Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 41.2019
2019.09.07 — 2019.10.13
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Experts discussed the prospects of cooperation within the BRICS to address key global problems (Эксперты обсудили перспективы сотрудничества в рамках БРИКС для решения ключевых глобальных проблем) / Russia, October, 2019
Keywords: expert_opinion, global_governance, cooperation

The international scientific seminar "The BRICS: Developing Cooperation in Pursuit of Collective Solutions to Key Global Governance Challenges" was held at the Russian Academy of National Economy and Public Administration on October 10, 2019 with support from the National Committee on BRICS Research (

The seminar was attended by representatives of the academic community and research centers from the BRICS member countries and Russian officials. Participants discussed BRICS member countries' national priorities in various areas, including the international financial system reform, infrastructure development, international trade, digital economy, mechanisms for coordinating common positions within BRICS and their reflection in forum's documents and decisions; future priorities of BRICS cooperation; options for strengthening intra-BRICS coordination on the most pressing global governance challenges and promoting common positions in international institutions.

In his welcoming address, Pavel Knyazev, Russian sous-sherpa in BRICS, Deputy Director of the Department of Foreign Policy Planning of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, spoke on the priorities of BRICS cooperation.

Director of the Department of Multilateral Economic Cooperation and Special Projects of the Russian Ministry of Economic Development Natalia Stapran presented Russian economic priorities in the BRICS and shared her views on updating the Strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership during the Russian Presidency in the forum in 2020.

Expert opinions on the BRICS role in promoting the IFIs reform, developing new economic mega-partnerships and financing infrastructure were given by:

André de Mello e Souza, Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Applied Economic Research - IPEA, Brazil (in Eng.)

Boris Kheyfets, Professor, Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation

Andrei Shelepov, Researcher, Center for International Institutions Research (CIIR), Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA) (in Eng.)

Philani Mthembu, Executive Director of the Institute for Global Dialogue shared his views on South Africa's role in the BRICS and diffusion of power and ideas in a multipolar world.

Challenges for digital economy development, BRICS countries technology and innovation cooperation and their role in the global governance on cyber issues were discussed by:

Dr. Binod Singh Ajatshatru, Director, The BRICS Institute

Shen Yi, Director, Center for BRICS studies, Fudan University

Alexander Ignatov, Researcher, CIIR of the RANEPA (in Eng.)

Irina Yarygina, Chair, Economics and Banking Business Department, International Institute of Energy Policy and Diplomacy, Moscow State Institute of International Relations of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, spoke on the potential for BRICS financial markets integration.

Andrei Sakharov, RANEPA CIIR Researcher, considered the priorities and challenges of BRICS international trade agenda (in Eng.)

RANEPA CIIR Researcher Irina Popova discussed members' compliance with BRICS collective decisions (in Eng.)
Abstract - Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov's interview with The International Affairs magazine, October 2019 (Отрывок из интервью заместителя Министра иностранных дел России С.А.Рябкова журналу «Международная жизнь», октябрь 2019 года) / Russia, October, 2019
Keywords: quotation, summit

Question: A BRICS summit will be held in Brasilia in November. In the current tense period it will attract close attention. What can be expected from it?

Sergey Ryabkov: We note the effective work of Brazil's Presidency of BRICS. They have formed the framework of potential results of the forthcoming forum – both political decisions and documents that may be adopted and signed there. We are pleased to note steady progress on the projects that had been neglected before. There were many of them in a wide variety of areas. The programme of events under Brazil's BRICS Presidency is being successfully implemented. The summit will crown this work and map out a plan for the future. We will take over BRICS Presidency from Brazil. For us as a country of the next Presidency, next year will be largely a year of BRICS in terms of foreign policy priorities.

Important bilateral meetings will take place on the sidelines of the summit. The programme includes a business component: it is important for us to use every opportunity for developing trade and economic cooperation with our BRICS partners. We will carry out bilateral projects in addition to those involving all BRICS members. A summit in Brasilia is a wonderful opportunity to discuss all these issues.

From Hostility to Warmness: Why has Brazilian President Changed his Aggressive Anti-China Actions? (От враждебности к теплу: почему президент Бразилии изменил свои агрессивные антикитайские действия?) / China, October, 2019
Keywords: political_issues, jair_bolsonaro, xi_jinping

Paul Antonopoulos, director of the Multipolarity research centre

In an interview with DW Brasil, former Brazilian ambassador to Beijing, Marcos Caramuru, revealed the great interest Chinese companies have in potential infrastructure work in Brazil. Even with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro showing initial hostility towards China during his 2018 election campaign, his opinion appears to have changed given the huge sums involved in bilateral relations and the opportunities the Asian country can provide the economic struggling Latin American Giant.

Bolsonaro is commonly known as the 'Tropical Trump' for his open admiration of the U.S. President and his shared ideas and beliefs. Therefore, it was unsurprising that he said "The Chinese are not buying in Brazil… They are buying Brazil," in the pre-election campaign.

Global Times speculated that "it's inconceivable the new Bolsonaro government would give up on the Chinese market." It also left a note of caution for the Brazilian leader who made another major antagonism towards China: "His trip to Taiwan during the presidential campaign caught the ire of Beijing. If he continues to disregard the basic principle over Taiwan after taking office, it will apparently cost Brazil a great deal … The Chinese island won't bring any more benefits to Brazil, which Bolsonaro and his team must be aware of."

Marcus Vinicius Freitas, a visiting professor at the China Foreign University in Beijing, explained that: "When the Chinese look at Brazil they actually see an amusement park where everything still needs to be done." His assessment is in reference to the huge developmental and infrastructural opportunities that Brazil has, with many sectors remaining underdeveloped despite the domineering position Brazil has over the wider Latin American region. "There is no doubt that China has a menu of options for Brazil," he added, citing Chinese technologies in road, subway, rail, viaduct and airport construction that could be of interest to Brazil.

