Bruna Garcia Fonseca
Dubai – São Paulo-based agribusiness executives are optimistic about the potential results from an UAE mission alongside state governor João Doria. This Tuesday afternoon (11), the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce’s international office in Dubai hosted the event “Agribusiness: Strategic Brazil-UAE partnership” at its Jumeirah Lake Towers headquarters. Some 60 people were in attendance, including Brazilian and Arab executives, São Paulo government officials and delegates from local organizations.
ANBA spoke with Ricardo Ermírio de Moraes, chairman and founder of juice company Natural One. On the market for eight years, the company is active in all Brazilian states and in 13 countries across Asia, South America, Africa and the Middle East – including Qatar. “We have been in Qatar for six months, and things are working out great,” he said.
Moraes joined the mission looking to have meetings and break into new markets. “I’m here to do networking and to find my way into the UAE market. I have several meetings scheduled with local companies, retail operators with refrigerated solutions available, which makes it easier to fit our product in – with a yoghurt company, for instance – while retaining our brand,” explained Moraes.
Although the international label for the juice is written in English, Moraes said that if sales on the Arab market go up, Arabic labels can also be made available.
“Our product is naturally well accepted. We’re an international Brazilian brand that’s in a good position, and this adds value, because when it comes to exports, when you move away from the actual commodity and towards a brand, your tonne of product is worth three times as much. This creates lots of value throughout the entire chain. We are working hard in connection with São Paulo to make the state a sustainable, long-term platform for quality products,” he said. An heir of the Votorantim conglomerate, he used to work with São Paulo-based company Citrosuco. The Natural One plant is located in Jarinu, São Paulo.
Gustavo Nogueira, the commercial manager for Brazilian company Energy, said the company ships sugar, rice, cornmeal and powdered milk to 60 countries, including Qatar and the UAE.
“Dubai is a hub for sugar. We ship our product here. Some other nearby countries have restrictions in place. I sell 1 kg and 50 kg packs, as well as private label, third-party brands, or my own Energy brand. This is a value of ours. We’re adaptable, and we have this flexibility so we can bring added value,” said Nogueira.
Apart from joining the mission to have meetings and do networking and business, Nogueira will also join Gulfood, the food industry show taking place next week in Dubai. “We’ll have a stand at the Apex-Brasil pavilion,” he said. Apex-Brasil is the Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency.
Arab Chamber member Davi Sierra also attended the seminar. He’s the New Business director with Key Trade, which exports items including juices, coffee, sugar, poultry and beef. Sierra told ANBA he’s starting a new Dubai-based enterprise called IBG Trade.
Speakers at the agribusiness-oriented event featured São Paulo state Agriculture secretary Gustavo Junqueira, UAE Climate Change and Environment Ministry adviser Majid Sultan Al Qassimi, Glasgow Consulting director Vishal Pandey, and Prime Group of Companies managing partner Mohamed Saleh Badri.
Al Qassimi discussed agribusiness and food security in the UAE and how the country is pushing to diversify its economy and address climate-related challenges by working to come up with new alternatives. He also noted that the UAE are one of the leading date-producing countries in the world.
Pandey presented information on agricultural technologies and the UAE’s commodities market. Badri went over halal industry opportunities in foodstuffs, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, tourism and fashion.
Keynote and closing addresses were delivered by Arab Chamber Dubai office chief Rafael Solimeo, who took the opportunity to invite attendees to join the Brazil-Arab Countries Economic Forum next April 14 in São Paulo.
Secretary Gustavo Junqueira told ANBA that as the mission progressed, he realized Brazil is seen across the UAE and the whole region as an agribusiness powerhouse with high-quality products to offer. “Brazil is still a very small country when it comes to business, and this is a huge opportunity to partner up with the UAE and expand into multiple markets – be it by exporting raw material or technology, which is what we’re working on right now. To move into the realm of genetics, bioproducts, in sectors ranging from animal-based protein to finished products like juices, ready-to-eat foods, milk, dairy products… This is what we need to work on,” he said.
São Paulo investment agency InvesteSP president Wilson Mello was in attendance. According to him, the mission is accomplishing its goals with positive results. “We presented investment opportunities in privatizations, concessions, and public-private partnerships in the state of São Paulo; we spoke with sovereign funds and authorities in the UAE; we launched our office and it’s already working well; we’re showing the companies that do not export to this region yet that this is feasible; and we’re enabling the companies that already export to increase their sales even further,” he told ANBA.
In the evening, governor João Doria told ANBA about the partnership with the Arab Chamber and gave an overview of the mission up until this Tuesday. “We wish to enhance our relations. This is important. The chambers here are very organized, they have this very driven spirit. They are highly relevant in government-private sector relations and they are result-seekers. That is what we like: to be able to speak just enough that you can bring things to fruition. And this is important: the Arab Chamber will also help us arrange the visit we intend to make to Saudi Arabia [at a date yet to be set],” said Doria.
According to him, a trip to Qatar is also being considered. “The Qatari sovereign fund [Qatar Investment Authority] is also very important, very relevant, and it’s looking for investment targets in Latin America, particularly in Brazil, and we want to be the first to present our proposals to them,” he said. The trip to Qatar is slated for September, according to the governor’s official schedule.
According to Doria, the mission is exceeding expectations. “This world of business is still a world that’s based on trust. You need to provide a clear-cut legal framework, clear-cut proposals. You need to do it one-on-one, and you need agreements that can be respected. Our administration still has three years to go, and this also helps, because people know they’ll be talking to the same people the whole time,” he said.
Translated by Gabriel Pomerancblum