[WATCH]: Commemorating Commonwealth Day

The Commonwealth, a voluntary association of 53 independent and equal sovereign states. is home to 2.4 billion people inclusive of economies that are both advanced developing. Did you know: Thirty of the Commonwealth members are small states, many of which are island nations.

South African rejoined the Commonwealth in 1994. According to the South African Government Twitter account, the aim of commemorating Commonwealth Day is to promote understanding on global issues, international cooperation and the work of the Commonwealth to improve the lives of its two billion plus citizens.

Her Majesty The Queen, as Head of the Commonwealth, shared the following message:

“We all have reason to give thanks for the numerous ways in which our lives are enriched when we learn from others.

“Through exchanging ideas, and seeing life from other perspectives, we grow in understanding and work more collaboratively towards a common future.

“There is a very special value in the insights we gain through the Commonwealth connection; shared inheritances help us overcome difference so that diversity is a cause for celebration rather than division.”

Watch the video below to learn more:

 Image & video:

Cause of Listeria outbreak identified

By Ntsiki Ntsibande

South Africa’s Listeria outbreak is believed to be the largest-ever outbreak of the bacterial disease listeriosis, claiming 180 lives to date.

Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi announced on Sunday that the outbreak was traced to Enterprise’s Polokwane facility and Rainbow chicken facility in the Free State.

He also stated that further tests were needed as the sequence type was not yet known.
Motsoaledi had also confirmed that polony was a definite carrier of the disease, warning that products like Viennas, Russians, Frankfurters, other sausages and cold meats could also be affected due to the risk of cross contamination.
The disease was traced after several children presented with gastroenteritis in Soweto earlier in the week. It was found through test that they had listeriosis.

Latest stats from the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) show that 948 cases detected and 180 deaths have been reported.

Listeriosis caused by the bacterium, Listeria monocytogenes can contaminate animal products and fresh produce such as fruits and vegetables. Pregnant women, neonates, elderly people and anyone with weakened systems are at risk.

Members of the public have been advised to get rid of any Enterprise ready-to-eat products. Shoprite and Pick ‘n Pay indicated they are withdrawing all products linked to the source of the disease.

Tiger Brands confirmed that all Enterprise products, as identified, will be recalled.

“We are working very closely with the officials at present to conduct the process and will provide updates to the public on this matter,” said spokesperson Nevashnee Naicker in a statement.

Motsoaledi includes that the Enterprise facility in Germiston on the East Rand, and Rainbow chicken facility in the Free State has been singled out pending for more tests to determine the sequence type.

Additional reporting: News24

The Power Energy Contribution

In our changing energy resource landscape, the importance of energy co-operation and diplomacy among BRICS are essential for the bloc’s success and sustainability.

Energy co-operation among BRICS countries can significantly contribute to the success of BRICS as an economic bloc. For this to happen, an innovative BRICS energy co-operation plan must be developed which considers the following: the historical energy diplomacy of the BRICS countries, the dynamics of international energy markets and the changing
energy resource landscape for future energies which is being spurred by various factors, including the COP 21 agreement – also known as the 2015 Paris Climate Conference – which set a target to keep the rise in temperature of the earth’s atmosphere below 2°C.

BRICS should strive to promote energy security and sustainable development by finding ways to provide accessible,
affordable, reliable, and modern energy. Therefore, its energy policies must promote economic growth, support collaborations on energy technologies and reflect innovative financing models.

South Africa, in particular, has to look at energy co-operation in terms of including its diplomacy principles and its positioning as the BRICS gateway to the African continent, given that this country’s development is interlinked with that of the entire African continent.

Although BRICS is an alliance of five countries spanning four continents, member states differ in terms of their social, political and economic situations. According to Leonava et al (2007) (Armijo 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 and China) – before the inclusion of South Africa in 2010 – it accounted for a fifth of the world’s economy and 43% of the world’s population (Yao et al. 2009). After South Africa’s inclusion, the group as a collective consumed more energy than the G7 countries.

In this respect, two countries in BRICS – China and India – are set to change the global energy landscape because of their
consumption patterns. China remains the world’s largest producer and consumer of coal and looks poised to overtake the United States as the largest oil consumer by the 2030s. It also has a larger gas market share than the European Union.

Unlike China, India 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.

