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Brazil Receive All You With Open Arms, says Bolsonaro to Arab Ambassadors

Arab countries are Brazil's third largest importer, with US$ 16.4 billion in 2018

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At the dinner with 37 ambassadors from Islamic countries, the President of the Republic, Jair Bolsonaro, said that these countries’ trade relations with Brazil should increasingly translate into bonds of friendship and respect. In a speech, Bolsonaro added that the federal administration is “open arms” to all countries.

“That these commercial ties increasingly become bonds of friendship, respect, and fraternity,” said the president in a video released by the Planalto Palace.

The dinner was organized by the Confederation of Agriculture and Livestock of Brazil (CNA) and brought together 37 ambassadors from Islamic countries, the Ministers of Agriculture, Tereza Cristina, and Foreign Affairs, Ernesto Araujo, and the president of CNA, Joao Martins.

The Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply, Tereza Cristina, stressed that the government is determined to build relations with all countries, valuing the role of agribusiness in foreign trade. “Brazil will continue to grow steadfast in this determination to be a country that is friendly to all countries and our role in agriculture is increasingly to strengthen, in addition to friendship, the business of Brazilian agriculture and livestock with those great countries that are the countries of the League Arabic, “he said.

The meeting came after Bolsonaro’s visit to Israel and the announcement of the opening of a business office in Jerusalem. The approach of the Brazilian government to Israel and Bolsonaro’s promise to transfer the country’s embassy to Jerusalem has generated tension between the Islamic countries, allied with the Palestinians.

Chancellor Ernesto Araujo denied any misunderstanding on the part of the government regarding the Islamic countries. According to him, dinner proved the existence of a good relationship. “There has never been ice in this government, but of course it is always important that we show in practice that certain things that are speculated do not exist,” he said.

According to the CNA, the intention of the event is to strengthen the commercial partnerships between the Brazilian agribusiness and the countries of the Islamic world, which occupy the 3rd position among the main importers of Brazilian agricultural products. In 2018, exports to these nations totaled US$ 16.4 billion in 2018.

“We producers today cannot be restricted to a certain region or country. This dinner today was to show everyone that Brazil has no feeling of making a distinction to anyone,” said João Martins, “Page is turned” about any malaise that may have occurred.

Palestine’s ambassador to Brazil, Ibrahim Alzeben, said the meeting served to “break the ice” in the diplomatic relationship. For him, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a domestic policy issue.

“We are going to maintain good relations with Brazil and we wish Brazil the best,” said the ambassador, who made a positive assessment of the outcome of the meeting, which he described as “pleasant”.

“This was a unique opportunity to break the ice after a series of news that did not do well for our bilateral relations,” he added.

The city of Jerusalem is in dispute between Palestinians and Israelis, as both claim the place as sacred. East Jerusalem is considered as the capital of a future Palestinian state. Tel Aviv is considered the administrative capital of Israel.

According to CNA data, Brazilian agribusiness accounted for 73% of Brazilian exports to the Islamic countries. The record of exports occurred in 2017 when they were exported US$ 19.1 billion.

In 2018, raw cane sugar led exports with $ 3.8 billion in sales. Maize, fresh chicken meat, soyabeans, and fresh beef appear in the sequence.

To be exported, some products, such as animal proteins, have to go through slaughter procedures that follow Muslim precepts. This type of slaughter is called halal.

Last year, Brazil exported US$ 2.32 billion in chicken meat and US$ 1.52 billion in beef to those countries. The volume of production places the country as the world’s largest exporter of halal protein.

These countries also rank 6th among the countries that sell agribusiness products to Brazil, behind Argentina, the European Union, the United States, Chile, and China.

Last year, Brazil imported just over $ 1 billion worth of products. Palm oil or palm oil, cotton textiles and natural rubber were the main imported products.