Brazil wants the OECD, but does the OECD want Brazil?

After three full years of the Jair Bolsonaro government, we can justifiably begin to make some conclusions of his legacy. One is in regard to the country’s foreign policy, with the Bolsonaro administration tearing up Brazil’s once-pragmatic agenda and swapping it for an ideological anti-globalist charge that turned the country into an international pariah. Yet, in what is perhaps a glaring contradiction, Mr. Bolsonaro remains desperate to join the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Mercosur, China, Joe Biden, and Emmanuel Macron can all relate to Brazil’s disinterest in forming good relations. This created a distance which brought about real-world economic implications, but also stood in the way of Bolsonaro’s dream of getting Brazil into the OECD. 

This week, Brazil’s Foreign Minister Carlos França stated that the country has committed itself to the values and principles of the OECD, hoping to initiate the process to become a full member of the group — which operates as a form of rich countries’ club, bringing credibility with regard to investment and doing business. 

Seeking any kind of political support to curb his struggling polling numbers, President Bolsonaro sent a letter to OECD secretary-general Mathias Cormann claiming his government supports sustainable and digital economic growth, as well as ending poverty and furthering environmental preservation measures. Many of these assertions can be easily debunked.

Bolsonaro’s government has done next to nothing to improve the country in economic terms. He also once said that the starvation in Brazil was a lie. And last but not least, deforestation figures have skyrocketed under Bolsonaro, while environmental controls have been made weaker and weaker.

This week, the OECD announced it would open membership negotiations with six countries: Argentina, Peru, Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania … and Brazil. So, the OECD might well want Brazil among its ranks, but perhaps they would be best suited to wait until Jair Bolsonaro leaves office.