South Meets South at Arab-Latin Summit in Brazil

President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil deserves the credit and congratulations for his foresight and leadership in taking the initiative for hosting the first-ever conference to bring together the leaders of South America and the Arab world.

On a recent speech, the Minister of External Relations of Brazil, Ambassador Celso Amorim, said the following: “In Brazil we are experiencing a new awakening towards the Arab world, inspired by strong links forged by History and Culture.


“Not all of you may be aware of the fact that more than ten million Brazilians trace their ancestry to the Middle East. We have the largest community of people of Arab descent outside the Arab world. They made and continue to make a decisive contribution to the development of our society.”


Today, the Brazilian people hope to establish a strong friendship between these countries and Brazil, and also the foundations for a new business and economic relations that will be mutually rewarding for Brazil and for all the Arab countries of the Middle East and Africa.


Here is the information provided by the Brazilian government regarding this event:


“Summit of South American and Arab Countries”
Brasí­lia, Brazil – May 10th to 11th, 2005.


1- Presentation


The Summit of South American – Arab Countries is an innovative initiative. It is the first international meeting in recent history that seeks to bring together two non contiguous world regions, both of them of continental dimensions, outside of the regular UN work program.


It is fundamentally a proposal for South-South bi-regional cooperation. We view this initiative as a new, constructive and complementary effort to ongoing integration processes. It is not meant to confront or oppose any other country or region;


The Summit has many objectives. The most important is a reciprocal re-discovery of two regions with historical affinities and a vast but yet unfulfilled potential in the field of bilateral relations.


Looking to the past, the contact points between the two worlds date back to the Arab presence in the Iberian Peninsula. Human ties between both regions have grown more intense over the past century through migration flows toward South America, which have made a valuable contribution to the social and cultural development of an important number of countries in the region.


Today there are over 10 million people of Arab descent living only in Brazil, not to mention the many South American migrants, particularly Brazilians, that have recently gone the opposite way in search of a new life in the Middle East.


Looking to the future, what we aim at is a partnership between two regions that face similar challenges in the struggle for development. The obvious diversity of their national situations, identities and levels of development does not prevent them from sharing common goals and interests.


Countries from both regions share a common vision of peace and economic development with social justice, they base their actions on the respect for international law and multilateralism, they fight for an inclusive, tolerant, multipolar world more conducive to development.


2- Date and Venue of the Summit


* The Government of Brasil will host the Summit of South American and Arab Countries in Brasí­lia, from May 10th to 11th, 2005.


* The following countries will participate of the Summit: Argentina, Algeria, Bah rein, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Ecuador, Guiana, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Paraguay, Peru, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Suriname, Syrian Arab Rep, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Venezuela, Yemen.


* The Summit will be held at the facilities of Blue Tree Alvorada Hotel, with the exception of the Opening Ceremony which will take place at the Ulysses Guimarães Convention Center.


* The Conference shall be preceded by a meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs on the 9th and a meeting of High Officials on the 8th.


3- Date and venue of the Entrepreneurial event


* Immediately prior to the Conference of Heads of State or Government there will be held an Entrepreneurial Seminar and an Investment Fair.


* The entrepreneurial event will take place at the Ulysses Guimarães Convention Center, from May 9th to May 11th, 2005.


* The purpose of the meeting is to enhance mutual knowledge and boost business and investments between the regions. The meeting in Brasí­lia will provide an unprecedented opportunity to establish a new network of economic and commercial players from both regions.


* In addition to South American and Arab entrepreneurs, local and international bankers and financiers will attend the meeting. These will be targeted according to current and potential economic interests between the two regions.


4) Trade Business South America and Arab Countries


Along with the activities of the South American-Arab Countries Summit on May 10th, 2005, a business meeting for the countries in these regions will be held on May 9th through 11th.


The meeting will take place at the Convention Center Ulysses Guimarães, in Brasilia, and it will be comprised of a seminar for the discussion of topics of common interest and an investment fair, where each of the 34 countries involved will have a booth to showcase their business and investment opportunities from an institutional perspective.


The purpose of the meeting is to enhance mutual knowledge and boost business and investments between the regions. Brazil, for example, has been expanding considerably its trade relations with Arab countries. In 2004, bilateral exchanges reached as much as US$ 8.18 billion, a 50% increase in comparison to 2003.


It would now make sense to extend the benefits of this relationship to all other countries in South America, thus making it a more stable and cogent region. Arab countries are also interested, it should be noted, in diversifying their portfolio of trade partners.


South America is experiencing an economic boom, with countless investment opportunities both in infrastructure and productive activities.


The meeting in Brasí­lia could provide an unprecedented opportunity to establish a new network of economic and commercial players from both regions.


In addition to South American and Arab entrepreneurs, local and international bankers and financiers will be invited to attend the meeting in Brasí­lia. These will be targeted according to current and potential economic interests between the two regions.


Ricardo C. Amaral is an author and economist. You can reach him at: brazilamaral@yahoo.com.

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