march 23, 2024

Partnership and Infrastructure Development: Highlights of the BRICS+ New Economy Legal Forum

The BRICS+ New Economy Legal Forum was held in Dubai in early March to discuss international trade and investment, the prospects for the development of economic relations between the countries of the global South and East, and the role of legal and financial international infrastructure in this process.
The event brought together 250 executives and business owners, vice-presidents and heads of trading, financial and legal divisions of companies from the BRICS+ zone, as well as partners of law firms and consulting companies engaged in international projects. NeLi (New Economy & Legal Infrastructure centre), located in Dubai, was the organiser of the forum, which hosted delegates from over 20 countries.

One of the major outcomes of the Forum was the idea of initiating a business survey of the BRICS+ countries which was presented in the course of the discussions. Based on its findings, it is planned to publish Doing Business BRICS+: a guide to business activity in the countries analysed, including an overview of the financial and legal environment, investment specifics and the state of protection of foreign investors' rights, intellectual property protection, cross-border dispute resolution. Also, the results of the research will include the BRICS+ Legal Index: a ranking of leading business-focused legal advisors working on cross-border projects and providing a high level of service and expertise to international business in their respective jurisdictions.

"The research of national markets of legal services in BRICS+ countries launched by NeLi Centre will make it possible to create a legal and business information platform so necessary for the development of integration processes within the community," said ART DE LEX Managing Partner Dmitry Magonya, a member of the BRICS+ New Economy Legal Forum organising committee.

See our detailed report on the discussion of current issues of economic interaction between the BRICS countries and their economic partners.

BRICS+ as a Zone for the Development of International Economic Relations

The guests listened to the speeches of speakers from Brazil, the United Arab Emirates, Russia, Turkey and Switzerland.
Abdullah Baqer, the Regional Director for Middle East & Eurasia of Dubai Chambers, made a welcome address to the guests of the forum. "I am delighted to welcome major companies, exporters, investors, financial institutions and leading legal advisors to contribute to the development of international trade and investment in the new macroeconomic environment," he said. — The Forum will be a key global platform for discussing current legal and economic issues related to economic development and building legal infrastructure in the BRICS+ regions."

The role of cross-state co-operation between the countries of the Global South and East in the development of the international economy was the key topic of the forum’s opening discussion. CEOs and leading executives of large businesses expanding across emerging markets discussed the key trends of international development, its mechanisms and core business objectives in this regard.

Vadim Titov, CEO of Rosatom — International Network, was among the panelists. He focused on Rosatom’s international expansion — according to his report, over the past 14 years, the corporation with operations in more than 60 countries has managed to increase its share of the international nuclear construction market from 10% to 88%.
The participants of the discussion noted that the lack of economic, financial and legal infrastructure in the BRICS+ zone is felt in almost every sphere — from payment arrangements to cross-border dispute resolution, from mechanisms to protect the rights of foreign investors to issues of mutual recognition of national court rulings. The reason is that the BRICS countries have not yet established joint public organisations that would discuss these issues, develop common practices and regulate these areas in accordance with the principles adopted in international economic and legal systems.

The participants of the discussion noted that the lack of economic, financial and legal infrastructure in the BRICS+ zone is felt in almost every sphere — from payment arrangements to cross-border dispute resolution, from mechanisms to protect the rights of foreign investors to issues of mutual recognition of national court rulings. The reason is that the BRICS countries have not yet established joint public organisations that would discuss these issues, develop common practices and regulate these areas in accordance with the principles adopted in international economic and legal systems.
Thus, Arthur Machado from Geneve Investements focused partly on the problem of unbalanced international financial settlements in the current context. According to him, today BRICS countries buy commodities on the Chicago Exchange at stock exchange rates and settle in dollars, while none of the countries of the union does the same for domestic settlements. Machado pointed out the need to build mechanisms for international settlements in national currencies in the BRICS+ zone. The same problem was noted by Ilya Bolotov, Industrial Director of FIC Invest, who spoke about various forms of commodity exchange that allow trade to flow without the use of international financial settlement systems and "help participants of trading establish long-term, mutually beneficial and effective co-operation". The advantage of such a method is in accelerating the development of international trade, the speaker emphasised. He shared a few examples of this kind of co-operation with companies from Iran, Turkey and other countries.

Andrey Tsyganov, Deputy Head of the Federal Antimonopoly Service of Russia, also spoke about the need to develop cross-country infrastructure, particularly the legal infrastructure. He said that over the past 20 years, the BRICS countries have managed to effectively establish co-operation both at the state level and at the level of scientific communities. "There is only one important link missing — professional co-operation in improving the association's legal documents and regulatory framework," he emphasised.
It was not without international arbitration institutions. On the sidelines of the round table, lawyers shared their experience working with neutral institutions in Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai.
.......We, like all large businesses expanding globally, face the challenges of organising cross-border operations and the high transaction costs related to this. It is necessary to develop international financial and legal infrastructure in the BRICS+ zone, conduct research in Doing Business format and adjust legal frameworks for foreign companies and investments in BRICS+ countries.
Vadim Titov, CEO of Rosatom
The mechanisms of international legal infrastructure can be illustrated not only by such established institutions as international arbitrations, but also by public associations of legal professionals, such as the Inter-Pacific Bar Association (IPBA), which become a platform for international contacts, discussion of topical cross-border legal issues and development of best practices in these areas. IPBA President Richard Briggs, who spoke at the Forum, notes that currently "business from all over the world is starting to look East — towards those countries that continue to expand their international activities, including Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia". All of these jurisdictions are represented in IPBA by leading firms. "IPBA members, immediately gain access to colleagues, and through them, clients from the countries listed. Networking at the annual conferences is an effective way to form business ties with advisers from different states."

