Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 11.2020
2020.03.09 — 2020.03.15
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Binod Singh Ajatshatru: BRICS to change world order (Бинод Сингх Аджатшатру: БРИКС меняет мировой порядок) / Russia, March, 2020
Keywords: expert_opinion, economic_challenges

Dr Binod Singh Ajatshatru, Director of BRICS Institute (New Delhi), when attending Gaidar Forum in Moscow at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, spoke on its sidelines to Invest Foresight, Forum's strategic media partner, about efficiency of BRICS as an instrument of international cooperation.

"BRICS was born when the world finance collapsed. But the cooperation between Russia, China and India as members of G20 saved the world financial system," he said. "At the same time, we had to create something different. The performance of BRICS over the past decade should be rated at 8 out of 10. Apart from economy and finance, it also contributes to culture, education and tourism and brings peoples of its member states closer together."

"Yet its purpose is to change the global financial system and the world order. For that it should get 5 out of 10. For now, we are OK with the status quo," Dr Singh noted. "China does not want to replace the US as a superpower even though it is the second largest economy. And there is no consensus yet about replacing WTO and other multilateral organizations. BRICS supplements them and favors gradual reforms. So we are going slowly but we are going well. BRICS members have no consensus on the issue of expanding the organization either and in the coming four or five years there will certainly be no expansion. We are open to share our ideas, we want to create a new world order, but we can not take everyone on board as the world is so diverse and BRICS as an institution is just 10 years old. It should now open its markets, focus on agriculture and health technologies."

Speaking about bilateral relations, Binod Singh Ajatshatru pointed out that "Russia and India should facilitate flow of people, commodities and technologies."
Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
Can India hang on as the once-solid BRICS crumble? (Может ли Индия держаться, когда рухнет некогда прочный БРИКС?) / India, March, 2020
Keywords: economic_challenges, expert_opinion

NEW DELHI -- Mired in its worst economic slowdown in years, questions are being raised over whether India, once a star among big emerging economies, has permanently lost its shine.

The term "BRIC economies" -- Brazil, Russia, India and China, with South Africa added later -- was popularized in 2001 by Jim O'Neill, then chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management. They were lionized in financial markets at the time for their prospects. But while China and India have managed to keep growing strongly until recently, the other three have floundered.

Now people are having doubts about India as well. One Indian investor traveling to Thailand did not think Indian stocks were a good buy for the next decade, absent further economic reforms. Unless those policy changes happen, the term "BRICS" won't come up at all in financial markets, he said.

The five big emerging economies drew interest at the turn of the century because of their large populations and natural resources. O'Neill said in a report at that time that the BRIC economies, especially China, would make up a much larger share of global gross domestic product in 10 years and affect the world economy through their fiscal and monetary policies.

So where do the BRICS stand today?

There are clearly winners and losers. According to data from the International Monetary Fund, while all grew by more than 5% in 2007, the global financial crisis triggered by the collapse of U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers the following year caused a dramatic split: China and India kept expanding by between 5% and 10% after 2010. But Brazil, Russia and South Africa have faltered. The IMF estimates that while China and India each grew 6.1% in 2019, growth in the three smaller economies was around 1%.

In the early 2000s, both developed and emerging economies grew as globalization picked up steam. But worries about the health of the global financial system after the financial crisis have since transformed the world economy.

The U.S., Europe and Japan responded with massive monetary easing, while China opened up the fiscal taps. As a result, financial markets were flooded with capital. At the same time, investors became more discriminating in deciding where to put their cash.

The markets have stopped throwing capital at emerging economies as a whole "as the financial markets have started to emphasize theoretical [models] since the global financial crisis," said Toru Nishihama, chief economist at Dai-ichi Life Research Institute. "Russia and Brazil were written off as they took advantage of high natural resource prices and failed to push structural reforms forward," Nishihama said. South Africa, another natural resource producer, also suffered when prices fell.

Political instability in the three countries, in addition to the downturn in commodities, led financial markets to turn their backs. Now uncertainties loom over China and India as well.

