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Brazzil - Foreign Policy - August 2003
 

Brazil's Lula and the United States of South America

Talking in Peru, Lula said that integration in South America will
make it possible to change the course of history. He also made
a point that this idea shouldn't remain simply a matter of polite
conversation. He suggested that time-frames be set for
these continental projects to become reality.

AB

 

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva classified as "inhuman" the trade relations among rich and poor countries, in a joint statement issued with the President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez. Lula said that the rich countries want to get richer and that the tendency for poor countries is to become increasingly poorer.

"We want trade to be free, and we also want the opportunity to prove that, the more open trade relations become, the more competitive we shall be, and, who knows, maybe one day we shall join the company of rich countries," he completed.

The Presidents of Brazil and Venezuela signed agreements and protocols of intention that will allow mutual investments between the two countries, in order to increase physical integration between the territories of both countries.

The Brazilian Minister of Development, Industry, and Foreign Trade, Luiz Fernando Furlan, explained that the agreement signed between Brazil and Venezuela in the area of infrastructure opens a credit line worth US$ 1 billion, through the National Economic and Social Development Bank (BNDES), which will be used over the course of time for specific projects involving the export of Brazilian goods and services.

Concrete Integration

Lula told an audience of Peruvian workers' and civil society organizations that integration in South America will make it possible to change the course of history. Still, the Brazilian leader made a point of saying that this idea shouldn't remain simply a matter of polite conversation.

In the opinion of the Brazilian President, what is fundamental is the physical integration of countries, through the construction of highways, railroads, waterways, and other infrastructural projects, as well as a willingness to create a more harmonious educational and cultural policy among the countries that belong to the continent. He also suggested that time-frames be set for projects to become reality.

Lula also referred to another type of integration, based on objectives. "We discovered that, if we assemble a political front, we can extract much greater advantages from our rich partners. The expression we use that "There is power in unity" is not limited to social and union campaigns; it also applies to governments"

As far as President Lula is concerned, the Mercosur has plenty of opponents. "We suffer from cultural and economic inferiority, and, why not say it, a large degree of political submission to countries able to invest in Brazil. This is equally true of Peru and the rest of South America," President Lula remarked, during his meeting with civil and labor organizations at the Peruvian University of San Marcos (the first university established in the Americas, four hundred and fifty years ago).

Yesterday afternoon, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva paid a visit in Lima to the Peruvian Supreme Court, where he received the decoration of the Peruvian Order of Justice, after which he held a working session with Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo, to sign agreements between the two countries to augment commercial relations.

Brazil's age-old aspiration to have access to the Pacific Ocean is beginning to turn into reality. Lula's visit to Peru included agreements with the Peruvian government on major infrastructure projects. Among them, the construction of highways, roads, ports, and bridges which will link the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. According to the executive secretary of the Chamber of Foreign Trade (Camex), Mário Mugnaini, the intention is to provide Brazil with an export route to Asia via the Pacific coast. That will give soybean production a big boost, especially in the Center-West and the Amazon regions.

"In order to pay for these projects, the Brazilian government has to have US$ 700 million on hand. But it is an investment that will reduce the cost of transporting Brazilian products to Asian markets significantly. First, the trip will be shortened by eight days. That will amount to a savings of US$ 40 per ton of exported soybeans," Mugnaini explained.

FTAA and South America

In his visit to Peru, President Lula sought to improve trade relations between the two countries, in spite of trade barriers imposed by wealthy countries. Lula has declared that the Free Trade Area of the Americas agreement cannot be permitted to suffocate the growth of Brazil and its neighbors, such as Peru. On the contrary, says the Brazilian president, the FTAA must narrow and strengthen regional commercial, political and cultural relations. Lula has also declared that the FTAA cannot create advantages for some and leave others behind.

As for Peru, Lula said that, "The closer our relations, politically, in the commercial sector, in the labor sector, the greater our chances are to do business with each other and break down trade barriers."

Lula explained that he does not want generosity from developed nations, just a fair deal so Brazil and its neighbors can develop. "That is the message I want to give to president Alejandro Toledo. I am an optimist. A natural optimist, because for someone who came from where I come from to be where I am today, you have to believe in the ability of people to overcome difficulties..."

 

The material for this article was supplied by Agência Brasil (AB), the official press agency of the Brazilian government. Comments are welcome at lucas@radiobras.gov.br

 









 
 
 







 



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