Brazil wants to help Cuba "update" its economic model and increase its exports, the Brazilian ambassador said Wednesday at the Havana International Trade Fair.

Jose Eduardo Martins confirmed Wednesday that Brazil shares Cuba's "optimism" regarding its economic outlook as a result of the reform plan being pushed by the government of President Raul Castro.

"I'm sure that the Brazilian business community is not only coming here to sell, but also to help in the effort of 'updating' the Cuban economic model and in the effort of Cuba to increase its export capacity and reduce imports," Martins said.

He spoke during the celebration of the Day of Brazil at the fair, which opened on Monday with the participation of some 1,500 businessmen from 57 countries.

The Cuban foreign trade and investment minister, Rodrigo Malmierca, emphasized Wednesday that Brazil and Cuba are promoting projects in the areas of health care, education, computers and agriculture and livestock, among other sectors, and are intending to "promote" the areas of economic complementation.

"During 2012 we're going to continue deepening and broadening our economic and trade relations toward new strategic objectives, placing emphasis on those that allow Cuba to increase its exports to Brazil and to other countries," Malmierca emphasized.

He also mentioned the ongoing construction and investment at the western Cuban port of Mariel as the "signature" project of bilateral economic cooperation.

Brazil is set to invest as much as $500 million in expanding the facilities at Mariel with the aim of making it into the island's main trade port.

In 2010, the 29 Brazilian firms that participated in the Havana Trade Fair closed 543 contracts valued at $69.1 million.

Brazil and Cuba have tightened political and trade relations in recent years, and Latin America's biggest economy has broad programs of cooperation and financing for infrastructure projects on the Communist-ruled island.