UPDATE 2-China's Li brings investment boost to struggling Brazil
(Adds Rousseff quote, Li says deals worth $27 billion)
By Anthony Boadle
BRASILIA May 19 (Reuters) - Chinese Premier Li Keqiang came to the rescue of Brazil's slumping economy on Tuesday with trade, finance and investment deals worth tens of billions of dollars in energy, mining, aviation and the upgrade of dilapidated infrastructure.
On his first official trip to Latin America, Li saw a raft of agreements signed, ranging from a $1 billion purchase of passenger jets made by Brazil's Embraer to the lifting of an import ban on Brazilian beef and a long-discussed plan to build a railroad over the Andes to the Pacific.
"A new road to Asia will open for Brasil, reducing distances and costs, a road that will take us directly to the ports of Peru and, across the Pacific Ocean, China," President Dilma Rousseff said, inviting Chinese companies to build it. Brazil and China agreed to study the feasibility of the rail link that would allow Brazilian exports to avoid the Panama Canal.
Li put the value of Tuesday's agreements at $27 billion, while Rousseff said they totaled $53 billion, a ballpark figure that aides said included past and future funding.
The injection of capital from China could not come at a better time for Brazil, which is sliding into recession following the end of a commodity boom last decade that was fueled by voracious Chinese demand for its main exports, iron ore and soybeans.
As China's economy slows, Chinese companies are looking abroad for new opportunities to invest and Chinese banks have begun to provide abundant financing.
Li said Chinese construction and steel companies were ready to help Brazil overhaul its infrastructure and reduce transport costs for the export of Brazilian commodities. Continuación...