President Dilma Rousseff is in London until 28 July on an official four-day visit, accompanied by a bevy of senior cabinet officials including Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota; Finance Minister Guido Mantega; Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo; Tourism Minister Gastao Vieira; Education Minister Aloizio Mercadante; and Science and Technology Minister, Marco Antonio Raupp. Also in the delegation is central bank president Alexandre Tombini, Marco Maia, the leader of the federal house of deputies and Sérgio Cabral, the government-allied governor of Rio de Janeiro, host state  to the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.
Outside 10 Downing Street, Cameron said the Olympic connection provided a “great opportunity” for cooperation between Brazil and Britain, adding that the UK wanted to deepen trade ties with the Southern Cone giant. Bilateral trade was worth US$8.6bn in 2011, up 10% over 2010. Britain’s foreign secretary William Hague led a commercial delegation in January to Brazil, where he vowed to double trade by 2015. To much fanfare, Brazil leapfrogged the UK earlier this year to become the world’s sixth largest economy (in nominal GDP terms) and so Rousseff arrives in London as a leader to be reckoned with, not least because of her anti-austerity stance in the face of the global economic crisis.
 The contrast between the Brazilian government’s multiple domestic economic stimulus packages, worth upwards of US$50bn since Rousseff took office in January 2010, and the Cameron government’s dogmatic fiscal retrenchment, could hardly be starker. Indeed hours before receiving Rousseff, Cameron’s embattled Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, came under renewed fire for his conservative policy stance after it emerged that the UK economy had slipped back into recession in the second quarter. And even though Brazil itself is suffering this year, thanks to recent currency depreciation and an accommodative monetary policy stance, it is well positioned to rebound in 2013 (assuming China does likewise). As we went to press, Cameron admitted that his government needed “to roll up our sleeves and do everything possible to get business going in Britain, to get housing going, to get jobs going.” He might well consult Rousseff for some tips.
According to a Downing Street statement, Cameron and Rousseff also discussed the Euro zone crisis and the global economy. Cameron may have an ally in Rousseff with regard to the Euro zone; she has made regular calls for the European Central Bank to act as a lender of last resort, as part of a solution to the systemic financial crisis in the peripheral Euro zone states. The UK and Brazil also generally see eye-to-eye in multilateral forums on soft issues like the environment and global warming.
 The sticking point, however, is on the Middle East. With the US President Barack Obama preoccupied with his bid for re-election in November, Cameron and Hague have been making the running on Syria. The UK this week again pressed the UN Security Council to approve a UK-penned resolution to impose sanctions on the government led by President Bashar Assad. Fellow Security Council members China and Russia firmly reject that, fearing a pretext for a military intervention. Rousseff said in London that the situation in Syria is worrying and stressed that Brazil condemns the violence. She also admitted that the country is in civil war and for the first time stated that the Assad government “has lost legitimacy”. However, she was also clear that the international community should not adopt the same strategy applied in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Curiously, rather than framing Brazil’s opposition on the usual human rights grounds, she argued that a military intervention in Syria and/or Iran would create a regional and oil price crisis that would undo all the efforts in the US, the UK and Europe to restore economic growth and stability. She insisted that dialogue and international cooperation was the only way to deal with the situations in both countries. “Militarisation does not work”, repeated Foreign Minister Patriota afterwards. Patriota acknowledged, however, that Brazil was “worried” about the lack of consensus in the UN Security Council. Brazil has repeatedly reaffirmed its full support for the six-point peace plan for Syria jointly put forward in March by the former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and The Arab League, which called for a cease fire followed by internal talks between the government and the rebels. However, Russia and China’s third veto of the Security Council resolution threatening sanctions on Syria a week ago was the death knell for the Annan plan, according to most diplomats. For all its global power aspirations, Brazil has been found wanting by the US and the UK when it comes to hard politics, such as the Middle East, and Rousseff and Patriota’s latest statements, which in Washington and London will be perceived as continued fence-sitting by Brazil, will not help.

Latin American Weekly Report, 26 July 2012