China is aiming to triple its trade with Portuguese-speaking countries in three years, while using Macau as a bridge to former Portuguese colonies. State councillor Hua Jianmin said China would try to expand its trade with the Portuguese-speaking world to US$100 billion from US$23 billion last year and US$33 billion in the first eight months of this year. He also emphasised Macau's role as a platform in economic co-operation between China and Portuguese-speaking countries. Mr Hua was speaking yesterday in Macau while attending the second ministerial conference of the Forum for Economic and Trade Co-operation between China and Portuguese-speaking countries. The two-day conference ends today. 'We should increase investment in the areas of logistics, agriculture, natural resources and infrastructure [in Portuguese-speaking nations], trying to reach a trade volume of US$45 to US$50 billion for the year of 2006 and further doubling the amount by 2009,' he said. The conference is being attended by ministers and trade officials from seven Portuguese-speaking nations: Brazil, Portugal, Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde and East Timor. Sao Tome and Principe, which has diplomatic ties with Taiwan, is the only Portuguese-speaking state not present. Brazil is China's largest Portuguese-speaking trade partner, with bilateral trade of US$12.2 billion last year, well up from US$2.3 billion in 2001. Portugal has trade worth about Euro1 billion (HK$9.95 billion) a year with China. Minister of Commerce Bo Xilai said China would foster stronger ties with Portuguese-speaking countries in the agriculture, fisheries and infrastructure sectors. 'The economic crops of some of these nations are quite competitive,' he said. 'China is also a large agricultural country.' Mr Hua said China would also encourage investment in Portuguese-speaking countries in finance, tourism and science. He promised a total of 800 million yuan in loans to Portuguese-speaking countries in the next three years.