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Sunday, 29 July, 2001, 09:53 GMT 10:53 UK
Blair's Brazilian business trip
Embraer 190
Embraer's exports are a big part of Brazil's trade with the UK
When Tony Blair arrives in Brazil on Monday at the start of a whirlwind visit through South and Latin America, there will be a large number of prominent British business leaders accompanying him.

While the UK prime minister meets with his Brazilian counterpart to offer moral, but not financial support, for the country's fragile economy, the corporate bandwagon will be consolidating UK interests.

The party includes 13 top executives from British Petroleum, Rolls Royce, BAe Systems, Amerada Hess, Shell, Enterprise Oil, BOC, the Rothschild financial group and others.

Brazil is the UK's biggest trading partner in South America, with trade valued at about 1.9bn ($2.71bn) last year, though Mexico trails closely behind with 1.3bn.

Total British direct investment is estimated to be worth $8bn and focused mainly in the financial, telecommunications and gas sectors.

Brazil's exports were worth a total of $1.49bn dollars and local aeroplane manufacturer Embraer accounted for $217.1m of that.

Business contact

Unsurprisingly, Mr Blair will visit Embraer, the only official engagement with a Brazilian company, during the first trip ever made to Brazil by a British prime minister.

Embraer is one of Brazil's top corporations and has important trade ties with British companies but is also at the centre of a World Trade Organisation dispute with Canada over trade subsidies.

The company imports turbines from Rolls Royce and electronic equipment from Marconi, while BMI, formerly British Midland, is one of its major customers.

Travel plans

On Wednesday Mr Blair will have lunch with Brazil's President Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Argentine President Fernando de La Rua at the Iguacu water fall before crossing the border for bilateral talks on Argentine soil.

This is the first visit by a British prime minister since the Falklands War.

Mr Blair wants to encourage the leaders of the two countries to support the launch of a new round of multilateral trade negotiations at the World Trade Organisation in November in Doha, Qatar.

The prime minister will also travel to Jamaica, Mexico, where he and the family will have a holiday.

See also:

07 Jun 01 | Business
OECD praises Brazil reforms
17 Apr 01 | Business
Americas jet trade row escalates
16 Mar 01 | Business
Real crisis in Brazil
27 Jul 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Brazil
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