China, Brazil strengthen close ties

Updated: 2014-07-18 13:53

By Wu Jiao in Brasilia and Zhao Shengnan in Beijing (China Daily USA)

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China and Brazil, the two leading emerging economies, consolidated their booming partnership on Thursday with more than 50 cooperation agreements in economic, cultural and political sectors signed during Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Brazil.

In addition to finance, industry and aviation accords, the two nations sealed a long-awaited memorandum of understanding on railway construction to help improve Brazil's infrastructure, as well as energy sector cooperation.

Observers said the rail initiative would give the Latin American economy greater efficiency for exports of its large-scale commodities, with the burgeoning Asian market being added to the traditional European one.The attractiveness of Chinese investment is not just a question of cash or exports, but the ability to bring major upgrades in infrastructure and to open up areas of the continent's interior, a key goal for Brazil and other countries, observers added.

On Thursday, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff gave Xi a red-carpet reception for his first state visit to Brasilia, with a 21-gun salute and horse guards.Calling Xi "Dear President", Rousseff, in a shinning red overcoat, said at a joint press briefing that an evaluation of the current bilateral ties "cannot be higher", with cooperation "gaining momentum in both quality and quantity".

Xi,visiting Brasilia after a BRICS summit that gave developing nations an alternative source of funding to Western-dominated multilateral financial institutions, said that those accords will facilitate the China-Brazil partnership and consolidate their confidence in the future of bilateral cooperation.

Among the agreements, the signing of a memorandum of understanding on railway construction means that the two countries are to begin a feasibility study on a 1,630-km railway project in the central part of Brazil, linking Lucas do Rio Verde and Campinorte. It will be crucial for the transportation of soybean from the middle-west part of the country.

Brazilian officials have long expressed their desire to see Chinese rail companies get more involved in the nation's infrastructure program, highlighting the competitiveness and experience of China, home of the world's largest rail network.The railway project came on the heels of Xi's proposal to form a trilateral working group to guide plans to build a railway across the continent from Peru's Pacific coast to the Brazil's Atlantic coast.Shen Yun'ao, former Chinese ambassador to Brazil and Argentina, said Latin America would continue to be one of world's top suppliers of raw materials.

Shen also said that the size of territory, population and economy in China and Brazil give their ties a promising future.

Trade between China and Brazil soared to $83.3 billion last year from $3.2 billion in 2002, with iron ore, soy and oil the bulk of Brazilian exports, making China the South American nation's biggest trade partner.According to the National Association of Rail Transporters in Brazil, the country's railroad system transported a total of 490,000 tons of materials in 2013. Coal and iron ore accounted for more than 75 percent of total goods.In less than two decades, China has emerged as the biggest trade partner with Brazil, Chile and Peru, and is set to overtake the European Union as the region's second-largest trade partner in 2016, according to United Nation's figures.Su Zhenxing, an expert on Latin American studies from Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Latin America has long targeted diversifying its diplomatic and economic relations, which were once dominated by its relationship with the US and Europe, with growing attention to Asia.

The improved railway in Brazil, the largest economy in Latin America, would help its exports and communications with Asian countries including China by reducing transportation costs and time, he said.

Su noted that trade of raw materials does not represent the whole picture of the China-Brazil economic relations as both sides are making efforts to balance their booming trade, and Brazil is increasing exports of high value-added products such as regional aircraft.

Among the slew of accords, two Chinese companies also signed deals to buy 60 regional aircraft from Brazil.

Zhou Zhiwei, a researcher on Brazilian studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the China-Brazil relations are a key part of Beijing's diplomacy to promoting South-South cooperation (among developing countries in the southern hemisphere).

Such ties, with the nature of major countries' relationship, have had a global influence, said Zhou.

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 China, Brazil strengthen close ties

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Brazilian counterpart Dilma Rousseff shake hands during their meeting in Brasilia, Brazil, on Thursday. Lan Hongguang / Xinhua

(China Daily USA 07/18/2014 page1)