Brazil’s minister of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade, Miguel Jorge, is going to send a team to Iran in order to determine how to increase investment, industrial cooperation, and trade between the two countries.
The Brazilian minister made the promise to the Iranian minister of Industry and Mines, Ali Akbar Mehrabian, during a meeting at the ministry, in Tehran. Miguel Jorge is currently in the country heading a business mission that should also go to Lebanon and Egypt.
According to the Brazilian minister, the group, comprising representatives of the Brazilian Export and Investment Promotion Agency (Apex) and the Brazilian Industrial Development Agency (ABDI), among other organizations linked to the Brazilian Ministry of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade, will travel to Iran prior to president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s trip to the country, scheduled for mid-May.
The action will be undertaken by the Brazil-Iran Bilateral Commission. Lula’s trip in May should also include Qatar, which is an Arab nation, and Russia.
According to the Brazilian ambassador to Tehran, Antonio Salgado, Lula has helped establish closer ties between Brazil and Iran. The Brazilian delegation, which arrived at the Iranian capital this afternoon, was welcomed by the diplomat at the Parsian Esteghlal International Hotel, where the group is staying.
Salgado talked about the two countries, whose diplomatic ties date back to 1903, but stated that their relations fall short of their full potential. Geographical distance, weak Iranian presence in Brazil, and vice-versa, among other factors, have all contributed, according to him.
“There are 3,000 Iranians in Brazil and 130 Brazilians in Iran. This gets in the way,” said the ambassador. According to him, this is why the government must take the helm and promote tie-strengthening actions.
Salgado said one of the obstacles to increased relations is lack of mutual knowledge, but that actions such as the ongoing one, business roundtables for businessmen, and visits of government officials are helping bring the two countries closer.
He stated that Brazil should not regard Iran solely as a market, and that Iranians are expecting investment from Brazil. Salgado also claimed that Iran, on its part, has already promised to invest in Brazil.
While addressing the delegation, minister Miguel Jorge called attention to the fact that Brazilian exports to Iran have already grown a lot, but that the trade balance is heavily tipped in favor of Brazil. Brazilian exports to Iran totaled US$ 1.2 billion last year, as against US$ 19 million in Iranian sales.
The executive secretary of the Brazilian Development Ministry, Ivan Ramalho, stated, however, that stronger sales from Iran to Brazil will depend on whether or not Iranian businessmen are going to seek a market in Brazil. “Brazil is a country that imposes no barriers,” claimed Ramalho. He called attention to the fact that Brazil may even serve a gateway to the other South American countries.
The Brazilian delegation was welcomed on Monday evening with a dinner offered by minister Mehrabian. On Tuesday (April 13), Miguel Jorge and his colleague attended another bilateral meeting including Iranian and Brazilian businessmen. Miguel Jorge is also going to meet with other authorities, such as the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
In Iran, Miguel Jorge is being accompanied by roughly 80 businessmen and organization leaders, among them the president of the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce, Salim Taufic Schahin, and the organization’s director, Mustapha Abdouni.
The mission is promoted by the Ministry of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade with support from the Brazilian foreign office (Itamaraty), the Apex, the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce, and the Iranian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.