President Dilma Rousseff took office last year convinced that Brazil could keep growing at almost China-like rates without making big changes to the economy. That confidence now looks a lot like complacency. Rousseff’s inability to push ambitious economic reforms has left Brazil an expensive and increasingly stagnant place to do business, meaning the economy is now likely stuck in a mediocre pattern of around 3 percent growth for the next few years. Read about the dangers of a stagnant Brazil at Reuters.
The Senate voted to reject Rousseff’s preferred candidate to head the ANTT national land transport agency, which is responsible for a host of critical road and rail infrastructure projects as Brazil prepares to host the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics (Reuters).
President Dilma Rousseff nominated Magda Chambriard to lead Brazil’s ANP, the agency that regulates the country’s petroleum and biofuels industry. Chambriard is a civil and chemical engineer and was nominated to replace Haroldo Lima as director-general of the Rio de Janeiro-based regulator (Reuters).
President Dilma Rousseff, the first woman to head the world’s sixth-biggest economy, plans to increase women’s property rights in cases of divorce to mark International Women’s Day. Women who earn as much as 1,866 reais ($1,060) a month and are enrolled under the government’s homebuilding program will be entitled to ownership of the house in divorce settlements, according to a decree published in an extraordinary edition of the Official Gazette (Bloomberg).
Discriminating against women in Brazil is already illegal. Now it may be very costly as well. Brazil’s Congress has passed a bill imposing fines on companies paying women lower wages than men for the same work. The measure approved is expected to be signed into law by Brazil’s first female president, Dilma Rousseff (Washington Post).
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SPLIT SECOND POLL
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she had received assurances from President Dilma Rousseff that Brazil would take part in a recapitalisation of the International Monetary Fund, which could in turn help boost crisis funds for the euro zone (Reuters).
Brazil and Mexico are arguing over the future of a 2002 agreement that allows free trade in cars between them. For a decade it worked as it was meant to, and to Brazil’s advantage, by encouraging carmakers in Mexico to specialise in larger models and those in Brazil to make smaller ones. But last year Mexican exports under the accord grew by 40% to $2 billion, while Brazil exported cars worth just $372m. Brazil has cried foul. This apparently petty dispute says much about how Latin America’s two biggest economies think about trade and industry (The Economist).
Despite frequent criticism in Brazil against regional integration, Mercosul is where the country still registers its biggest surplus in industrial goods (Federal Senate).
Brazil will keep its foreign policy ‘anchor’ in South America but will review the international because of the latest global changes such as the European Union crisis and the Arab spring, said Marco Aurelio Garcia, President Dilma Rousseff special advisor on international affairs (MercoPress).
In designing a new immigration policy, Brazil is caught between the need to attract skilled workers and professionals in order to meet the challenges posed by economic growth, and its tradition of taking in immigrants for humanitarian reasons (IPS).
The Brazilian economy became the 6th largest in the world last year, surpassing the U.K., and is likely to reach 5th in 2012, overtaking France. The forecast by the U.K.’s EIU (Economist Intelligence Unit) consultants show that Brazil is rising quickly in the rank of largest economies (Folha).
DEFENSE & SECURITY
The Senate approved the Conversion Bill 02/12, which creates a tributary special regime for the national defense industry and institutes specific rules for the bidding of products and defense systems (Federal Senate).
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns met with Brazilian government officials to reassure them the Super Tucano could still be in the competition and explained the cancellation as part of an internal process. After the legal challenge by Hawker Beechcraft Corp. the award is under investigation and will most likely be revived, with Embraer and its rivals again invited to submit new bids. Although Burns said the Super Tucano and the FX-2 jet fighter competition are “two separate issues,” the Brazilian side is keen to find linkages between the two as a way of putting pressure to win the Super Tucano contract (UPI).
Brazil is the fourth biggest global exporter of light arms in the world, ahead of Israel, Austria and Russia, according to the Small Arms Survey, the industry’s main study carried out by the IHEID in Geneva. According to data from the Brazilian Ministry of Development, Industry, and Foreign Trade, the value of light arms exports has tripled in the past five years; from $109.6 million in 2005 to $321.6 million in 2010. Counting just firearms, the quantity is an impressive amount. There were 4,482,874 arms exported between 2005 and 2010, according to a survey carried out by the army at the request of Publica. In other words, 2,456 arms exported a day (Huffington Post).
SPLIT SECOND POLL
Europe seemed to offer Brazil’s migrants real potential. With an exchange rate working in their favour and often holding down more than one job, they could build up savings that might one day allow them to return home to a more prosperous life. But now Brazil itself is booming and the headlines are promising. So is it a good time to return to South America’s largest country (BBC)?
Scores of Brazilian millionaires spend weekends and vacation time in homes built in violation of state and federal environmental rules on some of the most beautiful real estate in Brazil (Bloomberg).
The social inequality index in Brazil has hit the lowest level in 52 years, continuing a downward trend during past 12 years, a local university said (Xinhua).