I would first like to greet Minister Gilmar Mendes, of the Federal Supreme Court;
The President of the Superior Court of Justice, Minister Francisco Falcão;
Minister Herman Benjamin, Minister Rogério Schietti and Minister Paulo Moura;
I would like to greet, and through him all the Congressmen here present, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Chamber of Deputies, Pedro Vilela;
And the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Senate, my colleague in the Senate, Aloysio Nunes, through whom I greet all our dear friends Senators;
I would like to greet His Excellency José Sarney, former President of the Republic, whom I consider played a key role in the redemocratization process of our country and deserves to be acknowledged at all times for this role.
I would like to greet Don Giovanni D'Aniello, Apostolic Nuncio, in whose name I greet the other foreign Ambassadors accredited to the Brazilian Government.
And to greet Ambassador Mauro Vieira, former Minister of State of Foreign Affairs, whom I thank for the helpfulness, I would say, and all cooperation in this transition of command of the Ministry. I would like to say to him that I consider him a man with an exemplary public career and a dignify disciple of a friend of mine, a common friend of ours, Minister Renato Archer.
I would also like to thank, very emphatically, President Michel Temer for the confidence to invite me for this Ministry, as well as for the patience to review and approve the guidelines of the New Brazilian Foreign Policy, which I will present today. President Temer read it with me, line by line, making comments, which I naturally took into account. I would like to say that 33 years of interaction with Michel Temer, either on the same side or on different sides of political life, were always accompanied by constant friendship, mutual respect and permanent dialogue.
And I finally would like to thank the presence of my colleagues Ministers, there are many here, I greet them through the name of Minister Romero Jucá, who, as fate would have it, will play a key role, together with me, in the recovery of the finances of Itamaraty. I believe the other Ministers will understand why I chose Minister Jucá to represent them in this greeting.
Let me also say of my joy in becoming part of an institution of great tradition and marked historical contribution to our country. Let me also say of the satisfaction in working with a body of civil employees of recognized competence and public spirit. I hope to convey here some essential ideas concerning the New Brazilian Foreign Policy. I have and I will always have, as always in my public life, the eyes to the future, and not to the mistakes of the past.
Diplomacy will again reflect, clearly and uncompromisingly, the legitimate values of the Brazilian society and the interests of its economy, at Brazil's service as a whole, not more at the conveniences and ideological preferences of a political party and its allies abroad. Our foreign policy will be governed by the values of the State and the Nation, not of the Government and never of a political party. This new policy will not break the good traditions of Itamaraty and of Brazilian diplomacy, but will, on the contrary, put them to a better use. Measures that, in other times, might have served the national interest, may not be compatible with the new reality of the country, and with the deep changes taking place in the international arena.
We will be attentive to the defense of democracy, freedoms and human rights in any country, in any political regime, in accordance with the obligations assumed under international treaties and in respect to the principle of non-interference.
Brazil will assume a special responsibility in respect to environmental issues, having, in the Amazon, the largest rainforest in the world, one of the major reserves of freshwater and biodiversity in the planet, as well as clean and renewable energy sources in order to play a proactive and pioneering role in the negotiations on climate change and sustainable development. I remind that, if we do our homework well, we may receive considerable resources from international organizations interested in helping us preserve the world's forests, water supplies and biodiversity, as Brazil makes the difference in this matter.
At the UN, and in all global and regional forums in which it takes part, the Brazilian Government will develop constructive action in favor of peace and negotiated solutions to international conflicts and in favor of an adaptation of its structures to the new realities and international challenges; at the same time we will strive to overcome the triggers of frequent financial crises and the recent trend toward the slowdown of global trade. International trade is decreasing at a fast pace.
Brazil will no longer restrict its freedom and extent of initiative due to an exclusive and paralyzing adhesion to the multilateral efforts within the scope of the WTO, as it happened in the past decade, to the detriment of the interests of the country. There is no doubt that the multilateral WTO negotiations are the only ones that could effectively correct the relevant systemic distortions, such as those affecting the trade of agricultural products. But these negotiations unfortunately have not flourished with the necessary speed and relevance, and Brazil, attached exclusively to them, remained in the margins of the multiplication of bilateral free trade agreements. The multilateralism that didn´t happen damaged the bilateralism that happened all around the world. Almost everyone invested in this multiplication, but us. We must and we will win this delay and recover lost opportunities.
For all this, we will initiate, together with the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Services, with the support of the Chamber of Foreign Trade (CAMEX) and in intensive consultation with different productive sectors, an accelerated process of trade negotiations in order to open markets for our exports and create jobs for our workers using pragmatically the advantage of access to our large domestic market as an instrument for obtaining concessions negotiated on the basis of balanced reciprocity. Nothing would be more mistaken, at this stage of the Brazilian development, than to make concessions without reciprocity. It makes no sense.
A major focus of our diplomatic action in the short term will be the partnership with Argentina, with which we share similar references to the reorganization of politics and economy. Along with other partners, we need to renew Mercosur with a view to correct what needs to be fixed, in order to strengthen it, first of all, concerning free trade between its member countries, to promote shared prosperity and continue to build bridges instead of deepening differences in relation to the Pacific Alliance, which is comprised of three South American countries, Chile, Peru and Colombia, in addition to Mexico. As Enrique Iglesias said, we cannot remain impassive as we observe the renewal of a sort of Tordesillas Treaty, which would deepen the separation between the east and west of the South American continent. With regard to Mexico, it will be crucial to take full advantage of the enormous potential of our complementary economies and international views.
