BRICS Youth Seminar: Mandela Centenary at UWC

Cape Town, South Africa, 22 June 2018 -* Moja Research Institute in partnership with the University of the Western Cape (UWC) Student Representative Council will be hosting the inaugural BRICS Youth Seminar: Mandela Centenary on the 22nd June 2018 at UWC.

– Guest Speakers : NYDA chairperson Sifiso Mtsweni, SAYC Thembinkosi
Josopu, Representative of the Russian Consulate
– Launch of China/SA educational exchange
– Introduction of University TV – New TV Channel

Over the past 10 years, BRICS has proven to be an important global bloc because of the increasing polarisation and protectionism of the traditional global powers. This trajectory has particularly negative consequences for the developing south, which requires the emerging economies forming part of BRICS to more effectively collaborate in order to offset the effects of the global north and its protectionist policies.

This sums up the theme South Africa envisions for the upcoming BRICS Summit: working towards a more equitable and inclusive global environment.

This theme is deeply inspired by and reflective of the legacy of the global icon, Nelson Mandela whose centenary South Africa and the world celebrates this year.

Central to the theme of this years BRICS summit, is the provision of quality jobs for a burgeoning youth contingent, and preparing the youth for the inevitable changes which will arise through technological advancements which has been dubbed the 4th Industrial Revolution.

To enable the youth, non-governmental organisations, government and broader civil society to capitalise on this opportunity for engagement on South Africa’s developmental agenda, we will be hosting a BRICS Youth Seminar in Cape Town.

This seminar will provide young people, from all walks of life, an opportunity to engage with key leaders on the role the Global South can play in transforming our society.

At this event, we will be introducing both the University TV channel and the SA/China educational exchange programme.

The event will be live streamed to enable young people from across South Africa and the Global South to participate, further advancing the multilateral nature of the event.

*Date:* Friday, 22nd June 2018

*Time*: 18:00 – 18:30 [ Event starts at 18:30]

*Venue:* S1 Building, University of the Western Cape, Robert Sobukwe Road, Belville

Issued by the Moja Research Institute

 

ICC elects Alexis Mourre for second term

 

The International Chamber of commerce has re-elected Alexis Mourre as the President of the International Court of Arbitration for another three-year term.  The court also appointed 176 members from 104 countries representing gender parity of 88 women and 88 men.

Alexis Mourre as President has been involved as counsel or arbitrator in more than 250 arbitration proceedings, under most international arbitration rules and since 1 May 2015. He is the author of several books and articles on international arbitration and private international law. He is fluent in French, English, Spanish and Italian and has good knowledge of Portuguese.

The court also appointed 17 Vice-Presidents from different countries around the world. One of the Vice President is Eduardo Damiao Goncalves from Brazil. Eduardo Goncalves is a member of Brazilian Bar; the ICC LATAM Arbitration Group; ICC Arbitration Commission; Former Chairman, Brazilian Arbitration Committee; Former Vice-Chair of the IBA Arbitration Comittee.

The International Court of Arbitration is a subsidiary of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and one of the world’s foremost institutions for delivery of international arbitration services. The International Court of Arbitration is the body that settles international commercial and business disputes, involved in over half of all arbitration disputes worldwide. The ICC seat is located in Paris.

In 2016, the Arbitration court increased its operations in Sao Paulo, Brazil and Latin America creating a Department responsible for the managing of Brazilian domestic cases, or cases which are involving Brazil. According to ICC Dispute Resolution Statistics, Brazil is the third biggest country in terms of parties involved in ICC Arbitrations.

Alexis Mourre has previous stated: “The augmented presence of the Court Secretariat in Sao Paulo is a direct response to an ever-expanding Latin American arbitration market and a continuation of our efforts to bring ICC Arbitration services even closer to users in Latin America and beyond.”

Sources: iccwbo.org

The 8th Meeting of the BRICS Ministers of Agriculture and Agrarian development

The department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries (DAFF) partnered with the Mpumalanga Provincial government to host the 8th Meeting of the BRICS Ministers of Agriculture and Agrarian Developments. The discussions, which commenced on Tuesday 19 June and are set to end on Friday the 22nd June.

The main theme of the meeting was the “Reduction of the negative impact of climate change on food security and adaptation of agriculture to climate change”. The meeting is in preparation for the Heads of State BRICS Summit happening in July.

The meeting’s purpose is to create more cooperation among BRICS nations to find ways to tackle climate change, looking strongly at climate intelligent mechanisms and the different passages available in lowering greenhouse gas emission, migration and refugees, maximizing efficiencies, advancing the pliability of agricultural and food production systems and the different ways we can evolve and guarantee food security.

Source: The department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries (DAFF)

Meeting of BRICS heads of tax and tax experts hosted by SARS

The South African Revenue Services (SARS) chaired the BRICS meeting centered on Taxation, the 4th Industrial Revolution and governance. The 4-day meeting which was held at the Hilton Hotel in Sandton, Johannesburg from 18-19 June 2018, brought together some of the most educated leaders in the field of tax. The meeting was a follow-up to the customs cooperation discussion held in April.

