Brazil and China: south-south partnership or north-south competition?


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Carlos Pereira

Visiting fellow, Foreign Policy and Global Economy and Development Programs at The Brookings Institution

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João Augusto de Castro Neves

Political analyst; Founder, CAC Political Consultancy

To shed some light on the possibilities and limits of meaningful coalitions among emerging countries, this paper focus on Brazil-China relations. Three main topics present a puzzle: trade relations; the political-strategic realm; and foreign direct investment. This paper develops a comparative assessment between the two countries in those areas, as well as identifies the extent to which those two emerging powers should be understood as partners and/or competitors. We collected data not only on these three aspects but also information about the governance structure and institutional safeguards in place both in China and Brazil. Our analysis suggests that even with advantageous trade relations, these exchanges have demonstrated a pattern of growing imbalances and asymmetries of trade flows more favourable to China than Brazil. Therefore, Brazil and China are bound to be competitors, but it is not clear how bilateral imbalances may affect multilateral cooperation between the two countries.

Centro Brasileiro de Relações Internacionais