Electrometer, an Egyptian company that makes electricity meters has established its first joint venture in Brazil, with company Damp Electric, from Minas Gerais, which is specialized in electrical project engineering. Electrometer Brazil, headquartered in the city of Sabará, has already received investment of around US$ 5 million and should produce 700,000 meters a year.
"We chose Brazil as it is a market that is starting to operate with digital technology," stated the director of the branch in Brazil, Assem El Shafei.
According to the executive vice president at Damp Electric, João B.G. Ferreira da Silva, the idea is to sell on the domestic market and then to start exporting to the countries in Latin America.
"Brazil has 60 million consumers of this product. We have a very great potential," said Silva. In the beginning, Electrometer Brazil is going to produce five different kinds of meters, but the Egyptian company has technology to produce over 10 kinds.
According to El Shafei, Egyptian group Zaki El Sewedy, to which Electrometer belongs, had been eyeing Brazil for years. The Egyptian director also wants to introduce into the country the system of pre-paid electric energy cards, as is the case with the telephony cards that are already sold in Brazil. The partners in the joint venture guarantee that the system will be much more economical. "In Brazil we are going to produce all that the market demands," said El Shafei.
The factory, to be equipped with Egyptian and Brazilian machinery, should start operating before the end of the month. The target is for Electrometer to start exporting to the countries in South America by 2009.
This is the company's first subsidiary in South America, but there are already production units in countries like Ghana, Zambia, Ethiopia and Mexico. "I am sure it will be a success," said Silva.
Zaki El Sewedy was established in 1938 and includes 15 companies in different sectors. According to the president of Electrometer Egypt, Emad El Sewedy, the group employs around 2,000 people and has a turnover of over US$ 100 million a year.
Egyptian minister Rachid, in an address at the Fiemg, said that he is very happy with the partnerships that have already been made between both countries. Apart from Electrometer, he also mentioned the opening of a production unit by Brazilian bus body maker Marcopolo.
Another partnership that the minister believes may come through is with Coopersucar, in the sugar sector, which is interested in investing in a refinery in Egypt to supply both the local and foreign demand.
According to the manager at the International Business center at Fiemg, Guilherme Emrich, Brazilian and Egyptian companies are starting to see the commercial and investment potential between both countries.
"I think that this cooperation between Egypt and Minas Gerais is very important. Egypt is an excellent gateway for Brazilian companies to enter the North African and Middle Eastern market, and Brazil is an excellent gateway for them," said Emrich.
The Egyptian minister of Industry and Trade, Rachid Mohamed Rachid, is interested in cooperating with Brazil in the biofuels sector. This was one of the subjects discussed last week in Brazilian capital Brasília by Rachid and the Brazilian minister of Mines and Energy, Edison Lobão.
"Egypt is very much interested in learning from Brazil and exchanging information on renewable energy," Rachid said.
Egypt, which does not produce biofuels yet, showed interest in Brazilian ethanol production. According to Lobão, Brazil is recognized as the country with the cleanest energy matrix in the world. "We want to determine how we can cooperate with Brazil in this area," said Rachid.
Brazilian ethanol is manufactured from sugarcane, rather than from raw materials that are also good for feeding humans and animals, such as the corn used for alcohol fuel production in the United States. Besides, Brazil still has a vast area to be used for all sorts of crops; therefore, sugarcane need not take over other crops or advance into preservation areas.
According to Rachid, Egypt does not support subsidized food production for the generation of energy. "We do not possess much arable land, but are receptive to making biofuel production viable in Egypt," said the minister. He also claimed that, in addition to the biofuels area, the two countries might cooperate in offshore oil exploration, an area in which Brazil is a global leader in technology.
Rachid stated that his coming to Brazil was very positive. "The aim was to open up more channels between Brazil and Egypt, and we are going to leave the country with a higher level of cooperation," he stated. According to him, after all of the meetings that the Egyptian delegation attended in São Paulo, with businessmen, and in Brasília, with ministers, bilateral relations are going to improve even further.
According to the minister, after the trade meetings that the Egyptian businessmen had in São Paulo, bilateral trade, which reached US$ 1.3 billion last year, should also grow. Sectors in which he believes there is potential for increasing exchange include automobiles, auto parts, textiles, agriculture, services and tourism.
Other issues to which Rachid ascribed importance, and which he discussed during the trip, were the signing of the memorandum for veterinary services turned to expanding the flow of trade between Brazil and Egypt, especially in the meats sector, and his talks with the Brazilian minister of Foreign Relations, Celso Amorim, regarding the inking of the trade agreement with the Mercosur.
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