Business

Jair Bolsonaro says Brazil is open for business

Posted January 22, 2019 10:13 a.m. EST

— Jair Bolsonaro had a simple message for the bankers, investors and chief executives gathered in Davos: Brazil is open for business.

Bolsonaro was sworn in as president of Brazil earlier this month following a polarizing election campaign in which he promised to move the country to the right. In a short speech on Tuesday, he outlined plans for a "new Brazil" that would attract waves of foreign investment.

"We will work to lower the tax burden, streamline rules and make life easier for those who want to produce and do business as entrepreneurs, invest and create jobs," he told a crowd at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss mountain resort.

"We shall work to foster economic stability while respecting and honoring contracts ... and balancing government accounts," he added.

Supporters of the former army captain see a no-nonsense leader who will tackle corruption and get tough on crime. Opponents fear that his presidency will threaten human rights and ecological preservation in Brazil.

On Tuesday, the controversial leader avoided using the bombastic language that has become his trademark. Instead he focused on how his administration would open Brazil's "relatively closed" economy and make it easier for companies to do business.

Brazil has suffered from a prolonged economic malaise and a massive corruption scandal that rocked political and financial institutions.

It was in recession in 2016 and 2017, and its recovery has been slow. In one positive sign, the International Monetary Fund on Monday upgraded its growth outlook for the country this year, saying it expects the gradual healing process to continue.