CUTS International Washington DC Center
Monthly Brief #65, August 2023
BRICS: Expanding Horizons of South-South Cooperation
The global multilateral order is in crisis and the fault lines between the blocs have widened. Organisations such as the BRICS or G20 have attained importance in this geopolitical and geoeconomic context and are key to building consensus and action-taking. One such organisation- the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) met for its Annual Leaders’ Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa on August 22–24, 2023.
A key highlight of the Summit was the agreement to admit six new members: Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates. They will officially join the group in January 2024.
Some observers claimed that it was advantageous to Beijing as the Chinese President, Xi Jinping favoured rapid inclusion of new members and termed the expansion as “historic”. Meanwhile, the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi exhorted BRICS to build a consensus for expansion.
The BRICS expansion is good news for the New Development Bank (NDB). It may be situated in Shanghai, China but all members have equal say. Secondly, the founding President was an Indian while the current President is a Brazilian. Expansion of members of BRICS also means an increase in financial resources for funding development projects. The NDB therefore can develop the potential for out funding the World Bank which has Western biases built into it. The G20 under the leadership of N. K. Singh and Larry Summers have prepared a report for reforms of the MDBs and hope that gets some momentum.
Lo and behold, there were expectations that BRICS would challenge the U.S. dollar, but no such agreement or currency was discussed during the Summit. However, some commentators have indicated that the BRICS meeting could lend impetus to countries such as India to help push the rupee through the NDB.
The NDB could borrow money in the national currencies of its members and lend it to others who may use it to purchase goods from countries that recognise these currencies. This will be a practical strategy for using the Bank. India can also internationalise the Rupee in this way.
So, now that the BRICS Summit is over, the focus must shift to the NDB and its potential for emerging as a bank for equitable financing of the Global South and much of it in local currencies. The BRICS bank as an institution has the potential for expanding the horizons of South-South cooperation.
Pradeep S. Mehta

P.S.: When we were going to release this Brief, we were wondering about the impact of Xi Jinping’s absence at the forthcoming G20 Summit when he did attend the smaller BRICS Summit in Jo’burg a few days ago.
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India, U.S. mutually resolve 2 trade disputes: WTO
The World Trade Organisation (WTO) on August 08, 2023 said that two separate dispute settlement panels have stated that India and the U.S have mutually resolved disputes with regard to certain measures on steel and aluminium products, and additional duties on certain products from the U.S. On July 13, the two countries notified that they had reached a mutually agreed solution to the matters raised in the two disputes.

Using all platforms to flag non-tariff barriers impacting trade
India is using all multilateral and bilateral platforms including G20 to flag concerns with regard to Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) which are impacting the free flow of trade. India has already raised its concerns on issues like the European Union's (EU) carbon tax on different platforms, including the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Such measures by G20 member countries are likely to figure in the trade ministers' meeting of the grouping.

It’s time to lower barriers, raise expectations, ambitions to take India-U.S. trade to next level: Eric Garcetti
India and the U.S. are working together to uphold international law and a rules-based order, as well as deter any "bad actor," according to U.S. Ambassador Eric Garcetti. He emphasised the need for India to lower barriers and raise expectations in order to enhance bilateral trade (Paywall). He also stated that the leaders' declaration at the upcoming G20 Summit would continue to include language referring to the Ukraine crisis.

India to have major trade opportunities as 6 more countries join BRICS
In the wake of the BRICS expansion, with six more countries Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates (UAE), joining the club from January 01, 2024. India could have significant trade opportunities in several commodities as it holds a 57 percent share in the export basket and a better revealed comparative advantage, State Bank of India (SBI) research says in its latest report.


U.S. companies want to invest more in power
A U.S. business delegation has expressed interest in investing more in the power and energy sector of Bangladesh, said Nasrul Hamid, State Minister for power, energy and mineral resources. He was addressing a press briefing on holding a meeting with members of a visiting U.S.-Bangladesh Business Council at Bangladesh Secretariat in Dhaka. He earlier said Bangladesh required an investment of US$170 billion in the power and energy sector by 2041 for meeting its target of producing 40,000 megawatts of electricity along with ensuring infrastructure development.

