While Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva visited the pyramids of Giza at the end of last year, the Lebanese National Assembly, in Beirut, was opening various doors for Brazilian companies.
From Lula’s trip to five Arab countries, in December 2003, to date, 526 new Brazilian companies were incorporated into the list of exporters to Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Libya, the countries visited.
According to a study by the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce (CCAB), the quantity of companies that sell to these nations rose from 910 in 2003 to 1,436 this year. The increase was 57.8%.
This group of countries also spent much more on Brazilian products since then. Brazilian revenues with sales to the countries rose from US$ 1.05 billion in the first 11 months of 2003, to US$ 1.55 billion up to November this year.
In reality, president Lula’s visit helped start a large race by Brazilian companies in the direction of all the Arab countries, not only those visited.
The list of companies that sell to the 22 country members of the League of Arab States also rose from 1,300 to 1,900 in the period.
That is, 600 new companies started supplying their products to the countries in the Middle East and North Africa.
The list includes companies like Renault Brazil, which shipped its first 1,000 cars to Algeria, and General Brands, which traded its Camp powdered juice in Morocco, Algeria and Libya, and producer of perfumery, hygiene and cosmetics products Chamma da Amazônia, which is strengthening its ties to chains of stores in the United Arab Emirates. All of them started trading with the Arab countries in 2004.
Doors were opened in various ways, from participation in international trade fairs to business roundtables or even during individual trips by Brazilian businessmen to the Arab countries.
Condor, for example, started selling to hairbrushes to Saudi Arabia after participating in BeautyWorld Middle East, in the United Arab Emirates in April, generating deals for dozens of cosmetics companies in the country.
“The visit by president Lula, participation in fairs, the work developed by the CCAB and by the Brazilian Export Promotion Agency (Apex), all collaborated to the growth of trade between Brazil and the Arabs this year,” stated CCAB secretary-general Michel Alaby.
Not only were Brazilian companies interested in selling more to the Arabs, but the Arabs also came to Brazil after business. A demonstration of this is the increase in the number of trips.
This year, according to Alaby, around 50 buyers from Arab countries visited the CCAB attempting to do business with Brazilians. Last year, the number was no greater than 20.
And there were business roundtables. The CCAB organized business roundtables with businessmen from Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco, as well as participating, providing logistics support and organizing stands at five fairs in the Arab countries.
According to Alaby, in at least 18 opportunities this year, the CCAB sent representatives to the Arab countries for visits, missions, meetings or exhibitions.
And the perspectives are that all these figures should rise next year. The CCAB is going to participate in 12 fairs in the Arab world, more than double the total this year.
One of the events is Cairo International Fair, to take place in March, in which large volumes of Brazilian businessmen are expected.
“We will have a 100 square meter stand,” stated the Brazilian ambassador in Cairo, Elim Dutra. The stand at the fair this year had an area of 35 square meters.
Dutra also pointed out the creation of the Brazil-Egypt Business Council, fruit of the tour taken by President Lula.
“There have already been two meetings, and at the last (in Cairo, in March this year) over 150 Egyptian businessmen participated,” he said.
The Council’s objectives are to bring the private sector of both countries closer so as to increase sales and partnerships. According to the diplomat, Egyptian businessmen are preparing a trade mission to Brazil. The date, however, has not yet been defined.
Apart from the growth in number of companies exporting, the other great leap obtained in trade between Brazil and the Arab countries this year was the increase in number of products sold.
“There was enormous diversification in the trade basket. All you have to do is look at the fifty main products exported. In the past, some countries imported less than 50 different products from Brazil,” stated CCAB president Paulo Sérgio Atallah.
The products that figured among the first positions in the rank this year are practically the same as those of last year, chicken meat and cattle beef, sugar, crude oil and iron ore.
Non-traditional products, however, are growing in participation and incorporating themselves to the basket.
This is the case with shoes, furniture, tractors, wheat, juices and pulps, biscuits, lollypops, jams, fruit preserves and spices.
Wheat has reached the position of seventh most sold product to the Arab countries between January and October this year.
Shoe sales to the Gulf, for example, rose from US$ 13 million last year to US$ 21 million up to October, according to Atallah.
Furniture sales to Algeria also rose from US$ 500,000 to US$ 1.8 million, tractor exports to Saudi Arabia rose from US$ 100,000 to US$ 7.5 million and sales of dairy products to Algeria rose from US$ 900,000 to US$ 5 million.
Sudan, for example, imported pipes for crude oil transport from Brazil, a purchase of US$ 30 million.
And that has not caused products that are at the top of the list of exports to lose space. Country revenues with sales of cattle beef, for example, rose 55% up to October this year if compared to the whole of last year.
Up to the end of the year, Brazil should have revenues of US$ 4 billion with exports to the Arabs.
ANBA ”“ Brazil-Arab News Agency