South America Calling

Report Says Brazil May Lift Foreign Land Purchase Restriction

Brazil's new government will review the 2010 decision to bar foreigners from buying significant tracts of farm land, a local press report said Wednesday.

According to O Globo, a local daily, advisors close to Brazil's Interim President Michel Temer want to overturn the six-year-old Attorney General ruling that limits land purchases by foreigners to small plots.

Back in 2010, the leftist government of President Dilma Rousseff took the step amid concerns that foreigners, more specifically the Chinese, were looking to buy up large swathes of grain land.

However, the Temer administration don't see any threat to sovereignty. The ban is 'totally out of proportion' to the threat, a source close to the new president told the newspaper.

Temer took over the presidency at the start of May, while impeachment proceedings against Rousseff are heard in the Senate. Temer has wasted no time in pushing a more market-friendly agenda. Commentators think it unlikely that Rousseff will return.

For a long period up until 2010, foreigners were allowed to buy land freely. However, alarmed by Chinese purchases in Africa the attorney general reinterpreted a 1971 law, creating restrictions.

According to O Globo, the government sees no legal impediment to reinstating a more permissive interpretation as part of a wider effort to attract foreign investment to pull Brazil out of one of the deepest recessions in its history.

In response, the Attorney General's Office issued a statement, affirming that no request had been made to review the legislation on the matter.

However, the plan has a significant opponent in the shape of Blairo Maggi, the new agriculture minister, who wants to maintain restrictions on the purchase of agricultural land for grain use.

The Presidential Palace did not respond to a request for comment for this article.

The Brazilian land market is very quiet at the moment, not helped by the downturn in the economy, restricted credit and lower grain prices.

Alastair Stewart can be reached at astewartbrazil@gmail.com

(ES)

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