The first ever summit between the European Union and Brazil is taking place in Portugal marking the start of what both sides hope will become a new "strategic" partnership on issues such as energy, climate change and human rights.
Portugal, which has just taken over the EU rotating presidency, said the Lisbon summit with the emerging Latin American economy had been a priority.
Portuguese Prime Minister José Sócrates and European Commission President José Manuel Durão Barroso hosted the talks this Wednesday, July 4, with Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
Brazil during the 2003/2005 period has been the country which most European Union investments received, over US$ 107 billion and in a recent report from the EU was praised as a "strategic partner."
In recent years "Brazil has undergone a significant growth as a global player in international affairs and a key interlocutor for the EU," besides the fact "it has become the main economic actor in Latinamerica and leader of the region". The report also underlines the political stability and governance achieved by Brazil.
Brazil is one of the so called BRIC member countries identified by Goldman Sachs, Brazil, Russia, India, China which have in common extensive territories, numerous population, abundant natural resources and have lately shown significant growth rates and participation in world trade, conditions which makes them particularly attractive for foreign investors.
Brazil and India are leading players in global trade negotiations which aim at a significant reduction of agriculture subsidies and tariffs particularly by the rich countries, European Union and United States.
But the EU and the US are demanding that developing nations open their markets to industrial goods and services.
According to reports from Buenos Aires, the "strategic" alliance of Brazil with the European Union surprised Mercosur members who apparently were not aware of the extent of the understanding to be sealed.
"This goes to show how bad things are inside the block. Mercosur members asked EU diplomats when they read about the initiative in the local press," admits Argentina's Secretary of Trade and International Economic Relations Alfredo Chiaradia.
"When we asked the Brazilians they replied it was a unilateral decision from the EU, but as long as trade negotiations are left out, supposedly there's nothing to object," said Chiaradia.