In preparing a successful energy co-operation plan within BRICS, past discussions – including those dating back
to the first BRIC summit, held in Russia in 2009 – must be considered:

»»In 2009, in Yekaterinburg in Russia, this joint statement was issued by BRIC at its inaugural summit: “We stand for
strengthening co-ordination and cooperation among states in the energy field, including among energy producers and
consumers and transit states, in an effort to decrease uncertainty and ensure stability and sustainability. We support diversification of energy resources and supply, including renewable energy, security of energy
transit routes and creation of new energy investments and infrastructure.”

»»The 2011 BRICS summit took place in Sanya on the island of Hainan, China. This is where the Sanya Declaration was
signed, emphasising the significance of co-operation in developing renewable energy resources. The bloc called for the
strengthening of international co-operation to stabilise energy prices.

»»In 2012, at the BRICS summit in Delhi, India, the Delhi Declaration was issued which cautioned against the risk of energy
price volatility.

»»In 2013, the Durban Action Plan was issued at the BRICS summit, held in South Africa.
It included energy as a new area of cooperation for BRICS.

For all these declarations, the following critical questions remain: How will BRICS
countries co-operate on energy? What are the constraints and opportunities involved?
How can an energy co-operation deal be ratified that takes into account the diverse
requirements of the bloc?

The full version of this article first appeared in Issue 4 of BRICS Journal, as part of our partnership with The National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS).

Chinese, Russian, Indian ministers meet

December 12, 2017
Displayed with permission from China Daily

China, Russia and India agreed to maintain regional security and economic architecture in the Asia-Pacific, according to a joint statement issued on Monday after the 15th trilateral meeting of the foreign ministers of the three countries.

Maintaining regional security and economic architecture that is “open, inclusive and based on multilateralism and universally recognized principles of international law” is imperative for lasting peace and stability in the region, the statement said.

The three countries emphasized the need for coordination and cooperation in various regional forums and organizations such as the East Asia Summit to maintain regional peace and stability and to promote regional development and prosperity.

During the one-day meeting, Foreign Minister Wang Yi, his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov and Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj discussed a wide range of global and regional issues of common concern, according to the statement.

The three countries reiterated the importance they attached to cooperation and strategic partnership within BRICS.

“We will work together to implement all outcomes of BRICS summits to strengthen cooperation in economic, political, security and people-to-people fields, so as to usher in the second golden decade of BRICS cooperation,” said the statement, while commending the China’s successful hosting of the Ninth BRICS Summit in Xiamen in September.

The three countries also attached special importance to the joint work within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, saying the SCO is an important instrument in promoting multilateral political, security, economic and people-to-people interaction in the region.

Describing the Russia-India-China trilateral format as a platform to foster closer dialogue and practical cooperation in identified areas among the three countries, the joint statement said such cooperation is not directed against any other country.

“We wish to strengthen the trilateral dialogue for consultation and coordination on regional and global issues of mutual interest in the spirit of mutual understanding and trust,” it said.

“Our cooperation is conducive to maintaining international and regional peace and stability, and promoting global economic growth and prosperity,” it added.



China ranks No 2 in internet talents among BRICS countries

Wang Keju in Wuzhen
Displayed with permission from China Daily

China ranks second in the number of internet talents after India among the BRICS countries, according to a report released at the 4th World Internet Conference on Monday.

The 2017 Internet Talent Development Report, complied by the National Academy of Innovation Strategy in Beijing, shows that the number of internet talents in China accounts for 27% among the five countries, while India takes up 52.2%, almost as twice large as China.

The number of internet talents is distributed unevenly worldwide, said Ni Guangnan, a researcher at the Institute of Computing Technology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

“Chinese IT talents are highly competitive in innovation ability, diligence and other aspects, but enterprises at present are facing the pressure of a lack of talents,” he said.

In China, the major eight enterprises such as Huawei, Tencent, China Mobile have a total demand of about 169,000 internet talents this year. However, the major eight universities including Peking University and Shanghai Jiao Tong University can only provide about 14,900.

The report also shows that emerging internet startups are in a fierce contest with established internet companies for these talents.

Startups offer higher salaries to attract talents than the three major internet companies – Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent (BAT). The average salary in some new companies, including DiDi and Meituan, is higher than BAT by 21%, according to the report.

Startups offer higher salaries to attract talents than the three major internet companies – Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent (BAT). The technical employers with one to three years’ work experience in some new companies, including DiDi and Meituan, earn higher salaries than employees of BAT by 21%, according to the report.

