University of Toronto
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BRICS Information Centre

2018 BRICS Johannesburg Summit
Interim Compliance Report

Alissa Xinhe Wang, Angela Hou, Brittaney Warren
and the University of Toronto BRICS Research Group, and
Irina Popova, Andrey Shelepov, Andrei Sakharov and Alexander Ignatov
and the Center for International Institutions Research
of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration,
May 26, 2019

This interim compliance report assesses the compliance of the BRICS members over the period of 27 July 2018 to 1 March 2019. It assesses 10 priority commitments of the 73 made at the Johannesburg Summit hosted by South Africa on 25-27 July 2018. The final report for the full period between the Johannesburg Summit and the 2019 summit will be released just before the Brasilia Summit, which will take place on 13-14 November 2019.

This report was prepared by the BRICS Research Group led by the Center for International Institutions Research of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA) and the Global Governance Program at Trinity College in the University of Toronto.

Download the full report here.

We welcome feedback on this report! If you have any comment about our assessment, or if you know of any actions taken by a BRICS member between 27 July 2018 and 1 March 2019 that might affect that assessment, please contact us at

Introduction and Summary

The 2018 BRICS Johannesburg Interim Compliance Report, prepared by the BRICS Research Group (based at Trinity College in the University of Toronto and the Center for International Institutions Research of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration [RANEPA]), analyses compliance performance by BRICS countries with 10 selected priority commitments drawn from the total of 73 commitments made by the leaders at the Johannesburg Summit on 25-27 July 2018. The interim report covers actions taken by the BRICS countries during the period only from 28 July 2018 to 1 March 2019. The final report covering the full period between the 2018 and 2019 summits will be published in November 2019 just before the Brasilia Summit.

Methodology and Scoring System

This report draws on the methodology developed by the G7 Research Group, which has been monitoring G7/8 compliance since 1996. The same methodology has been adopted for monitoring G20 performance since 2008. The use of this time-tested methodology provides for cross-institutional, cross-member and cross-issue consistency and thus allows compatibility and comparability of the compliance performance by different summit institutions and establishes a foundation for evidence-based assessment of the effectiveness of these institutions.[1] The methodology uses a scale from −1 to +1, where +1 indicates full compliance with the stated commitment, −1 indicates a failure to comply or action taken that is directly opposite to the stated goal of the commitment, and 0 indicates partial compliance or work in progress, such as initiatives that have been launched but are not yet near completion and whose final results can therefore not be assessed. Each member receives a score of −1, 0 or +1 for each commitment. For convenience, the scientific scores reported in the tables in this summary have been converted to percentages, where −1 equals 0%, 0 equals 50% and +1 equals 100%.[2]

Breakdown of Commitments

The commitments of the BRICS, as a group of major emerging economies, fall mainly into the areas relevant for the five countries (see Table 1). In particular, members' priorities for stimulating domestic economic recovery are reflected in the large share of trade and development commitments. Decisions on international cooperation and the reform of international institutions, which remain at the core of the BRICS agenda, also constitute a substantial share at about 10% of the total. At the same time, each presidency strives to incorporate its own priorities in the agenda and can thus substantially influence the breakdown of commitments. For instance, decisions made during the Russian presidency in 2009 focused mainly on energy and agriculture. In 2010 Brasilia retained energy as a top priority and also added development issues to the agenda. The 2011 summit in China shifted toward climate change. The 2012 Indian and 2013 South African presidencies considered regional security as a priority, with the Durban Summit also addressing development issues including infrastructure development and regional integration.

Brazil's 2014 presidency retained the BRICS focus on trade, international cooperation, development and finance, while for the first time paying increased attention to socioeconomic issues. Russia's 2015 presidency enhanced cooperation with other international institutions and agreed on specific measures in the areas of food and agriculture, information and communications technologies (ICT), and crime and corruption. India's presidency concentrated on institutionalization of BRICS cooperation and extension of people-to-people contacts, holding about a hundred of various events in different fields, including culture, science and sport. Chinese presidency of 2017 paid significant attention to the issues of ICT, regional security, development and support to the least developed countries with special emphasis on Africa.

