The Brazilian National Development Bank goes International: Innovations and Limitations of BNDES' Internationalization

The Brazilian National Development Bank (BNDES) saw dramatic increases in its financial resources for lending after 2005. This article explains how the bank has been ‘internationalized’ alongside this growth in total resources, beginning with export finance and expanding to supporting foreign direct investments and other international economic activities. At the same time, legal and structural factors restrict BNDES’ international activities in ways that are often poorly understood, but that keep many of the bank's resources inside Brazil or tightly linked to Brazilian firms. After a general explanation of these factors, this paper examines empirical claims about BNDES’ lending to its South American neighbors, concluding that it is considerably more limited than both the bank's critics and champions contend.