Latin America Advisor

A Daily Publication of The Dialogue

What Did Brazil’s President Achieve on His Foreign Trips?

Among the officials with whom Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro met on his recent trip to the Middle East was Saudi King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. // Photo: Brazilian Government.

Over the past weeks, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro made foreign trips to China and to the Middle East, where he visited the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. In China, Bolsonaro secured a government promise for more agricultural and industrial imports to China from Brazil. In the Middle East, Bolsonaro met with heads of state and business groups in Doha and Riyadh. What did Bolsonaro, who at home has criticized Chinese involvement in his country and espoused a “Brazil First” policy, accomplish on the trips? How will China and the Gulf states benefit from their relationship with Brazil? To what extent will Bolsonaro’s engagement with China affect Brazil’s warming relations with the United States?


Welber Barral, senior consultant at BMJ Consultores Associados and former Brazilian foreign trade secretary: “The Brazilian government is promoting an ambitious program of privatization and concessions, and the Chinese are potential investors. Bolsonaro’s criticisms regarding China during the electoral campaign were appeased by the pragmatic conclusion that Chinese investments are necessary to modernize Brazil’s infrastructure. China also has a strategic interest in investing in Latin America’s largest economy, while securing access to minerals and grains. China is Brazil’s main trading partner. Brazil provides iron ore and soybeans for the growing Chinese market, while Brazil imports industrial goods from China. The Arab countries are also important clients of Brazilian foodstuffs (curiously, Brazil is the world’s largest exporter of Halal food). Also, large investments (especially from the UAE) have been floating to Brazil in recent years in real estate, infrastructure and mining. Brazil has historically adopted a neutral position over the clashes among world powers. Its economic interests…”

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The Inter-American Dialogue publishes the Latin America Advisor every business day for a distinguished membership of informed corporate leaders, scholars, and government officials invested in Latin America’s development and future. The Advisor‘s highly regarded Q&A section covers questions submitted by subscribers themselves. Commentators regularly include heads of state, business leaders, diplomats, economists, analysts, and thought leaders from around the world. Many of the world’s largest and fastest-growing companies subscribe to the Advisor. To subscribe click here or for more information, contact Erik Brand, publisher of the Advisor, at

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