Antônio Costa, a manager at the Agribusiness department of the Federation of Industries of the State of São Paulo (Fiesp) advocates that Brazil should further explore the Arab market for sales of agricultural products. "This region has relatively low tariffs and imposes few sanitary barriers. It is a market that we must explore," he said in São Paulo.
Costa participated in the "Agribusiness" panel at the Encomex, a foreign trade event promoted by the Ministry of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade, which brought together representatives of several organizations connected to foreign trade, with the objective of debating the opportunities and challenges for the sector.
To Costa, rice, fruit, coffee and other more elaborated products are the Brazilian agricultural products of the greatest interest for sales to the Arab market.
"This market counts on significant credibility. Brazil needs to expand its presence, through business roundtables and with greater interaction with these countries and their buyers," he said.
The manager at the Fiesp showed figures that point at Brazil as the fourth main exporter of agricultural products in the world, and the 21st place among importers in the sector.
Costa recalled that the Arab market has grown as a destination for Brazilian agribusiness exports. Sales of agricultural and livestock products to the region grew 30% last year, according to figures disclosed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply.
They totaled US$ 6 billion and the main destinations were Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Emirates. The main products bought were meats, sugar and grain.
The manager also pointed out that Brazilian agricultural production is greater than domestic consumption and may supply the global market especially at a moment of crisis. "Countries like India and China are already showing signs of placing barriers on imports during crisis periods to supply their domestic market."
Regarding bottlenecks for the transport of Brazilian produce, Costa pointed out the dependence of the country on fertilizers and also problems related to the transportation of products. "Brazil is very competitive in production and this occasionally hides the deficiencies," he said.
The agribusiness panel also included the participation of Antônio Pezzuto, an agribusiness consultant at the Organization of Brazilian Cooperatives in the State of São Paulo, and Pedro Viana Borges, Training coordinator at the Department of Rural Cooperatives and Associations (Denacoop) of the Ministry of Agriculture.
According to Antônio Pezzuto, just 1% of what is produced by the cooperative system is guided to the foreign market. According to him, this happens due to the difficulty for cooperative products to reach the necessary volume for exports. "We have a great challenge in expansion on the foreign market," he said.
Pedro Viana Borges pointed out the Brazilian participation in the markets of the main food importers in the world, like Mexico, which is in the 8th position in the ranking and buys just 1.43% of its food products from Brazil. He also pointed out the importance of cooperatives in agribusiness. "Around 40% of Brazilian agricultural production, at some moment, reaches a cooperative," he recalled.