Brazil’s minister of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade, Miguel Jorge, and a group of 86 Brazilian businessmen arrived Sunday in Tehran as part of the preparations for the May 15th visit by Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
The group will be in Iran until April 13; after that, they travel to Egypt (April 14 and 15) and then to Lebanon, on April 16.
Along with the minister and businessmen one politician, a federal deputy, Julio Delgado from the PSB of Minas Gerais state, is also making the trip. He is a member of the Chamber of Deputies Foreign Relations Commission. Delgado says he will look at Iran in an “uncontaminated, neutral” manner.
This trip to Iran comes against a background of growing American – and international – pressure in favor of sanctions against that country because of its nuclear program.
Miguel Jorge admitted that some of that pressure was felt in the Brazilian business community and a few businessmen decided not to make the trip.
“But that has not stopped the rest. Our group consists of big, medium and small business representatives and all are going to Tehran with an open mind,” declared the minister.
Jorge said the goal was to further diversify Brazilian trade partners and increase sales abroad. So, his group of businessmen had interests in many economic sectors.
In 2009, Brazilian exports to Iran, Egypt and Lebanon totaled around US$ 3 billion, with imports at $110 million. It is a region, said Jorge, that should have GDP growth in 2010 of 3% in Iran and Egypt, with Lebanon a little better at 4%.
“For most Brazilian businessmen these are closed and difficult markets (especially Iran and Egypt). So, the idea is to make contacts and open the markets for our exports.”
Iranian authorities, according to that country’s official news agency, Irna, see the visit by president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on May 15 as an opportunity to strengthen partnerships between the two nations.
Last week, on April 7, the ambassadors of Brazil in Iran (Antonio Luis Espinola Salgado) and Iran in Brazil (Moshen Shaterzadeh) had simultaneous news conferences to discuss the planned visit.
According to Shaterzadeh, the position of the Brazilian government supporting Iran’s right to develop a nuclear program is positive because it shows trust in the peaceful objectives of the research. The Iranian ambassador went on to say that the two countries have decided to work together on nuclear cooperation.
In his comments, the Brazilian ambassador, Salgado, pointed out that Brazil-Iran relations have existed for a century and the tendency is for them to expand in various areas.
“We share concerns in the area of international relations,” said the ambassador. “In different ways, both countries seek to promote bilateral relations as part of an effort to safeguard national independence within a framework of peaceful coexistence with other nations.”
Both ambassadors praised the visit by the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to Brazil in November 2009. At that time the two countries signed 14 cooperation agreements.