Dilma Rousseff has a second chance to invigorate Brazil’s foreign policy

October 30, 2014

Bianca Suyama and Gonzalo Berrón – The Guardian, 10/30/2014

After an election campaign that was more unpredictable and nerve-wracking than Brazil’s popular soap operas, President Dilma Rousseff will lead the country for another four years.

Brazil’s government has defined its foreign policy as “active and prominent”. This is a legacy of former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who wanted to lead Brazil towards greater autonomy and relevance in the global order. He wanted Brazil to contribute to a more democratic and multipolar world; diversify its partnerships – with particular focus on countries in the global south and the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa); and promote South American integration.

However, these initiatives were not without their tensions and contradictions. Rousseff appeared to give less priority to foreign policy and some of the achievements of Lula’s administration stagnated under her. What should she focus on now the election is out of the way?

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How to Fix Brazil’s Broken Economy

October 24, 2014

Joshua Kempf and Mark Kennedy – Foreign Policy, 10/23/2014

The last two decades made obvious a life’s-not-fair fact: Big countries can get away with bad economic policy. Size matters to investors, global corporations, and entrepreneurs because a winning payout is large and can justify the costs of bureaucracy, compliance, and corruption.

China, India, and Brazil attract big investor dollars not because they are business paradises — check out their World Bank’s “Doing Business” rankings. To understand how business leaders think, let’s imagine you built a company with 85 percent market share in more business friendly Estonia. Congrats, they’ll say, those size revenues are in a multinational’s second footnote once removed.

Which brings us to Brazil. Despite its numerical advantages, Brazil has stagnated, and is expected to have just 0.4 percent economic growth this year. What’s wrong? Many analysts have pointed out the obvious: Brazil needs to improve its education, healthcare, and infrastructure. Few economists would disagree, but these are deeply rooted problems with decades-long solutions. Brazilians go to the polls on Sunday to select a president. What reforms can be done during one term to unleash Brazil’s charmed bequest, its size? Here’s the policies we think should be on the agenda.

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Brazil and its backyard

October 24, 2014

The Economist (print edition),  10/25/2014

Like voters in most democracies, Brazilians pay little heed to foreign policy when choosing leaders. Yet the presidential election on October 26th matters not just to Brazil but to the region. Over the past two decades Latin America’s giant has overcome its introversion and wielded growing influence in its backyard. And on foreign policy, as on economics, there is a clear gap between President Dilma Rousseff of the centre-left Workers’ Party (PT), who wants a second term, and her rival, Aécio Neves, of the centre-right Party of Brazilian Social Democracy (PSDB).

Brazil’s greater assertiveness began under Fernando Henrique Cardoso of the PSDB in the 1990s and continued under the PT’s Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the president in 2003-10. Both gave importance to the Mercosur trade block (founded by Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay), to South America and to ties with Africa and Asia. Both had reservations about a 34-country Free-Trade Area of the Americas, a plan that Lula helped to kill.

But there were differences, too, partly because of Brazil’s changing circumstances. Lula put far more stress on “south-south” ties and on the BRICs grouping (linking Brazil to Russia, India, China and later South Africa). In Latin America he emphasised “political co-operation”. Relations with the United States were cordial but distant, especially after Lula tried brokering a nuclear deal with Iran which the White House opposed.

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Neck & neck Brazil presidential race casts doubts on Mercosur, BRICS

October 21, 2014

Mauricio Saverese – RT, 10/21/2014

About a year ago everyone expected an easy ride for President Dilma Rousseff in her reelection campaign. Now, in the final week of Brazil’s election season, she is technically tied with opposition’s Aécio Neves.

About 20 percent of voters, who reject both candidates or seem too tired of politics to show up on October 26, are hearing desperate claims from the incumbent and her antagonist. It is likely Brazilians only know what will happen after the last vote is counted. That uncertainty makes the country’s future a big mystery. And that includes a big chunk of South America’s powerhouse foreign policy.

Neither Rousseff nor Neves want to give away much of what they intend to do if victorious. But the president’s closest allies have given hints. Rousseff’s foreign advisor Marco Aurélio Garcia says “South America is a big asset” and insists Mercosur – the region’s free trade zone – must be strong to keep Brazil’s position as a Latin American spokesman. Neves’ aide Rubens Barbosa, a former ambassador to Washington, says Brazil does better by imploding Mercosur (which includes Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay), so there is a deal with the European Union and diplomacy that is friendlier to the US.

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Brazilian Stocks, Currency Plummet as Presidential Election Looms

September 30, 2014

Jeffrey T. Lewis and James Ramage – The Wall Street Journal, 09/29/2014

Brazil’s stock market and currency were sent reeling Monday by signs President Dilma Rousseff is pulling ahead of her main challenger in the country’s presidential election next month.

The Brazilian real weakened to its lowest level against the dollar in nearly six years Monday, declining 2.4% to 2.4777 reais, before paring losses to 2.4543 reais later in the day. The country’s benchmark Ibovespa stock index fell as much as 5% in early trading and was down 2.2% early in the afternoon.

Brazil’s losses were among the worst in a broad selloff that hit financial markets across the developing world. Developing economies have been caught up in fears the Federal Reserve is moving closer to raising interest rates, a move that would make higher-yielding currencies, such as those in emerging markets, less attractive to investors. Concerns about protests in Hong Kong have also sent investors into less-risky assets.

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Developing countries should be better represented in global institutions: Brazil’s Rousseff

September 25, 2014

Rodrigo Campos – Reuters, 09/24/2014

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff told the United Nations on Wednesday that developing countries should be better represented in international financial institutions that otherwise are in danger of losing legitimacy.

“The delay in the expansion of voting rights of developing countries in these institutions is unacceptable,” Rousseff said in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly.

She said it was imperative to eliminate what she called a disparity between the importance of emerging economies and their “insufficient” representation in such institutions as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

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Brazil’s young professionals look to emerging markets

September 23, 2014

Paulo Cabral – CCTV America, 09/22/2014

Brazil has become a destination for those who look for employment in emerging markets over the last a few years. A growing number of students and young professionals are moving to Brazil. CCTV America’S Paulo Cabral reports.

In one recent survey, 90 percent of the young professionals said they expected to work in at least three or four countries during their lives. Among the BRICS nations, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, Brazil was the preferred destination for 40 percent of the students.

The recession in Brazil hasn’t discouraged young professionals from coming here to build careers. Because of a shortage of skilled workers, the labor market remains tight and unemployment remains close to a record low of 4.9 percent.

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