Thank you very much.
I believe this discussion and the theme of the CEO Summit, which is to turn the dialogue into action, is very important, because we conduct dialogue in order to take action, to change. What I mean to say is that the great change Brazil desires and has gone through in recent years is becoming a middle-class country on grand scale. This is the goal of the Brazilian nation. And I believe that one of the major requirements for this is to be clear about what is necessary to become a country of… an extremely unequal country, perhaps one of the most unequal in the world, into a country undergoing an accelerated process of social inclusion. This process of inclusion has been firstly based on economic growth and, secondly, on social policies. But today we face a challenge precisely because 44 million Brazilians have risen to join the middle class and 36 million have escaped poverty: we need to keep growing in a sustainable, continuous and systematic way. And to achieve that, certain things are necessary.
First I’m going to talk about factors which are, I'd say, structural. I think investment in infrastructure is essential in countries like Brazil, which needs to invest not only in logistical infrastructure, not only in energy infrastructure, but in urban social infrastructure because we live in big cities. Thus, public services are a pressing issue. If you have 44 million people joining the middle class, those people are going to have certain demands; they start having higher expectations. That is why urban mobility and housing as social infrastructure are crucial, as are highways, ports, airports, and the expansion of the energy grid needed to sustain growth.
The second issue is, necessarily, education. Education is the only way to ensure that social transformation and inclusion are permanent. A country like Brazil always has challenges that combine the need to overcome underdevelopment with the need to advance into the future – and education combines those two things. First, include the millions of Brazilians who did not have access to education – from kindergarten to post-graduation courses, including technical training and university courses. Then realize that without innovation, countries like ours, which are rich in commodities – and this is a key wealth, which we want to preserve – we cannot be content with just that. We need to take a step further, and that step will only be taken if we commit to education, to scientific and technological training, and seek to keep up with the very best in the world, such as tertiary education in the United States.
We need that in order to take a leap forward into the knowledge economy. So, education joins together two paths: social inclusion, the need to ensure that those people who now have higher incomes do not slip back again, do not lose what they’ve achieved. And then there’s the fact that Brazil – a country of 200 million inhabitants – will only achieve sustainability if we have agriculture, industry and a service sector based on innovation, technology, innovation and innovation , and that can only be the fruit of education.
The third vital issue I’d like to talk about is that of regional integration. I think the regional integration of our economies has the effect of expanding our borders, expanding our opportunities, and expanding our economies. That’s why, in recent years, Brazil has been devoted to investing heavily in infrastructural integration. I listed some of the investments I consider very important, which we have done in partnership with various governments and businesspeople here in Latin America. I refer to the transmission line, in Paraguay, that carries power from Itaipu, one of the continent’s biggest hydroelectric plants – if not the biggest -, to Asunción, thereby ensuring Paraguay has the necessary conditions for industrial growth; in Uruguay, the integration of the energy grid, the wind farms, the transmission lines, the converter. In Argentina, the construction and financing of the TGN Sur gas pipeline, the Sur and Norte pipelines, Phase 3 of the Gamesa, and the water and sewage infrastructure throughout Buenos Aires; in Cuba, the Port of Mariel; in Guatemala, the first section of the Central American Highway; in Nicaragua, the Tumarín hydroelectric power plant; and in Mexico, the Petrochemical Complex in Mexico City.
I think this integration of infrastructure, which now we have to look into with more emphasis; is of vital importance for our region. This infrastructure integration must also lead to the search for greater commercial expansion, a greater openness to trade, and also openness to inter-regional investment. I was talking to President Peña Nieto just a short while ago and congratulating him on the fact that Mexico is one of the biggest investors in Brazil, which for us is very welcome.
Another issue that I consider fundamental is precisely trade liberalization and the reduction of bureaucracy. Within Mercosur, Brazil today has a clear commitment to achieving an agreement between Mercosur and the European Union. We are ready for that agreement. Recently we signed a memorandum of understanding between the Brazilian Ministry of Development and the US trade department, which I consider very important because it will facilitate trade and bring together our Portal Único de Exportações [Unified Exports Portal] and the “single window” of the US trade system. And I also congratulated President Peña Nieto for our agreement on the automotive industry. I believe all these initiatives contribute to expand our horizons to greater economic growth. In Brazil we’re making great efforts to achieve fiscal adjustment, because in recent years we have adopted anti-cyclical measures to prevent a fallback, in terms of employment and of income. We have exhausted our capacity to use those anti-cyclical measures and now we have to do a whole rebalancing to continue growing. But with no doubt we know that it involves the continuation of our social programs and our infrastructure programs, and above all I want to make it clear, here today, our commitment to regional integration.