndb

by Chen Junxia and Martina Fuchs

ST. GALLEN, Switzerland, May 7 (Xinhua) -- Green investment and sustainability will be major growth drivers for China in the future, said Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of the New Development Bank (NDB) Leslie Maasdorp on Friday.

"Most of the world suffered during the last two years as a consequence of the successive lockdowns and COVID. China has done extremely well in 2020 and 2021 to recover from that crisis," Maasdorp told Xinhua at the 51st St. Gallen Symposium in Switzerland, a student initiative aiming to foster cross-generational dialogue that took place on May 5-6.

"I think 2022 is likely going to be very, very challenging," said the NDB VP, adding that while China is going through major adjustments and rebalancing, he thought "there are strong economic drivers that will propel China's economy forward and the commitment to green and sustainability is a key area."

"There are new industries being developed in China that will propel the next phase of its growth story," he also said.

According to the NDB's general strategy, sustainable infrastructure development is at the core of its operational strategy which is AA+ rated by S&P and Fitch.

Maasdorp also pointed to the strong demand for infrastructure projects around the world, especially in emerging markets.

The NDB, headquartered in Shanghai, is a lender established by the BRICS group of emerging nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) in 2015. It aims to become a global development bank to mobilize resources for infrastructure and sustainable development.

"The bank is now rapidly becoming an emerging-markets anchored global institution," said the executive, adding this year and next it will continue to expand because "there is a massive need for sustainable infrastructure finance."

"As a result of COVID, a lot of governments are fiscally constrained, they do not have the resources to build new infrastructure, new power, new ports, new rail infrastructure and so on, and that is where the bank plays a critical role," he said.

"In Central Asia and South Asia we see strong interest in new finance on the sustainable front because many of these countries need to green their economies and that is one of our specialties. We're helping countries to move towards the green economy as we all battle with the transition towards net zero," the executive said.

Since its establishment, the NDB has approved more than 80 projects for its members, with a total portfolio of 33 billion U.S. dollars.

The projects cover sectors including transport, water and sanitation, clean energy, digital infrastructure, social infrastructure and urban development.

"The bank has a 50-billion-dollar subscribed capital base. Ten billion dollars of that is equity money we received from the countries and our plan now is to expand over the next number of years to reach a capital base of 100 billion dollars," Maasdorp said.

"We will do that by expansion, bringing in new countries, both developed countries as well as developing countries. When countries join, they put in fresh capital into the bank and we use that money to leverage and raise more money through the debt capital markets," he said.

He added that the bank aims to raise new climate funds as part of their commitment to the fight climate change.

The NDB, prioritizing its expansion, has admitted four new members in 2021: Bangladesh, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Uruguay. ■

World of Work
BRICS Workshop on Green Technology Successfully Held (Семинар БРИКС по «зеленым» технологиям успешно проведен) / China, May, 2022
Keywords: top_level_meeting, innovations

BRICS Workshop on Green Technology was successfully held online on 29 April 2022. Representatives from the environment departments, embassies and research institutes of BRICS countries, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), New Development Bank, as well as representatives from the Ministry of Ecology and Environment of China, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and related research institutes attended the meeting.

During the workshop, BRICS countries, from the perspective of their own green technology strengths and needs, exchanged advanced technologies, demonstration projects and practical cases in the fields of water treatment, air pollution control, solid waste treatment and environmental monitoring. The participants also exchanged views on the needs and ways of future cooperation. All parties expressed their willingness to enhance cooperation in green technologies under the BRICS framework, and jointly promote green and low-carbon development among BRICS countries.

BRICS Forum on Big Data for Sustainable Development Held in Beijing (Форум БРИКС по большим данным для устойчивого развития прошел в Пекине) / China, May, 2022
Keywords: top_level_meeting, innovations

On 26 April 2022, the BRICS Forum on Big Data for Sustainable Development was held online and onsite by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) along with Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), Brazilian Academy of Sciences (ABC), Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), and Indian National Science Academy (INSA).

Zhang Yaping, Vice President of CAS, Jonathan Jansen, President of ASSAf, Luiz Davidovich, President of ABC, Alexander Sergeev, President of RAS, Narinder Kumar Mehra, Vice President of INSA attended the opening ceremony and delivered speeches.

