China passes EU as Brazil's top destination for agri-exports

Updated: 2014-04-07 05:47

By ELIANA KIRSHENBLAT in New York (China Daily Latin America)

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China surpassed the European Union last year as Brazil's largest export country for agricultural products, and it's because of soybeans, according to the latest data from the Brazilian Agriculture and Brazilian Fisheries Department.

Soybean exports to China in 2012 totaled 22.8 million metric tons; they were zero in 1995. More than 45 percent of Brazil's grain production has been soybeans since 2011, according to the agriculture ministry, and more than 48 percent of Brazil's exported grain went to China with about 28 percent going to the EU in 2012.

China and Latin America have steadily been increasing ties for years and China is already Brazil's largest trading partner overall.

Agricultural output in Brazil has averaged more than 4.3 percent growth per year for 2001-2010, according to data from the country's agriculture ministry and the annual Global Agricultural Productivity (GAP) report released by the Global Harvest Initiative (GHI)

Brazil has improved its infrastructure and technology to ensure the best crop yield, according to the GAP report, including reducing internal transportation costs and allowing soybean production to move from southern areas to regions near ports.

China becoming Brazil's top exporting country is due to a relationship that amounts to a "partnership'', said Sidney Nakahodo, a lecturer on political, social and economic development in Brazil at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs.

"Brazil and China enjoy a very good relationship, more so than even with the US and EU," he said in an interview with China Daily.

Other than soybeans, most of Brazil's other agricultural exports go to the US and EU, but China is still a more important market, Nakahodo said.

"Over time, exports to China have happened faster than to the US and EU and exports to China have been consistent over the past three, four years. This is a very different scenario than 10 years ago when the US had the top spot," he said.

"The United States and Brazil enjoy a deep economic and commercial relationship,'' Lori Crowley, a public affairs specialist for the International Trade Administration, wrote in an email to China Daily. "In recent years, the United States and Brazil have effectively collaborated on many different issues and commercial ties have strengthened considerably.

Two-way merchandise trade has more than doubled in less than a decade, reaching $71.7 billion in 2013, she wrote, with US foreign direct investment (FDI) in Brazil totaling $79.4 billion at the end of 2012 and Brazilian FDI in the US was $14.0 billion in 2012.