Trade between Brazil and the 22 countries that belong to the Arab League grew 28.3% in 2005 to a total of US$ 10.5 billion in exports and imports.
This volume exceeded "our expectations, which suggested an increase of around 13%," informed the president of the Arab-Brazilian Chamber of Commerce, Antonio Sarkis, in a recap of Brazil’s trade with these countries.
Besides a continued interest in traditional items, such as agribusiness products, the Arabs consumed more Brazilian manufactured goods and are now paying more attention to Brazilian construction engineering and construction materials.
Sarkis forecasts a 20% trade increase in 2006, less than in 2005. But he observed that once again the results may surprise the sector. According to Sarkis, Arab markets imported US$ 5.2 billion worth of merchandise from Brazil last year, 29% more than in 2004.
Traditional agribusiness items continued to head the list: 66% of what Brazil sold came from this segment, with sugar representing 34% and beef, 23%. The novelty, he said, is the interest in Brazilian manufactured goods, such as autoparts and bus chassis and motors.
In Sarkis’s opinion, trade relations were stimulated by fairs and other events, such as the South America-Arab Countries Summit, which brought heads of State and foreign ministers from 34 countries to Brasília, and the Brazil-Arab Countries Entrepreneurial Encounter, in São Paulo. Both of these events took place in May, 2005.
According to Sarkis, construction is another area that should be very "attractive" in 2006. "There are many infrastructure projects underway, such as highway and airport construction, besides mass housing developments that should stimulate interest in Brazilian firms that offer services in the area of construction and construction materials," he informed.
Among the projects, he commented that in Dubai, a member of the United Arab Emirates, there are plans to build 700 skyscrapers in the next five years.
And Algeria has a plan to invest around US$ 55 billion in this sector over the same period of time. "Everything will depend upon what happens to the price of oil on the international market," he reflected.