During the opening of the 26th National Foreign Trade Meeting (Enaex) this morning, November 30, in Rio de Janeiro, in the southeast of Brazil, the Brazilian minister of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade, Luiz Fernando Furlan, analyzed his almost four years in office.
"A few years ago, no one would have imagined that the country’s global trade (exports plus imports) would surpass the US$ 1 billion daily average mark, as it did this year," he told the audience of representatives of the public and private sectors at Hotel Glória.
Furlan claimed that Brazilian exports should reach US$ 135 billion by the end of the year, a 15% increase compared with last year. Concerning imports, consolidated growth is expected to be 25%.
"Nevertheless, it is important to underscore the quality of imports, mostly comprised of inputs, machinery and equipments. Imports of consumer goods, despite having increased 50% this year, account for only 15% of overall imports," said the minister.
During his term in office, several imported capital goods were exonerated from the Industrialized Products Tax (IPI). According to Furlan, the reduction of tax burden on products and investments should continue.
The minister mentioned the approximation with other emerging markets as one of the successful policies of the current government. "Exports to Venezuela, for instance, are on the verge of surpassing exports to Italy, and in a near future, they will surpass sales to Japan as well. And sales to the Venezuelan market consist of high-added-value products," he said. "Countries such as Chile, Peru and Mexico became an important part of Brazilian foreign trade," he added.
With regard to the relationship with other countries and economic blocs, he highlighted the textile safeguards agreement signed with China, the free trade agreement signed with Mexico, the bilateral consultation mechanism established with the United States government, and the trade agreements under negotiation between Brazil and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Egypt, South Africa and other countries.
Furlan talked about the work of the Brazilian Export and Investment Promotion Agency (Apex) promoting the Brazilian image and products abroad, through its participation in hundreds of international events. He also mentioned the promotion of 59 Foreign Trade Meetings (Encomex) in various areas of Brazil, with the participation of 40,000 people.
He highlighted the key role played by the private sector in the growth of Brazilian foreign trade. "Businessmen are the ones who export and work hard," he said. He also spoke of the progress in the internationalization of Brazilian companies.
"Companies that wish to ensure their future must be close to their markets. In doing so, they promote development and take the image of Brazil to the farthest reaches of the world," he said.
The minister stated once again that infrastructure investments aimed at improving the logistics of Brazilian exports will be a priority during the second term of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, as well as measures for reducing the tax burden on the productive sector and reducing bureaucracy.
These were precisely some of the demands presented by the president of the Brazilian Foreign Trade Association (AEB), Benedicto Fonseca Moreira, also during the opening of Enaex. The association is the organizer of the event, whose theme this year is the formulation of a policy to lessen the tax burden on foreign trade.
"A minister can do a lot, but he cannot do everything. Businessmen must help solve problems, and this is the purpose of this Enaex," Moreira claimed.
He requested that Furlan remain in office for the next four years, and was loudly applauded by the audience. President Lula has not yet announced the team for his second term in office.
Also during the opening, the president of Federation of Industries of the State of Rio de Janeiro (Firjan), Eduardo Eugênio Gouveia Vieira, said that the southeastern Brazilian state of Rio de Janeiro went from being the 9th largest Brazilian exporting state, in 2000, to being the 5th largest exporter last year.
"This year we are already 4th in the ranking," he claimed. The country’s largest exporter is currently the southeastern state of São Paulo.
In an interview given after the opening of the event, Furlan said he expects the Brazilian Gross Domestic Product Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to increase even further next year.
"The agricultural sector will have a normal crop, with product prices at a good level. This will collaborate for a higher GDP in 2007," he said.
According to data released today by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), the Brazilian GDP increased 0.5% in the third quarter of this year, compared with the second quarter, and 3.2% compared with the third quarter of last year.
The minister refrained, though, from making forecasts regarding economic growth. He believes projections will be clearer after the government announces all of the promised measures for fostering investment in the country.
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