SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP) _ Vice President Dan Quayle said Thursday that Brazil must change its laws if it hopes to attract U.S. investors.

''There is a direct correlation between investments and the advancement of legislative reforms,'' Quayle said at a press conference. ''The two go hand in hand.''

Quayle did not specify the changes, but Kevin C. Brennan, the commercial counselor at the U.S. embassy in Brasilia, said they included protecting foreign patents, loosening restrictions on computer imports and easing taxes on profit remittances.

Brazil, the world's 10th-largest economy, has come under fire for not respecting U.S. patents, especially on drugs.

The Brazilian government also has excluded foreigners from the country's lucrative micro-and mid-size computer market until next year.

The vice president raised eyebrows among local politicians when he called Brazil ''the engine that will help coordinate and carry Latin America forward.''

In the 1970s, President Richard Nixon paid a similar compliment to a visiting Brazilian military leader, Gen. Emilio Medici. The Brazilian government spent years trying to placate suspicious neighbors and denying ambitions of Latin American hegemony.

Quayle arrived Wednesday for a two-day visit. He was accompanied by Commerce Secretary Robert Mosbacher and eight U.S. businessmen.

Brazil is Quayle's third stop on a four-nation Latin American tour that included Venezuela and Argentina. He leaves Friday for Port-au-Prince, Haiti.