In a meeting Wednesday, January 4, with Brazilian diplomats (among them more than 60 ambassadors) President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva presented a balance sheet on the government’s international relations in 2005, with special emphasis on trade, declaring that the country will continue to seek to intensify and diversify those relations.
According to Foreign Minister, Celso Amorim, although Lula’s foreign travels have been criticized by some, "The fact is that they have brought a lot of dollars and euros back to Brazil. Ten percent of our trade surplus, omitting petroleum purchases, now comes from Arab and African nations. And Latin American is becoming our principal trade partner."
Amorim explained that the Lula government has made those areas priorities in its foreign policy.
Brazilian exports in 2005 reached a record US$ 118.3 billion, with increased sales in all regions of the world. The highlights were in "non-traditional" areas, such as Eastern Europe (where Brazilian exports rose 55.8%), Africa (up 41.4%), South America -excluding Mercosur – (up 27.5%) and Asia (up 16.7%).
Amorim pointed out that even with the emphasis on new markets, exports to traditional trade partners in Europe and the US had also risen to record levels.
Exports to the EU rose over 10% to US$ 26.5 billion, and to the US were up 12.2% to US$ 22.7 billion, at the same time that imports by Brazil from those areas also increased sharply.