6th Meeting of BRICS Ministers of Science Technology and Innovation (STI)

The Minister of Science Technology and Innovation Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, hosted the 6Th BRICS Science Technology and Innovation Ministerial Meeting this week in Durban. The theme of this year’s meeting was “leveraging science, technology and innovation through inclusive growth and development”.

The BRICS STI Ministerial Meeting’s theme connects to the main theme of the 10th BRICS Summit, which is taking place later this month. The theme for the Summit is “BRICS in Africa: Cooperation for inclusive growth and shared prosperity in the 4th Industrial Revolution”.

The meeting also had a strong focus on the youth and entrepreneurship, with Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane being the youngest minister in the South African government at the age of 40. Another discussion point on the agenda was the creation of a panel that will help South Africa migrate from research ideas and technology to commercialised output

Minister Kubayi-Ngubane stated that science, technology and information needs to made more readily available and accessible for the ordinary citizen, and that citizens should not fear the 4th Industrial Revolution. He said that although it might result in the redundancy of lower skilled jobs, citizens should be made ready for the coming change and the new types of jobs that will be created, that’ll require more expertise and higher education.

Although other BRICS members are a step head of South Africa in terms of Science and Technology, South Africa has great potential and has shown it has the ability to catch up, as proven with the world’s largest telescope Array and South African scientists going to Brazil to help contain the Zika virus.

The announcement that both South Africa and China will launch a joint science research centre and Research fund, as wells a call for the creation of a BRICS Vaccine Research Centre, were made at the meeting. The meeting conclude with the Durban Declaration which is the establishment of a BRICS partnership on the new industrial revolution, and South Africa will explore mobilising STI resources in support of this initiative.

Source: dst.gov.za

The 10th BRICS Summit is an opportunity for Brazil

Brazilian President Michel Temer’s third and final trip to the 10th BRICS Summit is said to be the most significant. The annual meeting will take place in Johannesburg on from 25 – 27 July 2018, where Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa’s heads of states will meet. The Summit happens amidst profound uncertainty about the future of the global economic order. The uncertainty creates an opportunity for BRICS to presume a leading role in the world.

The recent G7 meeting saw Trump insisting on removing the term “rules-based international order”, and after the meeting, Trump withdrew the U.S. signature altogether.

The BRICS member countries have good reason to deepen this kind of cooperation, as the U.S. is undermining the currently global trading system. Brazil may not be directly impacted as Mexico and Germany by Trump’s policy revolution, but there are signs that the decisions may have detrimental effects on Brazil’s economic interests. BRICS members are reliable commercial partners, Brazil needs to grab the opportunity for collaboration as the U.S. has imposed tariffs on Brazilian steel. 

BRICS conforms to the current global trading system, therefore it is important for them to build trade relations with other BRICS members (most importantly China) as it has been in a trade war with China.

Source: Americas quarterly

8th BRICS trade minister meeting

The 8th trade ministers meeting held in Johannesburg, South Africa on Wednesday provided minsters of BRICS countries an opportunity of sharing views on global trade. The discussion included the BRICS support for a comprehensive reciprocal trade system, which is critical in tackling the lack of inclusive growth.

South Africa’s trade and Industry minister, Rob Davis closing remarks included statements on conclusions reached.

Minister Davis’s remarks included;

BRICS statements on World Trade Foundation (WTO) Davis, further called on WTO members to abide by the WTO rules, as unliteral measures put the MTS at risk. In addition, Davis asked members to have constructive communications on the matter.

“We have approved the BRICS cooperation framework on inclusive e-commerce development that outlines a number of areas for enhanced cooperation on various aspects that promote inclusive growth in the development of E-Commerce” said South African Trade and Industry minister. 

The development will ensure the participation of developing countries in E- Commerce, he further said. An increased cooperation between countries will then be important to bridge the digital divide.

Minister Davis highlighted decision that were take on MSME’s, BRICS IPR practical cooperation mechanism, working mechanisms on technical regulations, standards, metrology and conformity assessment procedures. Agreements on promoting trade were also reached.

By Kgothatso Nkanyane

European businesses worried about the trade war between the world’s biggest economies

The trade-war between the U.S. and China has left the European businesses worried about their economic stand point.

Recent statistics revealed that business confidence in Germany has dropped because exports are almost half of the economic output of the country. The trade war is as a result of U.S. putting tariffs on Chinese goods, which led to China increasing tariffs on U.S. products.

Related story: The ongoing Trade War between the US and China

The U.S. also put tariffs on steel and aluminum which affected the European Union, Europeans responded by placing import taxes on US goods.

The European Union counter-attacked, many European businesses will suffer due to the trade war between US and China as they both produce and sell goods in the world’s biggest economies – China and United states.


(Source: ABC News)

India pushes Central Asia agenda buoyed by SCO membership

India has moved one step forward in its Central Asian outreach plan, boosted by its membership in The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

India’s Central Asian plan includes increasing business and trade ties with Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tashkent. The SCO will be used to vehicle the plan.

 The SCO, Eurasian Economic Union and Central Asia are at the forefront of increasing trade relations in the region where it is looking to expand its footprint. India has partnered with Kazakhstan in a UN peacekeeping mission in Lebanon starting in October.

 Central Asian countries Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are also looking to build relations with India on a few defense contracts. India is hoping to unlock new areas of business, in an attempt to diversify in the agriculture, Pharmaceutical, textiles, construction, Information and Communication Technologies, as well as innovation, tourism.

