Brazil and Asia
Before 1960 Brazil maintained diplomatic relations with three Asian
nations: Japan, India, and Nationalist China (Taiwan). In that year,
Brazil established ties with the Republic of Korea (South Korea)
and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). In August 1961, President Quadros sent
his vice president, João Goulart, to the People's Republic
of China as head of a commercial delegation. In August 1974, Brazil
broke relations with Taiwan and established full relations with
China, four years before the United States. The Nationalist diplomats
were evicted unceremoniously from the Chinese embassy in Brasília
to make way for the new tenants.
In the 1970s and 1980s, relations with Asia expanded to ten embassies
in Brasília. Because of the growing importance of the newly
industrialized countries in the Pacific Basin, Brazil installed
a legation in Singapore. Although not a major trading partner, India
became an important South-South ally in international forums, such
as the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), GATT, and
the Group of 77 (G-77).
With its gradual economic opening to the West, mainland China has
become an important trading partner for Brazil since the 1980s.
Petrobrás began oil exploration under risk contract, and
engineering services were contracted for mining and hydroelectric
ventures. In addition, the Chinese have purchased large quantities
of Brazilian iron ore and steel plate.
However, Japan has received the highest priority within the region.
Brazil established diplomatic relations with Japan in 1897. The
first Japanese immigrants arrived in Brazil in 1908, as the São
planters sought alternative free labor after the abolition of slavery
in 1888. This influx of Japanese immigrants continued until 1934,
when the new constitution limited foreign immigration to 2 percent
of the past fifty years. Diplomatic relations broke off during World
War II, but resumed in 1952. Some 100 years after the first waves
of immigration, Brazilians of Japanese descent constitute one of
the largest ethnic segments of Brazil's population.
In the 1960s, Japan began to invest heavily in various sectors
in Brazil, including mining, steel, aluminum, telecommunications,
manufacturing, and agricultural ventures (the latter in the Central
Highlands plateau region and the Amazon). In return, Japan imported
large quantities of iron, other nonferrous ores, unfinished steel
and aluminum products, and soybeans and other agricultural products.
In the 1980s, with cycles of recession and decreasing employment
opportunities in Brazil, a reverse immigration flux began; some
200,000 Brazilians of Japanese descent traveled to Japan in search
of jobs. Their monthly remittances to their families remaining in
Brazil have become an important item in bilateral commerce.
In 1992 Japanese companies invested US$1.4 billion in Brazil in
the areas of telecommunications, capital goods, mining, and metallurgy.
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has sponsored
many rural colonization projects in Brazil since the 1950s. In 1995
JICA was using Brazilian technicians and installations to train
people from developing countries in Latin America and Africa in
industrial job training, community development, education, and so
In mid-1995 the Socialist Republic of Vietnam signaled a desire
for closer trade relations with Brazil, thus eliminating Thailand
as middleman. President General Le Duc Anh visited Brazil and the
Brazilian foreign minister visited Vietnam in the second half of
1995. Brazil's opening to Vietnam was made within the context of
Brazil's general Southeast Asian strategy and its view that Vietnam
may soon become an "Asian Tiger."
Data as of April 1997