Brazil would welcome a BRICS-like bloc with the Gulf states to work towards achieving common goals, according to an influential Brazilian Congressman.
Brazil is the current chair of the BRICS, an informal association of five major emerging economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
“We are open to new markets and new opportunities; therefore, we would welcome such an idea,” Eduardo Bolsonaro, Chairperson of Foreign Relations and National Defence Committee in the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Brazilian Parliament, told WAM in an exclusive interview during his recent visit to the country where he held talks with H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
“This is something the Brazilian president can discuss with the UAE leaders during his state visit to the UAE,” said Bolsonaro, revealing that the President Jair Bolsonaro had accepted an invitation from the UAE leadership to visit the country in October.
H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, was the first foreign minister from the Arab World to visit [in March] Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro after he came into power in January 2019, he said.
As Brazil’s reciprocal gesture to the UAE leadership, the president’s state visit to the UAE will be his first state visit to a country in this region, said the Congressman who is the son of the Brazilian president.
There are many factors that cut short the long distance between both nations, he added.
Both countries stand together against terrorism in all forms, a bilateral visa exemption agreement that allows citizens of both countries visa-free travel since June 2018 has also been encouraging tourism, and people-to-people relations, the Member of Parliament, MP, pointed out.
Two daily flights operated by Emirates from Dubai to Brazil [Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo] are the only direct flights from the UAE to Latin America. “That’s why Brazil acts as a gateway to Latin America for the UAE,” said the 35-year-old Congressman who is one of the youngest top Brazilian politicians.
On Saturday, Sheikh Abdullah and Bolsonaro met in Abu Dhabi to discuss bilateral cooperation in the economic, investment, commercial, parliamentary, tourism, military and defence fields. They also emphasised the need to step up joint cooperation in combating terrorism and extremism in all their forms.
“UAE is looking forward to boosting cooperation with Brazil in all domains for the benefit of the two friendly peoples,” Sheikh Abdullah said in the meeting.
Bolsonaro went on to say that with 10,000 Brazilians currently residing in the UAE, mutual links are stronger than ever, adding that sports like jiu-jitsu and football are bringing Brazil and the UAE even closer.
There are about 1,600 Brazilian jiu jitsu instructors and many Brazilian footballers playing for UAE clubs, Bolsonaro noted.
Referring to the almost “12-million strong Arab community in Brazil,” the Congressman highlighted the fact that with around seven or eight million Arab Lebanese living in Brazil, they constitute a larger population than the six million of Lebanon.
Arabs started coming to Brazil in the 19th Century and became part of the society. “They preserved their own culture but did not want to change Brazilian culture.”
He said a different trend is seen among migrants in Europe today. “Some new migrants in Europe want to change the culture of their host counties. That is something causing conflicts, I don’t think it is healthy,” the MP explained.
He said Brazil continues to welcome migrants from all over the world. “We have [descendants from] China, Japan, Iran, India, Africa, Europe, and Jews – that is why Brazil with its more than 200 million population is a big country with many small countries inside,” Bolsonaro added.
About the US-Iran tensions in the Gulf region, he said, “We don’t see [the possibility] of a war. But we think it could be very dangerous if Iran develops nuclear weapons.”
Asked about the potential diplomatic solution to the issue, he said, “It depends on Iran’s action. Otherwise Iran may attract more economic sanctions from the US. Iran’s economy is not doing well and it is a good time for them to reflect on what they are doing,” the Congressman concluded.