The government plans to invite the president of Brazil as the main guest of Republic Day

(This story originally appeared in November 4, 2019) NEW DELHI: The government plans to invite the president of Brazil as the main guest for next year's celebrations, expanding its reach to South America. India and are working to finalize what could be Bolsonaro's first trip to India as president, people aware of the matter said.

If the trip ends, Bolsonaro would be the third Brazilian president to be invited to the Republic Day celebrations, after Fernando Henrique Cardoso in 1996 and Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in 2004.

The plan to invite the Brazilian president comes when India is in the process of expanding its ties with South America through high-level visits and meetings. Both the prime minister Narendra Modi and President Bolsonaro were present at the Future Investment Initiative business forum in Riyadh last week, as Brazil is increasingly seeing Asia as a commercial and investment partner. Earlier this year, the Argentine president visited India and Modi and the president of Chile held a series of meetings outside of multilateral events.

Brazil under Bolsonaro not only announced visa-free entry for Indians, but also strengthened the anti-terrorism agenda and helped revive the group of India, Brazil, South Africa (IBSA), to the satisfaction of India. Prime Minister Modi will travel to Brazil for the BRICS Summit This will be his second visit to Brazil, after he attended the BRICS Summit there in 2014.

The theme of the 11th BRICS Summit is BRICS: economic growth for an innovative future. The priorities of BRICS under the leadership of Brazil are the strengthening of cooperation in science, technology and innovation; improvement of cooperation in digital economy; strengthening cooperation in the fight against transnational crime, especially against organized crime, money laundering and drug trafficking; and encouragement of the rapprochement between the New Development Bank (NDB) and the BRICS Business Council.

Brazil is among the most important trading partners of India in the entire LAC region (Latin America and the Caribbean). Bilateral trade between India and Brazil has increased substantially over the years, growing 34.71% year-on-year to $ 7.6 billion in 2017, the highest growth among Brazil's top 10 trading partners. India's exports to Brazil and Brazil's imports were $ 2.94 billion and $ 4.66 billion, respectively. While Brazilian companies have invested in the automobile, IT, mining, energy, biofuels and footwear sectors in India, Indian companies have invested in sectors such as IT, pharmaceuticals, energy, agribusiness, mining, engineering and automobiles.