There are also additional opportunities from agribusiness to commodities, the most attractive sector for Chinese capital is infrastructure and major works, especially in the area of gas, oil, renewable energy which will ensure growth on a sustainable and significant basis for the Brazilian economy.

However, despite the significant economic relationship between the two countries and the opportunities China can provide Brazil, it had not stopped Bolsonaro from aggravating Beijing. Therefore, it would be assumed that Bolsonaro would submit to Trump's every demand in the midst of the U.S. president's trade war with China. However, this has proven not to be the case with Brazil's Vice President Hamilton Mourão saying in June that his country does not plan to ban Huawei from providing 5G equipment to telecoms in his country, signalling that Bolsonaro has said one thing during the election campaign, but acted in another way while president.

This would suggest that Bolsonaro's government is following a different path than initially anticipated and the Brazilian president is not a complete U.S. puppet as often said by his critics. Although Trump told Bolsonaro during the latter's visit to the White House earlier this year that Huawei was a security threat, the Brazilian Vice President emphasized that Brazil has no reason to distrust Huawei and that his country needs the Chinese technology to help its continued development.

As Beijing has been calling for a resolution to the Trump-initiated trade war, China's ambassador to Brazil, Yang Wanming, accused the United States of bullying and lobbying its trading partners, affecting the entire global economy. He explains that the U.S. ruined market confidence, increased the risk of global recession and endangered emerging economies like Brazil.

And in this scenario, it would be important for Brasilia and Beijing to defend international cooperation and multilateralism. China's GDP grew by 'only' 6.2% in the second quarter of 2019, which is the lowest economic growth recorded since 1992. This so-called economic 'slowdown' has served as a successful bait to trigger Western media.

As a result, Trump declared that his tariff war with China was working and said his protectionist measures had led to the exodus of companies from the Asian giant. However, if the measures were so successful Trump would not continue to threaten his partners from trading with China. The Bolsonaro government has seen that in this situation, siding with the U.S. is not in its interests.

Although Bolsonaro will continue to take on a very pro-Trump stance in Latin American affairs, especially against Cuba and Venezuela, he has demonstrated that he is unwilling to embroil Brazil in international issues besides those relating to Israel, serving the interests of the powerful Christian Evangelical lobby in the South American country.

In fact, an argument can be made that Brazil benefits from the ongoing trade war between the two Great Powers. China has continually been placing large orders of Brazilian soybeans, choosing the South American country to fill the supply gap after stopping U.S. purchases. Chinese buyers are increasingly looking for Brazilian soybeans.

China halted U.S. soybean imports as tensions between Beijing and Washington increased and turned to Brazil. For now, Brazil has been able to respond to China's demand, but its supply is running low and Beijing is at risk of failing to meet its needs. With any end to the trade war, it is unlikely that China will revert and make the U.S. its most important soy purchaser, providing an opportunity for Brazil to consolidate its own position.

Whether it was through a sudden realization, or whether it was from internal pressures from Brazil's powerful agricultural industry and other important advisers, Bolsonaro has certainly done a 180 towards his China rhetoric. With the status of Brazil's role in BRICS questioned by experts last year because of Bolsonaro's initial hostility towards China and his vivid support for Trump, his Foreign Minister Ernesto Araújo has fully embraced his country's chairmanship of the organization. This demonstrates that no matter the motivating reason, Bolsonaro has certainly changed his China policy from hostility to openness and welcomeness as the Asian country can drastically improve Brazil's economic situation.

Culture ministers of BRICS countries to meet in Brazil (Министры культуры стран БРИКС встретятся в Бразилии) / Russia, October, 2019
Keywords: top_level_meeting, social_issues, cooperation

Russia will be represented at the meeting by head of the Russian Culture Ministry's museum department Vladislav Kononov

MOSCOW, October 11. /TASS/. /TASS/. The fourth meeting of culture ministers of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) member countries will take place in the Brazilian city of Curitiba on Friday. Russia will be represented by head of the Russian Culture Ministry's museum department Vladislav Kononov.

"The program envisages a discussion on the strategy of developing cooperation between the creative industries of BRICS countries. I plan to make a report on cultural cooperation between BRICS countries," Kononov told TASS.

He reminded that this meeting will have special significance because Russia will assume chairmanship in BRICS next year. "Brazil, which presides in BRICS this year, has touched ipon the topic of creative economy, creative industries, and my report will be devoted to how cultural institutions, particularly museums, affect and create such creative economy," he noted.

Kononov said that museums in fact represent points of growth, including economic growth. "They represent the points of attraction for tourists, students, local residents. Museums carry out educational activities and preserve cultural heritage, they have direct effect on economic development since it is necessary to accommodate for tourist flows, and this leads to developing infrastructure, starting from food places and not ending in roads, transport, and so on," he noted.
Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
NDB International Conference on Fintech & Financial Regulation (Международная конференция НБР по финтеху и финансовому регулированию) / China, October, 2019
Keywords: ndb, economic_challenges

In collaboration with Shanghai National Accounting Institute and ICAEW CHINA

October 28-29, 2019 (Grand Hyatt Jin Mao, Shanghai) 11-Oct-2019 After the successful hosting of the first international conference on fintech and financial regulation in Mumbai during November 2018, the New Development Bank (NDB) is launching its second edition of the conference at Shanghai during October 28-29, 2019. The international conference is being presented by NDB in collaboration with Shanghai National Accounting Institute (SNAI) and its international partner ICAEW, CHINA.

