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Russia stops all cooperation with NATO

Photo: NATO

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Alexander Grushko said in an interview that Russia has stopped all association with NATO—North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance between 29 North American and European countries. The organization implements the North Atlantic Treaty that was signed on 4 April 1949.

Related: BRICS VS NATO: The differences and how they compare

NATO suspended military and civilian cooperation with Russia in 2014 over the crisis in Ukraine. Russia, in February 2014 had several military attacks into the Ukrainian territory – after the fall of the then Ukraine President, Viktor Yanukovych—Russian soldiers in the absence of insignias took charge of military positions and took control of infrastructure within the Ukrainian territory of Crimea.

Grushko told the state ran media agency, RIA Novosti news agency that “NATO has itself abandoned a positive agenda in its relations with Russia. It doesn’t exist,” as reported by The Moscow Times.

The interview came a day after US military officers said that the lack of communication between the US and US could lead to a nuclear war by “mistake or miscalculation”. The former permanent Russia NATO representative between the years 2012 and 2018 warned NATO against military conflict with Russia.

Related: Trump to designate Brazil as a “Major Non-NATO ally”

 

By: Kgothatso Nkanyane

Additional reporting: The Moscow Times

 

BRICS New Development Bank positive on Asian economies

Annual reports from the Boao Forum for Asia say that Asia remains competitive in creativity, tech innovation, and economic openness. Some are concerned whether Asia can keep its competitiveness in face of global volatility, but Leslie Maasdorp, vice president of the BRICS New Development Bank is bullish on the momentum of Asian economies.

“There is no question as the reports suggested. Asia right now is and will continue to be a significant growth engine in the world economy,” he told CGTN.

He mentioned that, in addition to traditional growth engines, the openness of the economy, application of new technology as well as innovation become the new sources of growth in Asia.

2018 witnessed some serious currency depreciation in emerging economies, between 10 and 40 percent against the U.S. dollar. Maasdorp said that it’s fundamentally because of a strong U.S. dollar, not a domestic problem.

“Emerging markets suffer from the direct impact of the movement in the U.S. interest rate. If the U.S. dollar rises, it directly leads to the reversing capital flows out of the emerging markets. So many of the emerging markets, like Brazil, South Africa, and Turkey, suffer from this,” he explained.

“Let’s take Turkey as an example. The impact of that significant depreciation in the Lira has taken huge and immediate effect on other emerging markets,” he added.

He noted that for Asian economies or any other emerging market, the key thing is to insulate from any extremeness of global volatility. “You can do this in a number of ways. One way is to have strong savings and investment rate, which is Asian economies have,” he said.

He also said that other emerging markets are not so fortunate as their investment flows are influenced by external volatility. And he thought commodity-based economies are more easily affected by external factors as they are pricing commodities in U.S. dollars.

As the U.S. Fed signals no rate hike for 2019, he believed that depreciation pressure would be absolutely eased. “A stable U.S. interest rate that is predictable for the future should provide a better environment for investment decision,” he stressed, projecting that emerging economies would develop in a more stable and predictable environment.

 

ISSUED BY: CGTN Global Business

 

NDB put down sucessfully $ 448 million of RMB-denominated bonds in the China Inter-bank Bond Market

The New Development Bank (NDB) put down successfully $ 448 million of RMB-denominated bonds in the China Interbank Bond Market on Monday. The NDB is a multilateral development bank established by the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China & South Africa) states.

The NDB placed two positions with maturities of 3 years (2 billion yuan) and 5 years (1 billion yuan) and was priced at the lower end of the announced pricing range with coupon rates of 3 percent and 3.32 percent respectively.

“The NDB successfully raised 3 billion yuan at very attractive price levels, which marks another formidable milestone for the bank. Pricing of the bond is a good reflection of the NDB’s high credit quality,” said Leslie Maasdorp, NDB VP & CFO, “In line with the NDB’s General Strategy, the bank intends to become a regular issuer in local currency markets of its member countries. The bank is currently awaiting regulatory approvals to issue local currency debt in a number of markets of its member countries.” – reported China.org.cn.

 

Source: China.org.cn

SCO-BRICS parliamentary partnership

 

Image: Indian Express

A delegation of Russian senators,  Yelena Afanasyeva, Elena Perminova, and Vyacheslav Timchenko traveled to India, from 5-7 February to build BRICS and SCO cooperation with an interest of promoting partnerships in business, education and parliamentary exchanges.

The entire spectrum of Indo-Russia relations was reviewed during the meeting with a focus on further developing relations from friendship groups. Other issues under discussion were economic cooperation between Russia and India, youth entrepreneurship, educational and cultural exchanges.

