Jair Bolsonaro pledges to build “new Brazil” at World Economic Forum

By January 22, 2019

As a wrapped-up Jair Bolsonaro stepped off the aeroplane into the freezing temperatures of Davos, Switzerland on his first international trip since his inauguration, businessmen from across the world awaited with baited breath to see what he had to say at this year’s World Economic Forum (WEF).

Jair Bolsonaro World Economic Forum
Image courtesy of @jairbolsonaro – Twitter.

The speech itself, which lasted a total of six minutes – a short time period compared to most – saw him promise to “govern by example” and “change [Brazilian] history.”  

Continuing the rhetoric he has employed since his inauguration, Bolsonaro stuck with the theme of restoring investor confidence in Brazil as one of his principal economic goals in his new role as president.

“Brazil’s economy is still relatively closed to foreign trade and to change that situation is one of my administration’s major commitments,” he said at the conference, pledging that by the end of his presidency, Brazil would find itself of the list of the world’s top 50 countries to do business.

The forum, which invites heads of state, business leaders, politicians and journalists from around the world to come together and discuss the world’s current most pressing issues, takes place annually.

Despite the fact that several state leaders were notably not present, including US President Donald Trump, Bolsonaro saw the forum as an opportunity to change the impression of Brazil on a global scale.

He spoke of building a “new Brazil,” outlining his intentions to “govern by example,” alongside his team of ministers, including economy minister Paulo Guedes, who was responsible for putting together his WEF speech.

Bolsonaro also invited his audience to come and visit his country, pointing out that despite being a “paradise” and “one of the most biodiverse countries in the world,” it is still fairly unvisited by tourists. The security measures he plans to implement, Bolsonaro claimed, will make Brazil a safer destination for visitors.

“We are the country that most preserves the environment in the world,” Bolsonaro also claimed, despite environment minister Ricardo Salles’ recent decision to issue a three month suspension of government agreements and partnerships with environmental NGOs in order to allow for a “reevaluation.”

Salles, who has previously described global warming as a “secondary issue,” was recommended for his role by the agribusiness sector, which many argue does not act within environmental interests.

Bolsonaro’s appearance at the WEF, which saw him promise that his government would differ from previous ones when it comes to stamping out corruption and money laundering, comes amidst corruption investigations into certain transactions in his son, Senator Flavio Bolsonaro’s bank account.

However, as pointed out by Americas Quarterly Editor-In-Chief Brian Winter in an op-ed, Bolsonaro’s speech did not mention pension reforms, which financial analysts believe to be one of the key factors necessary in order to tackle Brazil’s economic concerns.

Speaking after Bolsonaro’s session had ended, Nobel Prize-winning American economist Robert Shiller claimed that Brazil’s new president “made him scared,” reported Valor Econômico.