Al-Assaf: Arab, South America hold huge trade potential
Finance Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf said here on Sunday that there is a strong need to intensify trade cooperation between the Arab and South American countries in view of the promising opportunities available in these countries.
The minister was addressing more than 350 delegates at the Fourth Businessmen Forum of the Arab-South American Countries, which was inaugurated at the headquarters of the Council of Saudi Chambers (CSC) on Sunday.
The event was organized by the CSC in collaboration with the Arab League and the Union of Chambers of Arab and South American countries to discuss ways to strengthen economic and trade cooperation between the two sides .
CSC Chairman Abdul Rahman Al-Zamil delivered the welcome address.
The forum was being held prior to the Fourth Summit of Arab-South American Countries to be held in the capital (ASPA) from Tuesday.
Speaking further, Al-Assaf pointed out that there are several viable opportunities in energy, construction and manufacturing industries.
The private sectors in the two regions should take more efforts to promote investments and trade between the countries of the two sides.
He said 17 percent of Arab exports go to the South American region, while 20 percent of their exports come to the Arab world. Arab exports to South America include, oil and petroleum products, fertilizers, iron and steel, while its imports include meat, grains, minerals and foodstuffs.
Welcoming the foreign delegates to the forum, the minister said the economic reforms introduced by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman paved the way for international companies to invest directly in the Saudi retail market.
Due to the nature of mutual products and the distance between the two regions, the minister underlined the importance of strengthening the maritime link between the two sides.
Minister of Commerce and Industry Tawfiq-Al Rabiah said the forum gives a platform to form a common vision to promote trade and investments between the countries of the two regions. Such relationship would form a competitive economic bloc with a population of 800 million, he added.
In his opening speech, Al-Zamil pointed out that the Arab world and South America share a lot of common aspects such as similar vision with regard to the achievement of trade development and fair play.
He said free trade area between the two regions would further promote trade and investment between the two countries. He pointed out that there are several countries such as Brazil, Peru and Chile, which are emerging as ideal trade partners.
Highlighting the economic developments in South America, he recalled Brazil’s accession to BRICS group on June 16, 2009, and the accession of both Peru and Chile to the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) on Oct. 5.
According to an official from the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce, the forum is primarily to promote cooperation and integration among Arab and South American countries.
He pointed out that there is a remarkable development in trade relations between the two regions as a result of hard work such as exchange of visits, holding of exhibitions and business meetings.
The volume of trade has increased from $13.6 billion to $35 billion, up 156 percent, between the two regions.
He added that the two regions face common challenges to achieve sustainable developments. “We must open the doors for the participation of youths and give them hope for opportunities in the nations’ development.
Arab Academy for Science and Technology and Maritime Transport Chairman Ismail Abdul Ghaffar said the main obstacle for the promotion of intra-regional trade among Arab countries and South American countries is the high rise in the cost of transport and the negligence of maritime transport as one of the modes of transport.
Representing the South American countries at the 4th Business Forum of the Arab-South American Summit (ASPA) here at the Council of Saudi Chambers on Sunday, Brazilian Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply Katia Abreu highlighted investment opportunities for the Arab investors in South American countries, especially Brazil, a G-20 member and an agri business powerhouse.
She maintained that working closely, the Arab and South American countries, as two economic blocks, will be of great cooperation for each other as Brazil wants its trade relations with these countries to strengthen by mutual cooperation.
During her power-point presentation, Abreu said that use of technology is the basis of the Brazilian agribusiness development, which took it to the extent of achieving greater heights in agri business.
“The world counts on Brazilian production and productivity and working together it will help the Arab countries enormously,” she said.
She, however, added that besides agriculture sector, dairy products are another key area of cooperation with the Arab countries as Brazil is now the greatest producer of milk in the world and have the strong production growth rate to meet the demand from the Arab partners.
In the future, we would like to expand our cooperation in the dairy and livestock export,” Abreu said.
She hoped that the bi-regional summit will help address the aspirations of countries from both sides to bolster their mutual relations.
Notably, the ASPA summit was first created after being proposed by Brazil, and held its first meeting in 2005 in Brasilia, while the second summit was held in Doha in 2009, and the last time in Lima, Peru in October 2012.