Invited Key Note speakers for the conference include:

  • K V Kamath, President, New Development Bank
  • Xiangmin Liu, President, Financial Action Task Force (FATF)
  • Mark Billington, Regional Director, Greater China & South-East Asia, ICAEW
  • Kouqing Li, President, Shanghai National Accounting Institute
The International Conference focuses on fintech developments and their impact on financial inclusion/access, fighting financial crime and emerging financial regulation. The Conference is expected to host diverse set of speakers from BRICS financial intelligence and central banking community. The conference is open to financial sector participants and academic researchers. In addition, the conference also covers fintech case studies and their relevance in tackling financial crime and latest emerging research in the field.
The Crucial Role of New Development Bank in the Future of BRICS / Karin Costa Vazquez (Решающая роль нового банка развития в будущем БРИКС / Карин Коста Васкес) / Russia, October, 2019
Keywords: ndb, expert_opinion, economic_challenges
Author: Karin Costa Vazquez

The big emerging markets of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) have come a long way since their first summit in 2009, proving to be more than an "arranged marriage" as recently proclaimed in the media amid disagreements among the five members on Venezuela and WTO reform. Looking back in the history of the group, even the Doklam standoff and the China-India disagreement on Pakistan had a negotiated solution. The question therefore is not what separates the BRICS – as political divergences will always exist in any country arrangement – but what still holds the five countries together one decade after the creation of the group.

In order to answer this question, it is important to understand that the BRICS emerged not as a group whose strength lay in the individual capacity of each country but as a pragmatic relationship that pools the influence of its members to achieve common objectives. This is the case of the New Development Bank (NDB) and its potential to reshape the world of development finance. Three key features set the NDB apart from existing multilateral development banks: its commitment to close the infrastructure gap in emerging and developing countries without delays nor imposing conditionalities; sustainable development; and equity in power-sharing.

In less than four years of operations, the NDB seems to have laid down fairly solid foundations. It received AA+ international credit rating and built a portfolio of 35 projects worth USD 9.2 billion – nearly half of World Bank lending in 2018. During its 4th annual meeting last month, the NDB stressed the need for investments in social infrastructure in addition to its current lending for physical infrastructure development in recognition that both soft and hard infrastructure is needed to meet the developing needs of member countries. Once a contender, India also gave the green light to the expansion of the NDB membership. While helping to improve credit rating and increase the bank's subscribed capital, there is still no consensus among the five members on who should be invited.

As the NDB consolidates its operations, it is challenged by its commitment to sustainability. In 2019, five new projects totaling about USD1.2 billion were approved. Yet, the criteria under which these projects are selected and monitored remain unclear. So are the development results achieved to date. In South Africa, questions mark NDB loans to the indebted power utilities company Eskom. The expansion of the Durban port and the retrofitting of the Medupi coal-fired power plant also raise local communities' concerns about ecological degradation and increasing carbon emissions. In India, a road modernization project in Madhya Pradesh is suspect of land grabbing and property destruction. Failure to consult the stakeholders directly impacted by the projects as well as disclose project documents and social-environmental assessments can compromise the bank's development impact.

Assessing the development impact of NDB's projects and their contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals will become even more critical as the bank initiates the mid-term review of its general strategy later this year. So will hiring women for senior management and leadership positions, mainstreaming gender into the bank's operations, and securing a balanced loan allocation among the five members. This year China passed India as the top recipient, with 34 percent against 27.3 percent. Russia and South Africa follow in third place with 16 percent each. Brazil receives the lowest amount, totaling approximately USD621 million (6.7 percent). Dubbed as a differentiating feature of the NDB, the equal say in the bank's governance would be short-lived without a balanced allocation of loans among the five members.

Those who dismiss the BRICS as little more than an acronym might feel justified in their skepticism as political and economic turmoil shake emerging economies. Yet, their most tangible creation is making a surprising headway in establishing itself as a viable business. As the New Development Bank enters its fourth year of operations it must now prove the "development" in its name.

The author is Associate Professor, Assistant Dean for Global Engagement, Executive Director, Center for African, Latin American and Caribbean Studies at School of International Affairs, O.P. Jindal Global University.

Financial Express.

Possible Ways of the Digital Economy Regulation in the BRICS Countries on Supranational Level(Возможные пути регулирования цифровой экономики в странах БРИКС на наднациональном уровне) / Russia, October, 2019
Keywords: digital, economic_challenges, expert_opinion
Author: Yana Grigoryeva

Yana Grigoryeva, Intern at the Russian National Committee on BRICS Research - special for InfoBRICS

The BRICS countries, based on their national interests and characteristics, are developing digital economy, but they are located at different stages of the formation of their own digital environment. The most advanced in this area is China, where the percentage of coverage of the territory and population of the Internet is the maximum among the partners, and the largest national companies of the sector implement their own programs with the support of the state.

E-Commerce is actively developing in each country separately. At the same time, the digitalization of the economy has objectively become the current trend in the world community. Gradually, a system of the Internet of things, where the objects of the material world with pre-installed digital capabilities may interact between themselves and with the external environment.

BRICS countries should use their opportunities to digitalize their national economies to close the gap between them and developed or advanced countries in terms of digitalization. The World Economic Forum published the data about the Network Readiness Index - a comprehensive indicator characterizing the level of development of information and communication technologies in the world. According to this rating, all BRICS countries are characterized by varying levels of the national economy network structure development.

So, Index of the Russian Federation – 4.5, China – 4.2, South Africa – 4.2, Brazil – 4.0, India – 3.8. Rating 2016 (out of 143 states) of the Russian Federation – 41, China – 59, South Africa – 65, Brazil – 72, India – 91.

The DAI that is created by The World Bank is a worldwide index that measures countries' digital adoption across three dimensions of the economy: people, government, and business. The overall DAI is the simple average of three sub-indexes. It rates from 0 to 1 and comprises technologies necessary for the respective agent to promote development in the digital era.

