Brazil’s Two-Year Push to Win the Middle East

Exportaminas's director Jorge Duarte de Oliveira Brazilian companies from the southeastern state of Minas Gerais want to export their products to the Middle East. And they believe that the best gateway to the region is the United Arab Emirates. The Middle East was defined as the target market for exports from the state by the Central Exportaminas program.

The project aims at helping local entrepreneurs to export, and is carried out by the government of the state, through the State Secretariat for Economic Development (Sede), the Institute for Integrated Development of Minas Gerais (Indi) and the Commodities & Futures Exchange (BM&F).

The program's efforts will be turned to the Middle East during this year and the next. "The Middle East is a growing market," says the director at Central Exportaminas, Jorge Duarte de Oliveira. He explains that one of the favorable aspects of exporting to the region is the fact that it has no barriers, as does the European market, for instance. "The Middle Eastern market is more of a buying market," says Oliveira.

The state of Minas Gerais has already been increasing its sales to the Arab world, which has many of its countries located in the Middle East. Producers from Minas sold to nations in the League of Arab States the equivalent to US$ 591.8 million last year, an increase of 18.4% over the previous year.

Central Exportaminas has also ascribed priority to a sector when it comes to exports: foodstuffs. But producers want to sell other types of products to the Middle East as well. These include building material, ornamental stones, jewelry and textiles. Last year, topping the list of products exported from Minas to the Arabs were iron bars, sugar, ores, coffee, meats, semi-manufactured iron products and powdered milk.

The state is a large producer of foodstuffs. "Minas Gerais has lots of potential in the foodstuff sector, but the number of exporters is still low. We want to increase the number of exporter companies and of export products," says Oliveira. Minas is the leading coffee producer state in Brazil.

The job of Central Exportaminas is precisely that of helping companies to begin exporting, and to help increase foreign sales by those that already export. It counts on the support of eight consultants who specialize in the field. There is a telephone number available for information in Brazil (800-770-7087) and a Website: www.exportaminas.mg.gov.br.

Requests received by the call center are passed on to the consultants, who then provide advisory to the businessmen. Assistance ranges from logistical to customs-related issues. Oliveira explains that the idea is for Central Exportaminas to be the first door for businessmen to knock on whenever they are willing to export.

In addition to the state government and the other partners already involved in the project, now the Federation of Industries of the State of Minas Gerais (Fiemg), the Agriculture and Livestock Federation of Minas Gerais (Faemg) and the Brazilian Micro and Small Business Support Service (Sebrae) are going to integrate Central Exportaminas.

In order to reach the Middle Eastern market, the director at the program and its joint director, Juliane White, are going on a mission organized by Fiemg to the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, to be held from March 29th to April 9th.

The state governor, Aécio Neves, will also go on the mission, which should include 80 members, mostly businessmen. The delegation will be comprised of businessmen in different sectors. According to Oliveira, during the mission, based on contacts with local leaders, an action program will be outlined for promoting products from Minas Gerais in the Middle East.

In addition to the delegation's trip, early this month, a mission from Iran  -  which, despite not being an Arab country, is located in the Middle East  -  came to Minas Gerais seeking business opportunities. The group was comprised of 25 Iranian businessmen. Producers from Minas are targeting all countries in the region, however they want to use the United Arab Emirates, a regional trade distribution center, as their gateway.

Anba

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