monday, 1º june of 2015

The Sino-Brazilian principles in a Latin American and BRICS context: The case for comparative public budgeting legal research

Gutemberg P. Lopes Jr.

The United States prevailed in the last century by asserting the Americas as its stronghold and projecting hard, soft, and smart power worldwide. If China is to become a superpower in the twenty-first century, what kind of principles will it stand for? In this essay, a piece of the puzzle is put in place by the Sino-Brazilian Principles, a synthesis of Brazil‘s and China‘s core bilateral values, distilled from their legal systems and government-to-government agreements of the last forty years. After engaging in Africa, China has presented itself as a commercial alternative to the United States in Latin America. The way Brazil and China deal with one another is set to form a precedent for other CELAC (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) nations, influence the success or failure of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), and affect the balance of power in the Americas and Asia.

This premise leads to the second part of the paper, focused on the Brazilian and Chinese legal frameworks for budget systems. On the one hand, analyzing a country‘s budget is an established way to foresee the goals and needs of its government, on the other, little has been written about the budget systems of emerging economies from a comparative law perspective. In 2015, two emerging giants are poised to start anew financially: Brazil, with the Pluriannual Plan 2016-2019, and China, with the Thirteenth Five-Year Plan 2016-2020. In spite of all the inspired guessing about South-South partnerships, the future of the developing world is not in the stars; it is in the budget.


The Sixth BRICS summit is likely to be remembered for the creation of the $100 billion New Development Bank and the Contingent Reserve Arrangement. For a group doubted since its inception, creating an institution to rival the International Monetary Fund is an accomplishment in itself.

When Goldman Sachs‘s Jim O‘Neill coined the BRIC acronym in 2001, he never anticipated it would have such an impact on world politics. Behind the original concept was the idea that, among emerging market economies, there were four countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) with big enough territories and populations to change the dominance of western nations and become global economic powers by 2050. South Africa joined the group in 2011, as a representative of the African continent.

The latest BRICS summit was, in part, a gathering of old acquaintances. China, for instance, has more than three thousand kilometers of land borders, with Russia to the north and India to the south. Conversely, of the four original members, Brazil is the far-away one, literally on the other side of the planet.

Thus, while Russia, India, and China have dealt with each other for centuries, Brazil, as a new element in a traditional setting, has the opportunity to build strategic bilateral partnerships with each one of them almost from zero, and vice versa. Under these circumstances, the fortieth anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between Brazil and China, celebrated in 2014, marks a tipping point in the Sino-Brazilian relationship.7 Bilateral ties have developed tremendously in the last decade, establishing the basis for unprecedented cooperation in the years to come. Beginning with that premise, and considering BRICS and Latin American geopolitics, this paper will examine two aspects of modern Brazil-China cooperation.

The first aspect focuses on identifying and synthetizing the international relations principles that Brazil and China have supported bilaterally since 1974. Such values are extracted from the current Brazilian and Chinese legal systems, as well as bilateral agreements.

These Sino-Brazilian Principles, as I call the combination of the leading bilateral values, are worth investigating, not only because they are about the dealings of the largest developing country with the largest Latin American nation, but also because Brazil is the only Latin American country in the BRICS. And, in view of China‘s growing influence in the region, the future of Sino-Brazilian interactions has the potential to be a role model for other Latin American nations and affect the BRICS.

The second aspect of this study is aimed at encouraging comparative public budgeting legal research between Brazil and China, with the goal of expanding it to fellow BRICS members and other Latin American nations. Conventional budgetary studies tend to focus on global reports that, while useful, inherently prevent in-depth analysis and/or do not involve Latin American or BRICS nations at all, or at least not as a coherent set.

Analyzing the strategic plans of a country is an established way to foresee the goals and needs of governments. The timing for Sino-Brazilian budgetary research could not be better. In 2015, the Brazilian government will produce a new strategic plan for the next four years, the Pluriannual Plan 2016–2019, effective in 2016.8 Also in 2015, the Chinese central government will discuss its Thirteenth Five-Year Plan 2016–2020, which will enter into force in 2016.9 This is a Sino-Brazilian budgetary correlation that only happens every twenty years, the last time being with the Pluriannual Plan 1996–1999 and the Ninth Five-Year Plan 1996–2000.

Following this introduction, part one focuses on the aforesaid Sino-Brazilian Principles. They are, in turn, contrasted with the BRICS pillars and the values defended by the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). Parts two and three explore and compare the public budgeting legal framework in Brazil, with its Pluriannual Plan (PPA), Budget Directives Law (LDO), and Annual Budget Law (LOA); and China, with its Five-Year Plan and Annual Budget. Fundamental budget principles valid in Brazil and China are commented on and compared in view of China‘s revised budget law approved on August 31, 2014, set to be effective from January 1, 2015.10 Finally, in the conclusion, I summarize the findings and recommendations of this investigation, hoping that they can contribute to the emerging fields of BRICS and Sino-Latin American research.

Click here to read more.

*Gutemberg P. Lopes Jr. is lawyer and Assistant Professor of Finance and Public Budgeting at the State University of Maranhao (UEMA).

latest of hot topics

subscribe |  contact us |  sponsors |  migalhas in portuguese |  migalhas latinoamérica