The China proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) will bring new development opportunities to Countries in Latin America like Brazil, a Brazilian Expert said.

Thanks to Brazil’s significant influence in Latin America, the effective participation of the country in the BRI could favour the joining of other countries in the region, Evandro Menezes de Carvalho, Head of the Center for Brazil-China Studies at the Getulio Vargas Foundation, said in a recent interview.

Brazil is China’s eighth-largest trading partner and China is the Latin American country’s largest trading partner and export destination, according to information released by China’s Ministry of Commerce.

In a bid to advance the BRI’s development, Chinese companies have stepped up efforts to expand their presence in Brazil during recent years.

“There are nearly 300 Chinese companies in Brazil that operate in different areas of the market and face Brazilian and foreign competitors. Some of them are having great results in the Brazilian market and others are having difficulties,” Carvalho said.

“For Chinese companies, Brazil is a very bureaucratic country, with many regulations and one that’s difficult to understand; besides that, public agencies often do not harmonise,” he said, adding that it is difficult to even for a Brazilian entrepreneur.

It should also be noted that some Chinese companies have had difficulties entering the Brazilian market because they are poorly advised, do not bet on marketing and do not know the behaviour of the Brazilian consumer, he said.

“To overcome all this, Chinese companies need to work in cooperation with Brazilians.”

Brazil’s relationship with China is based on the exports of soybeans, oil, and gas, and ore, the expert said. Trade between China and Brazil was about $101.9 billion in the first 11 months of 2018, an increase of 27.1 percent on a yearly basis, according to Chinese customs data.

China’s exports to Brazil were up 18.8 percent year-on-year to $30.8 billion and imports rose 31 percent year-on-year to $71.1 billion during the same period.

The export agenda is not diversified and the presence of Brazilian companies in China is still low, he said.

“Perhaps this can improve if we consider the market potential that the sectors like technology and services may have in the bilateral relationship in the future,” said Carvalho.

“Brazil and Latin America are looking for Chinese investments,” he noted. One of Brazil’s greatest advantages is its natural wealth, such as mineral resources, oil, and potential in the field of clean energy, while the country’s disadvantages are its bad logistics and high taxes.

“Brazil still does not have good infrastructure that promotes the integration of the country in a more efficient and cheaper way. This disadvantage may, paradoxically, become business opportunities in the sector of infrastructure necessary for the country’s development,” Carvalho noted.

The economic crisis that hit the region has demanded that all of the governments take a more friendly attitude to foreign capital, he said, adding that this is a good time to enter the Latin American market.