The discussions held covered how they can better utilise the BRICS relationship in terms of taxation and tax regulations, to learn from each other’s strengths and weaknesses, their practices and to find ways they can streamline revenue collected among the BRICS countries. One of the main topics on the table was tax evasion, how BRICS countries dealt with this issue individually and how they can better coordinate ringing tax havens and offenders.

There were also calls from all five delegations for a stronger co-ordination among BRICS tax authorities, who are in agreement that that there is room for improvement, and that they should always strive to better their relationship, knowing each other’s problems is a good way in enhancing the relationship, exchanging information through treaties and also sharing common practices is another. The delegate also mentioned that using digital means to make it easier, for tax collection or tax compliance than it is to evade authorities as well as transparency are both proven method of good tax governance.

Another main discussion point was the digitisation of the economy; how digital means were making it easier to collect tax revenues but also had lots of risks. One of these new technologies is Crypto-Currencies and the Blockchain. While South Africa outlined that they do not recognise crypto as legal tender and a number of areas in the space leave a lot to be desired, they did mention that the subject is being researched and is still a working progress.

India was quick to mention that crypto-currencies are illegal in India but if citizens make profits through the Blockchain, then those profits are taxable. Russia, Brazil and China all spoke about how Blockchain technology has massive potential in terms of tax collection, but massive risk because it opens tax loopholes for its users. Overall, most of the BRICS nations regarded that Blockchain in terms of aiding tax authorities is still in the research phase and more development and discussion is needed in the public and private sector where there is probably a better understanding.

 

By: Mokgethi Mtezuka

US withdraws from UN Human Rights Council

US President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday. The reasons given by the Trump administration is centered around bias the body has shown in regards to Israel, and also how the originations has welcomed member countries which are well known for their human right abuses, but also seems to point at Israel as the biggest offender.

United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley in her media briefing regarding the withdrawal, stated that the UN Human Rights Council is a “toothless body that doesn’t live up to its name, needing major reforms are needed before it can become credible again.” She also mentioned that there are certain members within the council preventing any reform from happening.

Nikki Haley then went on to blame Russia, China, Venezuela, Cuba and Iran as the main culprits for the lack of reform within the body, adding that the entrance of the Democratic Republic of Congo as new member to the UN Human Right Council as another example of hypocrisy the body has shown.

She ended off by stating that the USA will continue fighting for human rights outside of the body and only once it has shown significant reforms, the US will consider rejoining. Some political analysts believe the US pulling out of the Human Rights Council is backlash to how the body reacted to President Trump’s remakes on refugees and immigrants entering America.

Source: Bloomberg.com

The ongoing Trade War between the US and China

On the 3rd of April, The US President Donald Trump revealed a list of more than 1,300 Chinese exports products that he said he wants to put a 25% tariffs on. The tariffs are intended to punish Beijing for restricting US investment in China and also on allegation of stealing American companies’ intellectual property. This would affect about $50 billion worth of Chinese exports.

The day following the Trump announcement, China struck back, with its own list of US exports products that it was planning to hit with 25 percent tariffs too. The proposed package could affect more than 100 American-made products, including top US agricultural export to China. This would cover about $50 billion worth of US exports.

Straight after the China announcement, Trump directed his trade team to identify more tariffs to add $100 billion worth of goods, clearly intending to escalate even further after seeing Beijing’s readiness to match his initial tariffs.

Early May, President Donald Trump sent his top economic advisors to Beijing for talks to prevent a possible trade war with China. The senior economic advisors met with Chinese officials to discuss the two countries’ trade disagreements. The US wants China to import more American goods and want them to stop forcing American companies to hand over their prized intellectual property if they want to do business in China.

Some of the US tariffs will be applied as of 6 July, and the White House is expected to announce restrictions on investments by Chinese companies in the United States by the 30th June. Trump has said that if China increases its tariffs again in response to the latest U.S. tariffs increase, the US will “meet that action by pursuing additional tariffs on another $200 billion of goods.” He added that he has “an excellent relationship” with Chinese President Xi Jinping and they “will continue working together on many issues.”

The global stock markets have weakened both the dollar and the Chinese yuan on Tuesday following Trump’s announcement that after all legal processes are complete, these tariffs will go into effect if China refuses to change its practices, and also if it insists on going forward with the new tariffs that it has recently announced, Shanghai stocks plunged to two-year lows.

 

Source: South China Morning

SARS Hosting: Meeting of BRICS Experts on Tax Matters and Heads of Tax

From the 18th to 21st of Junes The South African Revenue Service (SARS) will hosting the tax experts and heads of tax administrations from BRICS member countries, namely Brazil, Russia, India China and South Africa, taking place at the Hilton Hotel in Sandton.

The BRICS Tax meetings follow on BRICS Customs meetings held in April this year, which contributed to creating an enabling framework for BRICS Customs cooperation.  To build further on this gain, the BRICS Tax meetings will discuss contemporary tax issues such as the improvement of tax enforcement technology with a focus on the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Digitalization is regarded to be the most significant development of the world economy since the industrial revolution. This development creates opportunities for innovation, investment, new business, jobs, and it is one of the main drivers of sustainable development. However, the taxation of the digital economy has not fully reflected the advantages created by the spread of technology.

