There was a fourfold increase in exports from Egypt to Brazil in 2008, contributing for reduction of the historic deficit that the Arab country has in the trade balance. This according to the ambassador of Brazil to Cairo, Cesário Melantônio Neto.
"Brazilian exports contributed to the growth, but the greatest reason for happiness was identifying the fourfold increase in Egyptian exports, reducing the deficit," said the diplomat. He pointed out that bilateral trade between both countries, which is the aggregate result of exports and imports, exceeded US$ 1.6 billion last year, as against US$ 1.3 billion in 2007.
Up to November, Egyptian sales to Brazil totaled US$ 203 million, growth of 309.51% over the same period in 2007. The products that contributed most to the growth were super phosphate and calcium phosphate, inputs used in the fertilizer industry.
Brazil also imported significant volumes of other chemicals used in crops, as well as naphtha for the petrochemical industry, raw material for the paint sector and cotton.
On the other lane, Brazilian exports to Egypt totaled US$ 1.26 billion up to November, an increase of 11.32% over the same period in 2007. The main products shipped were sugar, iron ore, beef, calcinated alumina, chassis for buses, tobacco, soy oil, chicken, compressors and Kraft paper.
To Melantônio, the visit to Brazil of the minister of Industry and Trade of Egypt, Rachid Mohamed Rachid, in August, played a fundamental part in the expansion of trade relations. After him, the ministers of Finance, Youssef Boutros Ghali, and of Oil, Sameh Fahmi, also visited Brazil.
"The image of Brazil in Egypt is so positive that three heavyweight ministers visited Brazil in five months, which shows a quality change in interests," said the ambassador.
According to him, the expansion of relations should continue in 2009. "Despite the international crisis, the countries have healthy financial systems and good rates of growth in comparison with other nations," he said.
One of the promising areas is tourism. Melantônio was informed by the Egyptian minister of Tourism, Zoheir Garranah, that the number of Brazilian visitors to the Arab country tripled in 2008, reaching 45,000 people. That is at a moment in which, due to the crisis, the total number of visitors has dropped 28%.
"Brazil has become an important source of tourists to Egypt," stated Melantônio. In this respect, Garranah plans to visit Brazil this year to meet with representatives of travel agencies, journalists and government members.
Still this year, Brazil should receive the ministers of Social Solidarity, Ali El-Sayed Al-Moselhy, who visited the country in 2007, and of Agriculture, Amin Ahmed Abaza. On the other side, Egypt should receive the Brazilian ministers of Social Development, Patrus Ananias, and of Communications, Hélio Costa.
Also for 2009, the ambassador pointed out the promotion of a seminar about bilateral trade relations including businessmen from both nations, participation in Cairo International Fair, which will include participation of the Arab Brazilian Chamber for the 10th year running, and promotion of a Brazilian cinema week in Cairo.
Still in the first quarter there should be, in Cairo, a meeting between foreign ministers of the Arab and South American nations to complete the agenda of the 2nd summit between both blocs, to take place in Doha, Qatar. Melantônio pointed out the effort of the League of Arab States, which has offices in the Egyptian capital, in the promotion of the meeting of heads of state and government.
In the six months since he took over the Brazilian embassy, Melantônio also had meetings with the ministers of Civil Aviation, Ahmed Mohamed Shafik, and of Defense, Mohamed Hussein Tantawi.
The former showed satisfaction with the performance of the commercial jets made by Embraer used by EgyptAir and the latter spoke about the interest of the country in the purchase of Supertucano training and light attack turboprops, also made by the Brazilian company.