im-001.gif (630 bytes)Brazilian Foreign Policy
Continuity and renewal
by Luiz Felipe Lampreia
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs

By means of a demonstrative sampling, the mass of information on foreign policy which follows (see: Brazil in focus) leads the user into the world of Brazilian foreign affairs during the 1990s with particular reference to the three years in office of the government led by Fernando Henrique Cardoso which has been responsible for an unprecedented upsurge in Brazilian diplomatic activity. What will be seen is a rich and all-embracing collection which reflects the progressive globalization of our foreign policy and illustrates the geographical and thematic presence of Brazil in international relations and which signals the new characteristics of Brazil's international entry into the contemporary world.

Those characteristics, which are decisive for Brazilian diplomatic activity, include the fact that the nation has the tenth largest economy in the world, an open economy that is well established in international economic relations. In addition, Brazil is an active participant in the multilateral systems of rules regulating the action of national states in the economic, trade and political fields (the World Trade Organization, United Nations, the Missile Technology Control Regime, the mechanisms for nuclear non-proliferation) and in regional integration by means of its presence within Mercosul.

The user will see in Brazil a country with global interests, a diplomatic presence across all continents and a style of diplomacy that aims at promoting efforts towards stabilization, opening up and providing better access for Brazil to foreign markets, productive investment and the technologies that are indispensable to the nation's development. At the same time, the user will become aware of a foreign policy that has sought to ensure that Brazil plays an active and increasing role in international debate on all the major items on the contemporary world agenda: defending democracy, promoting sustainable development, protecting and promoting human rights, combating drug trafficking and organized crime, commitments in relation to the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, economic integration and the universalization of non-discriminatory rules governing international trade and the transfer of technology.

Brazil's foreign policy has a history of continuity and renewal. Certain of the nation's characteristics have generated permanent interests: Brazil is a country of continental proportions and contains two huge hydrographic basins, those of the Amazon and the River Plate; there are ten adjacent countries, some with densely populated border lands giving rise to major commercial activity and interchange; the population of Brazil is considerable - currently around 160 million - formed by groups originating from different parts of the world (which has created special links with countries such as Japan, Lebanon, Italy, Poland, the Ukraine, Germany and naturally Portugal, to name just some of the most notable); Brazil's industrial economy is strong and diversified; at the same time the country is a major agricultural, beef and mining producer; Brazilian international trade is well-balanced, with four large poles of origin and destination in terms of foreign relations (the European Union, accounting for around 28% of Brazil's international trade, the United States with around 20%, Latin America with another 20% and the Pacific Rim also with 20%). The Brazilian economy reveals a high level of complementarity in relation to the different economies that have developed and are developing and is highly competitive in the sectors of agricultural, cattle and industrial products despite, for that very reason, facing protectionist barriers in the developed markets.

These and other basic characteristics of Brazil signal clear priorities in Brazilian foreign policy: the strengthening of the World Trade Organization, full participation in all the mechanisms for promoting sustainable development, human rights and the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; the consolidation and broadening of Mercosul, one of the bases of Brazil's new international identity; the strengthening of some of Brazil's traditional partnerships, such as the one that unites the country with Argentina in a strategic alliance, or the launching of new partnerships such as that being forged with democratic South Africa; and full and active participation in discussions on hemispheric integration and in new areas of international trade, to name just some of them.

It is in order to take these priorities forward that Brazil is engaged in intense diplomatic activity in the various circles within which it moves: Mercosul, South America, the Southern Hemisphere and the world. This packed diplomatic agenda has directly involved the President of Brazil in the exercising of a presidential diplomacy which has achieved great prominence both inside and outside the country. That diplomacy clearly reflects some of Brazil's priorities and reveals a nation that is committed to searching out and strengthening partnerships within the developed and developing world whilst exercising a discreet yet affirmative protagonism in its own region and in relation to issues of particular interest for Brazilian society, such as environmental protection and sustainable development.

Through the major courses followed and by the specific achievements of the diplomacy of the Cardoso Government, the user will find many points of innovation that meet the necessities and challenges of Brazil and will also be able to identify the origins of Brazilian foreign policy which, since the days of the Empire and afterwards, with the work of the Baron of Rio Branco, have endowed Brazilian diplomacy with the character of a fundamental instrument of national sovereignty and development.