Interview with Journalist Xinhua, published in the newspaper “China Daily”. Brasília, Brazil, March 2009.
BRASILIA — Mutual understanding and cooperation between Brazil and China should be enhanced so as to facilitate bilateral trade, Durval de Noronha, founder of Noronha Advogados, a well-known Brazilian law firm, said.
The firm, the seventh largest in Brazil with branches in Shanghai, Miami, London, Buenos Aires and Lisbon, as well as major cities in Brazil, enjoys a good reputation in China.
Though Brazil and China are far from each other in geographical terms, trade between the two biggest developing countries in their respective hemispheres has been expanding, Noronha said in an interview with Xinhua. He was referring to reports that China had now replaced Argentina to become Brazil’s second largest trading partner, after the United States.
But this achievement had also encountered some obstacles. “China is the biggest victim of Brazil’s protectionism,” Noronha, who is also an arbitrator with the World Trade Organization (WTO), said.
He said “two thirds of the cases we deal with in China are related to trade protectionism, and I do not think this is fair for the Chinese companies.”
Noronha said some Brazilian companies have requested the government launch an anti-dumping investigation on shoes made in China, since, in practice, Brazil does not recognize China as a market economy.
The priority is that the Chinese legal system needs to be understood and accepted by Brazil, and “in this respect, China needs to push Brazil to recognize it as a market economy,” Noronha said.
Both countries have been affected by the global financial crisis, Noronha said, “but it may turn out to be a huge opportunity for the two countries to move toward wider cooperation.”
“We both have huge domestic markets. Brazil has rich natural resources, while Chinese companies will have opportunities to explore these resources and do business in relation to infrastructure,” the lawyer said, adding that Chinese enterprises could also promote their products in the Brazilian market.
FARSIGHTEDNESS IN CHINA
Noronha Advogados, the first Brazilian law firm to set up a representative office in China, began business in Shanghai in 2002 and started dealing with legal cases concerning trade issues between the two countries.
But the decision was incomprehensible to many at that time, Noronha told Xinhua.
“After China joined the WTO in 2001, I wrote a book — China after WTO: Laws and Trade, which deals closely with the changes to the 9000 clauses of economic laws by the Chinese government,” he said.
Entry into the WTO prompted China’s legal structure to become more modernized; and the Asian country is no longer discriminated against in the international trading system. There might be business opportunities for Brazilian companies in China, so we took the chance, Noronha said.
“Now everyone recognizes our vision,” he said.
The firm’s business in China has increased rapidly in recent years. Apart from recruiting a number of Chinese lawyers, Noronha Advogados also plans to establish a second representative office in Beijing to further expand its Chinese market.
CULTURAL EXCHANGE VITAL
Cultural exchange is the best way to enhance mutual understanding, and is of vital importance to improving economic and trade relations between China and Brazil, Noronha, an enthusiast of Chinese culture, said.
He told Xinhua he enjoys collecting Chinese antiques and is also fond of Chinese music, “its slow rhythms helps me to relax.”
Noronha said he hopes that more and more people will share his interest in Chinese culture.
Last year, the Confucius Institute at Sao Paulo State University, first of its kind in Brazil, was established with the help of Noronha, who now plans to set up more in other Brazilian cities in order to popularize Chinese culture.
“The challenge we are facing is that entrepreneurs from the two countries do not know each other well. Therefore, we need to communicate by means of language and culture. Only by doing so will our relationship make good progress in the future,” he said.