BRASILIA – Former Brazilian Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles, who is now the presidential candidate of President Michel Temer’s party, said on Wednesday that the country should increase its trade with China, and this would be one of his “priorities” if he wins the election.
“There is no doubt that today China is the most important market ... (and) although it says it’s communist ... (it’s) a pragmatic country (that) will continue to grow (and must be) a priority” for the administration that emerges from the October elections, said Meirelles at a forum organized by the National Agriculture Federation (CNA).
The CNA represents the largest firms in the sector, which are responsible for 44 percent of Brazil’s exports, and Meirelles said that the country has a “vocation” for agriculture that must be taken advantage of.
“Every country has to use the sector in which they excel as the tip of its sword ... (and) devote itself to doing what it knows how to do,” which in Brazil’s case is agriculture, he said.
Even so, Meirelles admitted that the Brazilian agriculture sector, just like industry and other productive sectors, has the “need” and the “possibility” to become more competitive in global markets.
“To gain competitiveness, we need to open up the economy and implement trade promotion policies and firm, tough negotiations” in foreign markets, he said.
Within that framework, he backed the Mercosur negotiations with the European Union and moving closer to the United Kingdom after the so-called Brexit, as well as continuing to move closer to the Pacific Alliance trade bloc comprising Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru.
He also said that Brasilia needs to attend to its “household duties” by implementing a series of policies that will allow a “reduction of the high tax charges” that are weighing on the country and making more investments in infrastructure and technology, all with an eye toward reducing the so-called “Brazil cost,” which is resulting from bureaucratic excesses that must be eliminated.
Meirelles served as Temer’s finance minister until last April as well as serving as president of Brazil’s Central Bank during the eight years of the Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva administration.
Despite his extensive government experience and technical knowledge, which is acknowledged by both the left and the right, Meirelles has just 1 percent support among registered voters, compared to Lula’s 40 percent, even though he is the candidate of the Brazilian Democratic Movement (MDB), one of the country’s main political parties.