By José Romildo
Chinese authorities are willing to meet with Brazilian officials to negotiate and seek a possible way to reduce or eliminate the tariffs imposed on Brazilian chicken and sugar, said China’s Ambassador to Brazil Li Jinzhang. However, “this is a technical issue,” he added. “Talks must be conducted with relevant agencies and specialists if an adequate solution is to be found,” the diplomat argued.
The topic was among the issues discussed by Brazilian President Michel Temer and China’s Xi Jinping during the 10th summit meeting of Brics—a bloc formed by Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. The assembly was held in Johannesburg, and ended Friday (Jul. 27).
Li Jinzhang said that Brazil forged a strategic partnership several years ago, adding that this union has “brought substantial benefits for both countries, both peoples, and for the economic and social development on both sides.”
The interview follows below.
The US decision to impose tariffs on China has led to the appreciation of Brazilian soy in the Chicago Stock Exchange. Among Brazil’s chief exports is soybeans. In a meeting, President Temer showed China’s Xi Jinping Brazil’s interest in selling processed soy in the forms of soybean oil and meal. The Chinese president welcomed the idea, he said. Do you think this may happen anytime soon?
In the last nine years, China became Brazil’s main commercial partner, and Brazil is China’s biggest partner in Latin America. In the last three years, agricultural trade has seen a significant rise. China has become the main destination of agricultural exports, like soy.
Last year, China purchased over half of all of Brazil’s soybean exports. Conversely, of Brazil’s soybean exports to the world, over 80 percent was directed towards China.
President Temer proposed to import more soybean oil from Brazil. This comes as a result of the progress commerce has made. Both parties may deepen the discussion from now on. We will base the discussion about agribusiness on how to boost cooperation for agricultural goods. I believe there’s a promising future ahead of us regarding this topic.
Also in this connection, economic analysts from across the world have reiterated that the commercial relations between China and Brazil—close partners as they already are—are about to strengthen, starting with the likely increase in the supply of soybeans, as mentioned earlier. Do you agree? In what areas other than agriculture do you think we would be able to see this change?
There are a great deal of animal-based products, like protein. Last year, China imported over 570 thousand tons of beef. In very little time, China became one of the top importers of beef. These examples bring to light the commercial potential of goods in agriculture and livestock.
President Michel Temer also said he asked President Xi Jinping to abolish the surtax on Brazilian chicken and sugar. Do you think the surtaxes may be reduced, or even eliminated?
Certain goods exported by Brazil arrive in China with prices considerably lower than those in the Chinese market, and sometimes impact the Chinese industry in question. For this reason, producers requested the government to conduct an anti-dumping survey, in compliance with WTO norms. This is why these questions arise. It’s a rather common situation. The quick expansion of our trade leads naturally to these problems, so coordination is necessary. It’s like asking Brazilian companies to adopt anti-dumping measures against Chinese products arriving in Brazil. Since our countries are such good friends and partners, in addition to being free-trade advocates, we will demonstrate all willingness to talk and seek the solution to these problems.
In addition to agricultural trade, Temer reported that issues linked to privatization and concessions in Brazil were discussed in the meeting, along with Chinese investment in infrastructure works in railways, ports, airports, transmission lines, and energy distributors. Xi Jinping said he plans to continue investing in Brazil, according to what Temer told journalists. What are China’s next investments in Brazil?
The two leaders gave their opinion about bolstering the friendly cooperation between the two nations. Regarding cooperation for investment, both parties have made a decision on what their top priorities are: energy, telecom, infrastructure, agriculture, as well as science and technology. Infrastructure is the most important field in our partnership. The Brazilian government expects Chinese companies to boost investment in this area. And the Chinese government will also encourage Chinese firms to strengthen cooperation in these areas. As for ports, we’ve seen many results. Strides will be made in the railway network, including urban means of transportation, like light rail, and metro.
Temer said he discussed with Xi Jinping the establishment of the Regional Office for the Americas of New Development Bank of Brics, with an office in Brasília. The agreement for the creation of the bank was signed today during the Brics summit meeting. How important do you believe this is for the trade between the two nations?
This is good news. The New Development Bank was born in Fortaleza. Its success was made possible by several years of preparation and operations. This time, having the headquarters in São Paulo and an office in Brasília will stimulate the cooperation between Brics member states and also cooperation among South American countries—and, most importantly, cooperation in investment. It will definitely stimulate cooperation in trade.
There was great agreement at the Brics meeting on the importance of favoring a multilateral trade system based on rules, with the World Trade Organization in charge. China’s stance was approved by the Brics member countries. Also worthy of note is that, at the opening ceremony of the summit meeting, China’s President Xi Jinping asked the Brics countries to “reject unilateralism,” which is prevalent in the world today. Is this the way? How should we deal with the bilateral deals unveiled between the US and the European Union?
In this meeting, the countries spoke out for the protection of multilateral trade and the support for free trade and investment, and against unilateralism and protectionism. This is key on the current international stage. As for the agreement between the US and the European Union, we hope that all measures taken are based on the world’s multilateral mechanism. In this regard, I think it’s just the beginning. There’s still a lot to be observed.
What is your message regarding the partnership between China and Brazil?
China and Brazil are the largest countries in the eastern and western hemispheres, and were the first countries to forge strategic partnerships. Now they’re establishing a global partnership. The friendly ties have brought substantial benefits to both countries, for both peoples, and for economic and social the development on both sides. At the same time, these are two emerging markets, and two members of Brics. In international affairs, we’ve always had identical, or similar, positions. We share the same aspirations. And we’re partners in international affairs. I hope the two countries can always take these friendly relations to the next level.