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S. Korean PM, Brazil’s new president discuss FTA, bullet train project

Yonhap 2011/01/03

S. Korean PM, Brazil’s new president discuss FTA, bullet train project

BRASILIA, Jan. 2 (Yonhap) — The new Brazilian leader said Sunday that South Korea is one of the best potential bidders for the South American country’s US$20 billion high-speed train project.

Meeting with visiting South Korean Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik, who was in Brazil to attend her inauguration ceremony, President Dilma Rousseff said she was impressed by Seoul’s successful hosting of the G-20 summit last year and the country’s private firms and new technologies, according to South Korean officials.

Rousseff made the comment after Kim delivered a congratulatory letter from South Korean President Lee Myung-bak in which she was asked to visit South Korea again. She had traveled to South Korea three times before, her last visit to attend the G-20 Summit in November as a president-elect together with then-incumbent leader Luiz Lula da Silva.

Kim asked for her support for South Korean firms seeking to participate in Brazil’s high-speed railway project, for which bidding is set to open in April.

"South Korean firms are preparing well (for the bid)," he was quoted as saying. "If Korean firms win the contract, there will be such advantages as technology transfer and a reduced construction period."

Noting that South Korea has either just finished or is in free trade pact negotiations with such South and Central American nations as Chile, Peru and Panama, Kim emphasized the need to begin such negotiations with Mercosur, South America’s regional economic organization.

Mercosur — made up of Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay — has signed FTAs with only two countries, Israel and Egypt. It began FTA negotiations with the European Union in 2005.

Kim expressed hope that trade between Mercosur and South Korea would double the current level in five years.

In response, Rousseff emphasized the need to meet the trade balance between the two markets and asked for cooperation in expanding her country’s exports to South Korea.

Brazil is South Korea’s largest trading partner in Central and South America, with bilateral trade volume expected to reach about $12 billion this year.

 source: Yonhap