Brazilian exports to the Arab countries totaled US$ 1.23 billion in the first two months this year, an increase of almost 35% compared with the same period of 2007. In turn, imports of Arab products amounted to US$ 1.37 billion, a 68% rise. The figures were supplied by Brazil's Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply.
The main products shipped from Brazil to the region were chicken and beef, sugar, iron ore, grain, especially wheat, dairy products, capital goods, vehicles, coffee, aluminum and preserves. There was growth in the export basket of traditional goods and also of items that used to be less important to bilateral trade.
Meat exports, for example, went up from US$ 250.6 million in the first two months of last year to US$ 428 million in the first two months of 2008, and exports of frozen chicken, which replaced sugar as the first item in the basket, nearly doubled, up from US$ 106.4 million to US$ 197.5 million.
In the case of iron ore, exports totaled US$ 147.5 million in January and February, as against US$ 73 million during the same period of 2007. Among the more traditional goods, there was also significant expansion in the shipping of iron and steel bars, laminates and semi-manufactured products, machinery and equipment.
"This goes to show that the Arab market is much greater than the export levels we had before," said the president at the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce, Antonio Sarkis Jr. "Brazil is obtaining a larger share of that market, which fills with enthusiasm both the Chamber and those aware of the region's potential," he claimed.
Dairy products, which are beginning to move up in the Brazilian export basket, also gained a lot of ground in the Arab world. Sales went up from nearly US$ 10 million in the first two months of 2007 to almost US$ 27 million in the same period this year.
To André Campos, commercial manager at Serlac, a trading company linked to dairy company Itambé, one of the country's largest, the increase in shipments of milk and derivatives is a widespread phenomenon. "Brazilian dairy exports are growing exponentially with each new month, and they are spread across the entire world," he stated.
In his assessment, the performance was driven by two factors: high product prices, mostly in the European Union (EU), which led importers, especially those in African countries and the Middle East, to seek alternative suppliers; and the market prospecting and commercial promotion work carried out by Brazilian companies. Rising prices in the EU, according to him, were boosted by the reduction of subsidies to the production chain and by the growing demand.
In February alone, exports to the Arab world totaled US$ 606.4 million, a 49% rise compared with the same month of last year.
With regard to imports, the leading products purchased by Brazil in the first two months were crude oil, naphtha, aviation fuel, phosphoric acid, other fertilizers and chemical products.
Imports of naphtha for the petrochemical industry, for instance, rose from US$ 47.6 million in the first two months last year to US$ 141 million in the same period of 2008. Purchases of aviation fuel equaled US$ 136 million, whereas in the first two months of 2007 they did not occur.
Phosphoric acid imports increased from US$ 9 million, in January and February last year, to US$ 33.4 million in the first two months this year.
In February alone, purchases of Arab products by Brazil totaled US$ 584 billion, a 54% growth in comparison with the same month of 2007.
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