India and Brazil should activate the Business Leaders Forum constituted some years ago to facilitate bilateral trade and work towards achieving the target of $15 billion by 2022 from the present level of $8.2 billion and even going beyond it, Commerce & Industry Minister Piyush Goyal has said.

“Let the trade target (of $15 billion) not be a restrictive factor. Let us see it as the beginning of the threshold to brighter future between two countries be it in trade, investments or services,” Goyal told the India-Brazil Business Forum organised by industry body Assocham on Monday. The event was also attended by visiting Brazilian President Jair Bolsanaro.

On the India-Brazil Business Leaders Forum, the Minister said that somehow it hadn’t taken off and it was time to activate it. “I hope we can utilise this opportunity to activate that forum and we will be happy to hear from the Brazilian side. We will reconstitute it to make it more contemporary and relevant to businesses that are working with Brazil,” he said. He called for fresh proposals from businesses in India wanting to engage with Brazil in a big way.

Huge potential

Addressing business representatives from the two countries, the Brazilian President Bolsanaro said that there was a huge potential for Indian businesses in Brazil. “Brazil’s potential is unmatched,” Bolsanaro said, adding that opportunities were are right before the two countries waiting to be tapped.

Brazil’s Minister for Mines Bento Albuquerquq said that increase in cooperation in clean energy, especially in ethanol, can help both the countries to become a low carbon economy.

Agriculture Minister Teresa Cristina said that her country could export sesame seeds to India and there was huge investment potential in the agriculture sector for both the sides.

Focus on infrastructure

Listing the future areas for intensifying cooperation, Goyal said that infrastructure was a specific sector where the two countries could work together. “I have seen both your Houses of Parliament in Brasilia. They are an architecture of marvel. I would like to congratulate Brazil for creating very good infrastructure in many of your cities,” he said.

Stating that railways was another area where the two countries could work together, Goyal said that India expects to run the entire network of railways on electricity by 2024. “We are embarking on rapid electrification of the rail network by 2024, we expect the entire Railways to be 100 per cent run on electricity,” he said.

It will be the first railway in the entire world, of this scale and size, to be run on electricity and by 2030, we plan to make the entire railway network a zero-emission network. It will run on clean energy, he added.

Diversifying India-Brazil relationship

The Minister said that India would also want to take its relationship with Brazil in areas such as defence, clean energy and start-ups to the next level.

On the 15 agreements signed between the two countries during the on-going Presidential visit, Goyal said that the diverse areas in which the pacts have been inked such as investments, trade, health, social security, agriculture, science and technology, clean energy and cyber security showcased the huge potential that the two countries had of working together.

Goyal pointed out that the announcement made by Brazil on visa-free travel for India would give a big boost to tourism and people to people interaction in various fields such as yoga and ayurveda.

Bolsanoro, who is on a four-day visit to India heading a high-powered delegation comprising eight ministers, senior officials and several business representatives, was the Chief Guest at India’s Republic Day celebrations on Sunday.

In a meeting between Bolsonaro and Indian Prime Minsiter Narendra Modi, the two leaders agreed on an action plan to strengthen the bilateral partnership. The plan provides for following up in a coordinated manner the outcomes and activities of the existing institutional mechanisms and the implementation of cooperation initiatives in all areas of bilateral relations, according to an official release.

In 2018-19, India’s exports to Brazil were worth $3.8 billion while its imports from the country were to the tune of $4.4 b illion. Major Indian exports to Brazil include agro-chemicals, synthetic yarns, auto components and parts, pharmaceuticals and petroleum products. Brazilian exports to India include crude oil, gold, vegetable oil, sugar and bulk mineral and ores.