The Brazilian Government has found in foreign trade the ideal recipe for filing rough edges with Arab countries, a strategic market that it hopes to expand in the future, despite President Jair Bolsonaro's promise to move his embassy to Israel to Jerusalem.
The greater economy of South America renewed its commercial vows with the Middle East on a tour of the Minister of Agriculture, Tereza Cristina Correa, which concluded last Monday and took him through Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.
The trip, which lasts about two weeks, has served to demonstrate Brazil's willingness to strengthen ties with this key region for the country's agricultural sector and, incidentally, favor a more cordial climate between the parties.
The relationship between the two went through a delicate moment when Bolsonaro, leader of the extreme right in Brazil, reaffirmed his intention to move the Brazilian embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as the United States already did.
That claim generated deep discomfort in many Arab countries, which are among the largest importers of chicken meat in Brazil, but never came to fruition.
In fact, in a subsequent visit to Israel, the president only said that they would open a commercial office in the Holy City. No sign of the embassy change and so on until today.
"The Government defined that there will be a commercial office, so it seems that this issue is resolved," he told Efe Rubens Hannun, president of the Arab-Brazilian Chamber of Commerce, who praised the "leadership" and "transparency" of the Minister and "the respect he showed" to his Arab partners.
"Now the relationship is going very well without negative reflections of what could have happened with that embassy change," he completed.
These good feelings were reflected in the minister's tour, whose main objective was to open new paths for Brazilian exporters.
"The result was very positive," says Efe Lígia Dutra, the Superintendent of International Relations of the Confederation of Agriculture and Livestock of Brazil, who accompanied the mission.
In his opinion, the delegation succeeded in "bringing the private sectors of Brazil and those Arab countries again", after a slight distance "in the last two years."
In 2018, agricultural exports to 55 Arab and Muslim countries totaled 16,130 million dollars, which represents 19% of the total external sales of Brazilian agribusiness, ahead only the European Union and China, the country's main trading partner, are listed. According to data from the Ministry of Agriculture.
The balance could increase after, during the minister's trip, Egypt opened its market, which includes about 100 million consumers, to Brazilian dairy products, which was pending since 2016.
In addition, Saudi Arabia gave the green light to the import of chestnuts and egg derivatives and expanded access to Brazilian fruits.
Brazil also received permits to export honey to Kuwait, while in Emirates, Correa presented infrastructure investment opportunities to improve the Brazilian transport system through public-private initiatives.
"If we managed to have logistics financed with Arab investment, there would be a benefit for both sides" because the transportation costs of the products would be reduced and "the prices would be more accessible for the Arab consumer," Hannun said.
Dutra also noted that the four countries also showed a high interest in importing specialty coffees from Brazil.
The Government of Bolsonaro, in power since January 1, believes that this flow can grow even more, if investments and businesses increase reciprocally.
In this sense, Correa, an important businesswoman with close ties to the large rural owners of Brazil, emphasized the need to diversify the export catalog and "bring differentiated items to the table of the Arabs, as special cuts of meat ".
"Brazil is going to have to start thinking about exporting not only raw materials, but also value-added products," the minister said Wednesday, taking stock of the tour.
Within this climate of prevailing cordiality, Bolsonaro plans to visit three countries in the Persian Gulf in late October: Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Qatar.
Carlos Meneses Sánchez
. (tagsToTranslate) Brazil (t) asperities (t) Arab countries (t) (t) trade