Brazil now the world's sixth-largest economy

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The fact that Brazil is now the world's sixth-largest economy has been making some news today, with reports such as these:



The general theme of the articles and videos is that this is a good landmark for the country, but with issues such as reducing poverty making it more of a sober occasion than an all-out celebration. Brazil has just surpassed the UK, but it took 3.16 times the population to do so.

There is some mention of this and the reaction of the UK press to this in the Brazilian press:

Brazil should surpass the UK and become the sixth-largest economy in the world at the end of 2011, according to projections from the Centre for Economic and Business Research) published in the British press today (26 December). According to CEBR, the decline of Great Britain in the rankings will continue in coming years with Russia and India pushing the country down to the eighth position.

"Brazil should not be regarded as a competitor for economic hegemony but a vast market to be exploited", concludes the article entitled "Forget the EU... this is where we need to do business".

The loss of position to Brazil is relativized by The Guardian, which mentions another change in the rise and fall in the rankings that can serve as a consolation to the British: "The only compensation for ministers concerned by Britain's relative fall is that France will fall at a faster pace. Nicolas Sarkozy can still boast that France is the fifth-largest economy behind the US at number one, China, Japan and Germany, but by 2020, the Centre for Economics and business Research (CEBR) forecasts it will fall past the UK into ninth spot. Germany will also slip to seventh place in 2020."

Moving into sixth place still remains just a number, and it doesn't seem that Brazil as a whole really views itself as being any sort of superpower just yet (China seems to be going through this process at the moment). A continued reduction of poverty, moving into fifth place by 2015, plus the World Cup in 2014 and Olympics in 2016 may end up being a turning point for the way the country views its role on the world stage, however. And perhaps by then the Brazilian Space Agency will get some real funding instead of the pitiful $275 million a year it receives now. For comparison, that's less than Canada at $424 million (with an economy 10% smaller than Brazil's) and about nine times less per capita (i.e. per dollar earned) than NASA in the US. Brazil could easily be a major player in space exploration if it chose to make it a priority.

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