Is a free-trade deal the best option for Brazil and China?

china brazil free trade deal
President Jair Bolsonaro (R) and Chinese leader Xi Jinping during the BRICS Summit, in Brasília. Photo: PR

For Brazil and China, the 11th BRICS summit—held Wednesday and Thursday this week—had a special meaning. The event helped to put an end at the hard feelings caused by president Jair Bolsonaro’s rhetoric during the election campaign, when he declared that “the Chinese are trying to buy Brazil.” In a much friendlier business and political climate, the president himself spoke of strengthening Brazil’s ties with China, while Economy Minister Paulo Guedes was even more optimistic, considering a free-trade deal between the countries.

But how would such an arrangement work?

Technically, any negotiation for a free-trade deal—which is a...

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