By Iara Vidal, Brazilian Jornalist
On the 15th and 16th of November, the 17th Summit of the Group of Twenty (G20) will be held in Bali, Indonesia. With the victory of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on October 30, in the recently held Brazilian presidential elections, Brazil, one of the G20 members, is currently experiencing a transitional government.
Observers and specialists of Brazilian international politics are unanimous: Brazilian participation in the Bali Summit should be discreet and cautious. The country’s presence at the meeting will mark the end of a cycle without the new one having started, as Lula will only be sworn in as President of the Federative Republic of Brazil on January 1, 2023.
Brazilian participation emptied
Economist Adhemar Mineiro, who works at the Inter-Union Department of Statistics and Socioeconomic Studies (DIEESE) where he monitors international processes in which Brazil is involved, points out that the representation of the current government, which is at the end, already quite small in previous meetings, will be almost null in this one.
Mineiro considers that, if the Brazilian representation by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Indonesia wants to have any relevance, the topics that they can start to discuss are the future of multilateralism and the G20, especially considering that Brazil should host the G20 in 2024.
The economist notes that the current Brazilian government has not played much weight in multilateral mechanisms, but it is likely that the next government, under Lula, will do so. He comments, Brazil should begin to deepen the discussion on the role of the G20 in the international scenario, not only as an instrument to try to manage the international economic and financial crises, which is why emergence of the G20, but as a mechanism that can help manage other processes and tensions, such as the issue of international conflicts.
“But for that, the [Brazilian] Ministry of Foreign Affairs would at least need a green light from the current government to move in this direction, and I doubt that will happen. So, most likely, Brazil will have a very low profile at this meeting and only reactive to the subjects dealt with”, concludes Mineiro.
Brazilian lawyer Rodrigo do Val Ferreira believes that, due to the moment of transition of the Brazilian government, it is possible that both current and future administrations will send representatives to the Bali Summit, but everything indicates that neither Jair Bolsonaro nor Lula should attend in person. “Concretely, however, Brazil should have little agenda at this meeting, due to its minimized presence within this context of transition”, he ponders.
Ferreira predicts that, as a future, the G20 is certainly, after greater South American integration and Latin American articulation, a priority for the reinsertion of Brazil into world diplomacy, after years of isolation with the policy of alignment with the United States, based on by Bolsonaro.
“In this, the BRICS and the G20 will undoubtedly be the main stages of action for our foreign policy, following our historical tradition of non-alignment, strengthening multilateralism and prioritizing a development policy for the global south”, bets Ferreira.
Political scientist and international analyst Ana Prestes notes that it will be a tense and divisive G20 on the Ukrainian question. At the same time, it will be a G20 in the midst of the Sharm el-Sheikh Climate Change Conference (COP 27), in Egypt. “The Bolsonaro government will still officially represent Brazil at the meeting, but all eyes in the world are on Lula, who will be in Egypt for COP27 on exactly the same days as the G20,” says Prestes.
Perspectives for the future
Hugo Albuquerque, a lawyer, bets that starting next year, this scenario will change with the return of Brazil to international forums with a South-South agenda. “The trend, from 2023, is Brazil as an element at the center of the political board, while Chinese and Russians will be at one pole and the United States and its allies will be at another”, he comments.
Thiago Gehre Galvão, a professor in International Relations from the University of Brasília, adds that the Bali Summit will revolve around the theme of accelerating the energy transition. Brazil is going through a period of government transition opens space to explore its own foreign policy with regard to the potential for renewable energy.
He mentions that the digital economy, tourism, education, community-based development are some of the themes that are beginning to emerge as part of an agenda in which Brazil has already been highlighted as a protagonist. He recalls that the country has already used the space of the G20 to question the international order imposed especially by the countries of the Global North and, together with emerging countries, including China, design a new world geopolitics.
Although there is a big question: the country still does not have a defined strategy for being in a transitional government, for Galvão, the Brazilian delegation in Bali will be more comfortable as a result of the recent political change, which means that the country arrives with a renewed image and is much sought after. “I have no doubt that Brazil will once again access the G20 as a privileged space for discussion and debate, and now, mainly, for the reconstruction of its international image”, he opines.
Brazilian lawyer José Renato Peneluppi Jr. notes that the Bali Summit has an important agenda that addresses democracy in the global economic and financial framework, as well as sustainable development. These topics were never in the priorities of the Bolsonaro government. On the other hand, he recalls that the G20 was one of the great hallmarks of the Lula government’s international policy.
This year, analyzes the lawyer, Brazil will be a mere observer. It will be necessary to wait for Lula to return to the next meeting in 2023, in India, where in fact the South American giant will once again be an active actor and articulator of the Global South to help recover together and recover the global economy stronger. The prospects for the G20 meeting in Brazil, in 2024, are the best.
“It will be the opportunity to consolidate this new historic chance to transform the global economy, opening up again and assuming its role as an important reference among developing nations on important issues such as the climate issue, economic security, the architecture of global health, and the food security in the fight against poverty”, he predicts.
The researcher at the Tricontinental Institute for Social Research Marco Fernandes regrets that the Bali Summit takes place during the transition period of the Brazilian government, who turns his eyes to the future of Brazilian international politics with the return of Lula to the Presidency of the Republic. “As of January 1st, Brazil will once again be one of the main global geopolitical actors”, he predicts. He highlights that in 2024 the country will accumulate the rotating presidency of the BRICS and that of the G20, which will place the South American giant at the center of the articulations of world geopolitics.
The BRICS, highlights the researcher, is a rising force. At least 14 countries have already made official their intention to join the bloc. “We have the possibility that, perhaps, in a year or two years, almost half of the G20 will be a member of the BRICS”, he comments.
Another central point in this reorganization of international geopolitics that has Brazil as a protagonist is the strengthening of the New Development Bank (NDB) to coordinate infrastructure loans. The BRICS grouping represents more than 40% of the global population and almost a quarter of the world’s GDP. The value of GDP is expected to double to 50% of global GDP by 2030. For Fernandes, Lula’s return boosts this process even more.
Lula’s return to Brasília also means that Brazil will resume regional cooperation platforms, such as the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). “Although we only attend this G20 Summit in Bali, our days as a supporting player or irrelevant actor in global geopolitics are numbered. This ends on December 31 this year. On January 1, Brazil is back.”