Argentina, Brazil pledge joint projects

Feb. 1, 2011 at 6:14 PM
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BUENOS AIRES, Feb. 1 (UPI) -- Brazil's nuclear and security industries are set to benefit from new agreements signed after a summit between Presidents Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and Brazil's recently inaugurated President Dilma Rousseff.

Brazilian security industries are aiming to expand their markets in Latin America and beyond as part of a multibillion-dollar defense regeneration program. Argentina last year announced plans to build a new nuclear power reactor to meet rising demand for electricity. This week's agreements ensure a sizeable share of the work on the reactor and other nuclear power projects going to Brazilian industries.

Both leaders emphasized the "special" strategic ties between erstwhile rivals and announced plans to forge closer integration of their economies. Trade turnover between the two sides exceeds $30 billion a year and is weighted in favor of Brazil to an annual total of about $4 billion.

Rousseff said her first foreign visit since being sworn in a month ago highlighted the special relationship that exists between the two countries.

She said she looked toward an "increased productive integration" between the two leading partners in the Mercosur trade pact. Mercosur is in talks with the European Union for a wide-raging collaboration pact that will open Latin American markets to European produce.

Rousseff said she was all for taking further the two countries' "special strategic" relations while Fernandez called for a more coordinated and integration cooperation between the two leading Mercosur partners. Details of the partnerships are yet to be worked out.

"It was not a casual decision to pick Argentina as my first foreign destination," said Rouseff. "I'm here to promote our nations' relationship and make it stronger than ever in terms of commercial, political and cultural ties."

Rousseff indicated that Brazil and Argentina working together could help transform Latin America. "We are the two countries with the largest (gross domestic products) in the region and we have a great potential that Latin America must take advantage off," she said, citing the two countries' edge in agriculture, energy and industry.

Despite the warm sentiments expressed from both sides, Argentina is anxious to close the trade gap with Brazil but is hamstrung by slow progress in its industrialization program and attempts to build up its manufacturing base, a sector that could help Argentine traders catch up on Brazil.

Brazil defense and security manufacturers have set their sights on boosting military and aviation exports to Brazil. Brazil's state-run and corporate energy sector is also pursuing deals in Argentina's hydrocarbon industry.

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