Delegates from the Chamber, now under a new administration, convened with Arab diplomats in Brasília and pledged to work on increasing promotion of Arab goods on the Brazilian market.
ão Paulo – The Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce reaffirmed its partnership with the Council of Arab Ambassadors in Brazil this Tuesday (14) in Brasília. It was the diplomats’ first meeting with the Chamber’s new administration, including business executive Rubens Hannun as president. One of the issues on the agenda was the need to increase promotion and exports of Arab products to Brazil.
The ambassadors called on the Arab Chamber to make an extra effort to help even out Brazilian-Arab trade, which currently runs a surplus on Brazil’s side. Last year saw Brazil export USD 11.47 billion worth of goods to Arab countries, with imports reaching USD 5.24 billion – a USD 6.23 billion surplus.
“The Arab countries produce goods that are consumed in Brazil,” the dean of the Council of Arab Ambassadors in Brazil and ambassador of Palestine in Brasília, Ibrahim Alzeben, told ANBA after the meeting with high-level Arab Chamber executives.
The Chamber’s delegates pledged to strengthen promotion of Arab products in Brazil and told the diplomats about actions the organization will undertake in the early months of this year to help fuel trade. Hannun said Arab business missions will come to Brazil and Arab enterprises will be represented at Brazilian trade shows. “That will encourage Brazilians to purchase Arab products,” the Arab Chamber president said to ANBA.
Next May in São Paulo, at the supermarket industry show Apas, the Chamber will make space available for Arab companies to exhibit their products, for the fourth time. Also in the first half, the foreign ministers of Tunisia, Khémaies Jhinaoui, and of the United Arab Emirates, Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nayan, will be in Brazil alongside executives on a deal-making and prospecting mission.
The Chamber has a packed schedule for 2017, and many of the events in the plans will put the spotlight on Arab products in Brazil, as well as foster Brazilian-Arab trade as a whole and encourage cooperation in other fields. In an interview with ANBA, the Arab Chamber’s president named a few products manufactured in Arab countries that could sell in Brazil, such as foodstuffs, fertilizers, handicraft and cosmetics.
At the meeting, the diplomats were introduced to the Chamber’s new board of directors. Besides Hannun and CEO Michel Alaby, International Relations vice president Osmar Chohfi was in attendance. “We reaffirmed our partnership with the Council, the joint work and cooperation that will continue,” Hannun told ANBA. The meeting was also a chance to reiterate the Arab Brazilian Chamber’s mission and guidelines, its ethics- and entrepreneurship-driven values and principles, and its focus on trade and culture.
“We congratulate the new board and warn them that big challenges lie ahead, as the buildup from 65 years’ worth of work continues. We wish much success and we acknowledge the efforts of Mr. Marcelo Sallum,” said Alzeben. Sallum was the Arab Chamber president prior to Hannun. This year, the Arab Brazilian Chamber will have its 65th anniversary. According to CEO Alaby, the meeting helped to rekindle the partnership between the Chamber and the Council of Ambassadors.
Foreign Ministry - The Arab Chamber executives and the Council of Ambassadors also met with officials from the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, including undersecretary general for Africa and the Middle East Fernando de Abreu, Middle East Department head Lígia Scherer, and Africa Department head Luís Henrique Sobreira Lopes.
They went over the calendar for this year involving Arab countries and the Ministry. The ambassadors reiterated their respect towards Brazil, according to Alzeben. The dean told ANBA that the Council is hopeful Brazil will overcome its difficulties. “Brazil is a friendly country with which we have sustained excellent political, economic and community ties through history,” he said. The meetings took place at the Embassy of Palestine.
The Arab Chamber executives also had meetings with the UAE ambassador to Brasília, Hafsa Abdulla Mohamed Sharif Alulama, and the ambassador of Tunisia to Brasília, Mohamed Hedi Soltani. They both assumed their posts recently.
*Translated by Gabriel Pomerancblum