Brazilian and Kuwaiti businessmen discussed, February 23, during a meeting at the Kuwaiti Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in Kwait, ways of levelling the trade balance between both countries.
According to Mario Vilalva, the director of the Brazilian Foreign Office Trade Promotion Department, who is a member of the Brazilian trade mission to the Middle East, Brazil is increasing sales to Kuwait, but the same is not happening with exports from the Arab country to Brazil.
“What we buy from Kuwait is basically oil and Brazil is becoming self sufficient in oil,” stated Vilalva. This may further increase the unbalance.
Brazilian exports to Kuwait reached US$ 127.9 million last year, with growth of 73% over the total for 2003, whereas sales from the Arab nation to Brazil reached just US$ 22 million and dropped 70% when compared to the previous year.
One of the suggestions made at the meeting was that the Kuwaitis open opportunities for Brazilian companies to invest there, a fact that could compensate this difference in the trade balance.
According to Vilalva, there are various infrastructure projects in Kuwait in which Brazilian companies could invest. A total of 20 Arab businessmen participated in the meeting with the Brazilian delegation.
Another possibility for the strengthening of trade relations, suggested by Global Investment House, a company that works on the attraction of investment to Kuwait, was the formation of joint ventures between companies from both countries so that Brazilian products may be exported to Iraq through Kuwait.
According to information supplied to the businessmen by Global, the Brazilians could obtain export financing from banks in Kuwait and also take advantage of the logistics there is in the region for sales to Iraq.
According to Vilalva, one of the Brazilian companies included in the delegation was very interested in this possibility. The products would be made in Brazil and simply shipped for storage by the partner in Kuwait, for later distribution in Iraq.
During the meeting the businessmen recognized, however, that greater knowledge of the economic, tourist and investment potentials in both countries is necessary so as to strengthen trade relations.
According to Antonio Sarkis Jr., the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce president and Michel Alaby, the organization’s secretary general, both travelling with the delegation, the need for a direct flight between Brazil and the Arab countries was mentioned, as was the need for solution of some maritime difficulties, among them the low frequency of shipping.
Maritime transport between both regions, according to Alaby and Sarkis, should be one of the themes of discussion during the summit between Arab and South American countries, scheduled for May, in Brazilian capital Brasília.
During a luncheon offered by the Kuwaiti Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in which Brazilian Foreign Relations minister Celso Amorim and his Kuwaiti counterpart, Mohammed Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah participated, the trade agreement between the Mercosur, the customs union between Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), to be worked on during the summit between both regions, was also discussed.
According to Vilalva, it was agreed that there should be a meeting between representatives from both regions some days before the summit so that talks may proceed. This meeting should take place in the beginning of May, either in the city of Rio de Janeiro or in the city of São Paulo, both in southeastern Brazil.
At the beginning of the week, the GCC secretary general, Abdul Rahman Bin Hamad Al-Atiyyad, and Amorim agreed to work on the signing of a framework agreement, a document that marks the beginning of formal negotiations, at the summit.
Amorim also met the Kuwaiti prime minister, Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, to whom he delivered an invitation by Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva for emir Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah to participate in the summit.
The prime minister stated that Kuwait is prepared to participate and hopes that the results generated by the event be positive. Amorim also signed a cultural agreement between Brazil and Kuwait.
The Brazilian Foreign Minister also visited Lebanon, where he met president Emile Lahoud, to whom he delivered an invitation from president Lula for participation in the summit, apart from a letter about bilateral and multilateral relations.
The visit to the country was scheduled for the end of last week, but it was transferred to February 23 due to agenda matters. President Lahoud, according to information supplied by the Itamaraty, stressed the importance of the summit at their meeting and stated that Brazil has always been close to Lebanon.
Amorim informed the Lebanese President that after President Lula’s visit to the Arab countries, at the end of 2003, trade between Brazil and the region grew by 50%.
So as to show this, the Brazilian Foreign Minister stated that during the visit to Qatar, on the previous day, he met businessmen from companies Marcopolo and Mercedes-Benz, who had sold 540 buses to the country.
Translated by Mark Ament
ANBA ”“ Brazil-Arab News Agency
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