We will expand commerce with traditional partners such as Europe, the United States and Japan. The exchange of offers between Mercosur and the European Union will be the starting point to advance the conclusion of a trade agreement that promotes further expansion of commerce and of reciprocal investments, without detriment to the legitimate interests of various productive sectors in Brazil. As Minister Mauro said, there was the exchange of offers and we will now examine what are the offers of the European Union. With regard to the United States, we rely on short-term practical solutions for removing non-tariff barriers, which are, in today's world, the essential ones. In today´s world, from a commercial point of view, protection is not done with tariffs, but with non-tariff barriers. I want to state that Brazil, in this sense, is the most open country in the world, for we do not have any non-tariff barriers, unlike all other countries which present themselves as champions of free trade. With regard to the United States, we rely on short-term practical solutions for removing regulatory and non-tariff barriers which curb exchanges. We will also emphasize the immense possibilities of cooperation in energy, the environment, science, technology and education
Priority will be given to the relationship with new partners in Asia, particularly China, this great economic phenomenon of the 21st century, and India. We will be equally committed to modernizing the bilateral exchange with Africa, the big neighbor on the other side of the Atlantic. This relationship cannot be restricted to fraternal ties of the past and to cultural similarities, but must, above all, be a way to forge solid partnerships in the present and for the future. Contrary to what was propagated among us, modern Africa does not ask for compassion, but expects an effective economic, technological and investment exchange. In this sense, the close and pragmatic solidarity with the countries in the southern hemisphere will continue to be an essential guideline of Brazilian diplomacy. This is the correct South-South strategy, and not the one that came to be pursued with propaganda purposes, limited economic benefits and considerable diplomatic investments. It is important to have a clear understanding that the different relationship axes between Brazil and the world are not contradictory or mutually exclusive, especially given the size of our nation. A country the size of Brazil does not choose or repels partnerships, but searches for them with intensity, inspired by its national interest. We will also take advantage of the opportunities offered by inter-regional fora with other developing countries, such as the BRICS, to accelerate commercial exchanges, investments and sharing of experiences. And with a sense of pragmatism, we will give attention to cooperation mechanisms with Africa and the Arab countries.
In regard to foreign trade policies, the Government will always pay attention to the warning, stemming from good economic analysis, based on solid and broad consultation with the productive sectors. It is an illusion to assume that free trade agreements necessarily mean automatic and sustained increase in exports. There is only one factor that ensures the increase enduringly: the steady increase in productivity and competitiveness. It is a mistake to think that making an agreement and opening the market are necessary and sufficient conditions. We must invest in the steady increase in competitiveness and productivity. Hence the emphasis to be given to reducing the cost of doing business in Brazil through the elimination of tax distortions which increase sales abroad and the expansion and modernization of infrastructure through partnerships with both the national and international private sector. Today, the cost of doing business in Brazil is around 25%, i.e., a Brazilian product, identical to a typical average product from countries that are our trading partners, costs, due to the taxation, financial costs, infrastructure costs, 25% more. Imagine the challenge that we face ahead. And as I took office in the Ministry, I was aware, talking to our Ambassador to China, Roberto Jaguaribe, of the efforts of our embassies to attract investments for these basic sectors of the economy. Roberto was making efforts to bring Chinese capitals to Brazil, to invest in partnership with the Brazilian government in infrastructure projects. I am sure that these efforts will be successfully expanded.
I hereby conclude the guidelines, but if I had to add one more, I would cite one that we must meet, in cooperation with the Ministries of Justice, Defense and Finance, with regard to the Brazilian Federal Revenue: border protection, today the locus of the development of the organized crime in Brazil, which, let us make this clear, is sponsored by arms smuggling, smuggling of goods, which is monumental, and drug trafficking. We will strive particularly to mobilize cooperation of neighboring countries into a joint action against these criminal practices that cause so much harm to our people and our economy.
Last, but not least, I want to reaffirm my commitment to the Brazilian communities abroad and to the proper functioning of our consular service. We will continue to pay close attention to the rights of Brazilian citizens, wherever they are.
I now turn to the staff of the Ministry. We will recover Itamaraty's capacity to act, believe me. In a period of great changes and, why not say, uncertainties in the international scenario and of promising domestic changes, our diplomacy, I have no doubt, will have to gradually update itself and innovate, and even to dare, promoting a modernizing reform in the objectives, methods and working techniques. The diplomacy of the twenty-first century cannot solely rely on the rhetorical exuberance and the self-laudatory tone of the joint communiqués. It needs to have clear goals and be at the same time political discourse and concrete results.
Brazil is proud of its diplomats and they inspire respect among our partners abroad. I want to strengthen the diplomatic career, as well as other careers in the Foreign Service. I will respect the merit criteria, instead of discriminating in favor of the friends of the king or the supporters of a given political party. I want to gradually end Itamaraty’s penury, in which it was left by the fiscal irresponsibility that dominated the Brazilian economy during this decade. I want to strengthen the Ministry, not weaken it. We will restore the pride of the new generations in serving Itamaraty and especially Brazil. The Ministry will be strengthened, not weakened. And in the government of President Temer, Itamaraty will be back to the core of the government.
My action plan will correspond to my record in public life: to work hard, present and receive ideas, take initiatives, delegate responsibilities, demand results and promote effective negotiations, as well as having a strong presence, far from a schedule of innocuous visits.
These are the commitments I present today. This is the invitation that I make to all the staff of this Ministry, so that we can make a joint effort to strengthen Itamaraty and help this government to succeed, despite the fact that it will face, as we all know, immense challenges, but will create, God willing, the conditions for the reconstruction of the political system, the strengthening of our democracy and the return of growth in production and employment.
Thank you, let´s get to work and move on.