By Courtney Trenwith
Former businessman has placed Dubai on his priority list as Dubai Chamber opens first office in the Brazilian capital
The new Mayor of Sao Paulo, the capital of Brazil, has declared he wants trade between his city and Dubai to expand ten-fold - by next year.
Joao Doria revealed the ambitious goal during a meeting with a high level delegation of Dubai businessmen and representatives from Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
While Dubai readily accepted the challenge, the timeframe of 2020 was considered to be more realistic.
Trade to all of Brazil currently accounts for 2 percent of all of Dubai's trade. Doria wants to increase it to 20 percent.
"Let's do it fast and do what we have to do," Doria told the delegation, which included Dubai Chamber chairman Majid Al Ghurair and vice-chairman Hisham Al Shirawi.
"Please use our infrastructure, our people, our management to reach this goal and to increase business relations between the UAE and Brazil, especially Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sao Paulo."
Dubai Chamber president and CEO Hamad Buamim told Arabian Business on the sidelines of an event in Sao Paulo that the goal to increase bilateral trade to 20 percent was achievable. While he did not give a specific timeframe, he said trade between Dubai and all of Latin America, currently 2 percent of all of Dubai's trade, should increase five-fold within five years.
The chamber opened an office in the largest city in Latin America on April 17 to help facilitate greater economic ties between the emirate and the region. Sectors such as agriculture, renewable energy, aerospace and real estate are expected to be areas of particular growth in business between Dubai and Latin America.
Buamim said some of the growth would come from re-exports, a key component of Dubai's economy.
"We have been looking at Brazil ... [for] at least the past three years," he said.
"We identified it as a market with strong fundamentals that will add a lot to us, to the businesses, in terms of trade."
Sao Paulo, which accounts for 18 percent of Brazil's total gross domestic product, is currently undergoing its biggest privatisation program in its history.
Signifying the importance he places on his relationship with Dubai, Doria, a popular former businessman who came into office in January and oversees one of the largest constituencies in the world, returned to Sao Paulo for only 24 hours to meet with the delegation. He had been in Seoul and travelled via Dubai on Emirates Airline.
"We're very proud of this relationship with Dubai and the [United Arab] Emirates," he said.
"I love the development of the Emirates, I love following your actions and the decision to increase business to Brazil, especially Sao Paulo, is very welcome. Its a good decision."
Speaking directly to the delegates, Mayor implored them to invest in his city.
"Gentleman, we have a lot of opportunities on both sides, let's increase it.
"You have the door for everything that you need in the city of Sao Paulo."