They also emphasized the proposed signing of mutual recognition of diplomas agreement between India and Russia as crucial for building up direct trade. Russia and India will also have a round table in Moscow later on in the year.


Source: economictimes.indiatimes.com

Brazil the nation to most likely rapture BRICS?

China’s President Xi Jinping, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa, Brazil’s President Michel Temer and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin pose for a group picture at the BRICS summit meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa, July 26, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

The election of Brazil’s new President, Jair Bolsonaro has been seen as a dilemma for the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) grouping. This because of the Bolsonaro’s Presidential campaign messages – he promised: “liberate Brazil from the ideology of its international relations that it subjected Brazil to in recent years.”

The ” liberation of Brazil from socialism” as declared by the far right-wing President has been viewed as the collapse of the grouping. The future of the bloc has been foreseen as “RICS” – Brazil the nation most likely to rapture BRICS.

Brasilia’s stance on the Venezuela crisis is another factor the world is anticipating a ‘Braxit’. A crisis concerning who is the legitimate President of Venezuela has been underway since 10 January 2019, when the National Assembly (the oppositional majority)declared the reelection of Nicolás Maduro as invalid and declared Juan Guaidó as acting President. Brazil has declared support for Juan Guaidó, while Russia and China are rallying behind six-year President Maduro. Brazil joined the US in backing the acting President.

Brazil has, however, not announced an exit – the country has assumed the Presidency of the grouping.

READ MORE: Brazil to host next BRICS Summit in 2019

In an interview with IOL.co.za, South Africa Minister of International Relations and Diplomacy, Ms. Lindiwe Sisulu whether she foresees difficulty within the BRICS with Brazil’s new administration, its anti-China rhetoric and the country’s association with the US.

The Minster responded; 

BRICS is an association of willing partners who would like to assist each other. Governments come and ago and we are still hoping that the association will last. The President of Brazil has not broken away from BRICS, and he is the Chair of BRICS this year. We will wait and see what he has to say about BRICS, but I don’t expect that his relationships with other people will take him away from BRICS. We built the association over a long period of time and its successes speak for themselves – reports IOL.

 

By: Kgothatso Nkanyane

President Ramaphosa to visit Switzerland, India

 

President Cyril Ramaphosa will use his international working visits this week to position South Africa favorably on the global map and solidify bilateral relations.

The Switzerland visit will encompass global discussions on the future of work, global governance and partnership in an age of rapid technological change, while the State visit will reinforce South Africa’s relations with India.

President Ramaphosa begins his drive in Geneva, Switzerland, on Tuesday in his capacity as co-chair of the International Labour Organisation’s Global Commission on the Future of Work.
The commission, co-chaired by Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, will launch its highly anticipated Report on The Future of Work at the ILO headquarters in Geneva today.

The report lays the foundation for global action on the challenges that governments, business and labor face amid the convergence of developments in the digital economy, climate change, and cyclic economic trends.

Following his address to the ILO, President Ramaphosa will travel to Davos Klosters, where he will lead Team South Africa’s participation in the annual meetings of the World Economic Forum (WEF) scheduled from 22 to 25 January.

The 2019 gathering is themed ‘Globalization 4.0: Shaping a Global Architecture in the Age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution’. It brings together heads and members of more than 100 governments, top executives of the 1 000 foremost global companies, leaders of international organizations and relevant non-governmental organizations, and cultural, societal and thought leaders, among others.

The Davos discussions will explore how technological advances are impacting on or giving rise to new systems of health, transportation, communication, production, distribution and energy, and the changes required in education and other programmes to prepare workers for this economic revolution and accompanying social changes.

It will be a platform for Team South Africa to engage and update the international community, including investors, on the path of renewal and growth on which the country has embarked.
Team South Africa will showcase investment and trade opportunities while contributing to the global dialogue on key issues facing humanity and emerging key opportunities.

India State visit

Following the conclusion of the WEF programme, President Ramaphosa is set to travel to New Delhi, India, for a State visit scheduled for Friday.

The President, who will be accompanied by a business delegation, will use the visit to further enhance trade relations between the two nations. The President will be honored as Chief Guest at India’s 70th Republic Day Celebrations.

South Africa and India share a common vision on a range of global issues and domestic challenges.
Many of the common foreign policy objectives that both countries share are pursued multilaterally, especially through South-South initiatives and close cooperation existing within the G20, BRICS, IBSA, and IORA.

The two nations will further solidify relations with agreements on higher education and training, arts and culture, home affairs, defense, and energy, among others.

The two enjoy a strategic partnership and bilateral relations anchored in a deep and shared history of friendship and solidarity.

India is currently South Africa’s second largest trading partner in Asia and ranks among South Africa’s top 10 trade partners.

