The Brazilian foreign trade figures with the 22 Arab countries have already exceeded, from January to September 2004, the values registered in the whole of last year.
Up to September, Brazilian export has already generated the equivalent to US$ 3.014 billion, against US$ 2.759 billion in the whole of 2003. With regard to import, the total has reached US$ 2.829 billion, against US$ 2.705 billion last year.
Up to now, bilateral trade (export plus import) has reached US$ 5.843 billion. Both the value of bilateral trade and that of exports have reached historic records in the history of bilateral trade between Brazil and the Arabs.
In comparison to the first nine months of 2003, Brazilian exports in the same period this year have risen 62%. Imports, in turn, rose 37%. In September alone, the export volume totalled US$ 414 million, and imports totalled US$ 367 million.
In the evaluation of Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce (CCAB) president Paulo Sérgio Atallah, up to the end of the year, exports to the Arabs should reach between US$ 3.6 billion and US$ 3.7 billion.
This is the forecast made by the CCAB president in April this year, and it was maintained yesterday (04) by the organization’s secretary general, Michel Alaby.
In his evaluation, food products like chicken, cattle beef, sugar, coffee and soy generated the increase in sales, mainly in September, due to the proximity of Ramadan, the month of fasting.
During Ramadan, to begin on October 14 and end on November 12, although the Muslims fast during the day, they feast at night, and customers tend to stock products during the month that precedes the religious period.
Apart from that, according to Alaby, after Ramadan, the party season begins, when the people promote lunches and dinners, and exchange presents. “This is like the holiday season in Brazil,” explained the secretary general.
Although food products are among the main products in the export basket, Alaby pointed out that sales of other products are also rising, among them aluminium foil, paper, vehicles, auto parts, iron ore, special steels, furniture, and shoes.
According to him, among the factors that are providing an increase in product sales are the tour Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva took of five Arab countries in December 2003, the loss of ground of other suppliers, like France and Thailand in the case of chicken, Brazilian participation in fairs in the region, including the CCAB work, and the recent Brazilian leadership in international forums, like the G-20, a bloc of agricultural countries fighting against North American and European subsidies in the scope of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
“It is possible that the Brazilian leadership in the G-20 may have influenced trade, as, for developing countries, like some of the Arab countries, this represents a great value,” stated Alaby. Egypt, for example, is an Arab country included in the G-20, and exports to that country have risen 45% in the first nine months of the year, rising from US$ 323 million to US$ 468 million.
Brazilian shipping has risen to almost all the Arab countries, except for Oman, Djibouti, and the Comoros. To various countries, the increase has been over 50%, as is the case with the United Arab Emirates (55.3%), Algeria (124%), Iraq (174.4%), Jordan (85.6%), Kuwait (97.7%), Lebanon (60%), Libya (77%), Morocco (61.7%), Mauritania (112%), Qatar (55%), Syria (377%), Somalia (522.4%), Sudan (538.6%) and Tunisia (150.4%).
In absolute terms, however, the main buyers of Brazilian products from January to September were Saudi Arabia (US$ 585.2 million), the United Arab Emirates (US$ 565.6 million), Egypt (US$ 468.6 million), Morocco (US$ 259 million), Algeria (US$ 244.2 million), Syria (US$ 133.8 million) and Kuwait (US$ 101.8 million).
According to Alaby, this performance shows that Brazil is managing to build a good image together with the Arab market. “There is a certain disposition of the Arab countries to negotiate more consistently with Brazil,” he said. “The visits by Arab exporters we receive every week are an indicator,” he added.
He pointed out, however, that trade promotion, both by the government and by businessmen, must continue, or else there may be a drop in trade. “It is essential to proceed with this work,” he stated. “We must take advantage of the opportunities created by these results and try to expand our trade basket,” he pointed out.
In the case of imports, Alaby pointed out that the values were influenced by the greater oil price on the international market. The barrel was quoted at over US$ 50 at the end of last week, but it dropped a little yesterday on the markets in London and New York.
Just to have an idea, import form Algeria, the largest Brazilian oil supplier among the Arab countries, totalled US$ 1.4 billion between January and September, and also exceeded the total for last year. Oil has also influenced the value of Brazilian purchases from countries like Saudi Arabia (US$ 670 million) and Iraq (US$ 397.2 million).
“This cannot be considered a negative fact, as with the increase of sales revenues, the reserves of these countries also rise, making it possible for them to invest in new purchases from Brazil,” finished off Alaby.
ANBA – Brazil-Arab News Agency
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