Union of Arab Chambers secretary-general Khaled Hanafy proposed the creation of a new business model between Brazil and the Arab countries to Brazilian businessmen e authorities. Hanafy was in São Paulo and Brasília this week and met with representatives from both public and private sectors. “This strategic change of the business model between Brazil and the Arab world is extremely important,” Hanafy said to ANBA on Wednesday (30) night in São Paulo, a few hours before catching his flight to Cairo, Egypt.
The Union is the main business entity in the Middle East and North Africa; it is a branch of the League of Arab States for the private sector. It brings together under its umbrella chambers of commerce from all Arab countries and outside the region, such as the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce.
“We proposed a change from the traditional model based in simple trade – exports and imports – to one based in a strategic alliance,” said Hanafy. “That means we need more from Brazil than just agribusiness products exports,” he added.
To build this partnership, the executive suggested initiatives that add value to business and benefit both sides, such as the creation of direct sea routes between Brazil and the Arab countries; establishing storage, processing and distribution hub of Brazilian products in an Arab port; investments in joint ventures; and others. The goal is to promote further integration of the productive chain of both regions.
“This prevents unexpected measures one country or administration may take, which is expected to happen in a simple model of export,” he stressed. The intention is that economic relations reach a solid level that make them more resilient to unilateral actions from governments such as the imposition of barriers, retaliations and political decisions.
In São Paulo, together with Arab Brazilian Chamber president Rubens Hannun, Hanafy met with São Paulo secretary of Finance Henrique Meirelles, Brazilian Animal Protein Association (ABPA) vice-president Ricardo Santin, and Pedro Parente, president of BRF, the holding that owns the brands Sadia and Perdigão. The Arab countries are among the main foreign markets for Brazilian meat and poultry.
The Union secretary-general discussed proposals such as gathering small producers in Brazil, undertaking Arab investments in these businesses and exporting production to the Middle East and North Africa; exporting one-day chicks for fattening in the region; selling in-natura poultry for industrialization there; and shipping corn and soy to be storage and processed there, and further distributing it to other Arab countries and their partners.
“The Arab countries have 400 million people, but including our trade partners in Africa, the Middle East and other regions, the number climbs to 2 billion,” said Hanafy, referring to the potential market. The secretary-general used to be the Egyptian minister of Supply and Internal Trade.
In São Paulo, he also participated in the Arab Chamber Superior Management Council meeting, which elected the entity’s board for 2019/2020 (upper photo).
In Brasilia, also with Hannun, Hanafy met with vice-president Hamilton Mourão and minister of agriculture Tereza Cristina, Senate Committee of Foreign Relations president Fernando Collor, senator Tasso Jereissati, and the Council of Arab Ambassadors in Brazil.
According to him, the vice-president showed great interest in investments in sea transport and logistics and was invited to participate in a logistics forum of the Arab countries to be held in the second half of the year. “The idea of logistic areas [in ports] in the Arab world was also very well received,” he commented. “We also talked about using some sovereign funds – which was also discussed with the Arab ambassadors -, part of these funds’ investments may come here to put some of the very ideas I mentioned into practice,” he stressed.
About the meeting with Tereza Cristina, according to Hanafy, the minister said the business proposals sounded like “music to her ears.” He invited her to participate in an Arab forum on food security to be held also in the second half. This is one of the most important topics for the Arab countries.
Arab Brazilian Chamber
The Union secretary-general said the trip to Brazil was “very successful.” “The Brazilian Arab Chamber makes a great job building bridges,” he praised. He stressed the entity is deepening its partnership with the Union and mentioned its participation in events such as the food security forum in Fujairah, UAE, in November 2018, and the Arab Private Sector Forum in January 2019 in Beirut, Lebanon.
“Opportunities in Brazil started being known in the Arab world through the Arab Brazilian Chamber,” stressed Hanafy.
He says he is optimistic with the potential growth in economic relations between Brazil and the region. “We see a great willingness from both sides,” he declared, and added Brazil is a priority among Arabs because there are similarities in both business cultures.
Translated by Guilherme Miranda
Information from ANBA website.