3RD BRICS Young Scientist Forum

The Department of Science and Technology will be hosting the Young BRICS Scientist Forum in Durban on the 25-29 June 2018. The 5-day Forum will be under the theme of Building BRICS Youth Leadership through Science, Technology and Innovation.

The BRICS Young Scientist Forum (YSF) was established in 2015 as one of the recommendations made at the second BRICS Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Ministerial Meeting that was hosted by Brazil.

The Department of Science and technology will be assuming the rotational chair for this year’s meetings which not only includes the 3rd BRICS Young Scientist Forum, but also the 6th BRICS STI Ministerial Meeting and the 8th BRICS STI Senior Officials Meeting (SOM).

The goals of this Year’s BRICS YSF: to give BRICS young scientists and researchers a stage, for them to trade ideas on transformative change and create long lasting research collaborations as well as creating a network of cooperation.

Their second goal is to highlight youth directed and creative solutions for socio-economic challenges facing their community. The third goal is to enhance academic, policy exchanges and conferencing within the BRICS and Youth context.

Their final goal is to advance collective communication between young scientists, senior leaders in science and technology, as well as researchers from the BRICS member states.

Source: assaf.org.za

Trucker strike lifts Brazil inflation to two-year high in mid-June

Brazil’s inflation rate increased rapidly to the central bank’s official target range in mid-June after a nationwide protest by truckers drove product shortages across the board, lifting consumer prices by the most in more than two years.

Economists have stated that the short-term spike in prices was unlikely to drive the bank to increase interest rates soon.

The Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics said the benchmark IPCA index rose 1.1% from mid-May.

The national trucker protest over high diesel prices diesel blocked major highways, nearly paralyzing key sectors, and resulted in higher food and gas prices added the most to inflation during the month.

According to Reuters, an increase in power rates also helped to drive the 12-month inflation rate to 3.68%, sharply higher than the 2.86% reading at the end of May. 

The central bank has struggled to get inflation back to its target range of 4.5%, plus or minus 1.5% points after understanding it for the first time ever last year.

According to the bank’s policy statement, the bank acknowledged that the trucker strike would likely add to inflation and weigh on economic activity at a time when price pressures remain muted.

Source: Reuters

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

BRICS nations to set up own credit agency

The BRICS member countries have announced they will be setting up a Credit Agency as an alternative to the established agencies that have dominated the global credit rating market. Their aim is to limit the cost of borrowing, which as a result of downgrading’s by the S&P Global Ratings, Fitch Ratings and Moody’s Investors Service, have made getting credit very difficult for emerging markets.

The idea of a BRICS rating agency dates back to 2015 when Indian Prime Minister Narendra called for its establishment, India has long been wanting the a new rating agency to change the global system. The decision to create a rating agency by the BRICS bloc comes after many years of discussion at conferences and forums, including the very most recent St. Petersburg International Economic Forum which happened this past May.

Source: brics2018.org.za



Temer makes positive assessment of trade opportunities after bloc’s summit

The Southern Common Market (Mercosur) trade bloc and the European Union (EU) could have a free trade agreement ready to be signed before Brazil’s presidential elections in October.

The Mercosur – EU deal has been 18 years in the making due to significant economic gaps between European and South Americans nations.

Brazilian President Michel Temer is confident about the progress on the bloc’s agenda with the EU.

“I think we are going even further, in an absolute unity of Mercosur, which naturally seeks international agreements,” Temer said after a lunch offered by Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes during the bloc’s summit. “When we present ourselves as Mercosur, this has a much greater significance in the international arena.”

Mercosur has made further progress in trade negotiations with other blocs and countries, including the EU and the Pacific Alliance which includes Mexico, Peru, Chile and Colombia.

“The agreement with the European Union has never progressed as much as it did in recent years,” he said, adding also that “once again, it became evident that we can promote Mercosur’s alliance with the Pacific Alliance”. Temer added.

Source: xinhuanet.com

New study revealed substantial economic cost of crime to Brazil

Brazil’s Special Secretariat for the Strategic Affairs have revealed the economic cost of crime to Brazil. It is estimated to be about R$285 billion, or over 4% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The study pointed out that the economic impact of crime has risen from R$113 billion in 1996, to R$285 billion in 2015, this amount is set to an average increase of about 4.5 % per year.

The increase in crime shows that policy initiatives meant to reduce crime cannot be based solely on expanding resources. The report recommends a thorough examination of existing policies to discontinue those with diminishing returns.

The report also stated that despite a significant increase in public security spending over the last 20 years, “the social return of such increases has been limited” as homicide rates have climbed from 35,000 to 54,000 over that period.

Today, most federal agencies have limited financial resources which reinforce the idea that public policy crime-reducing initiatives cannot be based on simply expanding public spending.

The special secretary at the Palácio do Planalto, Hussein Kalout said that the country needs to make public policies more efficient with fewer resources and innovation.

“It is no longer possible to make security policy by increasing economic spending for the State whose social return will continue to be small while crime continues to increase.”

Source: riotimesonline.com

Brazil’s Temer sees no currency crisis; central bank vows to keep acting

Despite sharp falls in the exchange rate, Brazilian President Michel Temer has assured that there was no risk of currency crisis in Latin America’s largest economy.

The Brazilian real fell to its weakest level in more than two years at 3.9671 to the dollar. This has caused investors to doubt Temer’s government, forcing them to reinstate costly fuel subsidies, following a strike by truckers that nearly brought the country to a standstill.

