From Soybeans to Steel: A Complex Future for China-Brazil Trade Relations

In 2009, during the midst of the global economic crisis, China quietly displaced the United States as Brazil’s top trade partner. According to Brazil’s Ministry of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade, bilateral trade between the two emerging BRIC nations exceeded $50 billion USD during the first eleven months of 2010 while Chinese exports to Brazil increased by 62%, continuing a strong upward trend. China now accounts for more than 12% of Brazil’s exports. In comparison, bilateral trade amounted to only $36 billion USD in 2009, despite tripling in value over the past five years.

During a one-day summit of BRIC nations in Brasília last April, Chinese President Hu Jintao noted that intra-BRIC cooperation “now faces both valuable opportunities and severe challenges,” and that BRIC nations “should set clear objectives for cooperation” to advance their common interests “from a strategic height.” True to Hu’s words, both China and Brazil have, in recent years, been diligently tapping into a wealth of collaborative opportunities.

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