Why Brazil Shouldn’t Turn Its Back on the BRICS (Americas Quarterly)




Despite its current crisis, Brazil must maintain its global diplomatic presence and adapt to a more Asia-centric world.



Almost a decade ago, in 2007, Brazil's President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was one of the star speakers at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Investor money was pouring into one of the world's most exciting emerging markets, and Foreign Minister Celso Amorim – who would go on to be called the "world's best foreign minister" by Foreign Policy – was beginning to expand Brazil's economic and diplomatic presence across the globe.

Never before had a South American country established such a broad network of embassies, rivaling that of established powers. A year earlier, Amorim had initiated regular meetings with his counterparts from Russia, India and China to discuss how the BRIC countries could strengthen cooperation and jointly address global challenges. The BRICS grouping (since 2010 with South Africa) quickly became one of the most important innovations in global affairs since the turn of the century, calling on established powers to adapt global structures to new realities.

Fast forward to 2016, and Brazil's economy is one of the worst performing in the world, the nation is led by a scandal-prone interim government and shaken by protests, austerity measures and a staggering corruption investigation that threatens to wipe out much of Brazil's political elite. International observers consider the BRICS a thing of the past, and many Brazilian analysts believe it is time to leave.

They couldn’t be more misguided.

Talk of leaving the BRICS fails to recognize the ample strategic gains BRICS membership produces for Brazil, and why anything but treating it as a priority (for example, by staying away from the summit) would be a serious mistake. There are three reasons why the grouping is essential for Brazil's strategic interests.

First, and most importantly,.. 

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Photo credit: Li Xueren / Zuma / Global Look