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Saudi Arabia holds investment summit in Brazil, plans to invest $15B

Brazil’s energy minister said Saudi Arabia plans to invest $15 billion in the South American country, bolstering already strong economic relations based largely on mining, meat and oil.
Brazil's Minister of Mines and Energy Alexandre Silveira de Oliveira speaks during the CERAWeek oil summit in Houston, Texas, on March 19, 2024.

Saudi Arabia is set to invest billions of dollars in Brazil, a Brazilian official said at a conference in Rio de Janeiro this week, as mining, trade and geopolitical developments drive the kingdom’s interest in the South American country.

Brazil’s energy minister, Alexandre Silveira, told reporters at the FII Institute summit on Wednesday that the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) plans to invest around $15 billion in Brazil. The investments will be made in sectors including green hydrogen, infrastructure and renewable energy, he said, according to Reuters. The sovereign wealth fund did not immediately comment.

The FII Institute, a Saudi nonprofit backed by the PIF, is hosting its Invest in Dignity summit in the Rio de Janeiro's luxurious Copacabana Palace hotel. The institute focuses on investments that have a “positive impact on humanity,” including artificial intelligence, education, health care and sustainability. PIF Governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan is chairman of the institute, according to its website.

This year’s summit began on Tuesday, will conclude Thursday and is the first to be held in Latin America. It features presentations and meetings focused on AI, technology, energy and the “Geoeconomics of a New Global Order,” per the official schedule.

Why it matters: Among the Brazilian companies represented at the event are mining multinational Vale, meat processing giant JBS S.A. and digital banking platform Nu Holdings Ltd, according to Bloomberg.

Both mining and meat are particularly relevant to the Saudi-Brazilian relationship. According to Bloomberg, Brazil, which is the world’s largest halal meat supplier, began exporting chicken to Saudi Arabia in the 1970s. Last month, Saudi Arabia’s Manara Minerals bought 10% of Vale’s metals business for $2.5 billion.

The kingdom is keen on developing its mining sector and launched a $182 million incentive program to lure mining investors in March.

Trade between Saudi Arabia and Brazil is largely based on meat and energy at present. Brazil exported $2.92 billion to Saudi Arabia in 2022, 29% of which was poultry meat. Saudi Arabia exported $4.78 billion to Brazil that year, mostly crude and refined petroleum, according to the Observatory of Economic Complexity.

Know more: The FII Institute took place concurrently with the BRICS meeting in Russia, which concluded on Tuesday. Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan traveled to the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod for the event, and Brazil, a founding member of BRICS, sent its foreign minister, Mauro Vieira.

Saudi Arabia was invited to join BRICS last year along with the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Iran and Ethiopia. Those four countries joined in January, but Saudi Arabia is reportedly still considering the offer.

The FII Institute summit program noted BRICS as part of its "Geoeconomics of a New Global Order" theme.

In November of last year, Brazil reportedly decided to join the Saudi-led OPEC+ group of oil producers, but President Lula da Silva said the following month that Brasilia seeks only an observer role.

In September, the UAE state-owned defense tech firm EDGE Group acquired a 50% stake in the Brazilian high-tech weapons systems company SIATT.