Brazil prez in China to boost trade

BEIJING: Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva arrived in Beijing on Monday with 240 business leaders for a visit aimed at boosting trade with China and promoting what he called a "new economic order."

He was due to meet Chinese President Hu Jintao and other leaders during the three-day visit, and promote oil contracts, sales of Embraer aircraft, meat exports and biofuel technology for cars, officials in Brazil said.

Lula and Hu, who were set to meet for dinner later Monday, could also touch on a proposal made by the Brazilian president to conduct bilateral trade through each nation's currency, cutting out the US dollar as an intermediary.

Lula's visit, which comes between a trip to Saudi Arabia and Turkey, will also stress political cooperation in an era that has seen a rise in the role of key emerging nations to fight the global financial crisis.

"I think the trip that I am about to embark on... is one of the most important I am going on to defend a new economic order and a new commercial policy in the world," Lula told reporters before leaving Brazil.

Roberto Jaguaribe, a Brazilian foreign ministry official, said last week the trip represented a "reorganisation of the international scene" in which the top emerging economies were playing a bigger role in world affairs.

Jiang Shixue, vice president of the Chinese Association of Latin American Studies, said Lula could follow up on the G20 summit in London in April, which agreed that global cooperation was essential for economic recovery.

"Lula may want to discuss how to reform the international financial order and promote developing countries' role, on which the two countries should develop a common stance," he said.

In comments carried Monday by China's official Xinhua news agency, Lula emphasised that a strategic partnership set up with China in 1993 "may... lead to a new global economic, scientific and trade landscape in the 21st century."

Boosting bilateral trade would also be high on the agenda for Lula when he meets with Hu Monday, and China's Premier Wen Jiabao and other top leaders on Tuesday.

China -- an energy-hungry nation that is hugely interested in Brazil's natural resources -- in March became the Latin American nation's biggest trading partner, ahead of the United States.

Brazilian exports to China -- mainly iron ore and soya products -- so far this year have grown 65 percent over the same period in 2008, a jump from 3.4 billion dollars to 5.6 billion dollars.

Jiang said that Brazil was also an important country for China on other aspects, such as its advanced biofuel technologies and aviation cooperation.

"The trade relationship that China enjoys with Brazil is more complementary than with any other Latin American country," he said.

On Brazil's part, state-run oil company Petrobras would be interested in winning deepwater exploration contracts in China, Trade and Industry Minister Miguel Jorge said last week.

Petrobras officials refused Monday to comment on potential deals to be signed during the visit, but said an announcement could be made late Tuesday.

Brazil's BNDES development bank was also keen on negotiating an 800-million-dollar credit line with Chinese officials.

Lula is due to leave Beijing for Turkey on Wednesday, a day after an official ceremony presided by Hu where several cooperation documents will be signed.