Share this



Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva starts a visit to China on Sunday in a bid to forge an alliance that will lead developing nations to international economic prominence.

The two have already had some success against the world trading powers and Lula, a champion of the poor and oppressed, said "this is perhaps the most important visit of my mandate."

The Brazilian leader is to visit Beijing and Shanghai from May 23-27, 30 years after the two countries established diplomatic ties.

Lula said his visit will "consolidate strategic relations" across the board, including trade, scientific, cultural and military relations.

"We will form a broad alliance," the 59-year-old former union firebrand told reporters here late Tuesday.

He said that as two of the most important developing nations, Brazil and China "share similar interests regarding their social needs, imperatives of growth and communal thinking in the United Nations and World Trade Organization."

The two joined forces last year to launch the G-20 group of developing nations that brought WTO talks in Cancun, Mexico to a standstill over demands that rich countries eliminate farm subsidies.

They also opposed the US-led invasion of Iraq.

Lula said Brazil and China saw eye-to-eye in the need to "democratize the United Nations." Brazil is trying to build support for its efforts to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council, like China.

"Brazil wants to forge a political force that will give developing nations clout in the interantional organizations that control world politics, economy and trade," Lula told reporters.

China and Brazil have also joined forces to prospect for oil in Africa and Brazil's state-run Petrobras oil company will soon open an office in Beijing. They jointly run CBERS satellites and market satellite-images of Earth. There are plans for two more launches.

To boost trade relations with the Asian giant, Lula will travel to China with seven cabinet ministers and 400 businessmen, especially in the farming sector. Twenty-nine percent of Brazil's 4.5 billion dollars in trade with China in 2003 came from soy beans.

Last year, Brazil ran a 2.39 billion dollar trade surplus with China, an increase of 246 percent from 2002, primarily in commodities including soy beans, iron and lumber. Lula would like to boost trade in higher value products.

Brazilian businessmen have no fear of China's attempts to reel in its runaway economic growth.

"Even if China's gross national product shrinks by one or two percentage points in 2004 (in 2003 China's GDP was 9.1 percent), it will still be awesome," one government official said.

And the "Chinese dream" of Brazil's business community is not restricted to meeting a minimal demand of China's 1.3 billion inhabitants; they also want Chinese investment.

Lula's Minister of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade, Luiz Fernando Furlan, estimated Chinese investment in Brazil in the next few years could reach five billion dollars, above all in infrastructure development such as port facilities, railways and gas pipelines.

Finally, Brazil seeks to expand the Chinese market for its aviation industry leader Embraer and compressor manufacturer Embraco.

It also wants to sell China its ethanol technology to make more energy efficient vehicles, recalling that Beijing has made a commitment to slash pollution levels before it hosts the 2008 Olympics.Agence France Presse: