Former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is likely to formally announce his candidacy for another term in March. If he wins the presidency, another Lula term is expected to accelerate the trend of increased Chinese involvement in Latin American economies. Lula was the first Brazilian president to significantly strengthen the country’s trade relationship with China, and has openly praised the Chinese Communist Party. Between 2010, when he left office, and 2020, Brazil received 47 percent of all Chinese investment in Latin America, nearly half of which went to electricity infrastructure projects largely in the densely populated southeast. Most of the rest went to oil projects and the remainder to mining. Lula is running in a bid to defeat far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro, under whom Brazil’s ties with China have been somewhat strained. Even so, China has continued to be one of Brazil’s largest trading partners and, most notably, largest purchaser of commodities. If Beijing was able to secure a place in the Brazilian market with relative ease under Bolsonaro, it may have an even easier time making inroads under Lula. I have written more on this subject here.
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