A Friend and A Business Partner

2019-09-09 16:01:20 Beijing Review 2019年36期

This year marks the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the Peoples Republic of China and the Federative Republic of Brazil. Holding the rotating presidency of BRICS this year, Brazil will also host the BRICS Summit in November. In an exclusive interview to Beijing Review, Brazilian Ambassador to China Paulo Estivallet de Mesquita shared his views on the rapidly growing relationship between the two countries. The following is an edited excerpt from the interview:

Beijing Review: How would you rate the China-Brazil relationship?

Paulo Estivallet de Mesquita: Its clearly a success story. Forty-five years ago, we started from a very small and distant relationship in which we had very little trade and very few contacts between the two governments and the two people.

Today, the bilateral trade volume has risen from a few millions of dollars to more than $100 billion. China has become Brazils largest trading partner, and last year, Brazil was Chinas seventh largest trade partner. China has also become a very big investor in Brazil. Chinese investment in Brazil, while not so large in cumulative terms, has become the largest in Brazil in the last two or three years.

In terms of the relationship between the two governments, we established a strategic relationship in 1993, which was elevated to a comprehensive strategic partnership in 2013. There are frequent highlevel meetings and we have established a mechanism for meetings between the two vice presidents.

China and Brazil both being members of BRICS, our two presidents have been meeting at least once every year for the last 10 years. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro will visit China in October and Chinese President Xi Jinping is set to go to Brazil in November for the BRICS Summit.

China-Brazil ties have developed from a very low point to todays broad and dense relationship. We have no historical issues, which mean there is nothing from the past that hinders our relationship. Counting on our already good relations, our ties will be- come even better in the next few years.

How does Brazil view the role of foreign investment?

Brazil has always been very open to foreign investment. Right now, the government is pursuing changes in regulations to make the country even more open through privatization of some sectors and deregulation of other sectors.

Chinese investors are very welcome. Brazil holds a very open attitude toward Chinese investment. A steady stream of our high-level authorities has been coming to China to present opportunities for investment in diverse sectors.

In the last two or three years, we have had a signifi cant amount of Chinese investment in several sectors, not only in the field of infrastructure, mining and natural resource, but also in services and other areas. In Brazil, China is very active in the distribution and transmission of energy and in the transportation sector, especially in urban transportation.

All such facts prove that it is a good experience for Chinese investors, who view Brazil as a good market with very good prospects and a large population. And Brazil is also happy to receive Chinese investment. Its a very positive experience for both countries and a win-win situation.

In which areas can the Belt and Road Initiative align with Brazils development strategy? What cooperation opportunities do the two countries have under its framework?

In our understanding, one of the main objectives of the Belt and Road Initiative is to promote investment in infrastructure and connectivity. Brazil has a great demand for investment in areas such as railways, roads, ports and airports.

Brazil is privatizing infrastructure, where Chinese companies have a lot of experience. They also have access to capital and a long-term perspective, something that infrastructure projects require. So there is a fairly broad overlap between the Brazilian demand for investment in infrastructure and the Chinese interest to invest and diversify investment through the Belt and Road Initiative.

There are already a signifi cant number of Chinese infrastructure projects in Brazil, which have either been completed or are underway. Chinese companies have been working on railways for a number of years and some of our main projects are either completed or almost complete. China is also a partner in some port projects. A recent project is for a very large bridge in northeast Brazil.

In our view, the best way to get the Belt and Road Initiative working is to cooperate through concrete projects. We have to design the project and come to an agreement about the objectives and how it will be implemented.

The first ministerial meeting under the framework of China and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States(CELAC) Forum was held in 2015. As the biggest country in the region, what role will Brazil play in future China-Latin America cooperation?

We view Chinas presence in Latin America with a lot of interest. As I just mentioned, Brazil has a lot of demand for infrastructure and China is a big supplier of infrastructure and finance, playing an important role in connecting South America.

The fi rst ministerial meeting under the framework of the China-CELAC Forum was initiated after a BRICS meeting in Brazil. There was an initial meeting between President Xi and South American leaders in 2014.

At this point, the Latin American Integration Association is facing some challenges because of issues in some countries in the region on which the members hold different positions. So they are not working as well as they have in the past. We believe that there are some decisions that have to be taken by Latin Americans themselves about how they organize their internal cooperation before we can move forward further with China.

Brazil holds the rotating presidency of BRICS this year and will host the BRICS Summit in November. What will be the focus of the summit? How do you evaluate BRICS role in international affairs?

We are entering the second decade of BRICS. We have had 10 years of experience, which we think have been very positive and successful. Five countries which are signifi -cant in terms of population and economy have been working together as a new platform for exploring new ways to solve common problems and play a positive role in international affairs.

Another facet is that the member countries are trying to cooperate to explore areas where they can work together and bring concrete results.

There are currently some 30 areas where the BRICS members cooperate. This year, we have chosen to focus on innovation, the digital economy and science and technology. Efforts will be made to make the BRICS New Development Bank (NDB) better known. We aim to work more closely together with the BRICS Business Council to deliver more benefi ts to BRICS countries through the NDB.

Some countries have been pursuing unilateralism and trade protectionism, seriously impacting the global economy. How does Brazil view this?

Brazil has traditionally been a strong supporter of the World Trade Organization(WTO). We think it is one of the most valuable multilateral institutions and the right place for dealing with trade issues and conflicts. We support the reform of the WTO to update its work method and hope these reforms will succeed. We count on China to work with us on updating the WTO.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Peoples Republic of China. How do you view Chinas development and progress?

Seventy years is a very short period for China as it has such a long history and such a large infl uence on world culture and development. But in the last 70 years, China has demonstrated its ability to modernize and to adapt. Its society, institutions and economy have brought huge benefits of modern life to its people without losing its rich tradition and culture.

So we are very happy at the success China has made and look forward to continue working with China both as a friend and as a business partner for the benefit of both countries.