Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, and President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy met at a summit in Brasilia in July to discuss the development of bilateral and regional ties. In an e-mail interview, Dr. Mahrukh Doctor, lecturer in political economy at the University of Hull and visiting associate professor at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, discusses Brazil-EU relations.
WPR: What issues are driving the current relationship between Brazil and EU?
Mahrukh Doctor: The key drivers of Brazil and EU relations are trade and investment. Brazil is the largest market for EU exports (€26.3 billion at its peak in 2008) and FDI in Latin America (€25.6 billion net in 2006-2009). Just less than a quarter of Brazilian exports are destined for the EU (€35.9 billion in 2008) and Brazilian FDI in the EU has grown in recent years (€39.7 billion net in 2006-2009). Moreover, these healthy economic links gain depth from shared strategic priorities and an emphasis on pursuing multilateral approaches to dealing with key global issues such as climate change, peace and security, sustainable development and global financial system regulation.
WPR: What is the balance between Brazil's bilateral relations with EU member states, and inter-regional relations between Mercosur and the EU?
Doctor: First it is important to note that the special status of bilateral relations is formalized in the EU-Brazil Strategic Partnership Agreement signed in 2007. However, the recent relaunch of negotiations to sign an EU-Mercosur Association Agreement, including a free trade agreement, will color bilateral relations. Although the talks are unlikely to result in a substantive agreement in the short run, it certainly provides a distracting element in terms of deepening Brazil-EU economic ties.