With Brazil poised to host the five-country BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit in November, the national focus will again turn to the increased investment by China in the country’s infrastructure projects.
Brazil has developed a strategic partnership in trade with China since the early 1990s, and the Asian powerhouse became the main trading partner for Latin America’s largest economy back in 2009, also the year of the first BRIC (South Africa joined in 2011) summit.
In recent years, China has accelerated its infrastructure-based investment via the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which has allowed more than 80 Chinese state-backed companies access to 3,000-plus projects worldwide, including ports, railways and other logistics infrastructure.
In the meantime, Brazil’s trade with China has remained largely in commodities, including agricultural goods and minerals. Consequently, much of China’s investment in Brazil reinforces this export relationship as its state-run companies look for projects that enhance infrastructure for agricultural and mineral exports.
Brazilian agricultural exports are playing a growing role in China’s food security too. The state-owned China communications Construction Company has focused on railroad concessions for grain transport, and is behind the US$245M project to build a port in São Luís to export primarily soya bean cargo for China.
In 2017, a US$20B China-Brazil Fund was launched to focus on infrastructure development, and President Xi Jinping stressed to the then Brazilian president Michel Temer the need for the BRI to be in step with Brazil’s development. Earlier this year, China’s ambassador to Brazil, Yang Wanming, reiterated the need to create synergies between the BRI and Brazilian infrastructure projects