Bolsonaro to Give Priority to China Within BRICS

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Bolsonaro will assume the presidency on January 1st, but there are still some aspects of policy that will be adopted by his government that remain uncertain. One of these issues is what foreign policy and foreign trade will look like during his term.

In the foreign policy agenda, Bolsonaro says only that he will “reduce import tariffs and non-tariff barriers, in parallel with the constitution of new international bilateral agreements.”

During the election campaign, Bolsonaro gave some statements that have meant that his government will move away from organizations like the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).

Two experts stressed that “it is still too early to make exact predictions” about how Brazilian foreign policy will be conducted during the next government, but both believe that the bloc will be left behind by the Bolsonaro team.

“The Bolsonaro government has not yet signaled its foreign policy lines, the program is at best leaning on diplomatic guidelines and therefore there is a lot of uncertainty. What is known is that Bolsonaro’s hard core of power has some resistance to a South-South axis on foreign policy,” said Diego Pautasso, Professor of International Relations and Geography at the Military College of Porto Alegre.

For Paulo Wrobel, Professor of International Relations at PUC-Rio, this election “meant the realignment of forces in Brazil.”

“If there was indeed a realignment, it seems to me that there will be a realignment of Brazil’s relations with the rest of the world,” he commented.

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In a telegram sent to Bolsonaro, Putin expressed “his confidence in the development of the full range of relations” between the two countries, as well as in constructive cooperation within the framework of the United Nations, the G20 and the BRICS.

The Chinese government also expressed confidence in deepening its bilateral and multilateral relations, especially with regard to the BRICS.

“We expect the two countries [China and Brazil] to strengthen cooperation within the BRICS and multilateral cooperation, serving the common interest of developing countries and emerging markets,” said the Chinese spokesman.

Diego Pautasso understands that bilateral agreements with China will be treated as a priority because the Asian country is Brazil’s main trading partner and also because China is one of the main investors in Brazilian assets.

“The government intends to privatize sectors of the economy and the Chinese are big investors. I understand that relations with China tend to remain strong, but with the BRICS the relationship tends to be quite dehydrated,” he said.

Professor Paulo Wrobel does not believe that at the first moment there will be a disregard of Brazil in relation to the BRICS, but also believes in a change of emphasis, especially in relation to China.

“Statements by the president-elect and some members of his team imply that Brazil might have to diversify its trade partnership a little more since in recent years more than a third of all Brazil exported went to China,” he said.

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