ABC: Brazil in the midst of cooperation


Agência Brasileira de Cooperação

Brazil, Portugal, and Mozambique signed an agreement to enable a project for sustainable coffee growing in “Parque Nacional da Gorongosa” (Gorongosa National Park) in December. The agreement will be in effect for 60 months and there is an initial budget of US$ 903,000.00; this initiative should benefit 85 rural growers yearly. 25% of those growers are women. This trilateral agreement was only made possible thanks to the efforts of the “Agência Brasileira de Cooperação” (ABC) (Brazilian Cooperation Agency). This agency is part of the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its responsibilities include negotiations, coordination, and following up on Brazilian programs and projects related to technical cooperation and it is put into effect based on agreements entered by Brazil and other countries and with international bodies as well. “ABC has been contributing progressively, as an agent of technical cooperation provided by Brazil to an increasing number of developing countries in order to display a modern image of the country and to consolidate its noteworthy role on a regional and international scope”, defines Ambassador João Almino, who is the director of the agency. “Nowadays, international technical cooperation constitutes one the main instruments of Brazilian foreign policy that is increasingly focused on Brazilian development and thereby promotes the country in its role as a global player in foreign affairs”.

UNDP’s importance

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) was created in 1987, the ABC mainly counts on support from domestic ministries, federal agencies, and multilateral bodies; the (UNDP) is certainly the main partner of ABC in executing Brazilian projects. “The UNDP has been an important partner in creating the Agency and, during the past 30 years and mainly in backing its institutional strength and establishing it as a cooperation technological model in the country. This Model has been continually perfected as time goes on”, explains, Niky Fabiancic, the resident coordinator of the UN System and the UNDP representative in Brazil.

ABC was established in 1987 and is considered as a historical mark, fundamental for International Technical Cooperation in Brazil. There have been around 3,000 projects put into effect from then on in 108 countries present in the Southern Hemisphere (Africa, Latin America, Asia, and Oceania). Previous to that, this work was performed by the Brazilian Ministry of Planning.

In 2003, the agency intensified its activities after President Lula da Silva, who led the country at that time, made a decision to grant special attention to the foreign scope of the Brazilian agenda. During his first two years as President, Lula personally spearheaded the initiative in achieving closer diplomatic relations with all regions around the globe; he took 56 trips to 35 different countries, just in the first two years of his administration, from 2003 to 2004. Conversely, during that same period, 52 visits from heads of states and foreign governments, originating from 39 countries, visited our country. “The President envisions a more democratic and fairer view of Brazil and this reflects in his defense for greater equanimity in international relations, and his conviction that peace, security, and development cannot be disassociated”, evaluated Celso Amorim, who was the diplomat of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs during that period.

“The Agency, when created, focused mainly on received cooperation that, although now at a lesser degree, continues contributing, in specific fields, to the development of the Country. However, the greatest dynamics has returned to cooperation among developing countries in the last few decades, in trilateral modalities and especially bilateral”, reveals Carlos Milani, researcher and author of his book “ABC 30 anos: História e Desafios Futuros” (ABC 30 years: History and Future Challenges), published in 2017. Milani spoke to 26 people in preparing his book, including diplomats, ABC employees, administrators in ministries, and federal public agencies, from July 2016 to March 2017.

Cooperation model

Milani cites the Centre of Excellence against Hunger) and international cooperative agencies in the field of nutrition and nutritional security and human rights to nutrition in his book. Results from dialogs between Brazil and the United Nations World Food Program, the creation of the Centre of Excellence against Hunger in 2011, was inspired by the successful experience in Brazil combating against hunger and poverty and by the willingness of the country in providing support for similar experiences in other countries. “ABC plays a crucial role in identifying priorities, interlocution with Brazilian representatives, by organizing and participating in technical missions and articulation with other institutions in the Brazilian government”, reveals Daniel Balaban, who is the director of the Centre. “ABC contributed to assuring coherency and consistency in actions performed by diverse partners, in order to maintain the focus on horizontality in all actions”.

Thanks to that teamwork, The Centre of Excellence has already supplied technical support to over 30 countries in the field of nutritional and food security, focused on school meals. “Brazil is an example of progress and cooperative partnership in achieving development in Ivory Coast”, said Daniel Kablan Ducan, the vice president of Ivory Coast. Currently, Brazil and the “FAO” (WFP) maintain a trilateral program for improving the supply of meals to educational centers to African nations. “We hope to learn from Brazilian experience and, as good students, we wish to learn as well as teach about school meals”. The vice president while on a technical visit to Brazil, he also became interested in creating in his country a “Centre of Excellence against Hunger” in Africa, inspired by the Brazilian experience.

