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Kuwait Has Big Plans and Brazil Wants a Piece of the Business

Kuwait city skyline Brazil and Kuwait have a prospect of rapid growth in trade, but Brazilians need to further showcase products in the Arab country, according to the treasurer at the Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Abdulwahab Mohammed Al-Wazzan.

The opinion was expressed yesterday by the executive, who is also the president at the Kuwait International Bank, during a meeting with Brazilian businessmen at the organization's head offices, in Kuwait City.

Attended by approximately 30 Kuwaiti businessmen, the meeting was part of the activities of the Brazilian civil construction sector mission to the Gulf, promoted by the Brazilian Export and Investment Promotion Agency (Apex-Brasil) and the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce.

Kuwait was the first country visited by the mission. "Trade between the two countries could be larger," said Al-Wazzan. The treasurer stated that both countries have good services and products to offer. "

Brazil exported the equivalent of US$ 173 million to Kuwait from January to October this year. In the same months of last year, sales totaled US$ 112 million. On the other hand, Kuwait exported to the Brazilian market the equivalent of US$ 77 million in the first ten months of the current year, against US$ 550,000 in the same period of last year.

The Brazilian ambassador to Kuwait, Mário Roiter, who also attended the meeting, invited the Kuwaiti businessmen to travel to Brazil in order to get to know the country's potential. Al-Wazzan liked the idea, and said that it would be an opportunity for discovering possible business opportunities between Brazil and Kuwait.

Al-Wazzan claimed that relations between Kuwait and Brazil must advance in terms of investments as well, which could be done by means of joint ventures. The Brazilian and Kuwaiti businessmen have already started to outline deals.

After a brief collective introduction, they had a chance to talk to possible local buyers. The director of company 2000 Trading Center, M.S. Nayyar, was one of the Kuwaiti businessmen who were at the head office of the organization seeking Brazilian suppliers.

Nayyar is interested in importing steel from Brazil. "I want to import, it will depend on quality and pricing," he said. Presently, he purchases the product from countries such as Japan and South Africa. Some Brazilian companies took samples of their products and showcased them to the Kuwaitis.

At the end of the day, delegation members were optimistic regarding the market in Kuwait. "There are many interesting works here, we only have to identify who is in charge of buying," said the export manager at Induscabos, Heber Santos.

The company, a maker of electric wires and cables, is a member of the delegation. Export consortium Gypsum Brazil also made promising contacts in Kuwait. According to the director, Naja Domingos, samples will be sent to two gypsum importers in Kuwait with whom Domingos, the president at the consortium, Josias Inojosa de Oliveira Filho, and director Hildeberto Alencar, had meetings.

To the secretary-general at the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce, Michel Alaby, the accomplishments of such missions cannot lose their continuity, and missions ought to be promoted with increasingly greater frequence, as they help establish Brazil in the markets.

"The meetings that we had have surpassed our expectations, both in terms of receptiveness and of the quality of the companies in attendance," said the director at the Arab Brazilian Chamber, Wladimir Rafik Freua, who is also a member of the delegation.

After the meeting with the Brazilians, during a press conference, the treasurer at the Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry talked about the efforts that the country has been making in order to diversify its income sources.

In all, 85% of the Kuwaiti economy is still oil-dependant. However, the country has several ongoing projects in other sectors. One such project, according to Al-Wazzan, consists of becoming a financial hub.

Kuwait should also carry out privatizations in the future. Those should occur in sectors such as telecommunications, transport, education and health, said the executive.

Shopping Mall

The Avenues, Kuwait City's largest shopping mall, is interested in housing Brazilian stores and buying construction material from the country. The first phase of the enterprise, which counts on 212 stores, is already in operation, and the second phase should be concluded in March next year. "We would like to have Brazilian stores," said the manager at The Avenues, Abdulaziz Alhomaibi.

According to him, the enterprise specializes in high-end fashion, and this is one of the sectors in which Brazilians could establish commercial enterprises at The Avenues. According to Alhomaibi, Brazilian companies can also supply construction material for the areas that are still under construction.

Ahmad Alzaabi, an executive in the project and management sector at Mabanee, the company that owns The Avenues, says that there is demand for stones, granites, marbles and tiles, among others. Those products are currently purchased from Europe, but due to the appreciated euro they are expensive in Kuwait. Timely delivery, pricing and quality are the requirements for supplying the project, according to Alzaabi.

The initial project for The Avenues is divided into six construction phases. In total, US$ 1 billion should be invested in the enterprise, which should be entirely concluded in 2011. According to Alhomaibi, Brazilian companies in the construction sector can supply their products to works already underway.

The delegation from Brazil visited construction sites and showed interest in selling to the project. The companies had an opportunity to talk to the executives in charge of the enterprise. The contractor for the construction, according to Alzaabi, is the Kuwait-based Alghanim International, but construction inputs are selected by Malbanee.

Alhomaibi stated that company representatives should visit Brazil soon. Presently, according to the manager, the construction material used by the company is purchased from different regions of the world, such as Europe and Asia. The owner of The Avenues is a privately-held company that operates in the real estate sector, and has been listed in the Kuwait Stock Exchange (KSE) since 1999.

The mall is the company's flagship project. It is unique in the Arab country, Alhomaibi explains, due to its size and architecture. As it is basically a ground-level mall, a considerable portion of the premises can be viewed from any given location. According to the manager, the mall receives 250,000 people every week. Each person spends roughly US$ 100 per week.

The Avenue hosts global brands such as the Spanish Zara, for clothing, the French Bois & Chiffons, for decoration, and H&M, also from Europe. It is the only horizontal mall in Kuwait City, says Alhomaibi. Instead of having several stories, it is long, with 600 meters of length and 250 meters of width.

Upon conclusion of the second phase, the premises should total 1.2 kilometers of length. The Avenue is turned to high-income consumers. It features, for instance, a digital movie theatre – the first in the Middle East, according to Alhomaibi, including a VIP room with capacity for 20 people.

Anba – www.anba.com.br

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