By Jaylan Boyle, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazilian President Luis Inácio ‘Lula’ da Silva has used a recent two-day diplomatic visit to Belgium to meet with some of the country’s prominent investors and pitch Brazil as a sound financial investment.
Also in attendence at the event entitled ‘High Level Business Forum Between Brazil and Belgium – New Frontiers for Business’ were Prince Phillip of Belgium and Foreign Minister Yves Leterme.
Lula stressed that opportunities for investment are ripe in Brazil as the country is set to host the 2014 Fifa World Cup and now the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Also featuring highly in the President’s sales pitch were the industrial requirements needed by Brazil in the execution of it’s ‘Acceleration Plan’, as well as recently discovered ‘pre-salt’ oil-fields, thought to be some of the largest reserves remaining in the world.
“[These things] open up some extraordinary opportunities for business,” said President Lula to the assembled seminar. According to the Brazilian Minister of Development, Industry and Trade, Miguel Jorge, Brazil will require some US$48 Billion in investment for the Fifa World Cup alone. The money will be spent on constructing or renovating stadiums in host cities, increasing telecommunications capabilities and increasing hospitality capacities across the country.
“Belgium has much more reason to invest in Brazil in 2010,” added President Lula, pointing out that bilateral trade between the two countries has doubled in the last four years to US$7 Billion. Referring to the upcoming World Cup, Belgian Foreign Minister Yves Letarme said that businesses in Belgium have ample experience in the construction of facilities for an event of such magnitude. “You will play in the final, we will build the infrastructure,” joked Letarme.
Prior to the seminar in Brussels, President Lula had the chance to attend a lunch meeting with the King of Belgium, Albert the Second. At all engagements during his two-day stay, Lula pointed out that prevailing Brazilian stereotypes are not all the the country has to offer.
He suggested that a country with the third largest aircraft factory in the world (the Embraer plant near São Paulo) deserves to be thought of not just in terms of favelas, football and Carnaval, noting with delight that many Embraer aircraft are to be seen in the skies of Belgium, including planes under the care of King Albert.
Several pacts between the two countries were signed during Lula’s stay, including extradition treaties, cultural cooperation agreements and port logistics.