The new United States administration and the world economic crisis prompt more questions than answers. This was one of the consensuses reached at the 3rd National Conference on Foreign Policy and International Politics, held this Monday, December 8, in Rio de Janeiro under the theme Brazil in the World that is Coming.
Scholars and diplomats discussed priority issues concerning the international scenario and Brazilian foreign policy in the face of Barack Obama's election to the presidency of the United States. It was also a consensus that the duration and depth of this financial crisis, which originated precisely in the US, is uncertain.
All participants agreed, although not on all points, that the change in the United States government was a positive one and that, with Obama at the helm, it is showing greater willingness to dialogue and strengthen international institutions, and also to adopt a less one-sided, more negotiation-oriented stance.
The Brazilian ambassador to the US, Antonio Patriota, believes that the president-elect is going to be more open to multilateral cooperation with Brazil in some topics that were met with indifference by the current US administration. "Especially in the areas of climate change and fighting poverty," he said.
Obama's statement on the shutting down of Guantanamo was praised by some of the participants, as they believe that it signals that the president-elect is going to show greater respect for international law.
The Professor at the Institute of Advanced Studies at the University of São Paulo (USP), Gilberto Dupas, warned, however, that people should not expect too much from the future US president.
"It is very unlikely that Obama will change the essential logic that underlies the structure of power in the United Sates, the defense and domestic policies. I believe that the expectations surrounding him must be kept in perspective," he asserted.
On the other hand, Dupas believes that the quest for relative consensuses creates a vacuum that enables greater participation to Brazil, which, according to him, has a vocation for bringing about consensus.
To the secretary general at the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Trade, ambassador Pinheiro Guimarães, the current outlook calls for greater articulation between Brazil and the "large developing States, such as China, India and Argentina, among others."
According to him, it is also important for the country to maintain its investment levels and reaffirm the Brazilian industrial potential.
"Industry is crucial, due to the very distribution of the population in Brazil. Around 85% of people live in the cities, and the country cannot base its economic development on agriculture alone. Now is the time for adding value to the Brazilian economy."