The Taoiseach has said that Ireland aims to increase it exports to Brazil. Speaking during a State visit there, Bertie Ahern added that, despite being one of the world's most successful export nations, Ireland has not explored the full potential of markets in the region. Brazil, he said, was an attractive market for Irish exports of information technology and pharmaceutical goods.

"In export terms we are a very powerful country, therefore it is logical that we are looking for new markets to export where we traditionally have not done so," Mr Ahern said after lunch with Brazil's President Fernando Henrique Cardoso.

The Taoiseach announced that the Government is to open an embassy in Brasilia and a consulate in Sao Paolo in order to facilitate expanding exports. Trade between Brazil and Ireland was £342m in 2000, which Mr Cardoso said was well below the potential of two expanding economies.