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“Brazil as an intermediate state and regional power: action, choice and responsibilities”

This article primarily speaks about Brazil’s foreign policy however the focus on a developmentalist agenda mirrors many of the efforts I will discuss in the Bolsa Familia program.

 Brazil has attempted to link an increasingly activist stance in world affairs with political support at home for a more active partisan involvement in foreign policy. In this context, the government’s fight against poverty and unequal income distribution at home and its assertive and activist foreign policy can be viewed as two sides of the same coin.

– foreign policy has always had a strong developmentalist component

– history of commitment to multilateralism

– 1930’s: crisis of agro-exporting model, replaced by ISI (relatively successful: central role for state in regulation, provision of incentives and production; relative discrimination against important; large-scale participation of FDI in wide range of industrial sector), and then again in the 1990s by a model of competitive integration into global economy (23)

– with this transition into the global economy, foreign policy shifts from just autonomous to “autonomy through participation” as Brazil participates fully in a variety of international regimes

– foreign policy includes “active development policy”, “ collaboration with countries of similar interests”, and “the need to articulate a national project focused on overcoming domestic social imbalances”

– Brazil often a mediator in the past between great powers and smaller nations – defending rights of the later while positioning itself to assume the position of the former

– in 1970s, Brazil tries to delay or block trade negotiations unfavorable to developing nations

– UN reform agenda according to Brazil should include: reinforcement of multilateral principles and norms, a reestablishment of conceptual frontier between peacekeeping and peace enforcement, reformulation of decision-making structure of UN security council

– up to mid 1990s, Brazil focused on regional integration and common market (Mercosur); deepening trade and cooperation in infrastructure projects

– now Brazil’s identity as Latin American country shifting to become South American power

– Lula furthered Brazil’s South American leadership, some question this ‘parallel diplomacy’

– hope that Lula’s furthering of Brazil’s democracy would have positive spillover effect in promoting regional political stability; also hope that Brazil’s increased regional presence will help it further its global aspirations

– Brazil’s relations with US primarily aimed at  “prudent coexistence, possible collaboration and minimal collision” (33) – Brazil’s foreign policy decisions involve consideration of costs and benefits of convergence or divergence from US

– 2003 IBSA Forum (with India and South Africa) which was formed around three shared interests: commitment to democratic institutions and values, effort to link struggle against poverty to development policies and the need to strengthen multilateral institutions and procedures in order to deal with security issues and political and economic turbulence

– danger of multilateralism is that Brazil must assume consequences of collective action

– almost half of the region’s GNP is of Brazilian origin and its exports account for more that 40% of the total exports of the region; Brazil’s trade pattern is more diversified that other Latin American countries

– however Brazil falls behind Argentina, Chile and Latin American and the Caribbean as a whole in terms of HDI Rank (at the time of publication – see earlier blog post as to current stats)

– if take into account GINI index (which measures level of inequality in income distribution), Brazil drops dramatically ***include graphs of this in paper

– idea that domestic efforts could spur a “virtuous path of democratic consolidation, sustained economic growth and social inclusion”


Full text available here: http://www.chathamhouse.org/sites/default/files/public/International%20Affairs/Blanket%20File%20Import/inta_513.pdf



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