The agribusiness sector in Brazil should end this year with a US$ 60 billion trade surplus, equivalent to growth of US$ 10.3 billion compared with the surplus recorded in 2007. The figures, supplied by the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply, also show that this year, foreign agribusiness sales should reach US$ 72 billion, an all-time high in the sector's history.
According to the Foreign Relations secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture, Célio Porto, the steady growth of agribusiness exports and of the trade surplus are consequences of the fact that in recent years, Brazil has proven itself capable of seizing opportunities to break into new markets.
For that reason, Porto believes that even in the face of the financial crisis, the country will continue to be a leading exporter of agricultural products. "Whenever prices go down, as is the case now, few countries are as competitive as Brazil is and, historically speaking, national agriculture has always perceived depreciated exchange as a form of encouragement," he explained.
To the Foreign Relations secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture, 2008 was a great year for the sector. The high prices of foodstuffs, prior to the world economic crisis, have helped the country to attain record-high exports.
Porto points out as contributing factors to high pricing, besides speculation, key factors such as the rising demand in Asia, especially in China, the effects of climate change on agriculture, the use of agricultural products, such as corn and oleaginous plants, for production of biofuels in United States and Europe, respectively, and low inventories.
In order to insert agribusiness into the foreign market even further, the Foreign Relations Secretariat promoted, in 2008, 22 international missions turned to commerce and meetings with agricultural sector authorities.
"We started with the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, in February, and ended with China, in December," said the secretary.
He highlights the trips taken to Japan, the United States, South Korea and Russia. In the area of support to foreign missions, the Secretariat received 23 visits, among them those of the ministers of Agriculture of Japan, Masatoshi Wakabayashi, and of Russia, Alexey Gordeev.
The schedule of the Secretariat in 2008 also included participation in four Agricultural Advisory Committees (AACs) with Indonesia, the United States, Canada and South Korea, and in meetings of 18 committees or workgroups of Codex Alimentarius, with work yielding good results in the fields of dairy products, meats, oils and sugar.