BEIRUT: Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil called for an increase in Lebanese exports to Brazil Saturday, urging South American countries to adopt free trade agreements with Lebanon during his visit.
“Lebanon’s exports [are] in 11th place out of Arab countries exporting goods to Brazil, instead of being the first, considering the country exports its most valuable resource - which is you,” Bassil told an audience of Lebanese diaspora members during a luncheon with the Brazilian Chamber of Commerce on his fourth day in San Paolo.
Bassil said Lebanon exports a meager $2 million or good annually to Brazil, compared with $360 billion from the entire Arab world.
The foreign minister said Lebanon should at least increase the export of goods such as wine and olive oil, since the quality and price of such products would be competitive with European exports.
“We have officially requested the commencement of negotiations with Mercosur-affiliated countries to sign free trade agreements or favorable trade agreement for certain products, and we have received an initial acceptance from several countries,” Bassil said, referring to the Mercosur free trade market between Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Venezuela and Bolivia.
Bassil discussed the issue of flights between Lebanon and Brazil with the Brazilian foreign minister, suggesting that Brazilian airlines begin direct flights to Lebanon.
“The Arab-Brazilian Chamber of Commerce should encourage the movement of trade and exports between Lebanon and Brazil, in cooperation with embassies and consulates and concerned ministries, especially the Economy and Trade Ministry,” Bassil said.
Bassil left Beirut Tuesday for Brazil to discuss relations between the two countries, meet members of the Lebanese diaspora and watch the World Cup final games.