China has been the clear winner among big emerging economies over the past two decades, thanks to the growth of manufacturing and other industries in the country. But the new coronavirus epidemic, which began in China and has badly disrupted supply chains there, highlights the risks of the world's heavy reliance on China.

India has also grown, bolstered by rising domestic demand as its population reached 1.3 billion. But it, too, is at a crossroads. India's economy grew an inflation-adjusted 4.7% in the October to December quarter last year, its slowest pace in about seven years. That is the weakest figure since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office in 2014 and there are no signs of a quick rebound.

The country faces bottlenecks ranging from a shaky banking system, to creaking infrastructure, to inefficient state-owned enterprises. As nonbank lenders have fallen into financial difficulty, people in the countryside and elsewhere find it hard to get the credit they need to make big purchases such as cars and motorcycles.

The biggest worry for India-watchers thinking about the outlook 10 years down the road is the country's huge and still rapidly growing population. Once seen as a strength, that may become a weakness. In his Independence Day speech last August, Modi said the country's "rapidly increasing population poses various new challenges for us and our future generations," and could hamper growth.

According to the latest U.N. forecast, India's population will rise from 1.3 billion in 2019 to 1.5 billion by 2030, overtaking China, at 1.4 billion. India may have trouble creating jobs for those entering the workforce in the next decade. India's population growth is expected to exceed Japan's entire population during that period.

The unemployment rate for men living in Indian cities is around 7%, a record high. The World Bank has warned that the economy is likely to see slow growth and high unemployment for the time being.

Modi's "Make in India" manufacturing drive is meant to boost job creation by promoting some 20 industries, including pharmaceuticals. But so far there has been more sloganeering than foreign investment or technology transfer.

To reverse the economic slowdown, India must foster globally competitive industries by promoting deregulation and other structural reforms to its financial sector and the economy more broadly. Investors and financial markets are watching closely to see whether this bit of the BRICS can firm up once more.

Economist says China remains on course to match the US' economy (Экономист говорит, что Китай продолжает работать над соответствием экономике США) / China, March, 2020
Keywords: expert_opinion, economic_challenges

A leading British economist has reiterated that, by the end of the 2020s, China's economic output could match that of the United States, as long as the country overcomes "additional headwinds".

Jim O'Neill, chair of the international think tank Chatham House and former chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, said: "China is still broadly on track for what I have been famous for suggesting-by the end of this decade, it will become as big as the USA, and what happens is still consistent with that."

O'Neill estimated that China's inflation-adjusted annual GDP growth for the 2020s would be between 4.5 and 5.5 percent and says the nation's slowing growth should be expected.

"Nobody should be really that surprised that China's growth rate is slowing down," he said. "If China does not slow down to 4.5 to 5.5 percent, I will be very surprised, but it does not mean something is going wrong, other than the demographic: If you have an ageing workforce and low fertility rate, that's what happens."

O'Neill is well known for coining the term BRIC in 2001, to refer to Brazil, Russia, India, and China as four rapidly developing nations that symbolized the shifting balance in the global economy. South Africa was added to the group nine years later, making it BRICS.

O'Neill said people should put China's deceleration into perspective, saying the economy grew less quickly, but still by $800 billion last year, which is equivalent to "creating a Switzerland or two South Africas".

He said this is the start of a challenging period for China because the country is facing a number of cyclical structural challenges, or headwinds.

"If China cannot deal with the additional headwinds, then it won't overtake the US by the late 2020s," he said.

One of the biggest concerns is debt, which has been an issue for years, he said.

"The leveraging issue in the financial system, China cannot go on indefinitely allowing the debt-to-GDP to rise," he explained. "Secondly, it cannot keep squandering resources on 'lost' investments. The more it protects non-real-growth-keeping companies, the more that's allocating resources that could have been helping the new productive investments."

O'Neill pointed out that China's position in international trade, particularly with the US, is another major issue. Despite the fact that both countries have signed a "phase one" trade agreement, "that does not solve any of the underlying issues, leaving in place very high tariff s", he said.

"It could easily come back to bite China."

With hundreds of thousands of Chinese people studying overseas, and millions traveling abroad every year, O'Neill said China needs to think through more carefully about how to use that soft diplomatic presence in its favor.

