Brazil's President Lula in Shanghai on visit to boost economic ties with China

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Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Thursday began a China tour.
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Brazil's President Lula in Shanghai on visit to boost economic ties with China
Reuters

Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (second from right) holds flowers next to First Lady Rosangela "Janja" da Silva and Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of China Xie Feng (far left), as he arrives in Shanghai, on Thursday.

Brazil President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva promised on Thursday that "Brazil is back!" during a state visit to China aimed at strengthening trade ties.

Lula, who arrived in Shanghai on Wednesday night, is seeking to reposition Brazil as a key global player after four years of relative isolation under his predecessor Jair Bolsonaro.

"The time when Brazil was absent from major world decisions is in the past," Lula said at a ceremony to inaugurate his political ally Dilma Rousseff as president of the BRICS New Development Bank.

"We are back on the international stage, after an inexplicable absence."

Lula spent Thursday in Shanghai before heading to the Chinese capital to meet his counterpart Xi Jinping on Friday.

The Shanghai leg of Lula's trip has highlighted another key goal of the visit – to deepen economic links between the two countries.

China is Brazil's biggest export market, buying tens of billions of dollars worth of soybeans, beef and iron ore.

Rousseff, a former leader of Brazil, will head the NDB, a multilateral lender jointly set up by Brazil, China, Russia, India and South Africa, until 2025.

"The New Development Bank is the product of a partnership among BRICS countries with a view to creating a world with less poverty, less inequality and more sustainability. In taking office as bank president, Ms Dilma Rousseff brings her extensive background and knowledge on public policies and the international scene, thus strengthening NDB's leading role in achieving a better world, without poverty or hunger," said Lula in a speech.

In Rousseff's speech, she stressed the commitment of the NDB to support Brazil in achieving sustainable development goals and highlighted the importance of Lula's visit to strengthen the cooperation between the NDB and Brazil.

After the inauguration ceremony, Lula visited a research center run by Chinese telecom giant Huawei.

Video on the official Brazilian presidential Twitter account showed Lula being greeted by musicians in traditional dress playing classical Chinese instruments.

Huawei's chair then walked him through an exhibition showcasing the company's extensive presence in Brazil.

Lula later tweeted that he had been given a presentation on 5G and solutions in telemedicine, education and connectivity, describing it as "a very strong investment in research and education."

He was also set to meet the head of China's biggest electric carmaker BYD, which said in October that it planned to set up a vehicle manufacturing plant in northern Brazil's Bahia after Ford Motors closed its factory there.

The company is already making electric buses and cars in Brazil for the Latin American market.

Back in the office from January after having led Brazil from 2003 to 2010, Lula is seeking to smooth relations with China, after ties deteriorated under Bolsonaro.

He was initially scheduled to make the trip in late March but had to postpone it after coming down with pneumonia.

About 40 high-level officials are accompanying him on the rescheduled visit, including cabinet ministers, governors and members of Congress.

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