The move did, however, result in the resignation of Pedro Parente, the head of state oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA.

Temer had made tackling Brazil’s hefty budget shortfall a priority for his centre-right administration.

“We are very committed to a budgetary adjustment. The fiscal question is completely under control. There is no risk (of a currency crisis). It is normal: The dollar is swinging around a lot.” The President said.

He also stated that part of the strong moves in currency markets was due to the prospect of higher interest rates in the United States, which has affected several emerging market economies.

Temer acknowledged that Brazil’s presidential election was also concerning investors but said that whoever was victorious, would need to continue with his government’s fiscal reforms.

The country’s central bank plans to step up its defence of the country.

Central Bank Governor Ilan Goldfajn, pledged to continue providing liquidity to the foreign exchange and interest rate markets as long as needed.

Goldfajn said that the central bank would offer up to $20 billion in currency swaps through the end of next week.

He did not exclude using Brazil’s foreign reserves to intervene in the currency spot market.

“All instruments are valid. For now, it seems liquidity is needed through currency swaps. If the situation changes, if there is demand, we may use reserves.”


Source: Reuters

BRICS Star players to look out for in the 2018 FIFA World Cup 

Two BRICS countries, Russiia, the host nation and Brazil will be representing the BRICS community at the FIFA 2018 World Cup. With 7 days to go, we take a look at star players from the two BRICS countries to look out for:

Aleksandr Golovin (Russia)

The 22 year-old Russian Central Midfielder is a star on the rise. Golovin played for the Russian Under-17 national team when they won the 2013 UEFA European Under-17 Championship. His first game in the National Team was in 2015 when Russia played a friendly match against Belarus. The young Central Midfielder, came in at the 61st minute and scored the second goal for Russia. He currently plays for Russia’s CSKA Moscow team and he is a star to look out at the FIFA World Cup 2018 as he represents the host team.

Gabriel Jesus (Brazil)

The Manchester City star started playing for the Brazil National team in 2016. To date he has made 16 appearances for the national team and scored 9 goals. The 21 year-old, Manchester City forward has helped the team win both the Premier League and EFL Cup in 2018. His school career has been a success with playing in the final of the 2015 Under-20 FIFA World Cup and winning the Olympics gold medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Igor Akinfeev (Russia)

A true star in the Russian Football community, Akinfeev, Russian Goalkeeper is both the Captain of Russia’s CSKA Moscow and the Russia National team. He has won 6 Russian Premier League titles and 6 Russian Cups, also the UEFA in 2005. He has earned 100 caps and his experience and skills will be beneficial at the FIFA World Cup this year. The host nation looks forward to moving far in the World Cup and under the leadership of Akinfeev this might happen.

Neymar (Brazil)

With 54 goals in 84 matches for the Brazil National Team since debuting at the age of 18, 26 year-old Neymar is the 4th highest goal scorer for Brazil’s National team. This French club, Paris Saint-Germain star started playing professional football at the age of 17, and was named South America footballer of the year in 2011 and 2012. He played alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez at the Spain’s Football club Barcelona, where he helped the team win the La Liga, the Copa del Rey and UEFA Championship League in 2014-15 season. Moving from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain the transaction was €222 million, making him the world’s most expensive footballer. Neymar is one of Brazil’s star players to look out for at the FIFA World Cup on the 17th June, when they play against Switzerland for their first game.

Ntsikelelo Kuse

10th BRICS Summit hot topics

The BRICS 10th summit will be taking place next month in Johannesburg, South Africa. The global community will have their eyes on this summit. In its 10th year running, it’s a good time to reflect on what’s been achieved and make decisions for the future.

  1. With recent unpredictable and drastic foreign policies introduced by United States President Donald Trump, most recently visible in the realms of nuclear proliferation and trade, the global economy has been shaken. The BRICS member countries have called for fair trades and an open economy previously, the tariffs and sanctions are in contradiction with their principles and thus it will be on top of the list of the things to discuss. Xi Jinping,  President of the People’s Republic of China, has won the battle of narratives against Trump, and the Chinese leader is regarded as a global stabilizer and defender of global rules and norms, while Trump is seen as a source of risk. BRICS members will need to look at this issue and set a united standing point.
  2.  The US Foreign policy and dependence on China is not the only thing that binds the BRICS member countries. The establishment of the New Development Bank and the plans to add additional members to increase the institution’s capacity has been an achievement for BRICS. The Bank has currently approved more than US$ 5 billion in financing for infrastructure projects since its establishment. The countries will use the summit to discuss how they can reduce non-tariff barriers amongst themselves and seek ways to continue promoting the “people-to-people” ties, which improved markedly over the past decade, but which remain well below what they could be.
  3.  This being South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s first summit since he took over from Former President Jacob Zuma, the Ramaphosa will be given an  opportunity to tell the BRICS community how he plans to turn around South Africa’s economic standing. The South African Chairmanship, is also important for Ramaphosa’s election campaign as South Africa will be going into elections next year, for this reason President Ramaphosa will also need to convince the South African community that he is ready to take the country forward.
  4. Brazil has faced increased economic instability over the years, with the elections later in October, the new Brazilian President will go straight into taking Chairmanship of BRICS in 2019. This means the current President of Brazil, Michel Temer, will not have much ground to shape debate at this year’s summit as he will be finishing off his term. The next President will have an advantage of starting their term and chairing BRICS in 2019. This leaves little weight for the President Temer.(Source: Post-Western World)