"It might not matter 20 years ago how it deals with many parts of the world that do not have the same philosophical structure, but because China now is so big, it kind of does now," he said. "If China succeeds with that, there is no challenges that China won't be able to succeed with."

And on the subject of the impact of COIVD-19 on China's growth, O'Neill, who chaired the UK government's Review on Antimicrobial Resistance, remains optimistic that a robust recovery in the second half of the year might off set the economic dent.

"The quicker you shut things down and know that you have confidence controlling the infection's spread, the more confident you can be in the second half of the year. The overall growth performance for the year might not be negatively affected," he said.

Renewable Energy Matters for Tourism Industry in BRICS Plus Turkey Countries (Вопросы использования возобновляемых источников энергии для туристической отрасли в странах БРИКС+ и Турции) / Turkey, March, 2020
Keywords: economic_challenges, expert_opinion, research
Authors: Elma Satrovi, Adnan Muslija, Eda Yasa Ozelturkay

The scope of this paper is to investigate whether or not the renewable energy influences the tourism industry in the case of BRICS plus Turkey countries. Due to the fact that the primary energy source in these countries is fossil fuels, this has risen up a serious concern on environmental issues. The motivation to select these countries lies in the fact that all of these six have recorded an exponential economic growth in the last few decades. As a consequence, the standard of living has been increased as well as the energy consumption. Thus, the annual panel data are collected in the period between 1995 and 2015 in the case of BRICS countries plus Turkey to explore the link of interest. We have employed the panel VAR methodology. The most important findings suggest a response of tourism industry to renewable energy to be significant and negative. However, this negative relationship holds true in the short-run while the long-run impact tends to be positive. These results can be of great importance for policy makers, thus this paper summarizes in detail the policy implications.
Political Events
Political events in the public life of BRICS
No Decision to Cancel SCO, BRICS Summits in Russia Due to Coronavirus Yet – Kremlin (Решения об отмене ШОС и саммитов БРИКС в России из-за Коронавируса пока нет - Кремль) / Russia, March, 2020
Keywords: top_level_meeting, summit, chairmanship

Russia has not yet made a decision to cancel the summits of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and BRICS due to the coronavirus disease outbreak, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday.

The summits are expected to be held from July 21-23 in St. Petersburg.

"There are plans to hold the SCO and the BRICS summits in St. Petersburg, while Chelyabinsk will also host some events, but not the summit itself. No decision has been made yet to cancel the above-mentioned events," Peskov told reporters.

World of Work
TV star Jet Novuka gets the nod for his film role at SA International Film Festival Awards (Телезвезда Джет Новука получает признание за роль в кино на SA International Film Festival Awards) / South Africa, March, 2020
Keywords: movie, social_issues
South Africa

TV and film star Jet Novuka scooped the best supporting actor award at this year's South African International Film Festival Awards that took place on Saturday night in Newtown, Johannesburg.

The awards honour and recognise films from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (Brics countries) that were featured in the 10-day film festival. Novuka was acknowledged for his role in the award-winning film Letters of Hope which also features stars such as Sibulele Gcilitshana, Luthuli Dlamini and Aphiwe Mkefe.

Upcoming producer Siyabonga Mbele won this year's best student film category. The awards were presented to 16 winners from as many categories at a glitzy ceremony on Saturday evening. The best student short film from the Brics countries was The Bleeding News, a film by young Chinese director Zhang Hao. The best international short film award was awarded to The Letter Reader, a film by local director Sibusiso Khuzwayo. Meanwhile, the posthumous lifetime achievement award was bestowed on the late Dr Lionel Ngakane.

Festival director, Eric Miyeni said: "We are particularly proud to mark our fifth anniversary by bestowing the first posthumous lifetime achievement RapidLion to the great man it is named after, the late Dr. Lionel Ngakane."

Ngakane received the award for his outstanding achievement in the field of movie-making and contribution to the development of the industry in South Africa and on the continent. Born in 1928, Ngakane entered the film industry in 1950 and went on to act opposite Sydney Poitier in Zoltan Korda's Cry the Beloved Country.

