Another direct flight between Brazil and an Arab country may be established in the near future. Apart form the route opened in August between São Paulo and Beirut, fruit of a partnership between Middle East Airlines and Brazilian airline TAM, it is probable that a flight between Dubai and the city of São Paulo, in southeastern Brazil, should be established by Emirates Airlines up to the end of the year.
by Alexandre Rocha
Talks for the establishment of a flight to Casablanca, in Morocco, have already started. This information was provided to ANBA by Moroccan ambassador Ali Achour.
According to him, the subject started being discussed in July, when a mission organized by the Brazilian Cooperation Agency (ABC), an organization connected to the Ministry of Foreign Relations, visited the Arab country. Achour himself is a great defender of the route to connect Casablanca and São Paulo.
Enthusiastic with the possibility of improving relations between Brazil and Morocco, Achour also mentioned the products that his country could sell on the Brazilian market, including handcraft, especially carpets, citric fruit, wine, and all kinds of fish.
On the other hand, he believes that Brazil may export a greater volume of electronic products, cars, and may even start selling aircraft produced by Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer.
In the diplomat’s evaluation, trade between both countries may double in around two or three years. Last year, bilateral trade between Brazil and Morocco totalled US$ 428.5 million, with Brazilian exports totalling US$ 226.5 million, and imports US$ 202 million.
In the period from January and August 2004, Brazilian exports to the country have already generated US$ 235.3 million and have exceeded the total last year. Imports, in turn, totalled US$ 149.5 million, rising 37% when compared to the same period last year.
He also mentioned the results of the ABC mission to Morocco, the free trade agreement to be negotiated between the customs unit between Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, Mercosur, and the Arab country, and his perspectives with regard to the summit between Arab and South American heads of state, scheduled for April, in Brazil, next year. Below the main stretches of the interview.
“Brazil and Morocco already have an aviation agreement that may be put into operation. Air Maroc used to fly from Casablanca to Rio (a flight later taken on by airline Vasp). There may be charter flights, but there is also the possibility of a regular flight to São Paulo once or twice a week.
“A reasonable period for negotiation for the creation of the flight should be around one year. If we start by the end of 2004, everything should be set by the end of 2005, and operations may start at the beginning of 2006.
“The flight takes only seven hours and eliminates the need for stopovers in Europe. Nowadays Moroccans interested in coming to Brazil have to go to France or Spain, therefore needing visas that are hard to get.”
“On the other hand, Casablanca is at approximately the same distance from São Paulo as is Miami, but it is in Africa and is an exotic destination.
“Apart from that, Spain is only 13 kilometres away from Morocco (through Gibraltar straight) and six or seven ferries make the connection every day. Therefore, packages offered by travel agencies could include the south of Spain, and cities like Granada, Córdoba, and Seville.”
“I believe that, in a more conservative perspective, it is possible to double trade between Brazil and Morocco, easily increasing from the current total of around US$ 500 million to US$ 1 billion.
“And we will reach this figure as trade is already growing at stable rates. It is just a matter of time, two or three years is a reasonable bet, but I believe this increase can be even greater if we do things correctly.”
“Nowadays many Moroccan products are sold to Brazil through European intermediaries. It would be very interesting to establish a direct contact. First of all, it is necessary to come to know each other, we have a lot work ahead of us to promote businessmen’s participation in fairs and exhibitions in Morocco and Brazil.
“In second place, there is a belief that the two countries are very far from each other, and there is the language barrier. We must change this mentality.”
“Why can we not have business in the aeronautics area? Morocco has been adopting a policy of opening its aerial space. We will soon have various companies operating in our country, and they will need aircraft for short and medium ranges (like the regional jets produced by Embraer).”
“A Brazilian mission with members of the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa), the Brazilian Savings Bank (Caixa Econômica Federal), the National Service of Industrial Education (Senai) and other institutions visited Morocco in July.
“We are interested in areas like professional training by the Senai, and in the construction of popular housing so as to eliminate slums, an area Caixa Econômica has great experience in. We are also interested in agriculture, especially in drought areas, dominated by Embrapa, in tourism and in aerial transport.”
Summit Mercosur-Arab Countries
“We were one of the first countries to support the idea (presented by Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva) of a summit and offered to host a ministerial meeting to precede it, scheduled for February.”
“Two points are very important in this summit. First of all the fact that it is the first of the kind, and is going to bring together two regions that are geographically distant and make them talk, therefore being historical.
“In second place, as it should strengthen South-South cooperation and should also strengthen the system of multilateral relations at a time of globalisation.
“Within this point of view, the meeting must be a success, we cannot permit its results to be below expectations. It must reach the levels we hope and everyone is working for that purpose.”
ANBA ”“ Brazil-Arab News Agency