Ambassadors go on a mission to Pernambuco

18 de outubro de 2017

São Paulo – The Arab and African ambassadors in Brazil will arrive this Wednesday (18) in Pernambuco for an official mission. On Thursday and Friday, they will have a series of meetings with business executives and local authorities to enhance the relations between the state and their countries. The Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce is organizing the initiative alongside the ambassadors, with support from Brazil’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Itamaraty).

Ten Arab ambassadors – six of them from African countries – and 14 diplomats from non-Arab African nations are taking part in the mission. The group will be welcomed by the state’s governor, Paulo Câmara (from political party PSB) and by the mayor of Recife, Geraldo Júlio (PSB), and will meet with authorities from the Pernambuco Economic Development Agency (ADDiper) and the Pernambuco Tourism Company (EMPETUR).

They will also meet with executives and visit the Recife Center for Advanced Studies and Systems (CESAR) – located in the technology hub Porto Digital –, as well as the Suape Port and the shipyard Estaleiro Atlântico Sul. They will attend a dinner offered by the Arab Chamber on Thursday and one organized by the Federation of Commerce of the State of Pernambuco (FECOMÉRCIO-PE) on Friday.

“It’s a two-way mission. We will search for opportunities in the state and also offer opportunities in our countries,” said Ibrahim Alzeben, the dean of the Council of Arab Ambassadors in Brazil and ambassador of Palestine. “The goal is to begin talks on mutual interests that could lead to future deals for both sides and to bigger trade between Brazil and the countries represented in the mission,” said Arab Chamber president Rubens Hannun.

Pernambuco’s trade with Arab countries in 2016 reached USD 449.6 million. The state exported to the region mainly sugar, fuels, fruits, fish, and footwear, and imported fuels, chemicals, plastic, fertilizers, and lead. Trade with Africa reached USD 170 million, with Pernambuco exporting especially sugar, fuels, iron, machinery and plastics, and imported fuels, chemicals, fertilizers, plastics, and paper.

Rachel Pontes, Pernambuco’s Foreign Affairs executive secretary, says that the state’s government is enthusiastic about the visit. “With some (countries), such as the Portuguese-speaking African ones, we share a common cultural heritage, and we are interested in building stronger ties with them all, not only in commerce, but also in culture, as well as technical and scientific cooperation,” Pontes told ANBA.

The executive secretary also highlights the purchasing power of African countries and the fact that Pernambuco both sells to and buys from Arab countries, particularly oil and gas products. According to Pontes, there is a project for building a second container terminal at Suape Port, and this could spark interest from the countries in the mission.

The Arab ambassadors went on a mission to Pernambuco in 2015, but this is the first time that a mission is being organized by the Council of Arab Ambassadors in coordination with the Council of African Ambassadors. Alzeben says that this is a way of exploring the mission to the fullest and expanding the possibility of cooperation, plus it’s an opportunity for integration among Arabs and Africans. “Our countries have common interests and goals,” he said.

In addition to the meetings with authorities scheduled for Thursday and Friday, on Saturday the delegation will have the opportunity to see the state’s tourist attractions such as Porto de Galinhas beach. Despite having a strong industrial sector, tourism is also an important source of revenues to Pernambuco.

Taking part in mission to Pernambuco will be the ambassadors of Qatar, Libya, Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Mauritania, Tunisia, Sudan, the Arab League, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Angola, Botswana, Cape Verde, Ethiopia, Gabon, Malawi, Senegal and Tanzania, and chargés d’affaires and counselors of the embassies of Togo, Malawi, South Africa and Benin, plus Alzeben of Palestine.

*Translated by Sérgio Kakitani