Brazil's economy returned to strong growth in 2010. How sustainable the growth in Brazilian industry? Government policy will play an even greater role in stimulating and directing investment in mining (including petroleum) and manufacturing than it plays in agriculture (see Eclairages Industriels, March 2011). Brazil is betting on technology to confirm its position as an industrial power.
Agriculture is a major strength of Brazil's booming economy. While vast land reserves and diverse ecosystems are key assets, Brazil's success is also nurtured by extensive public policies, combined with a distinctive form of economic liberalism. Sustainable development remains a challenge.
While the economic crisis undergoes its multiple transformations, two recent announcements-the creation of a "synthetic cell" and a new family of components that opens the way for quantum computers-come as reminders that technology is continuing to progress. Information technology has been the innovation fueling economic growth for the past 50 years. Will nanotechnology be the engine for the next cycle? Nanotechnology is extraordinarily promising, but also raises issues of societal choice that call for citizen participation.
Chinese firms demonstrate a broad range of competitive strengths and are successfully tackling international competition in Africa. Still, on the whole they have not moved beyond a dialectic based on resources-for-manufactures, leaving the outcomes in terms of local development -industrialization and employment- highly uncertain.
The current economic crisis appears to have triggered many of today's industrial restructuring projects; it merely precipitated and amplified changes that were already inevitable. Developments across a range of industries, from media to automobiles, show an evolutionary process analogous to those described by Charles Darwin, as we celebrate the bicentennial of his birth.