India, U.S. join hands to launch Renewable Energy Tech Action Platform for clean energy
A meeting between the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), Government of India was held on August 29, 2023 to launch the new U.S.-India Renewable Energy Technology Action Platform (RETAP) under the Strategic Clean Energy Partnership. RETAP was announced during the June 22, 2023 meeting in Washington DC, between his Excellency Joseph R Biden, President of the U.S. of America and Prime Minister Narendra Modi Prime Minister Modi, when the two leaders announced the expansion of collaboration on new and emerging technologies to accelerate the clean energy transition.
Three challenges India must overcome for a successful energy transition
India today is in a period of unprecedented growth. A cascade of landmark transitions from physical cash to digital payments, from fossil fuels to renewables, from in formal-to-formal economy, and from underserved to last-mile inclusion is ushering in a new milieu of development. The energy transition is the most salient of all transformations, for both its scale and its impact on India’s economy and environment.

Solar a bright spot in slow progress toward U.S. renewable energy goals
Shipments of solar panels in the U.S. reached a record high last year, up 10 percent from 2021, according to a new analysis from the Energy Information Administration. Shipments of solar panels and solar capacity have been rising pretty steadily since 2010. In that time, the cost of panels has also been dropping. For the most part, the U.S. is not on track to reach its climate goals. To actually cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050, “we need to really be smashing record deployment rates every year for the next decade and beyond for renewable energy,” said Jesse Jenkins at Princeton University.


India needs to clear ambiguities on civil liability in case of a nuclear incident
A pertinent question regarding the operation of nuclear reactors is that of civil liability for damages in the event of an accident. It became evident during nuclear incidents such as the Three Mile Island (1979), the Chernobyl (1986), and the Fukushima Daiichi (2011). Now, the discourse is even more relevant considering the geopolitical tensions around the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine.

Historic challenges require cooperation with common allies for a free, open Indo-Pacific: U.S. Army Attache in India
U.S. Army Attache in India, Colonel Douglas Hess while addressing the U.S.-India Defense conclave on August 04, 2023 said that the historic challenges need unprecedented cooperation with common allies with an aspiration of free and open Indo-Pacific. The U.S. Consulate General Kolkata and CUTS International organised a half-day workshop titled “Defense News Conclave: Stories of US-India Defense and Security Partnership,” to create awareness about the bilateral defence relationship between the U.S. and India is strong and continues to grow, U.S. Consulate Kolkata said in a statement.

India is important to reduce the U.S.' dependency on China: Vivek Ramaswamy
Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy believes that a strong relationship between the U.S. and India can help the U.S. declare independence from China as the country is economically dependent on the East Asian nation. In a video message shared by the news agency PTI, Ramaswamy said, “The U.S. is economically dependent on China today, but with a stronger relationship with India, it becomes easier to declare independence from that Chinese relationship.”

U.S. Congress clears landmark India-U.S. fighter engine deal
The U.S. Congress has no objection to the Joe Biden administration’s decision to pursue the GE jet engine deal with India, paving the way for the implementation of the company’s agreement with the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) that includes unprecedented technology transfer, manufacturing of jet engines in India and licensing arrangements. During President Joe Biden’s visit to India for the G20 summit in September, both countries are expected to discuss the next steps in taking forward the deal.


India@100 | Computing: A quantum leap
Cutting-edge technologies are harnessing advancements in quantum mechanics, neural networks, nanomaterials and such. Together, they point to a future of superfast, highly-intelligent computing systems that will transform multiple fields, from transportation and communications to medicine and home appliances. In India, the growth is being driven by high-tech industries and start-ups applying these emerging technologies, and government initiatives to build capabilities in quantum computing, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and semiconductor manufacturing.

India plans to host first edition of 'Global IndiaAI 2023 ' in October
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology is planning to host the first edition of Global IndiaAI 2023 in October this year, an official statement said on August 30, 2023. There will be participation from leading AI players, researchers, startups, and investors in India and worldwide, the statement said. The Global IndiaAI 2023 conference is tentatively planned for October 14 and 15 and it will bring together the best and brightest in AI from India and around the world said Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Minister of State for Electronics and IT.