During the period under review from 2014 to 2016 the Russian Federation was the first country among all BRICS group with rate of 0,65 in 2014 and 0,68 in 2016. The second one is Brazil, then South Africa, China and the last one is India. But in all BRICS countries, over two years, the indicator has grown significantly, that indicates the stable development of the digital sphere all over the world.

The leaders of all BRICS countries see the formation of the national digital economy as an opportunity that will allow countries to move to high-quality economic growth, solve technological, infrastructure and social problems within the framework of national economies. That is why national governments have initiated the "digitalization" of their economies as a strategic task, formulating their own national programs: "Digital India "in the framework of the strategy "Make in India" – in India, "Digital China" as part of the strategy "Made in China, 2025" in China, "Digital economy of the Russian Federation", approved in Russia in 2017. In Brazil, a working group on the formation of the national digital development strategy "the Brazilian Digital Strategy" was established in 2017. In South Africa, the Electronic Communications Act "South Africa Connect" was adopted in 2013.

At the same time, the level of regulation of the digital environment in the BRICS countries varies significantly and is determined by national priorities. Thus, the problem of ensuring national cybersecurity is essential for China, that is why the cybersecurity law was adopted in November 2016. The Ministry of Commerce of China has identified that foreign goods purchased online and distributed through customs warehouses will continue to be under some preferential treatment, avoiding quarantine and quality checks that could stop imports of a lot of popular foreign products. From the authorities 'perspective, this action strengthens confidence in China's cross-border e-Commerce as it demonstrates the authorities' determination to provide regulatory clarity and accelerate growth for the industry.

Since 2016, foreign Internet retailers are completely exempt from customs duties on the territory of China, VAT and consumption tax are paid at a rate of 70% of the established rate. Currently, China is implementing requirements for Internet companies to store data in China. The PRC has mandatory requirements for certification and testing of equipment and all the companies must prove the safety and reliability of their products and disclose the source codes and coding algorithms.

To speak about the regulation of the digital environment in India, the Digital India initiative does not specify many key details that may complicate the implementation of this program. These include the lack of a developed and detailed legal framework, the lack of privacy and data protection laws, the possibility of abuse of civil liberties, the lack of intelligence reforms in India, the insecure Indian cyberspace, etc. There is currently no legislation in India that regulates e-Commerce. The National Institute for Transforming India has established a high-level Committee to examine issues related to e-Commerce, including FDI. The Ministry of Consumer Affairs also plans to regulate electronic Commerce through a proposed new consumer protection law.

In Brazil also the government regulation of the digital environment is in progress. Regulation of Brazil's digital space is implemented in accordance with Law "Marco Civil da Internet" adopted in 2014. This law defines the principles, guarantees, rights and obligations for those who use the network, as well as provides guidelines for the actions of the state. The law defines the following principles of the Internet in the country: net neutrality, protection of personal data from transfer to third parties. In 2018 Brazil hosted the first meeting of the BRICS competition agencies working group on the digital economy, where it was decided to prepare a research report. Each of the authorized agencies provided comprehensive information on methodological approaches, specific cases, problems related to digital transformation.

South Africa is currently developing a national integrated information and communications technology (ICT) policy based on the national set of ICT initiatives 2016-2017. The government has identified five priority areas for financing ICT programs: government, international trade, R&D, entrepreneurship and infrastructure. Government spending on software in 2016 amounted to 0.4% of GDP, and in terms of "government acquisition of advanced technological products" South Africa is in 99 positions out of 138 countries. The South African revenue service (SARS) has an interactive website that allows citizens to pay taxes online. Much attention is also paid to the implementation of the National strategy for the development of information technologies in public administration for the period up to 2025, which will give the access to broadband Internet for primarily schools, medical clinics and other public institutions.

Regulation of the digital economy in Russia is determined by a number of strategic documents. Among them is the Strategy for the development of the information society in the Russian Federation for 2017-2030. The document defines the key concepts related to the digital economy, characterizes the place of Russia in the modern information society and national priorities in digitalization, formulates measures and conditions necessary for the development of information and communication infrastructure.

In July 2017, the program "Digital economy of the Russian Federation" was adopted. The program formulates the necessity to create an ecosystem of the digital economy of Russia; conditions of infrastructural and institutional nature that will allow the Russian Federation to take its rightful place in the global world system of the digital economy. The global nature of digitalization of the economy makes obvious the need for extraterritorial regulation of digitalization processes. Now the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation has proposed the creation of a digital platform on which entrepreneurs can exchange business contacts and interact on various issues related to doing business in the BRICS countries.

Russia is already successfully implementing digital platforms, the system is widely used within the EAEU, so developments in the field of creating digital products can be used within the BRICS. For example, the information system for interstate exchange of data and electronic documents or a system for digital tracking of goods from the seller to the consumer. Nevertheless, the digital platform is a product of the future. In the current conditions, when the growth rates of the world economy are stable, and the share of small and medium-sized businesses in the countries is growing, the implementation of digital systems in BRICS countries can be expected in the near future.

Nowadays most regional trade agreements contain one or more measures for the electronic exchange of trade-related data and information. At the same time, there are no special agreements regulating electronic Commerce. In relation to the BRICS countries, determining the optimal approach will be a very difficult decision. As supranational regulation of the digital economy and e-Commerce is just emerging, the BRICS countries can become initiators or take an active part in the formation of approaches to the development of rules of such regulation. The BRICS countries can and should cooperate in the process of digitalization of national economies in order to use all the bonuses of the synergistic effect of such interaction to their advantage.

