President Jair Bolsonaro

This year’s G20 summit in Osaka, Japan has sparked much conversation in Brazilian media. However, it was the news that one of President Bolsonaro’s Air Force flight attendants was caught with 39 kilos of cocaine on the way to the summit which dominated the headlines. With the conference now getting underway, the focus is shifting to Mr. Bolsonaro and the Brazilian delegation, who are coming face-to-face with the world’s 20 leading economic powers. 

As the host country, Japan has tabled two main topics of discussion that are of extreme relevance to Brazil: economic growth, and the reduction of inequality. Brazil’s role in sustainability has also been a hot topic of discussion, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron both inquiring Mr. Bolsonaro about the Amazon and Brazil’s environmental policy.

</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Brazil has the opportunity to solve some of its most pressing problems by forging multilateral agreements with the world’s greatest powers. Nonetheless, there are certain steps that the Brazilian delegation must take during the G20 summit to successfully secure Brazilian interests. </span></p> <h2>The need for continuity in Brazil’s international policies</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Since Fernando Collor’s presidency (1990–1992), Brazil had demonstrated continuity in its international diplomacy. However, with the election of Jair Bolsonaro, tensions have increased as other powers grow skeptical as to whether the new administration will drastically depart from the country’s traditional policies.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“International policies should be approached with a long-term perspective. Giving continuity [to policies] signals to the international community that you’re a reliable country,” said Arnaldo Francisco Cardoso, a specialist on international relations at the Mackenzie Presbyterian University in Alphaville, São Paulo. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">On Thursday, June 27, Mr. Macron told his Brazilian counterpart that the European Union would not sign any agreements with Mercosur, the South American trade bloc, if Brazil pulled out of the <a href="">Paris Agreement</a>—a long-time threat of Mr. Bolsonaro&#8217;s. Nonetheless, BRICS countries released a joint statement guaranteeing their support for the Paris Agreement, confirming that Brazil would not withdraw. Brazil displayed continuity in its policy, proving it would uphold international agreements signed by multiple countries.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Indeed, the following day, the </span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><a href="">EU and Mercosur announced the completion of a free-trade </a>deal between</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"> the two blocs, which has been in the offing for the past 20 years.</span></p> <h2>Proximity to U.S. could be problematic</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Earlier on Friday, Mr. Bolsonaro held a bilateral meeting with President Trump. Mr. Bolsonaro expressed his continued admiration for the American head of state, who called the Brazilian president &#8220;a special man,&#8221; and said that Brazil and the U.S. are closer than ever before.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I don’t think [the G20] is the adequate place for these kinds of affirmations. That would make sense in a visit to the United States. It’s strategic for Brazilian interests that they seek to extract the best resources in this encounter with the 20 largest economies in the world. [The goal isn’t] affirming preferential relationships,” said Mr. Cardoso. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The G20 summit comes in a time of tension, with the U.S. and China engaging in a trade war that has dragged on for over a year. Both powers are important sources of investment for Brazil, meaning that expressly siding with the U.S. could be problematic.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“At this moment, it seems to me that by taking an explicit stance toward one of the sides, [Brazil] has more to lose than to gain,” said Mr. Cardoso.</span></p> <h2>An opportunity to attract investment to Brazil</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Institute of Applied Economic Research (Ipea) has revised its projections for Brazil’s GDP growth. Until late March, Ipea predicted that the GDP could increase by two percent. Now, they predict that the economy will only grow by 0.8 percent by the end of 2019. The country could even slip into a technical recession depending on Q2 results.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">With such conservative growth outlooks, the stakes are high for Brazil. Both Mr. Bolsonaro and his Economy Minister, Paulo Guedes, have repeatedly said that the private sector is what generates jobs. Therefore, the G20 summit is an opportunity for Brazil to attract foreign investment from private industries to stimulate economic growth.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The main explanation for these falling forecasts on the Brazilian economy is a lack of confidence, and the government is a crucial source of investor trust. &#8220;We know that the current administration has the agenda of reviewing sensitive topics,&#8221; explained Mr. Cardoso. &#8220;It is imperative that Brazil conveys a sense of reliability during the G20 summit to attract foreign investment.&#8221;</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The international relations specialist believes that if Brazil is successful in inspiring trust, it can re-establish a positive rhythm of growth. &#8220;But, if we cling to ideological clashes and promote conflict by taking stances regarding the relationships of economies that are present [at the G20], we will only lose,” he added.

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BY Martha Castro

Martha Castro is an intern at The Brazilian Report. She is a Brazilian journalism and political science student at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.