This meeting will also explore new approaches to taxation governance and economic and technological cooperation which is expected to contribute significantly to the improvement of a global economic governance system.

At the closing of this meeting, SARS Acting Commissioner, Mark Kingon, will host a special media briefing on Thursday, 21 June 2018 to announce the outcomes of the meeting as well as any agreements reached.

Press Release Issued by: SARS Media Department

Zimbabwe’s readiness for the Elections

Next month, Zimbabwe will enter into its first election under their new era of democracy since a coup that overthrew Former President and Dictator Robert Mugabe. For the first time in the history of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe’s name will not be on the ballot papers, as well as former opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who passed away in February 2018. President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced early this year that elections will take place on 30 July. Twenty-three candidates have come forward to compete for Zimbabwe’s Presidency.

President Mnangagwa promises that the elections will be fair and free and has called for peace throughout. Under the Mugabe reign, elections were filled with violence and intimidation, the Zimbabwean public and international community lost all hope in the Zimbabwe’s Electoral Commission (ZEC). The Zimbabwe’s Human Rights Watch has scrutinized the elections credibility and the role the ruling party and opposition play in intimidating the voters. The ZEC has come out and insisted that the electoral management body is well prepared for the coming elections, all measures have been put in place to ensure a fair, free and transparent elections. 

International observers are expected to come and assess the election process, this is one of the measures to ensure the elections are transparent and credibility is placed on them. Opposition parties are ready and confident that they will perform well during the elections, campaigns are in full swing. President Mnangagwa has stated that he will accept whatever outcome, he will step down and allow the new president to lead the country if he loses the elections. The general public of Zimbabwe is not confident that the transition will be as smooth as the president makes it seem. They are not yet confident in the election process.

United States President Donald Trump has stated that sanctions to Zimbabwe will continue as they are not yet sure whether the new dawn of Zimbabwe is real, they will wait to see transformation first.

 

By Ntsikelelo Kuse

China might be the biggest winner From Trump-Kim Summit

Even though no Chinese delegation or leader was present at the Trump-Kim Summit, China still had a hand in it and may be the biggest benefactor from the summit that took place in Singapore last week.

One of the ways China had an indirect hand in the summit was the aircraft in which the North Korean Leader flew to Singapore with, beard an Air China tail logo. Also before the summit took place, Kim Jong-un had made two visits to China to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping ensuring that Chinese interests don’t get forgotten during the summit.

US President Donald Trump after the summit at the media briefing, also thanked President Xi for his role in contributing to ensuring the summit took place. Trump mentioned that the United States and China will be working with North Korea in the fulfillment of the deal. He also told reporters that China and South Korea will both be consulted if a possible peace treaty is forged between North Korea and the USA.

Chinese officials were very pleased with the outcome of the Trump-Kim summit, as their main suggestions for how the North Korea should be handled had been accepted and followed through with. Even though both North Korea and USA officials did not mention this.

The calling for Dual Freezing of hostilities from both North Korea and US-South Korea in terms of missile testing and military drills was the first Chinese proposal adopted. The second was the parallel track negotiation strategy, where sanctions are lowered at the same time or pace as North Korea’s denuclearization plans, which will end with a peace treaty.

So the benefits for China includes: lowering of tension between US and North Korea without any economical or military cost, with a possible peace treaty in the region. It is also expected that China may start lowering its own sanctions that it placed, on North Korea as result of international pressure and resume trade again. The USA Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is also slated to visit China on the 14th of June to talk about the summit along with other discussions.  

Source: washingtonpost.com

President Ramaphosa announces new panel review on states security agency

Pretoria – President Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed a high-level review panel to assess the mandate, capacity and organisational integrity of the State Security Agency (SSA).

The appointment of the panel follows the President’s statement in the National Assembly on 08 May 2018 of his intention to set up a review panel to assess the structure of the SSA relative to its mandate and enquire into its systems and capacity.

The panel, which is expected to undertake and conclude its work within three months, is composed of:

• Dr Sydney Mufamadi as Chairperson
• Mr Barry Gilder
• Mr Anthoni Van Nieuwkerk
• Prof Sibusiso Vil-Nkomo
• Mr Murray Michell
• Ms Basetsana Molebatsi
• Ms Siphokazi Magadla
• Mr Andre Pruis
• Prof Jane Duncan
• Mr Silumko Sokupa

President Ramaphosa has further appointed former Minister of Defence, Mr Charles Nqakula, as his National Security Adviser.

President Ramaphosa has said that the panel must seek to identify all material factors that allowed for some of the current challenges within the Agency so that appropriate measures are instituted to prevent a recurrence. The main objective of the review panel is to assist in ensuring a responsible and accountable national intelligence capability for the country in line with the Constitution and relevant legislation.

Press Release Issued by: The Presidency