Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Asian Perspective on Brazil

"Brazil will gain a place as a significant player in the multi-polar international system taking shape since the end of the Cold War simply on the basis of its economic size and material capabilities. However, its potential to influence international outcomes is likelyto be determined more by the capacity of the country’s elites to identify and harness qualitative assets associated with its stable and democratic governance than by any hardpower assets."
This introduction belongs to an article published in Asian Perspective in 2007. What is interesting is that this is a view of Brazil from the position of other emerging economies and not Europe or the US. The article highlights all the material advantages Brazil has - but these have been mentioned elsewhere.

What is more interesting is that Brazil is placed as a "soft power", i.e. it may shape politics due to its close ties to the western world, it's sheer size and it's focus for decades on economic integration - in the region and globally. Rather than going for global domination, Brazil has sought to find it's place as a partner.

The early participation in peace-keeping missions (such as Haiti), it's hosting of the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992 and it's vast (currently) non-quantifiable ressources of Oxygen and Water give it additional clout, especially if it continues to play by these rules.

The article finishes with what has to be done and it highlights the weaknesses in (too) big government and inefficiency, inequality, lack of education, high taxation and poor rate of investment. However, if overcome, Brazil would be set to become a true BRIC.

Yes, Brazil still has enormous opportunities and recently I had a long discussion with my wife and we came to the (very German) conclusion that the only impediment that Brazil was not "there" yet (or close to there) was that the country was tripping over it's own feet and that it had not yet defined what "there" was. The potential exists and opportunities are huge and Brazil has advanced greatly over the past decades - but the elemental challenges still have not been reliably adressed: Education, Inequality, Taxation, Infrastructure and Bureaucracy.

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