Development Superintendency of the Northeast (SUDENE)

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Development Superintendency of the Northeast (SUDENE)

The Development Superintendency of the Northeast (SUperintendência do DEsenvolvimento do NordEste—SUDENE) was a Brazilian government agency concerned with the economic development of the country's northeastern coastal and Sertão regions. Established in 1959 under President Juscelino Kubitschek, the agency attempted to address the growing economic unrest that prevailed in the impoverished Northeast by means of creating tax breaks for producers and exporters. The Brazilian Congress allocated the necessary funds and gave SUDENE the authority to control and coordinate the activities of other federal agencies in the Northeast so as to incorporate northeastern Brazil into the country's industrializing economy and reduce the region's dependence upon agriculture.

The Brazilian economist Celso Furtado, a renowned economic structuralist and colleague of Raúl Prebish at the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLA), directed SUDENE between 1959 and 1964. He drafted ambitious policy programs for attracting industries to the Northeast, which used fiscal incentives as lures. Participating firms received a tax credit that allowed them to reduce their income tax liabilities and invest the tax savings in SUDENE projects. In 1961 President John F. Kennedy extolled the program, which led to significant U.S. funding through USAID and continued funds put forth by the Brazilian government. The military-controlled government that dominated state and national politics between 1964 and 1985, however, hampered SUDENE projects and debated the merits of the political and social aspects of SUDENE's modernization plan, causing SUDENE to fall short of many of its goals. The importance of the Northeast's agrarian structure prevailed, and attempts to combat unemployment through industrialization generated relatively few jobs in the wider region because most firms were located in the cities of Recife and Salvador. SUDENE, nevertheless, is a significant example of Brazilian industrial development policy. The program encouraged private investment by local and foreign investors to promote regional development. Remnants of the program continued into the beginning of 2001, in the form of tax concessions.

See alsoEconomic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC); Furtado, Celso; Kubitschek de Oliveira, Juscelino.


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Baer, Werner. The Brazilian Economy: Growth and Development, 6th edition. Boulder, CO: L. Rienner, 2007.

Borello, José Antonio. "Una evaluación del programa de industrialización de la SUDENE: El caso de Pernambuco, Brasil, 1960–1975." Revista Geográfica (January-June 1989): 157-165.

Martins, Mônica Dias, and Laurence Hallewell. "Globalization and Development in Brazil." Latin American Perspectives 29, no. 6 (2002): 94-99.

Roett, Riordan. The Politics of Foreign Aid in the Brazilian Northeast. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press, 1972.

Santana, Jorge Fernando de. "O planejamento regional do Nordeste brasileiro e o papel da SUDENE." Revista Brasileira de Geografia 51, no. 2 (1989): 5-15.

                                     Charlene van Dijk

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Development Superintendency of the Northeast (SUDENE)

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Development Superintendency of the Northeast (SUDENE)