By Maria Lopez Conde, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – A delegation of Brazilian businessmen and ministers headed by the vice president Michel Temer are visiting China in an effort to strengthen relations between the two countries. It is the first official visit to China by a group of Brazilian dignitaries since president Xi Jinping took office in March 2013.
It is hoped that the trip will foster cooperation between Brazil and China in the areas of trade, infrastructure, science and technology, and education, as part the Ten-Year Plan of Cooperation implemented by the two nations in April 2011.
“We are going there during the Ten-Year Plan and the event is taking place precisely as a new government establishes itself in China. The intensification of these diplomatic relations are more than inevitable, I’d say they are desirable,” Temer said in an interview with Agência Brasil.
Members of the Sino-Brazilian High Level Commission of Coordination and Cooperation (COSBAN), which is headed by the vice president Temer, will meet with China’s vice premier, Wang Yang, on November 6th in Guangzhou.
The commission is the most important tool of dialogue between China and Brazil, addressing issues of mutual interest such as economics, education, agriculture policies, energy and technology.
Minister of Agriculture Antônio Andrade, minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Marco Antonio Raupp, Civil Aviation minister Moreira Franco and representatives from the Brazilian Central Bank will also take part in the meeting scheduled for November.
According to Temer, the two countries will discuss issues of bilateral interest, such as Brazil’s Ciência sem Fronteiras (Science Without Borders) education program and the construction of satellites, as well as the future introduction of Brazilian meat to the Chinese market.
China is Brazil’s most important trading partner, worth US$6.5 billion in 2003 and growing to as much as US$77 billion by the end of 2011. Chinese investments in Brazil have also leaped from US$292 million in 2009 to US$20 billion in 2010, and interdependence that has been accelerated by Brazil’s economic growth.
Brazil lacks the internal resources to invest in infrastructure and best exploit its vast resources, however, while China, with its abundant capital, needs the South American giant’s raw materials. In recent years, Brazil has also become a key market for China’s exports, an issue that has proved contentious as economists argued that President Dilma Rousseff raised duties on Chinese imports in an effort to make them less affordable for Brazilian consumers and push them back towards products made at home.
China’s prominence in Brazil was perfectly evidenced by its role in the five-way consortium that won the bid to produce oil from the Libra Field, Brazil’s largest pre-salt oil reserve, last week. Oil companies CNOOC and CNPC each hold ten percent of interests in the country’s biggest oil find, bringing the two’s energy interests closer than ever before.