“In a world where the boundaries between the internet and traditional industry are blurring, companies need the best talent to keep on top of the game,” said Yu Chengdong, CEO of Huawei’s consumer business group.

– China Daily

Naspers Video Entertainment announces leadership appointments

Naspers’s Video Entertainment business today announced new appointments to its leadership team.

Calvo Mawela has been appointed CEO of MultiChoice South Africa. In this new role Mawela will be responsible for MultiChoice SA and DStv Media Sales in South Africa. Mark Rayner, current CEO of MultiChoice SA, becomes Chief Operating Officer for MultiChoice South Africa.

Mawela will focus on strategic developments in the pay television industry, while Rayner will focus on ensuring product and operational excellence that will give DStv customers the best entertainment experience.

In addition the company announced the following appointments:

  • Yolisa Phahle, current CEO of M-Net, will step into the role of CEO of General Entertainment
  • Fahmeeda Cassim Surtee has been appointed as CEO of DStv Media Sales in South Africa, with Chris Hitchings continuing as overall CEO of DStv Media Sales
  • Gideon Khobane will continue to head up SuperSport as CEO

“This is a strong leadership team who can to take us into our next phase of growth,” says Imtiaz Patel, Video Entertainment Chief Executive. “While the pay television business faces technological shifts, regulatory and competitor challenges, the core focus remains delivering the best local and international content to our customers, anytime, anywhere on any device.”

“Calvo and Mark are an impressive team who will steer MultiChoice South Africa into the future. Their combination of strategic and operational skill and experience complement each other. Calvo is well-positioned to drive strategy and growth in our South African operations. He has a rich and varied experience in broadcasting and a proven track record in managing complex issues in South Africa and the rest of the continent.”

Mawela, currently executive in charge of regulatory affairs and policy for Video Entertainment, began his career at Sentech where he was responsible for commissioning transmitter sites. He has held senior positions at ICASA, where he was responsible for technical regulations relating to the broadcasting industry, Orbicom and MWEB.

Mawela led the planning team on the digital broadcasting plan for South Africa and served as a planning expert to the International Telecommunications Union. He also served as a councillor on the Minister of Communications’ advisory body for digital migration and is a registered professional engineer and a member of the South African Institute of Electrical Engineers.

Mark has proven himself to be able to get the best out of the business operationally,” Patel said. “His focus will be to deliver the best experience to customers in the best possible way, making sure we achieve our business objectives, including financial and customer satisfaction targets, and drive efficiencies.”

Yolisa has over 30 years experience in the entertainment industry, she joined the company in 2005 and has been leading M-Net since 2014. She started her career as a musician and member of Soul II Soul, performed with Duran Duran, has worked as a producer and BBC executive.  Under her leadership, Mzansi Magic was launched and our other local channels which include Africa Magic, Maisha Magic East, Maisha Magic Bongo as well as Zambezi Magic have seen an increased focus in our commitment to African storytelling. In her new role, she will continue to ensure that our customers have access to world class local and international entertainment.

Fahmeeda Cassim Surtee is currently Group Sales and Marketing Director for DStv Media Sales and has been involved in the media industry for more than 24 years. She started her career as sports journalist and advertising consultant at City Press newspaper before joining the MultiChoice Group in 1998 where she has been leading key strategic projects to commercialise digital properties and next generation products.

Cassim Surtee holds a variety of qualifications in media management, strategic marketing, business management and journalism and of her many achievements, she has been a Woman of the Year nominee, has co-authored a book on branding and set up a foundation for women in sport in South Africa.

These leadership appointments are effective immediately.

Everything you need to know about the #FeesCommission

[press statement]

Release of the Report of Commission of Inquiry into the Feasibility of making High Education and Training Fee-free in South Africa

Release of the Report of Commission of Inquiry into the Feasibility of Making High Education and Training Fee-free in South Africa

On 14 January 2016, I established a Commission of Inquiry into Higher Education and Training in order to add into the body of knowledge and evidence that will inform government’s decision making process in pursuit of a sustainable solution to the on-going higher education funding matter.

