Brazil's agribusiness exports to the Arab countries totaled US$ 1.234 billion in the first quarter, growth of 27% compared with the same period last year. The rise was greater than that of the sector's overall foreign sales, which grew 17.8% in the first three months of 2008. The data were supplied by the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture.
Among the main products shipped, the ones for which exports grew the most were beef and chicken meat, with sales totaling US$ 684.6 million, growth of 51.3%; grain, flours and their concoctions, at US$ 69.8 million, growth of almost 800%; forestry products, at US$ 39.8 million, growth of 15%; dairy products, at US$ 33.3 million, growth of 140%; tobacco, at US$ 24.5 million, rise of 48%; and other products of animal origin, at US$ 15 million, 379% more.
Other products for which sales have increased significantly were tea, mate tea and spices, at US$ 7.3 million, a rise of 617%; leather and leather products, at US$ 5.8 million, 23.8% more; and fruits, at US$ 5.2 million, growth of 96.7%.
"The meat complex led growth, but other items grew significantly, such as dairy products and fruit", said the president at the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce, Antonio Sarkis Jr. "As we had forecasted early this year, these products are performing well," he stated.
To the director at the Foreign Promotion Department at the Ministry of Agriculture, Eduardo Sampaio Marques, Brazil is one of few countries capable of expanding its agricultural production exports. "And the Arabs are very receptive to Brazilian products. Besides, several economies in the region are growing above the global average," he said.
Economic growth, according to Marques, leads to a rise in consumption of animal protein, that is, foods such as meats and milk. In the case of meats, in addition to the increase in export volume, revenues from exports reflect the increase in the product's price in the international market, a fact that also occurs with many other agribusiness products.
As an example, the director listed wheat, whose price increased twofold in the last twelve months, and rice, which appreciated by more than 100% during the same period.
With regard to grain, flours and their concoctions, Marques explained that Brazil exported large volumes of wheat in the beginning of the year, especially to North Africa. This is a rare phenomenon, as Brazil is one of the leading global importers of the commodity.
Due to logistical problems which make the freight more expensive, according to him, it ends up being more advantageous for farmers in the South of the country to export than to sell to the North and Northeast regions.
"Even though Brazil imports large volumes of wheat, this is good, as it optimizes the business. In order to make up for domestic logistical problems, farmers resort to foreign trade," he declared.
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