The Brazilian Embassy in Cairo is working intensively to materialize a direct flight between Cairo and Sao Paulo, according to Antonio Patriota, the ambassador of Brazil to Egypt.
“EgyptAir has already demonstrated a keen interest in this, and we are finalizing the bureaucratic intergovernmental understanding for this to literally take off,” the ambassador said.
His remarks came during a conference, titled “Brazil and Egypt: Opportunities of Economic Cooperation”, organized by the embassy and the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce on Sunday, on the sidelines of the visit of a large private sector delegation from Brazil, headed by Flavio Rocha, Minister of Strategic Affairs of the Federative Republic of Brazil.
He said that the Brazilian embassy stands ready to cooperate with the private sector.
“I am very happy to welcome a large private sector delegation from Brazil that represents defence, agriculture, furniture, and tourism. This is an excellent opportunity for face-to-face meetings here in Cairo,” he said.
The ambassador said that the past few months have been rather very interesting and full of developments in the Egyptian Brazilian agenda.
He recalled that the Brazilian vice president visited Egypt last September when the Office for the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce was inaugurated in Cairo.
Patriota continued that the Brazilian Minister of Agriculture then visited Egypt, and an MOU was signed between the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa) – which is probably the most advanced research centre for tropical agriculture in the world – and the Egyptian Agricultural Research Centre.
“These are not trivial developments. I think they signal a real commitment on both countries to walk together hand in hand in a very difficult international context; Egypt navigated with great competence and, I believe, excellent leadership through the challenges of the pandemic, only to find itself confronted with serious new challenges as a result of the current war between Russia and Ukraine,” he added.
He stressed that no country has been spared the effects of these developments, and neither has Brazil.
“But what I think they have enhanced in our governments and private sector is the awareness that we need to establish strong partnerships. Internationally to position ourselves in a very competitive way in this new complex international environment,” he said.
Khaled Hanafy, Secretary-General of the Union of Arab Chambers, said: “We need to create a shift in the relationship between Egypt and Brazil.”
Hanafy mentioned that Egypt-Brazil trade exchange amounts to about $2.6bn, which does not represent the capacity of both Egypt and Brazil.
“We have some good signs of progress in the trade relation. There is also an increase in the volume of trade, even when we look at it from a percentage point of view. This is true, but still very low. The idea is not only in science, or even this field; it is a shift in the direction itself,” he explained.
“We need to shift from just having a very simple linear classical business pattern in the form of trade, exports, and imports. We need to move towards a strategic economic alliance,” Hanafy stressed.
“In this sense, we had a meeting with the Prime Minister just two hours ago, and we talked about having a strategic alliance between Egypt and Brazil, both ways,” he revealed.
Hanafy explained: “The idea here is to search for value-added activities and not to look at Brazil as a source of food only, as there are many other things in Brazil that we can consider.”
“We see potential cooperation with Brazil in automotive industries, textiles, and apparel industry, so we should be considering other elements, not just imports or exports of some products,” he explained further.
“The idea here for the business community and government officials on both sides, and for an advocacy by chambers is that we need to think of how to make these things realize how to move towards strategic alliances with hubs linking Latin America with Africa, not just linking Brazil with Egypt,” Hanafy concluded.
Osmar Chohfi, Head of Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce, said that Brazil exports to Egypt amounted to more than $2bn in 2021. This means that the pandemic has not impacted the growing trend in Egyptian Brazilian bilateral trade.
“I can assure that you know that resilient problems played a major role in the food security of Egypt, which means that we have this sense of strategic economic relationship. On the other hand, Egypt also had an increasing balance of trade in its partnership with Brazil,” he said.
He revealed that Egypt is the first Arab country to have signed a trade agreement in the context of the Mercosur (an economic and political bloc consisting of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay). Chohfi stressed that the Mercosur agreement was important and it was responsible for this growth in trade.
Egypt`s exports to Brazil doubled in 2021 to almost $600m, 150.5% more than 2020.
Chohfi said that Brazil is important for food security, and Egypt is also important for fertilizers as Egypt is one of the main fertilizer suppliers to Brazil. He stressed the fertilizers market today is strategic for every country.