More than a third of global production of goods and services is concentrated in BRICS+ countries, and this share will increase, said Dmitry Magonya, Managing Partner of ART DE LEX. "Development of co-operation between businesses of different countries, elimination of a variety of barriers (especially in the payment system) can multiply the volume of trade and direct investment. This requires harmonisation of legislation and regulatory practices. The role of lawyers in this can hardly be overestimated," the lawyer emphasised.
The Forum participants tried to find answers to the question what areas of cooperation could drive the development of economic relations within the association. According to Wilson de Faria, Managing Partner of WFaria Attorneys, venture capital investments can and should become one of the drivers of the BRICS+ economies. He cited Brazil’s success in attracting venture capital as an example. "Venture capital investment has been the main tool for attracting foreign investment to Brazil because of the prevalence of deals in sectors geared towards innovation. In addition, venture capital and private equity investments have shown positive and growing returns, both in Brazilian reals and US dollars, both in the long and short term," de Faria told us.

Softline CEO Vladimir Razuvaev, another panelist with experience in global expansion, spoke about BRICS+ technology markets. Expansion into BRICS+ markets presents unique challenges and opportunities for IT companies due to the diverse socio-economic, regulatory and cultural characteristics of these regions, he claimes. This expansion poses a number of significant challenges for technology companies, Razuvaev emphasises. For example, when hiring employees, they need to develop talent acquisition, training and localisation strategies to build effective teams and adapt their products to local preferences. The issue of interaction with government agencies is also important, Razuvaev highlighted. "Creating relationships with government stakeholders and advocating for policies that support innovation and growth in the IT sector are integral to successful expansion into BRICS+ markets. Engaging with legislators, industry associations and regulators can help IT companies overcome obstacles and create a favourable business environment," he stressed.
Lawyers shared fresh and turning practices for business.
Another platform for high-tech international co-operation could be the sphere of creation and distribution of Internet content, says Boris Yedidin, Vice President of the Internet Development Institute, who spoke about the opportunities for co-operation in the BRICS+ space on the production and distribution of Internet content. There are many mutually attractive markets within the association and interest in them is growing. For example, in 2022, box office receipts of Russian films in the Middle East and North Africa increased significantly. And while in 2022 the gulf countries ranked tenth in the world in terms of box office, in 2023 the combined box office in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman made it to sixth place on the list.

"Given the population and number of active internet users in the BRICS+ countries, as well as the technological growth in them, all the conditions are in place to change the global market for audiovisual products and video games. The creation of a common technological platform for the distribution of audiovisual works, mutual filling of libraries of national services can provide local producers with at least 20% of the global content market already in the short term," expects Yedidin.

Another speaker from Brazil was Filipe Barros, a federal deputy and chairman of the Congressional Committee on Natural Resources, Mining and Innovation. He spoke about the nature and size of Brazil’s mining industry, as well as upcoming regulatory changes to make it more attractive to foreign investment.
The forum participants could get to know and communicate with each other in an informal setting…
ююThe next step to bring the interaction between BRICS antitrust regulators to the next stage is to develop proposals on harmonising the regulatory regimes following the best international practices.
Andrey Tsyganov, Deputy Head of the Federal Antimonopoly Service of Russia
Omar Abdulsattar Mohammed Alfahim, Vice President, Regional Head of Abu Dhabi & Al Ain, Emirates NBD Bank, also spoke about the challenges of shaping a sustainable and equitable future. He dedicated his speech to reviewing the factors contributing to the growing global interest in the Gulf region, and particularly the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and stated the importance of discussing the legal challenges faced in setting up cooperation between countries. "As we have brought together the brilliant minds of lawyers, politicians and industry leaders, we have the combined knowledge and expertise to build a legal architecture that supports the dynamic economies in this group, pushing them to succeed in this new era," he said.
"My view is that we are now living in a multipolar world, and the BRICS+ countries have a unique opportunity to take a very important position in this world," concluded another panellist Alan Gandelman, CEO of Sefer Investimentos.
……We are just a few steps away from achieving a bureaucracy-free regulatory system. In Brazil, investors will embrace an ideal climate for prosperity.
Filipe Barros, a federal deputy and chairman of the Congressional Committee on Natural Resources, Mining and Innovation
……The BRICS countries, together with their expanding network of partners, are poised to become key players in shaping a more equitable and sustainable future. However, realising this potential requires a sound legal framework. A harmonised legal framework is needed to facilitate seamless trade and investment across borders, protect intellectual property and innovation, and ensure fair and transparent markets.
Omar Abdulsattar Mohammed Alfahim, Vice President, Regional Head of Abu Dhabi & Al Ain, Emirates NBD Bank
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At the plenary session, participants of large companies discussed the directions of international development, its mechanisms and business needs. The focus was on such investment sectors as energy, metallurgy, agriculture, IT, media and finance.
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