China won’t give up any territory in the Pacific

Chinese President Xi Jinping met with US Defence Secretary James Mattis on Wednesday to talk about Southeast Asia security and China claiming territory in South China Sea.

President Xi told Secretary Mattis, that China is devoted to peace in the South China Sea, but is unwilling to give up any territory seized. Xi also said that all the territories seized are ancestral islands and they cannot even lose an inch of territory.

Secretary James Mattis is also the first US Secretary of Defence to visit China since 2014, his Asian tour comes after the historical Trump-Kim Summit. The US-China relationship has been under renewed strain since USA President Trump took office last year January.

The increased pressure is the result of an ever-growing trade war, as well as Trump promising to stop China’s advance in the South China Sea, in one of his campaign pledges. Secretary Mattis has told the media the US-China military relationship is one of the USA’s priorities, even though the US has criticised China’s occupation and militarisation of islands in the South China Sea.

Several Southeast Asian countries have also criticised China, claiming that China is stealing islands and the militarisation of those island is being used as an intimidation tactic. The South China Sea is also a considerable regional shipping and fishing route and is also rich in oil and gas reserves.

Source: bbc.com

Russian energy minister discusses sanctions and energy concerns with U.S. top officials

Russian Energy minister Aleksandr Novak confirmed that he discussed sanctions imposed by the U.S. on Russia and energy issues with his U.S. counterpart Rick Perry and U.S. treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin at a press briefing held in Washington.

Mnuchin issued stiff sanctions on Russian tycoons, defense and intelligence and other, and other targets in the last year. “We can’t sidestep these difficult questions, so of course we touched upon them during our contact”, said Novak.

These sanctions were meant to punish Russia for its 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula and for allegedly interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

A state owned Russian news agency TASS said Novak particularly questioned threats of the sanctioning of Russia’s Nord Stream II gas-pipeline project, which is planned to run through the Baltic Sea and Germany. Mnuchin was authorised by the U.S. congress in a Russian-sanctions law passed last year to issue sanctions against the project built jointly by Russia’s Gazprom and western European energy companies.

Novak did not disclose what about the sanctions they will discuss – Mnuchin was quoted saying they will “keep in touch”.

Novak in past interviews said that the U.S should not be allowed to impose sanctions on Russia without the vote of the United Nations Security Council.

Source: rferl.org

India-SCO partnership set to advance with AIFC

India and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) economic partnership is expected to intensify, thanks to the introduction of the Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC). Kazakhstan is the biggest country in Central Asia and launched AIFC on the 1st January. The AIFC will be positioned as the financial hub for the SCO, the Eurasian Economic Union, Central and West Asia, China, Mongolia and Europe.

The Bombay Stock Exchange will be working through the AIFC, as part of India’s plans to improve its imprint in Eurasia. The Nasdaq and Shanghai Stock Exchange are also planning to engage through the AIFC, during the first week of July around Astana’s 20th anniversary.

AIFC’s main goal is to create a liquid and well-balance capital market with a large range of different financial tools. In addition, a new advanced exchange platform will be created within the AIFC, connecting it with leading international stock exchanges. The AIFC will follow English Law fundamentals and will offer advantageous tax policies and be an independent financial court.

The AIFC’s secondary goal is to advance Kazakhstan’s and Central Asia’s development in asset management. The fast-pace financial technology industry is another industry that the AIFC is planning to infiltrate. Kazakhstan’s modern infrastructure, flexible regulation, and investor friendly policies makes it an ideal place for a financial centre in central Asia.

The India-Kazakhstan partnership has evolved in the past two years, with trade increasing by 53% and almost reaching $1 Billion in the last financial year, along with the establishment of Astana and Delhi direct flights, plans to connect Eastern India ports to a Kazakh-Turkmen-Iran rail line and road links from Kazakhstan to western Indian ports.

source: economictimes.indiatimes.com

Former Ambassador Billy Modise dies at 87

 

Former ambassador and anti-apartheid activist, Billy Modise died last Wednesday in hospital at the age of 87. The Inter-Ministerial Committee on State Funerals has confirmed that the funeral ceremony will take place on Thursday at Marks Park Sports Field and West Park Cemetery in Johannesburg. 

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has conveyed his condolences to the family and has also declared a Special Official Funeral (Category 1) for Ambassador Billy Modise, which includes a ceremonial guard and military honours. The Funeral services will also be opened to the public and media.

Billy Modise was South Africa’s first black High Commissioner to Canada, ambassador to Sweden and was awarded the Order of Luthuli – Silver Class from former President Thabo Mbeki for excellent contribution in the achievement of a South Africa free of racial oppression contributing to the building of a non-racial, non-sexist and democratic South Africa.

The memorial service will be taking place on Tuesday in Pretoria, at the Oliver Tambo Building, Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco).

 

 

Trump planning major restriction against China

US President Donald Trump has planned to slap China with new investment restrictions, the restrictions will ban Chinese companies from investing in USA technology companies, industrially significant technologies and also restrict tech exportation to China.

The reason for these restrictions are based on US fears of China becoming a dominate player in the technology space. China as a tactic to overcome US trade tariffs has created the, ‘Made in China 2025’ initiative. The initiative targets 10 area in the technology sector which China believes will help it compete and possible overtake dominate players like the US and Germany.

Companies with at least 25 percent Chinese ownership, are expected to be targeted by the new ban as well as be imposed export restrictions. US stocks in Asia have already started falling after the report of this new development. Fears of a trade war between the US and China have become realized as there is no end in sight or any sign of tensions wearing down.

Trump has already imposed more than $30 billion worth of tariffs on China, expected to come in to effect on the 6th of July. As well as $200 Billion worth of tariff expect to be announced mid-July. With reports from China’s Commerce Ministry of a retaliation, only time will tell how far the US is willing to go before these tariffs and bans start biting back.

source: cnbc.com

Bomb at Zimbabwe’s President Mnangagwa’s Election Campaign Rally

Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa survived a bomb attack at an Election Campaign Rally that took place in the city of Bulawayo on Saturday.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa survived an attempt on his life after a blast at a his political party’s election campaign rally, where two of his vice-presidents were injured as well as several party officials. Mr Mnangagwa said: “an object exploded a few inches away from me – but it is not my time”.

Video footage circulating on social media from the stadium shows an explosion happening close to President Mnangagwa as he leaves the stage after addressing supporters at the rally. It is confirmed by the Zimbabwe police that about 49 people were injured due to the bomb.

The campaign rally was in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second city and an opposition’s stronghold, to campaign for his Zanu-PF party ahead of nationwide elections taking place on 30 July. A spokesman for the president has said that the Vice-President Kembo Mohadi suffered a leg injury, another vice-president, Constantino Chiwenga, received bruises to his face.

The President has visited the injured in Hospital and has said that “he was the target of the attack”. He also tweeted: “This afternoon, as we were leaving a wonderful rally in Bulawayo, there was an explosion on the stage. Several people were affected by the blast, and I have already been to visit them in the hospital.”

Among the injured is also, ZANU-PF chairwoman and cabinet minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri and Mary Chiwenga, the wife of Vice-President Chiwenga.

(Source: News.com.au)

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