"With a gross national income (GNI) of $1.6 trillion, Brazil is the largest economy in Latin America. Over the past eight years, the country has enjoyed average annual growth of over 4%. This growth has been driven by a boom in international demand for its commodity exports and the increased purchasing power of Brazil's fast-growing middle class, which has added 30 million people over the past eight years and now accounts for a majority of the population. In 2010, the value of Brazil's exports reached some $202 billion, contributing to a trade surplus of $20.3 billion. The country's current economic strength is the result of a series of policy reforms implemented over the course of two decades that reduced inflation, established stability, and fostered growth. These policies have also enabled Brazil to better absorb international shocks like the recent global financial crisis, from which Brazil emerged relatively unscathed. Although current conditions and Brazil's recent performance suggest the country will sustain solid economic growth rates in the near term, several constraints on mid- and long-term growth remain. Previous Congresses have demonstrated considerable interest in U.S.-Brazil relations, particularly energy and trade issues. Several pieces of legislation were introduced during the 111th Congress, including a bill (S. 587) that would have provided $6 million to expand U.S.-Brazil biofuels cooperation, and a bill (H.R. 5439) that would have offset U.S. contributions to a fund for Brazilian cotton farmers--created as a result of a World Trade Organization dispute--by reducing subsidy payments for U.S. cotton farmers. These issues, as well as other topics in U.S.-Brazil relations, are likely to remain on the agenda of the 112th Congress. This report analyzes Brazil's political, economic, and social conditions, and how those conditions affect its role in the world and its relationship with the United States."
CRS Report for Congress, RL33456