BRASILIA – Brazil’s President Michel Temer said the Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s upcoming official visit would greatly strengthen bilateral trade relations and encourage Spanish companies to participate in his administration’s large-scale privatizations and concessions plan.
Rajoy is set to visit Brazil on Monday and Tuesday, making an initial stop in Brasilia where Temer is to welcome him for a working meeting before the two leaders meet with a dozen major Spanish business leaders with operations in Brazil.
“I think that with the presence of the Prime Minister Rajoy in Brazil, this trade relationship is going to intensify enormously to the benefit of Brazil and Spain,” Temer said in an interview with EFE in Brasilia.
“The goal is to showcase the friendship that exists between Brazil and Spain, but also to increase investment,” Temer said.
Along those lines, the president underscored the privatizations and concessions plan his administration has launched, a program he was confident would also attract the participation of Spanish companies.
“Today we have more than 60 sectors (in which concessions will be awarded) and more than that; for example, on Monday we’ll (put up for auction) at the Sao Paulo Stock Exchange 34 power transmission lines, which will be privatized,” he added.
In addition, licenses will be awarded in “34 other sectors,” including “ports, airports and highways,” said Temer, who added that these bidding rounds were possible thanks to the “credibility and confidence Brazil is earning.”
“We’ve already awarded concessions for (four) airports and we privatized an energy company in the (central) state of Goias,” he said in reference to concessions to operate the airports in the cities of Salvador, Fortaleza, Porto Alegre and Florianopolis that were auctioned off in March and to the late 2016 sale of electricity distributor Celg to Italy’s Enel.
Spanish companies have a golden opportunity to participate in this plan given that “they already have a very significant” presence in Brazil.
“We’re really counting on that, that they’ll take part in the privatizations and concessions plan. We have a very marked commercial and political kinship with Spain,” the president said.
He also stressed that his administration was carrying out major economic reforms that include a spending ceiling that has already won congressional approval and plans to overhaul the nation’s labor law and pension system that are currently in the legislative pipeline.
Spain is the second-largest foreign direct investor in the South American giant with cumulative capital investment totaling $64 billion in 2016, according to official figures, while Brazil is the world’s third-leading destination for Spanish foreign direct investment.
Bilateral trade, meanwhile, amounted to $5.2 billion last year.
Asked whether Brazil’s multiple corruption scandals could have an adverse effect on these indicators, Temer said they would have “zero impact.”
“There’s no concern that I perceive on the part of companies in general, foreign and domestic investors, nor Spanish investors, in that regard. Brazil won’t stop because there was an accident of this or that or a legal complaint by someone,” he said.
Rajoy’s visit to Brazil will conclude Tuesday in Sao Paulo – where he is to participate in two other events to be attended by business leaders from both countries – before he travels to Uruguay.
The last time a Spanish prime minister visited Brazil was in June 2012, when Rajoy took part in the Rio+20 summit in Rio de Janeiro and also traveled to Sao Paulo.
Asked about an eventual trip to Spain, a country he already officially visited as vice president, Temer said that if he were to be invited he would gladly accept.