Government Is Preparing a Dubai Plan to Replace the Manaus Free Trade Zone

Program hopes to stimulate biopharmaceuticals, tourism, defense, mining and fish farming

The Secretary of Productivity, Employment, and Competitiveness (SEPEC) is preparing a new economic development project for the Amazon region that it hopes will help the government end the Manaus Free Trade Zone tax incentives.

The program aims to stimulate five economic are - biopharmaceuticals, tourism, defense, mining, and fish farming - so that, by 2073, the companies in the region can produce at least the equivalent of the subsidies now granted by the government—around R$ 25 billion (US$ 6,4 billion)  per year.

Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro. Foto: Cesar Sales/AM Press & Images/Folhapress

Carlos da Costa, secretary of SEPEC, has informally named the new Amazon economy plan the "Dubai plan," which references the middle eastern emirate that foresaw the end of its oil and gas reserves.

With the scarcity of oil and gas certain in the future, the emirate decided to invest in tourism and financial sectors that would stabilize the economy. Today, oil only represents 6% of the emirate's GDP. The construction and trade sector already make up almost 40% of Dubai's wealth generation.

In an era of greater fiscal tightening, Sepec economists want to finalize a plan capable of attracting companies to the Manaus Free Trade Zone that are not exclusively electronics or motorcycles.

"I found that China produces more fish [in captivity] from the Amazon region than Brazil," says the secretary. "It's unbelievable that we do not have such an industry in the region."

Mining is another economic area the secretary hopes to stimulate. "Rational" mineral exploration in the Amazon is one of the projects defended by President Jair Bolsonaro, including that in protected areas.

Translated by Kiratiana Freelon

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