New Delhi: Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva arrived in India on 3 May hoping to boost business and add more substance to the growing ties between two of the world’s biggest developing nations.
The three-day state visit is the latest in a series of high-level exchanges between the distant countries, which have forged a common stand in recent years on global trade and strategic issues.
The two have been key partners within the G20 group of developing countries pushing rich nations for freer global farm trade and are also seeking a permanent seat in the UN Security Council along with Germany and Japan.
“The meaning of my visit to India is to reiterate our readiness to forge a strategic alliance between our countries,” Lula wrote in an article published in India’s Hindu newspaper on Sunday.
“The size of our respective populations, the economic vigour and the technological advances of both of our countries manifestly indicate how hard we still have to work in order to achieve our potential of cooperation and friendship,” he said.
Trade and business are expected to be on top of the agenda when Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh holds talks with Lula, who arrived with a delegation of about 100 businessmen.
Lula is also due to address a conference of business leaders in New Delhi on 4 May.
Although bilateral trade has grown steadily it is seen to be nowhere near its true potential, with Brazil unhappy about New Delhi’s hesitation to further open its markets to farm imports despite slowing Indian agricultural output.
While total trade touched $2.4 billion in 2006, Brazilian exports to India fell by 15 % to $937 million, and Lula’s team is expected to push New Delhi for easing investment and trading norms.
The two countries aim to quadruple trade to $10 billion by 2010.
Larger global role
Increasing the use of bio-fuels, an area in which Brazil is a world leader, would be a key area to push cooperation for India, whose energy needs are surging with its scorching economic growth, an Indian foreign ministry official said.
New Delhi would also seek Brazil’s support at the Nuclear Suppliers Group, an organisation that governs global nuclear trade, which it needs to buy nuclear fuel and reactors after the conclusion of a civilian nuclear cooperation agreement with the US, he said.
In addition, the two sides would prepare to forge a common stance on issues such as climate change and global trade talks ahead of this week’s G8 meeting in Germany, which both Lula and Singh are attending.
Analysts were optimistic Lula’s India visit would help build stronger bonds between the two emerging market giants.
“I think both India and Brazil are beginning to recognise that distance should not matter and there should be greater trade between the two countries,” said Rajiv Kumar, director of the Indian Council for Research in International Economic Relations.
“It is also the coming together of intermediate or medium-sized countries for a greater role in global governance and international financial architecture,” he said.