Protectionism is good for no-one: Brazil finance minister

"Protectionism, at the end of the day, is good for no-one," Brazilian Finance Minister, Henrique Meirelles, told CNBC on Monday in Davos, Switzerland, reflecting on whether President-elect Donald Trump's promises to rip up trade agreements will be good for the global economy.

Meirelles said it would be intriguing to see how the incoming Trump administration works together, given some differences of opinion between him and his proposed cabinet.

The Brazilian financial minister also questioned whether Trump would be able to deliver on bold pledges made during the election campaign.

Brazil’s Finance Minister, Henrique Meirelles.
Brazil’s Finance Minister, Henrique Meirelles.

"It will be interesting to see how it actually plays out," he said, noting that "it is very hard to say that there is one person who completely understands him."

Turning to his home country, Meirelles sounded a positive tone, saying that 2017 will be a year of improving fortunes for Brazil, which has been mired in the fiscal, economic and political doldrums in recent years.

"Brazil is now on a recovery path," he claimed, adding that "our expectation is that Brazil will be growing by the end of the first quarter."

The finance minister added that a series of reforms aimed at boosting productivity and overhauling labor laws, the pension system and the complex tax code will be addressed this year by parliament.

"By 2018, the situation is going to be completely different," he pledged.

Last year saw the country rocked by a series of corruption scandals plaguing the country's leadership and entangling many senior politicians from former President Dilma Rousseff down. Meirelles told CNBC that it was now being addressed and that Brazil will come out much stronger.

Asked whether the government can now be trusted, Meirelles gave a cautious vote of confidence.

"I think so."

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