By Rasheed Abou-Alsamh
Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro (L) shakes hands with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as they attend a meeting on the digital economy at the G20 Summit in Osaka on June 28, 2019. (Photo AFP)
BRASILIA – Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and adelegation of more than 100 ministers and businessmen arrive in Riyadh on Oct.28 for an official visit. Bolsonaro is scheduled to meet with the Custodian ofthe Two Holy Mosques King Salman, and with Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman,during his two-day visit.
Saudi Arabia is Brazil’s largest trading partner inthe Middle East. From January to August of this year, Brazil exported US$1.34billion in mainly agricultural goods to the Kingdom, including frozen and freshchicken meat, soya beans, sugar cane, and corn, according to Braziliangovernment figures. During that same period, the kingdom exported US$1.55billion worth of goods to Brazil, mainly crude oil, fertilizers, andpetrochemicals. The kingdom provides Brazil with 33 percent of its importedoil.
“Brazil wants to intensify its relations with Gulfcountries. President Bolsonaro’s visit to Saudi Arabia will serve as a showcasefor investments in Brazil,” said Kenneth Nobrega, secretary for bilateralnegotiations in the Middle East at the Brazilian Foreign Ministry.
Bolsonaro is bringing his ministers of foreignaffairs, economy, defense, environment, energy, and science and technology withhim. They will all be explaining the macro and micro economic changes that thepresident is implementing in Brazil, opening the Brazilian economy to moreforeign investments and cutting taxes and other bureaucratic hurdles to investments.
While in Riyadh, Bolsonaro will help open the FutureInvestment Initiative forum, and will attend a meeting with Saudi businessmenat the Council of Saudi Chambers of Commerce headquarters in the capital.
“Brazil wants to intensify its relations with Gulf countries. President Bolsonaro’s visit to Saudi Arabia will serve as a showcase for investments in Brazil,” said Kenneth Nobrega, secretary for bilateral negotiations in the Middle East at the Brazilian Foreign Ministry.
“Brazil is looking for investments in its privatizationprogram, renewable energy, the medical sector and in infrastructure projects,”said Nobrega.
Before arriving in Riyadh, Bolsonaro will have visitedthe United Arab Emirates and Qatar. Dubai serves as an important hub forBrazilian goods to be reexported to the Middle East and Asia.
The Brazilian president’s visit to three Arab Gulfstates is part of an effort to balance Brazil’s foreign relations after hisvisit to Israel last March. Bolsonaro, a supporter of the Jewish state, hadannounced that Brazil would follow the lead of the United States and also moveits embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. But the outcry against this in Brazilmade him backtrack and say that Brazil would open a commercial office indisputed Jerusalem.
“Brazil is going to open a commercial office inJerusalem by the end of November,” confirmed Nobrega. “And we are aware thatthere are an estimated 10 million Brazilians of Arab descent. Therefore, theArab world is very important for us.”
On whether Brazilians would be able to avail of thenew tourism visas that the kingdom recently launched, Nobrega said that the twocountries were still discussing the issue of visas.
“Several memorandums of understanding are expected tobe signed during President Bolsonaro’s visit to Saudi Arabia, including one onvisas, the pacific use of nuclear energy, and several in the defense, sportingand science areas,” explained the Brazilian diplomat.