New centre to boost Middle East-Latin America investments

February 23rd, 2008 - 8:28 pm ICT by admin  

Dubai, Feb 23 (IANS) Brazil and other Latin American countries are planning to set up a permanent commercial centre in the UAE and establish a gateway for mutual investments in various sectors between the Middle East and Latin America. Arab-Brazilian relations will also gain fresh momentum through strong presence of future Gulf investments in Brazil, which has become the world’s sixth largest economy, president of the Trade Exterior Chamber of Brazilian-Arabian Gulf and North Africa (Glofobras) Ahmed Yassine told Emirates News Agency (WAM) after leading a delegation of Brazilian businessmen and investors on a tour of the region.

The new centre in UAE, planned as a permanent exhibition of products from Brazil and Latin America, would tap investment and marketing opportunities offered by the economic boom in the emirates of Abu Dhabi and Dubai to both local and foreign investors.

Such centres would later come up in other Arab countries to boost investments in sectors like construction, real estate, clean energy, alternative energy and food industry, he said.

“An estimated 20 million people of Arab origin live in Latin America and seven million of them are in Brazil,” Yassine, who is of Lebanese origin, was quoted as saying.

Arab-Latin American relations are heading towards the establishment of strong economic and cultural partnership that has been faltering for many years, Yassine said. He added that Gulf countries would have a stronger presence in Brazil, whose gross domestic product (GDP) reached $1,804 billion in 2007.

Glofobras, he said, has representative offices in Abu Dhabi and other Arab cities and would soon play a proactive role in boosting relations between the booming Gulf and Latin American economies.

The bloc of Arab countries is the fourth main market for Brazilian agricultural products, only behind the European Union, the US and China. In 2007, the bloc imported $4.6 billion in Brazilian products, a growth of 4.83 percent over 2006.

Major products imported from Brazil include beef, chicken and sugar. In beef alone, the Arab purchases totalled $689 million.

“The historic visit by Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to Arab countries in 2003 opened the door that had remained closed for 134 years and we are harvesting the fruits of this new chapter in relations,” Yassine said.

“In 1876, King Pedro II paid a visit to Syria, Lebanon and Palestine and was able to communicate with the region’s Arab leaders in Arabic.”

Yassine, who is also president of the Arab-Brazilian Cultural League, said the League would hold Arab-Brazilian people cultural weeks four times a year to celebrate the ties between Arab-Brazilians and their countries of origin.

He said plans were also on to build an ‘Arab World Neighbourhood’ in Osfaya, a city built on huge stretches of land some 30 km from capital Brasilia to accommodate 100,000 people.

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