The current visit of Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to the Middle East has a strong commercial component apart from the political one. Businessmen from several sectors are accompanying the president in the three phases of the trip, which includes Israel, Palestine and Jordan.
This Monday Lula is in Jerusalem. In an address at the Parliament of Israel, Lula defended the creation of a Palestinian State and expressed concerns on new Israeli settlements.
Tuesday afternoon he should head to Bethlehem, in the West Bank, where he should have a series of meetings organized by the Brazilian Foreign Office with the support of the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce, the government and local organizations.
According to Ricardo Leal, a councilor at the Brazilian representative office in Ramallah, Palestine, the presence of almost 20 representatives of sector organizations from Brazil and around 100 Palestinian businessmen are expected. Among the sectors represented will be infrastructure, information technology, marble and granite, pulp and paper and textiles.
Heavyweights in the private sector in Brazil should be represented, among them construction companies Andrade Gutierrez, Camargo Corrêa, and OAS, Rosset group, which owns lingerie brand Valisère, and company Suzano, in the pulp and paper sector.
There are few figures regarding trade between Brazil and Palestine, as many products enter and leave the region through neighboring countries, mainly Israel. To Leal, the visit of the Brazilian president and business meetings should serve as “openers” to the strengthening of bilateral relations.
The seminar should count on the participation of the Ministry of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade of Brazil, Miguel Jorge, the minister of Economy of Palestine, Abu Libdeh, and Arab Brazilian Chamber president Salim Taufic Schahin.
Schahin should say, among other things, that the organization’s objectives with regard to Palestine are to provide incentives to tourism. He recalls that the population of Brazil is mostly Christian, and that Palestine is the birthplace of Christianity, and that there is space to expand the flow of Brazilian tourists to the region.
The Arab Brazilian Chamber president should speak about the Palestinian investor conference, that should take place in São Paulo, in the second half, organized by the governments of Spain and Brazil with the support of the organization.
Lula should end the business meeting alongside the prime minister of Palestine, Salam Fayyad. According to Ricardo Leal, the governments of the region are “very motivated” with the trip of the Brazilian president.
The visit by Lula is expected mainly due to the political message he plans to present, due to the peace process between Israel and Palestine and the inclusion into negotiations of new interlocutors, among them Brazil. The president gave his message today, in Jerusalem, during meetings with local authorities and businessmen.
In Jordan, the last phase of the trip, there should also be a business seminar. According to figures disclosed by the Brazilian embassy in Amman, around 50 Brazilian businessmen and between 250 and 300 Jordanian ones are expected. The event should be focused mainly on the sectors of tourism, pharmaceuticals, agribusiness and energy, but there should be participation of companies in other sectors.
On Wednesday night, Lula should dine with Jordanian king Abdullah II, alongside a small group of businessmen, connected to Camargo Corrêa and Andrade Gutierrez, Maxxion, in the engine sector, Eurofarma, of medication, and the Federation of Industries of the State of Santa Catarina (Fiesc), as well as Schahin and the secretary general at the Arab Brazilian Chamber, Michel Alaby.
The government of Jordan expects good performance from the country economy this year. According to an article published by English-language newspaper Jordan Times, the minister of Industry and Trade, Amer Hadidi, said, in an press conference, that the number of foreign investors with business in Jordan grew 11% in the first two months of the year, in comparison with the same period last year. The total foreign investment, according to the paper, reached 41 million Jordanian dinars (US$ 58 million).
The minister also said that there was growth of 17% in the number of companies registered at the Ministry and 35% in the registered company capital. He said that the year should be hard in the budget point of view, but that the economy is recovering and growing. Hadidi also said, according to the paper, that Jordanian exports grew 4% in January.