The Commission was chaired by Honourable Justice Jonathan Arthur Heher, assisted by Adv Gregory Ally and Ms Leah Khumalo.
The terms of reference of the Commission was to enquire into, make findings, report on and make recommendations on the following:
· The feasibility of making higher education and training (higher education) fee-free in South Africa, having regard to:
o The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, all relevant higher and basic education legislation, all findings and recommendations of the various presidential and ministerial task teams as well as all relevant educational policies, reports and guidelines;
o The multiple facets of financial sustainability, analysing and assessing the role of government together with its agencies, students, institutions, business sector and employers in funding higher education and training; and
o The institutional independence and autonomy which should occur visà- vis the financial funding model.

The Commission was expected to complete its work within a period of eight months and to submit its final report to the President within two months of completing its work.

At the request of the Commission the working period of the Commission was extended until 30 June 2017 with the report due within two months of completion of the work.

I received the final report from the Commission on 30 August 2017. I would like to thank Judge Heher and the Commissioners on the work done on this challenging matter. I also thank all stakeholders who made presentations to the Commission, and all who cooperated with the Commission to ensure that its work was done and concluded successfully.

I hereby release the Report of the Commission into the feasibility of making higher education and training fee-free in South Africa.


The recommendations of the Commission can be summarised as follows:

The Commission recommended that government increase Block funding to the Post School Education and Training Sector (PSET) as a whole in line with increased costs for providing quality education and infrastructure needs. The Commission recommended that government increase its expenditure on higher education and training to at least 1% of the GDP, in line with comparable economies. The Commission further recommended that government pay particular attention to the Technical and Vocational Education and Training colleges as they cannot perform at their current funding levels.

On student accommodation, the Commission found that there is a severe shortage of student accommodation across the higher education and training sector. The Commission recommended that government adopt an affordable plan to develop more student accommodation and that Historically Disadvantaged Institutions be prioritised. The commission further recommend a Public-Private Partnership approach when responding to the student accommodation challenge.

On the option of Online and Blended Learning, the Commission recommended that Government must further investigate the viability of “online and blended learning” as an alternative in addressing the funding and capacity challenges facing the current higher education and training sector.

The Commission made the following recommendations regarding the funding of students at TVET colleges:
· That all students at TVET Colleges should receive fully subsidized free education in the form of grants that cover their full cost of study and that no student should be partially funded.

The Commission recommended that the NRF bursaries (based on merit, or other criteria as developed by the NRF) for postgraduate students be retained and expanded when possible. The Commission further recommended for Postgraduate students to have access to a cost-sharing model of government guaranteed Income-Contingency Loans sourced from commercial banks (ICL).

It is recommended that students with debt, who have since graduated, be offered income-contingent loans (ICL) as well.

The Commission recommend that the participation of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) in the funding of university students be replaced by the ICL system. NSFAS should be retained for the provision of the funding of all TVET students and TVET student support if such retention is considered necessary.

The Commission recommends that all undergraduate and postgraduate students studying at both public and private universities and colleges, regardless of their family background, be funded through a cost-sharing model of government guaranteed Income-Contingency Loans sourced from commercial banks. Through this cost-sharing model, the Commission recommends that commercial banks issue government guaranteed loans to the students that are payable by the student upon graduation and attainment of a specific income threshold. Should the student fail to reach the required income threshold, government bares the secondary liability.

In implementing this model, the Commission recommends that the existing NSFAS model be replaced by a new Income Contingency Loan System.

Should government be opposed to this model, the Commission recommends that government consider the “Ikusasa Student Financial Aid Programme”, an Income Contingency Loan Funding Model proposed by the Ministerial Task Team on Funding for Poor, Working Class and Missing Middle Students.

The Commission further recommend that government considers the introduction of a university fee capping mechanism to avoid the cancelling out effect. Some key points of the ICL model are the following:
· repayment only begins when the student reaches a certain threshold income;
· payments only continue until such a time as the loan is paid off;
· the repayment period could be set to a maximum period so as ensure that payment does not impact on retirement accumulation;
· students could be allowed to settle the loan more quickly should they be able to;
· those who emigrate could be required to pay off the loan before leaving;
· loan is made available to all students ( Private and Public Universities) ;
· No means test;
· The financing of every university student is achieved through a bank loan at a rate favourable to the student. Whether such financing should extend to the full cost of education will depend solely on the choice of the borrower and his need for such an extension;
· Collection and recovery of the loan will be undertaken by SARS through its normal processes.
· The state can guarantee the loan or, better still, purchase the loan, so that the student becomes a debtor in its books. Prof Fioramonti, in his model proposed the inclusion of the banks as lenders to students, with a government guarantee, so as to cover the cost for the initial years.
· No student is obliged to repay a loan unless and until his or her income reaches a specified level. At the lowest specified level the interest rate is at its lowest but will increase in accordance with specified increases in income growth.
· If the loan is not repaid within a specified number of years the balance can be written off.
· The State will repay each student loan to the bank at a given date (say five years from the first advance).

