Brazil Unveils Plan to Revive Industrial Sector

Government incentives and investments in infrastructure aim to breathe new life into the sector.

Brazil unveiled a new package of measures on April 3 aimed at boosting economic growth and breathing new life into its struggling industrial sector.

"The government is launching these new measures to strengthen the Brazilian economy and respond to the problems created by the crisis of the world economy," Finance Minister Guido Mantega told the country's top industrialists and labor leaders at an event attended by President Dilma Rousseff.

After it was announced last month that the economy grew a mere 2.7 percent and industry by only 1.6 percent, the federal government pledged new steps to boost growth.

The new measures, intended to help exporters, complement a package of industry incentives launched by the government last August.

They also include plans for government purchases of national products up to 25 percent more expensive than imported ones in sectors such as construction machinery and medicines.

The government also plans to bolster the information technology and communications sectors by purchasing computers for schools and extending broadband service across the country.

The auto industry will also receive fresh help while there will be an increase in government financing for industry and exporters.

Mantega did not rule out new measures to curb the appreciation of the real against the dollar as well as steps to combat unfair foreign competition.

"This is not protectionism," he insisted.

Brazil, Latin America's dominant power and the world's sixth largest economy, has been blaming the real's appreciation on a "currency war" waged by advanced countries, which are flooding the market with dollars through cheap credit.

The foreign currency influx into countries such as Brazil, which offers high interest rates, lead to a stronger real and increased imports, and makes Brazil's exports more expensive.

Three weeks ago, the National Confederation of Industry (CNI) appealed for urgent government action to boost the industrial sector.

CNI President Robson Braga called for measures, including hastening the delivery of environmental licenses, and introducing incentives to boost investment in infrastructure and reduce red tape.

In 2011, the government moved to strengthen the industry with tax incentives for high-employment sectors such as automobiles and defense.


Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012


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