At Johannesburg, the BRICS leaders focused on the theme of BRICS in Africa. The theme of the summit was "BRICS in Africa: Collaboration for Inclusive Growth and Shared Prosperity in the 4th Industrial Revolution." The BRICS leaders focused on reinforcing the current multilateral framework and voiced their support for multilateralism in a number of commitments. The declaration also focused on BRICS cooperation in peace and security, particularly in regional security issues related to Syria, Afghanistan and North Korea.

In the economic sphere, BRICS leaders made several commitments for economic cooperation, with a focus on ICT, skills development, open trade and the digital economy. In terms of development, BRICS leaders focused on infrastructure development in Africa, in particular with respect to addressing the infrastructure financing deficit. In addition, the leaders agreed to cooperate in areas such as quota review for the International Monetary Fund, international currency, anti-corruption and international taxation.

Selection of Commitments

For each compliance cycle (that is, the period between summits), the research team selects commitments that reflect the breadth of the BRICS agenda and the priorities of the summit's host, while balancing the selection to allow for comparison with past and future summits.[3] The selection also takes into account the breakdown of issue areas and the proportion of commitments in each one. The primary criteria for selecting a priority commitment for assessment are the comprehensiveness and relevance to the summit, the BRICS and the world. Selected commitments must meet secondary criteria such as measurability and ability to comply within a year. The tertiary criteria include significance, as identified by relevant stakeholders in the host country and scientific teams. Of the total of 73 commitments made at the 2018 Johannesburg Summit, the BRICS Research Group has selected 10 priority commitments for its compliance assessment (see Table 2).

Compliance Scores

The overall compliance by commitment (79%) is lower than in previous year, but higher than the average score for all summits (75%). The highest level of compliance (+1 or 100%) was registered for several commitments in the areas of development (African infrastructure), ICT, macroeconomics (Industrialization), terrorism (Terrorist Financing), energy (Natural Gas), health (Surveillance and Medical Services). BRICS compliance performance for these commitments shows the success of implementation of decisions in key spheres of cooperation as well as growing role of BRICS countries in cooperation for development. They were followed by the commitment on trade (Antiprotectionism) at 80%. Lower scores were registered for three commitments: crime and corruption with 0 (50%), regional security with −0.20 (40%) and finance with −0.60 (20%).

The score for the commitment on finance is the lowest. It can be explained by the fact that this commitment implies the long-term process of establishing the BRICS local currency bond fund and internal measures on development of national currency bond market which are hard to implement.

Thus, for the period from 6 September 2017 to 5 July 2018, the BRICS countries achieved an average final compliance score of +0.58 (79%). The final compliance scores by commitment are contained in Table 3.

Compliance Trends

This is the sixth BRICS compliance report produced by the BRICS Research Group. The 2012 Delhi Summit, at +0.28 or 64%, was a dip between the 2011 Sanya and 2013 Durban summits both at +0.48 or 74%. The 2014 Fortaleza Summit achieved a score of +0.40 (70%), close to the average for all five summits assessed (75%). The average score for compliance with the Ufa Summit commitments was +0.56 or 78%. BRICS members demonstrated the highest compliance score for the Goa Summit — 89%. The final compliance score for Xiamen summit is 79%.


[1] Informal summitry institutions are defined as international institutions with limited membership, relatively low bureaucracy and reliance on open, flexible and voluntary approaches. Regular meetings of the heads of states and governments who engage on a wide range of international, regional and domestic politics stand at the pinnacle of such international arrangements, which involve many actors operating according to established procedures on two levels: domestic and international. Commitments contained in the collectively agreed documents are not legally-binding but their implementation is stimulated by peer pressure. Among such bodies engaged in global and regional governance are G7/G8, G20, BRICS, APEC and others.

