Brazil Is Ready to Play

    
Brazil Is Ready to Play

    We want reciprocal free trade. Our export efforts will be worth
    nothing if the rich countries continue
    to preach free
    trade and practice protectionism. Constructing a new
    international economic order is
    not only an act of generosity,
    but principally, a demonstration of political astuteness.

    by:

    Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva

    As you know, I have come straight from Porto Alegre, where I took part in the World Social Forum and spoke to tens
    of thousands of people on the same subjects that I intend to address here.

    The core theme of the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum is "Building Trust".

    I feel very comfortable with this theme.

    The Brazilian people have placed their trust in me, giving me the responsibility of running a country with a
    population of 175 million, one of the world’s biggest industrial economies. But a country that also lives with huge social inequalities.

    I bring to Davos the feeling of hope that has gripped the whole of Brazilian society.

    Brazil has rediscovered itself, and this rediscovery is being expressed in its people’s enthusiasm and their desire to
    mobilize to face the huge problems that lie ahead of us.

    Here in Davos, it is generally assumed that there is now only one god—the market. But free and secure citizens are
    one of the main prerequisites for a free market.

    I responded calmly and maturely to those who did not trust the commitments we made during the electoral campaign.
    In my Letter to the Brazilian People, I stressed my willingness to implement deep economic, social and political reforms,
    whilst showing respect for the country’s contracts and securing a balanced economy.

    Brazil is working to reduce its social and economic inequalities, deepen its political democracy, guarantee public
    freedoms and actively promote human rights.

    These inequalities are most visible in the more than 45 million Brazilians who live below the poverty line.

    The most dramatic form of these inequalities is the hunger that affects tens of millions of our brothers and sisters.

    For this reason, we have made the fight against hunger our top priority. I will never tire from repeating my
    commitment to ensuring that every Brazilian can have breakfast, lunch and supper every day.

    The fight against hunger is not only the government’s task; it belongs to the whole of society. Structural changes
    are a prerequisite for the eradication of hunger. It requires the creation of decent jobs, along with better investments, a
    substantial increase in domestic savings, expansion of domestic and export markets, high-quality health and education provision,
    and cultural, scientific and technological development.

    Brazil must promote agricultural reform and achieve a return to economic growth as a way to distribute income.

    We are establishing clear, stable and transparent economic rules, and are implacably fighting corruption.

    Our infrastructure must be developed, and this will involve foreign investment.

    We are a hospitable country. The Brazilian people are characterized by tolerance and solidarity. We have a skilled
    workforce, ready to meet the huge challenges of production in the 21st century.

    Free Trade

    To achieve future growth we need to overcome external constraints.

    Brazil has to break the vicious circle whereby it takes on new loans to pay existing ones.

    We need to make an extraordinary effort to expand our international trade, in particular our exports, diversifying into
    new products and markets, and adding value to what we produce.

    The efforts we are making to revive the Brazilian economy in a responsible way will not however be fully realized
    without major changes in the world economic order.

    We want free trade, but free trade that is reciprocal.

    Any export efforts we might make will be worth nothing if the rich countries continue to preach free trade and
    practice protectionism.

    The required changes in the world economic order must also involve a greater discipline in capital flows, which move
    around the world at the mercy of subjective rumors and speculation with no basis in reality.

    The international community needs to play a role in preventing the illegal flight of capital seeking refuge in tax havens.

    Greater discipline in this area is vital if we are to effectively combat international terrorism and crime, both of which
    are fed by money laundering.

    Constructing a new international economic order that is both fairer and more democratic is not only an act of
    generosity, but also, and principally, a demonstration of political astuteness.

    More than ten years following the fall of the Berlin Wall, there are still walls separating the well-fed from the hungry,
    those who have work from the unemployed, those with decent homes from those who live in the street or in miserable slums,
    those who have access to education and humanity’s cultural heritage from those who are submerged in illiteracy and
    complete alienation.

    New ethical standards are also required. It is not enough to proclaim the values of humanism. These values must
    also prevail in relations between countries and peoples.

    Our foreign policy is firmly focused on the pursuit of peace and negotiated solutions to international conflicts, and
    to the uncompromising defense of our national interests.

    Peace is not just a moral objective. It is an imperative of reason. This is why we maintain that disputes must be
    resolved by peaceful means and under the aegis of the United Nations. We have to accept that poverty, hunger and deprivation
    are very often the breeding ground of fanaticism and intolerance.

    Protecting national interests is not incompatible with co-operation and solidarity. Our domestic policies are not
    hostile to foreigners, they are universalist.

    We are looking to develop closer relationships with other South American countries and to increase economic,
    commercial, social and political integration with them.

    We would also like to develop increasingly positive relationships with the United States, the European Union, and Asia.

    As the country with the second largest black population in the world, we feel a special affinity for Africa, a continent
    with which we have very close ethnic and cultural ties.

    I would like to invite all of you here today, on this "Magic Mountain" of Davos, to look at the world through
    different eyes.

    It is vital that we build a world economic order than can satisfy the yearnings of those billions of people who are
    today excluded from the extraordinary scientific and technological advances that humankind has achieved.

    Opportunities

    Do not just sit and wait for signals that the time has come for a change of attitude towards my country and the
    countries in the developing world.

    Peoples, like individuals, need opportunities.

    The nations that are rich today are rich only because of the opportunities they have had in the past.

    If those nations wish to be true to their past successes, they cannot and must not put barriers in the way of
    developing countries.

    On the contrary, they can and must work with us to build a new agenda for shared global development.

    Brazil has already started to change, you may be sure of that.

    Our determination is not only the result of the commitments we made many years ago; it is also fuelled by the hope
    that is driving our country.

    I know that contemporary debate is full of divergent opinions and different, even conflicting, world visions.

    I am president of the entire Brazilian people, not just those who voted for me. We are looking to build a new social
    contract in which all forces of Brazilian society are represented and heard. To this end, I am seeking dialogue with all sectors, all
    of which will be represented in the Council for Economic and Social Development.

    I will be seeking contacts and sources of support for our plans to change Brazilian society, wherever they may be found.

    The change we are seeking should not benefit just one social, political or ideological group.

    But most of all it should benefit the vulnerable, the deprived, and the persecuted, and who now see the possibility of
    personal and collective redemption. This is a cause we can all adopt. It is a universal cause par excellence.

    As the largest and most industrialized country of the southern hemisphere, Brazil feels it has both a right and a duty
    to call on all those attending the Davos Forum to exercise good sense.

    We would like to appeal to you to make scientific discoveries universally available, so that their benefits can be
    enjoyed by all countries of the world.

    To this same end, I would like to call upon the Group of Seven nations, with the support of major international
    investors, to establish a new International Fund to tackle poverty and hunger in the Third World. The road to building a fairer
    world is a long one, and hunger cannot wait.

    My greatest desire is that the hope that has overcome fear in my country will help vanquish it around the world. We
    urgently need to unite around a worldwide pact for peace and against hunger. Brazil will play its part.

    Thank you very much.

    Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is the President of Brazil. The piece above is a transcript of his remarks to the World
    Economic Forum, on January 26, 2003. You can reach him writing to
    protocolo@planalto.gov.br  

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