"I think the trip that I am about to embark on... is one of the most important I am going on to defend a new economic order and a new commercial policy in the world," Lula told reporters before leaving Brazil.

Brazil and China are two of the world's leading emerging economies and both see the current downturn as an opportunity for developing nations to play a bigger role in global affairs.

One item expected to come up in talks is a proposal by the Brazilian president for China and Brazil to conduct bilateral trade through each nation's currency, cutting out the US dollar as an intermediary.

Partnership

"The trip that I am about to embark on... is one of the most important I am going on to defend a new economic order and a new commercial policy in the world"

Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva, Brazilian president

In an interview with China's Xinhua news agency published on Monday Lula said a strategic partnership established between Brazil and China in 1993 "may... lead to a new global economic, scientific and trade landscape in the 21st century."
 
The Brazilian president's visit will also focus on broadening ties to include more Chinese investments in Latin America's largest economy and more Brazilian exports of manufactured goods.

He is expected to promote oil contracts, sales of Brazilian Embraer aircraft, which has a factory in China, biofuel technology for cars and meat exports during his Beijing visit, officials said.

In April China for the first time displaced the United States as Brazil's top trading partner in April, with the resources -hungry Asian economy stepping up its interest in Brazilian agriculture and natural resources.

Al Jazeera's Tony Cheng reporting from Beijing says the main point of discussion during Lula's visit will be on Brazilian energy resources which Beijing, with reserve funds to spare, was keen to exploit.

Trade soars

Brazil's two-way trade with China, one of the few economies still growing strongly despite the global crisis, reached $3.2bn in April, surpassing the $2.8bn trade total with the US.

So far this year, government data showed that Brazilian exports to China grew 65 per cent over the same period in 2008, rising from $3.4bn to $5.6bn.

Some 70 per cent of Brazilian exports to China are primary goods such as soy and iron ore while 60 per cent of Brazilian exports to the US are manufactured products.

Exports of manufactured goods are generally considered better than raw materials because they require greater use of technology and labour, whereas commodities are more vulnerable to market volatility.

Brazil's foreign trade secretary said the main aim for Brazil is to diversify beyond Chinese shores and to add value to its exports to China.

"Compared with the United States the biggest risk is that we don't diversify our exports because we will become too dependent on Chinese markets and this evidently is not good for anyone," Welber Barral told Reuters news agency.

"We have to diversify what we export to China, we have to diversify beyond China and we have to add value to our exports."