Brazil – How to build a great country

Vikas Shah, founder and director of Thought Economics, and an expert motivational speaker and business strategist, recently published a thought-provoking interview with Celso Amorim (Brazil’s Foreign Minister from 2003 – 2011) which is well worth a read.

Below is an excerpt from the interview:

Q: What, in your view, does it take to build ‘a great country’ ?

[Celso Amorim] I don’t think you can answer that in one single reply. I think several things make a big country and sometimes these things are different. Sometimes it may be technological developments such as weapons- sometimes also it can be, like it is for Brazil, that a country has a large territory, population and natural resources. These things are essential things also. In the case of Brazil, one of the most important things is the huge ethnic and cultural mixture which makes us a country with dynamism, vibrancy, and the ability to understand the psychology of other nations. We have problems, of course, but this is one of our huge strengths, and a huge foreign policy asset.

Q: What has been the impact of the global economic crisis on Brazil?

[Celso Amorim] I would not say we were unaffected. Some industries such as aerospace- for instance- are geared to export and so there was some effect. On the whole, Brazil was much less affected than most industrial countries or semi-industrial countries. One reason was that because of the policies of combating poverty- we augmented and expanded our internal markets, so a lot of our production was able to pick-up based on internal demand. Another reason, which is supported by our foreign policy, is that we had a much more diversified pattern of foreign trade. When we got into government- we had 25% of our exports directed to the United States and 25% directed towards Europe. Now? it’s less than 11% to the United States with Latin America and the Caribbean being the biggest markets. Our biggest trade-surplus is with the Arab world. This was a sea-change which was only made-possible because the Brazilian industry responded to changing demand patters, for instance, from China- and also because our foreign policy worked in a way that avoided too much dependence on one single market. It is the opposite of what would have happened had we, for instance, signed the FTA agreement in the way it was being proposed.

The full interview can be found on the Thought Economics website. (The archives contain some great interviews with other leading thinkers including Buzz Aldrin and Noam Chomsky.)

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