Bilateral and multi-lateral social security agreements are essential tools to extend social security coverage by providing access to social security for migrant workers. The International Social Security Association (ISSA) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) are facilitating exchanges among the BRICS countries (Brazil, China, India, Russian Federation and South Africa) regarding the conclusion of such agreements.
The ISSA and the ILO jointly host the BRICS Virtual Liaison Office on social security cooperation, as mandated by the BRICS Ministries of Labour and Employment. On 29-30 April 2021, an Executive Interactive Webinar on Conducting Negotiations on Social Security Agreements between Nations: Initiation Approaches and Procedures was organized. The objective of the webinar was to encourage national teams from the BRICS ministries and social security bodies to brainstorm on social security branches for their potential future social security agreements, explore ways of coordination and cooperation in this area, and conduct a preliminary exchange of views on next steps.
High level representatives of the five national teams shared experiences from the Agreement on Pension Provision of Workers of the Member States of the Eurasian Economic Union (recently discussed in this ISSA webinar), the MERCOSUR Multilateral Agreement on Social Security, the Ibero‑American Multilateral Convention on Social Security, and the Multilateral Convention on Social Security of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (not yet ratified). The participants also shared relevant information about their countries’ bilateral social security agreements.
Multilateral social security agreements are complex issues and there was a common understanding that the BRICS countries should continue to take a step-by-step approach. At the bilateral level, there is only one agreement concluded to date between Brazil and India in 2018. The ILO and ISSA expressed their full availability and support to the BRICS countries for any process on social security agreements, including the sharing of good practices on negotiations, on data sharing, and on the use of information and communication technology. Further discussions have been held in the context of the BRICS Employment Working Group and will be continued in the framework of the forthcoming BRICS Labour and Employment Ministerial Meeting with participation of the ILO and ISSA.
The BRICS webinar was organized by the ISSA-ILO BRICS Virtual Liaison Office in collaboration with the Ministry of Labour and Employment of India, and greeted by Shahra Razavi, Director of the ILO Social Protection Department, and Marcelo Abi-Ramia Caetano, ISSA Secretary General. There was high-level participation from ministries and social security bodies of the five BRICS countries.