The Commission recommended for the application and registration fees to be scrapped across the board.

The Inter-Ministerial Committee on Higher Education Funding led by the Minister in the Presidency Mr Jeff Radebe, and the Presidential Fiscal Committee whose lead Minister is the Minister of Finance, Mr Malusi Gigaba, are processing the report. I will make a pronouncement on the Report once the Ministers have concluded their work. I have decided to release the Report prior to the conclusion of our work in processing it so that the public can have an opportunity to study the report while we continue with the processing thereof.

For the full report and executive summary click here:
Commission of Inquiry into Higher Education Report.pdf
Commission of Inquiry into Higher Education Report_Executive Summary_0.pdf

Enquiries: Dr Bongani Ngqulunga on 082 308 9373 or

Issued by: The Presidency

China’s plans to standardise elderly care services

Displayed with permission from China Daily

The draft requires nursing homes to provide telecommunications services, including but are not limited to telephone and the Internet. If residents have problems with telecommunications services, institutions should provide professional staff to help them.

Staff should treat the elderly with politeness and patience, keeping the private information of residents and visitors confidential. The environment and facilities must be safe and protect resident privacy, the draft said.

Outsourcing services should be commissioned to qualified organisations, and withdrawal systems established.

Nursing homes should make public service programs and charging standards, and set out rules for addressing complaints. Complaints should be responded within 10 working days.

The draft also requires nursing homes to offer hospice services. Hospice services providers should receive training before offering services.

China had more than 230.8 million people aged 60 or above at the end of 2016, 16.7 percent of the total population, according to a report released by the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

By international standards, a country or region is considered an “ageing society” when the number of people aged 60 or above reaches 10 percent or more.

– China Daily 


SA Experts to take part in Russia’s Small Business Forum of the SCO and BRICS


A large delegation from South Africa will attend the 3rd Forum on Small Business of the SCO and BRICS Regions, which will take place om 28-29 September in the City of Ufa in Russia. Speakers from RSA will take part in the plenary session and a number of discussion meetings. Representatives of the business society and governmental bodies will participate in the Forum in order to strengthen and widen ties with entrepreneurs from Russia and other countries, as well as to find new business partners.

The Third Forum on Small Business of the SCO and BRICS Regions takes place in Ufa (Russia, Republic of Bashkortostan) on September 28-29, 2017. Over 1,300 delegates are expected to come from over 20 Russian regions and from abroad, including India, China, Brazil, South Africa, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan.

South African experts will speak at the plenary session Peculiarities, Role, and Place of Small Business in the SCO and BRICS Regional Economies. Achievements and Challenge as well as at the sessions Youth Entrepreneurship: A Major Vector of Business Cooperation in the SCO and BRICS, as well as Barrier-Free Cooperation in the SCO and BRICS. Among RSA’s speakers are the following:

  • Тебохо Секлохо Мешак, руководитель молодежной организации Next Generation, координатор молодежной контактной группы БРИКС в ЮАР, представитель Молодежного предпринимательского совета;
  • José Andre,  Managing Director at CAB Capital (PTY) Ltd;
  • Craig Appel, Department of Small Business Development.

The forum is organised by the Government of the Republic of Bashkortostan, State Committee of the Republic of Bashkortostan for Entrepreneurship and Tourism, and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Republic of Bashkortostan. The forum is supported by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation and the SCO Business Council.

The highlight of the forum is the plenary session Peculiarities, Role, and Place of Small Business in the SCO and BRICS Regional Economies. Achievements and Challenges attended by the Head of the Republic of Bashkortostan, heads of relevant federal and regional ministries, representatives of the expert community and international delegations.

