Bilateral Relations and Development Trajectories of Brazil and China

BRICS’ Agrarian Issues at the Centre of the Contemporary ‘Double Movement’
18 May 2015

The purpose of this paper is to inquire into some issues related to the development paths taken by Brazil and China, two member countries of the BRICS, in the current context of the crisis of globalized capitalism and the transformation of the political and economic world order.

We use Karl Polanyi’s “double movement” thesis as a guiding perspective, and present the hypothesis that the newly emerging rural development dynamics in China and Brazil constitute instances of a protective “countermovement”.

This movement is driven by actors and institutions, in reaction to the contradictions and consequences of the commoditization and globalization of developing countries’ agri-food systems. The first half of the paper is focused on Brazil- China bilateral relations and the impacts of the latter’s rise on the former’s development.

The second half focuses on three important issues for a comparative political economy institutional analysis of the development trajectories of Brazil and China: their patterns and trends of inequality, distribution and social mobility; the formation of a soy-meat complex and its relation with the restructuring of their agrifood systems; and the role of actors and institutions in their newly emerging rural development dynamics. We argue that class relations, agrifood questions and rural development dynamics, as exemplified by Brazil and China, have returned to the center of the contemporary “double movement”.