On this Wednesday, I will set out on my first international activity in 2018. I will be participating in the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. It will enable me to address a global audience comprising political leaders, business men and women, opinion makers, at various points during the forum. Once again, I will be speaking about the reform programme which has been transforming Brazil.
We have turned the page of the economic crisis because we were able to say no to populism and acted responsibly. Moved by a long-term vision, our government has been building, through a permanent dialogue with the National Congress and the society, the foundations of an efficient State which provides its citizens with quality services within a balanced budget. These also constitute the foundations for sustainable growth, indispensable to advance the development of Brazil and effectively remove millions of Brazilians from poverty.
In a little less than a year and a half of management, in practical terms we have corroborated our commitment to fiscal balance. And the results are here: inflation hasfallen and it is once again under control, the exchange rate has been stabilised and the interest rates have shrunk to their lowest historical levels. It was with achievements and not voluntarism that we succeeded in restoring the confidence in the Brazilian economy — confidence which has already been reflected upon the increasing industrial activity, the vitality of foreign trade and renewed job creation.
The investor who observes Brazil today is able to see a government working with precise diagnostic, applying solutions which actually work. They will note that it is an administration engaged in making the business environment ever more dynamic. Everywhere, we have been removing bureaucratic obstacles, which used toobstruct the pathways for entrepreneurs — it has become easier to start a business, import and export.
The modernisation of employment law, which has already come into force, is a particularly relevant milestone in our efforts to tune Brazil into the realities of the current economy, without affecting workers’ rights. On our horizon, a tax simplification is still to come in order to make tax payments swift and rational. In all of those actions, what the trend heralds is a Brazil where there is an ever increasing economic freedom.
Public accounts in good order and a competitive private sector are essential for sustainable growth as much as is quality infrastructure, consonant with the vast economic potential of our country. That is why, in Davos, I will be presenting the various opportunities of the Advancing Partnerships Programme (Avançar, Parcerias), comprising federal government concessions and privatisations. The model, which we have instituted, offers clearly defined and stable rules, assuring legal security. It is not by chance that it has been attracting attention throughout the world. To date, we have completed over 70 projects including roads, ports, airports, power transmission lines, gas and oil fields. Investments have been estimated at R$142 billion. In 2018, there will be another 75 project proposals, which also include railways, likely to attract over R$ 130 billion. The reform will strengthen the credibility of the economy, enabling it to join an enduring growth cycle.
The changes which Brazil has been undergoing, which have indeed better prepared it for the 21st century challenges, are not exhausted at the domestic level. In the foreign area, we have acted in the spirit of openness, considering that it is fallacious to think that there can be development in an environment of a closed economy in the current world. Our endeavour in achieving more and better integration begins in our region, in the Mercosul: jointly with all the other partners, Brazil has been setting in motion a programme, which advances free markets as one of its key pillars. In addition to removing inter-block trade barriers, we have been fostering a rapprochement with the countries of the Pacific Alliance. For the first time in twenty years, we have a realistic perspective to conclude the Mercosul-European Union trade agreement — an agreement which we wish to be wide-ranging and balanced, and which is truly able to cater to the interests of the Brazilian society. Inaddition, we have been opening new negotiation fronts with partners from a variety of quarters.
An undeniable fact for those who keep a sense of objectivity is that Brazil has already travelled a long way under our government, and at speed. We have achieved a great deal, always on the basis of dialogue, the raw material of democracy; with a genuine disposition too, aimed at bringing alignments closer together and articulating efficient solutions for the needs of the country.
The challenge which remains now, and to which we are fully committed, is the Social Security reform. At Davos, I will ratify my commitment to a fair andsustainable social security system which will correlate to the demographic evolution of our population. This is a commitment which I renew, firstly, before theBrazilian people, and particularly the less privileged; after all, the system as it is, transfers income from those who need it the least to those who have less. The reform will abolish privileges and will ensure the payments of all current and future pensions. It will reinforce the credibility of the Brazilian economy enabling it to join in a lasting growth cycle.
Bravely and with renewed resolve, we have been facing the issues with which the historical juncture presents the whole nation. I am left without any doubtwhatsoever, that once again, the challenges will be overcome and common good prevail.
Brazil is a great country which garners assets of all sorts. It is a consumer market with over 200 million people, with abundant natural resources. Our people are creative and hard-working. We have got a diversified industry, a highly productive agriculture. Our energy matrix is one of the cleanest in the world.
We are a country with continental dimensions, located far from geopolitical tensions. These are the reasons which have always made Brazil an attractive destination for investors. In recent times, the problem was that the country had somewhat lost its bearings.
Well then, what our government did again was to bring Brazil back on course. From the outset, we were clear about the course which we ought to follow: the courseof responsibility, of openness, of freedoms. And we will not divert from such a course; neither will we divert ourselves from it.
This is the message which I have conveyed to the Brazilian people and which I am taking to Davos.
The article was first published in Valor Econômico on January 22, 2018.