The Brazilian government is going to create the position of agricultural attaché at Brazil's diplomatic representations abroad, with the objective of aiding ambassadors in questions involving the agricultural sector.
The measure was announced this Thursday, January 24, in São Paulo, by the Agribusiness Foreign Relations secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture, Célio Porto, during a meeting with private sector representatives to discuss the foreign market priorities for 2008.
This employee will aid in the negotiations with foreign governments supplying the embassies with technical information, which will grant greater agility to processes and will expand the negotiation capacity of diplomats, especially with regard to the sanitary and phytosanitary areas and also in removal of non-tariff barriers.
In the case of sanitary problems being suspected, for example, the embassy will be able to provide information about the true situation faster, avoiding an eventual block of imports or removing a ban more rapidly.
According to Porto, in formal meetings with representatives of foreign governments, the diplomats will still be responsible for the negotiation, but nothing bars direct meetings between the attaché and the technical personnel. "They will be allocated to diplomatic representations in countries considered strategic," said the secretary.
Porto stated that these countries have not yet been defined, but initially eight embassies should have these professionals, and they will probably be in Europe and Asia. The decree creating the position, signed by the ministries of Agriculture, Planning and Foreign Relations, should be published after Carnaval (in early February).
There should then be a process for selection of the employees and, after approval, they will undergo a training course at Rio Branco Institute, the Brazilian diplomatic academy.
The need for a more technical approach to negotiations was one of the priorities raised yesterday by private-sector representatives during the seminar in São Paulo. Another point discussed was the possibility of expanding the number of visits by Brazilian authorities in the field to importer countries, even when there are no problems to be solved. "The idea is to be more proactive, and also to visit when things are good, not only when there are problems," said Porto.
In this respect, the executive director at the Brazilian Beef Industry and Exporters Association (Abiec), Antonio Jorge Camardelli, pointed out the importance of the presence of public sector representatives, together with the private initiative, in the opening of new markets.
"The government's presence helps unbar negotiations. In Algeria, for example the result was brutal. In Dubai we had a 100% increase in exports and from there we also sold to Iraq," he said.
The businessmen also want the country to be more aggressive in the knocking down of trade barriers placed by other countries, using the bargaining weight it has. One of the most mentioned examples was that of Chile, which imposed barriers to the import of Brazilian beef, without, in the sector's evaluation, any justification. In the meantime, Brazil still imports large volumes of agribusiness products from the country, including fruit and salmon.
In the trade area, the director of the Trade Affairs Department at the Secretariat, Benedito Rosa, crossed figures that show the markets Brazil must prioritize. The calculation included factors like the growth of the GDP of the import country, its import needs and tariff and non-tariff barriers. In the list of 20 nations with the greatest import potential, called the "fillet" by Rosa, are Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
"These countries are good markets because they are incapable of producing for their own consumption and, with the growth of their economies, their populations are going to buy more and more food. We must arrive first," he stated, referring to the Arabs and other emerging nations.
According to Porto, the suggestions raised will be used to build a strategic sector program for the foreign market in 2008. Apart from him and Rosa, figures were also presented by the director of the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Negotiations Department, Luiz Carlos de Oliveira, and by the director of the Trade Promotion Department, Eduardo Sampaio Marques.
From the private initiative, there were representatives of the cattle beef, pork, dairy, jelly and other sectors. In the afternoon there was another similar seminar for representatives of the sectors of products of plant origin.
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