Brazil and China bolstered their growing ties with trade and investment agreements on Thursday in Brasília before a summit of the world’s top four emerging markets that was cut short after China’s leader decided to return home to deal with the aftermath of a major earthquake.
President Hu Jintao canceled visits to Venezuela and Chile because of the quake that killed more than 600 people, and his early return forced the so-called BRIC summit with Brazil, Russia and India to move forward by a day to Thursday evening.
The increasingly influential countries, which account for about 40% of the world’s population, are expected to use their second leaders’ summit to push demands that developing countries be given more say in global financial institutions.
Hu oversaw the signing of deals with Lula aimed at boosting trade and energy cooperation between the two emerging giants, which have grown closer in recent years amid a surge in trade flows.
Lula said a Chinese pledge to build a steel plant at a Brazilian port was also likely and that it would be China’s biggest investment ever in Latin America’s largest economy.
The leaders gave no details, but Brazilian media reported that China’s Wuhan Iron and Steel will build a plant in a port in Rio de Janeiro state with Brazilian logistics firm LLX Logistica, controlled by billionaire Eike Batista.
Lula also said China had expressed interest in bidding to construct a high-speed train line that is planned to connect Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.
“The possibility for Chinese companies to participate in the modernization of Brazil’s infrastructure is exceptional,” Lula said, citing Brazil’s preparations for the 2014 soccer World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.
Brazil’s recent discovery of vast offshore oil reserves has opened a new area of potential cooperation with resource-hungry China, which last year agreed to lend US$ 10 billion to Petrobras in return for guaranteed oil supply over the next decade.
“The two sides will deepen the bilateral partnership in the oil sector, with the participation of Brazilian companies in development and production in China and the participation of Chinese companies in development and production in Brazil,” said the official bilateral statement.
Brazil and China also agreed to boost Brazilian beef and tobacco exports to the Asian country, and to move forward with cooperation on satellite launches.
Hu said after meeting Lula that both countries were willing to increase cooperation on international affairs and to push for reform of the global financial system.
The countries also pledged to study the use of the real and the yuan, instead of the U.S. dollar, in bilateral trade. The statement didn’t mention the value of China’s currency.
The two leaders also discussed Iran. Brazil has opposed fresh sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program, arguing that negotiations have not been exhausted. President Lula is scheduled to visit Teheran next month.