The main goal behind the focus on central Asia for India is to become the third pillar in a Russia, China triangle as the leading economic countries within Eurasian.

Source: economictimes.indiatimes.com

Russia initiates WTO dispute over US steel, aluminium duties

Russia has approached the World Trade Organisation (WTO) with a request to consult with the United States regarding steel and aluminium duties imposed by Washington.

The WTO press service said: “The Russian Federation has requested WTO dispute consultations with the United States regarding US duties on certain imported steel and aluminum products. The request was circulated to WTO members on 2 July.”

“Russia claims the US duties of 25% and 10% on imports of steel and aluminium products respectively are inconsistent with provisions of the WTO’s General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) 1994 and the Agreement on Safeguards.”

This year in March, the U.S introduced higher import duties on steel and aluminium products.

According to Russian news agency Tass , this is the 7th complaint initiated by WTO members against US duties on steel and aluminium. China, India, the European Union, Canada, Mexico and Norway filed similar complaints to WTO earlier.

WTO included that consultations provide an opportunity to discuss the matter and find a solution without further proceedings. However, if they are unsuccessful, the complaining party will have a right to request establishment of a panel of arbitrators after 60 days. 

Source: tass.com

Trump & Putin to meet before their upcoming summit.

U.S President Donald Trump plans to have a one-on-one meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, ahead of their summit which will take place in Helsinki, Finland.

BBC stated that Trump has shown kinship for meeting individually with his counterparts before opening the room to more delegates.

Trump has already assessed their interpersonal ties up close, but wants more time to develop the leader-to-leader relationship.

National security advisor John Bolton said: “The goal of this meeting really is for the two leaders to have a chance to sit down, not in the context of some larger multilateral meeting, but just the two of them, to go over what is on their mind about a whole range of issues.”

Bolton believes that despite Putin denying this, Moscow attempted to sway the 2016 US Presidential contest.

Trump is expected to begin formal preparations for the Putin meeting in the coming days. The meeting is likely to include brief sessions with Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, along with other national security officials.

According to BBC, Trump has told planners he wants the event to feel monumental, in the style of previous summit meetings between US and Russian leaders.


Source: BBC



Brazil to expand trade with China and Vietnam

Brazilian president, Michel Temer met with leaders of Asian nations to reinforce relations between the countries, that will expand the foreign trade of the country.

Temer met with the head of the Communist Party of China (CPC) delegation, Yang Xiaodu last week and was scheduled to meet Vietnam deputy prime minister Vuong Dinh Hue yesterday.

Temer said that China was their biggest trading partner and that Brazil has a very fertile political, economic and cultural relationship with the country.   

Despite the meeting with the Asian powerhouse, it is predicted that the trade-war between China and the U.S. could have a negative impact on Brazil’s trade outcome. “A trade war between the two largest economies in the world will have effects in all countries,” said the president of the Brazilian Foreign Trade Association (AEB), José Augusto de Castro.

It was anticipated that Temer will discuss trade and investment between the countries, technical cooperation and defense, as well as partnerships in agriculture and agribusiness in his meeting with the Vietnamese official. Brazil exports mainly crude product and residues of soy oil, corn, cotton, steel, leather and furs to Vietnam, while Vietnam exports electronic microparts, batteries and footwear.

Source: The Rio Times


Russia and China working collectively to build alternative internet


Russia is working to build an independent internet for itself and its associates, a report said on Monday. The Russian government seeks to generate systems of root name servers, which is basically a substitute internet for the country.

Russia Daily reported that Russia is in active cooperation with China on the quest. The report added that the country drew inspiration from, and were influenced by ideas of Fang Binxing – a Chinese promoter of “cybersovereignty” and computer scientist widely known as “Father of China’s Great Fire Wall”.

Moscow and Fang expressed their concerns about the control that the US have over the internet, with the belief that the U.S. can cut the country’s internet access if relations deteriorate.  

Russia is reportedly prepared to share its internet with BRICS countries -Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.  The initial report regarding Russia’s own system of root name servers appeared in 2017.


Portugal wants more migrants

As most European countries are trying to find ways to stop mass migration, Portugal want more to help with its population growth problems.

During the European summit last week, many European countries failed to come up with a deal that could resolve the migrant crisis they were facing, while Portugal was already making moves to bring in more migrants.

Portugal was one of the first to volunteers to take in migrants from the lifeline ship which some Europeans countries barred from making harbour. Portugal Prime Minister, Antonio Costa being a descendent of migrant parents himself, has taken the issue very seriously and has made population decline one of his priorities while in office.

According statistics from the government, Portugal needs at least 75,000 new people per year, so they can sustain stable working population. The government has already introduced new visa for student and startup companies and also nationalised more than 30,000 legal foreign nations.

Portugal today has a population of 10.4 million people, during the 2011 financial crisis; Portugal lost more than 300,000 citizens who left in search of better jobs and better lives in other European countries. Portugal needs a skilled labour force to replace the graduates and skilled labour they lost during the crisis.

Portugal has already planned to settled 50, 000 more migrants the problem which they seem to be facing now is, keeping the migrants in Portugal as many migrants use Portugal to gain access into Europe. This is as a result of the lack of decent job opportunities in Portugal.

Source: straittimes.com