Brazil: Page 3 of 5
rulings. Nevertheless, the Supreme Federal Tribunal was the first court in the world to transmit its sessions on television, and also via YouTube. More recently, in December 2009, the Supreme Court adopted Twitter to display items on the day planner of the ministers, to inform the daily actions of the Court and the most important decisions made by them.
Brazil continues to have high crime rates in a number of statistics, despite recent improvements. More than 500,000 people have been killed by firearms in Brazil between 1979 and 2003, according to a new report by the United Nations. In 2010, there were 473,600 people incarcerated in Brazilian prisons and jails.
Although some social and economic problems prevent Brazil from exercising effective global power, the country is now a political and economic leader in Latin America. This claim, however, is partially challenged by other countries, such as Argentina and Mexico, who oppose the Brazilian goal of obtaining a permanent seat as representative of the region in the Security Council of the United Nations. Between World War II and the 1990s, democratic and military governments sought to expand Brazil's influence in the world, pursuing a common foreign and independent industry. Currently the country has aimed to strengthen ties with other South American countries and pursue multilateral diplomacy through the United Nations and the Organization of American States.
The current Brazil's foreign policy is based on the country's position as a regional power in Latin America, a leader among developing countries and an emerging world superpower. Brazilian foreign policy has generally reflected multilateralism, resolving disputes peacefully and non-intervention in the affairs of other countries. The Brazilian Constitution also determines that the country shall seek an economic, political, social and cultural ties with the nations of Latin America.
An increasingly well-developed tool of Brazil's foreign policy is providing aid as a donor to other developing countries. Brazil does not just use its growing economic strength to provide financial aid, but it also provides high levels of expertise and most importantly of all, a quiet non-confrontational diplomacy to improve governance levels. Total aid is estimated to be around $1 billion per year that includes:
• technical cooperation of around $480 million ($30 million in 2010 provided directly by the Brazilian Cooperation Agency (ABC))
• an estimated $450 million for in-kind expertise provided by Brazilian institutions specialising in technical cooperation
In addition, Brazil manages a peacekeeping mission in Haiti ($350 million) and makes in-kind contributions to the World Food Programme ($300 million). This is in addition to humanitarian assistance and contributions to multilateral development agencies. The scale of this aid places it on par with China and India and ahead of many western donors. The Brazilian South-South aid has been described as a "global model in waiting."
The armed forces of Brazil, largest in Latin America, consist of the Brazilian Army, the Brazilian Navy, and the Brazilian Air Force with a total of 371,199 active personnel. The Army has 235,978 active personnel. The Military Police (States' Military Police) is described as an ancillary force of the Army by the constitution, but is under the control of each state's governor. The Navy is the oldest of the Brazilian armed forces and operates an aircraft carrier, the NAe São Paulo (formerly FS Foch of the French Navy). The Air Force has about 700 manned aircraft in service.
Brazil is a federation composed of 26 States, one Federal district (which contains the capital city, Brasília) and Municipalities. States have autonomous administrations, collect their own taxes and receive a share of taxes collected by the Federal government. They have a governor and a unicameral legislative body elected directly by their voters. They also have independent Courts of Law for common justice. Despite this, states have much less autonomy to create their own laws than in the United States. For example, criminal and civil laws can only be voted by the federal bicameral Congress and are uniform throughout the country.
The states and the federal district may be grouped into regions: Northern, Northeast, Central-West, Southeast and Southern. The Brazilian regions are merely geographical, not political or administrative divisions, and they do not have any specific form of government. Although defined by law, Brazilian regions are useful mainly for statistical purposes, and also to define the distribution of federal funds in development projects.
Municipalities, as the states, have autonomous administrations, collect their own taxes and receive a share of taxes collected by the Union and state government. Each has a mayor and an elected legislative body, but no separate Court of Law. Indeed, a Court of Law organized by the state can encompass many municipalities in a single justice administrative division called comarca (county).
Brazil is the largest national economy in Latin America, the world's seventh largest economy at market exchange rates and the seventh largest in purchasing power parity (PPP), according to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Brazil has a mixed economy with abundant natural resources. The Brazilian economy has been predicted to become one of the five largest in the world in the decades to come, the GDP per capita following and growing, provided that large investments in productivity gains are made to substitute the GDP growth of the last decade that is attributable to the increase in the number of people working. Its current GDP (PPP) per capita is $10,200, putting Brazil in the 64th position according to World Bank data. Active in agricultural, mining, manufacturing and service sectors Brazil has a labor force of over a 107 million (ranking 6th worldwide) and unemployment of 6.2% (ranking 64th worldwide).
The country has been expanding its presence in international financial and commodities markets, and is one of a group of four emerging economies called the BRIC countries. Major export products include aircraft, electrical equipment, automobiles, ethanol, textiles, footwear, iron ore, steel, coffee, orange juice, soybeans and corned beef., and has the fourth largest car market in the world. Adding up, Brazil ranks 23rd worldwide in value of exports.
