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Harper begins Latin American tour in Brazil

Prime Minister Stephen Harper began his six-day tour of Latin America on Monday, meeting with Brazil’s president.

The United States and Europe debt crisis that is roiling stock markets topped the agenda.

With Harper looking on, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff spoke out against Standard & Poor’s decision to downgrade the U.S.’s debt credit rating, calling it “incorrect.”

Harper is on a four-country tour through Latin America with a mission of trying to boost trade.

“Brazil is a major global economic player and a key priority market for Canada,” Harper said in a news release.

Harper and Rousseff announced deals on air transport, social security, Olympic co-operation, and international development aid effectiveness.

”These agreements will benefit both countries by promoting greater two-way flow of people, goods and services, enhancing our competitiveness and further strengthening our partnership in key areas of shared interest,” Harper said.

They also announced a business leaders’ forum that would see Canadian and Brazilian executives meet on the margins of high-level diplomatic talks.

Brazil is now the world’s seventh-largest economy and is expected to rise to No. 5 within a few short years.