Over the last 40 years Brazil has pursued strategic partnerships with a wide range of countries. It has done so to gain access to capital and technology, foster regional and inter-regional cooperation, and advance its priorities on the international stage - in particular through multilateral bodies and coalitions. These partnerships will continue to be a valuable tool for Brasilia to manage the intersections of its bilateral and multilateral engagements, reform global governance and consolidate Brazil's profile as an increasingly important global actor.
The sixth BRICS Summit – bringing together Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – was held in Fortaleza, Brazil from 14-16 July. The summit marked a step change in the level of ambition of that group, and carries important implications for the future of global economic governance. The summit highlighted East-West and North-South divisions in the emerging global order, and a desire to reshape the Western-dominated global financial system. It also showed the determination of the BRICS to set up alternative forums outside of existing multilateral mechanisms - if existing bodies are not reformed to reflect the growing economic clout and priorities of the BRICS.
The MH17 air-crash disaster of July 17 is likely to have a severe impact on the development of the Donbas conflict in Ukraine as well as on EU-Russia relations. Written before the tragedy, this FRIDE working paper argues that the ‘Euromaidan’ protests, that occurred between December 2013 and February 2014, have provoked two fundamental changes that give grounds for cautious optimism about Ukraine’s incipient transition to democracy. First, after more than two decades of civic apathy and low impact, Ukrainian civil society seems to be on the rise. Second, state-society relations are being reconfigured, with citizens demanding greater oversight of and accountability from state institutions, and civic activists pushing for a greater role in policy-making. These new societal and political trends should be further supported by the European Union.
The EU-South Africa strategic partnership reflects a shift away from their traditional donor-recipient relationship. As South Africa emerges as a donor in its own right, there is potential for greater EU-South Africa collaboration to promote development in Africa and at global level. South Africa and the EU share a common focus on Africa’s development and security, as well on poverty reduction and normative issues of human rights and governance. Such convergence offers potential for trilateral development cooperation, which has yet to be explored. However, South Africa's concerns about the impact of broader EU policies on African development and about EU commitments to shift aid away from middle income countries could be barriers to deeper engagement.
The EU-Brazil strategic partnership on international development has delivered little. Limited commitment and operational constraints have so far undermined high-level pledges to undertake trilateral cooperation. Brazil and the EU often hold different positions on the contested multilateral development agenda. However, there is scope for closer cooperation between the two partners on various issues including food security. In addition, their further engagement would greatly contribute to bridging the divide between traditional and emerging donors.
China has been actively engaged in developing strategic partnerships with third countries, particularly since the early 2000s. These partnerships have proven a prominent instrument in China's diplomatic toolkit, in order to guarantee a benign environment for its rise. As China rises, and as part of the international community becomes increasingly suspicious of this ascent, Beijing’s strategic partnership diplomacy will face unprecedented challenges. China is thus likely to become more proactive and creative, differentiate more between different relationships and strive for a better connection between bilateral partnerships and other diplomatic tools.