French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde made Brazil her first stop as she kicked off a world tour to try to win support for her bid to lead the International Monetary Fund.
Lagarde said: “I am coming here to obviously explain my candidacy to the position of managing director of the International Monetary Fund and I am also here to listen to what the Brazilian authorities expect from the fund and from the managing director.”
Lagarde will also visit India, China, Russia and Saudi Arabia as she competes with Mexican central bank chief Agustin Carstens, the only other declared candidate.
The backing of Latin America’s largest economy and one of the most influential emerging nations appears likely.
Privately officials have said Brazil will back Lagarde if she pledges to support reforms giving emerging economies more say in IMF decision-making.
They say she is seen as having more clout to achieve changes at the IMF than Carstens, who arrives in Brazil on Wednesday to push his candidacy.
The IMF’s board has a 30 June deadline for picking a successor.
EU nations are strongly backing Lagarde, arguing that a European leader is crucial at a time when the IMF is working with the euro zone to avert the risk of Greece defaulting on its loans and sparking wider financial fallout.
South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan criticised the rich nation support for Lagarde, saying it breached a decision by the G20 group of leading economies for a more open selection process.
Brazil’s Finance Minister Guido Mantega said this month that the next IMF leader should be chosen on merit rather than nationality and that the rise in influence of emerging economies needed to be recognised in the process.
Brazil has not officially sided with either candidate but Mexico and Brazil have maintained relatively cool ties in recent years and have occasionally vied for economic and political leadership in Latin America.