<em>By Jessica Bryant, IAR Staff Writer.</em>

By Jessica Bryant, IAR Staff Writer.

By Jessica Bryant, IAR Staff Writer.
On Tuesday, November 18, Brazilian Ambassador to the US Antonio de Aguilar Patriota painted a rosy picture of Brazil’s economy and political landscape. The ambassador used the discussion, a part of the Elliott School’s Ambassador’s Forum, to highlight both the Brazilian economy’s strength and President Lula da Silva’s recent initiatives.

Ambassador Patriota began by reassuring the audience that, although no country is immune to the effects of the current economic crisis, Brazil’s current economic situation is perhaps the strongest in the nation’s history. He explained that, with an average annual growth rate of over 4% since 2003 and a strong domestic market, the country finds itself with a “very virtuous convergence of elements” which will help it ride out the economic storm. The ambassador didn’t mince words when it came to assigning responsibility for the crisis, saying there is a “certain feeling of frustration because the crisis originated in the United States primarily and then with the strong depressions in Europe, but it is fair to say that the developing countries, the emerging economies, cannot be ascribed any blame but nevertheless are suffering impacts in some very concrete ways.”

The ambassador contextualized Brazil’s recent successes with frequent references to Goldman Sachs 2001 BRICs report, an economic study which concluded that the developing economies of Brazil, Russia, India, and China would be among the world’s strongest by 2050. These successes, the report stipulates, are contingent upon certain economic markers. The ambassador highlighted that one of these, a consistent average economic growth rate of at least 3.6%, has already been met and exceeded by his country since 2003.

Ambassador Patriota concluded his remarks on the Brazilian economy by emphasizing that, while Brazil has experienced economic booms in the past, this period is different because it heralds a new era of both sustainability and equality. The country cut extreme poverty by half, thus achieving a Millennium Development goal in half the time allocated. The Ambassador confidently explained, “I often say that, from an economic perspective, it has never been this comfortable to represent Brazil internationally. We have done our homework. There is macroeconomic stability. As the head of our Central Bank often says, we can now invest the dividends of macroeconomic stability into social programs internally and also to some degree into a more active engagement with the outside world.”

The Ambassador then elaborated on the proactive diplomatic measures being undertaken by his country. Since Lula da Silva’s 2003 election, Brazil has taken the lead in regional integration. Ambassador Patriota said: “We are stressing very much the common denominators, be they economic, political, security, or otherwise. South America is a unit and trying to build a zone of peace and development within South America and from this platform [Brazil is] interacting in what we hope is a more constructive way.” This includes strong support of and active participation in fledgling organizations like the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and the South American Defense Council. He pointed to the successful intervention of UNASUR in the recent Bolivian political crisis as one illustration of the organization’s growing influence in the region.

He then gave examples of Brazil’s aggressive efforts at diplomatic and economic integration being played out on a global scale. He pointed to the country’s annual average of $300 billion dollars in international trade and the newly forged ties between the South American country and emerging markets in other parts of the world, such as India, China, and South Africa, as indicators of this cooperation. The ambassador also highlighted the fact that Brazil is the US’ second largest trading partner in Latin America with over $45 billion dollars worth of annual trade.

Ambassador Aguilar Patriota concluded with favorable remarks on US-Brazilian relations, speaking specifically about 2007’s Bio-fuels Agreement and a recent resolution passed by the Committee on Foreign Relations regarding Brazilian-US cooperation on race relations. He referenced a call between Lula da Silva and President-Elect Barack Obama and spoke with hope of relations between the two countries during the new presidential term.

The Brazilian Ambassador to the U.S. is clearly confident in his country’s current economic and political situation and has high expectations for its ability to emerge as a hemispheric and global leader. His account of Brazil’s recent fortification of democratic ideals left the audience hopeful that the country can, in fact, deliver on
these promises.

Ambassador Antonio de Aguiar Patriota has been the Ambassador of Brazil to the United States since February 2007, representing the government of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Prior to assuming his current position, Ambassador Patriota served as Under Secretary General for Political Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Relations (Itamaraty) from 2005-2006, where his responsibilities included Brazil-U.S. relations. He was promoted to the rank of Ambassador in December 2003 and served as Chief of Staff to the Minister of Foreign Relations, Ambassador Celso Amorim, from May 2004 through May 2005. He also served as Secretary for Diplomatic Planning in the Office of the Minister of Foreign Relations (2003-2005).