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Does Brazil Need and International Development Agency?

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Brazil has received much attention in recent years as an important new player in the international development scene. This has been a result of two central factors: 1) the massive increase in Brazilian official expenditures in the field of international development cooperation, and 2) the expansion of the geographical scope of Brazil’s international development activity. Internationally, this phenomenon has generated new debates, among other areas, on the meanings of soft power, the role of rising powers in global politics, and on problematic new “development encounters” in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Internally, however, the debate – among policy-makers, civil society and academics – on what Brazil’s role in international development might look like has been rather feeble and superficial. In my paper, I argue that the lack of a robust domestic conversation on the matter is at the root of a number of practical problems with Brazil’s international development activities. More importantly, there is no clear consensus on whether the country should be invested in international development at all.

My paper is therefore intended to be an exploratory analysis of what the parameters of a national debate about Brazil’s role in international development might look like. I explore the recent history of Brazilian development activities, including some failures and successes, and the current prevailing rationale. I then propose three lines of enquiry, with a view to answering the question, “Does Brazil need an international development agency?”: 1) geopolitical arguments, 2) economic arguments, and 3) global development arguments.

This talk is part of the CAMSED Events series.

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