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Former Brazilian foreign minister Celso Amorim (JAMIL BITTAR/Jamil Bittar/Reuters)
Former Brazilian foreign minister Celso Amorim (JAMIL BITTAR/Jamil Bittar/Reuters)

Brazil's commitment to polygamy Add to ...

Celso Amorim, the former Brazilian foreign minister, was in New York this week to talk about his country's dramatic rise. One of the country's secrets: a commitment to polygamy.

Trade polygamy, that is.

"In international trade, monogamy is not a virtue," Mr. Amorim told reporters after speaking at an event hosted by the Council of the Americas to promote a recent article on his fast changing country. "You have to have as many partners as you can."

Plenty of countries - Canada, please stand up! - rely on established markets for their exports. Brazil goes wherever it can find buyers. As a result, the country exports more to Saudi Arabia than it does to Canada, and more to India than it does to France, according to Mr. Amorim.

Sometimes, Brazil's ties with other emerging markets are used to describe the phenomenon of growing "south-south" trade, which refers to the trend of these markets doing more business with each other rather than relying on demand from the United States, Europe and Japan.

However, Mr. Amorim suggested there is no grand strategy in Brasilia to break with the advanced countries. "I don't mind who comes first," Mr. Amorim said when asked to elaborate why Brazil does more business with Saudi Arabia and India, respectively, than Canada and France. "I'm just mentioning it to show how much we have diversified our trade relationship."

When it comes to trade, Brazil's strategy is working pretty well, putting the country comfortably among the world's top exporters.

The volume of the country's exports of goods and services expanded 9 per cent in 2010 compared with 6.4 per cent for Canada, according to the International Monetary Fund. Brazil's performance last year was just behind India, at 10 per cent. Germany's exports of goods and services increased by 14 per cent.

Mr. Amorim does have some concerns. Brazil might be forgetting its diversification strategy as companies rush to meet Chinese demand. "We have to pay attention to that." But, incredibly, Mr. Amorim says Brazil and its beaches are struggling to attract tourists. "What really gets me concerned is that we have a deficit in tourism."

If that's all Brazil has to worry about, its economy should continue to thrive. The country hosts the soccer World Cup in 2014 and Rio de Janeiro hosts the Summer Olympics in 2016. That should reverse the tourism deficit.

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