A meeting between Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva
and China's President Hu Jintao is expected to strengthen the two
nations' growing economic ties. China already trumps the US as
Brazil's top trading partner.
As Chinese President Hu Jintao visits Brazil on Thursday, he is
seeking to expand an already growing economic relationship that is
important to both emerging giants.
Trade between Brazil and China rose from $6.7 billion in 2003 to
$36.1 billion last year, according to Brazilian government figures.
Last year China even dislodged the US as Brazil's top trading
While some regional analysts have criticized China's growing
presence in the region and questioned its motives, most believe the
Asian giant is simply acting in its own economic interest. In the
last several years, the relationship between China and Latin America
has deepened, especially since Hu made a regional visit in 2004 that
ignited a steady climb in China's consumption of South American
On Thursday, Mr. Hu decided to cut short his visit and depart
after his meetings so he could get home and help deal with the
aftermath of an earthquake in Qinghai province that killed at least
Trade between China and the region is often seen as a simple
exchange of Latin American commodities like copper for Chinese
manufactured goods like televisions or radios. In the case of Brazil
last year, 76.8 percent of exports to China were basic products and
98.1 percent of Chinese imports were manufactured goods.
But Rodrigo Maciel, the executive secretary of the Brazil-China
Business Council, says many Brazilian companies are now raising
capital from Chinese firms and bringing in Chinese managerial and
"China is becoming a big investor in Brazil. It invested more
than $2 billion in the mining industry in the first three months of
the year. That is a lot of money, and it is very important. Those
investments will elevate the relationship and make it more serious,"
says Mr. Maciel, who just returned from a 35-day trip to China where
he was helping to broker business deals.
Maciel also helped organize two summits for this week where 75
Chinese companies are meeting with almost 300 Brazilian business
leaders to discuss future opportunities. "Many business people
understand that China is a potentially massive investor and they are
going there to look for partners."
According to O Estado de Sao Paulo, a leading Brazilian
newspaper, Chinese companies may invest in Brazil's vast oil
industry and get involved in the construction of a multi-billion
dollar high-speed train between Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, and