Brazilian finance minister attempts to woo Britain with free trade offer
BRAZIL hopes to begin free trade negotiations with the UK as soon as possible, the country’s finance minister said on a visit to Britain, as the South American nation seeks to open up to the world.
“We are ready to open discussions with the British Government,” said Henrique Meirelle. “They have already shown an interest in bilateral negotiations for a possible trade agreement. We do think that is a good idea.”
Talks can’t begin until Brexit has formally taken place. Mr Meirelles was speaking at an event hosted by Itau, Brazil’s biggest bank, where he told a London audience that the government aims to transform the country into an open, dynamic, market economy.
“Brazil is a closed economy with protectionism and closed markets, taxes, administrative barriers. And it was not positive in terms of having an effect on the productivity rate of the country,” he said.
“The idea now is exactly the other way around, it is to open. We are making the basic reforms to make Brazilian companies more competitive. The idea is to have a more competitive, open economy.” The visit aimed to woo British investors and officials, showing that the country is at last getting to a position where it can make the most of its vast potential.
At the start of this century, Brazil was included in the influential “Brics” acronym, along with Russia, India, China and South Africa, as growth economies of the future. But Brazil has struggled to match that ambition.
More than half of its government’s budget goes on social security, with pensions taking up a considerable chunk of that, prompting the minister to seek to reform that system before demographic change takes the costs to a crushing level.
He has also pledged to slash bureaucracy to make the economy more competitive. The minister said it takes 101 days to register a new business in Sao Paulo and he aims to cut that to three.