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CEO of ABCC discusses construction trade relations between Arabs and Brazilians

Trade between Arab nations and Brazil has been relatively stable over recent years. Dr Michel Alaby, secretary general and CEO of Arab-Brazilian Chamber of Commerce (ABCC), discusses construction trade relations between Arabs and Brazilians

In terms of exports, could you tell us more about some of Brazil’s international target markets for construction goods and machinery?

The top three importers of Brazilian machinery include Egypt at $63.82m; the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, $56.23m; and the UAE, $50.97m.

The most traded commodity from Brazil to the Arab region is self-propelled bulldozers and angledozers, track laying at $226m, followed by self-propelled front-end shovel loaders at $44.78m. Other top-selling products include graders and levellers, compressors for refrigerating equipment, and compression-ignition internal comb piston engines.

Has the drop in oil price in the GCC affected Brazil/Arab trade?

Over the past years, the GCC has been diversifying its economy to lower its dependence on oil exports. Such a move, however, takes time and most of the GCC countries still rely on petrodollars to stimulate and support public services, projects and initiatives. Thanks to the large amount of dollar reserves accumulated over time, the effects of the oil price slump have not been severe.

Nonetheless, the region has taken necessary measures to counter the impact of the oil price drop, with some countries reducing their public expenditures especially their social assistance to expatriates. However it must be considered that despite the sluggish oil sector and lower tax revenues, the private sector is keeping up just fine.

What makes Brazilian construction brands stand out compared to its competitors?

The Brazilian brands are known for their high-quality materials and products that address market needs. This makes them unique and highly in-demand worldwide.

Some of the leading Brazilian construction companies are Odrebrechet, Andrade Gutierres, Queirós Galvão, OAS, Camargo Correia, Direcional, and MRV. These firms have been operating in the international market for more than 50 years now.

How does Brazil plan to compete with big global competitors like the US or Europe?

Beyond providing high-quality products and services at competitive prices, the Arab market also puts a high premium on its relations with international companies, other markets and foreign governments. This is the strength of Brazil compared to other major competitors across the globe. One of our key roles at the ABCC is to sustain and reinforce Arab-Brazilian ties further by providing assistance, know-how, and business contacts.

What strategies do you have in place to increase international trade in construction equipment and materials?

The ABCC helps facilitate trade between Arab and Brazilian industry players by keeping them updated about biddings and assisting firms operating in the South American country to touch base with potential Arab clients.

Which regions other than the GCC have been working extensively with Brazil?

Brazilian companies such as Odebrecht, Andrade Gutierre, OAS, and Queiroz Galvão – all of which have a strong foothold in Djibouti, Libya, and Iraq – have successfully established their market presence in the whole of the Arab World.

How could the GCC benefit from increasing construction trade with Brazil?

Opportunities are vibrant in the sector especially in the midst of ongoing construction of major bridges, power infrastructures, dams, and other large-scale projects. For example, a Brazilian company has entered into a joint venture with well-established Emirati company Engeprot. With branches in Saudi Arabia, Engreprot is behind major projects such as shopping malls, hotels, and a garage for UAE metro stations.

Do you think the GCC should promote international trade with emerging markets? Can trade shows such as the Big 5 Show held regionally help in boosting international trade?

In my opinion, I think the GCC should establish international trade with emerging markets capable of providing excellent construction materials and other related services. And yes, The Big 5 Show helps improve trade relations between the GCC countries and Brazil, among others.

How do you see the Brazilian construction market developing in the next 10 years?

The Brazilian construction market has been active over the past 10 years thanks to the World Cup and the Olympic games. The potential for more substantial growth is huge especially with the continuously increasing infrastructure projects.


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