NEW DELHI: Brazilian President Jair Messias Bolsonaro will arrive in New Delhi on Friday to attend the 71st Republic Day celebrations as the chief guest, in response to an invitation seen as a recognition of the importance India attaches to ties with one of the largest economies in South America as well as the region in general.
This will be the third time that India has invited a Brazilian leader as the chief guest at the country’s Republic Day event. New Delhi had invited Fernando Henrique Cardoso for the celebrations in 1996, and hosted Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva as guest of honour in 2004.
A statement from India’s foreign ministry on Tuesday said Bolsanaro will be accompanied by seven ministers, besides the chairman of Brazil-India Friendship Group in Brazilian Parliament, senior officials and a large business delegation.
The last presidential visit from Brazil was in 2016 when the then president Michel Temer came to India to attend a summit of Brazil-Russia-India-South Africa (BRICS) leaders in Goa. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had visited Brasilia for the BRICS summit in November.
In recent years, India has been trying to forge stronger ties with countries in South America and the Pacific as New Delhi looks to position itself as a leading power in the world. Though seeking stronger ties with the region, the long distances and lack of connectivity have been impediments to New Delhi's plans. One of Modi's early visits abroad after taking office as prime minister in 2014 was to Brazil where he also met leaders of other South American countries.
After his arrival, Bolsonaro will meet President Ram Nath Kovind on Saturday and hold talks with Modi, the foreign ministry statement said. Brazil's Ambassador to India, André AranhaCorrêa do Lago said the two countries would clinch 15 pacts after the Modi-Bolsonaro talks. Both leaders were expected to launch a plan of action to inject greater dynamism into the India-Brazil strategic relationship, he was quoted as saying by media reports.
“India and Brazil share a close and multifaceted relationship. Our bilateral relations are based on a common global vision, shared democratic values, and a commitment to foster economic growth of both countries. Bilateral relations were elevated to a Strategic Partnership in 2006, heralding a new phase in India-Brazil relations. The relations are strong not only at the bilateral level, but also at plurilateral fora such as BRICS, IBSA, G-20 and in multilateral bodies particularly the UN," the Indian foreign ministry statement said.
To bolster trade ties, Bolsonaro will be accompanied by over 80 businessmen with a business meet planned on 27 January in New Delhi. Areas of interest to both countries include energy, agriculture and defence.
Bilateral trade between India and Brazil increased to $8.2 billion in 2018-19. India’s major exports to Brazil include agro-chemicals, synthetic yarns, auto components and parts, pharmaceuticals and petroleum products. Brazilian exports to India include crude oil, gold, vegetable oil, sugar and bulk mineral and ores, the statement said. Indian companies have invested $6 billion in Brazil and Brazilian investments in India are estimated at $1 billion in 2018.