On Day 2 of India visit, Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro inks 15 agreements
India and Brazil on Saturday signed 15 agreements and unveiled an action plan to boost cooperation in areas ranging from biofuels to cybersecurity and defence as President Jair Bolsonaro kicked off a visit during which he will be chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations.
The two Brics economies, which are currently grappling with problems, set a target of boosting trade to $15 billion by 2022 and decided to focus on agriculture as a key area for cooperation. They also agreed to bilaterally address the issue of India’s support to sugarcane growers, over which Brazil has filed a WTO dispute.
The choice of Bolsonaro as chief guest for the Republic Day parade – an honour accorded in the past to leaders such as former US president Barack Obama and late South African president Nelson Mandela – has been questioned because of his controversial views. The external affairs ministry has defended the choice by saying India shares a strategic relationship with Brazil and Bolsonaro is the “elected leader in a democratic country”.
Bolsonaro was accorded a ceremonial welcome at Rashtrapati Bhavan before his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who tweeted their discussions covered energy, technology, healthcare and defence. Modi added the two sides are also working together at multilateral forums and “see immense synergies on various issues including the need to uproot…terrorism”.
In a statement after his talks with Bolsonaro, Modi noted that they were meeting for the third time in eight months and said it was a “matter of great pride” that the Brazilian president was the chief guest for the Republic Day. “Strategic partnership between India and Brazil is based on our common ideology and values,” he said, adding the action will deepen people-to-people and business ties.
Of the 15 agreements signed by the two sides, the key ones focus on cooperation in bio-energy, oil and natural gas, investment facilitation, mutual legal assistance in criminal matters, and cooperation in health, cyber-security and social security to facilitate the movement of professionals.
The action plan adopted by the two sides will cover six major areas – political and strategic coordination; trade, investments, agriculture, civil aviation and energy; science, technology, space, environment, technical cooperation and health; defence and security; culture and education; and consular issues, social security and legal cooperation.
The action plan will bring together existing mechanisms, such as the joint working groups on bio-energy and oil and gas and the joint defence committee, and its implementation will be overseen by the joint commission for political, economic, scientific, technological and cultural cooperation.
A person familiar with developments, who declined to be identified, said Modi raised the WTO dispute filed by Brazil over India’s support to sugarcane growers during the talks with Bolsonaro and both sides agreed to address the issue through bilateral consultations as “a gesture of our close friendship and given the importance India attaches to the matter”.
The leaders agreed on the “great synergies” between India and Brazil and the need to cooperate in areas that are mutually beneficial, such as agriculture, bio-fuels, animal husbandry, health and science and technology, the external affairs ministry spokesperson said. They also set a target of $15 billion for bilateral trade by 2022, up from the current level of about $8 billion.
In the field of bio-fuels, both leaders agreed the two sides could collaborate in ethanol production. Brazil is a leader in this field and will share advanced technology with India. Modi said this will serve India’s developmental goals and Bolsonaro indicated Brazil’s willingness to work in research on bio-energy.
Ethanol was one of the main items on Brazil’s agenda for discussions. The Brazilian side is keen on assisting India to boost its ethanol programme, including increased production and blending of ethanol with petrol, which can help reduce India’s sugar stocks and boost global prices for the commodity.
The two sides agreed to work on market access for avocado, citrus fruits and wood from Brazil and pearl millet, sorghum and cotton from India.
Both sides agreed to collaborate in assisted reproductive technology for cattle to increase India’s dairy production. They welcomed the decision to set up a Centre of Excellence in Cattle Genomics in India with Brazil’s help.
Modi identified biotechnology, health, low carbon technology and earth sciences as specific areas of cooperation under science and technology. He said the two sides will focus on new ways to boost defence industrial cooperation and a large Brazilian delegation will participate in DefExpo 2020 in Lucknow.
“Our perspective on the current difficult challenges facing the world is very similar…Our partnership, particularly in Brics and IBSA, is an important aspect of India’s foreign policy,” he said, adding the two countries will also work reforming the UN Security Council.
A joint statement said the two countries had reiterated their mutual support for permanent membership of the UN Security Council, and would closely together within G-4 to realise their aspirations. The two leaders described international terrorism as one of the most serious threats to peace and called for concerted action against the menace by the world community.
The two leaders also agreed to work closely at the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on terror financing and money laundering. They also underlined the need for all countries to ensure their territory isn’t used to launch terror attacks on other nations, the joint statement said.