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ICT and Communications Ministers of the BRICS bloc to support SMME’s

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BRICS communications and ICT ministers concurred to assist further cooperation of Small, Micro, Medium, Enterprises (SMMEs) from members of the BRICS bloc.

SMME’s have been encouraged to be innovate and discover solutions that will “advance universal telecommunications access”.

According to The South African members of the bloc have identified SMMEs as potential engines for growth and job creation.

South Africa, Durban played host of the ITU conference last week. One of the conclusions of the meeting included an agreement to share information, knowhow on the roll out of the 5G within BRICS member countries.

The ministers also agreed to cooperate on cybersecurity and increase partnerships in digital skills training.

 

Source:  The South African

BRICS Countries ranked Namibia’s third largest market

Four members of the BRICS bloc, Brazil, Russia, India and China were ranked the third largest market for the Namibian domestic economy, according to Namibia’s statistics agency (NSA).

Every year BRICS countries are the largest market (excluding South Africa) according to the NSA quarterly statistics bulletin for the second quarter of 2018. There has been an increase in the absorption of domestic exports by members of the BRICS bloc, the countries have registered 209.4 million US dollars as compared to 36,6 million US million in the second quarter last year. There has been an increase of 472 percent.

The European Union (EU) in trade by regions is the highest once more in comparison to other economic regions. According to Xinhuanet the Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU) was Namibia’s largest export market.

 

Source: Xinhuanet

BRICS countries undertaking a joint research on Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) – Blockchain

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

India’s Union cabinet has approved a Memorandum of Understanding (Mou) on a collaborative research of Distributed Ledger Technology.

The memorandum of understanding is an initiative of the BRICS bloc (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa collaboration). The initiative is driven under the BRICS interbank cooperation with an aim of understanding the blockchain and finding better technology to enhance the efficiency of the DLT.

According to Cointelegraph the in research will be undertaken by the import-export bank of India and banks from other members of the group of emerging economies, BRICS.

The MoU was proposed during the 10th BRICS Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa which focused mainly on economic development.

Deputy Chairman of and member of the board at Vnesheconombank  told Cointelegraph that “the banks have agreed to jointly study DLT, in the interest of the development of the digital economy.

 

Source: Cointelegraph

Culture through Dance – BRICS Journal Issue 6

Dance is one of the purest expressions of self and identity. Whether it’s the proudly joyful umhlanga dance of South Africa, the vibrant bursting colors of the dragon dance of China, the breathtaking and nuanced bharatanatyam of India, the dizzying athletic display of Russia’s kalinka or Brazil’s sensual wildly passionate samba we see them and

immediately recognize in them the people they represent and if we look close enough we find a little bit of ourselves. With BRICS reaching the decade milestone we must move beyond the cold stoic numbers of economic prudence and engage with each other in an increasingly human manner. What better way than saying let us dance and dance and dance!

(Find the Picture Essay on BRICS Journal Issue 6)

Brazil and China talk trade and investments for 2018 & 2019

A Chinese delegation from the government visited Brazil’s Ministry of Industry, Foreign Trade and Services (MDIC) in Brazil on Monday. The delegation discussed issues relating to the two countries’ bilateral trade and investment agenda for 2018 & 2019.
The delegation met to discuss Brazil’s industry 4.0 agenda, investments and scheduling meetings for 2019, when Brazil will chair the BRICS bloc.

Industry 4.0 according to Macauhub is a term relating to technologies and concepts for organisation of the value chain. “Within the intelligent and modular manufacturing factories of industry 4.0 cyber physical systems (CPS) monitor processes, create a virtual copy of reality and make decentralized decision” says Macauhub.

Brazil in 2017 exported approximately US$47 billion to China and imported goods worth US$27 billion from China’s market, which resulted in a surplus of more than US$20 billion for Brazil.

Source: Macauhub

India’s role in BRICS

Since the beginning of the BRICS formation, all member states have found their role in the bloc, with the aim of affirming their position. Since inception, India took on a role that protected not only the country, but also the South-South cooperation and North-South dialogue.

India has for years being in the forefront of BRICS policies, as the first to pitch an independent BRICS credit rating agency, so that members can compare their rankings amongst each other instead of other developed countries. The former Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh, said at the 2013 BRICS Summit in Durban: “Given the collective economic weight and global standing of BRICS countries, the forum represents a unique mechanism to address regional and global challenges, particularly in so far as the interests of the developing world are concerned”. The idea of an independent credit rating agency was also raised by India at the 2018 BRICS Summit in South Africa.