India Among Worst Performing BRICS Nations On Global Competitiveness Index: WEF (Индия среди худших стран БРИКС по индексу глобальной конкурентоспособности: WEF) / India, October, 2019
Keywords: rating, economic_challenges

The WEF said the drop of 10 places in India's position to 68th place may look dramatic, but the decline in the country's competitiveness score is relatively small.

India has moved down 10 places to rank 68th on an annual global competitiveness index, largely due to improvements witnessed by several other economies, while Singapore has replaced the US as the world's most competitive economy.

India, which was ranked 58th in the annual Global Competitiveness Index compiled by Geneva-based World Economic Forum (WEF), is among the worst-performing BRICS nations along with Brazil (ranked even lower than India at 71st this year).

Announcing its latest index, the WEF said on Wednesday India ranks high in terms of macroeconomic stability and market size, while its financial sector is relatively deep and stable despite the high delinquency rate, which contributes to weakening the soundness of its banking system.

India is ranked also high at 15th place in terms of corporate governance, while it is ranked second globally for shareholder governance, the WEF study showed. In terms of the market size, India is ranked third, while it has got the same rank for renewable energy regulation.

Besides, India also punches above its development status when it comes to innovation, which is well ahead of most emerging economies and on par with several advanced economies, the report said.

But, these positive metrics contrast with major shortcomings in some of the basic enablers of competitiveness in case of India, the WEF said, while flagging limited ICT (information, communications and technology) adoption, poor health conditions and low healthy life expectancy.

The WEF said the healthy life expectancy, where India has been ranked 109th out of total the 141 countries surveyed for the index, is one of the shortest outside Africa and significantly below the South Asian average.

Besides, India needs to grow its skills base, while its product market efficiency is undermined by a lack of trade openness and the labour market is characterised by a lack of worker rights' protections, insufficiently developed active labour market policies and critically low participation of women.

With a ratio of female workers to male workers of 0.26, India has been ranked very low at 128th place. India is also ranked low at 118th in terms of meritocracy and incentivisation and at 107th place for skills.

In the overall ranking, India is followed by some of its neighbours including Sri Lanka at 84th place, Bangladesh at 105th, Nepal at 108th and Pakistan at 110th place.

The WEF said the drop of 10 places in India's position to 68th place may look dramatic, but the decline in the country's competitiveness score is relatively small. A number of similarly-placed economies including Colombia, South Africa and Turkey improved over the past year and hence have overtaken India.

The study highlighted that the global economy is unprepared for a major slowdown.

The Global Competitiveness Index (GCI), which was launched in 1979, maps the competitiveness landscape of 141 economies through 103 indicators organised into 12 pillars.

Singapore has become the world's most competitive economy in 2019, pushing the US to the second place. Hong Kong SAR is ranked 3rd, Netherlands is 4th and Switzerland is ranked 5th.

Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of WEF, said, "The Global Competitiveness Index 4.0 provides a compass for thriving in the new economy where innovation becomes the key factor of competitiveness.

"The report shows that those countries which integrate into their economic policies an emphasis on infrastructure, skills, research and development and support those left behind are more successful compared to those that focus only on traditional factors of growth."

The report showed that several economies with strong innovation capability like Korea, Japan and France, or increasing capability, like China, India and Brazil, must improve their talent base and the functioning of their labour markets.

The presence of many competitive countries in Asia-Pacific makes this region the most competitive in the world, followed closely by Europe and North America.

China is ranked 28th (the highest-ranked among the BRICS) while Vietnam is the most improved country in the region this year at 67th place.

The WEF said 10 years on from the global financial crisis, the global economy remains locked in a cycle of low or flat productivity growth despite the injection of more than USD 10 trillion by central banks.

"While these unprecedented measures were successful in averting a deeper recession, they are not enough on their own to catalyse the allocation of resources towards productivity-enhancing investments in the private and public sectors.

"As monetary policies begin to run out of steam, it is crucial for economies to rely on fiscal policy and public incentives to boost research and development, enhance the skills base of the current and future workforce, develop new infrastructure and integrate new technologies, among other measures," it added.

China leads emerging economies in latest global competitiveness ranking (Китай лидирует в странах с развивающейся экономикой в рейтинге мировой конкурентоспособности) / China, October, 2019
Keywords: rating, economic_challenges

GENEVA - China is by far the best performer among the five BRICS economies in terms of competitiveness, said the World Economic Forum (WEF) Wednesday in the latest annual report assessing the productivity and long-term growth of 141 economies.

China ranks 28th among the world economies, 15 places ahead of the Russia, 32 places ahead of South Africa and some 40 places ahead of both India and Brazil, showed the 2019 Global Competitiveness Report by the WEF.

China's position in the ranking was unchanged from last year, but its overall score increased by 1.3 points, the report showed.

The report measured an economy's performance through 103 indicators in 12 "pillars," showing that China has obvious strengths in various areas such as the sheer size of its market, macroeconomic stability, the Information Communication and Technology (ICT) adoption, and increasing innovation capability.

In the ICT Adoption, China outperformed 25 of the 36 member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). As to the healthy life expectancy, China scores better than the United States and slightly under the OECD average.

With a score of 84.8, Singapore took the crown of the world's most competitive economy this year from the United States.

The IMF lowered the US competitiveness to the second place partly due to the country's trade uncertainty, as its trade openness is more than four points lower than that in 2018, according to the report.

China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the Netherlands and Switzerland are among the top five, followed by Japan, Germany, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Denmark, the report showed.

Political Events
Political events in the public life of BRICS
I pushed for BRICS bank which is why I was pushed out, Zuma says at Mugabe memorial (Я настаивал на банке БРИКС, поэтому меня выгнали, говорит Зума на мемориале Мугабе) / South Africa, October, 2019
Keywords: ndb, political_issues
South Africa

Former president Jacob Zuma says he was removed before the end of his term because he suggested the creation of a BRICS bank, a move he believed would change the lives of poor black people.

