In recent months Spain and Brazil have experienced a number of problems affecting their relationship. Strong efforts have been made to try and resolve these difficulties, culminating in the recent visit to Brazil of the Spanish King, Juan Carlos 1.
The main purpose of his visit (at least the main one declared and admitted) is to boost two-way economic links between the countries. This has clear implications of course for the billions of that constantly ebb and flow in both long-term and short term investments and commerce (and its potential for growth or shrinkage) between the two Atlantic countries. After all, last year alone mutual trade between Spain and Brazil was the equivalent of over eight billion US dollars. However, and despite this, one of the main areas of dissension between them is the thorny issue of immigration. Both feel this has now got to be treated with the urgency that they feel it merits. Unsurprisingly, given the circumstances, the starting point for last week’s tasks was a declaration of mutual respect by the Spanish and the Brazilians. In addition, the discussion between Juan Carlos and the Brazilian President, Dilma Rousseff had a particularly cordial and constructive tone. This was evident when the two Heads of State conferred about the spate of unfortunate mutual deportations of each other’s citizens that have so soured the recent relations between both nations.
After he arrived last week, the Spanish King and his staff also met with Antonio Patriota, the Brazilian Minister of External Relations, as well as Dilma herself. Among the Spanish delegation were also a number of leading business executives. These included those from Santander (the Eurozone’s largest bank) and communications giant Telefonica (which already operates in Brazil under the name Vivo).
Also present were representatives from Iberia, the Spanish Airline. All these (and others) are clearly seeking to expand their own financial and commercial interests. Underpinning all this however, this recent set of discussions also focused on concerns about Spain’s current economic woes and the steps involving the EU to try and fix them. Brazil is seeking assurances that the 'right' actions will be taken by all concerned. A side issue is the increasing influx of Spanish workers coming to Brazil in the past months. In the last full year, for example, The Brazilian Ministry of Employment declared that the total of work visas issued to Spaniards went up by over thirty percent compared to the previous year.
In contrast, there have been a number of high-profile cases of Brazilians being refused entry or work permission when they sought these from Spain. In most instances, the reasons given hinged on the declined applicants not having the right paperwork. This is suspected by some of possibly being more of an excuse than a reason. Despite these admittedly serious upsets, the economic relationship between the two countries demands that solutions be found. Following these meetings between the two trading partners, both the Spanish and the Brazilians expressed optimism. Subsequent announcements by both the King and the President looked forward to an even better relationship in future.