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The 1st of January, Brazil’s new president, Jair Bolsonaro, was sworn in. The appointment of the replacement team followed, as well a full reshape of governmental structures. Sidera presents a brief overview of this new structure and the main people in charge of international trade.

Ministry of Economy

The recently created Ministry of Economy clusters three other Offices, the former Ministry of Finance (MF), the former Ministry of Planning, Development, and Management (MP), and the former Ministry of Industry, Foreign Trade and Services (MDIC). Now, each of these offices is classified as Special Secretaries, within the framework of the enhanced Ministry of Economy.

According to the new President, the reason for this merge is the need to reduce the size of the Brazilian government and to have a unified economic policy. However, one may question whether foreign trade and industry will not be overshadowed by issues of macroeconomics, possibly resulting in conflicts of interests and lack of independence of these areas. Besides, the effective reunion and alignment of so many roles within the Ministry of Economy will certainly still demand time and energy.

As part of the change, the Executive Secretary of the Foreign Trade Chamber – Camex, previously part of MDIC, is now chaired by the Special Secretary for International Trade and International Affairs. Camex is the Brazilian body responsible for the management of foreign trade policies.

New team

The Minister of Economy is economist Paulo Guedes: one of the co-founders of the bank BTG Pactual, having received a Master degree and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago (hence his association with the so-called “Chicago Boys”). Mr. Guedes was very active during the election period, and was the main responsible for choosing a significant part of the team under the umbrella of the Ministry of Economy.

Mr. Marcos Troyjo commands the Special Secretariat for International Trade and International Affairs. He holds a Ph.D. in sociology of international relations from the University of São Paulo, and pursued postdoctoral studies at the Columbia University. Mr. Troyjo also is the Co-Director of the BRICLab at the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs.

The Deputy Secretariat is headed by the only female in the economy team, Mrs. Yana Dumaresq, who was Executive Secretary at the now merged MDIC. Previously, she was Deputy Director for Latin America at the World Economic Forum, in Geneva. She holds a master’s degree in international Trade from the University of Cambridge and another Master degree in Global Leadership from the WEF Consortium Global Leadership Program.

The International Trade Secretariat (Secex) is under the command of Mr. Lucas Ferraz. He holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the Brazilian School of Economics and Finance of the Fundação Getúlio Vargas (FGV-EPGE), a master’s degree in engineering from the Polytechnic School of the University of São Paulo (USP), and is also a professor at the School of Economics of São Paulo (FGV).

Mr. Erivaldo Alfredo Gomes oversees the Secretariat of International Affairs. He has been a civil servant for over 20 years, always working with international negotiations. During the last years, Mr. Gomes acted as Undersecretary of Economic and Financial Institutions and International Cooperation at the Secretariat of International Affairs of the former Ministry of Finance.

Finally, Camex is now directed by Mr. Marcos Degaut, who was previously Deputy Special Secretary for Strategic Affairs of the Presidency, and a member of the Executive Management Group of Camex (Gecex), which is the collegiate executive nucleus of Camex. He holds a Ph.D. in International Security from the University of Central Florida, and a master’s degree in International Relations from the University of Brasília.

On a positive note, most of these nominations are rather technical than political, which we hope will be translated in the quality of the decisions taken and policies adopted.

On a peculiar note, the new government already has the highest number of military personnel in Brazilian history. Not even during the civil-military dictatorship in Brazil there were so many militaries in charge of offices not related to national defense, including economics. They oversee 4 Ministries, are members of Board Counsel of some of the biggest State companies, such as Petrobras and the public bank Caixa, and occupy several positions in the second tier of Government.

The nomination of militaries to strategic positions was a campaign promise made by the elected President, who is a reserve military himself. The rationality behind it is to improve the image of the Brazilian Government before the citizens, even though some militaries were also recently convicted for corruption during the Lava Jato investigation. Furthermore, it is questionable whether the military mindset can effectively contribute to the Brazilian economic recovery.

New directions?

Within Secex, the Department of Trade Remedies and Public Interest was created, in a peculiar Frankestein of old adversaries. Previously, the investigations concerning public interest were under the responsibility of the Ministry of Finance, in habitual opposition to the recommendations of the Department of Trade Remedies of the Ministry of Industry. This change in the structure translates the new posture announced by the government of a comprehensive economic liberalization.

Both the new structure and the team are definite signs in the direction of market opening and elimination of trade barriers. The speeches given by authorities since the governmental transition team took over in the last months of the year suggest reductions on import tariffs and other internal reforms, also signalize an official commitment in this direction. If these signs are confirmed along the way, it will mean a significant change in the Brazilian established posture towards international trade. It will equally provide a series of new and promising opportunities for investment, as well as market access and expansion, to which Sidera will be pleased to offer its expertise and experience.

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