Events

New Directions in Brazilian Foreign Relations

September 28, 2007 // 8:30am12:30pm

 **To read the joint Brazil Institute-The Brookings Institution publication that resulted from this event, please click on the cover image to the left or scroll down to the bottom of the page to access both the Portuguese and English versions of the publication. Below is a brief summary of the events proceedings.**

Within Brazil, there is significant debate over the direction of the country's foreign policy: whether Brazil should give priority to relations with its neighbors in the Southern Hemisphere, or use its strengthened economy and technological prowess to project national interests globally. The debate touches on important differences of opinion regarding modernization, the nature of socio-economic challenges, and the future direction of agricultural production and trade.



To better understand the domestic pressures within Brazilian society and its foreign policy establishment regarding policy priorities, the Brazil Institute joined with the Brookings Institution to co-sponsor the September 28, 2007, conference on "New Directions in Brazilian Foreign Policy." Carlos Pascual, vice-president and director of foreign policy studies at Brookings, observed that Brazil and the United States can use the issues of global finance, exchange of technology and the development of markets to deepen relations.

Brazilian Ambassador to the United States Antonio de Aguiar Patriota highlighted Brazil's priorities and accomplishments in the international arena, including its role in the United Nations, its leadership in efforts to reform the Security Council, its work to establish a strategic partnership with China and the European Union, and a deepening dialogue with the United States. Patriota emphasized that Brazil has "managed to reconcile economic growth while deepening [its] democratic roots and diminishing inequality."

During the second panel on "The Challenges of Modernization: The Domestic Debate on the Future of Brazilian Foreign Policy," Mônica Herz, professor and director of the Institute of International Relations, Pontifical Rio, suggested that Brazil, along with its partners in the developing world, now had the capacity to adapt established international norms to counter the dominance of the North Atlantic—principally, the United States and the United Kingdom. However, she cautioned against wholesale changes in international legal norms as they have functioned to protect Brazil in the past.

Antonio Barros de Castro, chief economist of Brazil's National Bank for Economic and Social Development (BNDES), provided data on Brazil's current economic growth and trade, identifying five catalysts for further growth in the 21st century: 1) an end to cycles of domestic and foreign indebtedness; 2) the modernization of industrial plants; 3) the expansion of credit for both industry and individuals; 4) the emergence of a new middle class as a strong consumer; and 5) recognition within Brazil of the value of innovation and technical creativity.

Governor Eduardo Campos of the state of Pernambuco stressed that any expansion of foreign policy by developing countries such as Brazil must be guided by domestic socio-economic considerations. He said that Brazil's growing international influence had depended on the remarkable growth in exports since 2004, the expansion of domestic consumption and acquired purchasing power, the country's social safety net and distributive policies, access to credit, and growing respect for national assets.

Discussing Brazil's changing relations within South America, Sergio Amaral, consultant and former minister of industry, commerce and development, noted that both the Lula administration's first-term policies promoting greater South-South alignment and its confrontation with the United States at the UN, the OAS, and in the Inter-American Development Bank, were symbolic as well as necessary for domestic political reasons, in order to compensate for the continuation of President Cardoso's market-oriented economic policies. The South-South focus, however, came under severe criticism from the business community, which exerted pressure for a more pragmatic approach that supported its export goals and did not threaten the country's economic interests.

Amaury de Souza, senior partner at MCM Associated Consultants, Rio, asserted that Brazil lacked the economic and political resources to play a leadership role in the hemisphere. Venezuela's oil-powered regional influence, as well as increasing flows of illegal immigration and the traffic of goods and arms, meant that Brazil has had to curb its global ambitions in order to better understand the hemisphere and pay closer attention to its neighbors. Riordan Roett, director of Western Hemisphere Studies at The Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies, recommended that Brazil seek membership in the G-7, a grouping of world economic powers, rather than the UN Security Council. With the recent decline in U.S. influence, Roett observed that Brazilian foreign policy will have to focus more on the changing hemispheric trends and potential threats to regional stability.
  

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