The list of the invited speakers includes the First Deputy Chairperson of the Russian Government Igor Shuvalov, Official Secretary – Deputy Minister of Economic Development of the Russian Federation Oleg Fomichev, Head of the Republic of Bashkortostan Rustem Khamitov, Vice-President of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Elena Dybova, Director General of the SME Corporation Aleksandr Braverman, Director General of the Russian Export Center Petr Fradkov, Director General of the Agency for Strategic Initiatives Svetlana Chupsheva, Vice-President of Business Russia Nonna Kagramanyan, Executive Secretary of the SCO Business Council Sergey Kanavsky, President of the all-Russian NGO for small and medium-sized business OPORA RUSSIA Aleksander Kalinin, as well as the representatives of China and Kyrgyzstan. The session will be moderated by Farkhad Samedov, Deputy Prime-Minister of the Government of the Republic of Bashkortostan.

During the plenary session, the participants will discuss the regional peculiarities of small business development and the most promising market niches for entrepreneurs. The delegates will estimate the role of small business in various economies and analyze incentives for small business in Russian and the SCO and BRICS countries.

The forum will feature sessions on barrier-free cooperation in the SCO and BRICS; financial, legal, and infrastructural support to small business; support to export-oriented business. The participants will touch upon the issues of franchising, youth entrepreneurship, new digital technologies, etc. Special attention will be paid to the best practices of Russian and international small businesses. During the practical session, the participants will discuss the main mistakes of entrepreneurs, investment attraction mechanisms, and solutions to business obstructions.

Additional information support will be provided at the consultation platforms with representatives of the small business supporting organizations: Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation, Corporation on Small Business Development, Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Russian Export Center, Agency for Strategic Initiatives, Business Russia, etc.

Apart from that, both days of the forum the participants will be offered to visit Business Without Borders, an international track of presentations of delegations and individuals. This initiative will help small businesses find interested partners, build relationships with decision makers, negotiate, and conclude promising contracts.

Official website:

Promoting Services Trade

By Zhou Xiaoyan

A services trade cooperation roadmap was adopted at the trade ministers’ meeting to boost economic complementarities and diversification. With the trade in services becoming a new driver for global economic and trade growth, the ministers decided to intensify cooperation on information exchange, capacity building and coordination within BRICS to make services trade a new highlight of BRICS trade growth.

Although the group’s combined GDP accounts for nearly one fourth of the global total, its export of services accounted for only 11.3 percent of the world total in 2015, according to data from the World Trade OrganiSation.

“Services trade is not only a strong driving force of global economic and trade cooperation, but also a precious opportunity for countries to balance their trade structure. It will also push forward the development of China’s services industry and supply-side structural reform,” Xu Hongcai, Deputy Chief Economist with China Center for International Economic Exchanges, told Beijing Review.

Zhang Shaogang, Director General of the Department of International Trade and Economic Affairs at China’s Ministry of Commerce, said services trade covers a wide range of sectors and BRICS countries have demand for cooperation in every one of those sectors.

“As the first step in implementing the roadmap, we will carry out cooperation in the prioritized areas,” Zhang said at the press conference on August 1. “The first prioritized area would be tourism, with Russia being a hotspot travel destination for Chinese, and tourist visits to India, South Africa and Brazil gaining more popularity.”

An Yongming, a retiree living in Haikou, capital of south China’s Hainan Province, recently had an eight-day trip to Moscow and Saint Petersburg, which cost him a little more than 10,000 yuan ($1,500).

“People of my generation have a very deep fascination with Russia and deep memories of the former Soviet Union. We grew up listening to stories about the Soviet Union and reading Russian novels. Russian, instead of English, was the foreign language some of the people of my generation acquired,” An told Beijing Review. “Our minds are full of Russian names and places. I’d always wanted to visit the country.”

However, An thinks the local government has much to do to improve the tourist experience in Russia.

“Most Russians don’t serve their customers. Drivers don’t help passengers carry their luggage. There’s no Chinese language service on the flight, although the plane is full of Chinese. There are no Chinese signs or even English signs in most tourist spots,” An said. While he would still recommend people of his age to visit Russia, he thinks younger generations should visit countries with better tourist services.

In addition to the tourism industry, Zhang said other prioritized areas include healthcare, computer and related services, research and development, business services, construction services, distribution and education.

As the first achievement of the trade ministers’ meeting, China and Brazil signed a two-year action plan on August 1, pledging to bolster collaboration in services trade. It would include project consultation, project construction, information technology, automation of banking services, travel, culture and traditional Chinese medicine.

Read more about strengthening e-commerce cooperation within BRICS here.

This article was originally posted on Beijing Review.