By Ana Mano
SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Cargill’s chief executive in Brazil, Paulo Sousa, said on Wednesday that insults by Brazilian government officials aimed at the country’s main trading partner, China, are detrimental to the South American nation’s business interests.
Aggressive stances taken sometimes on China by members of right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro’s government is “a great cause for concern,” Sousa said in an interview with a local newspaper posted on social media.
Cargill was Brazil’s largest shipper of soybeans and corn in the five months through May, according to data from maritime agencies. The U.S.-headquartered grain trader exported 8.1 million tonnes of the oilseeds out of Brazil, and almost 342,000 tonnes of corn through May, maritime agency data show.
“We have the role of providing food to the world regardless of color, race, creed or political preference of a country,” Sousa said. “So it’s not fitting for Brazilian government officials to insult our biggest client. I’d say it’s not even very smart.”
The Brazilian government did not have an immediate comment.
Sousa, who took over as president of Cargill’s Brazil operation last December, said he does not see any immediate risk of an interruption in Brazil’s trade with China.
Brazilian soybean exports, of which China is the biggest buyer, were above expectations in the first months of the year, the executive said.
Even thought it has hit Brazil very hard, the COVID-19 pandemic has not disrupted the country’s ability to export agricultural commodities like grains and meat, he said.
“It is good to stop talking. It is good to stop being aggressive,” Sousa said.
(Reporting by Ana Mano; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis)