By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – The President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, is on a four-day official visit to Sweden and Finland where she hopes to close several bilateral commercial and educational agreements. On Monday, President Rousseff is expected to visit a Saab factory from where Brazil ordered 36 Gripen NG military airplanes at an estimated cost of R$18.5 billion. It is said that the Brazilian contract is Sweden’s largest export order in history.
According to Brazil’s Foreign Relations Ministry (Itamaraty) the visit to the two Nordic countries is to boost bilateral relations through Brazil’s “New Strategic Partnership Action Plan” with cooperation in investments, clean energy and education.
Other aircraft manufacturers were passed over during the bidding process in 2013, such as U.S.-based Boeing and France-based Dassault. At the time President Rousseff said, “We are a peaceful country, but we won’t be defenseless, a country the size of Brazil must always be ready to protect its citizens, patrimony and sovereignty.”
On Sunday, President Rousseff displayed her annoyance with Brazilian reporters who kept insisting on a comment on rumors that Finance Minister Joaquim Levy was planning on handing in his resignation.
“He (Levy) stays,” said President Rousseff, denying any friction between the minister and other government officials. “We agree with his economic policies. I do not know where you (reporters) get the information, but they are very harmful,” added Rousseff.
Brazil-Sweden trade totals a little more than R$8.2 billion per year, and the European nation has more than two hundred companies operating on Brazilian soil at the moment.
On Tuesday, Rousseff will travel to Finland where the talk with the Finnish leader and the country’s business community will be about basic education.
According to analysts, despite the turbulence faced at home, President Rousseff maintained her travel plans to show investors that the Brazilian government is “business as usual”.