[2] The formula to convert a score into a percentage is P=50×(S+1), where P is the percentage and S is the score.

[3] Guidelines for choosing priority commitments, as well as other applicable considerations, are available in the G8 Commitment/Compliance Coding and Reference Manual.

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Table 1: Distribution of BRICS Commitments across Issue Areas, 2009-2018

Issue Area 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Energy 5 9 1 2         6 2
Finance   3 1     6 6 5 9 5
Climate change   1 6 3 1 1 1 1 3  
Macroeconomic policy   1 5 1 5 7 6 4 4 3
Trade   3 5 9 4 4 5 2 6 4
International cooperation 1 2 5 3 6 8 30 7 21 18
Socioeconomic 1 1 3 2   7 5 2   2
Development 1 5 1 3 10 4 4 2 11 6
Natural disasters 1 1 1              
Food and agriculture 3   1 1   1 17   5 3
ICT     2     1 17 3 12 3
Science and education 1 1 1     2 5      
Health     1 1   1 6 2 6 1
Human rights     1   1 2 5   2  
Accountability     1              
Regional security 1   1 4 8 6 6 4 12 7
Terrorism     1 1 2 2 1 4 7 3
Culture   1       3 1 2 3  
Sport   1                
IFI reform 1 2 1 2 9 8 3 2 5 2
Non-proliferation         1     1 2  
Crime and corruption           4 10 3 8 6
Environment           1 1 1 3 3
Tourism 1     1
International taxation                   4
Total 15 31 38 32 47 68 130 45 125 73

Note: ICT = information and communications technology; IFI = international financial institutions.

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Table 2: 2018 BRICS Interim Johannesburg Summit Priority Commitments

  Issue Area Commitment
1 Trade: Multilateral trading system We, therefore, agree to constructively engage in further developing the current legal framework of the multilateral trading system within the WTO, taking into consideration the concerns and interests of all WTO members, including in particular the developing members.
2 Jobs: Fourth Industrial Revolution We strongly acknowledge that skills development is critical to addressing the emerging mismatch between the new skills demanded by an increasingly technology-and knowledge-driven global economy and the older skill set of many workers. The pace, scale and scope of present-day economic change makes it that more challenging] In this regard, we support measures including policy recommendations proposed in the G20 Initiative to Promote Quality Apprenticeship and the BRICS Action Plan for Poverty Alleviation and Reduction through Skills, to further facilitate vocational training, lifelong learning and the training that is relevant to the fast-changing demand of growing economies and world of work.
3 Crime and corruption: Extradition and asset recovery Subject to our domestic legal systems we will cooperate in anti-corruption law enforcement, extradition of fugitives, economic and corruption offenders and repatriation in matters relating to assets recovery and other related criminal and non-criminal matters involving corruption.
4 Development: Infrastructure in Africa We therefore reaffirm our support for sustainable infrastructure development in Africa, including addressing the infrastructure financing deficit
5 Health: vaccines We commit to strengthening the coordination and cooperation on vaccine research and development within BRICS countries.
6 Tax: Base erosion and profit shifting [We will continue our commitment to] … to ensure the fairness of the international tax system particularly towards the prevention of base erosion and shifting of profits.
7 Financial regulation: Market integration We reaffirm our commitment to facilitate financial market integration through promoting the network of financial institutions and the coverage of financial services within BRICS countries, subject to each country's existing regulatory framework and WTO GATS obligations.
8 Energy: Source supply diversification We reaffirm that the diversification of energy supply sources, including renewable and low carbon energy sources, investments in energy and energy infrastructure, energy industry and market development and intra-BRICS collaboration for access to primary energy sources will continue to underpin our energy security.
9 Macroeconomic policy: Global value chains We encourage measures that support greater participation, value addition and upward mobility in Global Value Chains for our firms, particularly in industry and agriculture, especially Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), including through the preservation of policy space to promote industrial development.
10 Regional security: Syria We reaffirm our commitment for a political resolution of the conflict in Syria, through an inclusive "Syrian-led, Syrian-owned" political process that safeguards the state sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Syria, in pursuance of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254 (2015) and taking into account the result of the Congress of the Syrian National Dialogue in Sochi.

