The fact that it is the two biggest national economies, the USA and Japan, that profit most from the brain drain from Brazil is regarded by critics as an unmistakeable indication of the reversal of the development process. In addition, the mass exodus of the highly educated middle classes began just at the moment when the new democracy was constituted after the long period of military dictatorship.
Brazil's wish to develop and not to lose pace with the three major, economically booming and emerging countries of Russia, India and China is dependent on numerous factors. It will depend not least upon whether the country succeeds in counteracting the increasing lack of a broad base of well-educated specialists. Over and above economic stability, which offers jobs and opportunities for advancement, education and health reforms, the protection of human rights and a reduction in small-scale crime are decisive factors in prompting potential emigrants to use their training in Brazil.
The qualified and entrepreneurial foreign workers needed for economic development will only be attracted to the country in greater numbers if the existing bureaucratic obstacles are removed and the reform of the Aliens Act, so often striven for in vain, is implemented. According to a study carried out by the Brazilian business school, Fundação Dom Cabral, more than two thirds of the companies surveyed are planning to increase the number of foreigners they employ in the next five years.
The present administration is endeavouring to extend trade within Mercosur and with other neighbouring countries. Progress in this regard has been achieved since 2002 with the help of an active foreign policy. However, it will only be possible to achieve this goal on a permanent basis if sensible regulations are agreed upon for the growing number of circular and labour migrants. Here the numerous undocumented migrants who move about in the border areas of the Mercosur member states, living at times in precarious living conditions, form an important starting point.
As the strongest economic power in Latin America, Brazil also bears responsibility for the protection of the African and especially the Columbian refugees currently pouring into the country. Whether or not it is perceived as an economically and socially competent country depends not little upon whether there is a reasonable response in the near future to the tens of thousands fleeing from civil warlike conditions in the neighbouring country.