The National Foreign Trade Forum (Enaex), a traditional event held by the Brazilian Foreign Trade Association (AEB), will take place on August 7th and 8th in Rio de Janeiro. This year’s edition will focus on “Proposals for cutting costs in foreign trade.”
“It is a chance to meet people, attend business meetings, clarify doubts with government officials, learn more about the sector, new strategies, and how to overcome obstacles,” AEB executive chairman Fábio Martins Faria said.
The panels and debates will focus on mechanisms that can potentially reduce the costs of international trade operations. As a case in point, Faria mentioned the creation of a single foreign trade portal, which the government has already launched, in a bid to centralize all systems of the organizations involved in export and import operations. The project, however, should only be fully implemented in 2017. “It takes a long time to implement,” the executive said.
How to improve competitiveness and cut costs for companies will be another topic of debate, as well as innovation as a contributing factor to international negotiation. As potential innovations, Faria listed not only products that could conquer the international market, but also new marketing and sales strategies.
Financing and export guarantees will also be discussed, as will costs and logistics bottlenecks. “The logistical issue affects an area where Brazil is known to be competitive, i.e. agribusiness, because the agricultural frontier has moved further to the west, away from the ports,” Faria said.
Decades ago, the country chose to develop its roads to the detriment of other transportation modes, and moving cargo on trucks became expensive as distances lengthened. “The cost of transportation is very high, drives products’ prices up, and detracts from competitiveness,” the executive noted.
In this respect, despite the government’s announcement of railway and waterway projects over the past few years, Faria believes the topic has “not been given due priority.” “We will discuss ways to overcome these issues,” he said.
According to him, undertakings in this area take a long time and are seldom delivered on the deadline. “They are not completed on ‘FIFA’ time,” he said, referring to preparations for hosting the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
Although the world football championship’s organization has been a success, many of the works were delivered at the last moment, and others were not completed on time, as FIFA would have it.
To Faria, Brazil has a “historically small” share of international trade in relation to the size of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Whereas the country ranks among the world’s ten leading economies, its foreign trade fails to even make it into the top 20, he says. “Our share should be compatible with our GDP,” he remarked.
But this is no reason to be disheartened. “We have everything it takes to build our foreign trade, our glass is half full, but we must address the things that detract from our competitiveness: the ‘Brazil cost’ (i.e. the cost of doing business in Brazil), because manufacturing in Brazil costs dearly,” he said.
Apart from logistics bottlenecks, Faria listed the high tax burden and excess paperwork as the main issues facing executives involved in foreign trade in Brazil. “We must overcome this and we can, but the political will is lacking,” he asserted.
The lecturers and debaters at the forum will include the Brazilian minister of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade, Mauro Borges; the chairman of the Brazilian Export and Investment Promotion Agency (Apex-Brasil), Maurício Borges; the ministry’s Foreign Trade secretary, Daniel Godinho; the Brazilian Federal Revenue’s Customs and International Relations undersecretary, Ernani Argolo Checcucci Filho; the executive secretary at the Secretariat for Ports of the Brazilian Presidency; Antonio Henrique Silveira; the coordinator of Movimento Brasil Eficiente (Movement for an Efficient Brazil), Paulo Rabello de Castro; the chairman of the Brazil-China Business Council and former Brazilian Development minister, Sérgio Amaral; the executive director of mining company Vale, José Carlos Martins; the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture’s International Relations secretary, Marcelo Junqueira; the Brazilian Foreign Ministry’s undersecretary general , José Alfredo Graça Lima; the head of the Brazilian Foreign Ministry’s Commercial Promotion Department, Rodrigo Azeredo Santos; the vice president of Bunge and former Brazilian minister of Planning, Martus Tavares; the executive secretary at the Foreign Trade Chamber (Camex), André Alvim, among several other dignitaries.
The Enaex will also celebrate the “40 years of Brazil-China partnership.” “The AEB organized the first-ever trade missions to China,” Faria said. Mercosur, upcoming international agreements, export processing zones, and the role of chambers of commerce will also be discussed during the event.
As usual, an exhibition will take place, with companies offering products and services at stands, and prizes will be awarded for outstanding foreign trade performance in various categories.
Registration for the event is free of charge and will remain open until August 6th.
Date: August 7th and 8th
Place: Paulo de Frontin Ave., 1, Sul-América Convention Center, Cidade Nova, Rio de Janeiro
Telephone: +55 21 2544-0048
Registration: http://www.enaex.com.br/enaex2014/caderno.asp?id=19 (in Portuguese)
Additional information: www.enaex.com.br