Brazil can blaze a new trail in international co-operation

Johnathan Glennie – Guardian, 10/28/2011

Brazil's formative role in the World Social Forum, which began in Porto Alegre in 2001, speaks of a desire to shape global debate. Photograph: Jefferson Bernardes/AFP

It is a good time to be a Brazilian on the international stage. Brazil has the eighth largest economy in the world, and the “traditional donors” want to know what the country is thinking. In fact, with an aid programme of under $1bn (according to official estimates), it commands far more interest than it probably should. Why? Because Brazil is the future. When leaders in poor countries sit down to plan their way out of poverty, they don’t look to emulate Britain. They say: “We want to be an emerging economy, like Brazil.”

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Economic Survey of Brazil, which was published on Wednesday, confirms this advance in terms of economic growth and poverty reduction (although the much-lauded reduction in inequality can be overstated, coming as it does in one of the world’s most unequal countries).

In the space of a decade, Brazil has transformed its international presence. Its international development strategy is part of that. According to This is Africa, trade between Brazil and Africa has grown from $5bn in 2003 to more than $20bn in 2010 (over a third of which is with one country, Nigeria). President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, whose vision defined this bold declaration of international relevance, established 17 new embassies in Africa and visited 23 countries on the continent.

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