Brazil is likely to tone down its brash foreign policy of recent years after President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva steps down, raising the prospect of a thaw in relations with the United States but keeping progress on trade deals slow.
The charismatic former union leader, who US President Barack Obama called “my man” before relations soured over Iran’s nuclear program, has boosted Brazil’s diplomatic profile on global issues from environment to trade.
If opinion polls ahead of 3 October elections are right, he will be succeeded by his chosen candidate Dilma Rousseff, who shares many of his views on Brazil’s role in the world but who is expected to focus much more on domestic policy.
“We’ll lose the main spokesman of our foreign policy. Some years ago the best-known personality in Brazil was Pele, today it’s Lula,” Marco Aurelio Garcia, Lula’s foreign policy advisor, said.
Under Mr Lula, Brazil has established itself as a force for Latin American integration, a leader of the developing world on trade and the environment, and has forged stronger joint positions with fellow emerging giants Russia, China and India.