What’s Next?

“ABC offers a strategic nature for Brazilian cooperation”, confirms Paulo Esteves, researcher, who is the director of the BRICS Policy Center. Although, he understands that the Agency is currently in a paradoxical situation. “Brazil seems to be declining in its international relevance concurrently, while many Brazilian are still references in the field of development”.

“ABC created a successful model for international cooperation”, said Aloysio Nunes, the Brazilian minister of foreign affairs, who compares the Agency to a “passport for narrowing political relations”. He even stressed the fact that ABC “captures the sensibility of partners” and has adopted a model for “uninterested cooperation”. That solidary diplomacy, indirectly disconnected from economic interests, the Brazilian South-South Cooperation has conquered strategic positions and top-notch international bodies, such as the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the Human Rights of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and Organization of American States (IACHR/OAS).

“Thanks to that kind of actuation, Brazil is becoming increasing more in the vanguard of South-South international cooperation, through deploying innovative and progressive methods to promote development”, commend Daniel Balaban, from the Center of Excellence against Hunger. “How can we account for the importance of the collaborators from Brazilian public institutions? Brazil represents the importance of partnerships as a country that wishes to share its experiences, jointly with the agencies of the UN with their expertise. It is a win-win relationship for everyone!” declares Jorge Chediek, who is the director and Envoy of the United Nations for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC), during the “Global South-South Development Expo” event, held in November 2017 in Antalya, Turkey.

“Our potential for promoting international cooperation with developing countries is much more than we had previously realized”, assures João Almino. He believes the following, “We seek to achieve approval for new legal framework regarding the current outdated budgetary constraints, the country can in a middle timeframe, and double its potential for international technical cooperation”.

ABC statistics

In the last three decades, cooperation has benefitted Brazil, through the following: approximately 4,000 activities have been performed and mobilized around US$ 6 billion in domestic resources, and US$ 1.5 billion in foreign resources. Currently, these initiatives are set as priorities on the sustainable and social development agenda, in order to promote rights and modernize public administration.

And to sum it all up, during the course of these past 30 years, ABC has performed its cooperative activities through partnership agreements with around 147 Brazilian institutions, 29 international bodies, and 30 cooperative agencies in developed and developing countries, where Brazil maintains cooperation, as well as bilateral cooperation with a total of 124 countries. At this moment, there are about 620 projects being executed in supplied and provided cooperation, and a great deal of them is on the African continent.

“It seemed like the African continent was inexistent. Then, I created another correlation to political powers. And I worked intensely on the necessity of building up a strong alliance between South America and Africa”, explains Lula da Silva, during the period when he was the President of Brazil, as he went on 33 official visits to African countries, as well as creating 19 new embassies. In that period, trade exchanges between Brazil and Africa increased by 426%.“We achieved an increased in trade balance from about US$ 5 billion with Africa to over US$ 26.5 billion in 2012. That is significant progress”, he commemorates.

Brazil and Africa

Africa is among the most benefitted regions from the technical cooperation initiatives conducted by ABC in the last few years. According to the “Instituto de Pesquisa Econômica Aplicada” (Applied Economic Research Institute) (IPEA), as R$63 million were assigned to development programs and technical cooperation projects in Africa from 2011 to 2013, as that was the most recent period analyzed by the institute. That amount is approximated half of the total amount assigned to Brazilian technical cooperation activities in the world. We would like to highlight the following projects:

The Network of Human Milk Banks in the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP). The purpose of this initiative is the strengthen actions to cut down on child mortality. Cape Verde has already set up a human milk bank and Mozambique is in the final phase of implementation.

Cotton Growing Fostering Program. This is one of the most important initiatives of Brazilian cooperation in Africa and it currently serves the following countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Chad, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Mali, Malawi, Mozambique, Kenya, Senegal, Sudan, Tanzania, and Togo.

Professional Preparation Program. Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, and São Tomé and Príncipe already have professional preparation centers set up. The implementation in Mozambique depends on partnership from United Arab Emirates.

Food Acquisition Program. This has been in progress since 2012 and it benefits the following five countries: (Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, and Senegal) including initiatives for eradicating hunger and malnutrition.

Census reference centers for electronic data collection. Senegal and Cape Verde will share advanced techniques for carrying out population censuses through mobile devices, based on Brazilian technical experience.