The tour Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva took of five countries in the Middle East and North Africa, in December 2003, resulted in an “automatic increase” in trade relations between Brazil and the Arab countries.
This is the opinion of the Brazilian Chief of Staff, José Dirceu. He added, however, that the great leap in bilateral relations is going to take place after the summit between Arab and South American heads of state to take place in Brazil in May 2005.
To Dirceu, the time has come to make Brazil a safe option for part of the Arab investment around the world.
“What is currently more important is putting Brazil in the circuit of Arab investment, as they are after countries that are both friends and are safe havens for their funds,” stated the chief of staff on Friday in an exclusive interview to ANBA, the Brazil-Arab News Agency, at the offices of the League of Arab States, in Cairo.
Dirceu was there to participate in a ceremony in homage of the former president of the Palestinian National Authority, Yasser Arafat, who died last week.
At the occasion, the Minister met the Secretary General of the League of Arab States, Amr Mussa, and signed a book of condolences for the death of Arafat in the name of the Brazilian government.
Dirceu recalled that, in the political area, there has been integration between Brazil and the Arab countries for over 30 years, and it is now more important to improve trade and economic relations.
As an example he mentioned the petrochemical sector “where there are great perspectives in sight ” and “Arab investment is being discussed.” Below, the main stretches of the interview:
What is the balance you make of relations between Brazil and the Arab world after the tour president Lula took to the Middle East?
There has evidently been an automatic increase in trade relations. Bilateral trade has increased significantly, especially in the case of Brazilian exports to the Arab countries. This is undoubtedly a positive fact that is the result of the tour President Lula took and of the efforts he has been making since then so that closer ties may be generated.
I believe, however, that the most important balance will come as a result of the Arab-South-American summit that President Lula is taking care of personally. I myself have been accompanying, together with Minister Celso Amorim (Foreign Relations), all the efforts that the Itamaraty (the Brazilian foreign office) and Minister (Luiz Fernando) Furlan (Development) have been making in this direction.
Brazil is not only improving political and cultural relations with the Arab world, but also trade relations and investment. We have a great interest in making not only political and cultural exchange possible, but also trade exchange and economic integration.
What would the basis for integration in the political, economical and cultural level be?
With regard to the political level, I believe that there is already full integration as Brazil has had a policy of support to the Arab countries for over 30 yeas.
What is currently more important is putting Brazil in the circuit of Arab investment, as they are after countries that are both friends and are safe havens for their funds.
On the other hand, we would like the Arabs to know that Brazil does not only want to sell to the Arab world, the country also wants to buy their products.
As Brazil is an economy that is complementary to that of the Arab countries, it is also possible to sell foods, machinery, and equipment; as well as technology and raw materials.
In what areas could there be exchange?
There are also good perspectives in the tourism area. We could establish exchange of tourists coming from the Arab countries to Brazil, and from Brazil to the Arab countries.
I also believe that there could be an exchange of technology in various areas. I feel that the agro-industrial and biotechnology areas are important and there is great space for exchange.
On the other hand, Brazil can also sell services to the Arab countries. It would, this way, be possible to promote joint work in the area of civil and industrial construction.
But I also believe that there are large perspectives in sight in the petrochemical area. This is a sector where Arab investment is being discussed, and Brazilian oil giant Petrobras has been watching the matter closely.
In the area of technology, where could there be greater cooperation?
I believe that there are many possibilities for cooperation, exchange, and joint work in this area. Brazil has been developing and doing good work in the aerospace and aeronautics areas.
Our country has also been working on important research connected to agribusiness. I believe there could be, for example, exchange of experience between centers that are doing research of the genome.
Brazil is developing important research connected to the treatment of endemic diseases. In short, there are many options. What is important is that we invest and apply ourselves in this work.
ANBA ”“ Brazil-Arab News Agency