Brazil’s Lula Hints Palestine May Sign Trade Accord with Mercosur

Palestine and Brazil leaders Palestine might sign a trade agreement with the Mercosur. The possibility was mentioned by Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva this Friday, November 20, after a meeting with the president of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), Mahmoud Abbas.

The Palestinian leader is on a visit to Brazil since Thursday and met with Lula, on Friday morning, at Museu da Misericórdia, in Salvador, the capital of Bahia.

During a press conference, Lula spoke of the long-standing relations that Brazil sustains with the Middle East and the Arab world, particularly with the Palestinians.

"An eventual free trade agreement between the Mercosur and Palestine is going to strengthen our ties," said the president, without providing further detail. The Mercosur has already set up similar agreements with Israel, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

He listed other steps that Brazil has taken for establishing closer ties with the Arab world and Palestine, such as opening a representative office in Ramallah, in the West Bank, the Summit of South American-Arab Countries, which already had two editions, and the creation of the chair of ambassador extraordinary to the Middle East.

"Our flow of trade with the Arab countries has increased fourfold since 2002," added Lula. Brazilian exports to the region alone have gone from US$ 2.6 billion in 2002 to US$ 9.8 billion last year. Brazilian imports from the region have risen from US$ 2.2 billion to US$ 10.4 billion.

During the meeting held this Friday, a technical agreement was also signed between Palestine and Brazil. The Brazilian and Palestinian foreign ministers, Celso Amorim and Riad Malki, traveled to Salvador alongside the presidents and signed the deal, which should enable and facilitate cooperation between Palestine and Brazil.

"As a matter of fact, by means of donations that it has made, Brazil is already engaged in technical cooperation with Palestine, but this will enable us to cooperate further in agriculture, education and sports," said Amorim. After the presidential meeting, the two foreign ministers met to discuss the matter.

Brazil donated US$ 10 million to the Palestinians in 2007, which are being used in different projects, mostly social ones, and it also donated US$ 10 million in March this year for the rebuilding of the Gaza Strip.

"It was the largest contribution given by a non-Islamic developing country," said president Lula. The Brazilian head of state had already met with Abbas on Thursday, during dinner offered by the governor of the state of Bahia, Jacques Wagner.

Anba

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