In an interview to Brazilian radio stations, Brazil President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva recalled the tours he took to the Arab countries and to Africa, and mentioned the growth in trade with both regions. He also defended Latin American integration.
“Although our export to Europe and the United States is large, and is growing, space is shrinking and it becomes harder for Brazil to sell products to these markets.
It is therefore essential to seek new markets,” stated Lula. “We want to continue having the USA and the EU as our main partners, but we want alternatives for the Brazilian products,” he added.
Considering this, the Brazilian President recalled the trips he took to the Middle East and Africa and the increase in trade between Brazil and these two regions.
“After we visited South Africa there have already been dozens of meetings between businessmen in that country. There have also been dozens of meetings between Brazilian and Middle Eastern businessmen, and our export is rising in an exceptional manner,” declared Lula.
In fact, Brazilian export to the Middle East has totalled US$ 2.5 billion between January and August this year, 58% more than in the same period last year. To Africa, Brazilian shipping has generated US$ 2.6 billion in the first eight months of 2004, a 52% increase with regard to the same months in 2003.
Export to South Africa has generated US$ 622 million, with 38% growth. To the 22 countries in the League of Arab States, the total exported was US$ 2.6 billion, an increase of 67%.
Since the beginning of his term in office, at the beginning of last year, the Brazilian President has been in Africa three times, and visited five Arab countries (Lebanon, Syria, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Libya) in December 2003.
And greater Brazilian export is not all president Lula is interested in. He is also interested in import. “When we go to a meeting with other governments, I say: ‘We must also buy.’ This is because we need a trade balance surplus, but what is correct in the foreign trade balance is that there be equilibrium.
“We must sell. But we must also buy, so as to make the economies of other countries survive. And this maxim, that we have established in the government is what has been guaranteeing this fantastic Brazilian participation on the foreign market,” stated the President.
Brazilian import from the regions mentioned by President Lula has also increased. Between January and August, Brazil has purchased the equivalent to US$ 1.2 billion from the Middle East, 28% more than in the same period last year. From Africa, import has totalled US$ 3.9 billion, or 88% more than in the first eight months of 2003.
From South Africa, Brazil purchased US$ 170 million, a 31% growth. With regard to the 22 countries of the League of Arab States, Brazilian import totalled US$ 2.4 billion, presenting a 45% increase.
But it is not only with the Arabs and the Africans that the Brazilian government wants to intensify relations. Latin America is a special focus. It is not from now that the Brazilian President has been defending physical integration of South America.
“Of all the South American countries, the only ones with which Brazil does not have frontiers are Chile and Ecuador. When talking about integration, it is essential to point out the need for highways, bridges, a telecommunications system, and electric energy. And Brazil, as the largest economy in the region, must leap, must provide incentives, must provide a policy for this,” he said.
Last month, for example, the President visited the state of Acre, in the north of the country, where he inaugurated a bridge connecting the Brazilian city of Brasiléia to the Bolivian city of Cobija, a construction that cost around US$ 2.5 million (in current figures) to the Brazilian government.
President Lula also wants to use funds in the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES), the official bank for investment in the country, to invest in Latin-American countries.
“Therefore, that phase in which South American countries, Latin American countries, talked to their rich partners as if they were beggars, with their heads low, asking for favours, has finished.
“No, we have rights, and we only want to demand our rights. It is for this reason that I went to so many countries, to the Middle East, Africa, India, China, to the whole of South America, and to some other countries in Latin America, in the United States, and in Europe. We want to build a new international geography,” stated President Lula.
ANBA – Brazil-Arab News Agency
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