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20/12/2017 - 17:15hs

Egyptian minister, Arab Chamber launch Council

The Chamber’s president Rubens Hannun and CEO Michel Alaby met with Trade and Industry minister Tarek Kabil in São Paulo. They agreed on the official establishment of the Brazil-Egypt Business Council.

São Paulo – During a meeting on Tuesday (19), Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce C-level executives and Egypt’s minister of Trade and Industry Tarek Kabil agreed to launch the Brazil-Egypt Business Council, effective as of this Wednesday (20). The minister travelled to São Paulo en route to the Mercosur meeting in Brasília. He convened with the Arab Chamber’s president Rubens Hannun and CEO Michel Alaby.

Mohamed Hassanein/Arab Chamber

Minister (4th, left to right) welcomed Arab Brazilian Chamber executives

The Business Council members have already been chosen from among delegates from companies and sector-specific organizations in both countries. They will work to enhance ties between Brazil’s and Egypt’s markets. Kabil, Alaby and Hannun decided that the Arab Chamber will divulge the official launch in Brazil and the minister will do so in Egypt.

The meeting was the first step in rolling out the Council, which will have its first meeting in Egypt by late March 2018 at the latest. A second meeting will take place in Brazil in April, during the Brazil-Arab Countries Economic Forum, which the Arab Brazilian Chamber will host, with support from the General Union of Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture for Arab Countries and the Arab League. Kabil was invited to attend the Forum and said he will look into how Egypt will approach the event. 

At the Tuesday meeting, the minister discussed the need to balance out Egypt-Mercosur trade, which is tilted in the latter’s favor. According to Hannun, the Council can work towards that. “Brazilian entrepreneurs need to find out more about Egyptian-made goods,” Hannun told ANBA after the meeting. The opposite also holds true.

Year-to-date through November, USD 2.2 billion worth of goods were exported from Brazil to Egypt, whereas Egyptians grossed USD 147 million from sales to Brazll. Egypt buys mostly Brazilian sugar, beef, maize and poultry, which are key in ensuring its food security. Fertilizers – also a strategic item when it comes to Brazilian agriculture – make up the bulk of Brazil’s imports from Egypt.

Mohamed Hassanein/Arab Chamber

Kabil (center) is looking to balance out trade

At the meeting with Kabil, the Arab Chamber’s president mentioned actions intended to balance out trade which are already underway, such as invitations for Egyptian companies to showcase their goods at the São Paulo Supermarkets Association Fair (Apas Show) in May 2018 and the fact that Brazilian textile companies were featured in the Destination Africa expo last November, where they sat down with Egyptian suppliers for B2B sessions.

The Brazilian side of the Brazil-Egypt Business Council comprises organizations including beef industry association Abiec, food and beverages association ABBA, soluble coffee industry association Abics, animal protein association ABPA, olive oil industry body Oliva, and meat company BRF. Members were picked out from industries that either do or plan to do business with Egypt.

According to Alaby, the minister also said at the meeting that he wishes his country will export hepatitis C medication to Brazil. The Arab Chamber pledged to work for this to happen. Tarek Kabil also mentioned garlic, oranges (during the off-season in Brazil) and grapes, whose trade hinges on removing a few obstacles.

Mohamed Hassanein/Arab Chamber

Alaby, Hannun and Mansour: cooperation

The minister made a point of pushing at the Mercosur meeting for faster implementation of tax breaks provided for in a recently signed Egypt-Mercosur trade agreement. He told the Arab Chamber executives that he would make a request for C- and D-list goods, whose tax breaks are slated to become effective eight and ten years from now, to be moved to the A and B lists, effective right away and within four years.

Hannun said the conversation with the minister was a follow-up to a meeting held last February, which saw Hannun sit down with Kabil and other Egyptian authorities in Cairo.

After the February meeting, several actions were taken to propel Brazil-Egypt economic relations, including a forum on the Egypt-Mercosur agreement, the provision of translated material on Egypt’s new investments law, and the establishment of the Brazil-Egypt Business Council. The Egypt-Mercosur trade agreement also became effective during this time.

The meeting with the minister was also attended by the Arab Chamber special projects advisor Tamer Mansour, Egyptian government officials who are traveling alongside Kabil, and consul Mohamed Elkhatib, the head of Egypt’s commercial office in São Paulo.

*Translated by Gabriel Pomerancblum

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