In the wake of the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank's US$1 billion takeover of Brazil's second biggest banking network, a determined campaign is being mounted to attract more investment from the SAR. Hutchison and Cheung Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing was already 'taking a very active part' in bidding for a stake in the rapidly growing telecommunications sector, said Brazil's Consul-General in Hong Kong, Luiz Carlos Feldman. With a huge privatisation programme and massive infrastructural upgrade envisaged across the country, other leading corporations are being invited to join a Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) mission exploring road-building, power generation and tourism opportunities. The red carpet is also being rolled out for smaller entrepreneurs. Another mission from the Brazilian- American Chamber of Commerce will attend the 10th Brazil Economic Conference in Hong Kong on September 22 in a bid to excite investment interest from local hotel groups, property developers and restaurateurs in the northeastern provinces of Bahia, known romantically as the Coconut Coast and the 'Land of Happiness'. 'With year-round sunshine and beautiful beaches, the tourism industry there is ripe for development,' Mr Feldman said. 'It already attracts a lot of visitors from Europe, the US and South America. 'Now they are aiming for a boost from Asia and all sorts of incentives will be offered. You name it, they will give it. There is fierce competition between Brazilian states for foreign investment and they offer everything from free land, electricity and water to long tax exemptions. They really make it attractive.' As a target for investment, Brazil demonstrated the dramatic economic improvements achieved under President Fernando Cardoso's 'Real Plan' mounted two years ago when he took office, Mr Feldman said. The lowest level of inflation since the 1950s is the most re-assuring factor. Enforcing both economic and political stability, inflation dropped below 10 per cent last year which, only three years ago, was the rate for a single week. 'The pool of Hong Kong companies keen on doing business with Brazil and other South American countries is widening,' said HKTDC's newly appointed director for Central and South America, John Braga. 'With a large population and expanding economies, South America is one of the world's fastest growing regions and a top-level priority in our ongoing trade promotion efforts,' Sao Paulo-based Mr Braga said. As part of its trade-building push, the HKTDC last week organised a commercial delegation to the Sao Paulo International Gift Fair. 'Six Hong Kong companies displayed high-quality, competitively priced giftware,' he said. 'What the HKTDC constantly promotes is an expanded two-way trade relationship that is beneficial to both sides.' Taking into account the 'huge potential' of the South American trade bloc Mercosur - the world's fourth largest with 250 million consumers - he added: 'It becomes obvious we will do a lot more business in the future. 'Coupled with the government's long- term commitment to liberalise trade, low inflation and steady growth will strengthen our business relationship.' Hong Kong is not alone in recognising Brazil's economic miracle. Foreign investment was up to US$9.2 billion last year from US$2.9 million in 1995. In his latest address to the nation, President Cardoso said: 'We are building a new Brazil. The country has changed greatly over the past two years and has entered a new phase of economic growth and social justice. 'Foreign interest and investor confidence in Brazil has grown significantly because our credibility has increased.'