The Arab-Brazilian Chamber of Commerce (ABCC) announced the participation of a number of notable Brazilian companies in this year’s Brazilian Festival, which is being held in Cairo from 6-9 September. The ABCC plays an active role in facilitating the participation of these companies in an effort to promote the top-quality products that Brazil has to offer and help its local companies establish new ties and expand their network.
In an interview with Daily News Egypt, CEO and secretary general of the ABCC, Michel Alaby, said that the festival is a wonderful avenue for companies to explore opportunities in Egypt and hopefully establish mutually beneficial ties within the country, which has so much to offer in terms of new and innovative business partnerships.
What is the volume of imports and exports between Egypt and Brazil?
Brazil’s exports to Egypt reached $2.05bn in 2015, while imports registered $108.2m that year. Admittedly, we saw a decline in imports and exports compared to 2014, but trade remains robust between the two countries.
What are the commodities that Brazil exports to Egypt, and vice versa?
Brazil mainly exports meat, cereals, sugar, seeds, and iron ore. The country purchases fertilisers, organic chemicals, cotton, textiles, and plastics from Egypt.
How can the two countries further improve their trade balance?
Trade opportunities between both states are bright, especially in the fertiliser sector—Egypt is a leading producer of fertilisers, while Brazil is a major importer. We also expect to see more vibrant international trade relations once the Egypt-Mercosur Free Trade Agreement takes effect. This game-changing agreement is still awaiting passage in the Argentinean Congress.
What is the expected growth rate in the trade volume between the two countries?
Significant endeavours are being put in place to reinforce the trade volume between Brazil and Egypt, including intensified promotional activities for the Brazilian Festival at Hyper One supermarket in Cairo. Additionally, we host B2B [business to business] meetings for Egyptian importers of meat, chicken, personal care products, and cosmetics.
What is the size of Brazilian investments in Egypt?
Major Brazilian bus manufacturer Marcopolo is doing well in the Egyptian market. However, we do not have the current figures with regards to the company’s total investments to date. Its initial investments are thought to reach $5m.
What key Egyptian industrial sectors are Brazilian companies interested in?
Textiles, olive oil, and frozen food are some of these key sectors. As a matter of fact, Egyptian paint company Kapci has a trade office in Brazil to strengthen its local market foothold.
Will Brazilian companies boost new investments into the Egyptian market?
Yes, we are confident that Brazil will increase its investments in Egypt in the future, especially in the sectors of auto parts, garbage treatment equipment, and food processing, among others. Currently, Marcopolo and Brazilian shoe brand Via Uno are successfully running their operations in the Egyptian market.
There are about 10 Brazilian companies participating in the Brazilian Festival, who are also holding B2B meetings with Egyptian companies. These companies are renowned for producing and distributing a variety of food, cosmetics, footwear, toiletries, cleaning products, and more. All these items will be exhibited at the Hyper One supermarket, complemented by a number of matchmaking sessions for representatives to network with 40 attending local importers.
At the event, Brazilian goods will be on display in a 250 sqm area at a Hyper One outlet in Giza. The hypermarket has an area of 12,000 sqm and serves some 14,000 customers daily.
Our board is also planning to organise trade and technical missions to Egypt in 2017.
Is Brazil interested in becoming involved in any of Egypt’s recently announced megaprojects, such as the Suez Canal Axis Development, the 1.5m-acre land reclamation project, and the industrial zones?
For the moment, Brazilian companies are more interested in investing in key industries, such as fertilisers, auto parts, food processing, textiles and cotton. They might, however, show interest in these megaprojects in the near future.
Has ABCC ever received any complaints from Brazilian companies operating in the Egyptian market?
No, we have not received any complaints so far.
What do you think are the challenges that hinder Brazilian investments in Egypt?
Given the current difficult economic situation back home, some Brazilian investors are not so keen on seeking overseas investment opportunities. However, we are positive that the tide will turn come 2017 and 2018.
What is your opinion about the recent economic reforms undertaken by the Egyptian government?
Egypt began implementing economic reforms in 2004, which included introducing measures to float the Egyptian pound, cut corporate and personal income taxes by half, and roll out privatisation, customs, and investment reforms. With its more liberalised policies, the country intends to increase trade and facilitate business processes. In my opinion, these reforms will not only spur economic growth, but will also attract new investments from abroad.
Has the US dollar crisis in Egypt and the unstable value of the Egyptian pound had any effect on Brazilian investments in the country?
The devaluation of the Egyptian pound facilitates capital flows into the country, making it cheaper for Brazil to invest in the local market. It attracts more investors and motivates Egyptian export companies.
Egyptian Minister of Industry and Trade Tarek Kabil issued a decree mandating the General Organisation for Export and Import Control (GOEIC) to evaluate the eligibility of foreign factories operating in Egypt to export locally manufactured products. What is your opinion regarding this decree? Will it impact the trade balance between the two countries?
This decree was put in place to make sure that only the best products will enter the Egyptian market. As a GOEIC-appointed body, the ABCC is geared up to ensure that Brazilian exports fulfil Egyptian requirements. The chamber, along with Brazilian companies, will guarantee that this decree does not affect Egyptian-Brazilian trade ties.