Brazil: Arabs and Gaíºchos Make Big Plans

    The governor of the southernmost Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, Germano Rigotto, received, yesterday evening, at his office, a delegation of Arab ambassadors visiting the state, and addressed the topic of grater foreign trade.

    “Our trade balance is small for the potential we have,” stated Rigotto to the group of diplomats, heads and representatives of embassies, and of the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce (CCAB).


    The delegation arrived in the capital of the state of Rio Grande do Sul on September 28 and will be participating today in the 6th Ambassador Meeting invited by the state Development and Foreign Affairs Secretariat (Sedai) and the Federation of the Commercial and Services Associations of Rio Grande do Sul (Federasul).


    Since yesterday, the ambassadors have been making contact with local political and business leaders so as to learn more about the region’s economic potential.


    Apart from the meeting with Rigotto and from a visit to the offices of Doux Frangosul, yesterday the Arabs had, on the first day of the official schedule, meetings with the mayor of state capital Porto Alegre, João Acyr Verle, with the president of the Legislative Assembly, João Fischer, and with the vice-president of the Federation of Industries of the State of Rio Grande do Sul (Fiergs), Paulo Tigre.


    In all the meetings the reciprocal desire to increase trade relations became clear.


    “We want stronger relations, and our visit to the state of Rio Grande do Sul is for this purpose,” stated the dean of the Arab Country Ambassador Council and Palestinian ambassador, Musa Odeh, to the Gaúcho (of the state of Rio Grande do Sul) governor.


    The Arab ambassadors visit a Brazilian state every year and, according to Odeh, Rio Grande do Sul was chosen due to its political, cultural, and economic importance.


    The state government also promotes annual meetings with ambassadors from some economic bloc, so as to strengthen trade and political relations.


    The state of Rio Grande do Sul had revenues of US$ 337 million with export to the Arabs from January to August this year. This figure represents an 83% increase over the same period last year.


    It is a consensus between Gaúcho authorities, however, that trade between both regions still has great growth potential.


    “The potential of Rio Grande do Sul and of the Arab countries, both with regard to import and export, is enormous,” stated Rigotto.


    Arab immigration in the state was also recalled during the visit to the governor.


    “The contribution made by the Arab community for development of Rio Grande do Sul is very significant,” stated Rigotto.


    The immigrants and their descendants have strong presence on the foreign trade of the state of Rio Grande do Sul. There are large Arab colonies in cities like Canoas, in the metropolitan region of Porto Alegre, where the Palestinians operate in trade and garment production, and in Chuí­, Brazil’s southernmost city, on the frontier with Uruguay.


    Porto Alegre: Quality of Life


    The mayor of Porto Alegre took advantage of the meeting with the Arabs to explain the city experience with the Participative Budget: an administrative system in which the population chooses the projects in which they want public funds invested.


    The mayor also talked to the Ambassadors about some life quality indices in the city of Porto Alegre, including treated water, which reaches 99.6% of the homes, and the level of unemployment, which is the lowest among the Brazilian capitals.


    In the name of the ambassadors, Odeh suggested the exchange of experiences in urban policies. “Our cities have varied policies and may exchange experiences,” he said.


    In today’s seminar, the main theme will be trade relations between Brazil and the Arab countries. The main talk will be by CCAB president Paulo Sérgio Atallah, who is included in the delegation.


    But there will also be addresses by the president of the Federasul, Paulo Afonso Feijó, of the dean of the Arab Country Ambassador Council, and of the Gaúcho governor.


    ANBA – Brazil-Arab News Agency

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