Addressing ANC supporters at a memorial for the late Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe, Zuma credited himself as being the one behind the creation of the bank after South Africa joined the BRIC countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China.

During his address, Zuma said his motivation for joining BRIC was because western countries were never friends of the ruling ANC during the liberation struggle.

He then criticised those countries for approaching the ANC only after liberation, with ideas on the economy, including suggestions of dealing with the International Monetary Fund.

"At BRICS, I told them, we are poor ... and suggested [the BRICS bank]. They [western countries] got the information about who came up with the idea ... that's why they said, 'Remove this man'," said Zuma.

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He said had he been allowed to serve out his term, he would have quickened the process of improving the life of poor black South Africans.

"One of the problems ... I faced [was] I wanted to quicken the process of changing the position of the poor black South Africans," said Zuma.

He said his detractors were against this and they hastened the process to get rid of him before the end of his term.

"They saw it was even better if I don't complete my term because had I [gotten] one-and-a-half-years, I was going to do a lot. I was really going to do it," said Zuma.

He slammed economists in South Africa, saying they blamed him for everything that went wrong with the economy.

"If the rand goes down, it's Zuma. If we are downgraded, it's Zuma. Zuma is no longer in power, who is [ruining the economy] now?" said Zuma, speaking in Zulu.

Zuma further praised Mugabe, saying he was well loved by African leaders for having taken the decision to take back the land in Zimbabwe.

He said the ANC's struggle was to completely decolonise the country both politically and economically but that didn't happen.

"Those who controlled the economy, still control it. In other words, we are still colonised. We were only decolonised politically. When you speak like that, the clever ones look at you as a fool," said Zuma.

World of work
Social policy, trade unions, actions
The International Scientific Conference "Globalization 4.0, Changing World Order and the Future of Global Economic Governance" (Международная научная конференция «Глобализация 4.0, изменение мирового порядка и будущее глобального экономического управления») / Russia, October, 2019
Keywords: social_issues, global_governance, economic_challenges
Source: www.ranepa.rг

The international scientific conference "Globalization 4.0, the changing world order and the future of global economic governance" was held at the Russian Academy of National Economy and Public Administration on October 3-4, 2019 with expert support from the G20 Research Group of the University of Toronto (the G20 Research Group) ( and the BRICS Research Group (

The conference was attended by representatives of the academic community, research centers and officials from the G20 and BRICS member countries. Participants discussed collective actions that are necessary in a situation of geopolitical tensions and escalation of protectionism that put risks to sustainable development and economic growth: increasing inequality and the digital divide; high level of public and private debt; current account imbalances; financial flows volatility; increased anthropogenic impact on the environment; increased competition in energy and technology markets.

In his welcoming address, Vladimir Alexandrovich Mau, Rector of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA), noted the role of G20 in overcoming the 2008 international financial and economic crisis and emphasized that with the support of BRICS and the participation of multilateral institutions. G20 has made significant strides in reaching sustainable growth. However, much needs to be done to overcome emerging risks and solve the long-term problems of the global economy in the context of implementation of the UN Agenda for Sustainable Development until 2030 adopted in 2015 (in Rus.)

Lukash Svetlana Vladimirovna, Russian G20 sherpa, presented a vision of the future agenda of G20. At the fourth stage of development of the G20, the central task of the forum is to ensure the well-being of citizens. Facilitation of growth will be a key component in G20 decision-making. Particular attention within G20 will be focused on the development of new regulatory rules in the field of finance; taxation; digital product manufacturing and e-commerce (in Eng.)

Knyazev Pavel Ruslanovich, Russian sousherpa in BRICS, Deputy Director of the Department of Foreign Policy Planning of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, spoke about the priorities for cooperation within BRICS.

Koizumi Tsutomu, Minister, Head of the Economic Department of the Embassy of Japan in the Russian Federation, presented the key achievements of G20, chaired by Japan in 2020 and a vision for the future agenda of the forum.

Christian Vargas, Minister-Counselor, Deputy Head of the Mission of the Federative Republic of Brazil to the Russian Federation, presented a large-scale BRICS cooperation program within Brazilian presidency aimed at achieving practical results in the field of science, technology and innovation; digital economy; fight against transnational crime and development finance (in Eng.)

Annette Kyobe, Head of the Permanent Mission of the IMF in the Russian Federation, shared her vision on priorities of multilateral cooperation in the context of fundamental changes in the international economic system (in Eng.)

Chris Miller, World Bank Program Manager for Russia, emphasized that despite the risks associated with digital transformation, good governance can ensure inclusive digital development (in Eng.)

Marat Vladimirovich Berdyev, Deputy Director of the Department of Economic Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, G20 su-sherpa of Russia, spoke on the main problems of overcoming protectionist trends and implementing the reform of the international trading system and proposed a pragmatic approach towards resolving the crisis of the reform process in the WTO (in Rus.)

Matia Romani, Managing Director for Economics, Politics and Management, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, described challenges and approaches to managing the transition to a green economy.

During the conference, researchers from leading universities and expert centers of G20 and BRICS member countries pondered the future of global governance. Expert opinion on how the new global economic order should be shaped were given by:

  • Paola Subacchi, Professor, Chair of the Advisory Board, Institute for Global Policy, Queen Mary University of London;

  • Martin Gilman, Professor, Faculty of Economic Sciences, National Research University Higher School of Economics;

  • Natalya Aleksandrovna Volchkova, Professor of Economics, Russian School of Economics;

  • Abhijit Mukhopadhyay, Senior Research Fellow, Observer Research Foundation;

  • Jonathan Luckhurst, Assistant Professor, Soka University, Tokyo (in Eng.);

  • Francesco Papadia, Senior Research Fellow, Brueghel European Analytical Center, Brussels (in Eng.);

  • Daniel Bradlow, Professor of International Law for Development and Economic Relations in Africa, Center for Human Rights, School of Law, University of Pretoria (in Eng.).

