Brazil means business

South America's largest country is aiming for $7 billion in regional exports by 2006 and is inviting the Gulf's investors and tourists to come and take a look

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By  David Ingham Published  December 14, 2003

The government of Brazil is aiming to dramatically increase the value of its exports to the Arab countries and encourage the flow of investment and tourists in the other direction. Brazil's export promotion body, APEX, says that the target is to grow Brazilian exports to the region from around $2.5 billion now to $7 billion by 2006.

In an effort to show how highly it values relations with the Arab world, APEX hosted a two day trade exhibition at the Jumeirah Beach hotel in Dubai last week. The event was opened by the President of Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who was conducting a regional tour that took in Lebanon, Syria, the UAE, Egypt and Libya.

"We're showing people that Brazil is a land of opportunity and that we not only expect to do business here, but that we expect them to do business in Brazil, to sell their products, invest and know Brazil as a tourist destination," explained Juan Quiros, president of APEX.

President da Silva's administration has made it a priority to develop relations with so-called developing countries. Together, he believes, they can present a more potent negotiating force in trade liberalisation talks that are seen to favour the rich countries.

Quiros declined to be drawn on any political aspect to the trade delegation and President's visits, focusing instead on historical links that make it natural for Brazil and the Arab world to seek stronger trade ties.

"We believe that Brazil is very close to the Arab community, we have many people of Arab descent in Brazil [nine million by some estimates]," he says. "We've been visiting many countries here for many months, countries like Syria, Libya, Saudi Arabia and UAE."

Brazil makes cosmetics, food, shoes, airplanes, IT technology, software, clothes, textiles and jewellery, to high standards and at reasonable prices according to Quiros. "We offer good products, good quality, competitive process and very good design," he says.

APEX, under President da Silva, aims to lift the value of Brazilian exports from around $70 billion this year to $100 billion in 2006. With the Middle East potentially accounting for 7% of that $100 billion, the region is set to become one of Brazil's key trading partners.

However, APEX's aim is not just to promote Brazilian exports to the region. Brazil is seeking foreign investment in key infrastructure and travel & tourism projects.

To ease the foreign investor's experience, Brazil has created an investment agency called InvestBrazil. Quiros is insistent that old thinking has been shed and that Brazil is a business friendly country. "This government of President Lula is ready with open arms for investment," he says.

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