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Thu 7 Feb 2008 05:14 PM

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Brazil foreign minister heads to Gulf to boost trade

Celso Amorim to visit Saudi Arabia, before heading to Syria, Jordan and Palestine.

Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim will travel to the Middle East on Friday, in a bid to bolster the BRIC country’s economic presence in the region.

Amorim will first travel to Saudi Arabia to meet King Abdullah and discuss issues such as bilateral trade, which was valued at $3.2 billion last year, before heading to Syria, Jordan and Palestine, the Brazil-Arab News Agency (ANBA) said on Thursday.

“It is necessary to cultivate these relations, to invest a little each day, otherwise they cool down,” said Ambassador Sarkis Karmirian, head of the Middle East and Central Asia department at the Brazilian Foreign Ministry.

“Brazil is interested in coming closer and closer to these nations,” he added.

The foreign minister is also scheduled to have a meeting in the kingdom with Abdul Rahman Al-Attiyah, head of the GCC.

The signing of a free trade agreement between the Gulf bloc and the Mercosur, the customs union between Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, will also be discussed.

After the kingdom, Amorim will travel to Syria and Jordan, to meet with Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and King Abdullah II respectively. Whilst bilateral trade with Syria has fallen by 15% from 2006 to $205 million last year, Brazil’s trade with Jordan had increased by a mammoth 145.7% to $292 million year-on-year in 2007.

Brazil is a fast growing economy often classified with Russia, India and China as a so-called BRIC nation. The country is currently enjoying record international monetary reserves of $185 billion and the head of the central bank said the economy should grow by 4.5% this year.

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