From Arabs to Arab countries

23 de novembro de 2017

São Paulo – With over 50 years of existence, Tecidos Fiama, decorating fabrics manufacturer located in Campinas, 99 km from São Paulo, turns its sights to the region of origin of its founder, Syrian Jorge Omati. A recent visit by the director of Supply and Imports, Susy Marcos, to Egypt, kicked off a two-way project: import input and export manufactured products to the Arab countries.

Despite exports accounting for around 20% to 25% of its revenues, Tecidos Fiama still doesn’t export to any Arab country. “We once exported a large volume to the United Arab Emirates around five years ago,” says the directors, explaining that it was a one-off deal. “Now we have this opportunity and we have our sights in all of the Arab community.”

At the invitation of the Egyptian government, Susy Marcos visited Destination Africa, the textile sector’s expo held a couple weeks ago in Cairo. Egypt’s Trade Office in São Paulo and the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce were the ones responsible for selecting the company, which wants to take advantage of the free trade agreement between Egypt and Mercosur to gain access to inputs with more competitive prices.

According to the director, the Egyptian cotton yarn is high quality, but its high costs, coupled with heavy fees, render imports impossible. The fee exemption created by the agreement, however, made the input more accessible and opened the market to both purchase from and sell to Arabs.

“Our idea is to import the Egyptian cotton yarn to produce new products with this input, noble and of high quality. On the other hand, we can export fabrics to the Egyptian, especially from the hotel sector, since the local government is opening space for investments in tourism,” explains Susy Marcos, mentioning as examples hotel companies from the UAE that have their sights in opportunities in the African country.

The director explains that the project is still in its early stages. Her visit to Egypt generated contacts with at least fifteen local suppliers, who should send, in the next few weeks, samples of products so that Fiama can conducted tests in its plants. “We will start the development, assess the cost. Not necessarily we will export products with the Egyptian yarn: if they want, we can supply other types of fabric,” she says.

The focus on the hotel sector is justified by Fiama’s operation in the local market, which has this sector as one of its largest source of business – the company manufactures textiles for decoration furniture, largely used in hotel. Despite eyeing this sector at first, the company believes it can do business with other sectors in Egypt later on.

In the Campina’s plant, the company has weaving, yarn dyeing and traditional and digital textile printing, with the latter one of the most modern ones in the market. Fiama produces fabrics for both outdoor and indoor furniture, among other products.

Getting to know Egypt

During her visit to Cairo, Susy Marcos spent a couple of days getting to know better local habits and culture. “In my opinion, it’s a disregard to visit a country and ignore its culture. That’s why I spent two more day to get to know Egypt – and not only the tourist places, but the ones where you can see better the local habits. This helps with the negotiation,” she explains.

About the expo, the director thinks it beat all expectations. “It wasn’t a large expo, with many pavilions, such as the ones we have in Europe and Asia. But it was a highly focused expo, with good logistics for being held inside a hotel and with well-worked stands. Receptivity was also excellent.”

Besides Fiama, the companies Círculo and Damenny also took part in the Destination Africa at the invitation of the Egyptian government. The fair’s organization already confirmed a 2018 edition and plans to invite more Brazilian buyers, according to the executive of International Business of the Arab Chamber, Fernanda Baltazar, who attended this edition and already started to plan next year’s participation.

*Translated by Sérgio Kakitani