(Adds detail about oil platform finance deal)
By Anthony Boadle
BRASILIA Aug 1 Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo
Abe touted the success of his economic policies on a visit to
Brazil on Friday and said it was time for the two nations to
expand their trade and investment partnership.
On the first visit to Brazil in a decade by a Japanese prime
minister, Japanese banks extended $700 million in loans to boost
Brazilian soy and corn exports to Japan and help finance oil
platform construction for Brazil's growing offshore oil
Abe told Brazilian business leaders that Japan has closed a
15-year deflation cycle since his stimulus policies began to
kick in and there is great potential to expand trade and
investment with Latin America's biggest economy.
"With Japan growing again, we can grow with other nations,"
he said in comments to executives translated by an interpreter.
"Japanese companies are eyeing Brazil with great
expectations," he said later at a deal-signing meeting with
President Dilma Rousseff.
Brazil's state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA
signed up for a $500 million loan from Mizuho Bank
Ltd to build eight hulls that will be converted into
floating oil platforms for deep-water oil production.
Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp (SMBC), the main banking unit
of Tokyo-based Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, agreed
to loan Brazilian agribusiness company Amaggi $200 million for
soy and corn projects that will improve shipments to Japan.
Brazil's state development bank BNDES agreed to join forces
with Japan's bank for international cooperation, JBIC, to look
for areas to promote investment by small and medium-sized
Japanese companies in Brazil.
Besides shipbuilding, Japanese companies are interested in
investing in the infrastructure Brazil needs to continue
growing, Brazilian and Japanese officials said. A plan to build
a high-speed train between Brazil's two largest cities, Sao
Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, is particularly promising, they said.
Japan is Brazil's sixth largest trading partner, with
two-way trade of $15.7 billion in 2012. Brazilian agribusiness
is the second-largest supplier of corn and soybeans to Japan.
Japan's enthusiasm for Abe's economic stimulus policies has
waned this year after the country's growth sagged and investors
grew impatient for more drastic structural reforms.
Rousseff thanked Japan for opening its market to Brazilian
pork last year, but she asked for the lifting of a ban on
Brazilian beef that Japan and a few other countries still have
in place due to a mad cow scare.
Brazil's Vale SA, the world's largest iron ore
miner, inked an agreement with Japan Oil, Gas and Metals Corp
(JOGMEC) to strengthen cooperation in coal mining in Mozambique.
Vale also renewed ties with JBIC for financing iron ore, coal
and other mining projects.
It wasn't all business for Abe. The Japanese leader met
Brazilian soccer stars who have played in Japan and thanked them
for helping develop the sport in his country.
Among them was Zico and Dunga, Brazil's newly-appointed
coach who played in Japan for three years and was Japan's coach
for another three. Zico gave Abe a soccer ball signed by
players. Abe kicked a pass to Zico and headed the ball with joy.
(Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Andrew Hay)