Zhang Yaping, entrusted by CAS President Hou Jianguo, chaired the opening and gave the opening remarks on Prof. Hou's behalf. Hou pointed out that this forum would provide an important platform for BRICS scientists, engineers, policy-makers and representatives of relevant international organizations to share knowledge, technology and experience. The forum would also be an effective means for the BRICS science community to strengthen exchanges and cooperation in sustainable development and implement the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. He also stressed that the concerted efforts of BRICS Academies would forge a technological toolbox addressing the risks and challenges, promote digital development, and build a bridge for the exchanges and communication of BRICS countries, with a common goal of drawing a blueprint for a community with a shared future for mankind.

Participants from BRICS Academies of Sciences highly appreciated the significance of the forum, emphasized the importance of strengthening cooperation in the field of big data for sustainable development and agreed to advance jointly the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Prof. Guo Huadong, Director General of International Research Center of Big Data for Sustainable Development Goals (CBAS) and Prof. Arutyun I. Avetisyan, Deputy President of the Russian Academy of Sciences delivered the keynote presentations respectively.

Representatives from UNESCO Beijing Office, Committee on Data of International Science Council (CODATA), World Geospatial Industry Council (WGIC), Institute for Atmospheric and Earth System Research of Finland, and Climate Change Research Strategies Center under the National Research Council of Thailand attended the forum in person or virtually.

During the forum, CBAS released the Data Products for BRICS countries formally. The products will provide data support for BRICS countries to carry out monitoring and research on relevant SDGs.

Five thematic parallel sessions on Big Data for SDGs were held, including food security and poverty alleviation, digital economy, urban development, climate actions and disaster reduction, and biodiversity conservation. The forum attracted more than 400 BRICS scientists, engineers, policy-makers, stakeholders, and representatives from relevant international organizations to communicate and explore the potential solution to global challenges to sustainable development. It also provides impetus to the implementation of UN 2030 Agenda through international cooperation in science, technology, and innovation, especially based on big data.
The Sixth BRICS Anti-drug Working Group Meeting is Held (Состоялось шестое заседание Рабочей группы БРИКС по борьбе с наркотиками) / China, May, 2022
Keywords: top_level_meeting, social_issues

On April 26, the Sixth BRICS Anti-Drug Working Group Meeting was held via video link. China, the rotating Chair of BRICS hosted the meeting. Liang Yun, Managing Vice Secretary General of China National Narcotics Control Commission (NNCC) and Director General of Narcotics Control Bureau of Ministry of Public Security of China, led the Chinese delegation and moderated the meeting. About 30 officials from drug control departments of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa attended the meeting.

At the meeting, the parties introduced the drug situations in their respective countries, exchanged experience in drug control, and discussed future cooperation.
BRICS Urbanization Forum Successfully Held (Форум БРИКС по урбанизации прошел успешно) / China, May, 2022
Keywords: top_level_meeting, social_issues

On 27-28 April 2022, the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development of the People's Republic of China held the BRICS Urbanization Forum in virtual mode. China and the BRICS countries exchanged policies and experience on how to rise to the challenges posed by urbanization and how to promote the high-quality development of cities. Yang Baojun, chief economist from the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development attended and addressed the plenary session of the Forum. Participants to the Forum included officers in charge of the competent departments from other BRICS countries of Russia, India, South Africa and Brazil.

In his address, Yang Baojun said that as the world is in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and profound changes unseen in a century, it is entering a new period of turbulence and transformation when people aspire more to live a better life. Since last year, facing complicated and challenging circumstances both in and outside China, the Chinese government has adopted proactive and effective measures to further promote the new type of urbanization featuring people-centered approach when implementing urban renewal activities to advance high-quality development of cities. To facilitate the sustainable development of cities around the world, the Chinese government also supported the UN-HABITAT to establish the Shanghai Global Award for Sustainable Development in Cities to encourage cities all over the world to move faster to implement the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Following the BRICS spirit of openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation, China would like to join hands with all other BRICS countries to further strengthen pragmatic cooperation on urbanization and push forward the high-quality urban development, with the aim of benefiting people of all BRICS countries through such cooperation.

Representatives from other BRICS countries respectively introduced their policies, measures and practices in promoting urban development. They highly commended China's effort to host the BRICS Urbanization Forum, and fully recognized the progress of the cooperation among BRICS countries in the field of urbanization. They expressed the hope of further enhancing close coordination to make greater contribution to the sustainable development of cities around the world and the fulfillment of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Forum also organized thematic sessions on specific topics like cultural inheritance and green and low-carbon development. Offcials in charge of China Academy of Urban Planning & Design and experts and scholars from BRICS countries held in-depth discussions on relevant topics.
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