G20 and BRICS cooperation priorities in the context of globalization 4.0 were discussed by:

  • John Kirton, co-director of the BRICS Research Group, co-director of the G20 Research Group, University of Toronto;

  • Victoria Vladimirovna Panova, Deputy Executive Director, NRC BRICS, Vice-Rector for International Relations, Far Eastern Federal University;

  • Rafael Marchetti, Associate Professor Deputy Rector for Internationalization, LUISS;

  • Carolina Postel-Vinay, Research Director, Center for International Studies, Sciences Po;

  • Jan Wouters, Professor, Director of the Center for Global Management Studies, Director of the Institute of International Law, Professor of International Law and Law of International Organizations, Leuven Catholic University (англ.)

The issue of the legitimacy of global governance institutions, the prospects for the development of multilateral cooperation and the strategies of various centers of power were discussed by:

  • Jan Aart Scholte, Professor, School of Global Studies, University of Gothenburg (in Eng.);

  • Guo Shuyong, Professor, Dean of the Department of International Relations and Public Relations (SIRPA), Shanghai University of Foreign Languages (SISU) (in Eng.);

  • Ella Kokotsis, Director for Research on the Level of Implementation by Member Countries of G7 / G20 and G20 Summit Commitments, Munk School of International Relations, University of Toronto (in Eng.);

  • Zhu Jiejin, Associate Professor, Fudan University (in Eng.);

  • Huanyu Zhao, graduate student, Ghent University. Dris Lesage, Director, Institute for International Studies, Department of Political Sciences, University of Ghent (in Eng.);

  • Larionova Marina Vladimirovna, Director of the Center for International Institutions Research (CIIR), Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA) (in Eng.);

  • Sakharov Andrey Gennadievich, Researcher, the Center for International Institutions Research (CIIR), Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA) (in Eng.).

Integration Routes of Europe and Asia (Маршруты интеграции Европы и Азии) / Russia, October, 2019
Keywords: economic_challenges, expert_opinion
Author: Yana Grigoryeva

Yana Grigoryeva, Intern at the Russian National Committee on BRICS Research - special for InfoBRICS

The high level of the world economy instability forces regional power centers to look for additional opportunities in the field of international cooperation, largely determined by geo-economic mechanisms. Eurasian integration, in fact, is the cooperation of economic, political and social interests of the Eurasia countries (China, Russia and the countries of Central Asia with the prospect of including India).

In recent years, Eurasia has seen so much implementation of the Euro-Atlantic community interests by military-political (NATO), economic (TNK, WTO) and financial institutions (IMF, World Bank). At the same time, the control of such geopolitical centers as Russia, China, the Middle East and Central Asia determines the effectiveness of governance. The countries of Eurasia face common external and internal challenges (religious extremism, environmental threats, lack of drinking water, drug trafficking). It is necessary to improve social and economic stability and maintain the achieved growth rates. The main unifying idea is the sustainable socio-economic development of the Eurasian States on the basis of effective use of natural, human and infrastructural potential.

Currently, Russia is represented in several regional integration associations with the participation of Eurasian States: SCO (China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan), Eurasian economic Union (Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia), BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). Despite the fact that the BRICS, in addition to the Eurasian countries, covers Brazil and the Republic of South Africa, this platform acts as a mechanism for strengthening economic ties, peaceful relations and cultural understanding between neighboring countries. Also, there have been created financial institutions to support joint projects: the Eurasian development Bank, the Asian infrastructure investment Bank, the BRICS Bank, the Silk Road Fund, etc.

Active discussion of common development goals is supported by the research of historians, economists, political scientists in the framework of specially created research centers: The National Committee of BRICS research (Russian Federation), the Eurasian Club of MGIMO, the Eurasian National University. L. N. Gumilyova (Kazakhstan) etc. The formation of BRICS reflects the objective trend of world development towards the formation of a polycentric system of international relations and the strengthening of economic interdependence of States developing and implementing the integration process at the state level.

BRICS States as large and super-large regional powers seek to structure the regional political and economic space, as well as take responsibility for its development, actively participating in other regional integration groupings (SCO, MERCOSUR, APEC, AU, IBSA). However, along with the trends of integration, it is necessary to identify the existing differences between the States: contradictions between China and India on border issues, Russia and Brazil in the agricultural sector; competition between Brazil and China for resources in South Africa, etc.

BRICS can be presented not only as a model of civilizational unification and new value orientations (freedom in choosing the ways of development, sovereignty of historical traditions and cultural diversity), but also as a tool for constructing an alternative decision-making center based on the principles of equal partnership and the concept of justice. China plays a special role in the BRICS, because this country is located on the second place in the rating of the Eurasian Economic Union trade partners. Currently, the EEU States main trading partner is Russia, and for the BRICS States it is China. The orientation of the Russian Federation as Eurasian power opens up new economic opportunities for the integration development. Russia is interested in creation of regional development coalition - "circle of friends" or " circle of trust" - friendly States, that will help to make the development tasks be solved and security challenges be stopped.

Regional integration is a mandatory stage in economic globalization. Joining the transcontinental regional economic associations initiates the development of new multilaterally mechanisms for regulating world trade and investments. According to the Chinese megaproject "One belt, one road" (2016), it will be provided transport, energy and trade corridors between the countries of Central, South Asia and Europe to renew the idea of economic and cultural ties between East and West on the historical Great Silk Road.

