Brazil, the “b” in BRIC – which stands for Brazil, Russia, India and China, four countries deemed to be in a similar stage of economic development – has managed to maintain a healthy economy despite the recession, thanks in large part to foreign exports. As international business relationships continue to blossom in Brazil, fellow BRIC country China has emerged as a prominent trade partner.

In 2009, China was the largest importer of Brazilian goods, spending US$19.9 billion. Driving the trade partnership was China’s need for agribusiness exports – a sector in which Brazil thrives.

“Each has what each other needs,” explains Mayer Brown partner Matt McConkey who spent six years in the firm’s Beijing office. “China is desperate for raw materials and Brazil’s got a significant amount of raw materials. Brazil is looking for investments into the Brazilian economy and the Chinese are doing that.”

Joaquim Muniz, a partner at Brazilian firm Trench, Rossi e Watanabe, which is associated with the US firm Baker & McKenzie, says that, while it’s true that trade of raw materials and agricultural goods play an important role in Brazil and China’s business relationship, there’s more to it that is often overlooked.

“It’s not as simple as people say we’re exporting agriculture and raw materials and importing manufactured goods,” he says. “It’s not that simple. You also see Brazilian manufacturing companies moving to China and manufacturing good there. So that’s a good sign.”