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Table 3: 2018 BRICS Johannesburg Summit Interim Compliance Scores


Issue Areas Brazil Russia India China South Africa Average
1 Trade: Multilateral trading system 0 +1 0 +1 +1 +0.60 80%
2 Jobs: Fourth Industrial Revolution +1 0 0 +1 +1 +0.60 80%
3 Crime and Corruption: Extradition and asset recovery 0 0 0 0 0 0 50%
4 Development: Infrastructure in Africa 0 0 -1 +1 0 0 50%
5 Health: Vaccines +1 +1 +1 +1 +1 +1.00 100%
6 Tax: Base Erosion and Profit Shifting +1 +1 +1 +1 +1 +1.00 100%
7 Financial Regulation: Market Integration +1 +1 +1 +1 0 +0.80 90%
8 Energy: Supply Source Diversification +1 +1 +1 +1 +1 +1.00 100%
9 Macroeconomic Policy: Global Value Chains 0 +1 +1 +1 +1 +0.80 90%
10 Regional Security: Syria −1 0 −1 0 −1 −0.60 20%
  Average +0.40 +0.60 +0.30 +0.80 +0.50 +0.52 76%
70% 80% 65% 90% 75%

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Research Team

Dr. Marina Larionova, Co-director, BRICS Research Group
Professor John Kirton, Co-director, BRICS Research Group
Brittaney Warren, Researcher, BRICS Research Group

University of Toronto Research Team

Alissa Xinhe Wang, Chair of Summit Studies, BRICS Research Group
Angela Min Yi Hou, Editor-in-Chief, BRICS Research Group

Country Specialists

Maria Zelenova, Russia Country Specialist
Ian Stansbury, China Country Specialist
Courtney Hallink, South Africa Country Specialist
Ramsha Naveed

Compliance Analysts

Mishail Adeel
Jessica Afonso
Alyssa Atef
Weijia Chen
Jamie Chen
Amy Chen
Tony Tianyi Chen
Hayden Cheung
Abby Chu
Lucia Dhafana-Mabika
Jocelyn Donahue
Ryan Fung
Tarun Gannavaram
Jiayi Guo
Nour Habli
Syed Haider
Layal Hallal
Amal Ismail-Ladak
Geordie Jeakins
Wenny Yiyao Jin
Nammal Khan
Aaron Kivell
Mathew Kivell
Mathew Kronberg
Michaella Ladha
Agnes Priscilla Layarda
Juntian Li
Zemin Liu
Angelah Yilin Liu
Kiara Lu
Tracy Luong
Yushu Ma
Jack Mageau
Talha Mahboob
Areej Malik
Shamshir Malik
David Manocchio
Mary-Anne Meersabeer
Fahim Mostafa
Maria Pepelassis
Natasha Pirzada
Kelly Prendergast
Evangeline Procopoudis
Jawad Ramal
Tashi Rastogi
Sana Rizvi
Srijan Sahu
Niara Sareen
Nicole Shi
Sergio Snabian
Drishti Thakkar
Pedro Melo Trindade
Wing Ka Tsang
Parul Wadhawan
Ashley Yi Wei
Brandon Yih
Austin Zeyuan Zeng
Mengdi Zhao

RANEPA Research Team

Irina Popova, Moscow Team Leader
Alexander Ignatov
Andrei Sakharov
Andrey Shelepov

Compliance Analysts

Alina Kachanova
Yekaterina Litvintseva
Polina Petrova
Tatyana Tsarenkova
Dmitriy Zits

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