Brazil is considering leaving 34 second-tier international organisations, including the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), to cut back on costs, according to a list seen by Reuters.

Brazil has run up $866 million in arrears with international bodies such as the United Nations due to a fiscal crisis, and its diplomats abroad have even had trouble paying their rent, a source with knowledge of the matter said.

The list of possible withdrawals, prepared by the Budget and Planning ministry, includes the Ibero-American summit organisation and six institutions in the South American trade bloc, Mercosur.

The source said a decision had not yet been made.

The departure from international organisations would be the latest cost-cutting step by Brazil's new Foreign Minister José Serra, who has vowed to pay the ministry's debts and balance its budget.

Last week 46 ministry positions were closed.