In BRICS, India was also the brains behind intra-BRICS trade, which encourages member countries to import goods from each other instead of Europe. This was stressed again at the 10th BRICS Summit when the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi said: “BRICS has developed a robust framework for cooperation, it contributes stability and growth in a world drifting towards uncertainty.” Intra-trade provides the flexibility of trading in currencies other than the dollar. This works for the benefit of India because India’s rupee is currently the best performing currency among BRICS countries.

India took on the role of being a trade implementor in the South Asian and African regions because of its strong economic growth in Asia. This lead to dialogues of South to South and North to South trading, which became the centre stage at the 2016 BRICS Summit hosted by India. Ahead of the Summit, Former Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, delivering a lecture at a conference on South-South cooperation said: “Ours is a demand-driven solidarity based approach and we do not attach any conditionality and we are always respectful of the sovereignty of our partner countries. Our experience has been that the greatest strength of the South South cooperation has been its diversity of forms and flows.”

Worldwide auditor KPMG this year found that India has been recording the highest growth rate amongst the BRICS countries. Reporting on these findings, Deputy CEO of KPMG in India, Akhil Bansal said: “India today is setting an example, not just for developing economies, but also developed ones. The CEOs I speak with are interested in India and are of the belief that the country is well on its way towards becoming one of the world’s leading investment and business destinations,” making India a key partner in the BRICS bloc.

By Ntsikelelo Kuse

 

African leaders want a share in the BRICS pie

Through the growth of BRICS, we have seen an increase in partnerships between the bloc and emerging economies. At the 2018 BRICS Summit which was held in South Africa in July, the African continent saw inclusivity under the BRICS-Africa Outreach programme. Seven African President were invited to the Summit, as BRICS aimed to reach out to fellow developing and emerging market economies. BRICS leaders interacted with African leaders to find ways on how best they can bring about the “inclusive growth” and “shared prosperity” as per the Summit’s theme.

At the Summit, President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, who is also the Chair of the African Union, emphasised that “strengthening cooperation with BRICS contributes to medium and long-term human security and wider benefits, especially employment, for Africa’s young population.” The AU wants to strengthen its partnership with the BRICS countries and Kagame stated that the goals of the partnership will be to collaborate on key sectors like industrialisation, infrastructure, peace and security; which are of importance on the African Union agenda for 2063.

Malawian President Peter Matharika agreed with President Kagame, stating that the BRICS New Development Bank is a key that will ensure that the Malawi infrastructure master plan will be possible. The President commended South Africa for including African countries with the Summit’s African Outreach. Many African countries need structures that will ensure that the interest of developing and emerging economies are put ahead in global economies.

In his view, Namibian President Hage Geingob added that Africa is counting on the support of BRICS, in order overcome its many challenges. He said: “Africa has strong, trusted and reliable partners. In our endeavours to move forward, we need partners to support Africa.”

The BRICS and Africa partnership comes to Zimbabwe at an important time for their country, as the country looks at redevelopment. The new Zimbabwean President, Emmerson Mnangagwa took the partnership to fast-track their plans to develop “infrastructure, mining, agro-processing, light to heavy manufacturing, ICTs and financial sector.”

The BRICS countries have been Zimbabwe’s biggest allies in recent years, with China being the biggest investor in Zimbabwe, Russia commissioning a multi-million-dollar mining project, Brazil supporting agricultural reform in the country and South Africa being the biggest trade partner.

African leaders at the BRICS summit all indicated that the partnership brings practical development plans for African countries, as Gabonese President and chairperson of the Economic Community of Central African States, Ali Bongo Ondimba, said: “Resources are here, potential is here. We are ready to engage in a win-win partnership with BRICS. We have been shown the way, let’s sit down and talk for the good of our future and our children.”

By Ntsikelelo Kuse

Women’s rights an increasing concern within Emerging Economies

Image: iStock

The BRICS countries individually struggle with different and sometimes similar social, civil and women’s rights issues. These problem persist even as their respective economies grow and their countries develop.

In South Africa the scourged of rape, woman and children abuse cannot be understated, in India rape and women’s safety is a major problem, in Brazil the challenges of woman abuse and female murder. In Russia women protection in terms of the law is concerning, and in China women’s rights and female representations in positions of power is a problem.

The BRICS countries may be struggling in solving these issues individually but together maybe they can make a different in each other’s countries. The benefits of BRICS is the knowledge share platforms that the bloc is creating, this allows for the BRICS to learn from each other’s mistakes, or find solutions in from within the bloc.

