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SA, Brazil pledge to boost trade

Jul 09 2010 16:55

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Pretoria - South Africa and Brazil pledged on Friday to deepen trade and commercial ties in another sign of emerging countries gradually shifting their economic dependence away from rich nations.

At the end of a six-country tour of Africa - his 12th trip to the continent - Brazil President Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva told South African counterpart Jacob Zuma that developing economies had to tear down barriers to trade.

"I told Comrade Zuma that we do not need to fear each other. We need to build things together. Then we will be less reliant on others and can build a stronger economy," Lula said.

Since coming to office in 2003, the former metal worker has worked hard to boost trade between Brazil and Africa to $26bn, a more than five-fold increase.

Zuma praised Lula's commitment to the poorest continent, which has enjoyed an unprecedented stretch of growth in the last decade due to factors ranging from a boom in commodity prices, increased foreign investment and official debt forgiveness.

Under Lula, the number of Brazilian embassies in Africa has doubled to 34.

"President Lula has prioritised relations with Africa. Brazil has expanded its presence in Africa over the past 10 years," Zuma said.

Brazil is South Africa's largest commercial partner in South America, with trade of R19bn in 2009, and both leaders said those numbers were destined to rise.

With Brazil gearing up to host the next soccer World Cup, in 2014, its leaders are also keen to learn from South Africa's experience, particularly in overcoming the reputation for crime and violence that bedevils Brazil as much as South Africa.

"People will go back with the conviction that South Africa enchanted them. Brazil will continue to learn to hold an unforgettable World Cup," Lula said.

On previous legs of his African trip, Lula signed, among other things, a defence accord with Equatorial Guinea, a biofuels deal with Kenya and an environmental cooperation pact with Tanzania.

Despite Lula's push, Brazil still lags far behind China in Africa, and while its trade with the continent has boomed, it has fallen as a proportion of overall Brazilian commerce - from 7% in 2008 to 5.6% in May this year.

  - Reuters

luiz inacio lula da silva  |  jacob zuma  |  brazil  |  trade


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