In 2017, bilateral trade reached R107 billion (approximately $8 billion). Trade for the period January to November 2018 totaled R101 billion. Indian investments in South Africa currently stand at US$8 billion and have created an estimated 18 000 jobs.

There are 130 Indian companies that have invested in South Africa, including TATA (automobiles and hotels), Mahindra (automobiles), Cipla (pharmaceuticals) and the Bank of India. South Africa’s total investment in India increased to R10.3 billion (approximately $800 million) in 2017.
South African companies that have invested in India, include Sasol, FirstRand, Old Mutual, ACSA, Shoprite and Nandos.

 

– SA Gov News

India, South Africa relations have a solid framework – High Commissioner

South Africa and India’s relations are historical in nature – the countries relations are according to Indian High Commissioner to South Africa Ruchira Kamboj, the relations have a solid framework. The trade between the two countries stands at approximately $10 billion.  According to Engineering News, more than 150 Indian companies have invested in South Africa employing more than 20 000 South Africans.

India and South Africa are old friends and historical partners,” she highlights. “Don’t forget we are Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) countries, members of Ibsa (India, Brazil, South Africa), we are both members of the Commonwealth. And we are both countries of the Global South,” says Kamboj.

“This time is the best time, for we have a New India and a New South Africa,” she affirmed. “In 2018, so far, 14 Indian Cabinet Ministers have visited South Africa, including Prime Minister Modi (for the Brics Summit). We believe that this high-level engagement will continue. It sends the right signal to business and especially investors.”

 

Source: Engineering News

BRICS hopes to bring Bolsonaro closer

South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), Lindiwe Sisulu held a media briefing, yesterday at the DIRCO media centre in Pretoria. Sisulu holds this briefings monthly – members of the media are appraised with developments relating to the implementation of South Africa’s foreign policy.

At the November briefing, Sisulu revealed her busy schedule – she will be visiting the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), then attend the AU meeting in Addis Ababa, attend the 15th session of intergovernmental Committee on Trade and Economic Operation in Russia and proceed to Washington for discussions with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the coming weeks.

The DIRCO Minister was asked about the election of Brazil’s new President Jair Bolsonaro, whether it will impact the BRICS coalition.

Sisulu said that the Brazil elections were free and fair. “During the campaign Bolsonaro made a lot of unfortunate utterances but he was likely engaging in a lot of populist rhetoric in order to get elected. But we hopes to bring him closer to us and that he will see it is beneficial to be on the side of progressives,” Sisulu responded.

South Africa considers, Brazil an important part of bloc and hopes that the new Brazil President will align his visions with that of the grouping.

 

By: Kgothatso Nkanyane

Addition Reporting: IOL.co.za

 

BRICS energy diplomacy

BRICS is an alliance of five countries spanning four continents, member states differ in terms of their social, political and economic situations.

According to Leonova et el (2007), each BRICS state has its own growth trajectory and resources. As a result, energy consumption as an economic bloc varies according to each country’s individual needs.

In 2009, when the bloc was known as BRIC (Brazil, Russia,India, China) – before the inclusion of South Africa in 2010 – it counted for a fifth of the world’s economy and 43% of the world’s population (Yao et el 2009). After South Africa’s inclusion, the group collectively consumed more energy than the G7 countries.

In respect two countries in BRICS – China and India – are set to change the global energy landscape because of their consumption patterns.

China remains the largest producer and consumer of coal and looks poised to overtake the United States as the largest oil consumer by 2030. It also has a larger gas market share than the European Union. Unlike China, accounts for no more than 6%of global energy users. However, India is entering a sustained period of rapid growth in energy consumption due to increased demand for coal in power generation and industry. This makes India the largest source of growth in global coal use. It is also showing an increased demand for oil.

 

 

Find full article: BRICS Journal Issue 4

The power of informal economies

There is no standard definition of the informal economy trade. However, Businessdictionary.com has defined the informal economy as a “a system of trade or economic exchange used outside state-controlled or money-based transactions. Practised by most of the world’s population, it includes barter of goods and services, mutual self-help, odd jobs, street trading and other such direct sale activities. Income generated by informal economy is usually not recorded for taxation purposes and is often unavailable for inclusion in gross domestic product computations.”

It is important to understand the informal economy dynamics within BRICS, given that it accounts for a large share of member-states GDPs. The informal  economy is usually underestimated when calculating GDP. Developing countries tend to have large sections of their populations involved in informal trade, as is the case with BRICS.

The cause of informal economies in BRICS tend to be the same, save for local peculiarities. They play a huge role in BRICS by facilitating the transition to a globalised world. In addition, the informal economy provides basis for survival for the poorest of the poor in these countries.

 

Read more on: BRICS Journal Issue 4