SINCE THE MID-1970S, U.S.-BRAZIL ECONOMIC RELATIONS HAVE evolved against a continuously tense background. Because of its debt crisis and new global financial circumstances, Brazil became more exposed to international economic pressures. Hence, due to increases in both its asymmetrical interdependence and its external economic vulnerability, Brazil has lost bargaining power vis-à-vis the United States and has become subordinated to a more complex set of interests and pressures.
Meanwhile, the democratization process in Brazil has generated new trends in domestic politics in which a variety of political and economic interests exert their influence on internal and external affairs. Democratic consolidation has constrained the relative autonomy of the executive power, as business segments, political parties, and even trade unions have expanded their influence, especially in congressional politics. The Foreign Ministry remains the main state agency in charge of bilateral, regional, and multilateral trade negotiations dealing with a variety of domestic pressures, but it shares growing responsibilities with other agencies, especially the Ministries of Development and Agriculture, while monetary and financial external matters are handled by the Ministry of the Economy. In the United States, economic relations with Latin America countries are a result of three government agencies: the Department of the Treasury, which handles financial and monetary affairs, and the Department of Commerce and the U.S. Trade Representative, which together handle bilateral and regional trade matters.
Ever since the administration of Fernando Collor de Mello (1990-92), U.S. business and government circles have expected that Brazilian economic policies would adjust to mainstream liberal recipes. These expectations were stimulated by the renewed scenario in Latin America dominated by promising experiences of economic liberalization and stabilization. But political uncertainties between