Approximately 380 Brazilian businessmen and 27 entrepreneurs from five Arab countries – Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, and Yemen – took part in a round of business discussions February 15 and 16 in São Paulo, Brazil.
The encounter is supposed to stimulate trade relations between Brazil and the 22 members of the Arab League. Last year commercial relations between Brazil and the Arab countries amounted to US$ 8.1 billion, 49.7% more than in 2003.
In some of the Arab countries, such as Syria, Libya, and Algeria, that received visits last year from President Lula or Brazilian government delegations, business transactions more than doubled in 2004.
According to the president of the Arabian-Brazilian Chamber of Commerce, Antônio Sarkis, Jr., most of the Arab participants already have business interests in Brazil. Still, these businessmen don’t import more than two or three products.
“They are motivated with the business potential. They had no idea of the quality and diversity of Brazilian products. Moreover, our prices are competitive,” Sarkis assures.
The sectors that stimulate greatest interest are sugar, beef, chicken, coffee, and powdered milk. Nonetheless, the Arabs are also attracted by manufactured items, including auto parts, electric material and motors, steel pipes, and textiles.
The Arabs’ visit is also expected to result in investments in Brazil. The Yemenese conglomerate, Hayel Saee Anam, which already has a business presence in 38 countries, came in search of partners for joint ventures in the agribusiness area.
There is still a big market waiting to be exploited, guarantees the president of the Arab-Brazilian Chamber of Commerce. Sarkis pointed out that in 2004 the 22 member countries of the Arab League imported a total of US$ 231 billion. Brazil’s percentage amounted to only 2%.
“Our goal is to increase Brazilian exports there from their current level of US$ 4.03 billion to US$ 7 billion in two or three years.”
To reach this goal, the Chamber plans to participate in 15 international fairs in the Arab world – 13 business fairs and 2 tourism fairs.
In addition, it intends to organize a big business event in May in São Paulo. The idea is hitch on to a summit meeting at that time in Brasília among heads of Arab and South American states.
Translation: David Silberstein