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China and Brazil sign agreements on football, nuclear power

[BEIJING] China and Brazil signed 14 cooperative agreements on Friday, including on football and nuclear and hydro power, as embattled Brazilian President Michel Temer seeks to revive Latin America's largest economy.

They were inked following Temer's meeting with President Xi Jinping in Beijing ahead of next week's BRICS summit.

Mr Temer, who has vigorously sought Chinese investment since taking office last August, said his 19-member delegation "shows the priority that we give" to relations with Beijing which he praised as "prosperous and affectionate".

"Brazil is a premier cooperative partner for China," Mr Xi said.

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"The Brazil-China relationship has global strategic significance and the two countries should deepen their cooperation and proceed ahead in harmony."

China, meanwhile, is looking to find overseas markets for its excess industrial production capacity.

Aside from economic matters, Mr Xi has stated he aims to make China a genuine force in international football and hopes to see it host the World Cup.

Brazil's economy is slowly returning to growth after two years of recession, with the government statistics office revealing Thursday that the country's jobless rate unexpectedly fell to 12.8 per cent in the three months through July.

As the 76-year-old head of the centre-right PMDB party, Mr Temer has pushed austerity cuts, looser labour laws and a big privatisation programme that he says will revive the sickly economy after more than a decade of leftist rule.

The president is also embroiled in a heap of corruption scandals, having been accused of everything from coup plotting to taking millions of dollars in bribes.

Zhang Run, the deputy director general of China's department of Latin American and Caribbean Affairs, told reporters that Brazil's economy was "back on track", adding that their relationship had "withstood the test of changing circumstances".

Trade between the two countries rose more than 30 per cent in the first seven months of this year, Mr Zhang said, noting that China's more than US$30 billion in investments in Brazil makes it the "number one destination for Chinese investment in Latin America".

Mr Zhang added that China recently became Brazil's top export market for beef, despite a rotten meat scandal this June which threatened the country's position as the world's leading beef and poultry exporter.