Flex Fuel technology arrives in India: Here's your complete guide
We have been hearing more and more about flex-fuel technologies over the last few years. It is not a recent invention because flex-fuel vehicles first gained popularity in the middle of the 1990s. But recently, a number of automakers have begun to talk more and more about their intention to release flex-fuel automobiles or motorcycles. The government has been vigorously promoting this technology in India, which has encouraged the automakers to concentrate more on this market. Flex-fuel technology has become more well-known as the focus on cleaner, greener fuel and powertrain solutions has grown.
India’s digital tech adoption a game-changer in mass healthcare delivery: Dr Senthil Kandeepan – Medical Devices
Adoption of digital technologies is indeed a game-changer on the Indian healthcare landscape. To this end, the Union government’s National Health Stack and Ayushman Bharat Yojana have the potential to revolutionise healthcare delivery in India by leveraging technology, data, and financial protection to ensure that quality medical care reaches a larger portion of the population, particularly those who have been historically underserved, said Dr S Senthil Kandeepan, founder and CEO, Healthwatch.


India is indispensable partner of U.S. for pharmaceutical supply
India is an indispensable partner of the U.S. for the supply of pharmaceutical products, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said on August 18, 2023. A top official of his country will be visiting India very soon to address the issue of shortage of some crucial drugs including those for cancer in the U.S., he said.

India, U.S. to collaborate on the quality standards of Indian pharma industry
India and the U.S. will work on forging a partnership to improve the quality standards of the domestic pharmaceutical industry so that Indian medicines are “accepted everywhere in the world”, a top U.S. official said on August 18, 2023. “We want to make sure that India continues to be a good partner in the exchange of pharmaceuticals and the growth of pharmaceutical products. This requires Indian companies to meet the U.S. standards if they wish to export to us,” Xavier Becerra, the Secretary of Health and Human Services said at the G20 Health Ministers’ meeting at Gandhinagar.

Regulating E-Pharmacies: An urgent imperative in India
Pharmacy constitutes a scientific discipline concerned with the preparation of medicinal drugs. The term "online pharmacy" refers to e-pharmacies that operate over the internet, where sellers offer medicines online through mail, courier, or delivery personnel. The advent of e-pharmacies in India has led to heightened consumer satisfaction, contributing to an increased demand for this sector. In comparison to fully developed sectors in the U.S. and Europe, India's e-pharmacy industry is still in its developmental stages.
Indian Pharma Industry on its way towards becoming truly 'Atmanirbhar'
India has already established itself as a global leader in the production of generic drugs. The future is likely to see India retain its dominant position and expand its market share, as demand for affordable medicines continues to rise worldwide. With investments in Research & Development, Indian pharmaceutical companies are likely to create a new era that can lead to breakthroughs in the treatment of various diseases and further establish a hub for pharmaceutical innovation.


Prime Minister Modi Lays Down a Vision for Global Businesses
Speaking about the B20 theme ‘R.A.I.S.E.’, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that even though the ‘I’ represents innovation but he pictures another ‘I’ of inclusiveness. He informed that the same vision has been applied when inviting the African Union to permanent seats at the G20. He said that as the pandemic shattered the edifice of mutual trust, India stood with confidence and humility raising the banner of mutual trust.

BRICS to have 6 new members with 'deep ties' to India, says PM Modi
The BRICS nations have unanimously decided to admit six new countries - Argentina, Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) into the grouping as full members. The bloc currently comprises Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. The new membership will be effective from January 01, 2024, and will be the first of a set of planned expansions, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said at the end of the 15th BRICS Summit in Johannesburg on August 24, 2023.

‘India is important country in the world for me,’ U.S. President Joe Biden once told U.S. Ambassador
U.S. Ambassador to India Eric Garcetti emphasised the deep linkages between India and U.S. while speaking at the Indian Diaspora G20 forum. He highlighted that President Joe Biden had earlier stressed to him the importance of India in the world and he also shared his aspiration to live in Bodh Gaya to do Buddhist studies program. The U.S. Ambassador said: “From technology to trade, from the environment to women's empowerment, from small businesses to space, we used to say the sky is the limit, but now that we're working together in space, not even the sky is the limit. From the seabed to the heavens, the U.S. and India are a force for good and a powerful force to move this world forward."
Celebration of 77th Independence Day of India
The 77th Independence Day of India was celebrated in Washington D.C. with a flag-hoisting ceremony on August 15, 2023 at India House. The ceremony was attended by a number of Indians, Diaspora members, students and friends of India. Ambassador of India H.E. Taranjit Singh Sandhu paid floral tributes at the Mahatma Gandhi memorial in Washington D.C. Following this, Ambassador unfurled the tricolour at India House, which was followed by singing of the National Anthem.