At least 20 heads of state and government have already confirmed their presence at the summit between Arab and South American countries, to take place on May 10 and 11, in Brazilian capital BrasÀlia.
The Brazilian Foreign Office (Itamaraty) expects great participation in the event and is awaiting further confirmation. According to sources at the Ministry of Foreign Relations, in the case of some countries, it is customary to leave confirmation to the last minute, due to security reasons. The names of the leaders who are going to participate, however, will only be officially announced in days to come.
Of the 20 leaders confirmed up to Friday, April 15, 18 are heads of state and two are heads of government. Diplomatic sources stated that ten are South American and 10 are Arab.
The Arab leaders who have already confirmed participation in the event are the kings of Jordan, Abdullah II, and Morocco, Mohammed VI, the Syrian prime minister, Mohamed Naji Al-Otari, the president of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), Mahmoud Abbas, the emir of Qatar, Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, and the president of Algeria, Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
Algeria currently occupies the presidency of the League of Arab States, and Bouteflika will be the co-president of the summit, together with his Brazilian colleague, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
There is also the possibility that the Saudi crown prince, Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, will participate.
Of the 12 South American leaders, the only ones who have not yet confirmed their presence are the president of Argentina, Néstor Kirchner, and of Suriname, Runaldo Venetiaan.
Even if not all heads of state are present, the 34 countries involved will send delegations to the summit.
One of the main topics of the event will be trade and economic relations between both regions. There is already a proposal for the final declaration for the meeting that has been approved by the ministries of Foreign Relations of the countries participating.
The only point that has not yet been defined is the agenda for the meetings to take place after the summit.
A meeting, however, has already been defined. The ministers of the economic areas of both regions are going to meet in Ecuador, at a date yet to be defined.
According to the Itamaraty, it is expected that the summit and the events to take place later should result in actions “turned to expansion of trade flows between both regions and the expansion of respective integration processes, and stimulation of investment in strategic sectors, like energy, transport and telecommunications.”
Still in the economic area, it is intended to “install commercial warehouses at ports in both regions, so as to simplify receipt and distribution of merchandise,” as well as increasing inter-regional tourism “through the promotion of joint events.”
With regard to commercial integration, some processes are already in progress. The Mercosur, the customs union between Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, is currently negotiating tariff preference agreements with Egypt and Morocco.
During the summit, a framework agreement to begin similar negotiations between the South American bloc and the Gulf Cooperation Council, which includes Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Oman, should be signed.
The secretary general of the GCC, Abdul Rahman Bin Hamad Al-Attiyad, was invited to Brazil one week before the summit so as to discuss the matter with representatives of the Mercosur.
Economic cooperation is also going to be included in the events to take place in parallel to the summit, including events like the business seminar and the investment fair.
The Itamaraty hopes that 2,000 people, among the businessmen and members of delegations, should be in Brasília to participate in the meetings.
On May 12 and 13, in São Paulo, in southeastern Brazil, the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce (CCAB), together with the state government, is going to promote other activities turned to businessmen.
ANBA – Brazil-Arab News Agency