Taiwan IT giant Foxconn, which makes iPads and iPhones, is considering investing $12 billion in Brazil to build computer and mobile phone components, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has said.
Rousseff, who is in China on her first major foreign trip since taking office in January, told reporters late Tuesday that Foxconn had expressed its interest in investing the money in Brazil over the next "five to six years".
The Brazilian leader said a working group had been formed to study the proposal. Further details were not provided and Foxconn officials did not immediately respond to AFP requests for comment on Wednesday.
Taipei-based Foxconn, which has been plagued by a spate of suicides and labour problems in China in recent years, is the world's largest maker of computer components and produces goods for Apple, Sony and Nokia.
It currently employs around one million workers in China, about half of them based in the southern boomtown of Shenzhen, which neighbours Hong Kong.
The company said last month it planned to transform its factories in Shenzhen into an engineering base while moving about 200,000 jobs inland -- where wages are lower than in manufacturing hubs on the coast.
Foxconn has been expanding its workforce in central China as it seeks to scale back the size of its biggest facility in Shenzhen.
It has previously said it plans to hire up to 400,000 new workers this year, mostly in the central provinces, partly to keep up production while cutting maximum overtime hours.
Foxconn's investment in Brazil, if realised, would create massive job opportunities in the world's eighth-largest economy, and would advance Rousseff's goal of attracting more high-tech manufacturing.
At least 13 employees at Foxconn died in apparent suicides last year, according to Chinese state media. After the deaths, Foxconn raised wages by nearly 70 percent at its China plants.
In January, another Foxconn employee apparently jumped to her death in Shenzhen, the official Xinhua news agency said.
Labour rights activists have blamed the string of suicides at Foxconn on tough working conditions, highlighting the difficulties millions of factory workers face across China.
Brazil and China signed nearly two dozen agreements after talks between Rousseff and Chinese President Hu Jintao, including a deal for the sale of 35 Embraer E190 commercial jets to two Chinese airlines worth up to $1.4 billion.