Brazil has agreed to help Lebanon in areas like trade, health, water quality, livestock, fruit growing, habitation, professional training and teacher training.
According to the Brazilian Foreign Office (Itamaraty), these were some of the sectors identified as presenting the greatest potential for cooperation during the multidisciplinary trade delegation organized by the Brazilian government to the Arab country last week.
The delegation was headed by the director of the Brazilian Cooperation Agency (ACB), Luiz Henrique Pereira Fonseca, and by the director of the commercial promotion department at the Itamaraty, Henrique da Silveira Sardinha Pinto, together with the head of the commercial promotion operations division, Norton de Andrade Mello Rapesta.
The delegation also included representatives of various government and private organizations, among them Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce director Mustapha Abdouni.
One of the meetings that took place was with the Minister of Economy and Foreign Trade of Lebanon, Sami Haddad. "We discussed ways of providing incentives to trade between both countries and the minister showed interest in organizing a delegation of Lebanese businessmen to Brazil and also bringing to Brazil some of his assistants for an internship at the commercial promotion operations division at the Itamaraty," said Abdouni.
One of the objectives is to provide incentives to exports from Lebanon as the country currently has a trade balance that is very favorable to Brazil. According to figures supplied by the Foreign Trade Secretariat (Secex), Brazilian exports to the Arab country generated US$ 123 million in the first nine months of 2006, against just US$ 1.7 million imported from the Arab country.
The theme was also discussed during a meeting with the president of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Beirut, Ghazzi Kraitem. "We spoke about stimulating trade, focussing on the import of Lebanese products and on Brazilian investment in the country, direct or through joint ventures," stated the Arab Brazilian Chamber director.
According to Abdouni, Kraitem praised the Arab Brazilian Chamber and stated that he counts on the organization’s help to expand trade with Brazil.
"I placed the Chamber at his disposal to collaborate in whatever is possible, as our mission is to provide incentives to relations between the Arab countries and Brazil. Apart from that, Lebanon is especially important, as the Lebanese community is very great in our country. There are over 8 million Lebanese people, among immigrants and descendants," declared Abdouni.
At the Association of Lebanese Industries, Abdouni offered the Arab Chamber Space, an area the organization has at its offices in São Paulo, for the organization of exhibitions of Lebanese products. He also suggested that Lebanese companies that produce food participate in Expo Abras, a supermarket product fair that takes place in Brazil.
The delegation also had meetings at Idal, the Lebanese government’s investment promotion agency, at the Council for Development and Reconstruction and at the International Business Council of Lebanon. The latter invited the Chamber to participate in its activities.
The Brazilians also visited the site where fair Rebuild Lebanon is going to take place next year and were also met by the organizers of the event, which is going to contemplate the civil construction, electricity, infrastructure, telecommunications, water resources, sanitation, health, agriculture, education, security and information technology sectors.
Diplomacy and Education
Members of the delegation were also met by the minister of Foreign Business, Fauzi Sallukh, and of Education, Khaled Khapani. According to Abdouni, the minister of Education stated that despite the damage to the infrastructure caused by the Israeli attacks, Lebanon will have a school year "thanks to the help of friendly countries and international organizations that helped in the reconstruction and redoing of schools, including the purchase of teaching material."
The members of the delegation also visited the southern region of Beirut, destroyed by Israeli air raids, and were met warmly by the local residents. "It was touching to see how they reacted when they discovered we were Brazilians, and we even met a little boy wearing a Brazilian Team T-shirt," said Abdouni.
The activities also included the Brazilian ambassador in Beirut, Eduardo Seixas, and representatives of the ministry of Education, Mines and Energy and Health.
Representatives of the Brazilian Savings Bank, of the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa), of the National Service of Industrial Education (Senai) and of construction companies Norberto Odebrecht and Andrade Gutierrez were also present.
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