According to experts, the construction of the system will take more than 10 years. The megaproject combines two major infrastructure projects. The first one is "Maritime Silk Road of the XXI century", it is a network of routes connecting Chinese ports with the ports of Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia. The second one is " Economic belt of the Silk Road " that is based on the infrastructural development of the Northern, Central and Southern economic corridors between Asia and Europe, including the construction of high-speed transport networks (auto and railway) in Eurasia. The projected highway will reduce the time of goods delivery from 40-50 days to at least 10 days and increase trade, for example, between Russia and China by 2020 to 200 billion dollars. As a result, Eurasian cooperation will reach a new level of development.

To this date, China has already built the highway of about 3.4 thousand km, connecting the business port of Lianyungang and Shanghai in the East with Khorgos in Kazakhstan in the West. The Kazakh highway of 2.8 thousand km will shorten the way to China from 15 days to 50 hours and will open an access to the South Asia countries through Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. The "Silk wind" project, that will link China and Kazakhstan with Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, and then with Europe via the Caspian Sea, is partially funded by the Transport Corridor Europe–Caucasus–Asia (TRACECA) program. The development of transport infrastructure will strengthen the mobility of the population of the region and increase the number of trade contacts. At the same time, the promotion of economic cooperation requires the development not only of transport networks, but also of energy and industrial infrastructure.

Threats to the Eurasia development come from inside the region (economic downturn, separatism, smuggling of drugs and weapons, environmental problems, internal conflicts), as well as from outside (the presence of the United States in the region, the growth of terrorist groups, extremism, nuclear arms race). Nowadays, there is political instability and certain conflicts in Eurasia – for example, the possibility of exacerbation of regional conflicts between Afghanistan and the Central Asia countries. Such threats have the potential to cause unpredictable consequences and require the leading Eurasian countries to have greater consolidation and solidarity. While the integration of Eurasian countries increases dependence on economic risks and crises, it also provides opportunities for new sources of growth and development models.

Eurasian integration is a politically conceived process based on civilizational complementarity, peaceful coexistence of peoples and the formation of "Zone of interaction". Modern processes taking place in the Eurasian region with the participation of Russia, China, Kazakhstan and other countries show the formation of the following trends. It seems that the Great Silk Road is a promise not only for the revival of the economic potential of the States of the region, but also for strengthening Eurasian integration.

The Chinese project of The Great Silk Road helps to unite the efforts of regional integration organizations and creates the image of Eurasia as a holistic political and economic education, economic and cultural "bridge" between Europe and Asia. The future of the Great Silk Road project depends not only on the economic policy of States and the ability to resist external destabilizing factors, but also on the involvement of the Eurasian countries population in integration processes and intercultural dialogue.

Better education for competitive boost: China Daily editorial (Лучшее образование для повышения конкурентоспособности: редакция China Daily) / China, October, 2019
Keywords: social_issues, economic_challenges, rating

As expected, China is the best performer among the five BRICS economies in terms of competitiveness. Its position in the global competitiveness ranking remains unchanged from last year in the latest report of the World Economic Forum, ranking 28th among 141 economies.

The report's index maps out the competitiveness landscape of 141 economies based on more than 100 indicators in a dozen categories, which include health, financial system, market size, business dynamism and capacity to innovate.

What is noticeable is the fact that China has obvious strengths in areas such as the sheer size of its market, macroeconomic stability, information communication and technology adoption and increasing capacity for innovation.

In terms of ICT adoption, China outperformed 25 of the 36 member countries of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development. In healthy life expectancy, China scores better than the United States and slightly under the OECD average.

Indeed the competitiveness of the United States is declining as it dropped from first place last year to second place this year, behind Singapore.

The cause of this is its trade protectionism, as its trade openness is more than four points lower than in 2018, according to the report.

With the world's largest economy, its major trade partner, dragging its feet on trade and overall economic development, it is not easy for China to maintain the progress of its competitiveness.

To be specific, that it has been able to do so is due to its leadership's unswerving resolve to do whatever it can to further open its door to the outside world. The negative list for overseas investors has been shortened. A new law to facilitate foreign investment has been enacted. The Belt and Road Initiative continues to be vigorously advanced.

As a beneficiary of economic globalization, China knows that having diverse economic contacts with the outside world is to its advantage. But it is also aware that they benefit others. So it will continue to further open its economy and restructure its economy for the well-being of its people and for the healthy development of the world economy.

China knows well that it has ground to make up in many areas. As the report indicates, China is among those countries whose education systems are failing to keep up with the pace of innovation. So China will have to make even greater efforts to reform and improve its education system and further enhance its capacity for innovation despite what it has achieved in recent years.

But with an inclusive mentality for greater cooperation with the world and the resolve to push through necessary reforms, China is poised to set off on another arduous journey to an even greater future.

India attaches importance to its engagement with BRICS: Prahlad Singh Patel (Индия придает большое значение сотрудничеству с БРИКС: Прахлад Сингх Патель) / India, October, 2019
Keywords: social_issues, cooperation

Union Culture and Tourism Minister Prahlad Singh Patel has participated in BRICS Culture Ministers' meeting held in Curitiba, Brazil.

Addressing the meeting, Mr. Patel said, India attaches importance to its engagement with BRICS which has emerged as a valuable forum for consultation, coordination and cooperation on contemporary global issues of mutual interest.

He reaffirmed to contribute towards stronger bonds of friendship and cooperation in cultural fields amongst member countries. He said, with rich cultural heritage and traditions, the BRICS countries share understanding, respect and interest to contribute towards stronger bonds of friendship and cooperation in the fields of Arts, Museums and Galleries, Cultural Heritage, Archives, Literature, Theatre for children and young people and Films.

The Minister proposed to add another field of cooperation under the aegis of BRICS Alliance on Literature envisaging BRICS Literary Festival to enhance cooperation and exchanges in the field of literature and promoting translation of literary works of famous writers and poets.
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