"He was the first indigenous South African to direct a film. His short film, Jemima and Johnny, won first prizes at the Venice and Rimini film festivals," Miyeni said.

"He was always passionate about African cinema, was instrumental in the organisation of the first African Film Festival at the National Film Theatre in London. He also conceived of an organisation that would foster cooperation among African filmmakers and, in 1967, the Pan-African Federation of Film Makers, of which he was the regional secretary for Southern Africa, was formed. Dr. Ngakane passed away in 2003."

Brazilian director Eliza Capai received the award for best documentary feature for her film titled Your Turn while Kate Henshaw-Nuttal won the RapidLion for best actress in a supporting role for her performance in The Ghost and the House of Truth.

Gareth Place won the RapidLion for cinematography for his work on the South African film Fried Barry and the best screenplay went to Moroccan filmmaker Aksel Rifman for his film Monsters.

The RapidLion is designed and manufactured to represent the pinnacle achievement of any filmmaker from Africa, the Brics countries and the African diaspora. It aims to remind RapidLion film entrants that excellence comes through hard work and ferocious focus, and that these qualities can lead to greatness. The festival ran from March 6 to March 15.
BRICS Countries to Discuss Water Management Issues (Страны БРИКС обсудят вопросы управления водными ресурсами) / Russia, March, 2020
Keywords: ecology

On May 14–15, 2020, the Third BRICS Water Forum will be held at Kazan Federal University (Kazan, Russia). The event is included in the calendar of the Russian BRICS Chairmanship, and is organised by HSE ISSEK with the support of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation.

The aim of this international conference is to present and discuss the sustainable water use and management solutions.

The expected outcomes of the conference are to:

  • strengthen the common water resources community of BRICS researchers and experts;
  • report on existing opportunities to undertake joint research and development, as well as technology transfer to address the needs of the water and related sectors.
Working language: English. Simultaneous translation into Russian will also be arranged.

Online-registration form and draft program are available at

On 28 October 2015 the Ministers of science, technology and innovation of the BRICS countries signed the Moscow Declaration that reflects key areas of cooperation for the mid-term perspective. The Declaration established the joint Research and Innovation Networking Platform to provide for a coordinated approach of BRICS to five thematic areas of science and technology cooperation, each of BRICS countries being responsible for one of these areas. Each of the BRICS countries then undertakes activities aimed at strengthening BRICS cooperation in its thematic area; Russia being responsible for "Water resources and pollution treatment". To this end, Russia, among other activities, has already organized two water forums in order to fulfill its obligations in this priority thematic area with a view to discuss sustainable water resources use and related advanced solutions. Second BRICS Water Forum was held in Moscow in 2016. The event gathered over 400 participants from the BRICS countries, as well as from 13 other countries and international organizations. Materials are available here.
'Thank God coronavirus didn't start in India', says Jim O'Neill, analyst who coined BRIC acronym («Слава Богу, коронавирус впервые появился не в Индии», - говорит Джим О'Нил, аналитик, придумавший аббревиатуру БРИКС) / USA, March, 2020
Keywords: social_issues, expert_opinion

  • "Thank God this didn't start in somewhere like India, because there's absolutely no way that the quality of Indian governance could move to react in the way that the Chinese have done, that's the good side of the Chinese model, and I think you could probably say the same about Brazil too," Jim O'Neill was quoted as saying by CNBC.
  • The epidemic has remained largely contained in India, with 69 reported cases of coronavirus in the country until Thursday afternoon.
  • No deaths have been reported in India due to COVID-19 so far. However, the number of fresh cases have spiked over the last couple of days.

British economist Jim O'Neill took a jibe at India's governance bandwidth, saying that he was thankful the coronavirus outbreak started in China and not India.

"Thank God this didn't start in somewhere like India, because there's absolutely no way that the quality of Indian governance could move to react in the way that the Chinese have done, that's the good side of the Chinese model, and I think you could probably say the same about Brazil too," O'Neill was quoted as saying by CNBC.

O'Neill had coined the BRIC acronym in 2001. It popularised the investment thesis of investing in emerging markets such as China and India around the world. Brazil and Russia make the B and R parts of the acronym.

