Economy, Domestic Economy

Brazil Prepares to Bolster Iran Trade

Brazil Prepares to Bolster Iran TradeBrazil Prepares to Bolster Iran Trade

Brazil will accept payment from Iran in euros and other currencies for planes, cars and machinery to sidestep lingering US sanctions on the oil-rich nation, said Trade Minister Armando Monteiro.

Monteiro is the first Brazilian official to confirm that Latin America's biggest economy could accept payment in currencies, including the euro from Iran, which is forbidden from using the US financial system, Reuters reported.

He also announced that Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is expected to visit Iran this year to bolster exports.

"Everyone is racing after Iran now ... The trade potential is very big," said Monteiro. "We will find ways to settle payments, the type of payment and currency."

Following a nuclear deal that lifted crippling sanctions last month, Iran has sought to settle debts and sell oil in euros to reduce its dependence on the US dollar.

Monteiro said Brazil aims to triple trade flows with Iran to $5 billion by 2019.

Rousseff lifted UN-imposed sanctions against Iran last week after meeting with the Iranian ambassador, hoping to bolster trade between the two nations, which have enjoyed warm ties for years despite tensions with the West.

With a population of 80 million and annual output of some $400 billion, Iran is the biggest economy to rejoin the global trading system since the Soviet Union broke up over two decades ago.

First Item on Table

Facing the crippling recession, the Brazil government is shifting policy and moving quickly to open up its economy to reap the benefits of a sharp depreciation in its currency real.

"The Iranian government has already contacted Brazilian planemaker Embraer for the purchase of commercial jets for regional aviation," Monteiro said.

Embraer, the world's No. 3 commercial planemaker, confirmed that Iran was interested in its aircraft. The Islamic Republic is eying the four models of Embraer's E1 family of regional jets, because of their low maintenance costs, said an official spokesman for the company.

"Iran is a very interesting market because there is a lot of repressed demand and it is a huge country so there is great potential for regional aviation," the spokesman said.

Monteiro said Iran is also interested in Brazilian cars and trucks as well as machinery to renew its aging network of oil refineries.

"Our focus is to expand our participation in manufacturing, which is the first item on the negotiating table," said Monteiro, who visited Tehran last year with a group of Brazilian businessmen.

Monteiro noted that Brazil is interested in importing liquefied natural gas from Iran.

Despite the weaker real, Brazilian industries continue to struggle as dwindling confidence, high interest rates and rising unemployment sap local demand.