Brazil pegged its currency, the real, to the U.S. dollar in 1994. However, after the East Asian financial crisis, the Russian default in 1998 and the series of adverse financial events that followed it, the Central Bank of Brazil temporarily changed its monetary policy to a managed-float scheme while undergoing a currency crisis, until definitively changing the exchange regime to free-float in January 1999.
Brazil received an International Monetary Fund rescue package in mid-2002 of $30.4 billion, then a record sum. Brazil's central bank paid back the IMF loan in 2005, although it was not due to be repaid until 2006. One of the issues the Central Bank of Brazil recently dealt with was an excess of speculative short-term capital inflows to the country, which may have contributed to a fall in the value of the U.S. dollar against the real during that period. Nonetheless, foreign direct investment (FDI), related to long-term, less speculative investment in production, is estimated to be $193.8 billion for 2007. Inflation monitoring and control currently plays a major part in the Central bank's role of setting out short-term interest rates as a monetary policy measure.
Between 1993 and 2010, 7012 mergers & acquisitions with a total known value of $707 billion with the involvement of Brazlian firms have been announced. The year 2010 was a new record in terms of value with 115 billion USD of transactions. The largest transaction with involvement of Brazilian companies has been: Cia Vale do Rio Doce acquired Inco in a tender offer valued at US$18.9 billion.
Corruption costs Brazil almost $41 billion a year alone, with 69.9% of the country's firms identifying the issue as a major constraint in successfully penetrating the global market. Local government corruption is so prevalent that voters only perceive it as a problem if it surpasses certain levels, and only if a local media e.g. a radio station is present to divulge the findings of corruption charges. Initiatives, like this exposure, strengthen awareness which is indicated by the Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index; ranking Brazil 69th out of 178 countries in 2012.
The purchasing power in Brazil is eroded by the so-called Brazil cost.
Tourism is an important economic activity in various regions of the country. With five million foreign visitors in 2008, Brazil is the main destination for international tourism market in South America, and ranks second in Latin America in terms of flow of international tourists.
Spending by foreign tourists visiting Brazil reached 6.8 billion dollars in 2011, 14.5% more than in 2010. In 2005, tourism contributed 3.2% of national income arising from the export of goods and services, responsible for the creation of 7% of direct and indirect jobs in the economy. In 2006, an estimated 1.87 million people were employed in the sector, with 768 thousand formal jobs (41%) and 1.1 million informal occupations (59%).
The Domestic tourism represents a vital part of the industry, accounting for over 50 million trips annually, the direct revenues generated by domestic tourism in 2010 was $33 billion - nearly six times more than is captured by the country in relation to foreign tourism.
Components and energy
Brazil's economy is diverse, encompassing agriculture, industry, and many services. The recent economic strength has been due in part to a global boom in commodities prices with exports from beef to soybeans soaring. Agriculture and allied sectors like forestry, logging and fishing accounted for 5.1% of the gross domestic product in 2007, a performance that puts agribusiness in a position of distinction in terms of Brazil's trade balance.
The industry — from automobiles, steel and petrochemicals to computers, aircraft, and consumer durables— accounted for 30.8% of the gross domestic product. Industry, which is often technologically advanced, is highly concentrated in metropolitan São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Campinas, Porto Alegre, and Belo Horizonte.
Brazil is the world's tenth largest energy consumer with much of its energy coming from renewable sources, particularly hydroelectricity and ethanol; the Itaipu Dam is one of the world's largest hydroelectric dams en the first car with an ethanol engine was produced in 1978, the first airplane engine running on ethanol in 2005. It is expected to become a major oil producer and exporter, having recently made huge oil discoveries. The governmental agencies responsible for the energy policy are the Ministry of Mines and Energy, the National Council for Energy Policy, the National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels, and the National Agency of Electricity.
Science and technology
Technological research in Brazil is largely carried out in public universities and research institutes, and more than 73% of funding for basic research comes from government sources. Some of Brazil's most notable technological hubs are the Oswaldo Cruz Institute, the Butantan Institute, the Air Force's Aerospace Technical Center, the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation and the INPE. The Brazilian Space Agency has the most advanced space program in Latin America.
Uranium is enriched at the Resende Nuclear Fuel Factory, mostly for research purposes (as Brazil obtains 88% from its electricity from hydroelectricity) and the country's first nuclear submarine will be delivered in 2015 (by France). Brazil is one of the three countries in Latin America with an operational Synchrotron Laboratory, a research facility on physics, chemistry, material science and life sciences. And Brazil is the only Latin American country to have a semiconductor company with its own fabrication plant, the CEITEC.
Brazilian roads are the primary carriers of freight and passenger traffic. The road system totalled 1.98 million km (1.23 million mi) in 2002. The total of paved roads increased from 35,496 km (22,056 mi) in 1967 to 184,140 km (114,425 mi) in 2002.
Brazil's railway system has been declining since 1945, when emphasis shifted to highway construction. The total length of railway track was 30,875 km (19,186 mi) in 2002, as compared with 31,848 km (19,789 mi) in 1970. Most of the railway system belonged to the Federal Railroad Corporation RFFSA, which was privatized in 2007.