Rousseff Speaks to Protectionism at UN

By Andrew Willis, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff used her speech Tuesday (September 25th) at the opening session of this year’s UN General Assembly to rebuff accusations of Brazilian protectionist economic policy. She added that budget cuts and expansionary monetary policies in the U.S. and Europe were hurting emerging nations across the globe.

President Dilma Rousseff addresses the UN General Assembly, Brazil News

President Dilma Rousseff addresses the UN General Assembly, photo by Roberto Stuckert Filho/PR.

The first head of state to take to the podium at the meeting in New York, Rousseff said that all trade measures taken by the current Brazilian government were in accordance with rules laid down the World Trade Organization.

“We cannot accept that legitimate trade defense initiatives by developing countries be unfairly classified as protectionism,” Rousseff said.

Earlier this month Brasília announced plans to raise import tariffs on a hundred foreign products in order to help struggling local industries, with the list including steel, rubber tires, chemicals and potatoes.

The move served to heighten already tense trade relations with developed countries, prompting U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk last week to urge Rousseff’s government to perform a u-turn.

The import tariffs are likely to feature on the agenda of UK Prime Minister David Cameron and Minister for Trade Lord Green when they touch down in Brazil later this week.

Local content rules in Brazil’s oil sector have also attracted criticism from abroad, while Brazilian politicians have pointed to U.S and EU farm subsidies and agricultural trade barriers as evidence of hypocrisy.

Rousseff used her speech at the UN General Assembly to hit out at expansionary monetary policies in the U.S. and EU, saying they threatened to artificially raise the strength of the Brazilian Real and harm the country’s exports.

The UN General Assembly, Brazil News

The UN General Assembly, photo by Roberto Stuckert Filho/PR.

She also pointed to budget cuts in Europe as counterproductive, claiming instead, that Brazil’s spending policies were a better model for tackling the global economic crisis.

“We know from our own experience that the sovereign debt of states, as well as the bank and financial debt, will not be dealt with in the framework of a recession. On the contrary, recession only makes these problems more acute,” said Rousseff.

Threatened by rising bond yields and a fall in tax revenues, EU governments have resorted to a series of spending cutbacks in recent years, a strategy that critics say is likely to further slow growth, and drive up unemployment.

“The main leaders still have not found a way” to create a more inclusive economy, said Rousseff on Tuesday.

By way of contrast, the Brazilian president underlined her country’s track record over the past decade, with an estimated forty million Brazilians lifted out of poverty. Brazil’s economy performed well during the height of the global economic crisis, but is now forecast to expand by a meager 1.6 percent his year, well below BRIC peers.

Rousseff also used the UN meeting to criticize the violence in Syria, but declared that a military solution was not a viable option. In line with its growing economic stature in recent years, Brasília has sought to play a larger role on the geopolitical stage.

The last trip to the U.S. by the Brazilian leader was in April 2012, when a bilateral meeting between between Rousseff and U.S. President Barack Obama covered the international economic crisis, the Rio+20 Conference, and a new student exchange program. Last year when President Rousseff opened the UN General Assembly she was the first female in history to open the proceedings.

5 Responses to "Rousseff Speaks to Protectionism at UN"

  1. Pingback: Editorial: Lots of Good News | The Rio Times | Brazil News

  2. marty  September 26, 2012 at 11:53 AM

    It must bug the Brazilian President that the world does not want to uy Brazilian products because of protectionist policies and high tariffs, but honestly, Brazil doesn’t really need to rip off other countries when they do such a fine job ripping off their own citizens. Everything in Brazil is way overpriced and the only reason that so many people have been lifted out of poverty is because now they have been lifted into debt with 60””5 percent of the population over indebted and up to their eyesballs in monthly payments. In fact, many Brazilians believe that the only reason the Govt worked so hard to lift people out of poverty was done so as a favor to the big banks. The job sector of every major govt agency as well as the banks are constantly seeing their workers “em greve” or as you would say in English “on strike”. Right now The Federal Police, hospitals, schools, sanitation, the postal service and many others such as the major banks are all on strike because of the low wages that the average Brazilian suffers from. The infrastructure is a shambles with entire cities unpaved except for the major roadways, little regard for building or housing design…such as vented plumbing, hot water, grounded electrical systems and more……..I live in a small town in the State of Rio and like many other places in Rio, the streets are unpaved and we can’t even open up our windows due to the dust from the road outside. There is no police presence, and you never see a police car pulling over a speeding car or going through a red light, mostly because most towns don’t even have traffic lights or stop signs etc. Most Brazilians motorists wouldn’t respect them anyway. The only time you will see a policeman pull a car over is when they set up a “blitz” or a roadblock and then they are only interested in seeing your documents so that they can impound your car. Their DMV or Detran is a mess as well, sometimes taking as much as a year to get documents back to their citizens. The whole country is a mess….The bureaucracy is terrible, and the quality of goods produced is of extremely low caliber…

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  4. Debbie  October 2, 2012 at 7:50 PM

    Marty, thanks for giving your perspective. I’m trying to learn more about Brazil and your comments are helpful. Have you always lived in Brazil? We hear so much about Brazil having a strong economy and all the ‘opportunities’ for business in Rio and Sao Paulo with the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016. It was good to get your thoughts in general.

  5. Ricardo  October 21, 2012 at 2:59 PM

    I’am sorry Marty, But I totally don’t agree with you, Of course Brazil has a lot of problemns as any other country, but in general the country has more qualities than defects. In my opinion, if you don’t like living here, if you do not like living here, we would be very happy to see you going somewhere else that pleases you more than here.

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