NEW DELHI – India and Brazil inked 15 key agreements to boost ties between the two large but stumbling economies after talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Jair Bolsonaro, who is on a four-day trip to the South Asian country.
The agreements covering a wide range of areas include deepening cooperation in oil and natural gas, biofuel, cybersecurity, and mutual trade and investment.
Welcoming Bolsonaro to India after their talks, Modi said the two sides were finalizing a broad-based action plan to further strengthen the India-Brazil strategic ties.
“Your visit to India has opened a new chapter in bilateral strategic ties (…) based on shared values and goals. We stand together in multilateral forums despite our geographical distances,” Modi said in his customary joint address to the media with Bolsonaro.
“I am happy we have signed important agreements today on bioenergy, cybersecurity, social security, science and technology, oil and natural gas,” Modi said, adding that India was looking “forward to strengthening our cooperation on defense industrial production.”
Calling India and Brazil partners in each other’s developmental journey, the prime minister said the two nations were working in tandem and leveraging the shared strategic commonalities to intensify cooperation at bilateral and multilateral levels.
Bolsonaro, accompanied by his daughter Laura Bolsonaro, daughter-in-law Leticia Firmo, a group of ministers and parliamentarians and a large business delegation, arrived in New Delhi on Friday.
He is this year’s guest of honor at India’s Republic Day celebrations on Sunday, when India displays its military might and soft cultural power of its diversity.
“I am extremely anxious about tomorrow, I long for the celebrations tomorrow. So, on the eve of that day today, all I can say is that I am deeply moved… Our two great countries have entered into major strategic partnerships. We will consolidate our relations,” the Brazilian president said.
“I must admit, I’ve still got two more days before I go back to Brazil but I already miss India even before I leave.”
India and Brazil are members of BRICS economic bloc along with Russia, China, and South Africa. The two major economies are not doing as much as expected amid a global economic downturn.
India is struggling with a six-year low growth rate and a rising unemployment crisis.
The bilateral trade between the two countries rose to $8.2 billion in 2018-19, which analysts say is below its potential.
India exports agro-chemicals, synthetic yarns, auto components, pharmaceutical and petroleum products to Brazil.
Brazilian exports include crude oil, gold, vegetable oil, sugar and bulk mineral and ores.
In 2018, Indian investment in Brazil was valued to be around $6 billion, while Brazilian companies had invested around $1 billion.
Ketan Mehta, an analyst at the Observer Research Foundation think-tank in New Delhi, said the two countries have the “biggest potential” in the areas of agriculture and civil aviation.
“Agriculture is a major area where there is potential but it should not be reduced to a buy or sell relationship where India is a buyer of Brazilian raw materials and commodities, and also if you look at it from a wider perspective there is little alignment,” Mehta told EFE.
He said while the Brazilian agricultural sector was more export-driven, the Indian side is more subsidy-based.
“Our agriculture is not that evolved, it’s not that much commercial. (But) there is not a limit of in the prospects of collaboration on that prospect,” he said.