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New Brazil president woos business allies in China

Chinese President Xi Jinping (right) shakes hands with Brazil’s President Michel Temer in Hangzhou, China, on September 2, 2016 © Pool/AFP / Iwasaki Minoru

Hangzhou, China, Sep 2 – New Brazilian President Michel Temer insisted Friday his country has turned a page on years of crisis as he wooed businesses in China after replacing Dilma Rousseff in a bitter impeachment fight.

“Even though we suffered from political and economic upheaval, as well as economic downturn, this page has been turned,” Temer said in a speech in the Chinese commercial hub Shanghai.

“Brazil has put all the economic and political instability it suffered in the past few years behind us.”

Temer, 75, was seeking to consolidate his position after senators in Brasilia voted Wednesday to convict Rousseff on charges of having illegally manipulated government accounts. She rejected the effort as a “coup.”

Temer was promptly sworn in and came to China for the G20 summit which starts in nearby Hangzhou on Sunday.

On his international presidential debut in Brazil’s biggest export market, he oversaw the signing of billions of dollars’ worth of contracts by Brazilian companies.

His Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping called him an “old friend” when they met on the shores of Shanghai’s landmark West Lake, adding: “China and Brazil make up together the East and West’s two biggest developing countries.”

Temer said it was an “honour” that his first presidential trip was to China, adding: “I am even more honoured to hear you say that we are friends.”

– Steel, food, aviation –

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Earlier, with Shanghai mayor Yang Xiong, Temer witnessed the signing of nine agreements covering projects from infrastructure to agriculture and said that China was now “Brazil’s most-needed cooperative partner.”

Brazilians “need China’s support, we need China’s cooperation,” he added.

Newspapers reported that Brazilian companies signed $4.6 billion worth of contracts with Chinese firms during Temer’s visit.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) attends a meeting with Brazil’s President Michel Temer (L) at the West lake State Guest House in Hangzhou, China’s Zhejiang Province on © POOL/AFP / Iwasaki Minoru

Those included investments by Chinese companies such as CBSteel, China Communications Construction Company and agriculture firm Hunan Dakang, the Brazilian press reports said.

Brazilian aircraft-maker Embraer said in a statement it signed a deal to sell up to five of its E190 passenger jets to Colorful Guizhou Airlines for $249 million.

The new Brazilian leader faces multiple difficulties at home, with the country deep in recession.

Rousseff has filed a Supreme Court challenge against her impeachment.

Temer’s bid to shore up his authority will face strong opposition from her Workers’ Party and allied leftist organisations.

And his vows to create jobs through market-friendly reforms while tackling the country’s fiscal deficit through spending and pension cuts are likely to provoke strong opposition both on the streets and in Congress.

Sworn in to serve out the remainder of Rousseff’s four-year presidential term up to the end of 2018, Temer assured Chinese entrepreneurs that those who have signed deals in Brazil will be “well protected” by its laws.

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