Five days till South Africa host the 10th BRICS Summit.

We’re down to the 5-day countdown till South Africa hosts the 10th BRICS Summit in Johannesburg from 25-27th July 2018.

Every year the chairship rotates to a different member. South Africa last hosted in 2013, when the Summit took place in Durban.

According to South Africa’s BRICS Sherpa Professor Anil Sooklal, hosting the Summit is an important opportunity for the country to leverage support from India, Brazil, Russia, China and other partners for the African agenda and our development priorities.

“Over the past 10 years, BRICS has proven to be an important global bloc, and while South Africa may have the smallest economy of the five nations, we are equal partners in decision-making and agreements.” Sooklal added.

During the Summit, South Africa will be able to set the agenda, beyond the focus on multilateralism and United Nations (UN) reform.

Programme officer for the African Governance and Democracy Programme Luanda Mpungose said the purpose of the Summit is for the chair country to develop an agenda which gets buy-in from the other member countries.

Mpungose says he looks forward to what will come out of those deliberations.

 “South Africa has identified four themes for this year’s summit. This is a gender forum. They want to institute a gender forum. They want to have a health and vaccination centre located in SA in which the BRICS countries cooperate. They want to discuss the 4th Industrial Revolution and what that means,” said Mpungose.

The 9th BRICS Summit took place in Xiamen, China under the theme “BRICS: Stronger Partnership for a Brighter Future” which resonates with the aim of BRICS to plan for future development and embed international influence within each emerging economy. 

The 2017 agenda included the issuing of the Xiamen Declaration and Action Plan, and proposals to extend cooperation and build on the existing BRICS agenda.

 On the other hand, South African and Russian oil companies entered a $400 million deal within the Summit spirit.

Source: Daily Vox

Trump rejects proposal for Russia to interrogate US citizens

US President Donald Trump has rejected a proposal made by the Russian leader Vladimir Putin for Russia be allowed to question US citizens.

During the Trump-Putin Summit that took place in Helsinki (Finland), Putin suggested that he might allow access to 12 Russians indicted by the United States for hacking Democrats’ emails during the 2016 elections. Trump has rejected that suggestion.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said: “It is a proposal that was made in sincerity by President Putin, but President Trump disagrees with it.”

The White House was hoping that Trump will agree to Putin’s suggestion.

“Hopefully President Putin will have the 12 identified Russians come to the United States to prove their innocence or guilt,” she said.

Putin said he would let US prosecutors interview the 12 Russians in exchange for Russian access to US nationals the Kremlin accuses of “illegal actions”.

Source: BBC

BRICS bank to boost South African loans by R8.1 billion

The New Development Bank (NDB) has intentions to loan approximately R8.1 billion more to South Africa, in a bid to attain symmetry among BRICS members.

The NDB, backed by BRICS, began operations in 2015 to aid infrastructure and sustainable development initiatives in emerging economies. The leaders of the fastest growing economies will be gathering in Johannesburg for the 10th BRICS Summit next week.

“Our aim is to be equitable among our five members,” NDB President KV Kamath said. “If you look at the $4 billion (R54 billion) we will be doing this year, we should be lending around $800 million” in each nation, he said. “I hope this year, we will hit that number.”

The formerly known BRIC Bank issued a statement in May saying that it loaned $200 million (R2.7 billion) to a state-owned South African ports and freight operator, Transnet to rehabilitate container terminals in Durban on the country’s east coast.
It will accelerate efforts to grow sustainable infrastructure in the continents most industrialised economy with two further loans, Kamath added. He said during an interview on Wednesday that one of the two loans will go to a bank, which will lend the funds for use in renewable energy developments. The other loan will be made available for critical infrastructure.

Separately, the NDB on Thursday activated a $180 million (R2.4 billion) loan to Eskom that had been dormant since 2016. The loan will be used to build transmission lines and a substation for the Soweto area to integrate renewable-energy projects from independent power producers, Anil Sooklal, South Africa’s Brics Ambassador told reporters in Johannesburg.

The Shanghai-based bank will also begin raising money and lending in South African rand to help insulate its clients from currency risk, Kamath said. It already does this in China.

Source: Money Web

Volkswagen to dismiss 1,000 workers in Brazil due to slow sales

Metalworkers’ union representatives have indicated that Volkswagen AG will furlough about 1,000 workers at its largest factory in Brazil, due to weaker economic growth and slumping exports to Argentina.

According to the union, the month-long furlough will start on 21 August at the VW plant in Sao Bernardo do Campo, on the outskirts of Sao Paulo. 

The factory produces the Jetta, Saveiro and Polo models, along with its Virtus sedan variant, and employs about 8,000 workers.

Reuters stated that furloughs are common as an alternative to costly job cuts in Brazil’s auto industry, allowing carmakers to trim production and payroll more easily when demand softens.

Volkswagen spokeswoman stated that tools to add flexibility to production are a possibility and that  sales have actually increased this year.

She said: “From January to June 2018, in relation to the same period in 2017, Volkswagen registered a 33%growth in sales.”

Volkswagen is expecting the overall car production in Brazil to increase 12% in 2018.


SA consumer prices rises 4.6% in June

Statistics South Africa confirmed that consumer inflation has increased to 4.6% in June from 4.4% in May, which is due to a hike in housing, utilities and transport costs.

Stats SA informed that on a month-on-month basis, inflation rose to 0.4% in June from 0.2% in May.

