Mari Kiviniemi, Finland's Minister of Public Administration & Local Government

©Finnish government

The global economic crisis is affecting families and communities across the planet. With regions bearing the brunt of the crisis, affecting businesses, jobs and people generally, regional policies are very much part of the solution.

After a euphoric decade, reforms to consolidate recent gains and confront challenges ahead are needed. Are Latin America’s economic fortunes changing? Over the last decade, policymakers and the general public became used to good news from this lively continent. Latin America was abuzz with optimism, buoyed by strong growth and rising incomes.

Brazil is poised to become one of the world’s largest oil producers. But the elation caused by the discovery of two massive oil fields is tempered by access difficulties and high cost of extraction. Still, the discoveries have thrust Brazil centre stage in the global energy grab. 

Until now considered a model in terms of reducing poverty and inequality, Brazil has recently faced the wrath of hundreds of thousands of protesters from across all sections of society, riling up against inflation, while calling for better access to health care, education and other public services.OECD analyst Horacio Levy explains.

Brazil Snapshot 2013

Find key economic figures and trends for Brazil from OECD Yearbook 2013

©Vanderlei Almeida/AFP

Growth is not enough

Brazil’s labour leaders have long argued against pursuing economic growth for its own sake. What matters most, they believe, is not the size of the economic pie but how it’s carved up. In recent years, calls for social justice have increasingly informed policy in Brazil, bringing about a veritable “revolution” in the economy.

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©Reuters/Handout

Brazil has experienced a considerable shift over the last decade as a result of its economic growth. Social inequality has decreased and income distribution has become more evenly distributed. These tangible changes are reflected in the increased confidence of the Brazilian population. Demand is higher and priorities have changed, leading to a change in both the government and the private sector as well. 

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For many years Brazil was the world’s largest biofuel producer, until it was overtaken by the US in 2006. Brazil’s biofuel production reached 28.5 billion litres in 2010, which according to International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates is 27% of world biofuel production, most of which is ethanol, only a small portion (2.4 billion litres) of that being biodiesel. For 2011, however, IEA estimates show a drop of more than 4 billion litres in Brazilian biofuel production compared with the previous year. But there is good reason to believe that this drop will prove temporary. 

©Reuters

Brazil has emerged as a global economic player and expectations are rising of further success ahead. But there are several tests to pass along the way. 

©REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker

Anyone wishing to gauge Brazil’s status as one of the world’s most lucrative emerging markets should look at the growth of its financial sector. 

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Brazil needs to invest heavily in basic infrastructure to support its expanding economy. Progress is being made, but it is a daunting task. 

Brazil offers a good example of how international benchmarking can improve education. 

©Marcos D’Paula/Agência Estado

The production of oil has been growing in Brazil at a steady pace since the beginning of the 2000s, and the pace is set to intensify over the next few years. Indeed, massive oil reserves were discovered in 2007 in the Tupi area, 250km off the coast of Rio de Janeiro, and since then other offshore fields have also been found. 

©Ricardo Moraes/Reuters

Some 16.3 million Brazilians (8.5% of the population) live on less than $1.50 per day, which by most international definitions indicates extreme poverty. However, thanks to the efforts of successive governments, including that of the current president, Dilma Rousseff, the country has made tremendous progress in reducing that poverty and tackling income inequality too. 

OECD faces a huge challenge of image. You insist that the organisation, known for its in-depth analyses and reliable statistics, aims to represent all relevant economies. Emerging countries, however, cultivate the impression that the OECD, despite its co-operation and development efforts well beyond its membership, is still the voice of "rich nations" only.

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