Brazilian Exports to Arab countries yielded US$ 3.233 billion in the first half of this year, an increase of 20.8% over the same period of 2006, according to data disclosed this Thursday, July 12, by the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce.
"Once again, trade has surpassed the goal that we had set. Late last year, we estimated a 15% growth for 2007," said the president at the organization, Antonio Sarkis Jr., during a press conference held at the head office of the Arab Brazilian Chamber in the southeastern Brazilian city of São Paulo.
The main destinations during the period were Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria, and Morocco. There has also been a diversification of the export basket, as 1,826 items were sold in the first six months of 2007, compared with 1,694 in the first half of last year, an increase of 7.79%.
Among the new products, Sarkis highlighted corn. "In 2005 and 2006, there were virtually no corn exports, but this year it has entered the basket, and we are sensing a greater demand, especially in North Africa," he claimed.
In his assessment, other major corn producing countries have been using their stocks for ethanol production, which leads importers to seek new suppliers.
"And Brazil heads that list of options, as it does not use corn for producing ethanol," he said.
Other new commodities in the export basket for the first semester of the year were semi-manufactured products in iron and steel, steel pipes, and diesel/electric locomotives.
Agribusiness products answered to 65.53% of total exports. Shipments in the sector totaled US$ 2.12 billion in the first semester, an increase of 29.22% over the first half of 2006.
The main agricultural commodities exported were chicken and bovine meats, whose shipments have yielded US$ 981.3 million, an increase of 44.8%; the sugar and alcohol complex (US$ 708 million, an increase of 4.4%); the soy complex -Â oil, grain and chaff (US$ 129 million, a 43.3% increase); forestry products (US$ 68 million, 54% more) and coffee (US$ 60 million, a 78% increase).
"All of the indexes that we work with and evaluate were positive," said Sarkis. "There is a strong trend for Brazil to increasingly become an alternative to Arab businessmen, who are accustomed to having the United States and Europe as suppliers," he stated.
According to him, this is due to closer political ties between Brazil and the Arab world, promoted in the governmental realm; to the trade and cultural promotion work carried out by the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce; to the recognition of the quality and competitiveness of Brazilian products; to the country's neutrality with regard to the Arab causes; to the professionalism of Brazilian companies; and to the excessive liquidity that exists in the Arab world.
According to Sarkis, the Arab countries as a whole are recording an average annual trade surplus of around US$ 200 billion. "This surplus generates purchasing power, greater demand for higher value-added products, and infrastructure investments in the housing and hotel sectors," he stated.
Imports of Arab products, on the other hand, totaled US$ 2.65 billion in the first half of this year, driving bilateral trade up to US$ 5.9 billion.
Petroleum, according to Sarkis, answered to more than 85% of total exports by the Arabs. He highlighted, nevertheless, that nations in the region are investing in other export segments, such as petrochemicals, carpets, and raw materials for the textile industry.
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