Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro will attend next year’s Republic Day celebrations as the chief guest, as New Delhi and Brasilia seek to upgrade their ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership with larger cooperation in defence and space sectors.
“Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi invited the President of Brazil to be the chief guest at the Republic Day 2020. The Brazilian President has accepted the invitation with pleasure,” said a statement issued after a Modi-Bolsonaro meeting in Brasilia, on the side lines of the BRICS Summit.
ET was the first to report that India would invite Bolsonaro. He is the third Brazilian President to be invited for Republic Day celebrations, after Fernando Henrique Cardoso in 1996 and Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in 2004.
“Both leaders agreed that on this occasion the two countries can comprehensively enhance our strategic partnership. PM Modi said that he looked forward to discussing matters relating to trade. He also outlined areas for potential investment from Brazil, including in areas of agricultural equipment, animal husbandry, post-harvest technologies and biofuels. The President of Brazil expressed his readiness and informed PM that a large business delegation will accompany him to India. They also discussed other areas of cooperation including space and defence sectors,” according to the statement.
India and Brazil signed an agreement in 2003 for defence cooperation. The agreement, ratified by Brasilia in 2006, calls for cooperation in research and development, acquisition and logistic support between the two countries.
The invite to the Brazilian President comes as India is in the process of expanding its ties with South America through high-level visits and meetings. Both Prime Minister Modi and President Bolsonaro were present at the Future Investment Initiative business forum in Riyadh in October last week. Earlier this year, the Argentinian President visited India and Modi and the President of Chile held a number of meetings on the side lines of multilateral events.
Brazil is increasingly viewing Asian majors as trade and investment partners. Under Bolsonaro, it has not only announced visa-free entry for Indians but also strengthened the counterterrorism agenda of BRICS and helped revive the India, Brazil, South Africa grouping, much to India’s satisfaction.
Brazil is among India’s most important trading partners in the entire LAC (Latin America and Caribbean) region. India-Brazil bilateral trade has increased substantially over the years, growing 34.71% year-on-year to $7.6 billion in 2017, the highest growth among Brazil’s top 10 trading partners. India’s exports to Brazil and imports from Brazil were $2.94 billion and $4.66 billion, respectively. While Brazilian companies have invested in automobiles, IT, mining, energy, biofuels and footwear sectors in India, Indian companies have invested in IT, pharmaceuticals, energy, agri-business, mining, engineering and automobiles.