The Embraer 170 jet airplane purchased by Libyan oil company Syrte Oil should arrive in Tripoli, capital of the Arab country, around April 12th. Libyan pilots fetched the aircraft in Brazil and then headed to Europe, to install equipment for communication in the desert.
The information was by the Brazilian ambassador to Tripoli, Luciano Ozório Rosa. "The jet has already had its inaugural flight," the diplomat said. According to Embraer, the delivery was made on April 2, in the city of São José dos Campos, in the interior of the southern Brazilian state of São Paulo, where the company is headquartered.
The announcement of the purchase of the airplane, which has capacity for 76 passengers, was made in December last year. By then, the standard price announced was US$ 27.5 million. Syrte, a state-owned company, will use the plane to transport employees. "This is an airplane that requires short-length runways, and may land in fields in several areas of the country," the ambassador said.
Rosa plans to organize a ceremony to mark the arrival of the aircraft in the Arab country, since this is the first jet sold by Embraer to a Libyan company. The first, but probably not the last. The ambassador highlighted that this should open doors for further orders, since the local government has adopted a policy of turning Tripoli into an air connection point between Europe and Africa.
"Libya spent many years in isolation, but now it has become a Mecca of investment, especially in the oil and construction fields," said the ambassador. In recent years, the country re-established good diplomatic and trade relations with the United States and the European Union, and has enjoyed high liquidity due to the high oil price, which drives the local economy.
According to Rosa, one of the Libyan air carriers, Afriqiyah, operates regular flights to several destinations in Europe and in African countries, and among local carriers; there is a demand for purchase of new aircraft, since the ones currently in use are under leasing contracts.
The diplomat said Afriqiyah is interested in larger Embraer jet aircraft, of the 190 and 195 models, the former with a capacity for up to 106 passengers, and the second, for up to 118, and Afriqiyah is already negotiating with the Brazilian company. The Embraer press office informed that the company does not comment on business prospects.
But export opportunities to Libya, according to the ambassador, are not limited to the aircraft sector. Since the economy is basically driven by petroleum, the country imports all kinds of goods, and foreign purchases rise as high, in the case of food, as 75% of what is consumed in the country.
Apart from food products, Rosa sees great potential for the sale of tractors and other agricultural equipment, furniture, cutlery and other household utensils, garments, shoes also for companies in the civil construction business.
Except for some products, like chicken and alcoholic beverages, according to the ambassador, imported products do not face trade and tariff barriers. There is, however, competition with products from other African and European countries.
Some Brazilian products are already well placed on the market, as is the case with iron ore, cattle beef and sugar. Brazilian beef, for example, supplies 95% of local demand.
"The demand for cattle beef in the country grows at geometric progression, as in the past the Libyan population consumed basically sheep and goat meat, but now they are opening themselves to cattle beef," stated Rosa.
Other Brazilian food products are also available there, like fruit juice, biscuits and chocolate, but the products are distributed by importers in the United Arab Emirates.
"If Brazilian companies manage to sell directly, the price may become more convenient," declared the diplomat.
In the first two months of the year, exports from Brazil to Libya totaled US$ 25 million, an increase of 15% in comparison to the same period in 2006, according to figures supplied by the Brazilian Ministry of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade.
In the area of construction, Rosa mentioned great enterprises that are in progress or are being designed in the country, in the areas of tourism, habitation and infrastructure. One of them, located a few kilometers east of Tripoli, is run by company Al Tameer and consists of a tourist complex that is receiving investment of US$ 20 billion and includes hotels, golf courses, tennis courts and beaches, among other leisure attractions.
Another example mentioned by him is the construction of a new neighborhood in the outskirts of the capital. The neighborhood will include hundreds of high-standard apartment buildings. There are also projects for the expansion of the passenger terminal and runways at Tripoli airport and the construction of apartment-hotels due to the fluctuating foreign populations of multinational oil company employees.
According to Rosa, 43 international companies in the sector currently operate in the country, including Brazilian oil giant Petrobras. Brazilian companies are already eyeing this market.
In this respect he is celebrating Brazilian participation in Tripoli International Fair, which is going to go on up to April 12, with a stand by the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce. According to the diplomat, this is the return to a presence that was suspended two decades ago.
Apart from showing products made by two Brazilian companies and catalogues of another five, the participation serves to locally see the potential of the market and of competitors, as 4,500 companies from 45 countries are participating.
In just one day, last week, the Arab Brazilian Chamber stand received around 15 people interested in trading with Brazil. According to the foreign trade analyst at the organization, Zein El Abdine, who is at the fair, the Brazilian stand received businessmen from Libya, Morocco, Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia.
"Libya is living a very fast transformation in the economic and financial areas, and this is also being reflected in cultural opening," pointed out the diplomat.
"I have been here for a year and a half and it is already possible to notice a very significant difference," he added. As an example, he mentioned Internet access, which was little known a few years ago, but is now even available in broadband in small cities.
The ambassador pointed out that trade relations between Brazil and Libya presented a great leap after the visit Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva made to the Arab country in December 2003. He also said that the Libyan Prime Minister, Al-Bagdadi Ali Al-Mahmoudi, may visit Brazil in the first half of this year.
"Brazil has an excellent image here, the Brazilians are treated with great friendship," finished off Rosa. The diplomat, who is 66 years old, has been working for the Brazilian Foreign Office (Itamaraty) for 44 years and had previously already occupied a position in Libya, as well as Egypt, Uruguay, Argentina, Italy and Holland, among other countries. He has also been the head of the Middle East and North Africa department at the Itamaraty.
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