Franics Korenegay was a Public Policy Scholar for the Africa Program at the Wilson Center from June-September 2012
Last year, South Africa hosted the 5th summit of the India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) Trilateral Dialogue Forum. In 2013 it is India’s turn. This will mark the 10th anniversary of the Brasilia Declaration that led to the trilateral build up toward the summits of heads-of-state of the three countries that have occurred over the last several years. Meanwhile, all three countries have become members of BRICS, the symbolic vanguard among emerging powers leading the non-Western ‘Rest’ through a transition of relative rise amid Western relative decline.
BRICS has garnered considerably more attention than IBSA and is taken much more seriously as a revisionist actor given the great power status of Russia and China compared to the ‘middle power’ profiles of India, Brazil and South Africa. Russia may be something of a ‘has been’ as the former superpower competitor of the US when it was the Soviet Union. But it remains at least a regionalized great power nonetheless. China on the other hand has effectively emerged.
Given perceptions of Sino-Russia as strategic competitors of ‘lone superpower’ America, BRICS carries a weight that middle power IBSA will never carry. And, it has been gaining momentum to a point where former Indian envoy Rajiv Bhatia, director-general of the Indian Council on World Affairs was moved recently to question what he interprets as IBSA’s relevance.
Converging economic interests are emerging as the principal driver of U.S.-Brazil relations. A reelected President Barack Obama and President Dilma Rousseff, at the half mark of her government, are confronted with daunting tasks. Both leaders need to scientifically improve the economics performance of their countries in the case of major political obstacles at home and an adverse economic outlook abroad. In both countries, sustainable growth will require investment in infrastructure, education, and innovation more than consumption. How they respond will determine the success or failure of their administrations. It will also affect the two countries’ bilateral relationship and their regional and global standing.
Paulo Sotero – Wilson Center/The Huffington Post, 11/09/2012
The growing presence of Brazilian global companies in the United Stated, complementing traditionally strong American investments in Brazil, has created a two-way street where common interests are more visible and pressure both governments to recognize the benefits of working together or risk paying a political price for not doing so.
Converging economic interests and similar challenges are emerging as the principal driver of United States-Brazil relations in the years ahead. A reelected President Barack Obama and President Dilma Rousseff, at the half mark of her government, are confronted with daunting tasks. Both need to significantly improve the economic performance of their countries in the face of political major obstacles at home, and an adverse economic outlook abroad. In both countries, sustainable growth will require investment in infrastructure, education and innovation more than consumption. How they respond will determine the success or failure of their administrations. It will also affect the two countries’ bilateral relationship and their regional and global standing.
After four years of anemic recovery and a victory on November 6th without a clear political mandate,, President Obama has now to find a path of economic growth that reduces unemployment while avoiding the pitfalls of a fragile fiscal and financial situation, which, if mishandled, could easily throw the United States and the world economy back into recession.
Democracy is not for the faint-hearted… It requires hard work, constant attention, takes a lot of time to build and can easily be undermined by political polarization, regressive campaign finance rules and deficient laws on political representation. This month, two major events shed light on both the successes and failings of Brazil’s quarter century old, vibrant democracy.
On October 7, municipal elections brought over 115m voters to the polls to elect mayors and councilors in 5,568 cities and towns. A few days later, the country’s Supreme Court returned guilty verdicts in the largest trial of political corruption in Brazilian history.
The municipal elections were the first since the adoption of a new law barring candidates with criminal records. Cast in electronic ballot boxes, votes were tallied and results were published four hours after voting booths closed. There were no legal challenges. In 50 municipalities, including 17 of the 26 states capitals, where no candidate cleared the absolute majority of 50 per cent plus one, the two top candidates will go into a second round on October 28. The top prize is São Paulo, Brazil’s economic capital and home to the country’s third largest public budget.
When President Barack Obama welcomes Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff at the White House on April 9, both leaders will say that their countries’ bilateral ties are better than ever, and growing steadily. But don’t believe the official story.
Brazilian officials are miffed by the fact that despite Brazil’s emergence as a global power, the White House has not granted Rousseff’s trip to Washington the status of “state visit,” the highest-level diplomatic distinction for such trips. State visits generally come along with a black-tie state dinner at the White House, a formal address by the visiting leader to Congress, and week-long cultural events.
The White House’s explanation was that, because this is an election year in the United States, Obama does not grant state visits. But the Brazilian press was quick to note that British Prime Minister David Cameron is in Washington on a state visit two weeks before Rousseff’s trip.
The classic images of Brazil are the carnival, samba and soccer, but this Portuguese speaking 190 million people country to the south is much more than that. It is the world’s 5th most populated nation in the world and is rapidly establishing itself as a leading global force culturally, politically and economically. Paulo Sotero, Director of the Brazil Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C., discusses with Maria Hinojosa the economic future of Brazil, the country’s energy independence, and the 2014 Soccer World Cup.