Brazil will help India in civilian nuclear energy

By Manish Chand


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New Delhi : India and Brazil, despite being continents apart, are ready to add more "economic and strategic" muscle to their growing ties, a process that is likely to include civil nuclear cooperation that will be discussed during President Lula Da Silva's visit here in June.

The two countries have scripted an ambitious agenda spanning big-ticket items like the UN Security Council reforms, accelerating trade and investment and increasing congruence on pressing global issues.

"It's one of the most important visits President Lula is making this year. We are in an important moment in our relationship," Brazilian ambassador to India Jose Vicente Pimentel told IANS a fortnight ahead of Lula's visit to India next month.

Lula, who will come on a three-day state visit from June 3, comes here nearly nine months after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Brazil in September last year.

Around 100 top businessmen from Brazil will be accompanying Lula to India to underline new business synergy between the two trillion-dollar economies. A CEOs forum comprising top corporate honchos of both countries will be launched during Lula's visit to reach the bilateral trade target of $10 billion by 2010.

As India and the US enter the final lap of negotiating a bilateral civil nuclear cooperation agreement, Lula's visit will provide an opportunity to India to step up its diplomacy with the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) of which Brazil is an influential member.

"Brazil will not have qualms about helping India in civilian uses of nuclear energy. Brazil will help India as best as it can," said the envoy.

"We understand India's growing need for energy and appreciate its emergence as an important world power," said the envoy.

In the same breath, he, however, added that Brazil will take a formal position on this issue after India's bilateral 123 pact with the US and New Delhi's safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is in place.

Developing ethanol – a byproduct of sugarcane – and its promotion as an international commodity will also be another element of energy partnership between India and Brazil.

Lula's visit will also be a useful prelude to the G8 summit a couple of days later in Germany in so far as it will provide Manmohan Singh and Lula an opportunity to discuss leading themes of the G8 summit like climate change, global warming and multi-lateral Doha round of trade negotiations.

"India and Brazil are two essential players in the global scenario. How can you find a solution to these issues of the 21st century without the participation of India and Brazil?" asks Pimentel.

"The rest of the world is looking at what these countries are doing. We are both striking a close relationship. We are having a political and diplomatic honeymoon," said the envoy.

In our everyday relationship, points out the envoy, something vital is missing. "We lack economic and commercial substance. Commerce is the key to our future relationship," he said.

"If you create positive business environment, Brazilian companies will participate in India's infrastructure sector," the envoy said.

"Likewise, there is tremendous scope for Indian companies in Brazil in sectors like pharmaceuticals and IT. We should aim for more products and less tariffs," he added.

A preferential trade agreement (PTA) with India is on the cards with the Brazilian government seeking Congressional approval for the pact, he said.

But for this economic potential to be realised, people of both countries need to know each other better. Tourism and increasing people-to-people contacts will be vital elements of the new chemistry between India and Brazil, the envoy stressed.