The importance of regional integration for the strengthening of developing
countries was one of the main themes of President Luiz Inácio Lula
da Silva's speech at the University of Beijing. As an example, Lula cited
the G-20's achievements in the agricultural sphere.
"At the WTO (World
Trade Organization) Ministerial Meeting in Cancún in September, 2003,
the coordination among a significant group of developing countries, including
Brazil and China, proved decisive in transforming the dynamics of the negotiations,"
Lula also drew attention
to two recent conquests in the process of South American integration: the
incorporation of Peru into the Mercosur and the establishment of an agreement
considered "historical" with the Andean countries.
"With the convergence
of the two major blocs in South America, an economic and strategic alliance
is created that embraces a population of approximately 350 million inhabitants
and a GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of over a trillion dollars," he affirmed.
According to the President,
the partnership with Argentina is the mainstay of Brazil's South American
policy. Revitalization of the Mercosur is another fundamental question. The
Mercosur is currently engaged in negotiations with the European Union, India,
and the Southern African Customs Union over trade liberalization.
Relations between Brazil
and China were defined by the President as "emblematic." After citing
significant figures, such as the US$ 8 billion in bilateral trade in 2003,
Lula concluded: "We have the historical responsibility to make the China-Brazil
relationship a paradigm of the cooperation the world expects from the XXI
Nothing but the Future
President Lula told entrepreneurs
who attended the Brazil-China Business Seminar on Trade and InvestmentProspects
for the 21st Century that the two countries are taking a qualitative leap
in their relations, which complete thirty years of existence this year.
between China and Brazil is a relationship that has a clear tendency to grow
in the political as well as the cultural and commercial spheres. Brazil and
China harbor no disputes from the past. They have no historical quarrels,
and two giants like China and Brazil, without historical disagreements, will
be free to think only about the future," he declared.
Lula emphasized the intensification
of commercial and political relations since 2003. "Between January and
March of this year, exchanges between the two countries increased 60 percent,
compared with the same period in 2003," he said, highlighting the performance
of trade flows, which rose from US$ 1.5 billion in 2000 to US$ 6.7 billion
in 2003. The balance favors Brazil, which exported US$ 4.5 billion to China
Fourteen business agreements
were signed during the seminar, which gathered approximately 800 Brazilian
and Chinese entrepreneurs at the Beijing International Hotel. During the seminar
the Brazil-China Business Council, which will act as an intermediate in business
transactions between the two countries, was officially inaugurated.
Four agreements involve
the Vale do Rio Doce Company and Chinese steel industries. The most important
of these agreements constitutes a joint venture with the Shanghai Baosteel
Group to construct the São Luiz (Maranhão) Steel Center, designed
to produce 3.8 million tons of steel.
The agreement also provides
for the establishment of an ocean shipping line between the two countries
and the development in China of a project to produce coal for export to Brazil.
In its second agreement
the Vale Company and the Yukuang Group plan to develop a project to produce
coking coal for the Chinese market, as well as for export to Brazil and third-party
markets. The Brazilian mining giant's third agreement involves the production,
processing, and sale of coal in partnership with the Yongcheng Coal &
Electricity Group and the Shanghai Baosteel Group.
In a fourth agreement
the Vale Company formed a partnership with the China Aluminium Company (Chalco)
to mine bauxite and produce alumina (aluminum oxide). "We are very excited,
because Chalco is a strong firm, with an extremely important market, and it
wants to develop this partnership with Brazil," said Vale president Roger
Another substantial agreement
was drawn up between Petrobras and Sinopec, to extract petroleum in other
countries. The first countries where they are considering making investments
are Ecuador and Iran.
The Southern Thermoelectric
Company (RS) and the China National Machinery and Equipment Import and Export
Corporation will build a coal-powered thermoelectric plant in Cachoeira do
Sul, Rio Grande do Sul. The Pará Steel Company signed an agreement
with Minmetals Trading to purchase Chinese equipment and export ore to China.
Brazil's Foreign Trade Company (Comexport) and the China Brazil Investment,
Development, & Trade Corporation will exchange smelting coke, pig iron,
cotton, and sugar.
Agreements were also signed
between the Brazilian Bicycle Company and the Jinan Qingqi Motorcycle Corporation
to manufacture motorcycles.
The Telemar North East
"Oi" Company and China Mobile entered into an international roaming
agreement that will allow customers to use a single number from a single device
to make and receive calls.
There were two letters
of intention that will permit future agreements. One of them is between Varig
and Air China to schedule regular flights between Brazil and China. The other
involves the Three Marias export company and the Chinapack Hua Yuan International
Economic Cooperation company, which will sell Brazilian instant coffee.
More Brazil-China Flights
The establishment of regular
flights between Brazil and China will help eliminate a bottleneck that impedes
tourism from growing in Brazil. This evaluation was made by the Rio de Janeiro
state secretary of Tourism, Sérgio Ricardo de Almeida. Variga
Brazilian airlinewill inaugurate the Brazil-China route in August with
four weekly flights, following the itinerary Rio-São Paulo-Munich-Beijing.
Seats on Varig's Brazil-China
flight are expected to cost US$ 2.8 thousand in economy, US$ 6 thousand in
executive, and US$ 10 thousand in first class. Incentives or promotions, however,
should be offered, reducing the fares. Two of the company's airplanes should
be assigned to this route.
Varig's director for Europe,
the Middle East, and Africa, Carlos Muzzio, declared that, besides the beginning
of regular flights between Brazil and China, the authorization conceded to
Brazil by the Chinese government opens large possibilities for a greater flow
of Chinese tourists to Brazil and, therefore, to South America.
"The warranty the
Chinese government is giving Brazil is very significant. It is an incentive
for Chinese tourists to come to our country," said Muzzio, who added
that this will help increase business as well as leisure tourism.
Brazil's Minister of Tourism,
Walfrido Mares Guia, expects that, with the establishment of regular flights
to China, Brazil will receive one hundred thousand Chinese tourists annually.
Muzzio believes that this figure will be surpassed in the medium run. The
route should also attract tourists from Eastern Europe, Russia, and Slovenia
to Brazil via Beijing, the Varig director believes.
Edla Lula works for Agência Brasil (AB), the official press agency
of the Brazilian government. Comments are welcome at email@example.com.
from the Portuguese by David Silberstein.