Foreign Minister to head Brazilian delegation at Aspa
The minister of Foreign Affairs, Mauro Vieira, will lead Brazil`s participation in the 4th Summit South American-Arab Countries, in Riyadh, as appointed by president Dilma Rousseff.
São Paulo – The Brazilian delegation that will attend the 4th Summit South American-Arab Countries (Aspa, in the Spanish and Portuguese acronym) will be headed by the minister of Foreign Affairs, Mauro Vieira. The meeting of leaders from both regions is scheduled for November 10th and 11th in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Neither president Dilma Rousseff nor vice-president Michel Temer will attend. For the first time, Brazil won`t be represented by its head of state at Aspa.
According to information from the Presidency and from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Itamaraty), Dilma appointed the minister to represent her at Aspa, among other reasons, due to schedule issues. The president is planning to attend the G20 Summit, on November 15th, in Turkey, and to attend both meetings would bring her to spend too long abroad. Meanwhile, Temer should represent the country in the Angola`s celebration of 40 years of independence next week.
In the domestic front, it`s worth reminding that Brazil is going through a moment of political turbulence and that the government has been facing difficulties in controlling its political base in Congress.
Aspa`s agenda should be controlled by topics such as the refugee crisis and the conflicts affecting Arab countries such as Syria, Yemen and Libya. According to Itamaraty, Brazil and the other South American nations want to show that they don`t stand indifferent to these issues and that they support the search for solutions.
According to the Brazilian diplomacy, the country issued visas to more than 8,000 people fleeing the civil war in Syria, with more than 2,000 Syrian receiving refugee status so far.
Among the topics that are always discussed in the Aspa`s meetings are cooperation actions between the two regions, cultural exchange, trade and investments. According to Itamaraty, South America`s bilateral trade with the Arab world reached USD 34.7 billion last year, an increase of 183% over 2005, when the first summit was held in Brasília, on the initiative of president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
Brazil is responsible for the majority of the transactions in 2014 with USD 24.8 billion in exports and imports from and to the Arab world.
The Brazilian diplomacy lists the progress in trade and opening of air routes between the two regions as examples of Aspa`s success. Until 2007, there wasn`t any direct route between Brazil and the Arab countries, but today it`s possible to fly directly from São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro to Dubai and Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, to Doha, Qatar, and to Casablanca, Morocco. The meeting between leaders of both regions is seen as capable of generating new opportunities in this and in other sectors, such as, for instance, the diversification of markets in a moment of low demand for agricultural commodities and oil.
For the same purpose, on November 8th and 9th, also in Ryiadh, the South American-Arab Countries Business Forum will be held. Among the attendees will be the Brazilian minister of Agriculture, Kátia Abreu, who will visit Saudi Arabia with the goal of reopening the local market to Brazilian beef, closed down since the end of 2012. For the Ministry of Agriculture, this will allow access to other markets in the Gulf region.
Abreu should meet with the Saudi minister of Agriculture, Abdulrahman Al Fadhli, and the president of the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA). At the business forum, the minister has scheduled meetings with representatives of companies and organizations from the agriculture, food and trade sectors.
The main topics to be discussed at the forum will be transportation and logistics and, according to Itamaraty, the creation of direct maritime routes between South America and the Arab world is a topic of special interest by the Arabs.
From the South American side, the participation of, at least, 34 representatives of companies and business organizations, such as the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce, which is one of the organizers of the event, is confirmed. The president of the Arab Chamber, Marcelo Sallum, its vice-president of Foreign Trade, Rubens Hannun, and its CEO, Michel Alaby, will attend the event.
*Translated by Sérgio Kakitani