A cooperation mission to Lebanon, promoted by the Brazilian government, is going to leave for Lebanon on Monday, October 16, according to the Brazilian Foreign Office (Itamaraty).
The delegation is going to stay in the Arab country until the 18th, and the objective is to identify areas in which Brazil may help rebuild the country after the Israeli attacks.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Relations, the Brazilian assistance was requested by Lebanese prime minister Fouad Siniora, when the minister of Foreign Relations of Brazil, Celso Amorim, visited the Arab country in August.
According to the head of the Middle East Department at the Itamaraty, Sarkis Karmirian, the proposal of organizing the mission arose during the Lebanon Donors’ Conference, which took place in Stockholm, Sweden, also in August.
The Ministry stated that the delegation should be led by the director of the Brazilian Agency for Cooperation, ambassador Luiz Henrique Pereira da Fonseca, and will include representatives from the commercial and cultural promotion departments at the Itamaraty, from the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa), the National Service of Industrial Education (Senai), the Federal Savings Bank (CEF) and the Ministries of Education, Health and Mines and Energy.
The delegation will also include representatives of companies and sector organizations that are connected to Lebanon, as is the case with the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce, which will be represented by director Mustapha Abdouni.
The objectives, according to the Itamaraty, are to provide incentives to bilateral trade and identify the areas that are priorities for investment.
In the evaluation of the Brazilian ministry, Embrapa may contribute with its experience in the development of fruit planting and agriculture in semi-arid regions. The Senai, in turn, may offer courses for professional training in areas like carpentry, woodworking and hydraulics.
The Ministry of Education, according to the Itamaraty, may identify possibilities for cooperation in its area of competence, the Ministry of Health is going to offer support in epidemiological surveillance, and the Ministry of Mines and Energy may provide assistance in the installation and operation of mobile energy stations.
CEF bank, according to the Itamaraty, may offer training in the areas of urban development, management of solid residues, basic sanitation, habitation policies and banking technology turned to income transfer programs.
Homeland for Many Brazilians
A small country located in the Middle East and on the Mediterranean, Lebanon is the country of origin of most of the Arab immigrants who came to Brazil. Today the number of Brazilians of Lebanese origin – about 10 million – is much larger than the population of the Arab country itself, which is around 3.6 million people.
According to information disclosed by the Arab Brazilian Chamber, the Lebanese Gross Domestic Product (GDP) reached US$ 20.9 billion last year. The countries main industries are in the food, chemical and textile sectors.
Brazilian exports to Lebanon totaled US$ 123 million between January and September this year, an increase of 34% when compared to the same period in 2005. The main items shipped were live cattle, cattle beef, coffee and cashew nuts.
Imports in turn dropped, from US$ 4.9 million in the first nine months of last year, to US$ 1.8 million in the same period in 2006. The main products imported by Brazil to date this year were aluminum residues, machinery for bread making and pickled vegetables.