Cooperatives from the state of Paraná, in the south of Brazil, exported US$ 50 million more to the Arabs in 2004 than in 2003. The figure represented a 20% increase in foreign trade of state cooperatives with the nations in the Middle East and North Africa.
Revenues with sales rose from US$ 248 million to US$ 298 million in the period. The main products traded were chicken meat, sugar, and products in the soy complex, especially oil and chaff.
The state cooperatives also answered to half of the sector exports throughout Brazil in 2004. Of the US$ 2 billion sold last year, Paraná participated with US$ 992.21 million.
In the second place came the southeastern state of São Paulo, with US$ 412.68 million (21%), followed by the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul, with an export volume of US$ 220.66 million (11% of the total).
According to a study by the Organization of Brazilian Cooperatives (OCB), among the ten largest markets for the sector, two are Arab. The highlights are the United Arab Emirates, the third largest buyer from Brazilian cooperatives.
Last year, the country imported US$ 132.9 million, losing only to China, the largest importer, with US$ 328.3 million, and Germany, with US$ 198.3 million.
According to the OCB, 94% of Emirati imports from cooperatives were sugar (a total of US$ 124 million). Algeria was the tenth largest trade partner in the sector, having spent, last year, US$ 61.2 million in products supplied by Brazilian cooperatives.
According to the economic advisor of the Union and Organization of Cooperatives of the State of Paraná (Ocepar), Robson Mafioletti, significant participation by cooperatives from the state of Paraná in total sector exports is the result of administrative professionalization.
In October last year, the organization made an agreement with Getúlio Vargas Foundation, which organized a specialization course in Foreign Trade.
Nowadays, 40 professionals from 16 cooperatives in Paraná state are participating in the course. Three modules have already been completed. Another three will take place this year.
Among the priorities established by cooperative executives is the foreign market. Within the project for internationalization, the Arabs appear as a more and more attractive option.
“They are good countries to work with. They come, visit the slaughterhouses, halal certify them and pay according to the contract,” explained Mafioletti. Another focus of attention is China.
With their eyes on opportunities that the Arab countries offer, the cooperatives from the state of Paraná are investing in diversification.
Strong in poultry, the state of Paraná has a large number of slaughterhouses and cold storage houses for production of cattle beef.
If it depends on the cooperatives, however, this reality will change in the near future.
Coopavel, from the city of Cascavel, for example, is implementing a pilot project for the slaughter of cattle.
Corol, from the city of Rolândia, is investing US$ 30 million in the construction of a meat packing plant with the capacity for the slaughter of 1,500 heads of cattle a day.
In the opinion of the cooperative, the Arabs may become potential buyers. Negotiating the product with these countries is no problem, guaranteed Mafioletti, as the negotiation channel is already open: the cooperative sells poultry to countries in the region.
Cooperatives are among the most significant sectors for the economy of the state of Paraná. Alone, they answer to 55% of the states agricultural GDP, which meant, in 2004, a value of US$ 6.776 billion.
They generated 45,000 direct jobs and around 100,000 indirect jobs. In the state of Paraná, there are 210 cooperatives, of which 68 operate in agriculture.
Omar Nasser, the author, is from FIEP (Federation of Industries of the State of Paraná),
ANBA ”“ Brazil-Arab News Agency
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