Brazil is no longer a mere spectator of the dance of globalization. It has become one of the main actors in the current scenario, living, according to analysts, one of the best phases in its history.
Brazil left the global economic crisis that began in 2008 stronger than before, through fiscal and monetary expansionists polices that overcame adversity without uncontrolled inflation and debt.
This shows an increasingly assertive role for a country that during the first years of globalization was just a follower of the neo-liberal prescriptions. But despite the many advances and achievements, there are still many challenges ahead.
Social inequalities, which, while having been reduced, avoid that the good economic results benefits are perceived to broad segments of the population, and low educational incentives, are longstanding problems. But for Brazil: it´s time to move forward.
Its economic growth may not be spectacular, but is advancing solidly and recent results point to strong future growth.
For many, the current level of 5% may seem tiny compared to its BRIC partners, but the basis is much superior: its per capita income is $ 4,720, compared with $ 2,010 in China and $ 820 in India according to data from World Bank and, unlike Russia, Brazilian growth today depends not on a single commodity, ranging from iron ore, orange juice and airplanes.
Moreover, Brazil lives with the possibility of becoming an energy power thanks to ethanol and the discovery of pre-salt and it has also the expansion of domestic demand, a factor that contributed to mitigate the effects of the crisis.
Another major point is the increasing internationalization of Brazilian companies that have positioned the country as a competitor in global capitalism.
The new international image of Brazil does not stem only from its growth, its economic policies and patterns of trade: the country, unlike China or Russia, is an increasingly robust democracy where social progress is visible.
For example, the proportion of Brazilians living in poverty fell from 48% in 1990 to 33% in 2006, according to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).
So, the combination of steady growth, diversified base of natural resources, relatively predictable political democratic and social progress that is creating a middle class – and mass consumption -society have attracted the attention of other countries to Brazil, especially in recent five years.
Medium and long-term measures should be taken to enable economic growth at higher rates and improve competitiveness by investing in the science and technology sectors.
Apart from structural reforms, the country must consolidate low inflation as a long term prospect attracting tremendously more foreign investment than today.
However, the granting of investment grade by risk assessment agencies already allows gigantic pension funds to invest in Brazil. The infrastructure of transportation and electric power demands renewal, especially with the achievements of the World Cup and the Olympics.
In Brazil, there is no other alternative but to turn rhetoric into action, with determination and political will. At that point, India might have some lessons to give us.
It’s also important, in a time of alignment between economic growth and international projection, to lose the historic “timidity” and to play a more assertive influence in the international scene, where Brazil has been a necessary actor in the discussion of major global issues – about the environment, economic crisis or international conflicts – playing the part of innovative stance of the emerging international order.
It’s Brazil’s moment!
Fernanda Fernandes Graduated in International Relations in Candido Mendes University. She is currently a researcher at the Center for American Studies (CEAs) / Candido Mendes University and member of the coordinating team of the School Sergio Vieira de Mello – EPAZ (IH / UCAM).