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06/03/2018 - 07:00hs

Opportunities in Mauritania for Brazilian businesses

Leonardo Carvalho, Brazil’s ambassador to Nouakchott, said food, footwear, cosmetics and civil construction could be explored further. The Arab Chamber will have its first mission to the country in April.

São Paulo – Brazilian exporting companies that deal in footwear, cosmetics, processed foods and civil construction can find good opportunities in Mauritania, a North African country that does little in the way of trade with Brazil. These are the industries that the ambassador of Brazil to Nouakchott, Leonardo Carvalho, believes Brazilians could explore.

André Barros/ANBA

Ambassador Carvalho sees civil construction boom

“Mauritania’s economy should boom once companies start paying up royalties on gas exploration, around 2020 or 2021,” Carvalho said while visiting the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce on Monday (5). According to the ambassador, the country sits on large gas reserves, and corporations like the USA’s Kosmos Energy and Britain’s BP are investing in extraction there.

Therefore, Brazilian entrepreneurs should work to secure a foothold in the Arab country before that happens. Export numbers from Brazil are still timid: last year saw USD 102 million in sales, which consisted mostly of sugar. Wheat, electrical devices, poultry and machinery parts were also sold.

But processed foods is where the ambassadors envisions a potential for Brazilian businesses. “Spanish and French companies dominate this industry. Cosmetics are also worth exploring, and we could increase our share of the footwear market, which we are already strong in,” he said.

According to the ambassador, the nearness of Mauritania – some 3,600 km of Atlantic Ocean separate Recife, Brazil from Mauritania’s capital Nouakchott – is another plus for Brazilian business owners. Carvalho said the country can be a gateway to neighboring markets like Mali and Burkina Faso.

Carvalho also said Nouakchott’s civil construction industry is booming, with several projects underway, and this paves the way for Brazilian companies to export. “Money is changing hands there,” he said.

Brazil-Mauritania flights are available from Morocco’s Royal Air Maroc, with layovers in Casablanca, from Turkish, with connections in Istanbul, or from Air France, via Paris. European tourists go to Mauritania onboard charter flights: “The desert’s exoticism is very appealing to the tourists,” Carvalho said, pointing out that two different cultures coexist in the country: the Arab one, further North, and the black African one, in the South. “It’s what I call a transition country,” he explained.

Carvalho has been stationed in Mauritania for about a year and a half now. The Embassy of Brazil in Nouakchott opened in 2010, as did the Embassy of Mauritania in Brasília. According to the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, diplomatic ties between the countries were established in 1961, a year after Brazil recognized Mauritania’s independence.

April will see the Arab Chamber’s first-ever business mission to Mauritania. From the 23rd to the 25th, seminars, technical visits and B2B meetings will be held with executives from the African country. The mission will travel to Jordan, Egypt and Tunisia before that.

“We expect to find a market for Brazilian business owners in the sectors we have found to be promising,” the ambassador said. According to him, products by Brazilian companies like JBS and Tramontina are already available in Mauritania, but the goal is to make them more widespread.

To register for the North Africa Mission, go to http://bit.ly/2F7IsOU, fill in the form and the Arab Chamber will get back to you.

*Translated by Gabriel Pomerancblum

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