Brazilian President Luiz Inácio (Lula) da Silva met with President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem today and said that Brazil had given its final approval for a free trade agreement between Israel and the Mercosur bloc (Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay). Israel is the first country outside South America to implement a free trade agreement with the bloc, whose members produce over $3 trillion in GDP annually, and have a combined population of over 270 million.
Peres and da Silva opened an economic conference for hundreds of Israeli and Brazilian business leaders.
Peres thanked da Silva personally for working towards the free trade agreement between Israel and Mercosur. He said, “Although Israel and Brazil may be distant from each other geographically, we can grow close through economic and scientific cooperation. Brazil has a strong and stable economy and we are willing and happy to cooperate with you in every sector including science, defense, high-tech, agriculture, and advanced space technologies. "
Da Silva said, “This is an important visit for me and for the economic delegation travelling with me to Israel. We hope to advance economic and business ties between Israel and Brazil as trade has increased significantly between our two countries in the past few years. We can continue with the current momentum. I am launching a new investment plan in Brazil soon and I invite Israeli companies to take an active and significant part. Israel is known for its strong capabilities in technology and science. Thus, we encourage intensive cooperation with Israel.”
The FTA between Israel and Mercosur was ratified by both chambers of Brazil’s Congress last fall as a consequence of President Peres’ visit to Brazil. The agreement was given final approval right before Da Silva's current visit to Israel. When it comes to affect in April, the agreement is expected to rapidly increase the level of commerce between the two countries.
Although the agreement was ratified by both chambers of Brazil’s Congress, it still required Paraguay’s approval. Paraguay approved the agreement on February 24th and Brazil gave its final approval on March 4th in before the upcoming visit. The agreement takes 30 days to come into effect.
Brazil is Israel’s largest trade partner in Latin America and with the approval of the agreement trade is expected to increase by the billions of dollars, especially in the sectors of agriculture, education, science, medicine, space and will reinforce the mutual investments by both countries.
Da Silva added, "Only when there is peace in the Middle East will you be able to realize your potential. Businesspeople are the standard bearers of peace. The virus of peace is has always been within me."
Da Silva stressed the successful business cooperation between Israel and Brazil. He said, "You are only seven million people but you have 4,000 high-tech companies. You are daring and enterprising, and you are part of our technological revolution."
At the meeting with Israeli businesspeople, da Silva emphasized that Brazil was the least harmed country by the global economic crisis due to its growth model based on a domestic market with a conservative banking system.
The Brazilian president also praised the Brazilian Jewish community and said, "They came to our country and endured hardship. They set up companies and have contributed so much to the development and advancement of Brazil."
Da Silva said that he plans launching a new economic plan this year that will create two million new places of employment.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on March 15, 2010
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