Brazil-China Golden Jubilee


The year 2024 marks 50 years of diplomatic relations between Brazil and China, and there are plenty of reasons to celebrate this golden jubilee. Since 1974, Brazil and China have undergone profound social and economic changes. In this period, China’s GDP has increased from US$ 1.9 trillion to US$ 18 trillion, making the Asian giant the second largest economy in the world, behind only the United States.

Fifty years ago, neither Brazil nor China were major players in international trade. China’s becoming a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001 changed this scenario for both countries.

In 2004, when the Sino-Brazilian relationship celebrated 30 years, Brazil recognized China as a market economy. In 2009, China became Brazil’s main trading partner and, since then, this relationship has intensified year by year.

The surprising expansion of trade between the two countries occurred in the most diverse economic sectors, especially in agriculture and livestock. The increase in Brazil’s agricultural exports in recent years is directly linked to the growth in Chinese purchases.

In 2004, foreign sales of agricultural products totaled US$ 39 billion. In 2023, this figure leaped to US$ 166.5 billion, an increase of almost 330%. In the same period, agricultural exports to China rose from almost US$ 3 billion to US$ 60 billion, an increase of almost 2,000%.

While China’s total share of agricultural sales grew from 8% in 2004 to 36% in 2023, exports to the European Union (EU) fell from 33% to 13%. China has become the major driving force of the increase in Brazilian agricultural foreign trade. Data analysis shows that much of this trade is focused on a few products. Soybean, fresh beef, and cellulose accounted for 80% of agricultural exports to China in 2023.

This focus is not unique to the relationship with China. The same thing happens with other trading partners. The challenge of diversification is related to the need to further open markets and expand the Brazilian export base. As China is our main destination, this issue is even more evident.

On the Chinese side, there is also concern about dependence on food supplies. Food security is a critical priority for the Chinese government, and among the strategies determined to achieve this are increasing domestic production and diversifying supply sources, since China is unable to be self-sufficient and will continue to depend on imports to ensure domestic supply.

Brazil is currently China’s main food supplier. As each year China increases its significance for Brazilian agribusiness, Brazil is also increasing its share of Chinese imports of agricultural products. Both China and Brazil are seeking diversification, but not to undermine the bilateral relationship. On the contrary, there is plenty of room for growth. In addition to trade, Brazil and China can cooperate in several fields for the benefit of both countries.

The communiqué signed by Brazil and China in 1974 reads as follows: “The two governments agree to develop friendly relations between the two countries based on the principles of mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, non-aggression, non-intervention in domestic affairs of one of the countries by the other, equality and mutual advantage, and peaceful coexistence.”

May these continue to be the pillars of the relationship between these two giants, so that the mutual benefits become even greater for both Chinese and Brazilian societies.


Sueme Mori is the Director of International Relations at the Brazilian Confederation of Agriculture and Livestock (CNA).

*Article originally published on Broadcast