Harper já chegou ao Brasil
Posted by José Francisco V. Schuster em 08/08/2011
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has arrived in Brazil, the first stop on a six-day tour of South and Central American countries that will see him seek improved trade relations in perilous economic times.
Against a backdrop of debt crises in the United States and Europe and market turmoil globally, Harper’s arrival in Brasilia is perfectly timed to seek a larger share for Canadian exports in that country’s booming economy, the CBC’s James Fitz-Morris reported.
“It’s important to note that Brazil’s economy is larger than Canada’s by about 25 per cent and they’re growing at a phenomenal rate,” Fitz-Morris said of the world’s seventh-largest economy. “Their economy grew at more than seven per cent last year” — double Canada’s rate — “and that was a time of global economic recession.”
Ties between the two countries have been strained, particularly in disputes over government subsidies for Embraer, Brazil’s huge aerospace conglomerate, and Bombardier Inc., Canada’s Quebec-based aircraft manufacturer.
When he meets Monday for trade talks in Brasilia with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Harper will be looking to secure new export markets, which could help stabilize Canada against the financial havoc besetting its largest trading partner, the United States.
Harper brings team
In a show of the importance the government places on Canada-Brazil relations, cabinet ministers John Baird, Rona Ambrose, Diane Ablonczy and Ed Fast are accompanying Prime Minister Stephen Harper on the two-day visit to Brasilia and the financial centre of Sao Paulo.
They are joined by northern Saskatchewan Conservative MP Randy Hoback and a cadre of Canadian business leaders.
An estimated 400 Canadian companies already operate in Brazil, Canada’s 10th-largest trading partner. Exports of Canadian merchandise to Brazil totalled $2.6 billion in 2010, up 60 per cent from the year before, and imports were $3.3 billion.
Canada can expect plenty of competition for Brazil’s business
Negotiating a free-trade deal with Brazil is trickier, since it needs the consent of three other South American countries — Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay — that are members of a common economic bloc called Mercosur to enter into such an agreement.
The Conservative government has sought bilateral free-trade deals with a number of countries, placing a special emphasis on the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. In 2002, Canada signed a free-trade agreement with Costa Rica, where Harper will stop on Thursday.
Three years ago, Canada inked a free-trade agreement with Colombia, where Harper visits Wednesday. That deal comes into force next week.
And on Friday, Harper will travel to Honduras, where negotiations have been taking place for quite some time to reach a free-trade agreement. There, the prime minister is likely to highlight the role that Canada has played in trying to restabilize Honduras, which went through a military coup d’etat in 2009 and a lot of turmoil since as different factions fought for control. Canada was part of Honduras’s truth and reconciliation settlement that helped steady the country to the point it has been readmitted to the Organization of American States.
The Prime Minister’s Office proudly points out that Harper will be the first foreign leader to visit Honduras since the acknowledgment that it has re-established democracy, the CBC’s Fitz-Morris reported.
Officials from Canada and Honduras have met twice since December. Talks with the so-called Central American Four, comprising Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua, have dragged on for a decade. Canada is closer to striking a deal with Honduras than with any of the other countries.
However the PMO has said it does not expect to announce a free trade deal with Honduras on this trip.