President Jair Bolsonaro invites 'dear friends of the UAE' to invest in Brazil

Much of Mr Bolsonaro's visit to the region is likely to focus on building economic links between the Gulf and Brazil

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Brazil’s president has invited the UAE to an auction of his country’s oil reserves and pledged that his government would continue to slash red tape to attract foreign investment.

Jair Bolsonaro, who is in Abu Dhabi on a three-day state visit, told delegates at the UAE-Brazil Business Forum on Sunday that he was “extending a friendly hand” to the Emirates at a time when his country is “opening up for trade with the whole world”.

Since he took office in January, the right-wing leader has pushed through reforms designed to improve his country’s economy by making it more hospitable to the private sector and overseas investors.

Mr Bolsonaro said a series of agreements would be signed during his UAE visit and referred to a new drive to develop Brazil’s energy sector. A huge offshore oil auction is taking place on November 6, during which offshore prospecting rights for sites containing billions of barrels of crude oil will be sold.

My dear friends of the UAE, you have before you a man with an open heart, extending a friendly hand, asking you to believe in trust in our country

“In the next few days we will be conducting one of the largest oil deposit auctions in Brazil and you are all invited to take part in this upcoming auction,” Mr Bolsonaro said.

“My dear friends of the UAE, you have before you a man with an open heart, extending a friendly hand, asking you to believe in trust in our country.

“We have a lot to offer and the same is true of you – you have a lot to offer. I’m sure we will work to the ultimate well-being of our two countries.”

Speaking about the domestic situation in Brazil, the president told the audience that Brazil’s senate recently passed a major pension reform bill and predicted that his tax reform package would pass shortly. Both measures are designed to make Brazil’s economy more competitive.

“My administration was elected and took office to be a driver of a new pace of progress in Brazil,” he said. “We are actively working to restore and recover our credibility in the eyes of the world.”

He said there were about five million people of Arab descent in Brazil, who lived “side by side, in perfect harmony” with others to contribute to the success of his country.

“It is really indescribable how honoured I am to be here, joined with friends from the United Arab Emirates,” he said.

The UAE-Brazil business forum was attended by investors and officials who discussed opportunities in both markets and growing economic links.

Mr Bolsonaro, 64, arrived in Abu Dhabi on Saturday. On Monday, he will leave the Emirates to visit Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

Shortly after arriving in the UAE, the Brazilian leader visited Wahat Al Karama and laid a wreath at the Martyrs’ Monument.

A former army captain, Mr Bolsonaro was elected last year after pledging to fight crime and corruption, as well as on his economic policies. At the UN General Assembly last month, he defended his policies related to the environment and Brazil’s indigenous people.

Much of his visit to the region is likely to focus on building economic links between the Gulf and Brazil, with announcements in energy, defence and infrastructure expected.

On Sunday, Onyx Lorenzoni, head of office of the chief of staff in Brazil, said Mr Bolsonaro’s reforms had already made Brazil a safer country. He said new economic opportunities were opening up in fields such as oil and gas and he addressed the issue of sustainability.

“We talk a lot about sustainability,” Mr Lorenzoni said. “The good news is you have relations with a country that protects its forests; there is no country in the world that protects its forests like we do in Brazil.

“Brazil is a country safe for investment, and we come to Abu Dhabi to say 'come to Brazil, have Brazil as a great partner', and you should know Brazil today will have a sea of opportunities.”

Ahmed Al Sayegh, Minister of State and chairman of Abu Dhabi Global Market, said the distance between the two countries – around 12,000km – need not be a barrier to enhanced trade and bilateral ties.

“The distance doesn’t mean we can't have ... co-operation,” he said. “This has been reflected in the levels of investment between the two countries. We think there is an opportunity for enhancing bilateral relationships.”