Stats SA’s Patrick Kelly said “Price increase have been reported in the non-alcoholic beverages category and fish prices were up to 7.5% over the same period. The petrol price increased by 82c a litre in June and the annual fuel inflation now stands at 16%.”

Bloomberg said that the rand had its worst month in more than two years in June as the U.S. and China exchanged tariff blows at a time when the prospect of rising.  American rates also weighed on emerging-market assets.

The weaker currency and higher oil prices added upside risks to inflation in Africa’s most-industrialized economy.

Economist at BNP Paribas SA, Jeffrey Schultz said South African Reserve Bank (SARB) isn’t going to be in a rush to raise rates.

“We’ve had five months where headline inflation has undershot expectations, and this is likely to neutralize some of the hawkish tones from the central bank” added Schultz.

Source: Bloomberg

Angola cuts borrowing costs for the first time in four years

For the first time in four years, Angola’s central bank has cut benchmark borrowing costs.

The central bank said inflation for the capital city, Luanda, slowed for eight consecutive months, reaching 20% in June from a record-high 42% in December 2016.

According to Bloomberg, the rate could fall even lower and the cost of credit is also expected to decline.

The Banco Nacional de Angola’ (the national bank of Angola) Monetary Policy Committee released a statement stating that it has reduced its key rate to 16.5% from 18%. 

Four years ago, Angola’s economy was battered by the crash in oil prices and is yet to recover.

Source: Bloomberg

The 4th International Conference on Transport Infrastructure

The 4th International Conference on Transport Infrastructure (ICTI) took place on the 9 – 12 of July 2018 in Pretoria. The theme of the conference was, “towards a desired transport future: safe, sufficient and affordable”. 

Hosted by Transport Minister Blade Nzimande, the main aim of the meeting was to develop transport infrastructure, incorporating infrastructure design, construction and maintenance and rehabilitation.

The availability of effective and efficient transportation infrastructure in the developing world is of utmost importance to support economic and social development. Adequate infrastructure supports all other social and economic activities.

The 2018 ICTI’s focus is thus on developments to ensure that new knowledge is gathered and provided in such a framework that this new knowledge can support further improvements in infrastructure policies and management.


Trump-Putin Summit

The highly scrutinized Trump-Putin Summit took place yesterday in Helsinki, Finland, with rebuilding Russia-US relations as the main item on the agenda. This was arguably one of the toughest presidential meetings between the US President and the Russian President since the Cold War.

With the Russians being accused of interfering with the US elections that got Donald Trump elected, as well as the disastrously outspoken and out of turn US President Donald Trump in general, Trump made it clear in the press conference after the meeting that he doesn’t believe in his own intelligence reports outlining Russia’s interference.

Putin also strongly denied any interference in US affairs or in the elections. The Trump-Putin meeting was an opportunity to rest the relationship again, as this was one of the failures of the Obama administration. Trump was quick to point out that things will be different this time that this was only the first meeting and that more will follow, he also stated after the meeting that US-Russia relationship has already improved just from yesterday.

Putin praised Trump for his honesty and Business acumen, and was pleased with the outcome of the meeting. One of the main discussions of the meeting was nuclear disarmament, where Trump and Putin called for both countries to work together to return to the original roadmap, decreasing the number of nuclear weapons that each country has.

Another topic was the global areas of conflict most Syria and Ukraine. Both Putin and Trump agreed to work together to bring about a ceasefire in Syria as well as tackle the Iran-Israel challenge together. Trump stayed quiet over the issue of Ukraine and Crimea, but didn’t call out Russia for what some in the West believe to be an illegal annexation of land by Russia. 

Trump did congratulate Russia on the hosting of a successful World Cup and said he hopes the USA can do the same in 2026.



Apple loses three Indian executives as company struggles with iPhone sales

Apple’s Indian division has lost its national sales and distribution chief, the head of its commercial channels and mid-market business, and the head of carrier sales.

According to Bloomberg, Apple is currently facing more challenges in the world’s fastest-growing major Smartphone market, which has resulted to the division’s sales restructuring.

Counterpoint research director, Neil Shah said: “iPhone India sales were weak in the first half of 2018 and, even if they show a big jump in the traditionally strong second half, Apple will still fall short of last year,” he said.

The company is said to have sold 3.2 million iPhones in 2017, and less than a million in the first half of this year. Its current marketshare is just 2%.

Apple’s unwillingness to build cheaper models to compete with the likes of Samsung and Xiaomi have resulted to iPhone having a single-digit marketshare in India for years.

Shad mentioned that the company has not put great focus or investments into India because the market is so minuscule.

The research director added that the inattention could send more users to Android phones, making it difficult for Apple to build user-based and win loyalty.


Source: Bloomberg

Russia may borrow $1 billion from BRICS development bank – minister


Russia is in the process of negotiating a loan with the New Development Bank.

“With the New BRICS Development Bank alone we are now preparing four new loans,” said Russian Deputy Finance Minister Sergey Storchak, confirming that these loans would amount to slightly more than $1 billion.

The Russian Finance Ministry had set a target of raising around 1 trillion rubles ($16.08 billion) a year through selling OFZ treasury bonds in 2018-2020.

Storchak added that if Russia raises loans from foreign development banks, it may cut its OFZ treasury bonds programme in 2019, and that Russia would lower state borrowing via OZ bonds if it had an option to raise money for building roads and bridges from a development bank.
Russia has been raising funds for infrastructure.

Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said earlier this year that Moscow was creating a special fund worth 3 trillion rubles to finance the infrastructure projects over the next six years.

Source: Reuters Africa