Economic relations with Africa have been losing importance for Brazil’s governments, which ignore the continent’s potential, unlike China and other emerging economies, according to the Brazil-Africa Institute (IBRAF).
In an analysis of the development of relations with Africa of the last Brazilian governments, as well as the proposals of the presidential candidates of 7 October, IBRAF noted that those with political power in Brazil should select their trading partners in Africa, out of those who ” have greater vocation to establish a dialogue with Brazilian companies.”
Also absent from the policy proposals is “the transfer of national technology, which could lead Brazilian brands to gain ground in the African continent,” said the Brazilian institute.
“A cluster of 1.2 billion people cannot be overlooked. Of the five economies expected to grow most in 2018, four are in Africa (Ghana, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast and Djibouti) according to the World Bank. The African middle class is expected to increase proportionately more than in other regions of the world. In Nigeria, for example, there are more births per day than in the European Union as a whole. What could be a problem can be seen as an opportunity,” said IBRAF.
“While China sees Africa as a big agenda, Brazil is turning its back on the continent. In addition to China, Turkey, Japan and the United States are examples of other nations that already see this opportunity and make massive investments in Africa,” it said.
According to IBRAF, the current government of Michel Temer “does not value this relationship” with the African continent and the presidential candidates “do not put forward a counterbalance to the current policy.”
The government of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva gave priority to programmes to get closer to Africa and, between 2003 and 2011, the former president made 13 trips to Africa, visiting 28 countries, more than his two predecessors put together, and increased the African diplomatic network, which now has 28 embassies.
Under Dilma Rousseff’s administration, “these actions lost intensity,” according to IBRAF, with the former president making only seven official trips to African countries, prompting criticism from business people and diplomats for weakening Brazil-Africa relations.
In response, Rousseff announced an agenda for the continent, such as the renegotiation of US$900 million in debts of 12 African countries with Brazil – the first step to making new business viable and a reform in the Brazilian Cooperation Agency (ABC).
Since August 2016, when he took office, Temer made no official visits to Africa until July of this year when he visited Cabo Verde (Cape Verde) for the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP) summit and to South Africa for the BRICS summit.
“The rapprochement with Africa is a permanent priority, which translates into concrete actions to strengthen our ties and promote development on both sides of the South Atlantic,” Temer told the BRICS summit.
Among the few Brazilian projects announced in Africa is the construction of a laboratory that will reduce the time for diagnosis of tuberculosis in São Tomé and Príncipe and the inauguration of the new training centre of Brazilian aeronautical company Embraer in Johannesburg. (macauhub)