Brazil: Lula’s Making Eyes at China

     Brazil: Lula's Making 
Eyes at China

    Among the agreements
    Brazil President Lula hopes to sign in
    China is one in the area of tourism, which would include Brazil
    as an itinerary approved by Beijing. This would create direct
    flights between the two countries. By 2010, 100 million Chinese
    will be traveling around the world, but only to authorized places.
    by: Gabriela


    Thursday, May 20th, on a national radio and television hookup,
    President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva presented a balance sheet of his
    500 days in office. The first part of the program was devoted to his trip
    to China, where he departed this Friday. According to Lula, the journey represents
    a "mission of the utmost importance to the country," since the objective
    is to expand trade with that nation.

    Lula presented data that
    prove China’s current strategic importance for Brazil. "China, with its
    1.3 billion inhabitants, is the fastest-growing country in the world at this
    moment and one of the countries that buys the most. Its volume of imports
    today reaches the astronomical figure of US$ 412 billion. Since last year
    our government has made the strategic decision to draw closer and closer to
    China," the President affirmed.

    He informed that, last
    year alone, Brazil exported US$ 4.5 billion to China. Lula said he intends
    to increase this volume, since the exports to China are currently concentrated
    in soybeans, mineral ores, and steel products. "We have the quality and
    competitive prices to grow substantially in other areas in which China buys
    a great deal, such as electro-electronic devices, sporting goods, chicken,
    beef, coffee, cellulose, airplanes, and automobiles. Without mentioning the
    alcohol extracted from sugar cane, ethanol, which China may need, a lot, since
    it has 171 cities with over 1 million residents."

    For the President, trips
    like the one to China, in addition to consolidating "the great progress
    that Brazil is achieving in foreign trade," can also have direct impacts
    on the country. "Increasing exports to countries that are major buyers,
    like China, is one of the most reliable and solid ways to accelerate our own
    domestic sector, mobilizing and strengthening our economy and thus helping
    to create the jobs we so badly need," he pointed out.

    New Investments

    Around US$ 3 billion is
    the total of investments expected to result from Lula’s visit to China. The
    Vale do Rio Doce Company alone will conclude an agreement worth US$ 2 billion
    with its Chinese counterpart Baosteel to install a steel plant in the state
    of Maranhão.

    China is the Vale’s biggest
    customer. Last year the company exported nearly US$ 1 billion to that country.
    The same performance should be repeated this year. This amount represents
    11 percent of the Vale’s iron ore shipments.

    "The partnership
    with China is strategic for a country like Brazil, which wants to grow. China
    has a high savings rate and aspirations to invest in other countries. This
    is the case with our association," observes Fábio Barbosa, corporate
    executive director of finance.

    Barbosa, who was secretary
    of the National Treasury during Fernando Henrique Cardoso’s administration,
    recalls that China’s development has made the country a good buyer, "extremely
    open," and capable of teaching Brazil the paths to growth.

    In 2003, China exported
    US$ 436 billion and imported US$ 413 billion, for a trade surplus close to
    US$ 20 billion. "The surplus is similar to Brazil’s, except that their
    trade flow was five times greater, almost US$ 850 billion," he pointed
    out, comparing it with Brazil’s trade flow of US$ 150 billion. The Chinese
    Gross Domestic Product is US$ 1.3 trillion, while Brazil’s is US$ 500 billion.

    In the agricultural sphere,
    the two governments will sign an agreement to exchange information about research
    on animal and plant hygiene and disease prevention.

    The goal, according to
    the commercial attaché of the Brazilian embassy in China, José
    Mário Ferreira Filho, is to encourage understandings over research
    procedures and methods concerning food security, laws, and norms.

    Such an agreement, he
    contends, will avert distressing incidents like the one that occurred two
    weeks ago, when four Brazilian soybean export firms were punished by the Chinese
    quarantine (inspection agency) for selling soybeans containing high levels
    of chemical substances.

    Ferreira Filho assured
    that the incident, which happened a few days before the signing of agreements
    in the agricultural sphere, will not harm the understandings with China.

    Another accord that is
    expected to be concretized during President Lula’s stay in China is in the
    area of tourism, with Brazil’s inclusion as an itinerary approved by the Chinese
    government. This will permit the establishment of direct flights between the
    two countries.

    It is estimated that,
    in 2010, around 100 million Chinese tourists will travel around the world.
    But only to authorized destinations. To avail itself of this opportunity,
    the Brazilian aviation company, Varig, opened an office in Beijing in March.

    Gabriela Guerreiro works for Agência Brasil (AB), the official press
    agency of the Brazilian government. Comments are welcome at

    from the Portuguese by David Silberstein.

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