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May 23, 2017

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Brazil wants 'new phase' with China: Rousseff

BEIJING -- Visiting Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff on Tuesday called for a "new phase" in ties with China and urged the world's second-largest economy to buy more than iron ore and soybeans from her country.

Rousseff, who arrived in Beijing on Monday for her first major foreign trip since taking office in January, is looking to boost ties with China, which has in recent years become Brazil's largest trade partner and largest investor.

The two major emerging powers signed nearly two dozen agreements after talks between Rousseff and Chinese President Hu Jintao, including a deal for the sale of 35 Embraer E190 commercial jets to two Chinese airlines.

"Brazil wants to inaugurate a new phase in these relations — a qualitative leap," Rousseff told a high-level dialogue on science and technology to kick off a jam-packed day of meetings with Chinese officials and top businessmen.

"We need to go beyond the complementarity of our economies ... to encourage a dynamic, diversified and balanced relationship," said Rousseff, who traveled to China with about 300 business leaders.

She said the "challenge for the coming years" would be to transform Brazil's trade relationship with China to feature "higher value-added products" such as aircraft, not just agricultural products like soybeans, iron ore and oil.

China said it would "encourage companies to increase imports of high value-added products from Brazil", according to a final joint communique.

To that end, Embraer — the world's third-largest airplane manufacturer behind giants Boeing and Airbus — signed off on the sale of the 35 medium-range passenger planes to China Southern Airlines and Hebei Airlines.

Brazil's development, industry and commerce minister Fernando Pimentel refused to give a figure for the deal. With a list price of US$40 million, the value of the deal would be US$1.4 billion.

Chinese telecommunications maker Huawei Technologies announced it will build a research center in the Sao Paulo area, with total investment of US$300-400 million, Rousseff told reporters at day's end.

Brazil's state-run oil company Petrobras meanwhile signed exploration and development deals with Chinese giants Sinopec, Asia's largest refiner, and Sinochem, but no financial terms were disclosed.

The two countries also signed deals to boost cooperation in the energy and mining sectors, and voiced support for U.N. Security Council reform that would see increased representation for developing countries.

"The international situation is complex. Against this backdrop, strengthening the China-Brazil strategic partnership has important significance," Hu told Rousseff in their meeting.

China has in recent years become Brazil's largest trading partner, overtaking the United States, and in 2010 was the largest investor in the South American nation, pumping in about US$30 billion.

Two-way trade, which totaled US$2.3 billion in 2000, has grown quickly over the past decade, reaching US$56.4 billion in 2010, according to Brazilian officials. From 2009 to 2010, trade increased a whopping 52 percent.

For China, Brazil is now an important source of raw materials — oil, iron ore and soybeans account for 80 percent of Chinese imports and 90 percent of its investments in Latin America's largest economy, the world's number eight.

Rousseff on Wednesday was due to meet with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

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