Coronavirus has wreaked havoc across the globe, with over 100,000 people infected and more than 4,000 people losing their lives as a consequence of COVID-19. China, the epicentre of the disease that has now been termed a pandemic by the World Health Organisation, took unprecedented measures to stem the spread of the respiratory disease.

One of the many measures by the Chinese regime included putting the entire Hubei province — which has population of 58 million people — under lockdown. And O'Neill the chair of UK think tank Chatham House has said that such measures were beyond the scope of the Indian government had the disease originated in the country.

The epidemic has remained largely contained in India, with 69 reported cases of coronavirus in the country until Thursday afternoon. No deaths have been reported in India due to COVID-19 so far. However, the number of fresh cases have spiked over the last couple of days.

But questions have been raised about India's preparedness in dealing with a medical calamity, with question marks over the quality of accessible healthcare to a vast majority of its population.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi last weekend convened a government meeting and directed officials to identify locations for quarantine facilities and make provisions for adequate care for infected patients.

In a bid to stave off the contagion, the Ministry of Health announced a slew of measures, including suspension of all visas, except diplomatic, official, UN/international organisations, employment, project visas, until April 15.

Further, the national carrier, Air India, on Wednesday night announced temporary suspension of its flight services to Rome, Milan and Seoul. Italy and South Korea are two of the worst-affected countries outside of China.
COCI attends regional conference in Suriname (COCI принимает участие в региональной конференции в Суринаме) / Sint Maarten, March, 2020
Keywords: trade_relations
Sint Maarten

PHILIPSBURG--Representatives of the St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce and Industry (COCI) recently returned from attending the two-day Caribbean Chambers of Commerce CARICHAM-BRICS plus Conference 2020, held in Suriname on February 27 and 28.

The Suriname Chamber of Commerce and Industry coordinated the conference. BRICS plus refers to the countries of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

There were two presentations on the first day of the conference, the first of which was themed: "Access to Finance and Opportunities for CARICHAM Members".

Presentations were given by representatives of the Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank, the Islamic Development Bank, the Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry and the Caribbean Development Bank.

The second presentation was themed: "Strengthen Business Relationship between CARICHAM and BRICS plus countries". Presentations were given by representatives of BRICS as well as Indonesia with emphasis placed on doing business with these countries.

The second day of the conference was dedicated to doing business in the Caribbean with several Caribbean Chambers of Commerce making presentations. "This was a unique opportunity for St. Maarten to further profile our island as the friendly business island – a theme that was recently launched in the Netherlands during a collaborative mission between COCI, the Ministry of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication of St. Maarten and the St. Maarten Ministry Plenipotentiary in The Hague, the Netherlands," COCI President Benjamin Ortega said in a press release issued on Sunday.

"Our presentation geared to a project that was launched in 2018 by President Lint and Vice President Ortega in Suriname, where COCI introduced the need to strengthen ties with Caribbean countries and using St. Maarten as a hub within the network named The Business Ecosystem. It was then that St. Maarten and the Suriname Chamber signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to work together as described in the ecosystem.

"The presentation to the delegation of primarily Caribbean Community CARICOM states and the BRICS country representatives was well received, and many had shown further interest in working with St. Maarten," said Ortega.

St. Maarten COCI became an official member of the CARICHAM Network in February 2020. CARICHAM was officially launched on April 1, 2019, to promote cooperation and collaboration between its 19 members within the Caribbean basin. The group also seeks to improve the levels of trade and investment within the region and between the region and other trading partners.

CARICHAM would represent the interest of the private sector on regional and international issues; facilitate capacity-building opportunities for members and representatives of the Chambers of Commerce; identify and undertake training, and facilitate other cooperation programmes that will benefit the membership of the chambers, as well as the next generation of Caribbean business leaders; foster innovation and strategic collaboration among members to increase global competitiveness of industries; develop and share business-to-business market intelligence; share experiences and best practices in areas such as trade and investment, renewable energy/energy efficiency, disaster risk reduction and climate change; and finally, add value as well as identify opportunities for the members of the respective chambers.

Members of CARICHAM are the Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Guadeloupe and St. Maarten.
Made on