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On a recent tour of Brazil that saw ­Monocle’s editors spend time with diplomats and policymakers in Brasília, entrepreneurs in São Paulo and politicians and pretty people in Rio de Janeiro, the subject of the nation’s natural assets were a constant topic of conversation. While it’s hard to ignore the hulking Petrobras building in the centre of Rio and the role the company will play in extracting oil from fields not far offshore, it’s even harder to ignore the enormous goodwill the country enjoys on the world stage.

Brazil may not have as many…



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