Three thousand representatives of the Brazilian leather and footwear sector were in BrasÀlia to protest the government’s exchange rate policy.
According to the Footwear Industry Association (Associação Brasileira da Indústria de Calçados) (Abicalçados), last year Brazil footwear exports were down 20 million pairs, compared to 2004.
Meanwhile, footwear imports from China rose by 14 million pairs. Abicalçados says that as a result over 12,000 jobs disappeared in the sector just this year.
The protestors met with minister of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade, Luiz Fernando Furlan, and demanded a level playing field in order to deal with Chinese imports and more credit for working capital in the sector.
Meanwhile, Brazil’s Minister of Agriculture, Roberto Rodrigues, reports that President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has ordered priority treatment for the agricultural sector, which is going through difficulties and is also rife with farmer complaints.
Rodrigues met Wednesday, May 10, with the president and ministers in the economic area.
"Lula says the farm sector is a priority and he wants immediate solutions," said Rodrigues. A work force that is dealing with the crisis in the sector full-time has been set up.
"We hope to have concrete solutions by the end of May and a plan for the harvest that is realistic."
Rodrigues said there are two ways to deal with the crisis: an emergency plan that will take of debts, prices and commercialization; or a structural approach that would tackle the problems of taxes and production costs.
Brazilian rice exports were a bright spot, however, reaching 107,200 tons in the first four months of the year. The increase over the period from January to April 2005 was 16%. Last year, Brazil exported 400,000 tons of rice, with growth of 643% over 2004.