Mar. 7, 2019
By Leonardo Gottems, reporter for AgroPages
has exclusively interviewed the new minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply of Brazil, Tereza Cristina. The nomination of the new minister of MAPA was strongly supported by the group of parliamentarians identified with agribusiness in the Brazilian National Congress, the so-called FPA (Parliamentary Agricultural and Livestock Front) - which supports the country's new government, led by President Jair Bolsonaro.
AgroPages asked Cristina how her administration and the new government viewed China, in terms of trade relations. She said that rumors that Brazil would decrease its approach with China, in a bid to expand its business with the United States, a country with which President Bolsonaro has great identification, were not true.
"I have already received the Chinese ambassador in Brazil at the Ministry headquarters, and we have established some common guidelines. The country, which is our main trading partner, is among the international destinations that I will be traveling to this year," the minister revealed exclusively to AgroPages. The visit reflects the trend in which Brazil should continue supporting the relationship with China, in the coming years.
China is Brazil's largest trading partner, both in terms of purchases and sales. In 2018, the volume of Brazilian exports to China reached US $ 64.2 billion, while imports from China were US $ 34.7 billion, resulting in a trade surplus in Brazil of around US $ 29.4 billion. According to official data, there was a decrease in this balance by some US $ 3 billion, compared to 2017.
The product most exported to China is soy, which represents no less than 48% of Brazilian exports to the Asian country. Brazil still exports a large amount of beef (2.8%), cellulose (9.6%), leaf tobacco (2%), chicken meat (1.6%) and cotton (1.6%), among other products. On the other hand, Brazil imports mainly manufactured goods.
"All the relevance that China has as a market for our products, as a trading and business partner, is highly regarded by our management," noted Cristina.
A controversial subject - which is of concern to China - is the purchasing of Brazilian land by foreigners. "This issue is with the National Congress and involves sensitive issues, such as national security. But some gradual easing would allow foreign investment in the country. The debate involves many different interests and, therefore, is still difficult to process in the parliament," she added.
To encourage investments in Brazil, Cristina promises that the new government will invest heavily in improving logistics and infrastructure. "The Safra Plan (the government's annual plan for agribusiness) has been increasing the resources for the construction of private warehouses. We have been working with ministries, such as Transport, which together with the Ministry of Defense have been adopting more urgent measures to guarantee the flow of the crop in the north of the country, to prevent trucks from jamming, as happened on Highway 163. This highway is the main axis through which passes many products to ports in the region, "says Cristina.
Brazil will revert to invest in rail transport, mainly through private rail companies. "Ferrogrão's concession auctions are fundamental for production, and Fiol, also known as the Oeste-Leste Railroad, is forecast to win the bidding," said Cristina.