Amid BRICS, Brazil needs foreign policy rejig

By Felipe Camargo Gaiotto Source:Global Times Published: 2019/11/13 22:08:40

Photo: VCG

Brazil will have an opportunity to rethink its foreign policy as the 11th BRICS Summit is scheduled to take place in its capital Brasilia on Wednesday and Thursday. The summit is another chance for Brazil to not only regain its position as a global political player but also boost economic recovery. 

The grouping of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - which together account for 42 percent of world population, 23 percent of GDP, 30 percent of the territory, and 18 percent of world trade, offers a unique opportunity for the Latin American nation to improve its international reputation. 

In its first decade, BRICS has developed sectoral cooperation in areas such as science and technology, trade promotion, energy, health, education, innovation, and advances in international governance reform.

Which country would not like to be a player in the international system and have the opportunity to participate in the formulation of international governance rules? Would current foreign policy followed by a government be contrary to peace, economic development, and multilateralism? Prejudice and preconceived notions could be the two biggest enemies of good political relations.

There is no easy path to new institutional formations in the international political system. Pessimists need to understand that the establishment of global alliances and cooperation built through dialogue and mutual understanding among members is political development. Therefore, it is the result of the correlation of forces, and there are always setbacks and successes, and advances and stumbles during the development of a new international governance mechanism.

On the other side, the optimists should understand that hectic politics and diplomacy will be needed along with a lot of patience because the road has many barriers, and it is not always easy to create the new from the old. Perhaps the wisest in this situation would be the "Gramscian individual" who has pessimism of the intellect and optimism of the will.

BRICS had provided the opportunity for Brazil to have a branch of the New Development Bank (NDB), which can not only contribute to the economic and technological development of the country but also help in the economic recovery of nations in the Latin American region. It is an opportunity for Brazil to spruce up its regional image. The NDB office creates the possibility for Brasilia to recover a conciliatory foreign policy tone built over decades by the foreign ministry. Brazil's primary objective in South America should be the integration, not fragmentation, of the countries. 

The current government does not seem to understand Brazil's role in this process. Perhaps, it only considers the BRICS an acronym created by an international financial multinational. 

Nowadays, foreign affairs are incomplete without involving Russia, India, and China as well, and BRICS provides an opportunity for Brazil to participate in the regional and international system.

The BRICS for Brazil is not a matter of invitation or a request for permission to join it, but represents Brazilian choice and forward thinking. As one of the founding members of BRICS, Brazil does not depend on the decision of any other country, but when it wants to join the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, it needs US permission. 

Unfortunately, the real political world is not as rosy and dreamlike as governments like to think. The international political system has changed very fast in recent years and Brazil's current foreign policy needs to be cognizant of this fact. Will Brazil again be watching history go through its eyes, or will it choose to be part of building up a more fair and multipolar international political system? At the BRICS meeting, Brazil has an important choice to make. 

The tradition of a foreign policy that values concrete facts, not abstract ideas, should return to its course and derive respect for its moves in defense of peace, economic and social development, and multilateralism. Integration, friendship, and economic development must be the agenda of the new international concert, and the BRICS is a fundamental part of this process. 

There are certain people in Brasilia among diplomats, academics and, politicians saying that Brazil has not given the necessary attention to the BRICS. If such sayings are confirmed after the end of the summit, Brazil needs to carefully rethink its foreign policy. 

The author is a PhD graduate from Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul and an associate research fellow at Hebei Normal University.

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

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