Rousseff Looking to Carry on Brazil’s Close Ties With Chavez

Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff and her Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez will continue the tradition of holding quarterly meetings to discuss trade and social issues, Brazil’s Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota said in Caracas.

“My presence here is to reaffirm Brazil’s pledge to strengthen our bilateral relationship,” Patriota said in comments carried on state television while he met with Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro.

Rousseff’s predecessor and mentor, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, maintained close ties with Chavez during his eight years as president and saw Brazilian business win contracts in Venezuela. Companies including Salvador-based construction firm Odebrecht SA are participating in infrastructure, petrochemical and oil projects worth $7 billion over the next five years, according to the Brazilian-Venezuelan Chamber of Commerce in Caracas.

Brazil leapfrogged Colombia last year to become Venezuela’s third-largest trading partner after the U.S. and China. Venezuela’s imports from Brazil totaled $3.5 billion through November, according to Brazil’s Ministry for Development, Industry and Foreign Trade. Imports from Colombia were $1.3 billion in the same period, according to Colombia’s statistics agency.

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