Brazil, South Africa and India in legislative terms are leaders in pushing for women’s rights and equality, areas they could help China and Russia in this regard. While law enforcement and investigation is something the Chinese and Russians could help the other members with as those area are sometimes lacking.

Brazil and India in recent weeks have created new laws or extended prison sentences, in the fight against woman abuse, China has also made women equality laws one of the key area they are trying tackle this year. But calls for more to be done from all BRICS nations, from their respective civil societies.

This is one of the areas the BRICS countries can look in to, to really make a strong lasting difference. The announcement of the creation a BRICS Gender and Women Forum was welcomed by civil society groups from India and South Africa.

The Forum has the potential to open the way for the acknowledgment of women discrimination, across all the five nations and further the cause to effect change.

 

By Mokgethi Mtezuka

Twenty years of strategic partnership between South Africa and China

This year marks the 20th anniversary of diplomatic ties between China and South Africa. According to Chinese President Xi Jinping, “this relationship has made big strides and demonstrated a strong growth momentum in political trust, economic and trade co-operation, people-to-people exchanges and strategic co-ordination”.

The partnership between the two countries has over the years been strengthened through bilateral mechanisms, FOCAC, the Belt and Road Initiative, BRICS co-operation, and other platforms that deepen co-operation in key areas such as industries, production capacity, resources and energy, infrastructure, finance, tourism, and digital economy and deliver more benefits to the people.

China has been a major investment partner to South Africa, making South Africa the top destination of Chinese investment in Africa. For the past nine years, China has been South Africa’s largest trading partner – at the end of 2017, bilateral trade between the two countries grew by 11.7%. In September 2017, South Africa became the first African country to export beef to China. In the tourism industry too, South Africa has hosted the largest number of Chinese tourists in Africa, which includes students, as well as the Confucius Institutes and Classrooms.

The Chinese government has assured South Africa that they will continue making great efforts to support and assist South Africa in their development strategies that will ensure fast economic development that will allow South Africa to continue to play a leading role in African affairs. This year South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa has stated that China President has committed to investing $14.7 billion into South Africa. More agreements and memorandums of understanding were signed this year by the two countries, these agreements are intended to further deepen relations. Some of the agreements are between big businesses, state-owned entities and even visa regimes.

Related Story: [OPINION]: China’s building BRICS in South Africa

The China/South Africa partnership goes beyond economics and politics as over the years there has been several student exchange programs between the two countries. For the past several years the Free State government has sponsored students to go study in China for their undergraduate qualifications, this has not been happening in Free State only, last month eight South African students from False Bay TVET College have left on a year-long internship to China.

Both the President of South Africa and Xi Jinping, President of China have assured each other that the partnership and cooperation between the two countries will continue. President Ramaphosa said reporting back to Parliament after the third bilateral meeting between the two head of state: “We have a strategic relationship with China and we intend to exploit it to good effect because they have offered to assist us and they have not offered to dominate us and that to us is an important part”.

By Ntsikelelo Kuse

[OPINION] BRICS could become the premier platform for South-South cooperation

Image: iStock

During the 2018 BRICS Summit, one thing that was made clear was the BRICS bloc’s commitment to multilateralism. From the BRICS Business Forum, to the Heads of State meeting ending with the Africa outreach and the BRICS Plus meeting.

Multilateralism and the enabling of a multipolar world, were two of the key words throughout the Summit. BRICS on its journey to achieving this, has many challenges it will have to face up to, from balancing individual and collective interests, to the realising of its own capacity and strengths.

The USA’s steel tariff policy can be seen as one of the many reasons why there is a strong need for BRICS in the first place, founded on the pragmatic approach on how to deal with each other and the world. The US clinging onto protectionism and the unipolar world of the past, can be quite damaging to global trade and can result in unforeseen circumstances of allies conflicting.  

Each BRICS state has its own reason for continuing with this project for 10 years now, but if the benefits didn’t outweigh the drawbacks, I don’t think any member state would have lasted this long. In fact, the BRICS bloc is moving forward and intertwining even further, going beyond just economics and trade but with the merging of civil societies, health, agriculture, technology, education sports, culture and media.

As the tables turn, the global south and BRICS now looks like the new leaders spearheading the inclusive agenda and promoting free trade, as the tradition powers slowly lose relevance and credibility. The BRICS Africa outreach further demonstrates the seriousness to which the BRICS bloc is taking multilateralism, as a thriving Africa can only help in growing global trade and give new voices to a multipolar world.

 

By Mokgethi Mtezuka