President Dilma Rousseff said British interest in Brazil had come at the right time after her government announced last month a 66 billion dollars investment in road and railway building as part of a massive plan to upgrade her country's dilapidated infrastructure, which includes modernizing ports and airports.
The Brazilian president made the announcement next to British PM David Cameron who arrived in the country for a two-day visit at the head of a delegation of fifty of the leading UK corporations to boost trade and investment.
Trade between the two countries was described as “negligible”, given its potential, having reached 8.6 billion dollars last year and in the first eight months of 2012 totals 5.2bn. But the UK is the sixth largest investor in Brazil.
Speaking at a press conference on Friday at the Planalto Palace after holding talks with the visiting PM for over an hour, Rousseff invited British businesses to invest in Brazil oil and gas, defence, mining and financial services industries.
I think we can do a lot better, Rousseff said of growing but still negligible trade and investment flows between the two countries.
President Rousseff also pointed out that following the success of the London Olympics in July/August, Brazil was seeking British cooperation to prepare for the 2014 Soccer World Cup and the 2016 Olympics Games.
Cameron said British companies had signed more than 161 million dollars in deals during his two-day visit, with another 400 million in potential contracts for companies that can help Brazil get ready for the two global sporting events it will host.
According to the Brazilian Foreign ministry the two leaders reaffirmed the strategic partnership between Brazil and the UK and examined how to increase bilateral cooperation in education, science, technology, innovation, sports and energy.
Other issues, but of global interest included the financial crisis, international peace and security and reforming the institutions of political and economic governance.
Earlier on Friday in Rio de Janeiro, accompanied by British companies hoping for a slice of Brazil's enormous energy potential, Cameron met with Maria das Gracas Foster, the president of Brazil's largest company, the state-led Petrobras.
Foster laid out the oil company's 236 billion dollars investment plan for the next five years to develop Brazil's sub-salt off-shore oil reserves and become one of the world's top producers.
We have an enormous potential in the oil and gas field, an enormous challenge, and we are open for business for the British industry in oil equipment and services, Foster told the UK delegation.
On Thursday Cameron visited the state of Sao Paulo where he addressed the country’s most influential manufacturers lobby, Sao Paulo Federation of Industries, FIESP and to open a new 100 million dollars factory by Britain's JCB to make backhoes and excavating equipment.
In his brief speech to a crowded FIESP conference hall PM Cameron said that last year Brazil overtook the UK to become the world’s sixth largest economy.
“And we British have a saying which applies, ‘if you can't beat them, join them” he said urging a greater British partnership with Brazil.