Saturday, June 23, 2012

Brazil's Commercial Diplomacy in the Middle East and Africa

The Global Voices blog has an interesting post on Brazil's commercial diplomacy in the Middle East and Africa.  Originally written in Portuguese, Global Voices posted an English translation here.

Blogger Richard de Araujo describes how Brazil's foreign policy in the Middle East and Africa is driven by what one Brazilian Ambassador calls "prospects for a policy of commercial promotion."

Brazil's economy is the sixth largest in the world based on GDP, and with growth averaging about 5% it is expected to become the fifth largest economy in the world by the end of this year.  Exports account for 14% of Brazil's GDP.

Up to now, Brazil's primary trading partners have been countries in Latin America, the European Union, China, and the United States.  As the Global Voices blog post points out, this may be starting to change.  The author quotes Brazilian Ambassador Hadil da Rocha Vianna, Under-Secretary-General of the Brazilian Ministry of External Relations, as saying that "the Brazilian government is convinced that an increase in partnership with different regions of the planet must play a central role in its commercial diplomacy."

According to the author, this emphasis on commercial diplomacy in the Middle East and Africa is having an impact on international relations far beyond Brazil.  It explains why former Brazilian President Lula visited the region early in his term, why he organized the first South America-Arab Countries (ASPA) summit meeting in Brazil, and why Brazil has become involved more broadly in Middle Eastern politics and diplomacy, including making proposals to avoid sanctions on Iran and taking an active role in mediation of the Israel-Palestine conflict.

The numbers tell a compelling story.  Brazilian exports to the Middle East have increased from only US$ 2.3 billion in 2005 to US$ 10.5 billion today.  With tangible results such as these, the author predicts even greater Brazilian involvement in the region, including the potential for Brazil "to take sides and even involve [itself] militarily to defend the interests of [its] corporations."

John Howley, Esq.
New York, New York

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