Brazil’s foreign policy: More actors and expanding agendas

Wayne Selcher, Elizabethtown College


Brazil’s foreign policy decision process has recently become more complex and decentralized. The onset in 1982 of severe financial and trade problems, as well as the emergence of some unforeseen external political-security concerns, have drawn more governmental actors into participation in foreign policy decision and execution in political, economic, and military-security matters. Brazil’s foreign policy rests upon a broad consensus of values within the government, most of which have been developed and practiced by the Foreign Ministry as the long-term custodian and articulator of national diplomacy. Brazil’s foreign policy process revolves increasingly around responses to finance, trade, and, to a lesser extent, political-security issues. Expansion of exports and restrictions on imports have been central to Brazil’s debt management by providing a positive balance of trade. Traditionally Brazil has had few security concerns and has seldom been involved in the kind of “high politics” diplomacy typical of the northern hemisphere or of the major currents of world politics.