French President Jacques Chirac begins this week a four days state visit to Brazil and Chile to tighten political links with countries committed to "multilateralism" and international solidarity as well as to strengthen trade.
"We must go to where the world economy is growing, where the great development poles are to show France’s success and capabilities", said on Monday Jerome Bonnafont the Elysée Palace spokesperson, who described Brazil and Chile as "two examples" in the region.
President Chirac will be arriving Wednesday, May 24 with a delegation of five cabinet ministers, members of academia and culture and businessmen in Brazil, a country with which France has a very strong "political dialogue and understanding".
This will be President Chirac’s third visit to Brazil but the first of a French president to Chile since 1964, when General Charles de Gaulle toured most of South America.
Among the issues in the Chilean agenda are the sale of a satellite for civilian and military purposes and cooperation agreements in the fields of health, research and technology.
With Chile Chirac will celebrate its "democratic standing, economic and social progress plus reinforcing alliance with a country committed to multilateralism and international solidarity", emphasized the French spokesperson.
France is also interested in promoting French companies in the Chilean market where they only have a minimum 2.3% market hold.
Another issue in the agenda is how to address the risk of "disenchantment with democracy", an apparently growing phenomenon in the region plus helping to promote social development.
"Although the European economic-social model does not have an export vocation, it can serve as an inspiration".
In Brazil president Chirac will intensify "strategic" cooperation, support the economic modernization process and the fight against poverty.
The need for Latinamerica to strive for "regional cohesion" and play a role as a "world power" is one of the messages President Chirac will be delivering in Brasilia.
Another objective is to double trade in the next ten years and increase France’s share of the Brazilian market currently at 3.7%, half that of Germany’s.
The cooperation agreements to sign include a consulting mechanism on political issues; cooperation in language teaching, forestry management and improving competitiveness plus Mercosur/EU relations and the current Doha round in the framework of the World Trade Organization.
However, French officials were quick to add that Latinamerica exports far more farm industry produce to France and the EU than what it imports.
Military procurement talks which begun in 2005 are expected to continue with France trying to sell a "Scorpene" class conventional submarine to the Brazilian Navy.
Mercopress – www.mercopress.com