What does the Brazilian President’s visit on India’s Republic Day mean for India- Brazil Relations?

India invited Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, as a guest on the Republic Day 2020. This visit seems quite important.

It has been met with strong criticism, especially by feminists because of the comments that have been made by the Brazilian President on women in the past. But the thing is that’s not how politics work. A President or Prime Minister of a country that is invited on the Republic Day signifies that country and not the individual.

Some media houses are also criticizing the present Indian government because both Indian and Brazilian governments have parties in power that are aligned with the political right ideology. But a major thing to note here is that many countries have the right parties in power, including the US, UK, and Germany.

So, that’s not something that needs to be talked about. However, what needs to be talked about is the bilateral relationship between India and Brazil.

History of India-Brazil Relations

Portuguese were the first Europeans to discover both India and Brazil.This enabled the exchange of goods such as agricultural crops and cattle between Indian and Brazil five centuries ago.

Fun Fact – Most of the cattle in Brazil are of Indian Origin and Brazil is the biggest exporter of Indian breeds of cows.

Diplomatic relations between India and Brazil were established in 1948.
And since then, we have seen many ups and downs in the relationship.

Problems between India and Brazil

Before India’s liberation of Goa from the Portuguese in 1961, Brazil supported Portugal’s claim for Goa. But they changed their views soon enough when they realized that India will indeed succeed in its mission. The relationship between India and Brazil has been a little sour due to that although there has been a trade expansion going on.

In 2009, Brazil approved the sale of 100 MAR-1 ARM missiles to Pakistan despite India’s protest.

In 2019, Brazil also filed a dispute in world trade organization regarding subsidies that India provides to the sugarcane farmers in the country. It was another point of discomfort between the governments.

Similarities and positives between India and Brazil

The relationship between the two countries isn’t completely thorny. India and Brazil actually have a lot more in common than you can imagine. Both countries have similar aspirations, worldviews and face similar problems.

So, The strategic alliance started in 2006.

Both countries cooperate closely within BRICS, IBSA, G4, and G20. Both countries seek a permanent seat in the UN Security Council and support each other’s bid.

Trade between the two countries stands at an $8 billion, which is low but there is hope.

Brazil is a resource-rich country and they have oil. India has a huge population and an emerging economy, which makes us energy-hungry.

Brazil and India signed a ‘Defense Cooperation Agreement’ in 2003 that calls for defense-related Research and Development and logistic support between the two countries.

In 2016, Brazil publicly supported India’s bid for membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group

One of the most important moments came in 2003 when Brazil helped India sign a Framework Agreement between India and Mercosur and later Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) was signed between India and Mercosur.

So, what is this Mercosur?
Well, in plain language, it is a free-trade bloc among major countries in South America. It allows those countries to remove or reduce trade barriers between those countries.

So, this PTA gives India a key to sell and buy stuff to and from South American countries with tariff concessions of somewhere between 10% to even 100%.

But this is just a start.

Future of India Brazil Relations?

Both countries don’t have any external opposition that can stop them from having strong bilateral ties, except maybe China which is the largest importer of goods from Brazil.

South America is a big emerging market like India.

To become an economic powerhouse, India should look for a foothold in the South American market and Brazil would want the same with India.

Both countries are aggressively trying to expand their economy and they can be very good allies due to the shared goals.

When Brazilian President came to India for the Republic Day, he brought with himself a large delegation of ministers and around 62 businessmen, which hints at some serious talks.

Joint Statement given by India and Brazil during this visit to India talks about cooperation in Space research, defense, agriculture, crime, cybersecurity, mining, medicine, trade, and investment. There was a special talk on Oil & Gas, Bioenergy and other Renewable Energy Sources.

Currently, trade isn’t very significant. But there is an all-out possibility that the two countries can become strong economic allies in the near future.