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Brazil's Rousseff to attend BRICS summit in India
by Staff Writers
Brasilia (AFP) March 22, 2012

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff plans to travel to India next week for a summit of emerging powers and separate talks with Indian leaders on defense and bilateral trade, officials said Thursday.

The March 28 summit will bring together leaders of the BRICS (Brazil, China, India, Russia and South Africa) for talks aimed at boosting cooperation among the five nations.

Brazil, India and South Africa have been lobbying to turn their growing economic clout into greater diplomatic influence by securing permanent seats on the UN Security Council.

The New Delhi summit will be the fourth since the bloc was formed in 2009. South Africa joined in 2010.

On March 29, Rousseff is to begin an official visit for talks with Indian leaders that will focus on the French Rafale fighter jet, which India has selected for its air force and which Brasilia is considering purchasing.

"The exchange of ideas, impressions" on the Rafale "is certainly beneficial for us," Maria Edileuza Fonteneles Reis, a senior foreign ministry official, told reporters.

"India and Brazil plan to modernize their fighter aircraft fleet and build nuclear-powered submarines," she noted.

For its air force, Brazil is expected to choose between the Rafale, made by French firm Dassault; the F/A-18 Super Hornet, manufactured by US aviation giant Boeing; and Swedish manufacturer Saab's Gripen jet.

The contract for 36 aircraft is valued between $4 billion and $7 billion.

Analysts and government sources said India's selection of the Rafale could influence Brazil's choice.

Defense Minister Celso Amorim visited India in February, when the two countries discussed prospects for a "technical military accord."

Amorim has said Brasilia may make its decision on the contract in the first half of this year. Last year, Brazil delayed a decision on the purchase following a major budget cut.

Rousseff also plans to commit to boosting bilateral trade between Brazil and India from $9.2 billion last year to $15 billion by 2015, Reis said.

The two countries have developed closer ties since the creation of the IBSA (India-Brazil-South Africa) forum, launched in 2003 to boost South-South cooperation ties.

The five BRICS members now account for roughly 18 percent of the world's GDP, 40 percent of its population, 15 percent of global trade and hold 40 percent of global currency reserves.

They say they are united in their quest for a multipolar world order, including greater clout in international financial institutions such as the IMF.

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Hermes bags record profits with luxury goods despite crisis
Paris (AFP) March 22, 2012
Hermes is the latest luxury products group to show that economic crises can have silver linings, announcing record sales and profits on Thursday. Hermes, a symbol of French chic in accessories such as handbags and silk scarves, reported a record year in 2011 with a 40.9-percent rise in net profit. It also said it would line the purses of shareholders with a bumper, but one-off, dividend. ... read more

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