Bruna Garcia Fonseca
São Paulo – Brazilian product keeps shipping to Kuwait amid the lockdown, Brazil’s ambassador to Kuwait Norton Rapesta (pictured) told ANBA over the phone.
According to Rapesta, Kuwait is taking every step to ensure fast product clearance and to keep trade flows going, via seaports, airports and roads. “There are no shortages, except for your non-essential product here and there, but that is normal. Yes, they are streamlining clearance of food products coming in,” he said.
Q1 2020 saw USD 56.96 million in goods exported from Brazil to Kuwait, with poultry comprising over 80% of that. The amount was up 20.8% from Q1 2019. In March alone, exports from Brazil came out to USD 17.32 million, up 2.6% year-on-year, with poultry products accounting for 90%.
“Everything is working fine. [Kuwait’s] Ministry of Trade and Industry reached out to me to find out whether Brazil would keep exporting and if everything was ok. I reassured them that there were no instructions to stop exports,” said Rapesta.
Kuwait will remain in lockdown until April 24 or longer, the ambassador said. There’s also a 5 pm curfew in place, and schools will remain closed until August 1.
The Embassy of Brazil is operating under a scheduled-visits only system, and staff shows up twice a week – on Sundays and Thursdays.
There have been 1,405 cases of coronavirus and three deaths in Kuwait, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Rapesta related that Kuwait had prohibited incoming passenger flights. This week, some chartered flights were allowed in, to bring back Kuwaiti citizens, and out, to get travelers back to their home countries. According to the ambassador, 24 Brazilians flew charter into Frankfurt, Germany this Wednesday (15) on one of Kuwait’s Al Jazeera Airways planes. They are expected to arrive in São Paulo from Frankfurt on Thursday (16). “The Brazilian Embassy took care of authorizations and helped get the flight, but they each paid for their own tickets,” he said. A total of 90 non-Kuwaitis were flown out of the country and into the USA, Canada, Australia and Europe.
One Brazilian is returning by way of Doha, Qatar, Rapesta said. “Since yesterday, Qatar Airways is back to flying from Kuwait to Doha twice a day, so that citizens can return to their countries, because now we have horizontal transmission here,” he said regarding Covid-19. Most homebound Brazilians were athletes formerly employed in Kuwait who had their contracts cancelled. “Qatar Airways is the only airline flying on a regular basis, because it’s from a nearby hub,” he said.
The ambassador said there are no reports of Brazilians infected by coronavirus in Kuwait. “Fortunately, none of the Brazilians are sick. They are all well and safe. That is the most important thing.” Neighboring Bahrain, where Rapesta is also the ambassador of Brazil, hasn’t closed its airports. All it did was reduce flight numbers and destinations. There are no reports of infected Brazilians there either.
There have been 1,671 reported cases of coronavirus in Bahrain and 7 deaths.
The ambassador said most of the people coming down with Covid-19 in Kuwait are Filipino, Pakistani, and Indian.
Translated by Gabriel Pomerancblum